Obsession + Adventure: On Unexplained Loss And The People Who Leave Us.

Obsession + Adventure: On Unexplained Loss And The People Who Leave Us.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

When I was little, there was a woman who would come over and help take care of me. Her name was Yvette.

Yvette was short in comparison to my mother, but to me, she was just the perfect height for my death-grip hugs. Her short brown hair fell in soft waves that skimmed her kind, present face and almond eyes that sparkled with mischief. Her skin was flawless, her makeup enhancing everything about her feisty, fun-loving, soft yet unmistakably pronounced features. She smelled like florals and Calvin Klein Obsession and adventure. Her chin was clefted just like mine.

As the story would go, Yvette would take me out to run errands with her and people would think I was hers. We shared the same high cheekbones, the same almond eyes, the same clefted chin and curious nature. Even as a small child, I could tell Yvette and I were so much alike. She’d babysit my brother and I but was never a “babysitter” – she was more like extended family coming over to hang. At night, she’d change into “fancy” clothes and I’d watch her do her makeup in the vanity’s mirror. “Are you going on a hot date?” I used to tease. “You’re such a party animal.” We’d laugh and I’d watch her curl her eyelashes and spray her hair into a defined shape on top of her head. My parents would get home, I’d hug her goodbye, and she was off to her mystery evening out in the world way beyond my little West Valley cul-de-sac. She smelled like florals and Calvin Klein Obsession and adventure. If I hugged her long enough, sometimes it would linger on my nightgown. We were so much alike. I never knew where she really went.

When I was twelve years old, I got my period for the first time. It was the day of the seventh grade Disneyland trip, a once-a-year opportunity they gave to the kids at school who had been accepted into the honors program. I learned how to use a pad on the spot (no pun intended) and had a blast at Disneyland with the added bonus of knowing I was 2% more mature and “adult” than I had been the night before. This period thing is no big deal, I thought. Why do people make such a big deal of it?

Well, I found out the next day why people made such a big deal of it. On the bus ride home, I was doubled over in pain from the debilitating cramps I was experiencing for the very first time ever. I slouched down and buried myself in fetal position between my seat and the seat in front of me, the girls around me rubbing my back and looking on in concern. None of us knew what was going on. None of us had dealt with this before.

A friend of mine, bless her soul, walked me home through the rain, except I needed to tie my rain coat over my waist as I’d made the rookie mistake of not accounting for “second day flow.” As I turned my key into the door, drenched in rain and my own tears, I prayed someone would be home…

The door opened before I could get the key through. It was Yvette. Mortified, I showed her my jeans. She looked at me with the kind of empathy that only older, wiser women who have “been there” possess, and she hugged me tight as I replayed my quintessential seventh-grade-female horror story over and over in my brain. She smelled of flowers and Calvin Klein and adventure, and somehow her hugs made my foreign cramps begin to ease. Nothing could hurt that much for that long while she was around.

She was at my sixth grade graduation. She was at my first theatre performance. I remember the exact moment of Princess Diana’s car crash and how traumatic it was to the world, and it’s all because Yvette turned on the TV and let me watch with her, like two sisters sitting side by side watching history happen. When I came home from college one winter, after not seeing her for quite some time, she was lounging on the couch laughing and drinking wine with my mom just like they’d always done. It was close to Christmas. She gave me a necklace. She was dressed up to go somewhere, except that “somewhere” was here and the adventure was now. Yvette was there for everything.

Until one day, she wasn’t. We know she’d moved to live near her sister, and we know at some point she was out of the country to help a sick family member. But that’s all we know. Or what we think we know. It all blurs together now. We used to talk on the phone every few months, then every few months became holidays and birthdays, then holidays and birthdays became every year at some point in time.

And then one day, the calls stopped. The phone number we’d been using had been disconnected. That’s it. One day, just gone.

I never knew where she really went.

~

Loss is a funny thing. Not funny ha-ha, but funny as in it gives you that sour feeling in your stomach and aching feeling in your heart that you hate you can place.

With death, it’s finite. It’s devastating and in some of the worst cases unexpected. It leaves you with dark blank space and a piece of the puzzle that is your heart ripped out and gone forever. Death is obvious and brutal.

But what about the kind of loss that isn’t so finite? What about the characters that come into our lives, making a profound impact, then vanish without so much as a heads up or warning sign?

