Updated: 20 hours ago

Hooking Up With The Universe (Even Vegans cry). March 23, 2016 Jane Alvey Harris Guys, the Universe is obviously a woman. If she had a mouth I'd totally make out with her because I'm pretty sure She's in love with me and I'm definitely in love with HER.WARNING: TMI & SHARING AHEAD!

Trust me, the Universe DOESN'T love me because I'm perfect or because I do everything right and never make any messes. Far (far) FAR from it. In fact, the last few years have been a series of escalating messes as I struggled to find my footing in my second marriage...a relationship that sometimes had me fighting tooth and nail to make things work, sometimes had me kicking and screaming to escape as fast and as far away as I could get, and always had me bewildered, insecure, and lonely.

During this same span of years I experienced other imperfect/messy things as well. For example: I lost my religion, alienated two of the most important people in my life while trying to help them, and uprooted my children from their home of 11 years to move to a new state where we had no friends and no family.

These things would be daunting for almost anyone. I know my diagnoses of an anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia compound my stress. Some days, it's all I can do to get out of bed. Please understand, this isn't a cry for help. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I'm thriving. It isn't my intent to share these things in order to make anyone uncomfie or garner sympathy or get attention or be all "woe is me." Rather, I'm sharing in the hopes of normalizing others who might be grappling with similar challenges. I want to validate the struggle of people who may be battling privately, who think they're alone because their guilt and fear require them to hide their pain. Who aren't thriving because they feel trapped. Because they feel like failures. Because they're ashamed.

I am such a lucky girl. It hasn't been all Doom & Gloom. I've had amazing experiences, and I wouldn't trade any of it. The struggles I've encountered in the last 5+ years have compelled me to do some serious self-examination and take a good long look at who I am and who I want to be. True, I lost Religion, but I discovered Faith; I became unmoored from some familial anchors, but gained lifelong friends who have become my family. I have met and been mentored by truly magical people. I've been blessed with the time and the means to pursue my dream of becoming a published author.

The most important thing I've gained in the last few years is the knowledge that I have a message I want to share with the world, and it is this: Self-acceptance, Self-love, Self-mercy, Self-trust, EMPOWERMENT. I want EVERYONE to experience the deep and abiding belief that the Universe (or God or Allah or The FSM) loves them the way I believe She (or He) loves me. In order for that to happen, there are some things we've got to be aware of:

1. Depression is NOT of the devil. If you tell yourself or someone else who is struggling with anxiety or depression that all they need is a closer relationship with Christ to be cured, please knock it the hell off. Like, RIGHT NOW.

2. Even healthy peeps can be depressed. So chillax, Vegans. For reals, I love you...if I had a personal chef I would BE YOU. And it's true: a healthy diet and regular exercise cure a multitude of ailments, but even vegans suffer from mental illness ...yes, even the ones who eat a healthy vegan diet full of leafy greens and quinoa and not just sugar and gluten-free Cheetos. So unless a depressed person asks for your advice when sharing their struggles, maybe just LISTEN.

3. Taking medication for mentall illness doesn't make a person weak. To all my Holistic peeps: I adore what you do and who you are. I love your incense and your oils and your gorgeous auras. You might not agree with a person's decision to medicate, and it's true, medication isn't always the answer. But that doesn't make someone wrong for trying it.

4. You might be hurting when you mean to help. I know from the bottom of my heart that when someone is brave enough to tell you they are struggling and you remind them of all their blessings, you mean well. But it isn't helpful. Mental Illness is no respecter of persons. It targets both the physically strong and the crippled, the affluent and beggar, the straight and the gay, the Christian, the Jew, and the non-believer. I can promise you...people who suffer from prolonged depression that goes beyond sorrow at our current political cluster(f word) are fully aware of their blessings. Reminding them of the positives in their lives is discounting their very real pain. It adds to their burden.

5. Not everyone can "choose" to be happy. If reality were a Phillip K. Dick novel and happiness were as simple as making a decision every morning to "think happy thoughts", most people would choose to be happy. DUH.

But Guys. It isn't.Here's the way it was described to me: Everybody has a window. A person with perfect brain chemistry has glass in their window that locks, a screen for when the window is open, some blinds for when it’s too bright or privacy is preferred, and curtains for décor and extra privacy. Each of these things act as a filter…a way to set boundaries and protect the

mind and body from distressing or harmful stimulants and triggers.

Unfortunately, not everyone has perfect brain chemistry. Some people may be missing their curtains, some may be missing their blinds. Others may have window that don't lock, leaving them vulnerable with only a flimsy screen

to protect them from the outside world. In the most extreme cases, some people don't have anything. Not even glass. Just a gaping hole through which anything can pass. It's all well and good when it's 76 degrees out with no humidity or bugs or theirs or nosy neighbors, right? But life isn't always perfect like that. To those who are hurting, I'm so sorry. I would take your pain if I could. I know you won't always feel this way, though I can't say when it will get better, only that it WILL. I do have a couple ideas that might be worth considering, though:

  • Is the goal really to be happy all the time? I want to suggest that a lot of learning and growth comes from struggling.

  • Maybe pretending to be perfect isn't the answer. Maybe--just maybe--when you accept who you are and how you feel you are becoming stronger and inspiring others. I personally don't believe there are any negative feelings. Uncomfortable ones? YES. Painful ones? To be sure. But they are part of you and you are WONDERFUL.

  • Inspiration is everywhere, all the time. You don't have to be happy to be inspired, all you have to do is be open and watchful. It’s risky, being open, I know. But it’s worth it. I've learned this from experience. Because even on the days when I didn't get out of bed, I looked for Inspiration and She whispered stories to me. Today I want to share with you some of the things that have inspired me while I have struggled. I invite you to visit any of the links that appeal to you. Here are some delicious books I've read recently. If you click on the cover, it will take you to their page on Amazon. And remember, if you like something, LEAVE A REVIEW!!!

BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth GilbertOh, Home Slices. Please do yourself a huge favor and read this amazing book. You can send me pie asa thank you for introducing you to it!

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy NelsonThe first couple pages I was like WHOA. Truly, I have never read such beautiful combinations of exuberant language all congregated so tightly into one place. I would have read the entire thing just to savor the sentences, but BOOM. The plot is killer and the characters endearing. A truly inspiring novel. I can't wait for you to enjoy it!

Lastly, yesterday I learned something that really energized me: my beautiful friend, consultant, and mentor, Nancy Innis, M.Ed., CH, NCC, LPC, is going back to college to study Sociology. This is good news, people! The more she learns the smarter I become :DOMG you guys, this is so LOOOOOONGGGG. But let's not be sizest! Inspiration comes in a variety of packages. Let's savor this looooonnnng thing and perhaps revisit it often!! Wanna?? (I'm just noticing that all my recent inspiration has come from ladies. Men-folk, hmu with your inspiration (of any length). I'm not Sexist!) Hahahahahahahaha. I'm cracking myself up! (But seriously, it's my children's fault. There's something wrong with them. They are wildly innapropriate and probably demons. If you are still reading this SEND HELP.)

Guys. You GOT THIS! I believe in you. Seriously, even if I've never met you. The Universe adores you, just like She adores me. If you listen really LOUD, you can hear Her telling you so.


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