Frustration Precedes Success.

“Success is not built on success.    It’s built on failure.

It’s built on frustration.     Sometimes its built on catastrophe.”

                                                              – Sumner Redstone

Frustration is a four letter word to me. It’s one of the worst feelings to experience. I hate it. No other word quite describes itself better either. That alone is frustrating. The dictionary says it means to thwart or disappoint. It also uses the words maddening, aggravating, annoying, exasperating, infuriating, provoking, riling, troubling, trying, and the best of all… vexatious, as synonyms. That pretty much sums up my dislike for the word & the feeling it provokes with in me. For me frustration is usually masked anger. It’s what happens when I put expectations on things or people. I like to think that I am advanced on my path, but when it comes to this I feel a mere child. I want so much to believe that everything will turn out…my way. There I said it. Yuck. It doesn’t happen often I swear, but when it does I have a hard time coping. My knickers get all twisted in a knot and the ease of letting go becomes not so easy. We all struggle. I have my soft spots and you have yours. It’s all a part of the process of living this life.

I have days where I get aggravated and I can’t understand why people don’t see what I see. It’s vexatious, exasperating, and annoying to say the least. I feel my heart start to pound faster and my mood shifts into low gear as I try to reason with myself internally. Trust me…you don’t want to be privy to that session! When I get to the point of acceptance (yes, remember that word it’s important) I often find myself cruising towards angry. I don’t like feeling unhinged. My life experiences have depleted the toolbox for that fix. Now, let me just say that I am not a roaming lunatic who walks the edge. I am a very balanced individual; at least I fancy myself one. So, this is something that I only have to deal with occasionally.  No one plans for the impromptu dance with frustration…it just shows up like an uninvited guest. Again, frustrating. The batter swings the bat and I duck, but sometimes I get hit straight up in the head. It’s hard not to get pissed off, really.

Ultimately, the answer to all of this lies within me. I know this already, and I find this frustrating! The secret of pirouetting through it all with grace and a little style lies in acceptance. It’s a layered kind of acceptance, because you have to accept the situation as well as your reaction to it. You have to forgive all involved and it’s not always so easy. I have been at this a long time; and it has become easier for me to let it slide off my back and move on. I know what battles I need to fight. It’s the one-off’s that throw me. The situations in which I feel so sure of can end up being the very ones that sneak up, flip me, and knock me on my ass. Time and perspective are the balm for this…the only one I know of.

I am a strong, determined, and a true blue fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl.  I’m not scared to work hard for what I desire, nor will I let a golden opportunity pass me by. I won’t sit back and watch others do what I know I am capable of, and I am not one to settle easily. So, if I don’t temper myself I end up in the frustration zone. It’s so correctly underrated. Forgiveness is a process because there is no light switch for it. Sometimes it takes forgiving a transgression a few times (or a hundred) before we can actually let go if its hold on us. Yes, I have been here many times so I am in familiar territory. Unfortunately, the thing about our memories is that they sometimes pop up at very inconvenient times. The smallest thing can trigger me and then the next thing I know, all of the feelings just pop up right up and attempt to knock me down. They just bust down the door and cause me to feel instantly angry, which then leads me to frustration. Remember that when you are feeling as I have described here…it’s not always the current situation in itself that is creating the bad vibes, but rather memories that are associated to it, and stored back there in your primitive brain. Again…frustrating. The cool part of this is that if you are an aware person, as I fancy myself to be, you will know that it is all a process. The sooner you submit to the idea that it’s not always going to go your way, the sooner you can get on with it. After all, our greatest accomplishments are usually the ones that are built on our failures. XO Ella

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This is My Love Song.

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long.” – Pablo Neruda

So it goes…Life rolls on. Two years have passed and I still miss you.  Who says that time heals all wounds? Yes, it’s true, some losses are unbearable; yet somehow we bear them.  Everywhere I look, the empty space is filled with you.

Life rolls on and you are still by my side. It’s taken me two years to mourn you; I wasn’t ready to let you go. Today I look death in the eyes and I know that love is louder. Love surpasses even death. I didn’t want to come to this place…to admit your death was to put the final nail in the proverbial coffin. It makes it permanent…and now I have no chance of you walking back through that door. The curtain has dropped, the lights have dimmed, and now you may take your bow.

