An Epiphany about Grief

I didn't have an answer when she asked, "So how did you get through losing your Dad? No one has ever asked me that in the almost 10 years he'd been gone. 

And I forgot that just cuz someone asks a question about your life, doesn't mean you know the answer. 

I paused. I said I don't know. I said I went to therapy and smoked a lot of pot and had affairs with married men. Then I paused again and searched for how I actually got through it. The 'no, really Erica, how did you do that? Answer the girl'.

"I didn't get through it", I heard myself say. "It got through me. It did everything it could to transform me. Push me. Make me say yes when I want to say no. Make me say no when I want to say yes. The grief. It said, 'go home, my love', those 4 times I drove to my elementary school at 3am and waited at the child pick-up spot for my Dad. Because I was a fucking lunatic. Because what do you mean he's gone?  Because no I just want to talk to him one more time. I have a question." 

The grief. It's like an extra batch of intuition, on top of the intuition I was born with. It just knows stuff. Like, it knew to send me to art school so I could one day take pretty pictures for Instagram and decorate my home and my business in a life-giving way. 

It knew about the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and how I needed to study there. And heal there. It suggested I try yoga. Then it asked me to teach yoga. The grief. It said read this book. Talk to this guy. Call your mother. Call her again. It told me to go to an essential oil class and then make a career out of sharing them with people. Touching people. Reminding them they are worthy of love and belonging and physical touch. 

The grief. It's not grief anymore, actually. 

It's like, my "through-line". It's the connecting theme that follows my interaction with the world and my commitment to get out of bed each day. 

The grief. My through-line. This thing. I didn't get through it. It got through me. Or maybe it got through TO me? 

It'll transform you. If you let it. 

 

Grace & Peace,

Erica 

Destined to Fart: Lessons in Being Alive

...so then he says to me, he says, "but Erica, a boat is NOT the only way to cross an ocean! Maybe you're not supposed to be on a boat. Maybe you're not even supposed to be on the water, really. You're like, on a JetPack- farting your way across the ocean, across your dreams and the message you're sharing with the world. Just a bunch of JetPack-producing, brilliant farts, taking you to where you want to go!" (My friends make really good analogies. Sometimes.)

Let me back up...

I was very busy yesterday; I was busy comparing my self, my business, my mission, my body, my Instagram following and my worth to other people. I was just swamped with paperwork, scribbled with doubt and matters of the ego. I was in meetings with past childhood playground trauma and I even took a call from the department of You're Literally Faking Everything and They're Gonna Find Out You're a Fraud and an Imposter Any Day Now, services, inc. In a nutshell, I thought everyone was rowing a much more important and pimped out boat than me, and that I had straight up missed it.

It's taken me a long time to be able to answer the question, "so, what do you do?" with certainty and clarity; I'm an Eating Psychology Counselor, who specialized in Body Image, Chronic Dieting and Binge Eating. No, I'm an Essential Oils Pusher/Educator. No, I am a Yoga Teacher. No, wait, I am a Writer who blogs, with a degree in Visual Communications. Wait, actually, I am a Relationship Strategist, who helps people identify their Values so they can build and maintain healthy relationships with food, their body and people in their life, based on those values. Oh! And I have a Facebook LIVE show, where I build community and start dialogue and blah blah blah blah.

I've placed a lot of weight on my title, since "becoming" an entrepreneur, forgetting that no one really cares about what I do. They care about who I am. And, in reality, whether we are Tax Attorneys, Trapeze Artists, Branch Managers or Grape-Stompers, we are all here to do one thing:

SERVE HUMANITY.

The ONLY difference is the vehicle with which we choose to do it, that most aligns with our values.

If you envisioned the vehicle with which you serve your family, community, customers, students, etc., how much more fun would your day to day interactions be? If you knew that there is simply no comparison to make, no boat to miss, because you're not even meant to be on a boat in the first place, imagine the peace that would being to your work, your family and your own sense of self-worth. There is so much magic in knowing that your course is not meant to look like everyone elses, and that one job, career, vocation is not more valid or important than the other, BECAUSE we are ultimately Doing. The same. Thing.

