Fear is my co-pilot; where is the eject button?

Every single one of us has Fear. The extent to which fear has twined its way into our mind, thoughts, actions and beliefs deepens the blocks within each of us and keeps us from living our best authentic life.

Fear is the backseat driver in most of our lives. Most of us do not even realize that Fear is controlling our life. Fear limits us. Fear keeps us from living a life that we adore.

Where do fears come from? There are many places that fears grow. Some are from our personal experiences and others are from another individuals experience and influence on our life.

Fear keeps us from:
… setting healthy boundaries,
… being honest with other people,
… following our dreams,
… speaking the truth as we both see and feel it,
… loving relationships,
… health,
… living a life that we adore.

None of us can reach our potential while we have fear whispering in our ear. I have allowed fear to limit my life by listening to fear disguised as practical advice. This was a behavior that I was taught by my parents and well-meaning friends when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, those lessons took hold and formed deep blocks to my happiness, creativity and abundance.

I have always been a writer and photographer. For as long as I can recall they have been my passion. During high school I realized I could take an artistic track to prepare me for post-secondary education or career. I came home so excited with the plan to take a variety of art courses and which technical colleges to apply to after.

There isn’t a time I ever recall being so excited about the potential of life. Knowing that this was my path and plan for my time here. Then I went home and told my parents what I wanted. Practical advice crushed my spirit that day. Being told I was too smart for a path that would never allow me financial stability or respect and was a fool to follow such dreams. Art is a hobby, not a career. Authors don’t make money or become famous until they die. Many discussions on how this was foolish and I would be unsuccessful and starve followed and created blocks within myself.

Rooting blocks and fears:
… Artists cannot support themselves
… True success comes from going to college
… Money is what makes you successful
… Making $50,000 a year and buying a house will make me happy
… A secure job is happiness

Conversation after conversation arose in high school around my passions. Each one was squished with practical advice. Until fear took firm hold and I was a senior in high school. That year was sad. I had no excitement for my future other than to be done with that town and live elsewhere. I was going to a college of my parents choice and taking a major that made them happy. This made me feel worthy of being loved by my family because I was following their dreams; not mine.

Prior to the college semester beginning I was in the mountains with friends and family. An older friend who was in forestry and taught me much about nature was chatting with me. He asked me what I was going to do in college. English? Art? Yes, he knew my parents feelings on it but supported me. I told him I was going to major in accounting at an all girls Catholic college. There is nothing wrong with either choice, except they could not be farther from my personal truth. Never, have I seen anyone spit a beer so far in my life. Why? he asked. That isn’t your dream.

The only answer I have found is that in four years of high school so many fears had rooted in me. Fears of being unloved if I was my authentic self. Disappointing people by not listening to their advice. That I would starve and die alone if I followed my art. As such, college was a massive disaster that lead to a lot of debt, personal crisis and heartache but no degree.

Now that fear was the main voice in my ear a constant internal battle began. The battle of who I was and who I was supposed to be. Supposed to be ran the show for a long time. Many years were spent in a corporate financial career that was successful by society standards. This colored my first marriage, living arrangements, friendships and made me miserable. I was financially well-off, people considered me to be in a loving relationship and I had a nice home. Fear and misery were my constant companions. Depression was my best friend because I felt awful for not wanting that life. Stating I was unhappy only led to me being told I was ungrateful.

I share this because no one can tell you what type of life you should be grateful for. Being poor, writing and creating art made me happier than thousands in the bank, a nice house and one sided happy relationship.

No one should tell you what your definition of success is. We all have different goals and capabilities. The interests, passions and desire to share that with the world is different for everyone. Whatever you bring to the world is a gift, if it is done with love.

Fear leads us to judge and put our perceptions, wants, needs and disappointments on others. This creates block after block within individuals and communities. As long as we continue to share fear, we will not know ourselves. We will not build loving, supportive families that create supportive, safe, nurturing communities. Fear will continue to control and destroy the best of what we are … our ability and desire to love.

Love puts us in alignment with the Universe. When we operate from a place of love our world shifts. Abundance, knowledge, wisdom, respect and much more begin to fill the spaces where fear, anger, judgement and other limiting emotions lived within us.

It is Okay to not be okay. Things are never perfect. We are people living real lives and having real experiences. That means this work is cyclical for us. Whether you are just beginning your journey of self discovery or have been walking this path for decades we all have times were we have to remember that It is Okay to NOT be Okay.

Struggles in life are normal. Emotional and mental blocks are normal. It isn’t like you do the work and after so many levels you hit this miracle place where there are no blocks or struggles. I can’t say do this work for a set amount of time and you will earn your trophy. What I can say is that by doing the work you have tools to handle what life throws at you. By doing the work you recognize when you are not being true to yourself. You recognize when fear is whispering in your ear or speaking instead of love.

