Season of Change

I’ve been itching to blog, but had to prioritize other items on my to do list. I’m learning to appropriate (verb) time for responsibilities, AS WELL AS the other practices/activities that fill my cup. So, here I am; blogging at 9:30PM on a Saturday night and mighty excited to do so. Angie is sleeping, the house is clean, laundry is drying and the sounds of highway traffic are coming through my screen door. Little by little, I’m getting to where I want to go. When I say that, I mainly think of my professional endeavors. I already incorporate all the simply ways life is wonderful into my daily routine. My non-negotiables include a little scripture in the morning or evening, journaling my prayers daily, a delicious cup of coffee, a little bit of working on my business Tues-Sat (gave myself off on Sundays and Mondays, for the most part…balance), spending time with my family, eating foods I enjoy and moving in ways I find fun. That may seem like a lot, but they don’t take up too much time and, if we’re really breaking things down, we do WAY more than that in a day without realizing it. I’m pretty sure I always found ways to add small (or large) doses of whatever I found important to my day. In the past, some of those favorites including partying or sleepovers with friends; competing in bodybuilding; traveling. There were so many seasons I shifted in and out of; each had its own special purpose in my growth and experience. The changes I’m undergoing now are really special because I really feel like I’m applying the lessons from those previous experiences. I feel this nice internal peace in me on most days and I know God is the reason.

This post is going to get a little deep, so maybe press pause if you’re not in the mood. LOL! Honestly, is there ever a time when I don’t get a little deep? Come on, now.

I stopped believing in God for a while. Looking back, it actually looks more like a refusal to believe. Over time, things happened…some were really terrible and are things I have to admit I’m still healing from…coming to terms with…giving myself permission to remember without being overcome with shame or remorse. Do you ever look back and feel negative emotions about some of your memories? I really think we all do, but not everyone talks about it. Some people ask, “what’s the point?” and I understand why. Part of me still asks that question, but the other part of me responds with another memory. I shared a little piece of that memory in an Instagram post I wrote on September 10, 2019. I didn’t really mean to share so much, but I started writing because I was annoyed at something and I ended up going right into one of the darkest memories of my life. It was #WorldSuicidePreventionDay and I intended to share resources, but ended up sharing about how fitness became a sort of “treatment” for my own mental health issues.

You can read the post here.

So, this memory comes up when I ask myself why I should even bother entertaining thoughts about my past. It’s come up a few times in the last couple years, especially as I navigated difficult circumstances. I end up reminding myself that I need to give myself space to still work some things out. I didn’t always give myself the time or space to process my experiences when I was younger. I was quick to move on or forgive and forget. I just wanted to be done with difficult things; so much so, that I didn’t deal with the negative emotions. Eventually, things bottle up and I found myself adjusting to others based on experiences that had nothing to do with them. I pretty much packed my book-bag with my trauma and took it everywhere with me. In a weird way, it was like a safety net because I could blame my toxic behaviors on the terrible things I went through.

Newsflash, self. I can only progress as a person IF I do the work.

It took a lot of time to learn that lesson, but I learned it! Thank God. Carrying stuff around gets really heavy, and if you’re already carrying something that’s heavy to begin with, what do you think will happen as time passes? Maybe you think the thing will get lighter or that you’ll get stronger. Maybe you don’t actually think about things. How ever you choose to cope (or not cope), the experiences we run from are still with us, keeping up the pace. As a teenager and well into adulthood, I did a lot of numbing when I felt pain. It was terrible and ineffective. Those destructive behaviors led to depression, anxiety, toxic relationships and just a whole crock of crap. I could fill an encyclopedia with pages about the painful and downright ugly experiences I had as a result of not dealing with my stuff.

I’ll spare you.

Today, I remembered that memory again and a few other painful memories, as I drove to the #OutoftheDarknessWalk in San Francisco. If you’ve never heard of it, click here to learn more (and to get involved, if it falls on your spirit to do so). It wasn’t a huge walk, like the AIDS Walk in NYC, but it was still a couple hundred people who came together to hurt together and heal together. Suicide is just devastating, so, naturally, listening to others share their pain was really sad. It was also so necessary. Of course, people talked about the good memories they had of their loved ones. That’s really important because the truth of the matter is, that last moment was only one moment of an entire lifetime. Those last moments didn’t define the people who took their lives; I don’t know if any moment does.