We shared a love for the sea…heaven on earth.  I know that you are here with every wave I hear crashing, and with every wave I ride…you are everywhere. I used to yell at you on the beach to leave me alone, to go off to where the spirits go, but you won’t.  I know now that I need you here to remind me that I am okay…the wind beneath my wings. You brought me back to life…you put the color back into my cheeks after so many years of numbness. Oh how I long for you…to hear your voice. Read me Neruda at bedtime again, sing to me with your well-worn guitar, and let me hear your laugh… as loud as life itself. I love you so.

This is my love song. I thought I was broken, and you showed me that I could love again. You gave me back my life and saved me from myself. Because of you I am whole…I am a better mother, a better friend, daughter, sister…all because of you. You believed in me and I am so much better for knowing you. So, while you left me standing here alone, I know that your purpose was whole. I wish I could shed the guilt that I carry…it’s here though to remind me that I can never be complacent. I need to show others how beautifully they shine, that they are loved, and worthy of love in return.

You taught me with your servant’s heart. Your actions always spoke louder than your words. I want to thank you for the flowers you brought me, each and every time you came to my door. Oh how i have cried for you, but today I make my peace. Life is good and our little tribe is happy and thriving. The kids miss you so, especially Jake. It’s hard for kids to lose another father, but they understand that life is complicated and you have to rise after you fall. You have helped me to teach them that, again. I want to scream into the ether that I am so damned angry at you and that I am lost without you, but it would be a lie. It’s survivors guilt; I know it so I let it go.

My life goes on and I shall continue to rise and fall like the tides. I will learn, grow, and I will continue to love. I will share my life with another one day and I know you would want that for me. I shall keep your legacy alive though with every single post that I write for Rebel Thriver. I know that one day I shall meet you again. You have taken the fear of death away from us because we know that when we pass over to the other side you will be standing there to greet us. You gave us such a gift in that…your death was not in vain. Your love was to big for death to claim…It’s mine and I shall keep it until I meet you again. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have known you, to have loved you, and to have been loved by you. I forgive you for leaving me and I make my peace with you today. I will forever be your endless summer and your laughter will always crash onto the shore with the waves for eternity. XO Ella
The Photographer

Acceptance.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. – Ivy Baker

I lost my kids for a week; actually they went on a vacation of a lifetime. I stayed home. I thought about running away and hopping a plane to an exotic local. Another adventure for this perpetual gypsy. I even did due diligence and looked up destinations for myself.

I chose not to go. I chose to drop them off at the airport and head back home. Alone. Holy Shit…as I drove away from the terminal I thought about cruising into long-term parking and running in to buy a ticket to anywhere. Another adventure…me, my camera, and my iPad. Anything to distract me from the thought of being alone with myself for a week.

It’s been almost 20 years since I spent a week alone at home. Yes, you heard that right. Almost 20 years and I was terrified of waking up to myself every single day. No wild journey to distract me from my thoughts. No exotic local to persuade me from the fear of being alone with me.

What the hell was I so afraid of anyway? My GOD, in my past life I traveled the world alone, lived alone, and actually loved my time with myself. Had I lost touch with myself that much? It was this utter fear that made me decide to drop the kids off and come home. I needed to face myself…my fear.

Ironically, it ended up being the best week I have had in YEARS! I didn’t want it to end. I loved every single minute of it; from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep I devoured my time. I did only what I wanted, when I wanted, and with who I wanted. I put no pressure on myself to do anything other than hang out with me.

I didn’t come to any monumental discoveries this week, but I did reconnect with myself. My fears were based in facing my thoughts. Yes, I struggle from anxiety and PTSD. I spent time researching this and learned even more about myself and why I am wired the way I am. Why on a beautiful sunny day in the middle of August with no distractions and no plans I could be feeling like I was being chased. The panic that comes crushing down on me for no apparent reason…it isn’t rational. It just is.