Today’s Mantra: It’s Okay to Not be Okay and I am still lovable.
You do not have to be perfect to be lovable. You do not have to be perfect, just be the best you that you can be at this moment.

In Universal Love,
Irisa MacKenzie

Creating a Tribe: Finding the people who support us

Creating a tribe, a community of people that we can count on is fundamental to our human nature. We all seek to belong. The labels we give ourselves based on interests, personalities and societal standards is a way for us to belong either as conformists or non-conformists, those included or excluded from the social situations they find themselves in.

Many of us feel as though we have several masks: work, school, family, chosen family, friends, children, etc. Where in this is truly what we seek? When we are in touch with our dreams, desires and interests then we can honestly begin to seek out those who harmony matches ours. Our tribe doesn’t need to have all the same interests, never disagree, or even see each other daily.

What a tribe does need to do is be supportive. Whether that support comes in the form of a hug and listening ear, a kick in the ass to get going in the direction we need and desire, or helping you catch up on laundry it doesn’t matter as long as it is healthy, mutual support that leaves you a better person at the end of the day.

As a child I always searched for friendships and life situations that felt right. When things did not feel right or no longer suited I wasn’t afraid to make a change. This earned me the childhood nickname of ‘queen of change’. I also had a second nickname of ‘mama ‘Ris or Camp Counselor’ from an early age because I always listened to those I cared about and done my best to support them.

Over the years I have been blessed to know some remarkable people. These individuals have taught me alot. Some of the most profound statements I have ever learned are: How can I support you? and You get to feel what you feel, it is how you act and react on those feelings that counts.

How can I support you? is an extraordinary statement. It makes no supposition of what an individual wants or needs; no promises or solutions. This statement merely gives an individual the opportunity to be honest about where these are in a current situation and what they may need from those who car for them.

You get to feel what you feel, it is how you act and react on those feelings that counts. Human beings are instinctual creatures. We cannot control how a situation is going to make us feel; however, we can control how we respond to that emotion. Understanding what emotion we are having is important as to why we may be feeling that way. Emotions tell us we need to examine a situation and address something that isn’t working. Whether it is something in ourselves we need to address or with another individual or life situation emotions tell us what is and is not working in our life.

I have found these statements beneficial to tribe building because each tribe starts with a friendship. Be the friend you want to have. Treat your family the way you want to be treated. Respect personal boundaries but make sure yours are respected as well. Respect is not a one way street.

Tribes do not need to be huge. Mine began with two friendships and has grown as each of us has grown and loved others. How did I cultivate a tribe? Be willing to be vulnerable, but not a doormat. Be honest, but kind. Don’t do all the work as relationships take work from all the individuals involved.

Follow your interests, hobbies, passions and it will take you to people who enjoy those things too. Strike up conversations with people at these activities. Often that is as simple as complimenting something an individual is wearing or listening to a conversation and finding a commonality to comment on. Don’t force it, let it flow. This may not happen overnight or in a day or a week. My tribe took years to form and many starts along the way.

My tribe grew and changes as I grew and changed as a person. The people I met when I first moved to Ohio are not the main source of my support these days. In fact, most of those friendships have drifted off or are now to acquaintance level as our lives took us different directions. There is nothing wrong with the evolution of relationships. Letting a relationship evolve naturally is healthy. No one needs to be forced to maintain relationships just for the sake of longevity. Individuals do not benefit from longevity, but quality.

Cultivate your tribe with love, kindness, respect and honesty. Be honest with yourself.

Love with an open heart.

Sassy Viking Mama

Writing Advice from Ray Bradbury

When I was a high school senior we were instructed to write people we admire. The goal was to see if we could be persuasive enough to get a response. I wrote to Ray Bradbury and Tom Clancy and received responses from both.

From Ray Bradbury “If I were to advise writers my advice would go simply like this: Begin writing when you are 12 if possible. Fall in love with the arts,for from them you will learn how to touch, see, smell, know the world. Educate your hands by drawing, educate your ear by listening, educate your nose by running against the wind, keep your eyes wide and your mouth shut. Write every day and every day of your life until it becomes such an immense love you can’t help yourself”

This advice has served me my entire life. Now, I am taking time to focus on another piece of advice from him: “When I speak on writing I only try to rev people up, to turn them back to their own self-starter. I know that if they can produce in quantity, eventually they will produce quality. Without quantity there can be no quality. Quantity is a way of getting rid of chaff, to reduce down to the seed.”

