We Have To Feel It To Heal It

Why do we feel the need to hide our struggles and present ourselves as having our shit together? Why do any of us feel the need to appear more put together than we really are?

We are emotional creatures, and we were born to express emotions freely and openly. But somewhere along the way, many of us learned to repress our emotions in order to fit in, earn love, or to be accepted. We hide our struggles because we learned throughout childhood and adulthood that showing signs of struggle is a bad or uncomfortable thing.

As infants and toddlers, we didn’t hesitate to show signs of struggle. When we were tired, hungry, upset, or blew out our diapers 💩, we cried or threw tantrums to communicate that we needed help. As young children in school, we raised our hands and asked for help from our teachers if we didn’t understand something.

But at some point while growing up, we become conditioned to stop asking for help and we start to hide our struggles. We stop raising our hands in class because we’re told we ask too many questions. We stop asking our parents for help because they told us to figure it out for ourselves. Increased expectations from our family, friends, employers, and even ourselves feels like mounting pressure. We’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing that we paralyze ourselves and do nothing. We fear that negative response of not receiving help when we need it or our feelings being dismissed.

I grew up in a home where the motto was “Children are to be seen, not heard.” There was little emotional expression tolerated, let alone accepted. No one validated or helped me process difficult emotions in a healthy way. Anger was met with anger, fear went unacknowledged, and there was plenty of shame to go around. My parents didn’t model how to deal with difficult emotions, as they seemed to struggle with that themselves. When those emotions surfaced, I felt ashamed of my failure to be a “good girl.” Trying to hide the pain from others and myself, I built walls, put on masks, and soldiered on.

The truth is, we all hide our emotions occasionally. We pretend, avoid, and deny uncomfortable emotions as a defense mechanism. We do this most often with difficult emotions like guilt, shame, fear, or anger. When we experience events that emotionally overwhelm us and we’re unable to process what is happening, we hide them deep inside us where others can’t see them. And we end up hiding them from ourselves too. Yet, they’re still there. These unresolved emotions get trapped in our body where they build and fester. They drain our energy, which leads to burnout, and we become emotionally imbalanced. They undermine our overall wellbeing.

No matter what our struggles are, there are people who can and want to help. When we share our struggles with those around us, we give them permission to voice their struggles too. We may never know just how life changing that permission may be to someone. They may be feeling alone, overwhelmed, or even at the end of their rope, and we can help by giving them an opportunity to receive our understanding and support. The moment we make ourselves vulnerable, we give others permission to do the same.

The bottom line is, we’re human. We’re all imperfect and we all struggle. No one has their shit together all the time. No one has a perfect life and no one feels happy, confident, and positive all the time. Struggling is a normal part of life. We have to feel it to heal it.

Wish It Want It Do It

If you follow influencers on social media telling you to hustle, it might inspire you to read “Wish It, Want It, Do It” and use the blank pages to start mapping out your grandiose plans. 😁

While you’re riding this wave of motivation, you’ll probably jot down some monumental aspirations that will paint a picture of a life so exciting that you can’t wait to get after it. But when your alarm goes off at 4:30am and you try to roll out of bed, reality slaps you in the face.

Instead of being motivated to jump out of bed and tackle your goals, you feel a wall of internal resistance. You want to hustle. You know you need to get up and go after it. But you can’t seem to muster up the discipline to actually do anything.

So instead, you choose the path of least resistance. You stay nestled up in your warm toasty bed and decide that you’re going to start fresh tomorrow. One more day won’t hurt anything, right? One day turns into two, two days turn into a few weeks, and the weeks turn into months. Several months later you feel another wave of motivation and decide to try all over again. Many people find themselves unable to get off this proverbial hamster wheel.

Why is it that we continually set Mount Everest size goals and don’t accomplish them? You might ask yourself “Is there something wrong with me? Am I a failure?” So how do you stop this vicious cycle? What’s the best way to facilitate lifestyle changes that you can actually stick with?

When setting big goals, we tend to place more focus on the outcome we want to achieve instead of the lifestyle changes needed to get there. We have this inner pull to be consistent with who we’ve always been. Old habits die hard, which is why big goals can be so hard to accomplish. True behavior change comes when you commit to small, consistent shifts in your daily behavior.