I think about loss every day. I’ve come to learn this a blessing and a curse when you’re a highly sensitive and self-aware soul. On one hand, I’m constantly reminding myself of the fleeting nature of things. This couch. This room. This kiss. This look. This street. This weather. This moment. On the other hand, I’m filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the littlest and biggest and even the most mediocre middlest-of-the-road things.

From the outside, to people who don’t really know me, I can see how my ever-present gratitude might come off as overly-consistent enthusiasm or doe-eyed naiveté about how the world really works. But I know better. I know the high highs don’t come without the low lows, and every brightest light has a darkest dark. I walk through life constantly balancing the two; I celebrate and mourn simultaneously.

I walk through life constantly balancing the light and dark; I celebrate and mourn simultaneously. Click To Tweet

So how does it work, then? When you want to see someone so badly but don’t even know where to start? When you miss something so fiercely, but can barely describe what you’re missing anymore? It’s not a thing, it’s not an action. I miss the feelings. I miss the presence. I miss her being there.

I found Yvette a while ago on Facebook. At least I think it was her. I recognized her sister’s name on her “Friends” list, and her nephew too. There was no profile picture.

I wrote her a message with shaky hands. I used the nickname I’d made for her as a child.

“Ya-Ya? Is this you?”

No response.

I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, six months later, I saw a notification under my message.

My message had been read…two weeks prior.
I hated the thought that entered my mind, and I hated that it could be right.

What if she doesn’t want to be found?

~

Loss happens in so many ways. In death, in relationships, in friendships, in people disappearing. But we also lose parts of ourselves along our journey. We lose who we were, become who we are.

That kind of loss usually happens in three ways. In Option A, we go through metamorphosis – those old parts informing the new-and-improved version of us we’re presenting to the world. The old parts of us are still there, just in different forms. The butterfly still has the eyes of the caterpillar; the bird still the same beak of the fuzzy chick.

But if we’re not self-aware, Option B comes in. The old us simply…vanishes. In Option B, we wake up one day and have become unrecognizable to ourselves. Option B terrifies me to the core.

And then sometimes, there’s a third option. In Option C, we lose ourselves intentionally in order to create the new someone we know we need to be.

I vote for Option A. I will always be Team Option A. But that doesn’t mean I have the right to force it on others and pretend like I know their story.

Is Option C necessary for some, I wonder? Is my intense self-awareness blinding me to the fact that some people NEED to consciously wipe the slate clean to get a fresh new start? I’d like to think that we are handed our good times AND bad all for a reason, and each moment is a learning opportunity and chance to grow into the person we know we’re meant to be, and that Option A is the rightest option there is, plain and simple…

But some people aren’t there. Some people need to forget to let go. And we cannot fault them for it. We are all on our unique journeys through this lifetime, and learn the same exact lessons, just not at the same exact times. We don’t even learn them in the same exact WAYS. Sometimes we lose people in our lives because they need to go find themselves in theirs.

Sometimes we lose people in our lives because they need to go find themselves in theirs. Click To Tweet

There’s not a week that goes by I don’t miss Yvette. I wish I could call her, I wish I could tell her about New York. I wish I could joke about us going out and hitting the town, but really just have her visit and come over and drink wine and laugh on my couch. I wish we could reminisce about the time she was there for me when I walked home in the rain, I wish we could remember about when big history-making happenings happened, I wish she could remind me of things I said or did that I’ve long forgotten about now. I wish she could meet my husband, I wish she could learn my life. I wish I could see that she’s happy.

But I can’t. All the above is me thinking of myself, of my own journey and the way I do things. And my journey is my own to be accountable for, just like Yvette’s is all her own. We cannot create opinions about someone else’s story based on how we want them to fit into ours.

We cannot create opinions about someone else's story based on how we want them to fit into ours. Click To Tweet

Who knows what seeing my Facebook message might have brought up for her, if that was in fact her? I will never know. I never knew where she went after leaving my cul-de-sac, and I never knew where she went after that last voicemail I remember receiving around the time of my 19th birthday over a decade ago. I need to be at peace knowing that the time we spent together was beautiful and funny and warm and it served its purpose to show us off onto our separate ways.

