I'm intrigued by the idea of reserving space in my home to meditate, perform rituals, pray, journal, maybe take the accidental nap here and there 👀...I have a comfy little spot now, but I'm always on the lookout for design ideas.
I've got a favorite spot in Chicago that is a beautiful tea house in this gorgeous Japanese Garden. It feels so private and secluded, but it's in the middle of a huge metropolis!
As much as I love me some tea houses, it's not exactly my design aesthetic so I set out to search for modern interpretations of these personal sacred spaces. I am drawn to cozy and bohemian, but was surprised at the way some of the modern spaces (the all glass and lucite box in Kyoto?!) made me swoon, too. Here are a few of my faves:
The spiritual journey, for me, can sometimes feel like a 1000-piece puzzle with missing corner pieces. Any scroll of Instagram is chock full of memes suggesting I need to "Let It Go" or articles about the importance of "releasing your old stories". In theory, I understand, but sometimes I just feel like I need more. As a relative newbie on this journey I often find myself wonderingWHAT exactly do I let go of, how exactly do I release a story? Is there a Spiritual Journey for Dummies book out there, because I'm GREAT at following steps?! I can feel like I am lugging around 40 years of stories, and I'm afraid I'm gonna drop the wrong one. I can just picture the Universe rolling it's eyes at me,
"No, girl. I didn't mean that one. Don't let THAT one go, you need that one...duh!"
That said, I think the biggest lesson I take from this adventure is that there can't be a Dummies book FOR A REASON. Life isn't something you get to sail through like a Math test: cram the night before and then pass the test. The Universe will keep sending me lessons, and I find the answer through the experience of the lesson. The experience IS the answer, the puzzle was never meant to have corners--that is just my old fashioned brain still holding onto old patterns.
To give an example, something happened today that felt like a personal shift-something I could share that might help someone else. Some days, these lessons just CLICK and I feel like I am actually making headway. (Side note: This is something I need to constantly remind myself-- I can be a good person and still have faults. I can be kind and still have things in my past i'm not proud of. I'm not going to change everything about myself overnight, and my goal isn't perfection-- it's authenticity. So, I celebrate the tiny victories.)
So, here is my real life experience with letting go:
I have always been an emotional, sensitive human (Cancer sun and moon 😩 ). As a little girl, the family joke was that if my parents just gave me a look I would burst into tears. I was very shy and had a very tender heart. As the little sister to a tough as nails Leo, I eventually decided that I had to "show no weakness" to survive intact. When the familiar lump in my throat (signifying sadness, hurt) would start to form, I found ways to fight back and turn that into anger. Anger was strong, emotion was vulnerable--that's what I thought and that's the pattern I started to repeat. I smushed my sensitive nature down so far, that my go-to response to stimuli became one of defense, nearly all the time. Not a fun way to live.
So, here's the shift moment: I had an experience today where I was given something by my landlady that made me start to slip into my old pattern: DEFENSE. "What does THIS mean" and "what exactly is she trying to say?!" I immediately slipped into my triggered pattern. Back went up. Started to climb into my shell and warm up my pinchers.
But then, I stopped. New brain fired up. This item was completely innocuous. She hadn't said anything negative and MOST LIKELY was actually trying to be sweet. And furthermore, who am I to decide her intention? I am free to assign any meaning I want to an item, so why would I choose a negative one? I don't want to. Whatever past story I have in my head about what she meant in giving me this is MY baggage. So, I let that go. I choose to see the item as a kind gesture, a thoughtful gift...and let my old story slip away. I sent a thank you text to her, and meant it. It felt really freeing to use that practice of changing perception...The memes are right, I really needed to let it go.
[Update: My landlady stopped by for a visit later, and I shared what happened. She had NO idea I would take it the wrong way. She had two of something and wanted to share, plain and simple. The next day, she text ME that sharing the practice of checking the meaning I assign to things was helpful to HER as she had started implementing it into her day!!! Magical]
The capacity to achieve a balance in life is a skill I am still working to perfect. I have always sought out Libras as friends and lovers, mostly because I think I am craving that innate sense of balance that appears to come so naturally to that sign. My two lifelong best friends, who I met 6 years apart, are not only both Libras, but they both have the exact same birthday. And both are the picture of "just enough" in all areas of life. Anna is a yoga teacher who can also be the life of the party. Her Instagram is a collection of photos of gooey, cheesy, double decker burgers...and her various fitness activities and healthy lifestyle choices. She was never a serial dater, but dated enough to know when she found the right person to marry, and she was the world's most low-key bride who never seemed to stress about anything. She is never overly ANYTHING...never high-strung or excitable or intensely gloomy. She is even keel, and could best be described as just--harmonious. Same goes for my childhood best friend, who although she is a few months younger than me, was tapped by my parents to "babysit" me when they would go out of town. She is a caring, picture-perfect mother of 3, and runs a beautiful house in the 'burbs of Chicago with ease, but is the first one to throw some ice cubes in a glass of red wine and get out on the dance floor on a night out. They are so authentically at peace with who they are, and neither one of them ever feels like they are TRYING too hard at being anything other than authentically themselves. I admire that about them so much.