I survived it though and what came from it all is acceptance. That’s a tough one for so many of us and I think I finally am on to it. I am who I am today, not who I was before life took me down. I rose back up like the phoenix and I am a new me. It was the thought of facing and accepting her that was the basis of my fear. Just writing about it is causing my heart to pound fast. I wish I could erase this part of me…it’s so annoying and it doesn’t jive with my intellect, but this is how I am wired for now. I am a work in progress.

This past week I won. I made progress and I grew…I found acceptance and I can honestly say for the first time in almost 20 years that I am not running any more. At least I am not running from myself. I know who I am…always have. I just needed to find the courage to face myself.
I am flawed like the rest of the human race, but I know that I am stronger than most. I am a survivor and I am pretty fucking awesome!

Love, Ella 21409_505514972863930_1253478838_n

 

Mourning and Melancholia.

“Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life. – Joan Didion

Lately, I have been knocked on my ass by rogue waves. They come out of no where as the term “rogue” would have it, and I am left holding on to whatever I can in order to find balance. It’s always a temporary balance though. The kind you get when you grab for a railing on a boat so you don’t fall in. Remove it and your under.

So, here I am shattered. The waves of grief are coming more frequently and in rapid succession. I am finding it difficult to hold my breath. I have my shovel in hand and I am going deep. Here on this page with these words I can tunnel safely to soul. The pen penetrates my soul while the ink draws blood that oozes down the page.

Grief it truly has no distance. It shows up like an uninvited guest on a bad night. It is the single strongest trigger of my tears, and when the wave hits it is paralyzing. When we grieve the loss of someone we often get half way and then stick a bandage on our heart and move on. Life beckons to us and tells us that we have to get back to the art of living. I agree with this…however, the bandage comes up sometimes when we least expect it. Until we are fully through with the grieving then we are going to be hit with the waves.

I have lost many friends over the years. Their are times when the people we have lost are still living and we must let go of them for whatever the reason. As hard as it might be there is no finality in that truly, for they are still walking and breathing and the chance to make amend is always there; and if we chose not to then it is for good reason and there is peace there.

I have lost many friends to death. Too many for someone my age. There have been car crashes, shootings, overdoses, disease, hit and runs, suicide, and broken hearts; you name it. I learned at an early age that life is incredibly fragile and precious. I have grieved these friends and made my peace with their passing. I know that they are okay and that they are infinite…far beyond us, above us, below us, and all around us. This is my truth.

There is one that cripples me though and as I try to type this my hands shake. The love of my life passed less than two years ago. It was quick like lightning and un-expected. He was not perfect, in fact at first meeting I knew he was just a friend…a best friend for eternity. I had met my match in a person; he wasn’t perfect, but he was so fucking real. It didn’t take long before I fell in love with him, and I knew this because the earth shook beneath me. Can a person have more than one soul mate in a lifetime?

“Is love a wound that deepens as it dreams?” – Erica Jong

He is gone now. I thought I was okay, but lately these waves of grief keep knocking me down. I feel him, hear him, and sometimes I even catch a glimpse of him. It’s not only me…my son does too. When he comes and tells me, I smile and just remind him how much he loved him and that when it is his time to pass over, Roger will be waiting for him. There is no fear in death for him. That was his gift to my son.

How do you get past a broken heart when the soul you loved is all around you, coloring your world, and whispering in your ear. It might be timeto let you know that while this might sound crazy to some people it is normal for me. I have always had these gifts. They have always be welcome and I have accepted them. It’s no different with him.  The truth is I want to tell him to go away, leave me alone, and let me be. I can’t though because then I would be alone and he would be gone. When an artist meets another artist in love it is a very intense union. All bets are off and all boundaries are re-written. Death cannot separate them.

So I write. I will continue to write until I have come to terms with this in my life. I don’t fight the grief…when the wave hits I cry. I cry at home, in the grocery store, at the doctors, but mostly on the beach. He wrote me a letter a week before he passed over which I received from his mother at the funeral. It was full of hope for the future and LOVE for me and the kids. The story wasn’t over…there was more to come; then he died.

