Friendships With the Half-Hearted

When people leave our lives, it can hurt. Some people leave and it’s a quick burn, like grabbing onto a frying pan when it’s still too hot. Others leave an ache in your heart that is lasting and constant. In all of these departures, friendly and unfriendly, there is always disappointment.

We are always striving to do more, to be more, and to give more. But, we hardly ever hold our friends accountable for letting us down. We often forget to examine our friendships in the same way we examine what kind of friend we are. Are the people in our lives meeting the same standards we have for ourselves?

We hold onto people because of our history with them or because we feel like we need to take care of them. We hope that there will come a time when the friendship is no longer half-hearted or that they listen to understand and not to respond. Sometimes, it just can’t get there.

With these one-sided friendships there comes a point where you have to let go of people who were never holding onto you. When they decide that their time and attention would be better spent elsewhere don’t take it as an insult, take it as a chance to widen your circle and replace the energy.

Our view gets clouded by people who are only in our lives for their own benefit, it makes Dead Flowersit hard to keep up with other friendships when you don’t see what the rest of the world sees. In your own time, you will master the art of weeding out the dead flowers. There’s no sense in wasting water on them.

There is a teaching in buddhism about how an evil friend is worse than a wild beast, “wild beasts wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind”. Having  even one draining friendship only holds you back from finding people who will last in your life. People who will give as much as they get. People who will never take advantage of you or your story. People who will build with you, not just because of you.

I struggled for a long time before I understood that there can be good in goodbyes. I took every failed friendship like a shot to the chest when in reality, it was dead weight being lifted. Sometimes it takes a while to realize some people just aren’t for you. Their energy will never match yours and their spirit will never inspire you. That’s okay.

Focus your attention on those that bring you peace, people who you can rely on in your worst moments.  The climate of your life is not fit for all flowers, even the ones you take care of year after year in the hopes that they’ll bud. Surround yourself with friends who never make you feel used, and water relationships that you know will grow.

And as always, make sure there are a few sunflowers in your garden, souls like sunflowers can grow anywhere.

xS

Refocusing

After almost a year hiatus, I’m back.

There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty pot.” I spent last summer as an empty pot. Not sure where I was headed, what I wanted or, what I needed.  I helped start a club at school, and dropped out of it to work more. I lost the motivation to go to the gym or see my friends. My life was all over the place and I couldn’t manage to keep myself focused on one thing. I was constantly distracted by people and things that were draining me, being pulled in every direction by people who needed this and wanted that. I forgot to step back and take care of my own life.

I emptied my tank picking up everyone else without stopping for gas.

I needed to learn how to gauge people’s ability to accept and reciprocate, or at least appreciate the energy I gave them. Putting that undervalued energy into people, who will not grow because of it, results in nothing but waste.  What I learned was this, it is our choice as to who and what we put our time into, so make it count.

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I found one of my biggest stressors and also a major time waster was my social media. For me, it was full of people who I didn’t connect with in the real world, and whose outlook on life didn’t align with mine. The scam of social media is that you never know what’s true and what’s smoke and mirrors. I found myself feeling exhausted by all the drama and the over exaggerations of people lives. You can’t get caught up in comparing yourself with people who hardly exist outside the confines of an algorithm.

I started to limit my time on social media and un-followed pages that didn’t spark joy. Sometimes we forget that even our social media is an energy exchange. Being up till 1am reading people’s thoughts on Twitter or Instagram can be extremely wearing. So, if you’re going to spend hours a day flipping through pages and pages of other peoples lives, make sure their lives make you excited about continuing and bettering your own.

I stopped putting my energy into the wrong things. I was spreading myself thin trying to keep up with the demands of the world when I should have been the one demanding once in a while. So, I quit letting the idea’s of how I should exist write the rules in my life.

I went on this year with a fresh outlook and a no-nonsense attitude. I changed my major instead of learning to love my old one. I managed to score a position on the board of a club at school, and I started using the word no. If something wasn’t going to help me move forward or feel better it was a no go.

Be confident in your ability to know what is best for you, and what you need to do to for you. Focusing your energy on yourself is an important factor in becoming the best person you can be, for yourself and those around you. You can’t pour a cup from an empty pot.