My first serious boyfriend, also a Libra, had that same lovely ease about all the dualities of his personality--he was Homecoming King, whip smart, and also a bit of a stoner who was once Suspended for ditching school. Everyone loves him. He was not the richest, hottest, best dressed...he was just irrefutably himself in every sense and for every yin there was a yang.
I find myself drawn to these Libras because I know that it is a quality I can lack when I'm not staying aware. I go full throttle between extremes, and I am determined to embody more of those balanced Libra scales...
Today was one of those really, really, really powerfully wonderful days where you just know you are in "Flow". That's one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot, and I always thought it was a little bit eye-roll/woo woo for me, but then I experienced it for the first time, and was like..."oh, well damn. HELLLOOO FLOWWW." It's the most incredible feeling in the world and I highly recommend it. All it takes is a complete nervous breakdown and a year of hardcore solitude and working on yourself, and BOOM! There is the Flow. (I kid, for some people it's probably much easier...or maybe harder? I'm not sure)
Here is what Flow looked like for me today...
I got up and did my morning routine, pulled a few Tarot cards to set the intention for my day, and got The Hermit and The Wheel of Fortune. Really amazing and strong cards, suggesting that my time of solitude and introspection is leading me in the path of my destiny. Cool as shit, right?
I did some work for the day job and it just...flowed. Everything was cool, calls made, messages done. Noticed I was running a little behind for an afternoon appointment, and then that appointment text me and asked to push it back a half hour. Flow. I ran into the cute boy next door TWICE in one day and I said something funny/awkward while we were waiting for the elevator...which is totally on brand for me and made me laugh to myself for the next hour or so.
I was feeling a little bummed about not heading to Chicago this weekend where i would get to see some of my friends from NYC, then one of those friends text me that she would be coming to LA next week, and asked if she could stay with me. Um, yes...Flow on in girl. We also had a great convo about her possibly moving here to LA and I am visualizing the shit outta that for her (and me) :)
I walked out of my building to see one of my favorite Street Artists in the middle of a HUGE mural right across from me. There is a TON of other special meaning to this particular artist for me...a story too long to write up now, but trust me, I will one day. Either way, this huge mural was being created in front of my eyes, and it happened to say "You are a Goddess in a City of Angels" with a pair of angels wings. It was on the side of a building that had been the scene of one of the scariest moments of my breakdown last summer (see previous post) and seeing that there brought tears to my eyes. Talk about some Graffiti Alchemy right there.
I got to my meeting on time and spent a few hours chatting with a really dope mentor and friend in her artist studio space, plotting plans for the future. I ended up deciding to do a 3 month lease of some co-share space in what is a really incredible art and creative space, and I'm so fricking excited. I had taken a healing through movement class there when I was in a particularly dark place, so again...the transmutation of energy felt like some serious Flow was occurring. I released some pain there 6 months ago, and now I will be making art and growing my creativity and dreaming up a new future there. It felt so fitting. My friend posted a story about returning to a place with her boyfriend that had previously been a place of sadness and pain, and having the right person there with her changed the perspective for her. She was able to see the beauty of the place again because it now felt like she had been healed. In a way, that's the same echo of my day today...revisiting these places that I had walked through when I felt so much darkness and fear, and being able to feel light, and happy, and excited about what they represented now. That felt like some genuine ass Flow to me. I could never recount all the ways the Universe and my Angels and Healers and Guides have given me subtle (and some REALLY OBVIOUS) signs over the past year--sometimes it feels unreal because when you are truly in a place of Flow, the unbelievable begins happening all around you. From speaking a giant bean bag chair into existence (true story) to just wanting to cry tears of joy everytime some new image or song or perfectly timed person happens along the path, reminding you that when you let life Flow, and you take each little baby step towards your authentic purpose there is NOTHING that is impossible. Life is so beautiful it makes me want to cry, and I do--frequently. But, I don't hold the tears back anymore...I just let them Flow.
Today is one of those days where I feel low, so instead of wallowing in it, I'm going to finally type out the story of that one time I had a complete breakdown--and it changed my life.
I used to be addicted to a gang of pills (prescribed by a wild haired Dr. who ran a ritzy practice in an Orange County beach town) for everything from weight loss to anxiety. I took them steadily for about a year and a half, and with each visit to the office I felt like I left with more pills, higher dosages. It was a pupu platter of uppers that synergized in a way that made me basically Bradley Cooper in the movie Limitless. I had amazing energy, could eat anything and was dropping weight, and I never slept...2-3 hours a night, maybe. I worked, literally, around the clock for months on end. I was a machine and I look back now at the sheer amount of work I did in those months, and it astounds me. I felt unstoppable.
Funny thing is, after 5 months of sleeping less than 20 hours a week, your brain starts to shut down even when the pills keep your body going. I didn't know that's what was happening, I just started to see things, and hear things, and I felt on edge and short with everyone around me. I was in a state of manic and it bled into every area of my life.
