Letter from the Founder #8

This fall, become more you. Let the cooling weather strip away the parts of yourself you no longer need. Let the shorter days take all your doubts and limiting beliefs. And as the leaves flame and then fall, let too your passions flame and your goals tumble before you. Focus, and do more than be. Become.

I love you.

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Letter From the Founder #7

Hey you. Even in the moments where it feels like light and life has left you, remember you are not alone. When the sun only serves to highlight the emptiness, remember it just makes room for new things to fill and heal you. Reach out your hand, and reach out your voice.

Compliment a stranger’s clothes. Hold open a door for someone in a hurry. Little gestures can save a day, both for you and the one you are offering them to.

Dress to impress, even if the one you’re trying to impress is yourself. You are worth the effort.

Take yourself on a date. Do all the things that you most love and that most heal you. Eat your favorite foods. Draw, or watch a movie, or listen to that song you love that you’ve had stuck in your head for weeks. Find a quote that moves you. Put it on your wall.

Think of all the once-impossible things that have been achieved. Flight. The internet. Even the printing press. Set your own “impossible” goal, and start turning it into reality.

Page through a magazine and find a picture of something beautiful. Take a picture of yourself and find something beautiful in it. Make something beautiful, whether it’s a drawing or a bracelet or a movement.

Breathe. You are not alone.

I love you.

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Letter From the Founder #6

Hey you. I know the world is sometimes so dark you forget the meaning of light, and I want you to know that light still exists anyway. Even if it's the flashlight on your cellphone struggling to burn a hole in the dark. Even if you've forgotten why you want to try to find it. There is light, and one of these days your eyes will adjust to see it.

The hurt doesn't go away. Not exactly. But the edge dulls, and the fear cracks and slowly begins to crumble. The shadows are just there to distinguish the light, though they cover nearly everything at first.

Then the sun begins its rise, one long, slow ray at a time. Second by second, moment by moment, the sky begins to come alive. Every time the sun sets, it will eventually rise. So take it one ray of light at a time.

I love you.

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Grateful for Growth

G'morning! Today I am grateful for growth. I am lucky enough to have regular opportunities to grow as a person, through both good and bad experiences. What are you grateful for today?

me

Tardigrade

I am not the tired metaphor of a phoenix,
burning to ash then hatching anew.
I am not a nestling, a seedling, a beginning.
Rising from depression to start again.

I am might and fury. I am glory that shines.
I am not just now beginning.
I am the sequel that's better than the first.
I am the crescendo, the tardigrade,

surviving even the vacuum of loss.

In those moments when the beat drops and I  f a l l,
Hibernation is but a pause.
I know the cold will eventually end,
and I will grow again.

I am greater when I rise.

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From Wanting to Die to Coming Alive

About a year and and a half ago, I reached the highest weight of my life: 300 lbs. I was miserable. I'd been fighting with my insurance to get top surgery for 3 years at that point, and it still seemed impossible. I hated my body and could barely stomach walking near a mirror. I was depressed, self-destructive, and just wanted to die.

Life has come a long way since then.

On December 12, 2016, I had top surgery. While I still want revisions, the relief I felt was enough to keep me alive, and, slowly, to allow me to start transforming other parts of my life contributing to my depression.

I started losing weight. I dropped 28 lb in the first year, and another 19 in the past 6 months. I've tried to exercise a little each day, and be more mindful of what and how much I eat.

I dropped clothing sizes, too. 8 inches off my waist size, and 2 shirt sizes. Today, I weighed myself at 244 lb, and wore a medium shirt for the first time since my late teens.

Ten months ago, I also moved. Arizona contained a lot of ghosts: Streets where the exes who had raped me lived, constant reminders of other abusers, threats in bathrooms, alcohol drowning my friends, and too many people who called me by a name that had never been mine. A room I could afford had opened up in Pennsylvania, and I took the leap. I piled my possessions in my car and drove.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

Slowly, I learned to trust. I learned what it felt like to be safe in my home. I made friends. I built a family from them, a family unlike the one I left behind.

And then I took another leap. I started to mend things with my blood family. We're learning to trust each other, and that is a precious gift.

As I got more comfortable in my new surroundings, I worked up the courage to reach out to larger and larger communities, and I came alive. I'd had a community I felt safe in when I lived in Arizona, but it was surrounded by misery, and for the first time, I feel like a person rather than a statistic.

For the first time, I feel safe and whole, alive and happy.

For the first time, I love my life.

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Spot of Wonder #3

I'm happier than I've ever been, and so grateful for my life and the people in it. I never thought I'd be so at peace and in love with every moment I live, but I wake up every day excited for the new morning. I didn't know that life could feel so full. I didn't know that I could still feel alive with motivation while happy and at peace. I don't want to escape anymore. I want to live.

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Rainbow Hair

Rainbow hair through the years. It's that time of year again for me and I'm feeling the itch for color. Show me your favorite rainbow hair pictures!

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Spot of Wonder #2

Coming out of a very rough patch of sad and death. Today I woke up with a smile and a sappy heart for the first time in about a week. So here's a mussy-haired, freshly awake me signing "I love you."

Because, of course, I do.

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A Personal Note

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Been a long, stressful week. Friends dying, setting boundaries with people, knee injury, emotional highs and lows. I'm drained, stressed, but alive, and alive is worth something. I'm taking it day by day, and trying to be kind to myself.

Optimism is a choice I make every day, and some days it's harder than others. But as much as I hurt, both emotionally and physically; as much as I feel like a walking wound right now, I refuse to give it up. I will not let my pain consume me. I will not lose hope.

I believe in good intentions, empathy, and understanding. It doesn't necessarily make actions okay, or keep people who have hurt me enough from being evicted from my life, but it allows me to keep walking without so much bitterness.

Most of all, though, I believe in hope. I once wrote, "Hope is the surest way to save a life," and that was true. I don't want to imagine a world without hope, even if I have to sew it together from small bits of nature or a single kind word.

I'm hurting, but alive, and I am grateful for that life. Today I choose optimism. Today, I hold onto hope. Today, I live.

Spot of Wonder #1

Cat

Today I found wonder in my cat's sleepy face, and the way he curled up with his toebeans on display. He keeps me sane, and sometimes, on dark days, he keeps me alive.

He's a good cat, too. He's trainable, will cuddle with me for 10 straight hours (I've timed it), and listens when I tell him no. He'll purr at the vet, never go to the bathroom outside the litterbox, and run to the door when I come home. He'll groom my hair, give me kisses, and burrow under my blankets.

My act of self-care today will be to take a little extra time to cuddle my cat and appreciate the joy he brings to my life. What will yours be?