I have worried too much about niches, styles, focus, etc and it has done nothing but hamper me. Recently I took a huge leap of faith (with support of my amazing tribe) and began to GM (game master or run) our Iron Kingdoms tabletop RPG (role playing game). Writing for them has been amazing.

The biggest boost I received was when one of them told me that I tell a great story so running a game will come naturally once I understand the GM mechanics; which are different than player mechanics. It has greatly helped my creativity and confidence.

I am once again following my dream of being a writer by writing as often as I can and sharing those stories. This experience is giving me the confidence I need to take the time to apply to my passion and let the story share itself with me.

The more that I write and share, the more whole I feel. When I do not write the anxiety and depression take hold and uncertainty consumes me. Writing makes me a better person. It feels true to myself and as though I am doing what I was meant to do. This makes me a better person all the way around. Which is fantastic for my family, as well as myself.

“The more one writes the more honest one becomes. The more one vomits forth,the truer his style and, of course, by style we always mean Basic Truth, don’t we? Style is not an ornament, but the heart and soul of a man revealed. It is what he is, isn’t it? Not what he pretends to be,but the true man standing naked, alone, and somewhat proud of finally shucking ornaments and finding his own skin.” Ray Bradbury

Blessings

Irisa

Wildlings, Errands, and Parental Judgement

The snow is calming my spirit. I am drained from school prep and two errands with my wildlings. This morning was an inability to focus and by the time I had one kid dressed another was undressed, sigh. However, we made it to school in time.

Off to the grocery store. Only one trip running off and chasing the youngest while telling the middle child to stay put. Only one unknown item in the cart at checkout;caught before paying thank you!

Library. Dear gods I am exhausted from the library. Teaching the youngest to not run off ; not remove all the books, and not climb the shelves. Reminding the middle boy to stay off the computers … books please! Keeping them both within eyesight. The men’s room there is nice. I know this from having to fish the two year old out of there.

Then we rode the elevator upstairs so I could check out two books. We’re fine, we’re fine. Elevator stopped. Alarm sounded. Okay, I got this. Running off once I got where I needed to be. Fine. Fine. Some illusion of control maintained. Long enough to get two books and go back downstairs.

Mad toddler because I wouldn’t let him set off the alarm. He laid on the floor crying while I checked out. It’s fine. The library staff was nice to me. Okay. Coats on, trying to leave and toddler meltdown commence.

And there it is. A screaming, kicking, tantruming toddler. Refuse to walk, fine. I tried to pick him up; now the kicking, thrashing, and sliding out of my hands. We make it outside; oh yeah my coat isn’t zipped and it is 18 degrees out. I can’t keep ahold of him and don’t want to drop him on the sidewalk. I attempt to put him on his feet.

Down and on the ground screaming tantrum. A mom and her kid walk by me, muttering comments and giving me dirty looks. Thanks for the judgement lady. I didn’t need that. What i needed was a moment of kindness. Would it have been too much to pick up the bag of spilled books and help me out? No, instead taking a shot when I was already feeling defeated is exactly what I needed.

Why is it so hard to be kind and supportive? Maybe you are lucky and have never had a child so strong willed that cooperation takes longer to learn. Maybe you have forgotten or never had kids.

I love my wildlings but teaching them how to best communicate, act in public, and getting them to listen can take longer. In the meantime be patient with the parents as we navigate our children and take the time to teach them without breaking their spirits. Have kindness for us because that can be what we need to survive the hard moments. The moments our kids are arguing and we are digging deep for strength and patience, that is when we need kindness because self-doubt about our skills might already be the loud voice in our heads.

Solidarity!

Irisa

Recovering Human

Fear, anxiety, depression. They are very real issues that prevent so many of us from living. These issues prevent us from being our authentic selves. Questions that go round and round in our minds.

How do you love when you were raised that love is a lie?

How do you parent when the parents you had were cruel?

How do you form healthy relationships when all you have known are toxic ones?

How do you love when you don’t understand what love is?

How do you have friendships when you feel you are worthless and nothing to give?

How do you create when the fear is choking you?

To these questions (and more) I say:

I find and embrace the warrior within. The warrior within is the part of me that hasn’t been broken. It is the part of me that wants to eradicate the fear, anxiety and depression. As long as one cell within my body wants to fight, then I have a warrior within that can shine through.

I will use the warrior within to create.

I will use the warrior within to break through my fear.

I will use the warrior within to turn the internal screaming into art and beauty.