When setting goals, people ask themselves “What do I want to achieve?” This places the focus solely on the outcome. The idea of focusing on lifestyle changes is that your success is not tied to arbitrary targets.

Let’s say that you set a goal to lose twenty pounds in four months. As you pursue this goal, you start exercising 4 days a week, eating more vegetables, and limiting desserts. After four months of these lifestyle changes, you step on the scale and you’ve lost fifteen pounds.

Did you achieve your goal of losing twenty pounds? Noop. You’re five pounds short. Damn! Now you feel like shit because you failed to meet your goal. 😞 But what if your goal was to become a healthier person? Did you achieve that goal? Hell yeah ya did!

Too often we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action. True behavior change is the product of small, incremental changes compounded over time. We tend to dismiss the effectiveness of small actions because they don’t make an immediate visible impact. But once small habits are solidified into your daily life, you’ll be a stronger version of you.

You Repeat What You Don’t Repair

There has been a lot of joy in traveling, laughing at fart jokes, sorrow over loved ones passing away, and loving our kitties over the 18 years that G and I have been together. But there have also been things that he would say or do that left me feeling a bit perturbed at times, like leaving cabinet doors open or using “book words.” That’s when G would say a five dollar word that I don’t know the meaning of when a basic word would have sufficed. Of course things aren’t always peachy keen, and when there has been conflict, my responses definitely haven’t been constructive. Quite often, Mount St. Amy would blow and I would spew out whatever fuckery came to mind in the heat of the moment.

Logically, I knew better than to blow up. So why wasn’t I doing better? Simple. I didn’t want to. At that moment. Of course I regretted my emotional vomit later. But in those heated moments I didn’t give a fuck. All the logic in the world didn’t matter if I lacked the intention to do better during an argument.

We have a tendency to respond to hostile behavior with even more hostility. Whether that’s giving someone the silent treatment, giving them a taste of their own medicine, or cussing someone out (if you want a cussin’ I’ll give you a cussin’! 😉) These actions can create a cycle of anger, judgment, and defensiveness. Often it leads to conflicts that spiral out of control, making them harder to resolve. This level of hostility is destructive, yet we’re all guilty of it at some point, and have probably felt justified in doing so. To get past conflict, we need to want to understand each other more than we want to hurt each other.

In the middle of an argument we may feel the need to defend ourselves, especially if we feel the other person isn’t hearing what we are saying or is dismissive of our feelings. So often we listen to respond instead of listening to understand. It can seem like the other person has the power to hurt us, making us feel insecure. I don’t like how vulnerable I feel when someone says something that is hurtful or disrespectful towards me. It makes me want to retaliate against the MFer. Is that mature? Noop. Helpful? Absolutely not. Does it feel good to use every derivative of the F word in one sentence? Aww hell yeah!

I want my relationships to be made of trust, honesty, and transparent communication. Relationships where we each have the courage to express ourselves without fear of retaliation and would listen to each other with an intent to understand rather than judge. One where we would have compassion for each other’s faults and work to build each other up rather than tear each other down, even when we are upset.

I know that my current responses to conflicts are…shall we say…shitty. So I am trying to shift my intention. Instead of protecting my ego during an argument, my intention is to respond in a constructive way. It requires me opening up when I feel vulnerable. Taking responsibility for my part, even when I want to dump the blame on the other person. Trying to listen with compassion when I feel frustrated or fed up. I don’t want to stay in the vicious cycle of trying to prove who is right and who is wrong. After all, you repeat what you don’t repair.

Purgatory of Indecision

Sometimes in life there is a pivotal moment when you know that you just can’t keep going on the way you’ve been living. Something’s got to give and you have two options: shit or get off the pot. Choosing between making a change or staying where you are can feel daunting, so you find yourself trapped between the two, in a purgatory of indecision.

The prospect of change requires us to take an honest look at ourselves and do things we might be afraid to do. We have to take a leap into uncharted waters, unsure if we’ll sink or swim. This can easily entice us to stay in our comfort zone. But if we can’t bring ourselves to change, we risk living a life of misery, dysfunction, or regret. You may feel like you can’t stay where you are, but you’re too afraid to move forward. You remain stuck in this purgatory of indecision.