I heard a quote as I was wrapping up my day today and I guess it got me thinking because all of this came up.

If you find yourself accepting the feedback others give you as truth, let me be the one to let you know YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT. In fact, I freaking hope you STOP. I encourage you to question all your told; question the intention and the true meaning behind it all. I hope you have enough confidence and connection within yourself to identify complete BS regarding who you “are” and “aren’t”; how to feel; or what to do/say/think at any given time (don’t get silly and start taking this as me encouraging defiance LOL, I’m just saying you might benefit from asking some clarifying questions). We live in a world filled with people who are simultaneously creating and destroying. If and when (because you will) find yourself in the company of a human weapon of mass destruction, be sure to just disagree with all the ways they try to tear you down.

I’m dead serious.

Negativity comes in many forms. It looks like someone complaining about the weather or the job they have (guilty!). It looks like someone criticizing your preferences or downplaying your dreams. Negativity comes from people you care about and respect, probably more often than it does from people you don’t know; and that’s simply because you’re actually giving your loved ones the space to share and speak freely. We don’t benefit from taking it personal. We really don’t. However, we do benefit from asking and understanding why a person may feel so inclined to say such things. Now, you may not get a response from everyone because, let’s face it, they don’t owe you an explanation. LOL! HOWEVER! I have an idea…and it’s a good one!

You can start with YOURSELF.

So, I knew I had some destructive behaviors/thoughts/etc going on into my early adult life. God saved the day(s) again in 2010, when one of my best friends suggested we study abroad. She told me this 3 days before the application was due, like a silly person LOL (thanks, Gelly!) but I got it done and, boom, we were in Italy a few months later. It was one of best impulsive decisions I ever made. It also allowed me to get away from my environment and really reflect on who I became up to that point. I didn’t like a lot of who I was, so I started to make really important adjustments; the changes weren’t really so noticeable, but they were significant because I changed what I tolerated from myself and others. Life changed a lot for me, and quickly.

I know this is long, so I’ll try to wrap it up.

We tolerate a lot from others and everyone has their reasons why. I know when and why I tolerated things I needed to put a stop to. Having recognized that and learned from it, I now have way less tolerance for the crap I used to allow. I just respect and cherish myself so much more than I did as a younger woman. I don’t think I knew it was okay to tell people they were wrong about what they were saying to me when they spoke to me ABOUT ME. That is totally not the case anymore. #growth is being able to disagree with a person’s assessment of me because they’re only basing their opinion of snapshots of my life versus the whole, long story of my life. Moments. They’re powerful, but they don’t define us.

Well, there’s a lot of change in my life right now, especially as I work continually at taking CastroStrong to the next level. It’s a little baby right now, but it’s entering its toddler life and the growth spurt we’re preparing for is going to be LIFE-CHANGING. I really am enjoying the process. I didn’t know I would love wearing the entrepreneur hat, but I really do. I just feel…full. Working on projects gets me really excited and I’m very grateful I get to do this. I realize, now, that working on healing and letting go of the negative things I carried…it really helped me build up the courage to start a business; it helped me open up and get more creative. I couldn’t do that when I was busy defending myself against everything and everyone. Thank God I didn’t take longer than I did LOL I’m starting to figure things out in really cool and fun ways…in ways that allow me to experience peace and joy, even when life is hard.

If any of this resonated with you, maybe it’s time for a little change. What ever that change looks like for you, I’d love to be apart of the process. I was thinking about a few things I want to change in my own life and decided it would be fun (and super helpful) to invite others to do the same (because who doesn’t live a gym-buddy/life-buddy/accountability-buddy). If you’re interested, head over to http://www.castrostrong.com/change to sign up for the 30-day challenge. Otherwise, I hope you do what is right for you in all areas of life and do it with confidence that rocks the ground you walk! (currently 11:53PM because I do seven things at once and can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time.)

Last thought, if you need prayer, let a sister know.

Okay, have a good one LOL, good night and God bless!

– E

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