Are you gonna poke my bear?

D2EB3513-F998-4CBF-89BE-A751A692688A (1).JPG

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Except for bears…bears will kill you.”

Every now and then someone comes along and pokes my bear. This is an expression I heard several years ago which simply means, someone comes along and taps on your wounds or stirs up your shit or your baggage to put it a little nicer.

I really love the expression though. I felt it added a layer of humor that resonates with me. It’s like my own personal safe word minus the S&M. If someone is stirring up my stuff and I’m too uncomfortable, all I have to do is look at them and say, “you’re poking my bear.”

But if only it truly worked that way.

Most of my bear poking has to do with the idea that I am not enough and truth be told, most of the people that come along and poke my bear are men. My daddy and abandonment issues run deep and who better to poke that bear then whoever I’m dating.

But I’ve noticed my bear getting poked in all areas of my life, not just dating. There is a story that was set a long time ago, deep in the back of my subconscious mind that says I’ll never be good enough for much of anything or anyone. Work, friendships, my art, even my health has it’s own bear. It’s inevitable that wherever we place our sense of worth will be a prime target for bear poking.

Last night I sat on my couch and listened to Ben Howard’s hypnotic melodies echo throughout my quiet home and I read over my old blog posts. Tears filled my eyes as I relived old memories and feelings that were, at worst, horribly painful and at best, life changing.

I came across the piece I wrote called, Sit In Your Shit and it reminded me how, for the last few months, I’ve felt called to sit in all the uncomfortable feelings instead of run from them as I so often do.

Being a perpetual runner has offered a lot of excitement in my life however, it’s also caused a lot of my shit to reside just below the surface waiting to be poked.

And I’m still here. I’m still being called to sit in my shit. And I’m reminded, once again, that it’s never fun to lean into your past traumas and barely healed wounds. Instead of running or numbing, I’m sitting and at times, it feels as if my skin is crawling and I’m a recovering drug addict, desperate for my next fix.

I want to show you what sitting in your shit looks like…

Sitting in your shit ISN’T about being a victim or pointing a finger and placing blame. Although a lot of our wounds and traumas are the consequences of someone else’s actions, at some point in our adult lives we must find it in ourselves to let go of the blame. We’ll never fully heal unless we do. Sitting in your shit is ABSOLUTELY about getting curious about these traumas and wounds and asking ourselves what the TRUTH is. Not the story we’ve created from it.

For example, if I’m dating someone and I start to feel my bear getting poked I take pause whereas in the past, I’d lash out and stir up the shit. Now, instead I sit in the discomfort of whatever their actions are creating within me. Because we know really this is merely a projection. It’s a memory from the past that is telling you a story triggered by this new person’s actions. So I ask myself; what is the truth here? I get curious. I lean in. I talk to the six your old me who was desperate to be loved and seen by a man who just didn’t have the ability to do so. I tell her she IS loved. She IS seen. She IS enough.

Sitting in your shit after someone has poked your bear is about asking questions. It’s about reacting less and inquiring more. It’s about doing things differently. It’s a curiosity of the unknown. The belief in the possibility, that maybe, just maybe, this wound may loosen it’s grip on you if you understand it more.

And I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it over and over, it’s gonna hurt like hell but each time you address it, that pain subsides and softens and transforms into something different.

So what I’ve allowed myself to get really intrigued by lately isn’t so much my baggage but rather HOW the act of really looking at it has dramatically CHANGED it’s hold on me. I’m intrigued by how I’m showing up different when old bears get poked all because I finally succumbed to the reality that, what I was doing in the past just wasn’t working so why not try something different? Why not look at it all in a different light?

So that’s what I’ve been doing. With dating, with work, with friendships, with communication, with my overall feelings of never being ENOUGH.

Because truth be told, I am enough. We are all enough. Every single last one of us is enough right this very moment.

I’m imperfect and flawed and at times moody and emotional. But this makes me who I am too. Just as much as all the other “good” aspects do. I can’t deny them because by doing so I am only feeding the bears and constantly confirming the story that runs through so many of our minds…I am not enough.

But we are enough. We have to begin to understand that and fully integrate that into our being. I think that our bears and those that come along to poke them are actually, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, a gift to us. In a weird and twisted way, they are really doing so to get us to wake up and do our work so that one day when that bear get’s poked it no longer needs to rear it’s defensive head and instead, just slowly turns and walks away.




The Struggle is Real - Thoughts On Aging Gracefully with saggy boobs

"there is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. when you learn to tap into this source, you will truly have defeated age."

- sophia loren

For a really long time I thought I was never going to age. Seriously. I thought that I was going to be the one person that skipped the inevitable, and remain the youthful version of myself forever. I am not kidding here. 

I'm fortunate to have genes that grace me with a somewhat youthful look and leave me looking at least six years my junior. However, they led me down a road that confused me into believing I would be saved from the inevitable truth; that we all will grow old. Five months shy of thirty-six, I often get met with the wide-eyed looks of surprise and confusion when I correct someone who thinks I'm in my mid to late twenties. Flattered I am, but I often wonder if that has more to do with my, at times, introverted and immature nature, rather then actually looking younger. 

As I see it when looking in the mirror, the years are written all over my face. Battle scars from a life well lived, hard lessons learned and years of running "wild and free" in the sun, slathered not in sunscreen but baby oil, as I told myself, "I'll just deal with it when I'm older. Ha ha ha" I guess the joke is on the older version of me now. 