As a teenage girl and into my twenties, my plan was to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. I started working as a pharmacy technician a few months after graduating from high school and continued this while going to college. After I completed all the prerequisite courses, I applied to a few pharmacy schools. Imagine my surprise and utter disappointment when I read rejection letter after rejection letter. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t accepted. I had excellent grades, a good PCAT score, and pharmacy experience. It seemed unfair. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Why wasn’t I good enough to be accepted? How could I have failed? What in the hell am I going to do with my life now? I had busted my hump for years to meet my goal of becoming a pharmacist and now it was being flushed down the shitter.

One of the pharmacy schools I had applied to sent my information to the University of Maryland Department of Medical and Research Technology, so they sent me information about their program. When I read through it and saw Blood Banking as a specialty, I had that “Aha!” moment. I had a special interest in Blood Banking after I needed a blood transfusion during surgery to straighten my curved spine in 2004.

I was still working as a pharmacy tech after getting rejected by multiple pharmacy schools and saw the direction the pharmacy profession was going in. I didn’t like that insurance companies dictated so much of patient care. They’ll cover one type of insulin but not another similar insulin. They won’t pay for this asthma medication but they’ll pay for an alternative. And they change their mind every year on what list of medications they choose to cover. I don’t believe an insurance company knows better than a patient’s doctor what medication works best for the patient.

So what do I do now? Do I keep trying to apply to other pharmacy schools or pivot and apply to med tech school? I decided to get off the pot and apply to med tech school. It provided the same reasons I wanted to become a pharmacist. I loved math and science, I wanted to help people, and it would be a secure, stable career. Plus, I had this personal connection with Blood Banking after my blood transfusions. I was both excited and relieved when I was accepted into the program and worked as a Blood Banker for 11 years after graduation.

The purgatory of indecision is an awful place to be. It is fraught with doubt, shame, anger, and overwhelming amounts of fear. Despite that, sometimes it still isn’t enough to push us in a particular direction. Our fear acts as a dysfunctional voice that eventually grows louder and can become the only one that you hear. Fear, along with self-doubt, whispers “you’re not good enough” or “you can’t do anything right.” It may even convince you that you’re inadequate, unlovable, or a failure. It can feel like there is a constant tug of war going on inside of you.

If we choose to not listen to that dysfunctional voice, then we can subdue it. When it says we aren’t good enough, we can choose to believe that we are enough. When the voice tells us we can’t do anything right, we can choose to know that we are doing the best we can and that is always right. When that pesky voice taunts us with feelings of inadequacy or failure, we can choose to have trust in our own potential. And when the dysfunctional voice tries to convince us that we are unlovable, we can decide that we are worthy of love.

We don’t have to remain stuck in unsatisfying situations. And we don’t need to make big changes all at once in order to live fulfilling lives. Change can be scary and uncomfortable as fuck. But small shifts can lead to huge transformation over time. The way out of the purgatory of indecision is to simply get started and to keep on going.

Tell That To Your Face

“How are you?” “I’m fine.” We say it all the time. It’s short and sweet. Like strawberry shortcake. But far too often it’s not true. It’s written all over our faces that we’re not actually fine. I don’t know about you, but my face ALWAYS gives away that I am not okay even if I say I am.

So why do we say “I’m fine” if we don’t really mean it? We want others to think everything is working out great for us because we’re afraid of the shame, embarrassment, and judgment that might come if people knew that we don’t have our shit together.

We’re hoping to convince ourselves and others that everything really is okay. But pretending that we don’t have any problems, difficult emotions, or conflicts is a façade. It seems easier to simply avoid certain problems, traumatic memories, and difficult feelings. However, avoidance isn’t a good long-term strategy for our well being. Often, the longer we try to ignore things, the bigger the problems become. So, why do we deny our problems or pretend to be okay when we’re not?

