On waiting, wandering, and patience.

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost. “

J.R.R. Tolkien

I have always been a lover of the concept of “journey”. Endless seeking of some great truth, working hard to climb a mountaintop for some gold or treasure. Facing dragons, and ice storms and goblins along the way. Conquering fear, becoming this fearless leader all with some tangible reward and a life full of rest at the end of it all. I believed this to be greatest truth of life. If you were willing to work hard enough, you’d end your days in some lovely place reveling in the memories and the riches of your labor, having grapes fed to you while you lounge around in some marble building facing a sunset. In some ways, I feel this is still my expectation. But I’ve been noticing shifts that make me question what I want my marble building to look like, and what kinds of grapes I’d like.

I have always considered myself an explorer. Someone who would constantly be searching and for some reason, the idea of finding that marble building has always seemed slightly impossible for me. Along the way, the idea of searching for anything tangible has become far less appealing as searching for concepts and my own personal understandings.

When I reflect on when this started to take shape for me a memory comes up: I was in elementary school, and a teacher had asked us to write a paragraph or two about what we “wanted to be when we grew up”. Common responses included things like veterinarians, firefighters, nurses, astronauts. I quickly found I had misinterpreted what she meant. My response was simply “Happy”. I think at this moment, I had started to see my life as something that would be full. But not always of joy and experiences, but of heartache and pain as well. There would be a constant striving for balance and I was totally unaware of how balance and happiness are related.

I fell in love with the concept of journey and “finding home” at a young age. I still don’t even know if I understand what these things mean or meant to me. But I do know that my heart races at the thought. But what is different now, is that I think I have come to realize that one doesn’t always have to be moving in order to be on a journey. It is possible that home is the vessel assigned to us as flesh and bones, and that the journey is learning to love, and adapt, and maintain, and work through. Sometimes this concept feels like enough. Other days, it feels like a crock of shit. Both are acceptable. It is possible to feel both satisfied and disappointed all at once. It is possible to be both comfortable and uncomfortable.

I was having a conversation recently with a loved one, regarding the finality of the way society views success and how I feel this is changing. I remember my entering in the professional world and adapting to the mundane every day and thinking “this cannot be all there is”.

Maybe you will chuckle with the thought of this, and sit back in your chair to admire how naive this sounds. Maybe you agree. Maybe my issue here is greed. Maybe I expect too much out of my experiences, or maybe I have such high hopes that everything can be solved with routine and consistency. But lately I have found myself wandering. I’ve found myself referring some of the writings from my favorite novelists, and poets. I have found myself developing new five year plans, and taking courses and trying to figure out what is next. To be frank, I have found myself wishing my way out of routine to return to this idea of searching again.

When I was in undergrad I was speaking with my professor, and I told him that I want to be a professional in at least five different vocational fields. I wanted to be a forest ranger, a fitness instructor, an artist, a chef, a busness owner, yoga instructor, etc. You name it. He is the first and only person who has ever said “Why can’t you do it all?”. And he is right. I believe it is possible. And I think that is also why I am wandering right now. Exploring every option, trying all of them on and seeing what fits the right way. Reflecting back on this memory, I realize now, that not once did I refer back to my essay answer: “happy”. If you’d asked me right in that moment about what that even meant, I don’t think I could have given you an answer. Knowing what I know now though, I might suggest that had I chosen any one of those paths, happiness would still only lie in whatever I chose to see it in. I would be wandering forever if it meant happiness were a tangible, cookie cutter thing.

People don’t like waiting for what they want. They like instant gratification. I want answers, and direction and I want it all right this instant. I have zero patience. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is an understatement. But I think it is impossible to find any answers without wandering. I also think the wandering teaches patience, and presence. So when it comes to wandering, perhaps the right answer is not to wait. Get up, and start searching right now. Because doing nothing when trying to make decisions and accepting everything exactly as it is (if you are unhappy with wherever you are right now) is still a decision.

I don’t have any answers. I certainly haven’t found any of my great truths yet, and I absolutely do not know what it is like to have balance. But so far I have picked up some knowledge: In order to be able to wander, you have to be able to focus on one thing and multiple things all at once. I’m not talking multitasking. I’m talking openness and focus. I’m talking setting out on one mission while remaining open to the roads that become available to you along the way. There is not right or wrong answer. There is only your answer.

