When you forgive yourself…

People have often asked me if I would change my past and it is a question I have pondered quite a bit.  The answer is always… no. I would not change any of the moments of my life, good or bad. The bad decisions I made that hurt others, including myself, have helped me grow as a person. In the process of growth I spread pain to those I care about by way of self-isolation and bad decision making, but I cannot wish to have done things differently because I wouldn’t be on this current path of enlightenment.

I have hurt and have been hurt in many ways that I wish not to discuss, that is for me to let go as I learn to forgive others and myself. The past year has been full of learning, being present and losing my mind. I had to fall apart in order to rebuild myself in peace. I have people I thank daily for the impact they have had in my healing. There are moments that cause me to stop and self-reflect and realize everything happens for a reason. Every. Single. Thing. Obstacles will always be there whether through your own mental turmoil or the actions of others, the fact of the matter is that growth of self happens when you learn to stop, reflect and give thanks instead of trying to control every outcome of our unpredictable life.

Give thanks even for the negative because they teach you to truly see and be thankful for the positive in your life. That sounds crazy, right? How can I be thankful for something that has caused me harm? Simple. I give thanks for the lesson learned and use it in my growth and/or to inspire others. Those who know my story know I battle daily with the feelings of being tainted, of being unlovable, unworthy, etc. but I have learned to view it from another perspective and give thanks for those moments that bring me low, I see how far I have come and realize I am worth so much more than I could imagine. To be able to see and feel the change inside is nothing short of a miracle. Life is not easy, everyone battles demons, it’s how we bounce back and prove to ourselves that we can persevere that keeps us moving forward.

I used to look back, take 2 steps forward and 4 back until I told myself that life is forward moving and I no longer live in the past. I had to forgive and let go. In the same vein looking forward can be a trap, it can lead you to not see the present moment; this is what I have been working on the past year. Living in the moment, stopping to give thanks, to enjoy the sun on my skin, the breeze in my hair, the changing of the leaves, the smell of lavender, and so much more. That’s when I realize I was living life wrong, I was being swept away by the future while living in the past. Confusing? Hell yes, it drove me insane, until I broke down from the back and forth of thoughts in my mind. I had to change my perspective and learn to forgive.

The person I needed to forgive was myself. When you forgive yourself a new door opens showing you a path of opportunities to move forward. At 38 years of age I am finding myself through self-love and it is beautiful and empowering. I’m no longer looking back, there’s nothing waiting for me there. I must continue to look forward and remind myself to look around at the moment I’m living. Surrounding myself with moments that bring peace, people who remind me to take a breath and live, not merely exist.

My Journey One Day at a Time

It’s been a while since I posted anything on this blog, but tonight I felt like exploring some things that have been living in my mind, I hope you don’t mind as I ramble for a bit.

So, somewhere along the way in my journey I lost myself. My sole purpose in life was to exist. Basically, I would wake up, work, be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, sleep and repeat. I became mentally beat at some point but I didn’t recognize it, I just kept going through the motions of it all.

I gained small joys in little moments of peace or moments with my daughter. She could always make me smile, but at one point, the smiling became automatic as well. When I could no longer find joy within myself I held on tight to my job of being a mother. I wanted to make sure my daughter knew her mom was ok and that I would always be there for her. I realize now how wrong I was to hide my true feelings. My smile stopped reaching my eyes, they used to sparkle with happiness and mischief, but looking through old photos the life behind the eyes had dulled. I didn’t notice.  She saw right through me, she saw that I wasn’t truly happy, I know this now because she told me.She can see the difference in me now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I didn’t have moments of true happiness, I did, but I couldn’t keep it going. At one point, I blamed others for the lack of happiness I felt inside, that was unfair of me to do.  I came to realize that true happiness comes from within, from loving me, loving life and everything that I am doing. When I realized that, I started to make changes. I started focusing more on me, I began reading again, writing, took up yoga classes, started a meditation practice and my favorite, acupuncture. I focused on ways to make myself feel better emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. I tried a few different things, but I would always end up with an empty feeling inside. I began to question myself, ‘ What was wrong with me?” ” Why couldn’t I be happy?” I reached out to my therapist and began exploring those feelings, not directly of course because at that time, I was still pretty closed off to sharing and feeling emotions. I was afraid of what others would think, I felt I was broken and didn’t think others would get it. I didn’t want to let myself feel the pain, which I needed to do in order to feel the good.