I do know that wherever she is, she is discovering her own journey and learning who she is meant to be, and has been all along. I am able to both mourn the loss of her in my life, and hope that there’s cause to celebrate the presence of her own self in hers. Because she was lightness personified. I always saw it. I’m not sure she did. I can only hope her eyes have been opened to her brilliance. She sparkled with mischief. Her chin was clefted just like mine.

katie


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The Dreams We Woke Up From: An Ode To Transitions.

The Dreams We Woke Up From: An Ode To Transitions.

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

There isn’t much more of an emotional experience for me than driving through Downtown Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley then back again; a route I know all too well yet still find so much nuance and newness in.

It’s the path from the place I live now back to the place I grew up in, from the future to back to the past and all the moments in between – both places that hold so much of my history but so much of my current hustle as well. The appointments. The auditions. The schools. The snacks. The boyfriends, the best friends, the strip malls where I learned to drive and the high rises I still look up at with awe. I cross “over the hill” into “The Val” and I’m instantly transported into the person I’ve always been. It’s all there, the same yet so different. My heart caves at the “For Lease” signs and expands with the familiar neon lights. Each block holds a memory, each zip code a sense of déjà vu.

The nostalgia eats me alive.

~

You know those dreams you have where you’re in a place, but it seems slightly “off?” Maybe it’s supposed to be your middle school homeroom, but your cousins are there and the blackboard is white. Or you’re walking down the grocery aisle, then suddenly it morphs into a pet shop where the Fuji apples used to be.

Having lived in the city I grew up in for my entire existence, that’s what my life has always seemed like to me – and the feeling I get when I drive down Ventura Boulevard. Morphing without warning, shifting without reason. I cannot tell if yesterday was yesterday or if it was two decades ago. If the block to my right has always been there or if it’s reconstructed out of an old orange grove. The past seems more like last night’s dream than a distant memory: it’s all where I left it, yet things are just…different.

As I prepare for a move across the country to a city I adore, I cannot help but sit and stare out the window a little bit longer than usual and breathe a bit deeper (when the city smog lets me). I think about change, I think about transitions, I think about how our lives are nothing more than a story playing itself out – which is really something, if you think about it hard enough.

This “City Of Angles” is my safety blanket in a way I can’t express. Sure, the space is familiar, but it’s more of the energy within that space that keeps me feeling safe. The feeling she, L.A, brings me…it’s less of a “home” feeling and more of an extension of myself. The twisted freeways, the blue and green signs and the busy off-ramps. The movie theater I got my first kiss, the beach where I fell in love. This city tells the story that made me…well…ME.

navigating transitions

Why is it that our biggest moments on the inside are sometimes the smallest on the outside – and vice versa? Why is it we’re told it’s the opposite that must be true? We make movies and build holidays around this stuff, but the people who know better can see the meat is really within the minutia. Yes, our turning points sometimes come in the I Dos and the contracts and the big old forks in the road – but more often than not, those are just an external manifestation of a hundred huge micro-moments when we made a shift or stood our ground for the first time over and over again.

We feel it’s the big things that are supposed to define us: our extracurriculars, our SATs, our college major, our career choice, the person we marry, the life we have – ergo, the legacy we leave. But in actuality, our legacy is everything in between. It’s the play you saw at five years old that stirred something in your heart. It’s the tears you cried after the SATs but dried three minutes later because you had to show up for a team you couldn’t let down no matter your personal struggles. It’s the teacher that made you think outside of the box or called you out on your shit or was the first one to identify your fearlessness (even before you believed it yourself). It’s the kisses in the movie theatres and the times you said no when the easy option was to say yes. It’s the pivots you made when your heart felt that something wasn’t right, and the beelines you made when it knew everything was. The big moments are easy for others to understand, and they’re clear ways to designate your chapters. But the only person that matters when it comes to actually reading your story is YOU.

The only person that matters when it comes to reading your story is YOU. Click To Tweet

Navigating transitions hasn’t ever really been my strong suit. I was born into a sea of nostalgia, a family of collectors and traditions and story upon story told over and over. And they’re all in Los Angeles, all amidst its familiar streets. Those boulevards have been like talismans to me my entire life, signifying good luck or a safety net around the corner.