This does not mean that it is okay to lose your ability to stay right here, right now. We learn what we want and do not want from what is happening right now. Answers are actually instantly gratified in smaller ways in the day to day if you are present enough to look. Being too present, and too accepting can allow you to grow roots where you don’t want them planted. So being able to propel yourself once in a while with the notion of seeking and searching for the best fit is an important tool to have.

I think it all just means that humans are seeking true, spiritual, personal, and uninterrupted balance. Balance is what allows us to have patience enough to keep going, and stay present enough to enjoy our journey. And sometimes what we achieve by the end of it, is not as special as we thought it would be. It’s not enough. In fact, maybe the journey was far more exciting.

There have been endless times where I thought my journey was all kinds of messed up. Where I thought my road map was wrong, or that maybe I needed a new one altogether. There were times where I wanted to fling myself off the mountain top and just give up. But whenever I have gotten to this point I give myself permission to pause and take in the view from where I stand. I try to meet myself with where I am at. Sometimes it has been gorgeous and other times it was grotesque. Whenever it was gorgeous it gave me strength to stay where I was and take it in. Whenever it was grotesque I was usually too scared to stay put and it was a reminder to keep moving. The point here is that every journey has gorgeous views, and really rotten ones too. These are the things you will remember when you reach your marble buildings. Take the time to really remember them.

“Not all who wander are lost.” One of Tolkien’s most famous quotes. He’s right. Not everyone who is wandering is lost. In fact, maybe the real puzzler here is figuring out what it means to even be wandering. Sometimes we are just figuring it out. On occasion, not everything about the gold at the end is what it was cracked up to be. Sometimes it is better. Sometimes the gold was just misleading rocks. Other times, perhaps we had gold in our pockets the whole time but because we were seeking the bigger pile we forgot about what we had already brought with us.

The only thing I really know for sure, is that sometimes we have to find our own sunsets, build our own marble places, and grow our own grapes. Even these are subject to change once we have them.

There is a very real possibility that most people will always be wandering, and wondering and being impatient about what is next for themselves. It’s natural. But if we don’t take a minute to consider what our gold really is, then we may never know when we actually have it. I would encourage you to define it for yourself. Perhaps it is balance. Perhaps it is feeling content. Perhaps there is only balance and being content with little sprinklings of joy here and there. Perhaps there is only imbalance and feel discontent with little sprinklings of clarity along the way. This clarity is what will pull you next. This what the wandering is. What is pulling you toward your own personal balance? Where do you find that you feel safe enough to enjoy the sprinklings of joy? What do you want your marble buildings, and sunsets to consist of? How can you access them more frequently? Why can’t you do it all? What types of grapes grow on your vines?

I would encourage you to learn to stay present enough to learn patience while you wander. I know it is difficult to feel like we are constantly racing time so we can have as much time in our marble buildings as possible. But it is possible to access multiple marble buildings and to witness so many sunsets. Do not wait on wandering. You’re not just going to stumble into it. You have to answer your own questions and find your own answers. Wandering does not mean you are lost. Wandering means you are figuring it out. Wandering means it is okay to stop and check your pockets for gold. Wandering means you have time.

What are you currently seeking? Is it clarity, and balance? What are these to you? Do you have a specific map? What are the chances that everything on the map is still accurate? How can you make changes along the way? Are you checking your pockets? Are you allowing yourself to stay present enough to learn patience? Is what you are doing right now allowing you to choose to be happy? Please by all means, wander. Explore. Seek. But don’t forget to take in the views either way.

Warm regards,



On comparison, being enough and abundance.

” Let your head climb back down through your throat and into your body so it can see just how good you look when you’re not compared to anything.”