I began pouring positivity into myself, began to love me, part of my struggle was that I didn’t love myself because of a trauma history. I felt unclean, unworthy of being happy. I felt like I shouldn’t be happy. So many negative things went through my mind at all hours of the day and night, I couldn’t stop the negative self-talk. I didn’t know how to give myself compassion. I knew that what happened to me was not my fault but deep down I felt it was. If I had just said “No”, if I had said something, etc etc. I worked through some of this with my therapist, and during a session it finally clicked. I was avoiding feelings because I didn’t want to feel like that shattered person, I wanted to hide that part of me, but one day that section in my mind opened, tears flowed and that is when I began to heal.

As I began to heal on the inside, the life I was living started to weigh on me more, I felt like an impostor and I didn’t know how to break free from the vicious cycle of it all. So, I did what I normally would do, I avoided that and dove into my writing. I was still focusing on me but I was avoiding the biggest decision I needed to make. One night while I was looking for more information about writing I revisited Twitter. I began to see a new world, this was a space I could be my authentic self and I felt safe being me around strangers who would never meet me in real life, strangers that didn’t know my history. I could share my pain, my scars by writing my own poetry.

When I began using my voice via written word, I discovered a part of me that I had missed and on one of those long nights on twitter I met a group of writers that I will forever hold dear to my heart. It was the longest night of chatting back and forth on a thread, one we finally had to take to a private chat because we were getting lost in the responses. What always gets me is that night I couldn’t sleep so I logged onto twitter and the timing was just right for all of us to ” meet”.  If you have ever been on Twitter you know how fast paced it is, so to have caught part of a conversation and kept up with it was a damn miracle or possibly the universe doing its thing. We were all meant to connect. . I love each one of them dearly, each similar yet different in their own ways and it works. The most supportive bunch of people I’ve encountered in social media world and we have not even met in real life yet, its in the plans.

I lost much sleep talking to this group of people, ” The Chaos Crew” as we call ourselves now, after we went through a few name changes, this one fits us much better. We tend to cause chaos on threads. By the universe and her mysterious ways I connected with someone from “The Chaos Crew” on another level. On a much deeper level than expected that was for sure. Talking to him was easy, granted it was via private messages on Twitter at first. I’m still trying to figure this part all out, but I keep coming back to the fact that I was able to divulge such heart-wrenching memories with him with ease. I was then able to use my voice in my real life, not just social media. I felt like the puzzle piece I was missing finally clicked into place. A sense of ” this is right” came over me and I continued to explore. I continued to be authentically me, then… I fell in love. It hit me out of nowhere, the feeling of love. I was terrified of what I felt for someone I hadn’t even met in a real life setting. I told myself I was just romanticizing the situation, because I am a romance writer after all, but the more I explored my feelings, I knew it was real.

I was in trouble, I didn’t know what I was going to do now with the feelings that were swirling in my soul, because that is where I felt them, deep within myself. Like I said, I felt complete and it scared the shit out of me, but I just went with the flow and let myself feel. My friends and even my daughter noticed a change come over me. I would smile everyday and it was genuine, I have pictures to prove it. I went through a lot of changes in a short time but the ease I felt with the biggest decisions in my life (divorce,  selling my home, living on my own) let me know that this was all  part of my journey. It was as if I was building to this moment of meeting these people, and this man. I’m still working out some of the thoughts in my mind about all of it but for the first time in 18 years, I feel whole. The feeling is insane but the happiness I feel is genuine. I feel like myself again, I feel like the person I was becoming before my life took a turn into the darkness. I see light, I see the beauty in things big and small, I enjoy gazing at the stars again and just being. I enjoy my daughter completely and she sees the change in me, she tells me all the time which brings me greater joy.. I want to hold onto this feeling,  now that I’m able to feel different emotions at once, when before I didn’t let myself feel any.

I will continue working on myself because it is part of the journey, every day new experiences and new challenges present themselves and I will get through each of them one day at a time.