It’s so easy to blur my story with the ones of my community – it all seems the same sometimes. In the past I’ve felt an obligation to turn the pages for others, to modify my story to fit the narrative that surrounds me. My legacy is easiest to understand when others get it, I’ve thought. It’s where I derive my importance and my worth. In the ease. In the fact that I can live this dream of past moments without ever fully waking. I can know each step of the way.

And so a part of me raises her eyebrow at the fact that I feel so ready. I should be frantic, I should be mourning. I should be soaking in every single moment and wondering/worrying how I will fare. It’s unknown, after all. And I know my relationship with the unknown.

But I do. I feel so ready. And I think it’s because I am always celebrating and mourning simultaneously. I am constantly soaking in each moment like it’s the last, treating what I see as final. Like it’s the last time my eyes ever will transfix on the slow-moving clouds, or the shadows on the buildings, or the way the same hawk lands in the very same place outside my window each season. I notice the little things that remind me of myself, the constants that have painted the backdrop and nuance in my story for so long. I’ve collected moments and made each hour a tradition. It’s not morbid or morose, it’s just this immense gratitude and awareness that it’s all something that will feel like a dream I woke up from not too far off in the future. 

I wonder if that’s the secret to navigating transitions. To notice the moments before you realize they were moments. To speak with intention in each sentence you make.

I wonder if that's the secret to navigating transitions. To notice the moments before you realize they were moments. Click To Tweet

I look around at Los Angeles and I wonder what the future holds for our relationship. Will she still feel like an extension of myself once I come back to visit? Will my memory of her be something I can’t quite pinpoint when I’m trying to describe her to others, decades in the future, ones who might only know a watered-down version in the future, a half-magical version of her greatness? I know my version isn’t her pinnacle of awesomeness per se, but it sure as hell has been a great one to me.

We all have a place we call home, or at least a vision of a place we’ve once called home. And when we stray from that familiar safe haven, it’s easy to succumb to the idea that we SHOULD be thrown for a loop. That we’re about to wake. What happens then, we wonder? Will I fade into the darkness, too? If I am not my surroundings and I am not my talismans…then who am I?

As I sit here now, in the soon-to-be-morning darkness on my soon-to-be-sold couch in my soon-to-be-old home, I know that my present will soon be that dream I woke up from. I cry at the loss that hasn’t even happened, and I cry for the ones who might never know L.A.’s true heart. I wince at the thought of anyone trying to change her, to alter her, to shape her into their idealized Mecca. Because what I see now is perfection, her dirty streets and dilapidated shops, the creatives walking with the corporates and the homeless laughing with the hipsters. I want to save her charm, bottle it up or trap it in a snow globe. It’s where I fell deeply in love over and over again, the place that takes my breath away no matter how shitty the day has been. She is my friend, lover, teacher, mentor. She is family who I don’t always agree with but love down to the core. 

But maybe that is the true beauty of it all. We all get to choose the magic we see and the dreams we wake up from. No version is better or worse, we just decide where our incarnation and perception fits into the mix. We can mourn the change and the loss or we can celebrate the ever-evolving dream that’s always in motion. It’s all there, things are just different. We can choose whether our transitions mean hard starts and stops, or if they just mean we’re in the midst of our story – an ever-morphing dream we’ve never really needed to wake up from.

I choose to celebrate. And I choose to keep dreaming.

 

transitions

We all get to choose the magic we see and the dreams we wake up from. Click To Tweet

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The WANTcast, Episode 005: On Making Your Mark + Meaning In Darkness with Rachelle Tratt Of The Neshama Project

The WANTcast, Episode 005: On Making Your Mark + Meaning In Darkness with Rachelle Tratt Of The Neshama Project

the WANTcast

Lately, we’ve been talking about finding light in darkness (remember Desiderata?) making decisions based on gut feelings. And today, we’re riffing off of that theme, in a brand new way…

I’m not a “things” type of person, but the “things” I DO own, it’s because they make me feel a certain way, or carry a certain meaning or message. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably see a few things over and over: my stack of bracelets, and a tiny little “Hamsa” I wear around my neck.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

{"DeviceAngle":-0.06578563} Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Today’s guest is Rachelle Tratt, LA yoga instructor and founder of the jewelry line The Neshama Project. The Neshama Project has developed almost a cult following here in LA, and it was born out of her desire to bring her passion for educating others about a culture she loved and wanting to make the world a healthier, brighter place.