Buddy Wakefield

When I reflect on my experiences with comparison and this idea of “being enough of something”, I find myself overcome with waves of guilt, and shame and deep sadness. The very term “being enough” is one that makes me cringe, and I can’t explain it. These are just words. At their very core, they are only letters placed together to be read as a sound. And yet, they feel so heavy on my tongue. I want to close my eyes when I hear it, and I want truly to believe that “I am enough” of anything. When I start to explore this, I really feel as though I’m carrying around a bag of bricks that each hold solid reasons of why I am exactly the opposite of enough of anything. I’m not disclosing this to you for any other reason that I am fairly certain you can relate in some way or another. As humans, or at least within this society, it is difficult to refrain comparing ourselves, what we have, all that we are and do to those around us.

I remember being a child and having this little white dragon stuffed animal. My sister had one too, but she didn’t play with hers as much. I remember comparing my stuffed toy to hers and being jealous and angry about how pretty hers was, fresh and new. Mine was becoming dingy, and losing it’s white shine. The neck was slightly bent out of place, worn over time by physical manifestations of my love. But hers was “better”. So, one day, when she wasn’t in her room, I snuck in with a black pen and I scribbled a small scribble on the neck of this dragon toy and placed it back in its home (Cheli, if you didn’t know this until this very moment, I am sorry, this a darker side of myself which I am working on).

For some reason, I couldn’t handle the idea of anyone having the same toy but in better condition than myself. I think somewhere in my small mind, the idea that my love could take something beautiful and make it ugly was planted, and it made me angry and hurt. It’s an idea that has been hard to shake. There is never justification, however, for trying to bring someone else down over my own self-comparison, even at the tender age of six. I think truly, this early experience is something that stays with me because it was a point in my life where I saw something in myself that was undesirable and I didn’t have the words to explore it any further. I didn’t want to have or be something that was “worse” than what other people had or were. Looking back, I wish I still had my dragon, because I have grown to be able to understand that we love things in our life, regardless of how they change over time, and that this change is sometimes due to the way that we love it. And that is okay. And we can celebrate it if it is healthy and promotes self-awareness. To be completely honest, this comparison technique is something I never grew out of. It has been nothing but toxic.

Comparison is not always bad. It can help develop knowledge and self-understanding. It can be a tool for measurement, or a way to learn from mistakes. When used as a tool, it actually can be quite helpful. It becomes dangerous when we apply it as the groundwork for how we operate. When we allow it space into our relationships with others, and with ourselves. It becomes dangerous when we incorporate it so often that we begin to feel resentment, bitterness and cynicism toward the world and those around us. Because using it in this way is when we begin to lose the things that make us authentically ourselves. It’s hard to know who to blame for where comparison became a tool to use against ourselves. So I won’t go there today. But I want to focus on the impact this can have. I do think it is crucial, that I stress how much comparison can make us feel as though we have to hide some part of who we are. It breeds “perfectionism” in beings that are made out of organic matter. If organic is said to be pure, doesn’t it mean that we already have reach a state of perfection?

Our body and brains know when we betray ourselves and so often, we feel betrayed when we feel we need to hide some detail or fact about ourselves. But we do this, often, to survive. We are afraid of being the “other” in the room. Society preaches “fitting in” and adapting ourselves into some cookie cutter mold. But squares do not fit inside of circles. And humans do not fit into cookie cutters. You know this. We all know this. But there is still this hidden suggestion that maybe comes from within that says ” if I don’t squish myself in that mold, I will never be enough”. If we compare cats and dogs, we would find many similarities, yes. But the sole things draw people into loving one or the other are the differences between them. But then to claim that one is better than the other is to claim facts based on opinions based on nothing but preference. And yet somehow, our society has let that be a driving forces in what is “acceptable” amongst human beings. But if we look at cats and dogs and acknowledge that none of them participate in comparison, I think it is fair to then point out just how happy they are being exactly who they are. We have much to learn from them.

So cut to present day. 27 year old Gina, still comparing, still resenting, still bitter and slightly cynical. Everytime I hear someone say the phrase “you are enough”, I instinctively roll my eyes. I find myself still angry that other people experience things I want for myself so much earlier than I ever will be able to. I become angry with myself when I realize I may never look or feel the way I want because I have mental illnesses and the potential for chronic conditions that may prevent me from doing so. I become frustrated with myself when I can not provide “enough” of the things that my loved ones may need or want from me. I fall into a dark place when I think about what my traumas may have done to my brain and the way I present myself to others. But to try to compare myself to other people, especially knowing what I do about myself and my past, is not fair. In fact, it is straight up cruel and it would, later then, be no surprise at all that I might feel what I feel about myself when I choose to be so unkind to me.