We pretend to be fine in order to avoid conflict. We fear that by sharing our true feelings or opinions, someone might get upset with us. This can create anxiety or at least feel uncomfortable. We use “I’m fine” to shield ourselves from painful emotions. Many of us grew up in households where we weren’t allowed to express our feelings of anger or sadness. We were told “I’ll give you something to cry about,” “suck it up,” or “get over it.” We were punished when we expressed our feelings or our feelings were ignored. As a result, we learned to suppress our emotions.

We also deny our problems and feelings because sometimes they’re overwhelming. We don’t always know how to articulate what we feel or how to solve our problems, so we try to ignore them. We don’t want to be difficult or to be a burden to others because we fear that might push people away. It feels safer to pretend we’re fine and to be a dependable coworker, cheerful friend, or a laid-back partner who doesn’t complain.

I’d rather be honest and authentic and disappoint some people than to exhaust myself trying to keep up the façade of perfection.” -Crystal Paine

If you’ve ever felt like you had to hold it together in order to put up a front for others, just know there is freedom in expressing your true feelings. Many people put on a proverbial mask to avoid showing their vulnerability and potentially making others feel uncomfortable. If you’re not accustomed to opening your heart to people, start by sharing one thing you’re thinking or feeling but may be tempted to keep inside. Opening up to others will allow you to be yourself, and from there you’ll see who’s willing to accept what you have to say without judgment. You can also offer support to others and let them know you’re happy to listen with an open ear. Giving people room to share pieces of themselves lets them know you’re there for them and they can be honest with you.

Many times when we avoid sharing our feelings with others, it’s because we haven’t processed our emotions. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, without judgment, and learn to recognize when you’re lying to yourself. Stop telling yourself you’re “fine” when you’re not. Keep it real. You’re not going to be honest with others if you’re not being honest with yourself.

We tend to beat ourselves up when we do not respond, act, speak, or think how others believe we should. We put pressure on ourselves to meet everyone else’s expectations without truly acknowledging our own needs. It’s a heavy burden to hide behind a mask and pretend that everything is hunky-dory. There’s power in being vulnerable and sharing your authentic self with others. You don’t have to hide, pretend, or feel bad about not always being positive. You’re not weak, you’re human, and you never have to apologize for that.

Outstanding Blogger Award 2021

I was surprised and honored to be nominated by Helen from crispy confessions for the Outstanding Blogger Award. 🤗 It is such a huge compliment for a fellow blogger to like my posts! 😀 If you don’t already have the pleasure of following crispyconfessions, she is a lifestyle blogger who writes about books, parenting, multilingualism, and has a strong social media presence on Instagram and Twitter. You can follow her blog here.

The Rules:

1. Provide a link to the creator’s original award post.

2. Answer the questions provided.

3. Create 7 unique questions.

4. Nominate up to 10 bloggers.

5. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination.

6. Now let’s continue to support and cheer each other throughout 2021 for the Outstanding Blogger Award!

Questions by crispyconfessions:

1. Tell us your 2021 goals for your blog. My goal is just to keep blogging and sharing my story for those who want to read it. I blog as a hobby so there’s no pressure on myself. I don’t set or have any expectations for likes or followers on my blog. I just go with the flow and have enjoyed the ride so far. If I don’t have fun blogging then what would be the point?

2. How do you plan on implementing your goals for your blog in 2021? By doing just what I have been doing. I write a new post weekly about whatever tickles my fancy and publish it every Sunday evening.

3. What inspires you to write your blogs? Usually whatever personal or medical events that have occurred recently or are weighing on my mind. Sometimes I am inspired by an article I have read on a topic that I can relate to.

4. Why did you begin your blog? I have been told most of my adult life that I should write a book or go on Oprah to share my life story. 😄 Apparently the events of my life have been quite fascinating to those who know me. After much encouragement from G and some of my friends, I started blogging as an outlet for sharing my personal and medical experiences. And Voila! Delicate and Brutal was born.

5. What have you learned about yourself in writing your blogs? I never viewed myself as having any artistic talent of any kind. I can’t paint or draw to save my life. I always saw myself as this methodical, detailed, logical chick. But I have discovered a creative side in my writing that I never knew existed. I’m digging this artsy fartsy part of me! 😁😎

6. What would you change about your blog? I wouldn’t currently change anything about my blog. I write in my own voice, at a consistent schedule that works for me, and people actually read my blog. What more could I want?