As long as there's meaning behind what I do, I'll keep doing it. -@neshamaproject Click To Tweet

Rachelle inspires me because she’s not your typical yoga pro – or even your typical entrepreneur. She’s seen a LOT, which we’ll get into in this episode, and she always rode on the feeling that she was meant to do something important with her life, without even knowing exactly what that meant.

As you’ll hear, and as you probably already know about me, I’m not just interested in the light easy breezy moments or the dark rough spots, I’m most fascinated by the intersection of the two and how they can, as the tagline says, help you move forward fearlessly onto the path you’re meant to follow.

rachelle_tratt

In this episode, we talk about the fallacy of the necessity of the 5-year plan, turning ideas into action, being a people person and the necessary boundaries that come with that, cultivating your intuition, moving forward through what seem like the worst of challenges life can throw at you, and finding not only meaning but a lesson in every single moment, even if it’s not clear at first. And of course, before this episode, I internet-stalked her and read a sentence somewhere about a Hummus challenge she took. So obviously, I had to ask about that.

If you’ve ever experienced extreme lows, loss, have a sense of adventure but don’t know how to cultivate that, or are interested in building a community that speaks to who you are and who you want to be, this is the episode for you.

*WANT DISCOUNT* Rachelle is offering our WANT community 10% off all Neshama Project products! I wear my necklace and bracelet every day. Use the discount code WANT10 at checkout, and be sure to follow them on Instagram, etc for special holiday deals!

WANT Rachelle:

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Show Notes:
The Neshama Project
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
The Yoga Collective
Innovation Africa
The Doreen Bracelet
Rusty’s Nut Butters + Treats

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 

*This episode contains sensitive topics – namely, suicide. If you feel like you might be triggered in any way, skip minutes 20-30ish, or just mentally prepare yourself. You know yourself best!

rachelle_tratt

The Collective Heart: When Tragedy Hits The High Notes.

The Collective Heart: When Tragedy Hits The High Notes.

Community Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

No sweet without sour, no peace without war, no joy without sorrow.

We’re all well-versed in the laws of opposition and the truths of our world: in order to have the good we must know the bad.

Still, is this any consolation when tragedy strikes? It’s unjust, unexpected, and grossly unfair.

Whether it is a personal tragedy experienced within our own familiar circle or an international tragedy experienced on a global level – we feel. Empathy is instinctual. It could have been me. It could have been my sister, my brother, my best friend. I could have been there.

tragedy

As I’ve discussed before, I honestly believe we are all equipped with the exact same tools to learn the exact same lessons, just at different times (or even different lifetimes). So if this is true, then it also must stand true that our minds and hearts each possess equal capacities for thought and feeling.

And if this is true, then the reality of our world is that we are all interconnected. Life is an energy exchange; we are all responsible for the education and growth of everyone around us. We are all gifted with the exact same capabilities, we simply learn to access and use them in different ways.

So when tragedy hits one of us, it hits all of us. It awakens that primal feeling of grief and loss, of where-do-I-go-now?

We're all gifted the same capabilities, we simply learn to access and use them in different ways. Click To Tweet

To me, “The News” has always been akin to watching a horror film, but in real time and real life. I set up Google alerts about topics that matter most to me, I follow my favorite news outlets on Facebook and Instagram, but for the most part, I trust my highly intelligent friends, podcast hosts, and NPR reporters to give me the information I need. The anger, violence, and hatred are too much to soak in (and I always soak it in). Constantly diving into such information, as a highly sensitive person, spirals me into a kind of sadness that’s crippling

It’s somewhat unfortunate that we haven’t even needed a regular TheNews-watching practice in our lifetimes to have had to cope with large-scale tragedy on a very consistent basis. The earliest I can remember being shaken by a tragedy was the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. I was in fourth grade. Since then, I’ve bore witness to the planet we call Home being torn to shreds, built back up, then beat up all over again. I remember the first Clinton election and talk of prosperity and change even though I had zero clue as a five-year-old what it even meant. Two wars in my lifetime, watching the response to terrorism change everything from the way I boarded a plane to the way, to my horror, I heard adults speak of others. I grew up in Los Angeles, in quite the inclusive environment. Never before had I realized that even the most seemingly inclusive weren’t all exempt from racism.

We’ve learned a lot about each other in these times of darkness. Some bad.

