The Guarded Heart

A guarded heart is a difficult edifice to abolish but desperately hanging on white-knuckled to the reigns results in remaining in a perpetual state of unfortunate unknowing. The walls we build are constructed out of painful, past memories, repetitive heartbreaks and catastrophically emotional blows. We dwell and we dwell until a solid foundation is securely laid and these walls have something to rely on, exceptional means to justify their prime real estate location.

A guarded heart is an invisible barricade, a false sense of security that manifests itself tangible through the susceptible decisions we make and the life-changing opportunities we allow to silently pass us or in which we purposely self-sabotage. I’m the first to remind myself, “What’s for you will not pass you,” repeating it like a self-guided mantra down a dimly lit hallway of identical, multiple closed doors. It’s in the deliberation, however, where the guarded heart is consciously and subconsciously prone to choosing door three over door one simply due to the unbearable fact that it deeply desires what’s behind door one and door one has the potent power of cataclysmically destroying what’s behind those man-made partitions. Alas, door three is the safe, second choice leaving the hesitant curator of the most delicate vessel continually and inevitably wondering, “What if?”

A couple of days ago, I had a lengthy conversation with a friend of mine in which I confidently told him, “I think people expect me to be all ‘FUCK LOVE’ and I joke around about all that but the truth is, I’ll always believe in love.” As I typed out those words in a text message and I sent them, I felt a great and surprising sense of elation and pride in this guarded heart of mine. I was reminded that I gratefully possess an endlessly overflowing amount of love left to offer, that no matter how many times the barriers are demolished leaving my guarded heart bare, exposed and vulnerable to life’s most treasured moments as well as its most feared failures and losses, I will always believe that love is the motivation and the meaning of this life. Thus, I have undying faith that I will always allow genuine love in when it comes patiently knocking, asking for permission to tear down these walls.

So, what if I choose door one?

Am I Lonely or simply, Alone?

The sun shone vividly in the dull blue, cloudless sky this afternoon as I made my way to the Annenberg Space for Photography in West LA to view the highly revered National Geographic Exhibit. As I approached the building, two employees informed me and some other patrons that we would have to wait in a line as they had reached the building’s capacity. It wasn’t a long line and I was second in it.

As a couple exited the museum, the woman at the door ushered for two more people to proceed inside. The older gentleman in front of me stated that he was waiting for someone and that I could go ahead of him. I offered the group behind me to go ahead since I was solo and that is when the confusion settled in.

Remember The Symbolism and Melodramatic Conundrum of the Empty Seat? This unexpected situation wasn’t so different when the gentleman in front of me assumedly asked aloud when I did not enter with the younger group, “Oh, you’re with this group?” motioning to the group of elderly ladies eager to join their friends who were already inside. The employee holding the door also had an inquisitive look upon her face as I shook my head, offered a friendly smile and unashamedly announced, “I’m alone.” In response, the man in front of me curtly said, “Oh” and proceeded to non discreetly stare at me several times before I was gratefully escorted inside the exhibit.

I did not look at him as he did so but I do wonder what this man was thinking, what sort of assumptions or stereotypes were quite possibly running through his mind. Did he pity me? Was he wondering why I would be out and about on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a city full of millions of people all by myself? Was his look one of envy? Did he wish his forthcoming company had stayed behind and he could enjoy the exhibit entirely on his own? I’ll never know but it is intriguing.

I have taken to joyfully going on “dates” with me, myself and I be it the movies, a leisurely walk, a museum, what have you and I thoroughly enjoy my own company. As I’ve stated before, I think it is important to know how to be comfortably alone and I believe there is a lot to be gained from doing so. This subject has come up on numerous occasions as of late.

After mulling over the topic with a male friend of mine who is in a similar situation such as I, he presented it to me in one of those simply mind blowing fashions that I had never quite considered before. You know, like one of those moments where you say to yourself, “Duh!” He stated, “I guess it’s just the difference between being alone and feeling lonely.” Prior to this conversation, I don’t think I ever understood these to be so starkly different and yet the more I ponder it, they truly are.

I choose to be alone, do things by myself but feeling lonely is something that occurs when I desire company, when I am in need of basic human interaction. My friend and I continued discussing this fascinating issue a little longer. The interesting question was raised, “How can one expect to share a happy life with someone if he/she can’t even enjoy and be happy with his or her own company?”

We went on to further discuss how unequivocal introverts who are quite possibly more comfortable going it solo even experience loneliness from time to time. Human interaction, albeit, is a necessity and it can be satisfied in many different ways by sometimes, the most unlikely of sources. I believe even complete strangers can provide the human contact necessary to appease the loneliness be it with a kind, simple gesture such as wishing someone a “nice day” or even eye contact coupled with a sincere smile. I honestly believe this is part of the reason why it’s been reiterated, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

be-kind-for-everyone-you-meet-is-fighting-a-hard-battle

Because I’m Happy

I’m a weirdo who finds vast truth in the meaningful location of the mysterious planets in the wondrous solar system, who feels a tangible intensity around the stunning full moon and who reads her horoscope on a daily basis, talking excitedly about retrograde, elements and cardinal signs. I often hear “crazy” being used as an adjective in reference to me as well – a quality I have proudly never denied. I’m comfortable with this label because I would rather be a crazy weirdo in this world than a blind, unconscious fool merely existing instead of actually living.

