Breaking the Chains

imagesCADI0KIS 

When I found myself stripped of all my possessions, my freedom, even my identity, it was a very humbling experience. In a nut-shell, I have had a very good life. I have had a very fortunate life, extra-ordinary some might say. But I am also a recovering addict. My addiction finally got the best of me and brought me to my ‘rock-bottom’, as they say, in a quick six to eight months. Yes, I somehow was a functioning addict for about a decade where I worked, graduated college, travelled, was featured as an extra in three films, studied dance & Ballet, yoga and snowboarding, as well as writing for mostly my whole life. I had all of these things going on in life, I was actually alive, and living my life, seeking out new things, yet, all the while my addiction visited me on the side. My addiction was never my number one priority, until a combination of divorce/trauma/opiates entered my life all at the same time. Before this equation my life was also legally undisturbed.

When I was a functioning addict, I hated the fact that I had this ‘dual’ lifestyle. During the day, when I was working, or out with friends, or in class at the University of Utah, or doing things that I love/enjoy doing, I was a normal citizen just like everyone else. On my college campus, I went to class, drank cappuccino and pounded away on my laptop in the student center or cafe. On the outside, I was just fine. But with the ‘duel’ lifestyle comes the darkness that we face, feel and fear on the inside. And in that darkness, is where my addiction has lived for many many years. In all my years of studying and learning about the disease of addiction, I can comfortably say that all addicts have this darkness, whether it’s a little bit or a whole lot, darkness comes with addiction. The darkness is the part that I didn’t want anyone to see. It was my weakness. My inability to have self-control. It was my inner critic, my inner bully and my inner enemy. It was the other side of the ‘happy-functioning-woman’ that was me in the light of day, it was my dark-soul’s sadness that fought this addiction, that hated myself for having the addiction, that hated the addiction, but in the same day, would turn around and feed that addiction. I hated this part of me…

In the midst of my downward spiral, the darkness in my soul took over me. It became more of me than any sort of light that I had left. And in this time and space, I was a prisoner of my own mind. When things got really bad and I reached a point where I stole to support my habit, after the loss of my job, I was so blinded by this darkness that I had lost all sense of hope and of happiness. Those things were a figment of my imagination. I felt completely helpless and I had no idea how to pull myself back up, out of this dark place. I had no clue where I was ever going to find the strength to be me again. After about six months of living this way, I felt like I had completely forgotten who I was. I had lost myself in the dark abyss of addiction.

As a result of my actions and very bad choices, I woke up in prison. I was given a short sentence, compared to some, but it felt like an eternity to me… someone who has always been free to do what I want. There I was. Stripped of my identity, I had nothing left. I had nowhere to go. It was in those moments when I found my clarity, my strength, I began to find myself again. Instead of making excuses, I told the truth. And in those truths, the freedom came. I began to break the chains that I had carelessly placed on my soul, the chains that kept me down in the dark for so long, the chains that were heavy and painful, the chains that I hated. I began, inside of that prison, to feel free again for the first time in almost a year… a very long and painful year… the year that was the conclusion to the divorce/trauma, any of the reasons that I used to justify why I was feeding an addiction that I hated, and killing myself each and every day.

imagesCAVFA3CM …why was I giving all my strength to something in which I wanted to be free from?

Inside those walls, behind the gates and barb-wire fences, I began to give my strength to myself. I was cleansing myself of the toxins and the poisons in which I carelessly put in, and I was healing. You could see my eyes again, they were clear and bright. My soul was waking up after a long time being lost in the darkness.

imagesCA1I708Q Forgiveness starts from within…

I guess my point here is this, even in the most terrible of circumstances, like losing everything and rendering yourself in prison, you can still find things to be grateful for. Like me, I was grateful for another chance, an opportunity to ‘correct’ myself. A place to find myself again and start back on the path that I once was on… Living my life. I was humbled more than I can try to explain. I learned the meaning of self-love again, and I felt the concequences of not loving my own soul. I understood the meaning of having nothing. This was one of the greatest lessons I learned, among many others. Forgiveness had to take place in order for me to ‘feel free’ inside that place. Forgiveness was the key ingredient in breaking the chains on my soul. Today is the first day of the rest of my life… let’s see where it will take me…

That’s all for now…

~ Jen

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Existential Crisis & the Abyssian

  What freedom’s lie on the horizon of my life?