Put good energy into the world, and where it matters.

xS

 

Stuffed Chicken Recipe

In the age of weight loss and meal plans it can be easy to get swept up in ridiculous, and expensive dieting plans. One thing that holds true through all the bullsh*t is that, if you eat good you feel good. If you don’t like to eat good because it doesn’t taste good there’s two things you can do.

For one thing, you can train your taste buds to prefer healthier foods over McDonald’s and brownies. Yes it’s true, if you expose yourself over and over again to carrots you will eventually reach for the carrots not the cookies. Over time, your body will guide you in a healthier direction, you just need to give it the option.

Another thing you can do is, try my stuffed chicken recipe. It tastes good, and it’s a healthy option for dinner. The ingredients are pretty basic, and it’s fairly easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast
  • Feta Cheese/spinach/roasted red peppers
  • Eggs (2 or 3) and breadcrumbs
  • Coconut oil

How to:

  • Clear off your kitchen counter top (I know its covered in junk mail and coupons like mine) and lay out your ingredients.
  • Prepare two bowls, one with bread crumbs and another with two eggs mixed with a bit of milk. (use your judgment, but not the kind you use on Facebook)
  • Cut off the fat of the chicken, while doing this have your spinach steaming.
  • Mix three equal parts of spinach, feta cheese, and roasted red peppers in a bowl.
  • Cut down the center of your chicken to make a pocket, and stuff with the mixture.
  • Put tooth picks through your chicken to hold the mixture in. (kind of how you hold in your work frustration)
  • Cover the chicken in your egg and milk mixture, then breadcrumbs.
  • Put the chicken in a pan with a thin layer of coconut oil to fry. Fry each chicken until it begins browning. (like right before you get sunburnt at the beach)
  • After the chicken has browned put it in the oven for a half hour at 375 degrees. Check, with a thermometer, that the temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees before serving.

This is my all time favorite thing to both eat, and make! Worth the tooth pick hassle.

“I’ll have the chicken breast, hold the chicken” – Michael Scott (The Office)

Put good energy into the world, and put good food in your body.

xS

Taking the Time

In light of my past vacation I wanted to write about time. Time, our time, does not go on forever. We only have so many trips around the sun so, it’s important to make every rotation matter.

My trip was scheduled for two weeks after my spring break…genius! At first, I was stressed and didn’t want to go, and then I thought “fu*k it!” We only get one life and we have no way of knowing when our time is up. Some get many years some get few, and if I end up being one of the people who don’t get the time I deserve, I want there to have been life in my years.

There are some obligations in life that we just have to fill. Like working whether we like it or not. That being said where there’s a will there’s a way. When an opportunity to experience something new or do something that makes you happy presents itself, go for it! There will be other ways to make up the work your missing, or the vacation days your taking.

We spend so much of our lives working and worrying that we forget to take the limited time we were given and use it to be alive. I find so many of the people I know are just going through the motions. Something we can all practice is not letting life get in the way of living.  Life provides us with so many opportunities to fill our moments with joy and excitement so, we better take life up on the possibilities while we’re here.

Complete your work ahead of your vacation to make it stress free. Take a day off and worry about it later. We are so busy progressing that we forget to sit back once in a while and enjoy the progress we have made. The western world has put us in this rat race mindset making us think we constantly need more, that we need to put all our hours into work. Work through lunch, work past dinner, go in extra early, stay late. No. Refuse to give your life away to just anything. Make the moments count towards something.

One day we will wake up and look back on our lives, at all the opportunities we missed, and all the chances we didn’t take. Or, we will smile at all the things we were lucky enough to have the chance to do, and we will laugh at the memories we made with the people who matter most. We will have made an imprint on the world even if it was just footprints on a white sand beach.

Put good energy into the world, and make your rotations matter.

xS

Sunflower Town

My life comes in two parts, and my soul comes with baggage.

I call it BC. AC.

Before Cole after Cole.