This is not over. The writing will come for as long as the grief lives within me. I will find my peace along the way. It’s hard. I just want him back. I want to find a replacement. I want to stop hurting. I want someone in the flesh to love as much as I loved him. I want someone to love me as much as he loved me. So, I will write, I will cry, and I will not stop until I have healed myself. I will purge my soul. There is hope here. I feel it, and I know it, because it is what I want. XO Ella

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Make it Count.

My name is Ella and I lived in an abusive marriage for almost 11 years. Ultimately, my children and I could not walk away; we had to run fast and hard to escape.  I turned my back on 20 years of life, our home, my amazing career, and all of our friends.  There was no farewell party for us, just dust left in our wake. Sometimes it’s just that bad; sometimes you have to hide.

As a result, my little tribe and I live a pretty simple existence. It’s hard to build a new life when you are always looking over our shoulder. The result of the abuse is chronic PTSD and anxiety. The truth is that not all wounds are visible; after the bruises heal the soul is left deeply scarred and I am left to always look over my shoulder. People like to ask questions, but the answers give away clues to our history and our history is still chasing us.  We stay low.

I started Rebel Thriver as a way to connect to others and to share my story. I created a community that I desired and need to thrive rather than just survive, and I knew that I was not alone. The label of survivor wasn’t comfortable for me; I needed more. I so desperately wanted others to see that they could have it too…you can choose to thrive in spite of your situation. 

I believed that Rebel Thriver could help people have a new perspective, help them to change their lives; what has happened is that it has changed mine. Everyday, thousands of people join into the conversation to share their thoughts, fears, and to support others…people they will probably never meet. It has become a blessing beyond my wildest dreams.  We have built a tribe of people who virtually hold each other’s hands through the ups and downs of life.

We only get one chance at this sweet life, so I encourage everyone to wake up and live…remember that this is not a dress rehearsal. You may have been knocked down, but that story does not have to define you, for you hold the pen to the story of your life. Raise your eyes to the sky, throw your shoulders back, and put on your imaginary crown and say, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life”.  Make it count.

Love, Ella

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Wild at Heart.

“This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.” – Lula

It’s been a wild ride, my life.  Most day’s I just go about the business of being me; mother, daughter, friend, and perpetual rebel with a cause. Other day’s my reality, or shall I say the disbelief that I have lived this life…survived this life; stops me in my tracks. I shake my head sometimes trying to make it all sink in. It can’t; my skin is too thick now…almost an armor from all the years.

I am far from my golden years yet. I don’t yet have the luxury to recline on the front porch and watch the sunset of my years slowly descend. I am not at the point in my life where I can sit and remember with the wisdom of detachment of all the chapters that have made up my life so far. I am in it knee-deep right now; living it all.

How did a girl like me end up with a life-like this? Good question. Here’s the simple answer…low self worth. That was a hard nut to crack, but I did after many years of research in the field that has left me with a quick reflex and a fight or flee disposition.
I am still learning to be me and it’s a process that I know will never end; although the path is getting smoother lately.

I come across hardline to many. I am. I know this gives some people the false idea that I think I am better than them. I don’t. If anything, I know that with every person that comes across my path, every soul in need of a little pep talk, I see myself. Life has ever so nicely handed me some really beautiful lessons. They have left me a little sore, scarred, and tattered; i have a shabby chic soul and I am okay with that.

“Love is the whole thing, we are only pieces.” – Rumi

Growing up for me was a piece of cake compared to so many. I come from a big loving family that was financially stable; and I knew that my dreams were always within hands reach. All this being said I struggled with depression, substance abuse, anxiety, eating disorders, lack of self-esteem, sexual abuse, and anxiety. It was a lot of emotional weight to carry; that i remember.

In the end, it’s not in the surviving that has made me the person I am today, but rather the persevering through it all when I really felt like running and hiding under the bed.
My personal survival list has grown almost too big. I don’t always want to feel and identify with so many, but still the connections grow. That happens when you walk the talk and hold the tight line.