Staring at the screen, I find myself looking at such endless possibilities. Earlier tonight I focused a little bit on all of the things I have gone through to bring me to this point. There are, you see, many things that have made my life unique, personal, different and challenging. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone on this earth.

What am I searching for? Am I satisfied? No. I want more. Perfectionism? No. I know better. Contentment? Yes. That sounds great. As I look back, as I look forward, I realize that I’m aware of my past, but I cannot be obsessed with it.  I need to focus on the present. However, I am aware of the things in which I desire in the future. But nothing will get me there unless I’m conscious of what choices I make now. This is not me preaching, its me teaching only myself because ultimately, that’s all that really matters.  At this point, with all of my wandering thoughts, I can’t help but wonder, am I having an existential crisis?

Existential crisis – is a stage of development at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose or value; whether their parents, teachers, and loved ones truly act in their best interest; whether the values they have been taught have any merit; and whether their religious upbringing may or may not be founded in reality.

How is this happening? My over analytical mind is in over drive, but, isn’t it always? I have been informed that existential crisis may result in the sense of being alone and isolated in the world; or a new-found grasp or appreciation of one’s mortality; hum, very interesting… yes, these hit home for me right now.  But also, believing that one’s life has no purpose or external meaning.  I have had this crisis before yes, much more so in the last two years, but as for present moments, no, not so much.  It is also said that existential crisis may result in an awareness of one’s freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom.  Ah wow!! Post prison, I wake up everyday with a sense of ultimate freedom, appreciation for my freedom.  I appreciate all the things that I am free to do, things that we all have as American’s that sadly, so many of us take for granted. So sad…

What does it mean to truly be free?

Yes please!! Put me on a beach and my spirit is truly free!! I can feel free generally anywhere outside when I’m surrounded by the elements of the earth.  But freedom’s and what it truly means to be free is different for some people, I think.  Freedom is said to be; being able to make choices. Performing an action of your own choosing.  Freedom will always be relative to the environment/situation which you inhabit.  So, with all of the realities that I face, personally, in the life that I call mine, are my possibilities and said freedom’s freaking me out?

Shaming your freedom – You are the catalyst of your crisis, if that’s what you choose…

I sat with a dear friend a few nights ago and we talked about the reality of hard work.  There is this person in my life, who, let’s just say, has it real good.  She has it so good, in fact, that I could honestly compare her to living the ‘Kardashian life’.  I coin this term relatively speaking about a certain celebrity family who is all over TV and Hollywood.  They are only famous for their money, not their talent, as they don’t really have any.  I’m sure everyone knows the Kardashians. (I am a fan of the show, so don’t think I’m bagging on them, they just have it real good…)  They have it so good that their lives are a fantasy for the rest of us, hard-working people, and to think about living that life for just one day, seems too good to be true.  The person in my life that lives this way is a direct member of my family.  She doesn’t have to worry about a thing.  Her life consists of trips to the spa, mani’s and pedi’s, lunches and shopping, vacations and luxury homes, and spending thousands of dollars on beads and jewelry, just to name a few.  She doesn’t have to work and has a great husband who has provided this lovely life for her.  She is so well taken care of, living the life of up most luxuries, anything she wants, but she is the most ungrateful person I know.  Sadness strikes my heart listening to her say that, ‘she has nothing’.  How, I ask myself daily, how is she so blind to the blessings and freedoms that she has?

The Abyssian – A person undergoing an existential crisis and is in touch with the emptiness of life.  Hum… Let my mind wander on that for a minute…

  Exactly!!!