And, some good.

tragedy

Sometimes, my first impulse is to feel furious that we exist in such a cruel, awful time. I’ll find myself nodding when I hear “We live in a sick world” and using a word I rarely speak: “Hate.” In the last few days, it was hard not to.

But then…without even thinking of it…into my head popped my favorite passage from a favorite poem. Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life. “In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul,” it begins…

In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. -Desiderata Click To Tweet

I see the images of strangers comforting strangers. My Facebook page is filled with not just memorial posts and photos, but articles about how to help and where to donate. (ps – here, here, here, and here)

And I remember that all of life is an energy exchange, and my anger is doing no one any good. It is not helping families and friends heal. It is not saving the injured, repairing the city, and it is certainly not tipping the peace:destruction ratio in favor of the former.

tragedy

In times of tragedy, we feel in unison. That equal capacity for thought and emotion we spoke of is rarely as apparent as in charged times. The same door unlocks in each of us, and our reactions become a harmony.

We have a choice in the song we sing – so choose wisely amidst the hurt and pain. Choose to put aside the maliciousness and bitter notes, and instead sing a beautifully dissonant song of mourning and reverence and compassion and hope. One that lights up from the inside like a pulsing candle flame – not a forest fire of destruction.

The best thing we can do is keep loving the world, even with its shattered pieces. Click To Tweet

We will never not know tragedy or sadness. But how we react will inform the collective heart of our planet. We must never lose sight of the fact that, yes, we CAN conquer hate with love. Yes, we have the power to heal. Yes, only light can drive out the darkness.

Our hearts are crying, but the best thing I think we can do is keep loving the world and seeing the best in it, even with its nicks and cuts and shattered pieces. In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

tragedy

[p.s. I posted an update on Facebook that read “I wish there was a world flag, so we could all raise that together.” A friend sent me this link. A proposed flag for Planet Earth, united as one. Can we make this happen please, NASA or UN or whoever? I’ll even change my profile pic.]
world-flag-fb


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The WANTcast Episode 004: On Accepting What Is + Making Huge Shifts with Actress/Activist/Blogger Lynn Chen

The WANTcast Episode 004: On Accepting What Is + Making Huge Shifts with Actress/Activist/Blogger Lynn Chen

Body Community Love the WANTcast Work

Trust your intuition. And know that your intuition is going to change. - @MsLynnChen Click To Tweet
Happy November!

This is the time of year we’re usually the most contemplative about where we are in our own lives, and it’s for that reason I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s guest.

Lynn Chen is an actress, activist, and food blogger who is serving up some major inspiration to me lately. She’s been seen in countless TV shows and films, serves as an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association, and has not one but TWO blogs. The Actor’s Diet, which Lynn started in 2009 as a sort of journal to help her make peace with her food after years of eating disorders, it’s now one of the most influential food blogs on the web, with some of the most longevity at that. (it’s also got a podcast, the Actor’s Diet Podcast) Her other blog is Thick Dumpling Skin, a phenomenal body-image blog that’s centered around the Asian American community.

(You can also read her WANT Woman spotlight here – she’s already a WANT vet! :))

lynn-food


So I don’t do TOO much heavy editing with these episodes, but I’ve got to say that this one was tough. For all the right reasons. We ended up talking for close to two hours – and Lynn shared so much of herself that I really, really wanted to be mindful I was doing each word and thought and story and lesson justice.

Lynn is in a majorly transitional time in her career right now, and that can be really scary – you’ve built your identity being one thing, and then you decide to change course entirely. I don’t care what kind of career you’re in or what your life looks like, it’s something we all experience…but we usually hear people talking about it AFTER it’s happened. Lynn’s in the thick of it.

We dive deep in this episode, but the one theme that kept popping up was learning how to accept what is, and then moving forward from there. We talk about the way blogging’s shifted over the last six years, Lynn’s choice to move away from acting and why success isn’t always what it seems, the lessons she learned while she was trying to get pregnant, and the unexpected strategy she’s used to cope with everything from the sudden death of her father a few years back to her long history with eating disorders. We also talk about rejection, comparison, and how to make your mark by being exactly who you are.

If you’re struggling with any sort of transitional time in your life right now or have ever experienced a huge life shift, I really think this is going to speak to you. 