— Jae Vel

 

Mental Health and Social Media: An observation

By Jae Vel

I just want to say how much I love and hate social media. I opened my Twitter account over five years ago and I barely interacted with it but the last few days I started immersing myself into the Twitterverse by finding people and posts that interest me.

I started reading a lot of posts and comments on threads some hateful, some negative but surprisingly most of what I’ve read has been hilarious, positive and inspiring. I’ve been latching on to the positive messages that I’ve seen, liking/retweeting, as well as the stuff I find humorous all mixed in with the serious stuff.

What I have been really gravitating to is the positive post in regards to mental health awareness. People talking openly about depression,anxiety,PTSD, all of which I’ve suffered with for years.

I felt the need to write this after I read a post by Nick. I probably wouldn’t have found his post ,if it weren’t for the fact that I follow Daniel Gillies and his “like” brought forth the post to my home page.

Nick’s post resonated within me because I have been there. For years, I suffered in silence thinking I was alone. I have been in the darkness, in the bottom of a lonely,empty well, and I have crawled out, only to fall back in a few more times. Thankfully, I’ve found my way back out of the darkness, but I’m reminded that there are more of us out there who are suffering and you don’t have to suffer alone.

Finding others out there that I have never met and will probably never meet, who are putting it out into the Twitterverse is truly inspiring.I love that I found all this positivity out there in the middle of all the negative. Thank you to those people who are fighting every day to get out and stay out of the darkness. The journey isn’t easy but to still be able to speak positively and bring forth the awareness is greatly needed.

Thank you to all the warriors, we must stick together because the darkness is a lonely place.To whoever needs to hear this today, I want you to know that somebody is out there, you are not alone and I’m sending positive vibes your way because, you got this. I got this! We got this!

A letter to myself

A letter to myself

-Jae Vel

 

Why is the light in your eyes so dim tonight?

What do you gain from sitting in the dark, wallowing in the past?

Why are you giving it power to take over your life?

What do you gain from re-living the good and the bad?

Rise up!

Shake off the tears, all those fears.

You are stronger than your weakest moment.

Why are you struggling to breathe?

Why are you letting the pain win?

Do you think the happy moments are only a tease?

Don’t all the “what ifs” make your head spin?

Why are you letting the fog settle in?

The pain won’t last, it never does.

The pain does not define you.

Rise up!

Shake off the tears,

all those fears.

You are stronger than your weakest moment.

 

 

 

 

Late night reflection

Today, I was overcome by emotion, those that know the real me understand I feel deeply but rarely show it. At times, I feel so deeply that it overcomes my thoughts and I’m unable to move forward until I let it out in writing.

Today, I chose to get out of my comfort zone, to try to find an answer to what has been plaguing me as of late. Today, I attended a seminar regarding Latino talent retention in the work place and then later in the evening an event for the Latina network. Both events left me with more questions within myself but also with a spark. I took an interest in both of these events because I have been going through my own personal identity crisis. I’m struggling to decide if I want to fight for a cause or throw in the towel. I’m struggling to decide where I stand amidst the chaos of the world.

With the political climate and the state of the world I have been feeling at a loss. I feel, in a sense, like I have lost a label. A label that I never truly viewed as such. I am Latina but I am also an American. I am also a daughter, a mother, sister, wife, cousin, aunt and a friend. I am many things, I am a nurse, a writer, a lover of music and more. Yet, each of those aspects of my life are labeled. Example, I am a Latina but look Caucasian so often I am labeled by my own culture as “gringa”. Is it wrong to be offended? Because in actuality that is what I am. I was born and raised in a predominantly white community. I had privileges by simply going to the schools I attended. I was labeled one way by my culture and another by my surrounding community. It’s a miracle I made it this far without having an identity crisis!

I feel that I am in a minority of my own, in a sense privileged by the opportunities I had growing up and the choices I made for myself. Yes, I had choices, an abundance of them and among those choices, I chose to work serving the community as a nurse. I have a privilege or many privileges and I am unsure of what to do with that knowledge and that essence of power it represents.

I struggle. Some days more than others trying to choose the right path for me, for my family and for that sacred legacy we all wish to leave behind.

I am pulled in many directions, often to the point where I feel I lose control of who I am. And, who am I? Technically, I was labeled at birth with a name but I’ve always known within myself that my name should be different, I feel that the name I would choose would have a whimsical connotation and I feel it suits who I am. Yet, many who see me or greet me do not see me, they see what they want to see or maybe what I inadvertently portray.