7. How do you feel about collaborating on your blog? I usually don’t commit to collaborating with others on my blog mostly because my health is so unpredictable. I don’t think it would be fair to have to back out of a working commitment with another blogger at the last minute as frequently as I get sick or end up in the hospital. Plus my blog is very specific to my medical and personal experiences so that’s not really a niche that is conducive to collaboration.

I am leaving the same 7 questions for my nominees. Here they are:









I also like to leave these award nominations open to any writer who wants to participate. I think every blogger is outstanding for sharing their story! So if you want to answer the same questions I answered above, I look forward to reading your answers and getting to know you more! 🙂

Self-Care Is Not Selfish

There are a lot of things causing anxiety these days. We live in a complex and stressful world full of uncertainty right now. Will the COVID-19 vaccines provide the immunity needed to help us? Will there be more senseless violence at the Presidential inauguration this week? Our teachers and students are stressed as they navigate the constant changes and challenges of online education. Our healthcare workers (both front line and behind the scenes) are pulled and stretched in every direction trying to help patients. Many people are struggling financially. We’re constantly plugged in to technology and yet are more disconnected from each other than ever before.

So how do we help ourselves ride the inevitable storms that come our way? How do we handle daily chaos without feeling overwhelmed? We all know that we should make our health and well-being a priority. But we seem to make excuses as to why we don’t take care of ourselves. So what’s the problem? Lack of money, lack of time, lack of resources, lack of awareness, lack of motivation. We may feel disheartened to “fix” our life because we think there are too many problems to tackle. But we don’t have to completely overhaul our lifestyle in one month, or even one year, to make a difference. We just have to take one step forward right now.

Practicing self-care provides stress management techniques to help us cope with life’s challenges. If you have been following my blog you know that I live with several chronic illnesses. Managing my medical conditions can be quite stressful, especially when I am hospitalized. I recently spent a week in the hospital over the new year due to a severe asthma flare. It sucked ass. None of the hospital doctors could reach my asthma doctor or anyone on her team for treatment recommendations. I had to call every time I needed to go to the bathroom because I was hooked up to the heart monitor and my bed alarm was turned on to prevent me from getting out of bed unattended. I had to call for my insulin with every meal. I had to call for the respiratory therapist even though I had breathing treatments scheduled at regular intervals. I was stressed out because I felt like I had lost my freedom and I thought I could do a better job managing my care at home.

On top of all that, the hospital team wanted to shove a camera down my throat to look at my vocal cords because my voice was intermittently hoarse. I have had this done a few times with my ear, nose, and throat doctor to monitor the size of a large polyp. It always causes swelling in my tongue and throat afterwards due to my hereditary angioedema which requires treatment. I refused to do this scope while I was in the hospital since I just had one done 3 weeks before and the hospital didn’t stock the medication needed to treat my hereditary angioedema. We already knew that my vocal cords don’t close all the way because they have become very thin as a result of all the prednisone I have been on. This gap in my vocal cords is why my voice is intermittently hoarse. SIX different doctors kept pushing me to consent to the scope. I felt bullied but I stood my ground. I was pissed that these doctors wouldn’t listen to me and understand that there was no benefit to shoving a camera down my throat when we already had an explanation for my hoarseness.

So what do I do to calm the fuck down when I feel like a hostage held in the hospital? How can I practice self-care while hospitalized where I have limited resources? I do deep breathing exercises, look at pictures and videos of my kitties on my phone, watch TV shows that make me laugh, and look up corny jokes online. Here’s my favorite joke right now: Is buttcheeks one word? Or should I spread them apart? 🤣😂🍑

Now that I am managing my health at home again, my self-care activities have expanded. I enjoy watching our cats run around the house like wildebeests, listening to my favorite music, pigging out on comfort food, tending to our plants and orchids, and taking long hot showers. There’s nothing more refreshing than washing the hospital stank off!

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. Don’t put off self-care for later because later will never come. We have to make time now for what’s important and self-care should be a priority. It can help you transition from simply existing to living and experiencing everything this world has to offer. Which would you rather be doing? 