I have recently signed up for the 100 Happy Days challenge. This challenge entails posting pictures with the hashtag #100happydays each day for 100 days. At the end of the challenge, you will be rewarded with a mini book of all of your photos but what I’m really looking forward to is the true reward – the reward that deepens my gratitude, the reward that directs my focus more heavily on the positive than endlessly dwelling on the negative and the reward that continues to strengthen my understanding that happiness comes from within ourselves.

I do believe the key to positive change is inner happiness, feeling comfortable in your own skin and allowing that happiness to radiate through to all of life. At the risk of shamelessly sounding like a tree-hugging, grass-smoking, rain dancing, moon howling hippie, the day I realized people, plants, the air, the clouds, the birds and other living, breathing beings, are all connected by energy, my life began to change then. My mind, my heart and my soul are wide open and thrilled to be experiencing and living through the unexpected influx of changes that are presently happening.

Since the total lunar eclipse on April 15th, I have been undergoing some initially subtle but extraordinarily wonderful changes in my life and I want to document the beauty that I am witnessing in conjunction with these inevitable changes. I thought, what better way to do so than with 100 Happy Days? I love taking and sharing photos and they do say a picture is worth a thousand words – sometimes more, in my humble opinion.

If you would like to join me in the 100 Happy Days Challenge, you can sign up at http://100happydays.com/

I give you Day 1 of my #100happydays…

Bedtime cuddles with my youngest kitty. His name is George and this is what bliss looks like.

Hey Dad

4/19/2011

Hey Dad – I can’t believe it’s been nine days since you left this world.  It’s still a little hard to believe and hits me like a baseball bat every now and then.  Lots of crazy things have been occurring lately – is that you?  Did you come back as a ghost like I asked you to?  I hope you’re happy and at peace like Elle said you are.  I hope you’re proud of me.  I feel closer to you in your physical death than I did when you were alive.  I guess that’s a good thing.  I’m also glad I got to tell you all that I needed to tell you.  I will write more later.  I miss you.  I love you.

Pops & I Summer 2008
Pops & I Summer 2008

Hate Me So Good

What I want from you is empty your head and they say be true and don’t stain your bed but we do what we need to be free. And this leans on me just like a rootless tree…”

The above are not my words but lyrics written by the talented recording artist, Damien Rice. By now, if you’ve been following my blog closely, you recognize what an important role music has played in my life since I was the size of a fingertip lounging in my mama’s womb.   I would guesstimate that about 85% or more of my posts have included some reference to music. It would also be accurate to state that it’s almost physiological and there is a soundtrack playing in my head 24/7. My family, friends, coworkers and neighbors could vouch for me as they’re subjected daily to my instantaneous references to random songs during regular conversation or endless sing-a-long.

Yeah, that project is put on hold so we can stop,” my art director approaches my desk to inform me and I respond by singing The Supremes, “in the naaaaaame of love! Think it o-over!” Giggles abound all around at my quirkiness.

Most of the time I have the perfect song to fit every mood, situation, conversation, memory, what have you but every now and then, I must search or patiently wait until I hear it or it comes to me. After Sunday’s unfortunate encounter with David, I went home in need of a song, even a line in a song, something, anything to describe exactly how I feel about him presently. It didn’t come to me until the following morning while working on Disney princess graphics at my desk. My iPod was on shuffle, volume on full blast, earphones in and Damien Rice’s raw and emotional, “Rootless Tree” began. It was like swimming in a dark sea, wondering which direction was up and out of the water when finally, I could see the light.

“…What I want from us is empty our minds and we fake the thoughts and fracture the times that we go blind when we needed to see. And this leans on me just like a rootless…”

When the poignant chorus began, it was like coming up out of that ocean, gasping for much needed oxygen.

Fuck you and all we’ve been through. I said leave it ‘cause it’s nothing to you and if you hate me, then hate me so good that you can let me out, let me out, let me out of this hell when you’re around…”

As tragically sad as the song obviously is, it is real and it describes my exact sentiments. While many would refrain from listening to it, it aids in my healing. It was the song I was searching for after Sunday’s spectacle and has been on repeat for the last few days. The chorus alone would have sufficed in its insulting common thought, “Fuck you and all we’ve been through.” Not to mention its effectual plea, “If you hate me, then hate me so good that you can let me out…” Insert heavy sigh right there.

Post Sunday’s, “Taxes and Twain” event, I self promoted myself to leader of the “David Haters” line whereas before I teetered back and forth between the “David Haters” and the “Non-Haters” but always mid-line – never leader. As someone who wholly believes that hating someone is self-inflicting harm what with the negative energy it takes to feel and exert such deep emotion, I’m also someone who believes in keeping it real. And right now, I hate him.

I have to gently console and remind my hateful side that it’s perfectly human to hate someone as much as I loved him and if you’ll notice I’m using past tense now when I speak of love. The reason for doing so is that I clearly see and understand the man I loved is completely gone and perhaps sadly but truly, never even existed but in my imagination. If anything good came of Sunday, it was the blatant reminder of why I’m getting a divorce. I didn’t fall in love with that person I was sitting next to in the tax office and I didn’t marry the boy that stood in the parking lot continually disregarding any and all responsibility as part of a committed union.

So,

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
And all we’ve been through
I said leave it, leave it, leave it
It’s nothing to you
And if you hate me, hate me, hate me, then hate me so good
That you can let me out, let me out, let me out
Let me out, let me out, let me out, let me out
Let me out, let me out, let me out, let me out
Let me out, let me out, let me out

Let me out, let me out, let me out
‘Cause it’s hell when you’re around