I am a female struggling with the multitude of labels that have been placed upon me throughout the years. At times I struggle finding my place, I go about my day to day but in the back of my mind, I ask myself; who am I really?

The answer is actually very easy, I am all and none of the labels that have been placed upon me. I am everything and I am nothing. I have as much power as I chose to believe I have. I have as much a voice as I chose to have. I can be anything I want to be. I am Latina, I am Puerto Rican, I am American, I am a very proud mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a nurse, a writer, etc the list is quite long but most of all, I am human and I am me. There is a place for me in this world and though I stumble across it on a daily basis, I know I am a combination of all my labels all which make me uniquely me. I know what I want out of my life and what sort of legacy I want to leave behind.

Simply put, I am me. I will continue on my journey with an open mind and fight when I need to fight and know when it becomes too much for me to handle but standing strong within myself. Leaving behind that legacy for my child, that I know who I am and helping my daughter find who she is and help her to see that what she dreams, what she believes in is possible.

If I leave my daughter with something in this life I hope it’s with the certainty in her heart that she is loved and that she should always be who she is inside, never letting someone dim the light within, even when this chaotic world tries to confuse you.

I’m adding time to each day by eating dessert first…

Happy New Year, I have been on a writing hiatus and spent most of my days circling back to the subject of time.

 

Ever feel like there is never enough time in a day? That’s the story of my life, between work, family, friends, reading , writing, my daughter’s extracurricular activities and more, I have nothing left. That’s why I have decided to add time to each day. Yes,  I will create time, I seem to find time to create excuses, time to stare off into nothingness, then I should find time to create time. No, I have not lost my mind, though some days I feel I have gotten pretty close, I can still function in society.

I have found a way that works for me.

So, how will I create time?

I can’t sleep any less, yet,  I can’t seem to have enough time to finish my daily tasks I give myself. I either create more time in the day or decrease my tasks? I work a typical day 8am-430pm, Monday-Friday, in where ironically enough I speak to my clients about finding time for themselves. Time to exercise, time to eat, time to come see me. Yet, I cannot find the necessary time to do what I love.

I have tried different ways to rearrange my schedule and prioritize my days, because I’m the type of person that wants to use as much time as possible in a day, even if it means losing sleep. I can’t think after doing so much in a day let alone form coherent written thoughts. For years I overworked my mind, my emotions and my body until finally my body decided to fight back, or more like quit. I spent months unable to move without  fatigue plaguing my body and making me quit the things I loved the most. I spent months away from work because I could not function to capacity. I had to take time to heal, recoup, regenerate, and it all circled back to that dreaded word, Time.

I am learning to make the most out of my days, but not because I am accomplishing everything on my to do list on a daily basis. I have decided to create time by choosing what is most important to my mind, body and soul each day. Now, I’m pretty much back to my normal energy levels, tanks are refueled, batteries are fully charged. Some days, writing takes a back seat to my daughter and husband, and I realized that it is OK to not do everything. I’m only human and I choose to do what makes me happiest daily. Some days I choose writing over my family, work over writing, reading over work, etc., etc., but as long as I’m fulfilled, time does not seem as important. Doing what truly makes me happy, even if it changes daily, makes me feel like I’m adding time in the long run, I’m adding time to my life.

Life is too short to worry about time, time is not only measured by hours in a day. Time is measured by how you spent that day.

Life=time, time=Life.

Let’s add time to our life by having dessert before dinner.

To my munchkin on her 8th birthday:

Daughter of mine, if someone would have told me that I would have a child so like me and yet still so different,  I would not believe it. I never thought I would have a daughter like you, one who closely resembles me in many ways. Every day as I watch you when you are not looking, I’m finding the small quirks that are a part of who I am, in all the little things you do.  I find bits and pieces of my mom; your grandmother and I find parts of your daddy, but what amazes me the most are the small pieces of me.  Your expressions, the way your eyes shine, the need to move or sing when a song comes on, the way your mind works 100mph and sometimes you cannot connect it to what you are trying to say. The excitement you feel for the most miniscule things, all quirks you inherited from your mother. Finding the joy in the silliest of things that even make me look twice with surprise, like finding shapes in the clouds; I still do that. I’m wondering if you are learning from watching me or just something that is already inside of you since the moment you became a part of me.