So what is your vehicle for serving humanity? Selling essential oils? Yoga? Writing Books? Riding a bicycle? Dancing? Massage therapy? Raising compassionate children? Doing math so other people don't have to? Metaphorically, Are you doing this via ship? Or in a '92 Canary Yellow Mazda Protege? You on a train? Or is it a hot air balloon situation?

Trust me, friends, you have NOT "missed the boat", because we're not all meant to be on a damn boat. But what do I know? I'm just a girl, strapped to a JetPack, farting my way across the land - just a bunch of brilliant farts, taking me to where I want to go, all in an an effort to serve humanity.

from my vehicle to yours,

erica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship Hotline: Real Texts. Real People. Real Friendships.

 

"Friendship Hotline, Erica speaking! How can I help you?"

Person who's just like you & me:

I have an old childhood friend that I haven't spoken to much in six months. We've been friends since we were little, always thought we'd be maid of honor in each other's weddings, etc. But it's not like that anymore. We've just lost things in common except for our spirit...just on extremely different life paths...

I harbor some ill will because in almost six months of living in my new apartment she hasn't asked how it is or congratulated me....yet she's gotten upset in the past for me not keeping the friendship alive and keeping in touch so that's made me not want to ask how she's doing---

yesterday I decided to extend an olive branch and text her to say I love the pictures she's posted recently and hope she's well yet I've received no response back and she's found the time to post on facebook. It just reaffirms to me how she is only interested in herself. "It just reaffirms to me how she is only interested in herself- she once posted a status saying she will no longer be answering people's texts because she receives too many. I'm examining my feelings and I feel annoyed and hurt but maybe she's not ready cuz she feels slighted by me like I do by her. Idk it's just always all about her.

And I wanna just say goodbye to the friendship and what it was because its easier and were two different people now but then I wonder well will I invite her to my future wedding because she's my oldest friend? Like idk---I'm just mourning the loss

 

My Response:

I hear you loud and clear. I pulled 2 bits that I want to shine a light on because they affect the rest of it:

1. "I harbor some ill will because in almost six months of living in my new apartment she hasn't asked how it is or congratulated me"

When we set expectations for people's behavior, based on what WE would do, we set ourselves up for disappointment and upset every time. It doesn't mean we shouldn't feel hurt by it, it just means that unless we make our feelings and needs known to someone, we don't really have anywhere to put those feelings if someone doesn't meet our expectations. (This goes for ANY relationship) 

2. "It just reaffirms to me how she is only interested in herself- she once posted a status saying she will no longer be answering people's texts because she receives too many"

Personally, if she posted something like this on Facebook, is her friendship "style" and her clear lack of value for friendship even in line with your values and what YOU'RE looking for in a friendship?

My philosophy is, move toward the people who move toward you. (I DON'T mean wait for others to show they love you before you show them back. NO NO NO. We definitely do not withhold love out of spite. Like, no.

I mean, despite any hopes, dreams and expectations for what friendship was going to look like, (being in each others weddings, etc.) look at the reality and move toward people who are making an effort to move toward you.

Perhaps it's not time to move toward each other today…?

Person who's just like you & me:

Wow yes I agree with all of this. I guess it's in my nature to want to give love and I've been trying to live out what you once said to me which is to not wait for people to move toward me or generate plans or cultivate a friendship and just do it if u want. So I have been, but I guess sometimes in doing that we can get disappointed in how someone reacts

My Response:

Yes. It's both. Nothing (especially relationships) is black & white!

Sometimes we extend the olive branch even if it's not extended back to us (WITHOUT expectations or resentment!)  and other times, we don't because we value people who also extend branches to us.