There have been many up’s and down’s in my life.  Moments of true bliss, and also of utter sadness.  But I can say from experience that, when I am loving life, like I am at present time, then my life sure does love me right back.  I don’t point a finger, or look to others for reasons of either unhappiness or for reasons of happiness.  I have found it within… for now… and I’m holding on to it!!  My opportunities are great.  I am facing realities that are pulling me in different directions, so my existential crisis, has me consciously aware that I an in touch with my soul, because if I wasn’t, there would be no need for the crisis of existence to begin with.  I am facing these realities as a direct result of the awareness of my freedom’s, so I’ll embrace that, instead of fear it…

That is all for now…

~ Jen

Sarcasm – The Sugar Coated Insult

 Sarcasm is witty language used to convey insults or scorn. You are actually saying the opposite of what you mean to make a joke. 
 
Sarcasm can be so much fun! It takes a level of intelligence to: 1. Be quick and witty enough to use sarcasm at the right moments and 2. To comprehend when sarcasm is being used, either towards you or someone else. Not everyone has the ability to use sarcasm.  When it is used properly, it can surely cut someone down to size, displaying how uneducated, irrational, or just plain stupid someone is. Sarcasm can be harsh, bitter derisional or ironic. 
 
 Sarcasm is a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review full of sarcasms.
Say somebody is wearing a really ugly shirt, and you go and tell them “nice shirt” that’s an example of sarcasm. Or say you are really bored and aren’t having any fun at all and you’re like “well.. this is fun…” that’s another example of sarcasm.

 Sarcasm is a form of irony where a person says the opposite of what is really meant, almost a clever way to be offensive, insulting or rude. 
 
It’s a completely fake-polite form of communication in which the person using sarcasm is given the opportunity to cut someone down in a sugar-coated linguistic that leaves the other person scratching their head, thinking, ‘Did I just get insulted? or not?’. If the person, however, picks up in the sarcasm, they then have the chance to rebuttal with opposing sarcasm, but this takes, as I said earlier, quick wit and intelligence, and, unfortunately for some, not everyone can respond quick enough to the original sarcastic remark to earn their place as a sharp-tongued individual and master of the english language. For example, if a boss loads extra work on you when you already feel overworked and you say, “Thanks a lot,” that would be sarcastic, because you really don’t feel thankful at all. You feel quite the opposite, in fact. If the boss picked up on this quickly enough, he/she could respond, “oh you’re so welcome! You’re enthusiasm is appreciated, in fact, how would you like to give a lecture to the staff tomorrow on maintaining enthusiasm in the office?” (Shiiiiiiiiiiit…)
 
 Sarcasm is quite common. You’ll hear it dozens of times a day if you keep your ears open.
 
Yes. It is true. Sarcasm is all around us. I was trained by a black belt in sarcasm growing up, so as an adult, I am quite good at being sarcastic, and at times, I really enjoy using this particular kind of communicating! It’s basically objecting, or pretending not to know about the blindingly obvious. But I mostly enjoy using it towards other people and seeing if they are smart or quick enough to realize that they have just been politely insulted. 
 
 Here are a few examples of what sarcasm is:
 
Saying something you don’t really mean… Usually in order to get laughter.

If someone tells a joke and it isn’t funny. Someone says hahaha. They don’t actually think its funny…
 
Sarcasm is where you say something but you don’t really mean it e.g i love homework it’s so fun.
 
A tone of voice of which shouldn’t be taken seriously 🙂
 
Saying something without being straight forward…
 
The use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
 
Saying the opposite of what you really mean and saying it in a snide way.
 
 
So, sarcasm are particular displays of understatement or overstatement to convey insult or irony with a bitter, sharp or cutting intent or to ridicule or mock harshly.
 
Of course, sarcasm isn’t always making appearances in my life.  I choose the right and appropriate moments in which I insert sarcasm.  But when it’s called for, when the mood is right, I’m always armed with the quick, witty banter of sarcasms charms and have had quite a bit of practice using it. Tha art of my sarcasm can only continue to improve itself the more I use and practice it, and for those who my sarcasm is directed at, (smiling..), I hope you know that I appreciate the opportunity to display my intelligence against the lack of yours. 🙂
 
And… That’s all for now.
 
