Week #1– Mindfulness… I’ve been doing this all wrong!

I’ve practiced mindful living before… how hard could this be?

Boy, could I not have been more wrong! In the beginning, I had imagined this week’s challenge panning out so differently than it did in reality– but I guess reality has a habit of doing that to our visions now doesn’t it?

For this week’s challenge, I attempted to cultivate inspiration through mindful living. Attempt would be a good word to describe it! Not to be hard on myself but really… what ended up happening was anything but what I had planned. What I had expected was mornings eased into through yoga and meditation, getting outside and getting in touch with and my inner dialogue while trying to make it more… eh… should I say, forgiving? (There’s a special word to describe how she usually talks to me, but I’ll save your eyes this time.)

What I did realize– however backwards and unorthodox the journey it took– really did open my mind to how I can nurture a more mindful practice in my day to to life from this point forward.

Try leaning into the discomfort instead of denying it the validity it holds in your life

“Try leaning into the discomfort instead of denying it the validity it holds in your life” my grandmother suggested from across the diner booth table. I took a moment to munch on my hash-browns and paused to truly process what she had said. It was simple, just like she had mentioned… something we all latently knew inside, we just need to hear it phrased the right way or be reminded of every now and again for it to hit us. But man did it hit me then.

Every day I was waking up trying to find a schedule that would distract me from my worries and anxieties. When I was stressed, I would leave the house and go for a walk or do a short meditation where I stopped thoughts if I heard them coming to me or go to the gym to exercise my body so I stopped focusing on my mind. And yet, whenever those activities were finished, there were my anxieties… sitting there– waiting for me. Never once did it occur to me to listen to them… to give them the time of day and acknowledge that they did hold some validity. (Even my insecurities and insecure… sheesh talk about needy!)

But really! Our anxieties, even when blown out of proportion, usually do hold a grain of truth and reasoning behind them. Take mine for example:

  1. Continuing my education– “You’ll have to go back for at least four years… and that means dealing with four years worth of American college bills and debt” (valid) “You’ve already spent three years pursuing art and now you’re switching to a different field of study? Takes a lot of time. (valid) “Oh my GOD! I’m gonna be poor and overworked until I’m forty and it’ll probably take that long to even enter my field of study! (… ok now, slow down there mind… not really valid)
  2. Getting a new job– “I have these dates I requested off at my old job… but now I have to tell my new boss I can’t be there all these days after just starting!? (valid… though my future boss is a human being who understands having a life)
  3. Balancing art commissions– (no wait… all invalid. Completely invalid. Nothing but over-perfectionism and unnecessary worry)

So really… how much is there to worry about? Way less than our minds trick us into thinking there is! And doing mindful practices the way I did this week is like having all the right shiny new tools but not having a clue in the world how to use them.

From now on, I want to live walking hand in hand with my emotions.

From now on, I want to live walking hand in hand with my emotions… to take little moments to identify what I’m feeling, acknowledge the good and the bad, and allow them to take the space they deserve– not the space my previous ways have allowed them to hold.

Although finding inner peace was a bust, I’d say this “failure” has taught me more than I could’ve asked for. With my eyes opened I’ll walk toward a brand new week.

See you next time

~Fioza

 

The Importance of Slowing Down

So, this past weekend was Labor Day… and as any of you who celebrate it know– it’s meant for anything BUT labor.

I went “upnorth” as us Michiganders say, to Gaylord with my lovely Greg and his family.

Inevitably… like any time I take a slight haitus from the everyday hustle and bustle of life, I found a strengthening in my belief of the power of relaxation and disconnection from stress/ routine.

Often times I find myself stressing for no reason.

Okay head, what’s going on?

No response.

You’ve got homework…school…work…a bit of a family crisis

Hum of panic begins brewing.

Hey hey hey! But it’s nothing we can’t tackle like we have a million times before right?

And still… no answer, just a lingering sense of discomfort that threatens to grow hourly.

My mind doesn’t answer, because I’m still working full speed. I believe full well in the saying “Dreams don’t work unless you do”, so I’m always throttling full speed ahead– completing classwork, building a portfolio, working, blogging, and balancing my world of 300 some minions… all the while trying to make room for relationships and “normal” life.