After being single since I moved to LA in July 2015, I decided to try online dating, but in my manic state it became yet another job that I met at a frenzied pace. I would spend hours swiping, swiping, swiping...carrying on multiple conversations and giving each guy a nickname in my phone just to keep track of all of them. I didn't meet them all, actually only went on one real date in the month I was actively on the sites, but I was getting off on the attention. I spent hours taking selfies and having long drawn out text relationships--I mean hundreds and hundreds of texts, with men all over the world. For the first time in a long time I felt really wanted and my ego was turned all the way up. I look back at photos from last summer and I don't even know who that person is...even the guys look different to me now.
I started to sense something strange happening with some of the guys I was talking to, which I can now see was probably 50% the Universe telling me I was out of control, and 50% the fact that I hadn't slept in months and was hallucinating. My anxiety issues went from mild to BEYOND control and I began to suffer panic attacks so bad I can't even think about them now. The problem was, because my body was shutting down, I didn't realize it was the anxiety and panic talking, and became convinced that someone was out to get me. I thought I was being followed, my internet had been hacked, someone had bugged my apartment--you name it, I thought it. It was the most horrifying few months of my life.
Because of my paranoia, I decided to stop taking the pills--cold turkey. Let me tell you what happens when you go from hundreds of milligrams of 4 different meds that affect your brain--carefully scaled up in dosage over the course of a year--and you STOP TAKING THEM ALL AT ONCE. I broke completely down. My body, brain, health, motivation, emotions...a complete disaster.
Convinced I was being followed around LA, I once hid out in the public bathroom outside of my buildings leasing office for, who knows how long...an hour, maybe two? I was having a nervous breakdown locked in the room in the dark, fearful that someone would find me if I turned the light on. I was drenched in sweat and crying, sitting on the floor, scared for my life.
Each day I became even more convinced that I was being spied on, so I "slept" with a pair of scissors under my pillow at night and barricaded my door shut with a clothing rack. I carried a wad of cash, my passport, and packed a bag, convinced I would need to run, and one day fled my apartment in a panic with no idea where I was going. I was too afraid to use Uber because I thought "they" were tracking me, so I asked my doorman to call a cab. Before I left he grabbed my shoulders and looked me in my eyes,
"Are you OK?" he asked, his concern reflecting the terror I must've been exuding.
"Yeah, my life is just a little weird right now." I told him, and left the building to climb into the waiting cab.
Because the cab had circled the block, I became convinced he was a part of the "plot" to get me, and started questioning him (the poor cab driver!) about who was following me. I could tell he wasn't going to spill the details, so I just told him to take me to Santa Monica and drop me near the pier.
I wandered around Santa Monica for hours, alone and carrying a bag filled with cash and my belongings, until it started to get dark. Too afraid to go home, I found a hotel that felt busy and paid $300 for a night just to be somewhere public where I could feel safe.
That night, convinced that "they" were surrounding the hotel waiting for me to leave, I told my best friend that she would be sorry for not believing me when I was found dead. That, and many other parts of that nightmare time, were such low points in my life that I could cry right now just writing this. I spent weeks feeling like there were snipers on my building, that I was being constantly followed and monitored, and that I had stumbled onto some secret bit of information that suddenly made me valuable to "them". Whomever that may be, I didn't know.
The truth is, I had friends all over the country: San Diego, Chicago, New York begging me to come stay with them so they could help me, but I refused every time. Partially because I am working on my ability to accept help, but also because some deep down part of me held onto a kernel of sanity that kept saying "Be Brave and Get Through This". No matter how afraid I was, I knew that running away was giving into it...the fear would follow me no matter where I went. My life for 2 months was CONSUMED with gut wrenching fear and anxiety and I look back at pictures now and see how sick I looked. I had broken apart.
A lot of times, especially as strong women, we are so hesitant to give ourselves the credit we deserve for surviving. It's like we feel guilt for feeling proud of ourselves, when somewhere in Africa a child is hungry. But when I tell snippets of the real story to the friends who were there for me at the time, I am so grateful for having gone through this nightmare. I was surrounded at all times by love, from my friends, strangers, angels, and eventually by my own love. I showed myself how absolutely fucking brave I can be when tested, and I am learning to really feel my way into that without making it about ego. I didn't do this alone, I was always being held. I also had the chance to really, truly embrace a more spiritual path for my life--so much of what got me through each day was just staying present and breathing my way through the fear. I began to meditate more to ease the anxiety, and I am readjusting to this body that is prescription pill free and needs me to pay attention to what it wants and needs.
More than anything, I have given myself permission to FEEL again...like truly, fully feeling every single emotion that passes through me. I allow it to come, I observe it, I thank it, and I let it go with gratitude for reminding me of something I need to pay attention to. Some days, like today, I have moments of feeling low, but I have figured out my own ways of channeling that into more productive energy. Tonight, it was writing this story, some days it's sitting outside with my face in the sun, going for a walk, playing loud music and dancing in my kitchen, or just sitting still and breathing. I haven't gotten rid of the darkness that I went through, but it is such an incredible thing to know that I was able to find the light in it.
I am grateful, I am at peace, and I sleep like a fucking baby now.
i am beckee.
Lover, Writer, Artist, Curser, Creator, Moonchild, LA Dweller, and Star Gazer on a Quest to Find the Beauty and Love in Everything