~ Jen
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Standard American

The weekends have taken on a whole new meaning for me.  I worked in the Hospitality Industry for 16 years, both front and back of the house.  With that work I was always working on the weekends, either cooking or serving through dinner service. Any hope for me to go out and enjoy the amenities of Kansas City, libations of the night life or just going out for a really great dinner, were slim to none.  Do I miss this work, yes. Do I miss the hours, hell no!!

I have wondered over to the Standard American box, working the nine to five, monday through friday.  While this ‘Standard-American’ lifestyle has a few perks: nights are free to be home or go do what I want, and weekends are always time to rest and play… I have to say, deep down inside my soul, I will never truly be happy living like this.  I find it rather boring.  Just like everyone else.  Ordinary.  The kind of structure that people who never go beyond the minimum requirements, who never push themselves to be greater, who are completely satisfied living the same, boring, ordinary, just like everyone else life… I am not one of those kinds of people.

A very cool person put this perspective in my head just this last Wednesday.  This person, whose opinion and judgement I trust very much, said that I’m a free spirit.  And that she believes I’ll always be seeking more, during the time I spend living the ‘Standard-American’ life.  (I’m already bored with it…) The whole idea of this being it… well, that’s just not good enough for me.  This world is huge, it’s magnificent, full of things to see and do… just as I start to feel suddenly claustrophobic, I realize the possibilities of my tomorrows and it’s alright.  I know that I won’t be stuck in this box forever… the ‘Standard-American’ lifestyle is not a permanent fit for me, ‘It’ and ‘I’ don’t mesh well together.

So circling back to my weekend excitement… it is friday today. The end of the ‘Standard-American’ work week.  Tonight I have a comedy show to look forward to and dinner with my husband. Sounds like a ‘Standard-American’ date night, doesn’t it?  Well, regardless, I love doing anything with my husband, so ‘Standard’ or not, nothing with him is ordinary. For how well I know myself, I’m glad that there is at least one other, (that person I mentioned earlier who called me a free spirit…).  It’s nice to know that I, at least, don’t form to the ‘Standard-American’ and that I maintain my individuality enough that others can see it. 

Never lose who you are in the structure of how society thinks we should live and work to be a respected citizen and member of society.  How boring is that?

~ Jen Lefever Wood 10/12/2012

All Caught Up & The Social Climber

 

People today… I can’t seem to get my head wrapped around their ignorance.  When did people lose control over reality and become so freakin ignorant? I could care less about the ‘He said – She said’ and I’m so over hearing about it.  I absolutely do not need to converse about others, good or bad, to feel good about myself.  Someone must be confused because I don’t recall sending out the message that I care about what anyone says, except for those people who are important to me like; my husband, my father, and a few select other loved ones & friends (all whom know who they are…)  For those that get ‘all caught up’ in the lives and business of others, how flattering if you find yourself giving me shout out’s, but really… have you nothing better to do? 

(Oh My God!! Did you hear… I totally have to tell you…)

Just to be clear, the motivation behind this post has nothing to do with some monumental event that has recently taken place where I have ‘heard’ some random, non-sense, farthest from actual truth babble that has me, yours truly, as the subject of conversation.  No.  My desire to write a short bit on how absurd I think people are comes from a string of events that have taken place over the last few months.  I must admit that there have been times in my life when I’ve opened my ears to the gossip of others, who hasn’t honestly, especially around this city… these people I know… geeze… that my husband and I both know, always have something to say about others.  But as the years pass, I have found myself more and more content with who I am, and the whole practice of honesty and other personal values of mine, has risen me up above those who are guilty of the ‘He said – She said’.  I call this a personal problem, the ‘it’s not me it’s you’ syndrome, the ‘my self-esteem is so low but no one will find out cause I’ll cover it up with a fake ego and a load of negative shit to say about everyone else’ epidemic.  And in the grand tradition of gossipers, they never cease to identify themselves as the most screwed up, and also, sadly don’t realize that to the people who have their shit together and are on the up & up, who have confidence and kindness, and who really, really do not care what others have to say, they don’t see that they are not fooling us, just themselves.  When people talk and talk about others, whether it’s true or not, embellishing the truth, using put-downs or even legitimate mistakes made by others, celebrating in the suffering of others, being down right cruel and ugly, and ultimately acting ‘as if’, as if they have never made a mistake or screwed up or done something that others could justifiably use against them. This is used mostly as a diversion tactic, diverting the focus, if any at all, off of themselves and on to another to avoid personal social problems, most of which are a result of self-inflicted chaos or low self-esteem that people just don’t like to admit to or fess up about.  In this case, it’s always much easier to point a finger at someone else, with the bold claim that their life is in complete dismay and they themselves have all the answers to everyone elses problems.  Ha-ha… am I the only one, besides my husband, who gets a laugh out of this?