Person who's just like you & me:

It's hard to fluctuate between the two sides, you know? Because I like black and white a lot of the times....do u find it hard to not harbor resentment should you put yourself out there and not get what u wanted in return?

My Response:

Not anymore; I don't take things AS personal as I used to. And I'm more mindful about my intentions behind doing things. Like, am I doing this with an expectation of something in return? Or am I truly doing this out of my purest heart? 

It's not bad to want love in return! In fact, we must receive love in return for ours. But everyone's love language and values are different. When we set parameters around specific behavior that we expect from others, that's where we need to check our intentions in the first place.

Person who's just like you & me:

How did u get to that disciplined mindful place? I'm trying so hard now through reciting daily affirmations specifically regarding my romantic relationship but it's so hard to be mindful and honest w yourself and not just say 'fuck it I'm gonna do this and if they don't give me in return then fuck them.' But I know that's unhealthy. I'm trying to not be like that anymore.

My Response:

One day, one conversation, one situation at a time, girl. 

Nothing is permanent and we're just humans who have needs. 

I'm not any more disciplined than anyone else; I just don't make the time to suffer in my relationships (IN GENERAL). There is still plenty of suffering but it's more situation-based, not relationship-based. Meaning, things come up in healthy relationships that need to be addressed, but the relationship itself is healthy. The friendship is reciprocal enough for me. If it's not, well, then obviously the level and the type of friendship will naturally change into something else.

It can be organic and natural. It doesn't have to be "I'm just not gonna be like this anymore". That's too black & white for our precious and fragile little hearts.

I know your heart. I know where it all comes from for you, friend. and you're amazing just the way you are. You're enough, your love is enough and there's nothing about you that you need to "fix". You're not broken. We are all evolving and life/relationships are a process. No need to rush or drastically change the process! Let things unfold...

Person who's just like you & me:

Beautifully said....sometimes I wish I could hang out with you in person and hear this while looking at you, lol. I like coming back to these kinds of texts they make me feel good. 

My Response:

<3 I'm SO glad to hear this. I Love you. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Person who's just like you & me:

Nope.

My Response:

Great! Thanks for agreeing to be here!

*END*

Comment below if you can relate or have any thoughts, questions, concerns, etc.!

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

 

The "Special" Problem: Why Entitlement & Neediness *May* Help Your Relationships

"Sounds like you have a "Special" Problem", said my handsome therapist.

"Oooooh! What's that?! I feel special already!"

"Yea, that's the problem part", he chuckled as he rubbed his eyes for a moment, like he was about to break some earth-shattering news to me. My eyes widened and for a moment I felt excited about my new label, my brand-spankin-new neurosis, my next thing I'd get to blog about. (Good Lord, I really do need therapy.)

Over the past couple weeks I've come to terms with my resistance and my general distaste for sharing and being a "team player", for which I blame my parents, of course; instead of having more children and staying married, they got divorced, gave me my own bedroom and bathroom at both houses, where I had my own toys and never had to bang on a door to go pee or wait to use the computer, or negotiate the time I spent watching my Lifetime movies....in my own room...on my own t.v. If they had given me a sibling or a pet or a few house plants to take care of, I'm sure I'd enjoy a thing or two about being a team player. But they didn't. So, I don't.

However, despite not being a fan or a willing participant of sharing my stuff and working on a team, I've somehow built an entire career that is dependent upon my ability to do just that. First of all, I educate people how to use essential oils and a HUGE part of that business is sharing my oils with people, be that providing Lavender to a gaggle of high-strung Yoga Teachers, giving samples left & right, and putting Lemon oil in everyone's water while in India. As an Eating Psychology Counselor and Yoga teacher, I share my time and my resources in favor of helping people feel more alive, nurtured and comfortable in their body and their relationships. I love what I do, and I wouldn't choose to do anything else. But here's where my "Special" Problem lies...and yours, too, if this resonates with you, which is great, because I can help you...