You amaze me every day, even with your non-stop chatter that can drive me up the wall; I still love to hear your voice.  You,  using your grandpa’s phone to call me after school just to say Hi and see what you can get out of doing for the day, brings a smile to face even on my worst days. Walking thru the door and having you race to hug me; I hope that never changes, the love you have for your momma. I love our game we play ” I love you, no, I love you more, ok, you love me more”, I always let you say you love me more, but how can it be true when I would give you my very heart from my chest if you needed. I let you say you love me more, hoping that you never forget as the years pass by.

Today, another year has passed and the changes I have seen in you are astonishing. You are learning responsibilities, even keeping your dad and me on track with our schedule, you are generous and most of all a cheerful, caring young lady. I could go on and on about the goodness I see in you, but anyone who knows you, already knows how wonderful you are.  You deserve praise my beautiful baby girl. You are growing up, 8 years old today; I’m excited and happy but sad to see you growing up so fast.

Where has the time gone? The time when I would hold you in my arms and rock you to sleep by singing “Amazing Grace”, I can still sing to you but I can’t seem to get close enough to you, I can no longer carry you, my big girl.  I love that you want your mommy to tuck you in every night and sometimes still sing you that song. I love to see your eyes filled with joy and love just by being with your momma. I watch you sleep sometimes reflecting on the years that have passed by so quickly. I love to watch you smile in your sleep. You are such a happy girl; we must be doing something right, that even in your sleep you smile.

I kiss your cheek each night before I go to sleep, and you always smile and burrow further into your blankets as if you were waiting for that last kiss of the night from mommy. You are loved and I’m determined to show you every day in all our interactions. Showing you how to bake, cook, by playing games, and just being present for you, helping you learn as I also learn from you. I hope you continue on this path you are on, filled with joy,  loving life and loving your mommy unconditionally to the moon and back. For that’s how much I love you, to the moon and back and around again a few more times. My heart is filled with infinite love for you, never forget it my munchkin.

Happy Birthday, my Natalia.

Love,

Mommy

Does our music choice reveal our true inner self? 

Do we live fully for the happy moments and die a little with each heartbreak? 

As individuals we walk this earth alone, we all see the world differently, even though your bestest of friends will understand your meaning 99.9% of the time.. there is a still a part that is alone, private just for you..In those quiet moments of solitude, well, if you are lucky these moments are quiet, giving  you the time to reflect. Reflecting on the good,the bad and the “the way it goes” events of our lives and the world around us..

 I was introduced to yet another side of music yesterday and I have immersed myself in this music for the past 24 hours to gain a better understanding of the artist Gillian Welch and if I’m honest with myself to better understand the person who led me on this path. All the songs I have heard have such a soulful sound, so much sorrow reflected in the strumming of the guitars and the hypnotic voice of Gillian Welch, a few times I found myself in a thoughtful trance. Even with the more upbeat songs I can hear an underlying sorrow,  making me reflect on the other side of the person who introduced me to this music.

I  feel that after so many years of talking to this person I never really knew them at all.  The inner self, as they said, if it is anything like the music   I have been drowning in these past 24 hours,  is that of a very deep soulful individual who I thought I knew but really only knew a minuscule part of. I have only known the piece  they would share or maybe the only part I would allow to be shared with me..But the side that was revealed yesterday has made me think; this is the closest I will probably come to seeing the inner workings of my friend..As a music lover myself I find I gravitate towards the music of individuals that I can relate to, mostly the lyrical story baring their heart open for the world to open their ears and truly hear the pain inside..some individuals listen to melodies and going by this musical choice both the melody and lyrics are full of pain.. is the person who shared this with me in pain or maybe once was in such pain that it has scarred a part of them? Maybe I think too much.. But I find myself wondering, do we die a little with the heartbreaks in life? 

We all have 2 sides, some many more, the one they share with the world and the other only shared in private moments or unintentionally…does our music choice reveal our true inner workings? Maybe to better understand others, we should Listen to their song choices, their musical interest and when someone speaks, listen fully, not superficially barely scratching the surface of what is being said, but find a way to dive deeper and maybe realize we all have a side we rarely share and that it may be one full of sorrow hidden behind the facade shown to the world… Maybe just maybe one can learn more from the music choices of an individual than by  the words they speak..