I will use my pain, fear and insecurity to create; to be productive; to succeeed. I will dream of love and trust and live my life as though the dreams are real. I will make that type of love real. I will accept that I am loved. I will not let the people in my past destroy the love I have now. Because if I do, I will never feel his arms around me. I will miss the small smiles, tiny hands, big hearts as they show me who they are.

I do not need or want anxiety in my life. I will fight each day to silence your voice. The cruelty you share and play in my mind. The fears you plant in my Soul. The lies you whisper in my ear. I no longer give you harbor in my body, mind or spirit. I will not respond to your call.

I will only listen and answer to love and creativity. I cannot do this any other way because I will drown in your siren’s call if I do not find the warrior strength within. Those that believe in me deserve the best of me.

Now, when the anxiety and fear are in control, I am not the best of me. I am raw. I am honest. I am strong. I am weak. I am broken. I am whole. At this moment I am a contradiction of healing and healed. I am a recovering human.

Recovering from the faults of humanity. Recovering from lies and deceit. Recovering from the weakness of others and the weakness within. Recovering from choices and consequences. I am human who will use her ability to love and create to fill her cracks with gold. To create a new standard of beauty and wholeness. To be real and authentic without apology. I am a recovering human.

I embrace my role as a recovering human and begin the journey of uncovering, discovering and sharing my authentic self.

Irisa MacKenzie

Giving a Fuck

I was reading an article this morning on Scary Mommy. The author discusses the changes that she had to make once she had a third child. I relate to so many of the comments she made. Parenting three kids is a juggling act. Someone is always waiting for your time and attention.

My youngest is a year and half old. Since my pregnancy we have all been making adjustments. From the slowing down as I got big enough to need my own zip code to preparing the kids for another sibling to making peace with the necessary changes in my parenting. Slowly, I have been finding my way to not giving a fuck.

The biggest realization came recently when my anxiety and exhaustion caused a full breakdown in front of my family. Tears and crying that there was not enough of me to go around for all of them. That I felt I was failing them. The most amazing thing happened. Instead of them validating my fears, I received unconditional love and support.

My middle child (age 4) gave me magic kisses and hugs. Squeezing me tight saying “my hugs are magic and will make you better, right?” … always baby, always. The oldest (age 6) gave me a kiss on forehead, told me it would be okay and then went and got my childhood teddy bear. The youngest laid his head on my lap and patted me. In that moment I realized I wasn’t a total failure as a parent. These kids learned unconditional love and support from their dad and I.

The other realization to my anxiety trigger came from my husband. He pointed out that I wasn’t failing anyone. Our life was not filled with the hard deadlines I was used to from my career and past relationships. Things were fluid here with different priorities than I was used to. We discussed that a bit more.

This moment has been playing over in my mind and my heart. It summarizes the internal struggle I have been having. As a child and young adult I struggled between my wild self and doing as I was told so my parents would love me. This behavior translated into my teen and young adulthood, shaping how I had my first adult relationships.

On a professional level, I learned how to play the corporate games. How to act in that environment so I would get the right review and pay increase. Inside I was drowning. Twisted in anxiety and depression because my true self was being smothered every moment of every day with other people’s deadlines and agendas. All for the pretense of love and acceptance.

On the surface I had a wonderful career and family. Inside I was dying and it made me a person I disliked. Looking in the mirror was painful because the image reflected back was one of self loathing. The more I told my now ex-husband how unhappy I was, the more ungrateful and impossible to please he told me I was. This spiraled for almost two decades until it exploded.

The explosion brought with it much happiness and the life I wanted. But the anxiety haunts me. I have spent so much of my life being what everyone else wants I cannot shake the feeling that I am a fraud. The hardest expectation I have ever had is the one my current husband has for me, to be myself. He likes who I am. Something I am not used to as I was raised that wild, passionate, outspoken, clumsy person is something to be ashamed of.

Today, I have no deadlines to change my personal behavior or habits if I want love. The love is simply there. There are no expectations to have the house and kids look a certain way when he comes home. Alive and hopefully happy (they are toddlers) is enough. It reminds me that even my approach to a more organic and fluid life has been a structured plan in my head with timeframes to accomplish certain changes. The opposite of organic and fluid.

In my own way I have been working towards not giving a fuck what others think of me or what they feel the agenda for my life is for many years. Those that have been close to me over the years have not understood why this was so hard. It was impossibly hard because it was tied into being loved, accepted and valued. Until I learned the true meaning of that I could not move forward.

Each day I get to decide what is important and whether or not I give a fuck. Love is wonderful and messy, not a Hollywood production with music, perfect light, and often unlimited funds. True acceptance is filled with flaws, communication, raw honesty and love. Those are the things worth giving a fuck about.

Irisa MacKenzie

5 April 2018