I think at this point, it is safe to say I have not developed this part of my self-love journey enough yet to claim to be any professional on the matter. But I will say that the impacts of comparison, and not believing myself to be enough of anything have been heavy and intense and really not conducive at all to learning techniques and lifestyles focused on self-love. Additionally, I think the word “enough” is misleading. I think it is a measurement that indicates the “bare minimum” and takes away the possibility of a point of satisfaction. Rather than focusing on what I “might lack”, I can focus on “areas of development”.

I would like to break it down. I think that language and the way we speak to ourselves can be a “make it or break it situation”. Language, however many letters come together to make sounds, is powerful.

Rather than being unkind to myself through comparison, I might state instead that I would like to improve on my time management skills. I would like to build upon my dedication to loving myself so much that I feel I actually deserve time to do more physically. To cast things aside that make me feel small and insignificant. This might mean removing myself from platforms that allow people to hide authenticity. This might mean staring at myself in a mirror for two hours until I am fine with the way my face has changed over the years. This might mean taking a minute to acknowledge that I have not been “made less than” or “corrupted” as a result of what my abusers have done to me. This might mean learning that hiding is not always safe. This might mean practicing my thoughts over and over again until I understand how to reframe them.

So with the help of my therapist, and those whom I love the most I have been trying to re frame this for myself. If we think of being “enough” as “abundance”, rather than “the bare minimum”, what do we really possess within ourselves? What qualities and features do I have an abundance of that I can pride myself in enough to forget to compare myself to others today? If you read my post from last week, I mention a bit about understanding what I need, and that right now, my brain is stating abundance. This word feels warm and refreshing, and comforting. These are qualities which I possess.

Other qualities and features that I possess in abundance: Kindness, empathy, determination, devotion, creativity, friendliness, diligence, understanding. I am a great cook because i have an abundance of knowledge around food. I have an abundance of authenticity. I have managed to stay true, through all of this, to myself, my passions and my goals in whichever way they may change. I always wake up. Not just in a state of being conscious but in a state of coming to my sense about how I want to be treated. I have an abundance of communication skills. My body is round and soft, and some day it will be fully open to receiving all the love it can also give. For now, I have an abundance of ways of being certain that others know I love them. I never stop trying. I have helped, for certain, at least five people. I have an abundance of knowledge and skills which I use every day. I have an abundance of respect for others, and an abundance of boundaries for those I do not respect. I have an abundance of trust. I have an abundance of acceptance from my loved ones. I have an abundance of forgiveness from my loved ones. I have an abundance of ways in which I know how to connect to other people. I have an abundance of opinions. I have an abundance of admiration. I have an abundance of stories and survival mechanisms. I have an abundance of perspective. I have an abundance of experiences. I have an abundance of lessons. I have an abundance of openness.

I am not saying to stop comparing yourself. I know it is simply, not possible and there may be some days where it is all you can do. That’s okay. I am asking you to take stock, right now of what exactly you know for sure that you have an abundance of within yourself. I think you may find it to be a much longer list than you anticipated. This was the hardest post for me to write yet. This is a topic that I am struggling with every day. But I cannot ask you to do it, without having done it myself.

Take stock of what you possess in abundance. What qualities are they? What can you do right now, tomorrow, daily etc. to ensure that you will try to refrain from comparing who you are to some one who is a completely different being than yourself? Why is this important to you? How can you reframe the language you use for yourself to fit a life that allows you to stop hiding? How will you build awareness around your personal stuffed dragons? What can you do to appreciate what you have to give others and yourself? How will you account for your own personal journey and how it has contributed to who and why are you the way you are? How can you keep this in mind when you start to compare? How do you ensure you are not trying to squish yourself into molds that are not made for you? What can you do to assure yourself that all of this abundance, all of what you possess really is enough. And it is. And you are. But you have to believe it.

Warm regards,