 I have aches and pains in places I use to roll my eyes at when my mom would complain of similar ailments and I find myself typing in "anti-aging night cream" in the Amazon search bar more often then I care to admit. My boobs, once perky and youthful, are slowly working their way south and I have images of them swaying closer to my belly button then my actual chest, sometime in the near future. And I've now taken to smoothing out the "ruffness" on my face with the more then occasional plucking of dark, course rouge stray hairs. I can't believe I just admitted that to you. The struggle is real. 

And then, there is dating which I think I'll reserve for an entire post of its own, however after being married and thinking my life was going down a certain path and now, navigating the dark waters of dating in an online dating world, where there is something more shiny and youthful and new around every corner, I find myself drifting off into thoughts of my fifties living in a little cottage by the sea with my litter of fur children and shelves of books to keep me company. All with the occasional visit from my niece and nephews. Someone has to look out for me when I'm older and they love their TT, no matter what I look like. 

This my friends, is aging gracefully. 

The funny thing is, I really do love aging. I was always wanting to hang with the adults when I was younger. I preferred real conversation over superficial talks of clothes and trends. I preferred curling up in my bed on weekends hanging out with characters in books to raging parties where everyone tried to act older then they really were.I mean, I secretly played with barbies until I was at least twelve. That doesn't mean I didn't succumb to the pressurel, I was, after all, an insecure and impressionable youth. 

However, I was young and did things because I desperately wanted to feel,"normal." Whatever that means. I wouldn't however,  want to go back to that time for anything. Sure, I wouldn't mind if the girls would solute me in the mirror rather then warm my waste line, but all jokes aside, I really love the person I am becoming as I step into this new chapter of my life. 

I find myself shedding old stories of what my life is supposed to look like and taking more risks as I become more aligned with the life I actually want.

I want to feel good from the inside out. 

What is most alluring about aging gracefully is this unusual newness of starting to not giving a f$%K what others think. That is a newness that I find intriguing. That is something I've never experienced before. 

This isn't to say that I don't want to feel my best or I'm just throwing in the towel. I think as we work on our insides, our outsides should match. As I grow into the adult I want to be, I want an outer shell that can support her. And so its give and take. Its balance. It's accepting that I can't change my past but I can shape my future however I want it to look. 

An old friend (no pun intended. We've literally been friends since age 20) and I were talking on the phone yesterday when the topic of aging came up. I mentioned how strange it was, the day I realized I was no longer that youthful twenty-something, and was actually closer to forty then thirty. We started laughing as she confessed that occasionally she walks by a mirror and sees her mother and how it sends her into fits of panic. "Man, where did the time go?" we laugh. And then we laugh even harder because we just said, "Man, where did the time go?" as we confess how we promised ourselves we'd never say that and start talking about all the other things we promised we'd never say, yet now find ourselves saying all the time. 

Aging is an interesting and extremely humbling experience. When I was living with my brother and sister-in-law, Henry, my five year old nephew would often ask me, "TT, when am I going to be a grown up?" and I'd always respond by saying, "Henry, you have plenty of time to be a grown up. Just be a little kid right now." 

But it got me thinking, we spend so much time when we are younger rushing to grow up and yet, here I am, "All grown up" and I can't help but wish that time would slow down, just a little bit, so I can catch my breath and really take it all in. 

As that cliche saying goes, "Life is short." 

And then all of this got me thinking that; man, life IS short so why do I waste so much time on things that don't matter? Like my sagging boobs and reading reviews on anti-aging cream on Amazon. And caring what others think. And being afraid of trying new things. And the list goes on. 

You can't erase your past and maybe that is what I'm trying to do with slathering on creams and lotions that tout gimmicks of restoring you to your youthfulness? There is no going back so you might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride going forward, saggy boobs and all. 

Aging gracefully, to me, is more about accepting your past and focusing on the here and now. Yes, another cliche but you gotta think that all these cliches have something to them, right? I mean, when they were originally quoted, you have to believe that who ever came up with said cliche actually, truly believed that what they were saying was one of their biggest "ah ha" moments in their life and they were just trying to spare us all and help pave the long and at times, tumultuous path. 

 I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to spend more time living, like, really living and less time worrying about aging because as I've come to realize, its inevitable. As my dad always said, 'we are all dying a little more every single day." Depressing, yes, but true nonetheless. We wake up thinking we'll get to it later, all those things we want to do, and then we realize twenty-years has gone by and we are left wondering, "Man, where did the time go?"

My friends, lets all let go of the should of's, the could of's and the would of's of our past and just cut to living. Truly living. 

As I embrace the sagging, the crows feet and the crinkles in my butt, I'm stepping forward into my second half of my thirties with a new fierceness and commitment to living well. I'm committed to taking care of my body, my mind and my spirit, not for vanity, but because I realize I deserve to feel my best. I deserve to feel that freedom within that only comes with truly living a life on purpose. 

Will you join me? 

I'll leave you with a song that has been circulating in my head ever since I started writing this post, one my mom used to sing to me as a young child that would send me into fits of giggles but has recently taken on a whole new meaning...

"Dooooo yourrrr...boobs hang low, do the wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow, can you throw them over shoulder like a continental solider, do your boobs, hang low?

And my friends, to that I say fucking celebrate your sagging boobs.