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The Work

Sooooo, HEYYYYYY! I know I know, it’s been MONTHS and I’m sorry. The short version, lack of motivation and inspiration. I wasn’t motivated to write because I’d become complacent in the comforts of a few years hard work and I wasn’t inspired because those comforts got me away from the work that made me capable of creating content. Prayer, meditation, and reading are my spiritual lifelines and, let’s just say I’m currently on spiritual life support. I think that’s what this piece may be turning into...I thought I was gonna write about my kid.

The Reminder. I was catching up with an old acquaintance and while discussing why I hadn’t been writing, the conversation soon shifted to why I wrote at all. All the bleh from my past, heck, all the things I go through daily have to be acknowledged, processed, and responded to in order for me to move positively and productively through life...to grow. That was the personal value of the blog to me. Because I had this obligation to produce honest content, it forced me to deal with things on a weekly basis. The value I tried to add to others’ lives was in showing my work and not just talking a bunch of result-laden spiritual shit. I share the shame of what it was like, the guilt around what has happened, and the victory of what it’s like now to show that my life’s goods weren't gifted but earned. This conversation was a stark reminder of my purpose and why it’s important that I get back to it.

The Work. My friend recommended this documentary called The Work, I highly recommend it as well. The doc chronicles civilian men going into Folsom State Prison for a four-day group therapy retreat. To watch this drastically varied dynamic of personalities and backgrounds dig up the ugly stuff and (at times, physically) fight through the traumas they held or ignored was incredibly powerful. They’d all had an experience that shifted their life’s trajectory. Where some wound up in prison, others had excessive ego problems, anger management issues, or an inability to be fully emotionally present in life…that’s a prison in itself. The universal relevance here is that shit happens to us all, it’s that we respond and how we respond that affords us the opportunity to have actual joy (not conditional happiness) in life. This doc, in a roundabout way, reminded me of how and why the work was integral in where I am today, the good and the bad.

The Cause. In one of my last blogs, I mentioned being in a “reaping season,” and boy was I. The last few months of the year I was being showered with blessings in life developments and tangible things. I was well aware that this was a result of the 4yrs of not perfect, but consistent growth efforts. I chased God (self-knowledge, truth, service, and growth) wholly and I got more than I asked for in a fraction of the time I’d anticipated. I got comfortable in it and then I got entitled because of it. As my life expanded, I lost sight of my process and purpose and focused on my presentation. Bad move. I stopped going to therapy because things leveled out with my son. I stopped reading because “I didn’t have time” and prayer and mediation became as-needed activities. Contentment quickly became an external thing that fostered internal unrest.

The Effect. Shit happens, it always will. I get back from my one-month mandatory staycation from work (amassed too much PTO) and things were just very different. Then some things happened, the energy shifted, and so did several aspects of my job that brought me joy. I moved into this bigger new house to build a home for and with my son and then I started seeing him less. Not seeing him cleared the space for the distance that had been there to wedge its way back in. I wasn’t spending more time alone but the time I was spending alone started to feel lonely now. Then comes COVID. The first week of the stay-home order I bugged out. The worst projections of outcomes and this grossly embellished anticipated misery and loneliness consumed me. My eating became like my meditation, as needed only, and I’m not sleeping practically at all. When I do, it’s on the couch that I spend my days on because there’s nowhere to go during the days. I was resenting my friends because they all had partners and family’s that got their time and I’m just in my house all alone (woe is me). I craved connection and I wasn’t going to the one source the was always there. I kept looking outward to find internal peace.

The Realization. I’m not just unhappy in day to day life, I’m fucking miserable. I mean, I’m okay in the sense that I’m not drinking, I can still make a joke here and there, show up for life as needed, and I don't want to off myself or anything. I could be doing worse. It’s just, having not only experienced joy but having lived in it, anything less is a far cry from acceptable. It has been said that “your bottom is when your situation worsens before you have a chance to lower your standards.” My situation has been worsening, professionally, socially, familially (idk if thats a word), and spiritually and I don’t want to lower my standards. Having worked through much of my muck, I can fix this. I’ve simply lost sight of or lost touch with the fact that I know the solution.

“Looking within is more effective than bitching.” ~Me

The Solution. The work. So, what is the work? For me its Connection, Introspection, Acknowledgment, and Ownership.

Connection: To something. Prayer meditation and reading are how I connect to God. With people, it's investing time and energy into the ones who model my desired outcome, by asking for help, and listening to advice and suggestions.

Introspection: Going inward and drudging back up old stuff or facing the current things that unsettle my peace. It's not fun but now I can re-frame and change my response to it with the help of my connection(s).

Acknowledgment: Honor these situations as real, don’t diminish how I feel about them or their effects on me. Underselling it results in my addressing the wrong issue and I'll just have the same problem in a different manifestation soon enough.

Ownership: It's kinda about what I did, but reeeeally about why I did. Surface-level ownership is taking responsibility for my actions. Deeper ownership is taking the deep dive to figure out why this thing bothered me so...and remedying that.

*advocating for people to meet my comfort standards is not ownership, it's actually opposite.

Why does it work? Because I have support, tools, and a plan, I'm less affected when unpleasant things pop up. This allows me to be less reactionary and more capable of responding to situations in ways that align with the best-version-of-myself. What I know never stopped working, I just stopped working with what I know. Every unpleasant thing in my life at this moment is a result of my own actions and reactions. By owning that, all of my struggles become infinitely more manageable and what once seemed impossible now becomes attainable.

Perfectly Imperfect is about growth and growth can not come without the work. Yes, we are products of our experiences but we are not defined by them. Our “negative” experiences are a part of our perfection. How we internalize and identify AS those experiences are our imperfection. Whether it's childhood trauma, work drama, or that dude at Bojangles’ who keeps putting white meat in my clearly requested all dark-meat tailgate special, they are all merely experiences that I can either choose to get over or work through. Today, I am choosing to stop allowing my baggage to color my experiences and letting those colored experiences dictate my life. Today, I commit to getting my joy back. Today, I’m returning to The Work.

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