Be Careful What You Say And Do Because It’s Not Always About You

We’ve all said something shitty to someone in the heat of the moment. And afterwards you may have instantly regretted it. Ok I will admit there have been times I didn’t regret it. There have been certain people I loved telling to fuck off. I spewed every hateful expletive I could muster together in one run on sentence. I didn’t regret it. I had no remorse over it. In fact, I found it oh so gratifying. I walked away with a shit eatin’ grin on my face like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

When we judge and criticize others we are usually driven by fear or our ego. But underneath the surface we all have feelings and emotions. This is why becoming more self-aware is so important. Just as when a pebble is thrown into water and causes ripples, our words and actions affect other people, who in turn affect those around them, and so on.

Our ego causes us to put up walls around ourselves. We become closed off to others and afraid to show who we truly are. We fear we will be judged or rejected. When we are open, we are vulnerable and risk being hurt by others. If we are aware that their hurtful words or actions in the moment are unconscious, then we can try to stop our impulsive reactions from taking over.

Hurtful actions and comments stay in our memories for years, so it’s imperative that we bring awareness to ourselves. Everything we do and say to people has an effect on them. Sometimes we know right away. Sometimes we may never know. Often we never realize the full extent of the damage. We need to stop hurting others just because we instinctively allow our ego to take over in a fleeting moment. We can’t take back those words or actions. We can only apologize and make an effort to do better in the future.

When you are personally attacked by someone, you can choose to diminish their comments or actions. You can become aware that they are in pain and that is why they’re behaving this way toward you. Our default response is to get defensive and angry. So you instantly react and shout back at the person for attacking you first. This only leads to escalating hurtful comments without actually resolving the problem. These words then stay with each person and they can carry them inside for a very long time.

It’s very easy to judge and criticize someone when we don’t know what they’re going through. The only way we can know what someone is going through is if they are open and honest with us. We can achieve that through less judgment and criticism so people don’t let fear keep them closed up and guarded.

We are not robots, we are human beings with feelings and emotions. Sometimes we unconsciously let our ego take over us. Don’t beat yourself up over it. We can’t control what we will feel in the moment but we can decide to acknowledge those feelings when they first arise. Judgment and criticism only separate us and prevent us from bonding and sharing with each other.

Next time you find yourself judging someone or criticizing them, stop and think. Become aware. Be conscious to your words and actions to yourself and to others. Be open and honest and expect the same in return. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Dear Amy

No this is not a “Dear John” letter. I am not breaking up with myself. 😄 Recently I read a fellow blogger’s post where she wrote a letter to her future self. I enjoyed reading it so much that I wanted to do the same. Thank you Olivia from olivialucieblake for inspiring me to do this exercise. 😀

Dear Amy,

You have survived so much. Your body has been put through the ringer and yet you have come out the other side. You conquer pain daily and don’t allow it to hold you hostage. You have countless scars and bruises but you still keep fighting and trying for a better quality of life.

You have made huge strides in learning about letting go and patience. Trivial things that used to piss you off don’t matter anymore. Growing orchids has proven to be a great lesson in patience. Watching new buds bloom after finding the right balance of watering, sunlight, and pruning has brought a lot of joy and excitement to your life. Seeing these exquisite flowers in the windowsill every day, especially on days where you don’t feel beautiful, always puts a smile on your face.

And then there’s Prednisone. The one thing you wish you could eliminate from your daily life. What a fucker. It has caused your swollen face, your hair to fall out, purple stretch marks, your belly to feel hard and swollen, your need for daily insulin, and fast growing cataracts in both eyes. Yet you put up with all of it just to be able to breathe. As much as you hate prednisone, you recognize that it’s necessary in order for you to live and breathe. You can power through the daily shots of insulin, cataract surgery, and body changes for the blessing of taking a breath. I hope one day you won’t need as much of this ass hole medication to breathe, but until that day you will have to peacefully coexist.