WANT LYNN:

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Show notes:
Lynn Chen
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Youtube
Lynn’s WANT Woman spotlight
The Actors Diet
Thick Dumpling Skin
Saving Face
NEDA
My sound guru Roger Bellon
WANTcast theme by Christopher Given Harrison

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Lynn’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

Gone Girl: Coping With Loss (When You Just Cannot Deal)

Gone Girl: Coping With Loss (When You Just Cannot Deal)

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I have many character strengths.

Coping with loss is not one of them.

Whether it’s a stitch in time or a relationship gone sour, I’ve never fully come to terms with the “right” way to deal with loss. Maybe it’s the eternal pragmatic positivist in me or maybe it’s the attachment to what was, but every time I’ve dealt with loss it’s felt like a part of myself has driven away.

just a smaller version of who i still am today. she's still in there.
just a smaller version of who i still am today. she’s still in there.

This weekend, I saw a lot of family I have not seen in ages. A couple members had no clue I write. They said they were looking for me at the Oscars, asked what play I was in right now. And I explained, with full confidence, that I’ve since taken a step away from the acting world to focus on something more aligned with what I feel my purpose is. I wondered if that identity had been lost forever.

When my grandparents moved out of their house of 52 years, I did not help pack the boxes. I don’t regret it per se (as I feel regret’s a useless emotion), but I wonder if I would have felt more of a sense of closure if I had. Leaving behind that house, my own second home, broke my heart. I still play out scenes in my mind, walk through the hallways and up the stairs to the wall filled with family photos. I don’t want to forget. Not remembering would mean death and I just cannot deal.

my grandparents on their honeymoon. total babes.
my grandparents on their honeymoon. total babes.

There are members of my family, older members, who are just not like how they used to be. Approaching the golden years of one’s life, it’s fascinating to watch how everyone deals differently. Some are in denial. Some have had a gameplan for years, decades even. Some choose to use their lifetime of wisdom for a greater good. Some just cannot deal.

We all grieve a tiny bit throughout each day. The loss of the morning, the loss of the first cup of coffee, the missed phone call you were so waiting to get.

And each of us deals differently. Some of us make jokes. Some remain silent. Some pour their feelings out to a friend, and some cry out their pain. Some distract themselves with possessions or plans; some become angry and bitter that what they want has slipped from their reach. Some deal. Some cannot.

As I deal with my own sense of loss, ironically in a time of my life in which there is so much newness and possibility, I struggle to find what works for me. Because in the past, my coping mechanism is to detach. Engaging in the loss is way too sad; hanging on to the glimmers of hope just feel futile.

But I feel as if all the loss tumbleweeding towards me at the same time is a lesson to be learned: you have a choice as to how you deal with it this time.

We might not be able to do anything about our past, but we sure as hell can do something about our present and future. For they too, one day, will be lost. Learning how to cope in a way that’s right for you, in line with your own ethics and values, is something you can always rewrite. Just because you didn’t reach out then doesn’t mean you can’t reach out now. Just because you mourn the loss of those high school years you didn’t even realize were the safest ones you’d ever know doesn’t mean you can’t reconnect with the influential figures who shaped your young life back then, building new relationships and marveling at where the world has taken you both and yet how you’re essentially the same. Just because the house is sold, the job is done, the relationship is over, doesn’t mean that you don’t still carry with you a little piece of what you were supposed to take with you as you step-by-step down your own hero’s journey.

Allow yourself time and space to grieve in a way that feels in line with who you are, in that moment. No shame, no regret. At worst, you’ll learn a lesson about who you are. At best…you’ll learn a lesson about who you are.

We sometimes forget that we get another morning, another first-cup of coffee, another chance to connect. Our lives are splattered with loss – yet the more we learn how to embrace it in a way that feels right for us, the less those losses will feel like forevers. They become transitions. They become touchstones. They train us how to feel…and how to deal.

katie-horwitch
Coping with loss might not be one of my strongest suits, but that’s because it’s constantly in flux. There is no “right” way to deal with loss – there’s just the way that’s right for you. And coping, in a sense, is really just a way of hoping, a way of praying that tomorrow will begin again and be just as bright as the yesterdays you knew. Here’s the deal: if you allow them to, they always are.

 


WANT Yourself:
Question – how have you dealt with a particularly difficult loss in your life? What’s some advice you can give for people who might be struggling?