climbing the ladder…

Another kind of display of internal personal struggle, covered up with the survival techniques meant to give the world the complete opposite view of what’s really going on, is in the Social Climber.  The Social Climber is the person who is obsessed with how others perceive them, who like to climb that social ladder living by the idea that it’s all about who you know and who knows you, and most importantly, what others think about you. The social climber is all about appearances.  They act ‘as if’ their life is so perfect and mistakes, drama, and/or faux pas are all a foreign language to them.  Drama? What’s that? My life is perfect. (…right?)  They are socially nice to everyone, but behind closed doors have something cruel to say about each and every one of them.  They entertain you and welcome you to their home, cooking and serving food and being a sweet Hostess, all the while knowing that they are faking their appearance to fit a certain social mold.  I swear, it’s all I can do to bite my tongue at times.  For this type of internal personal problem, one person in my life always pop’s up to the top of the list.  Mostly I’m quite entertained by sitting back and watching the charade that this person, the Social Climber, performs.  I think to myself, ‘does she really think I buy her display of fake hospitality as sincere?’ … or I think about how much I’d love to just come out and say, ‘just be real with me, trust me when I say, I won’t lose any sleep over it!’.  The only time this one single person I’m speaking of, bothered me on a personal level was right after my brother was killed.  Note that this is a person that should not have to be told that manners are a good thing to have, but after the handful of encounters with this person, I feel that it may be something they hear from me in the near future.  My purpose and point:  I’m not a doormat.  I love and respect myself.  If I feel as though I have been disrespected, I will say so.  I’m not quiet about that shit anymore.  For those who think that they can be rude and I’ll just be passive about it, I look forward to seeing you again.  The events I have experienced this year have made me stronger than ever.  For the ‘He said – She said-ers’, get a life.  And for The Social Climbers, get some manners.  That’s all for now…

~J

 The higher a person climbs, the farther from reality they go… (and the farther they have to fall)

All Caught Up are you…   ?      Humm..

Truth.

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It is an inherent & inevitable characteristic of human nature, I believe, to go looking for the truth. We seek truth about ourselves as individuals & the truths about the universe at large. (Deeply ingrained within us is the expectation that we will indeed figure it out). We share the belief that finding the truth will ultimately bring the seeker only and all good things: Peace, love, justice, joy, safety & salvation.

We envision the truth as a magical set of laws that the universe & all things & all its creatures are governed.

We talk of poetic truth, human truth, scientific truth, metaphysical truth, half truth, whole truth, plain truth, simple truth, hard truth, ugly truth, brutal truth, sweet truth, mean truth, gospel truth, harsh truth, and absolute truth…

When in doubt of the truth, it is our inclination to stick to facts, to logic we already know… this is where fact and truth compromise and we are led astray by our collective tendencies to equate fact & truth or logic & reality.

Truth? Humans are not always logical in our nature. We are also emotional. And emotions are not based on logic.

As a writer, I tend to assume that truth resides in a story. But still, as a story is easy to forget, like the language itself, can both reveal and obscure the truth. Also, stories are all delivered differently, depending on who tells them. Each side has a change in the entire feeling of the story being told. Truth may not be what you want or expect it to be. Truth can hurt or bring joy and happiness. Truth also isn’t always logical, it can be emotional, irrational. Truth just is… and in life, I believe, we eventually come upon the truth, either on purpose or by accident. Truth has a way of being found… eventually.
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~ Jen Lefever Wood