Sure there are moments where you cry, lose your shit, eat your feelings in junk food, and wish life were different. Who would want this life of hospitalizations every few weeks to months, daily breathing treatments every 3-4 hours even overnight, taking 22 medications every day, daily needles with glucose checks and insulin shots, and giving yourself a home IV treatment as your face, tongue, and throat are swelling? But this is your life. And I accept it. I’m not afraid of it. I don’t hate or resent it. Some people might think I am crazy for saying that. But through every hardship you have endured, it has become clear that you are a tough cookie. Mmmm cookies. Especially with milk. 🤗🍪🥛 Sure you bend, bruise, crack, or shatter at times. But you always bounce back ready to take on the next hurdle. It may not be very graceful or in the time frame you want, but you are still resilient.

My greatest wish is to be able to travel again. I miss seeing and experiencing different parts of the world. I know it would take a huge coordinated effort to safely travel again, but it would be worth it to be able to go to Iceland or relax on a beach in Cancun again. I would also like to go to be able to lay down on massage table long enough to get a massage again, take a yoga class outside, or walk around my favorite parks and gardens without difficulty breathing.

I don’t necessarily want or expect to be “normal.” I wouldn’t even know how to define what normal is. I just want to be me with a better quality of life. I don’t want to remain confined to the inside of my home for the rest of my life simply managing my medical conditions. I don’t expect a miracle to cure me. But I am hoping that with time, the right combination of treatments can be found that will allow me some freedom.

Joy Is Not A Destination

When I was a kid I would play school with my dolls and stuffed animals. I had these little wooden desks that we got at yard sales to set up my classroom. I would place each doll or stuffed animal at its own desk with worksheets and pencils while I taught them. I always found a lot of joy in creating this make believe classroom.

If you were to ask me as a young kid to describe myself, I probably would have told you about the things I liked to do. It would have been something like “I like to play school, play Barbies with my brother, dance like a ballerina, eat marshmallow Alpha bits cereal, watch Saturday morning cartoons, sleep with Jingles (our Siamese cat), and read the Berenstain Bears books.”

When people would ask me to describe myself as an adult, my response typically included what I did for work. “I work in a hospital blood bank. I determine people’s blood type and find blood that is safe for them to receive. I am a strong willed, resilient, and meticulous person.” Sounds like a response during a job interview as opposed to the carefree response from my younger self. So what changed? It seems like as we get older we lose that joy that we had as young kids.

Aa a teenager my mindset shifted from happy, carefree, and inquisitive to being studious and competitive about everything. I expected myself to get the best grades, to be the best dancer, and to start planning for my future. Instead of doing things because they brought me joy, I did them because I was good at them. Things that I sucked at didn’t make the cut. I thought this was the time to be serious so I could win awards and get scholarships.

I set out to do “everything you’re supposed to do” to secure a stable future and I wanted to make sure I did it right. I went to college, studied my ass off, graduated at the top of my class, passed my certification exam with flying colors, and secured a job before I graduated. I worked as a med tech in hospitals for 11 years until I suddenly became too sick to work. During that time I became so entrenched in this serious, hard working identity that I forgot about what brings me joy.

For years I had been told that I should write about my life experiences. I would always shrug it off saying “Who would want to read about me?” Or “I’m not creative enough to be a writer.” After I could no longer work, more and more people would mention to me how I should write a book or start a blog. For some reason I was more receptive to this idea now. The thought of writing a blog was making my senses all tingly. I initially brushed it off but then my mind kept coming back thinking about it. I started making a list of titles for my nonexistent blog while taking a shit on the toilet. 😂💩🚽 I was smirking and laughing at myself as I wrote down each title. That was the moment I found the same joy I had as a little girl teaching my dolls and stuffed animals. I knew right then I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to share my voice. All it took was some good quality toilet time and a lot of encouragement from others. And that’s how Delicate and brutal was created.

Since I started my blog, I remember what it feels like to be happy, excited, and inquisitive; just like when I created my classroom for my dolls and stuffed animals. You can find that joy you experienced as a child even if it has been buried for a long time. Say yes to that little spark of curiosity that bubbles up. Say yes to that little smile that you tend to shrug off. It doesn’t matter if it seems ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if you’re any good at it because it’s about joy, and not competition or perfection. What matters is the feeling you get when you do it. Joy is not a destination you arrive to when you’ve “grown up.” It’s a piece of you that needs to be nurtured throughout life.