So to those of you who have had some sucker punch experiences I want you to know that when I say, “I feel you.” I really do. I feel it all the way into my soul. The old adage is true, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I have done a pretty good job of keeping mine in tip-top shape. Open the front flap and you will see that I go deep, and sometimes dark. It is all a part of me. If the dark parts didn’t run so deep I am sure that I wouldn’t shine as brightly.

I am you and you are me. In this fellowship of man we find ourselves, our true names, and our tribe. There is no one out there that can tell me something about myself that I haven’t already examined. I have torn myself apart in my attempt to fix it all. In the end I realized that just like a beautiful patchwork quilt I am perfect in all my pieces, and I am in no need of fixing…just a little mend every now and then.  XO Ella

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Light, Shadows & Balance.

It will always take a light to shine in order create a shadow. Shadow is just another word for shade…which is really quite lovely on a hot sunny day. A perfect example of balance. Now, if you look close enough to either sides of this result you can find darkness. Yes, even in the light. Too much sun without protection (sunscreen or shade) and you will get burned. Too much darkness and you will not get your Vitamin D, etc., so forth and so on.

You desire a life filled with just love and light? Sorry, not possible. Anyone who says otherwise is just offending the Universal Principal of Balance. Yes, it’s true…there is in fact a principal for Balance. It kinda flows like this:

Success & Failure
Hot & Cold
Joy & Sadness
Pleasure & Pain
Health & Sickness

And so forth and so on….

This is just how the game of life is. You don’t get to have just all of the fun parts. No exceptions and this goes for everyone. Even animals understand this; birds fly south every winter so they won’t die. They may not like it, but it has to be done. Maybe that’s why they continue to drop bombs on unsuspecting humans along the way…they think we have it better. We don’t. (If only my wings could take me south every winter I promise that I would take bathroom breaks).

Anyway, what goes up must come down so it is better if we can just learn to accept it. (just don’t look up while walking under a flock of migrating birds). We need to accept it in ourselves and in the bigger scheme of things (talking about our planet here). The Universe is really just held together by balancing a bunch of positive & negative electrical energy; and quite well I might add. This provides us with a nice place to place our feet so we can dance the night away if we choose. It’s really just simple physics (dancing included) and when you can see and accept this flow of positive and negative energy in your life, then harmony & balance will be the result. Negative things are always going to happen and as soon as you can accept this then the sooner you will learn to balance yourself and go with your flow.

The other night my friend sent me a message in the middle of the night. He was distraught with the affairs of our world. He was bent from the burden of the pain he was shouldering… all darkness. He reached out to me and asked me how I did it. How did I manage to send out messages of positivity day in and day out? How could I shine my light so consistently in such darkness? My response was…Balance.

For every action there is a reaction. For every stab that the darkness makes I duck and fight back with a shot of love. Yes, it can be exhausting, especially if I am not balanced within myself. As a mother and a member of the human race  (a race that requires daily training I might add) I cannot sit back and let the darkness take over. I fight for balance.

If we spend our entire time looking for the negative in life, the universe will NOT disappoint us. I know that there are times when our batteries need charging, when we should seek out the light, but when we reach out to it we recoil. What we would really prefer would be to run and hide in the tight dark space under our beds in… the false hope that we will find balance hiding under there. Psst…you won’t. It’s a better practice to find a friend and kick the darkness in the but Ninja style. Nobody gets a free pass, $200 dollars, and is allowed to pass go. Rules of the game.

I struggle with this daily just like everyone else. I was a dancer and a gymnast and without balance in the physical world I wouldn’t have had a chance. Same goes for our psyche. Sometime peace can be found in the darker rooms of our mind, but it’s always nice to know where the light switch is. A person who dedicates their life to spreading light and teaching the principal of balance is often referred to as a Light Worker. I love this name because it is such an active one – it holds energy. Light Worker sounds like the perfect name for a super hero brigade. Yes, capes are always welcome.

This is life baby. We can’t change it and the sooner we accept that what goes up must come down, the sooner we will start moving to the groove of love. Eventually, we all learn to play this game. Wouldn’t you rather take a lovely stroll down a beautiful path then go sky diving in a tornado?