But here’s the kicker: In order to experience life and hold substance behind our voice, we must slow down and live in the moment. It is only then that we are truly open to everything around us. 

Watching Fred (Greg’s pup)… it hit me. The scene was gorgeous. Not because he’s the beautifully handsome little man he is, but because he wasn’t concerning himself with anything other than what was happening right here, right now. 

I practiced Fred’s way of life completely for those two days… and what happened was breathtaking.

Soubi, a character of mine I have known for 11 years now stayed with me for the entire time. I learned the truth behind his life before me… wiped away false tales I had thought I heard in the past… found his mother and father who I didn’t believe were alive… and truly… really connected.

Because of this past weekend I have un-erasable and irreplaceable memories and experiences with him that have grown a better foundation to our friendship and ability to communicate.

That ability… to slow down and LISTEN… is the best tool I can possibly offer you to connecting with your characters and writing. It is priceless and will shape not only the way you write, but the way you live.

So instead of scripting out dialogue and scratching your head over where to go next or how so-and-so would react… listen to so-and-so! Let them tell you. Build a relationship with that person and part of yourself and open your own door to the world inside your mind.

 

That’s all folks! Join me next time!

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~Fioza

 

 

 

Expand your World

My teacher once told me…

“you can never judge a piece of art without first participating in it.”

At first I must admit, I was confused. To participate in art? What does she mean? I’ve heard of some pretty crazy “participation art” pieces in my art school days but I hardly believed that was what she was encouraging for class… (look it up, crazy stuff! I won’t even mention the details here)

She went on to show us this piece

picasso-guernica-full

(Guernica by Pablo Picasso)

Being a student of art, I do love myself some modern pieces and have a more than slight obsession with the Vienna Secession… so I loved it immediately. Though the majority of my classmates said they’d never want this on their wall.

The participation process she described to us can be applied not only to art… but to life in general

It goes: Participation- Analysis- Perception- Appreciation (Papa!)

  1. First, we instinctively judge the piece– With anything in life we do this… people, places, cultures etc. And it is killing our creativity and the wholesomeness of our lives.
  2. We must CHALLENGE our subjective opinion. Research whatever it is you’re judging. If we stay uncultured to things unfamiliar to us… we can never learn the perspective they have to offer. 

As human beings we naturally crave comfort, but for growth and opening to happen we must step outside of our comfort zones. It is only there that we will broaden our perspective.

3. Once we’ve done a little research into where that person is coming from, we will add our own perception. Just like a piece of art, every one of us will judge an experience differently due to their our past experiences.

4. Now that we have sat with that experience we can revisit it and truly know how we feel. We can find comfort in the fact that we tried. It’s ok if you don’t like that piece of art, don’t agree with parts of that religion, or don’t enjoy that individual’s personality. You’ve honestly looked at the inside of that experience and not judged it for lack of better words…by its cover.

Keeping an open mind is important to anyone, but I as a writer find it extremely important to my trade.

How can I write about a woman who lives in Turkey, if I don’t know what daily life in Turkey is like?

Jumping out of our comfort zones can help enrich ourselves and our stories, bringing a new substantive feeling we can no longer return from once we’ve triggered it. So here’s my challenge to you…

If you’re writing the story of someone struggling with depression… open yourself up to your own sadness and feel it with them. If you’re writing about someone leading a revolution… research revolutions of the past and understand the struggles they will face in their everyday lives.

Go out and live life… grip it in your hands… feel it! As one of my favorite writers once said:

 

“…I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…”

~Henry David Thoreau

 

 

 

Because you love me…

“No matter where you go in life… I know you will do great things”

He turned to me and smiled assuredly– not a trace of doubt behind those words he had spoken. The strength he felt was contagious, and in that moment I knew I was ready to face anything college life would hand to me.

I turned around and left in pursuit of a psychology degree from Central Michigan University after that day. I left not only my dreams of being an artist or a writer behind… I left you.

..And you were right there when everything fell apart.

Because you love me… I can be.

 

   *        *        *

 

Gregory and I met in junior high. We were 11 or 12 at the time, and as preteens tend to be… I was wrapped up in myself all too much. So it wasn’t until our senior year of High School that I truly appreciated him.