Silly memories

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Silly memories (J.Vel, 1/26/15)

How can one feel so hollow inside and be filled with so much love, sadness and memories
As I sit here in the aftermath of your death, so many thoughts cross my mind
I feel I have no right to mourn you, at least, not as deeply as the rest of my family
I wasn’t there, I didn’t see the light slowly seep from your being on the daily
I wasn’t there physically but each call and each mention of you being ill, I was with you mentally, spiritually
I would pray, maybe selfishly, because I prayed you would not leave my mother’s side
I prayed because I knew my mom would be in so much pain when you left
I prayed that you would be here longer until my mom was ready to let go
And you stayed with us, even though I could see the sadness in my mom’s eyes, as she saw how the years had taken its toll on your body
Your frail body, that I saw yesterday, in your peaceful slumber from which you would no longer awaken,
I came to see you, but again mostly for my mom, and partly to see with my own eyes that your were gone
I needed to be there for my mom, to be her rock
I think what makes me feel so hollow, is that I never forgave you
Perhaps you never knew why I was never there
Perhaps you did,
Perhaps you felt my prayers each time you were ill
Perhaps, it is beyond time I forgave you for all the pain and heartache you caused my mom
Perhaps, you can forgive me for not letting you know I loved you, despite the heartaches
I wasn’t there, these past few years, I realized yesterday just how many years that was
Looking at pictures and finding a scarce supply of us in pictures together,
And I can’t seem to find a picture of you and my munchkin
No I wasn’t there, but I want to thank you
Those scarce photos, those few memories we shared
I will treasure and hold onto dearly
Thanks to you, I look at an elephants and think of you
Thanks to you, I remember the exact moment I began watching “novelas”
So many “silly” memories, that don’t feel like nearly enough
Most of all thank you for making my munchkin smile, for giving her a “silly” memory
A memory that she shared with me last night,
one that opened the tightly closed door of my happy memories of you
Is it in death that we finally see the truth?
You loved me, I’m sure you did, in your own way
And you showed me in how you were with my daughter, in those scarce moments,
And in the “silly” memories we made

J.Vel
Rest in peace my dear grandma(abuela)

Family, love and body art..

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I wanted to share with all of you a little tidbit of my life. This past Saturday I took my mom for her first ever tattoo. Not only was it her birthday but this experience was shared with her sister and her niece ( my auntie and cousin); a special time for us all.
My mom had been wanting a breast cancer ribbon tattoo ever since she has been in remission. She said “to look at it and feel good about me, to feel empowered, to feel hope and just smile and know I have won the battle so far.” I wanted her first experience to be great and have her be surrounded by her loved ones. My mom and I drove to a few tattoo shops in town and I had her look at each place until she found the one that felt just right. She explained what she wanted to the artist and she chose the design. We all decided to get the same tattoo; to show our support, hope for a cure and most of all our love for her.
My mom has been in remission for over 10 years now , she is still a nervous wreck when anyone mentions cancer. Her fear is that it will come back and she will no longer want treatment. Chemotherapy took its toll on her body and she is deathly afraid of having to go through that again. She trembles at the thought of having those chemicals kill her body from the inside once more. I don’t blame her one bit, I saw what it did to her every Friday afternoon during her sessions. I try not to think about those days but when I do, I realize how strong my mom is. I mean I knew she was strong but remembering all that she went through, her struggles, her fight, she is beyond strong. She fought for herself but mostly for her kids. She has always been our rock.
She is my hero, always has been. Everyday I hope to be more like her and now that I’m a wife and mother myself I hope that I’m half as great as she is. I love the fact that my daughter takes after her and she enjoys every moment she spends with her grandma.
So this past Saturday was more than just getting body art, more than breast cancer ribbons, it was about family and love. An experience I won’t soon forget, seeing the happiness in my mother’s eyes made the pain of my foot tattoo worth it. Watching her smile and look at her body art and be proud, was just…. priceless. She is a fighter, she is my hero, and I’m proud to call her mine.

—J.Vel

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