Before Cole:

Life was as simple as it could be in a water tower town. My two brothers and I? We grew up good on love and sunshine. We drank iced tea in the summers and hot chocolate in the winters. We had all you could dream of as a kid, bikes, scooters, baseball bats. We played all kinds of sports from street hockey to horseback riding. Our lives were out of a home life magazine for the most part. My mom stayed at home with us our entire childhood, my dad worked as a State Trooper. My mom is a soft woman with hands that heal. My dad is a rough and tough man with hands worn from providing for us. We had everything we needed and whatever we wanted. Around the holidays we would send out christmas cards and, for thanksgiving we would visit with every side of the family we could. In the summers we would spend every waking moment in bare feet and bathing suits by the lake and when it wasn’t summer…we were waiting for it. A Picket fence family with a little bit of closed-door drama but nothing other families don’t deal with.

Then everything went black and, closed-door drama shifted into a town wide tragedy.

After Cole:

February gets its reputation truthfully,  cold, bitter, and miserable.  But, the morning I woke up to the blood curdling screams of my mother, crying over my baby brother, it was sunny and still. The water in the lake behind my house was a sheet of glass…as if it was frozen in fear. My brother had committed suicide and it was as if nature knew. There were no sounds from the outside world. A chilling silence behind the screams of terror in the room above mine. I called the first person I could think of, my high school english teacher. She couldn’t understand me through the phone as I tried to get the words out that, my life has just become the same tragedy I have watched repeat in my home town over and over again. She gave me the strength, for a moment, to breathe.

The moments after were a flood of flashing lights and blaring sirens. Men with black boots quietly wadded though my house as if walking on shattered glass, tip toeing around broken people. My mother had to be torn from my brother’s body. We were shuffled into the downstairs bedroom, that belonged to my other brother Jake, as they put Coles body in the ambulance. All I could think in my head was how ugly it was. How ugly the world became in a matter of minutes. The ambulance drove away with my brother and my innocence.

Throughout the day family and close friends quietly snuck through the front door brining enough food to feed an army. It was a good thing because, an army sure came. I can’t even re-call the amount of people who showed up to the house that day but all I knew was the support system around us, could swallow us whole. But still, even with all the love in the room everything was ugly. The room was quiet beyond a few whispers here and there. Emotion was either out of control or completely withdrawn.

The funeral was held that Friday. It was raining and dark out. The world was no longer in fear…it was crying. It was the first funeral I had ever been too and looking back now I should have drug the time on for a million more years because, even now after all this time, I am not ready to let go of the last moment I saw him or all the moments before that. If I could have climbed in the casket that day and been buried with him I would have. I said my final goodbyes but couldn’t stay to watch the casket close, that was the last time I saw my little brother’s face.

It was not the last time I thought of him.

Everyday from that day on I have thought of him.

I watched the middle school Cole attended, and the high school I went to, erupt in both love and sadness. Sadness derived from love is the strangest emotion to feel. It’s so bittersweet. Theres so much good that gets overshadowed by pain. Still, to this day I see support of my brother and posts about missing him and they all describe a sad love.

The thing we forget to tell people about suicide is it’s so much deeper than just you being gone. It’s every moment of the day you left, engraved in the hearts of your loved ones. It’s all the missed moments spotted from the sidelines…they should have been here..they would have loved that. It’s the haunting of the loss. It’s not understanding the definition of, “a mothers love” until you see it ripped from her. It’s the memories that are tattooed all over town. The time goes by, but the memories never fade and, while we become good at masking it and coping with it, the pain never fades either.

Loss is ugly. Remembering loss is ugly. Being reminded of loss is ugly. There are beautiful moments in celebrating the past of the person you lost, but not nearly as many as if they were here. When people leave the world feels it. Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it gives the pain a way to spread with no way to stop it.

To be truthful I know he’s still here. Cole shows up everywhere I go, on road signs that clearly spell out his name, in his favorite songs that come on the radio in all the moments after I almost crash my car. The forces above us, whatever they may be, bring him near to me all the time. Even though I may never know whats up head, I know what’s gone lingers to watch me grow.

 

Put good energy into the world, have a heart that heals, and find strength in the sunflowers.

xoxo s

Self Care is for YOU

In the spirit of my last post about the importance of mental health I wanted to write about self care. Many people think “self-care” and, assume pedicures and spa days. While I am no stranger to a deluxe pedicure or a 20 minute face mask, it is important to remember self-care is not always as glamorous as a fancy 19 year old’s Instagram posts make it out to be.