You broke down my walls.

My boyfriend of four years left to attend Michigan State University and halfway to graduation I discovered he was cheating on me. We had been in marching band together… and a majority of our friends were shared between us and gotten through the music program. Shocked by the revelation, my friends stayed silent and gave me space… unable to find the words to comfort me.

Of course this is the last thing I wanted… feeling lonelier than I had felt since puberty first hit, but it is how it happened. Shortly after, my grandfather died. And after that… my uncle passed, only in his forties after a two year long struggle with overcoming addiction tired him to his end.

 

  *          *         *

 

And you were the only one who approached me.

Every day, Gregory would come to my locker after the final class bell rang. Every day, he would ask me to walk home with him. And every day, the loneliness faded further and further away.

He wasn’t like everyone else I had met. He was sincere… unafraid to look into my eyes, call me out on my lies, and speak honestly and rawly about the pain I was feeling. I had never had anyone care for me so purely, and I had absolutely no idea how to respond to it.

So we spent a few hours each day after school together, but never dared speak aloud the words that captured what we meant to each other.

 

*         *         *

So when the time came to pursue our futures, I left with the girl I called my best friend to chase a degree she loved since I had been told time and time again that nothing good could come from my passions besides a hobby. And eventually… my fake reality came to an end.

” You never made me happy!” she shouted

“Please don’t leave” I pleaded in the middle of campus square as she turned her back on seven years of friendship.

“Or you’ll what? Kill yourself because you’re so miserable!? I wish you would… this world would be abetter place if you did.”

And just like that started the longest bout of soul searching and pain I had ever encountered.

It took only a week to realize I didn’t want to be there without her… and that I wanted nothing to do with psychology. Not to mention, the college campus I had once looked at as a beacon of hope for my future now stood as a grimacing and haunting reminder of a past I could never return to.

I dropped out of CMU and came back home to pursue a degree in arts and storytelling. I could not have prepared myself for how simultaneously painful and liberating the journey ahead would be.

*         *         *

Yet as soon as I needed you… you appeared. 

Despite the fact that I had taken him for granted and left him behind… Gregory was right there to confide in and comfort me through yet another crisis. And there he stayed, by my side through 5 boyfriends and more premature deaths than a family should encounter.

After years of being my best friend, Greg came out to me as being gay. Terrified that I would never think the same of him again, I hugged him and for the first time felt like I could finally return even a sliver of the comfort he had provided to me throughout the years. That same night I admitted that my feelings for my old best friend extended past those of friendship and that it took me loosing her to figure it out.

From then on, our conversations deepened and so did our friendship. As time passed, I discovered that my feelings for Greg had grown immensely and that I desired to be more than just a friend. But knowing that this would not happen, I kept my feelings inside.

There were times I could no longer keep things inside, and I would end up blurting my feelings out like a klutz. I was sure that these times would scare him away… that my stupidity would ruin the best thing I had found in life. However, he never left my side. He simply told me not to apologize for my feelings and that it took more than that to scare him away.

You’re stuck with me

… he would say as if it was a curse. But it was and still remains the most comforting phrase he has ever spoken to me.

*         *         *

The passing of time revealed more than just memories made. As it turned out… wounds really can completely heal. Bitter memories can become sweet once again… and the impossible can happen.

Last year, during one of my blurts… Gregory revealed to me that he may have been wrong about his feelings towards me. He admitted that for about a year prior he had felt feelings similar to mine but had been too afraid to try to be together, thinking that it may not work out and could ruin our friendship.

So we gave it a try.

6 months ago we tentatively went into a new kind of relationship… and today we are inseparable.

He understand me like nobody else. With a personality torn by over 300 different characters, that’s saying a lot! I had never found anyone that could love every side of me and know them as well as I do. But today I have found that. He lets them live… and because of that I am free.

With a promise that we will be with each other forever, I am able to face my days with more happiness than ever before. Together, we grow and support each other the the best and worst of times.

I feel so blessed to have Gregory in my life.

…because you love me, I can be. 

Always yours

~Fioza

(Gregory will be joining Talking to Myselves as an author of the page as well, since we write together after all. I look forward to the dynamics he will bring and can’t wait for you to meet him!)