And so it goes, the tight walk with light and dark on the way to find balance.
One cannot exist without the other. I know that it all feels too big sometimes, but it really isn’t. Understanding that with simple physics and a lot of love you are well on your way to mastering the game. Sometimes its 2 steps forward and then 3 steps back, but you can’t give up. You can learn this dance…listen for the harmony in the universe, and maybe wear your cape. XO Ella

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Love, drugs, and other vices.

“Showing out, showing out, hit and run 

The boy meets girl and the beat goes on

Stitched up tight, can’t stay free

Love is the drug, got a hook on me

Oh, catch that buzz

 Love is the drug for me”  (Roxy Music)

I like to think that I am a healthy girl. I mean I just gave up caffeine. Hard to imagine I know, but I did it. I like to eat healthy…organic when possible, and take care of this body that my soul resides in. I would say that I do a pretty good job and being a care taker of my physical being; my heart is another issue entirely… perhaps another blog post for another day.

I watch people trash their bodies all the time with so many of today’s go to vices, and I am so grateful that I do not have an addictive personality.  I drink occasionally and I eat my greens. Okay, sometimes I smoke them, but that’s my herbal remedy.
No drugs…that ship sailed when I was nineteen so it’s hard for me to see adults popping pills and other recreational drugs. You might recall me losing someone to drugs not long ago. It’s still hurts and haunts my sleep. Drugs stole him away and I hate them for that.

Recently, I had a reality check… You see I have been raised to think that when the doctor gives you something it is okay and it is NOT a drug. I was wrong.  It’s not news, but if you are tuning into this blog for the first time then you should know that I have issues with Anxiety, and I have PTSD from living in a horribly abusive marriage. Years of emotional, verbal, psychological and physical abuse took its toll on me. Everything in life has its pro’s and con’s. This is the con…my beautiful kids are my pro; they are the silver lining.

I am proactive by nature and so I have tried many therapies to help with my flashbacks and triggers. I have come a long way and I am really proud of myself for how hard I continue to work on myself. In addition to this I take medication that has been prescribed by my doctor to keep me steady.  I had been a member of Prozac Nation for many years and it had really helped me to keep an even keel.

This past year knocked me on my ass though. In October we were hit by a huge hurricane that nailed the East Coast.  The kids and I ended up having to move a few times before we found our current home. It was a bit stressful to put it lightly, and it really took its toll on my youngest son. Adults are not the only ones who can suffer from anxiety. Kids are resilient, but there is a breaking point and I think we found it in February.  It was at this point that I felt the floor starting to drop out on me; watching my son struggle so much was more than I felt I could bear, and my anxiety spiked.

It was at this time that my doctor decided that I needed a little more help so he switched my medication to Effexor; a drug which has proven very effective for PTSD. Now as I have mentioned before I don’t abuse my body and I am incredibly sensitive to any medication. It took me 2 long weeks to adjust to the lowest dosage, but I hung in there because the doctor told me too.

Fast forward 4 months… this medication has really screwed with me. It turned my system upside down and I recently decided, along with my doctor to stop taking it. Here’s the kicker…this has a 4 week weaning time. There is NO way that I can do that. Knowing that that pill is poison to my system is too much for me to knowingly put it in my body. I might advise someone else to listen to their doctor, but this girl is listening to her body. I went cold turkey and for the first time I understand what it feels like to be going through withdrawal.

As I type this I am on day 4 of withdrawal and feeling like shit. It’s pretty scary to tell you the truth and I empathize with all those who struggle with trying to get clean. I wanted to write about this though so that it might help someone else. This is the reason I write.  It’s not always easy to be so open, but I feel this is important. My doctor prescribed a legal drug for me and it screwed me up worse than any illegal drug I have ever done.  I am grateful that I see the lesson amidst my discomfort.

What will I do once I work through this? I am not sure. My only true vices are chocolate and love. I don’t think that chocolate will help with anxiety, but Love? Love is the universal balm. Maybe I just haven’t connected to the right dealer for that yet. I’m going to keep trying though. In the meantime, it is one day at a time. Please be careful of anything you put in your body…you only get one and it houses your soul. XO Ella

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