Self care can come up in a variety of ways and is considered anything you do for YOU. Sometimes locking ourselves away so we can have a loud ugly cry in private, and not break down in the line at Walmart, is what we have to do to self-care. Remembering to eat or taking it a step further and making your favorite meal can result in a much more fulfilled day. Sometimes the most we can do for ourselves is just take a shower. Washing off the day, climbing into bed and just taking a deep breath is one of the best forms, in my opinion, of self care.

We tend to get caught up in the way the media portrays self-care and think to care about ourselves, we need to shove a whole Acai bowl down our throats. This is not the case. Just because your yoga teacher eats a banana when she’s sad and buys $100 yoga mats it doesn’t mean that, that is what will improve your life.

Self care is all about YOU. You need to have some kind of understanding about who you are as a person in order to help calm your own life or, excite it if that’s your style. Jumping on the bandwagon of Sunday morning yoga class and an afternoon brunch with the girls is not going to help you, if that is not how you function. We all move about this life in different ways, taking time for ourselves to do the things we like or need is very important to living a productive healthy life. Every now and then it’s good to take a step back from the world and put a little effort into yourself. 

Put good energy into the world, and put good energy into yourself.

xS

Stand Up, Speak Up, Wake Up

Good health is not just the absence of physical disease, it is the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. It aids in determining how we, as individuals, handle stress, enjoy life, and make choices. You will not have a healthy body if it’s not accompanied by a healthy mind. When we are free of depression, anxiety, addictions, or stress, we are more capable to live a much fuller, more enjoyable life. Unfortunately, we live in a world tainted with brokenness, volatility of human emotion, and imperfection. While positive mental health is strongly encouraged, it is not always granted.

Here in Mays Landing, New Jersey, we’ve woken up to the tragic phone calls and group texts. We’ve attended the candlelight vigils. We’ve attended the grief counseling. But each time we watch a little piece of the community drift away, it only gets harder every time we lose one of our own. Here in this community, we are doing more than lending an ear. We are hosting a charity event called The Wake Up @ Lake Lenape. The event is directed towards continuing the conversation about mental health and suicide that is already circling our community. Here in Atlantic County we have faced tragedy and have felt the deep loss of suicide. Together, we have struggled and together, we must continue to rebuild. Not only is this event meant to spread positive mental health, it is an event taking place to show others that there are people who care. This community cares.

Regardless of who you are, and whether you have known it or not, every one of you has been touched by mental illness in some way. Whether it was a brother, sister, friend, co-worker, mom, dad, neighbor, the list goes on. Facing a loss of any form is difficult, but facing one you never saw coming is torturous. The truth is, you never know when you might lose out on a life the way so many have. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. On average, there are 123 suicides per day. These individuals are blinded by hopelessness and isolation. Just because a suicidal person may not be asking for help, doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. Even though you may not be going through a mental disorder yourself, it doesn’t mean that the person beside you isn’t…but what can you do? A lot more than you think.

It starts by taking part in the conversation and helping bring forth change. Speaking up and freely talking about suicide and mental health creates a culture where people can get help without shame. It encourages others to ask for help, knowing that there are people who are willing to lend a listening ear. Being silent and turning a blind eye does not help you or anyone around you. There is no set “program” for good mental health, but increasing the range of choices available for those who need it, increases the chance for more people to adopt and maintain positive mental lifestyles.

You can say “not me” but you should do everything in your power to prevent yourself from saying “why me?” So, for the new year I invite you to spread the mental health message and join the fight against suicide by following The Wake Up Project and if you can, attending the event. If not for you, then for the people in your life you love the most.

And if you are going through something, and you happen to stumble upon this little post, know that we care. Mistakes and defeat are all a part of life’s wild journey. These feelings of self-loathing, despair, or anger are temporary, and you will get through it. Choose to fight through the darkness and the sadness. We are here for you, and whenever you feel like wanting to give up, know that there is so much life worth fighting for. Just because you can’t see it now, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Above all else, stay. Stay because nobody else could ever play your part. You have a purpose and soon enough, you will find it.

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Support the cause and the event by following @thewakeupp on Instagram!

 Visit www.thewakeupp.com for more details

 This special post was written with love. Together, with Sophia Cuerquis.

Put good energy into the world,

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xoxo S