While my job requires me to share my "toys", it doesn't usually require me to share the credit or the accolades with anyone, for a job well done. Somehow I've managed to stay just under the radar when it comes to collaborating with people on a project, where I'm not the only incredible genius behind the operation, until now...

My friend, Tracy, and I have been asked to run a "Creative Writing & Yoga" workshop next month, because we're both writers and we're both counselors and we both deeply care about the work we do. While I know the workshop is going to be an amazing one-of-a-kind adventure for our students, it will also require me to share the warm, gooey, fluffy praise and the You-Did-a-Heck-of-a-Job hugs with her, which is difficult for me, because there's a running story in my head that says, You know they're gonna like her more, right? You know they're gonna trust her more and look up to her more, and want to work with her more, right? It's a harsh and dangerous world in my head sometimes, my friends.

So where did this story come from? As my handsome Therapist puts it;

You always had all the stuff you wanted; the bedrooms, the toys, the time to watch Lifetime Movies...but that doesn't necessarily mean you were given what you needed; quality time, lots of praise, undivided attention, all the things a child in a typical narcissism stage really does need. So as you developed, you looked to other people's praise, feedback, attention etc. not just to make you feel good in general, but to actually fill you up, to validate you and prove your value and make you feel special. (And why would you ever want to share that with someone else?) But when you rely only on how other people value you and view you, for you sense of self-worth, it doesn't keep you full, because you can't or won't or don't do that for yourself. So, here you have a sense of entitlement...mixed with a specific kind of need to feel special...and that creates a -say it with me- "Special" Problem.

When I peeled my ego-bruised self off the couch after an entirely-too-short fifty minutes, the only solution to this problem I could think of, apart from getting the f*ck over it because I'm a 29 year-old grown ass woman who ought to know how to share and not be so greedy for accolades, was to tell my friend Tracy about my "Special" Problem; how I'm not as jazzed as I could and should be to teach a Creative Writing & Yoga Workshop together. I told her how I'm afraid that people are going to like her more than me, and how I'd look like a fool and that I'm not as helpful to people as I think I am. I told her I might feel jealous. That I do feel jealous already. I told her all those things and she replied:

"Well, that's funny, because I've been so worried that people are going to like you more than me because I'm no 'Erica Jacobs'".

"Oh, so we're afraid of the same things?"

"Yep."

"Okay, cool. So, do you just wanna know that the workshop is better off being done together? Do you wanna just do the thing?"

"Yes."

"Great. Good game." *High Five*

If there's one thing I've learned from walking through such intense grief when my Dad passed away, and the process of healing from an eating disorder, it is the importance of being direct and telling people how I feel. The more vulnerable I've made myself, the stronger my relationships have become...if they're the right relationships for me to begin with. So while I am not someone who has always been direct and outspoken about what I feel (ESPECIALLY to the person I have feelings toward), I've seen the benefit and the rewards of being blunt and sincere in my adult life.

So, the bottom line is this: It's fine to have feelings. As long as we're human, equip with an ego, we're going to have feelings of entitlement and neediness from time to time. We've all experienced that "Special" Problem and it can be used to our advantage when we're willing to recognize it and be honest about it. Being able to say what we truly feel, preferably to the actual people we feel them with/from/because of, no matter how embarrassing, how selfish, how conceited...is what being "authentic" is all about. (We, in the Yoga world, are obsessed with "being authentic", so I had to throw that word in here.) And the truth is, while it is ideal for us to be able to fill our own Self-Worth Bucket, it's not "bad" if/when we need other people to fill us up. It's okay. It's normal.

So, speak up, my friends. Say the things. Stay humble. It's good for your friendships, it's good for your job and...it's the best for your soul.

Isn't that Special? ;-)

Wholeheartedly,

Erica






Friendship: Are You Mad at Me?

I guess it depends on your definition of friendship and the expectations you have for it, but I really can't think of a time in a human's life when friendship is easy. As an only child, and a product of divorce, I had a difficult time relating to my peers. In elementary school, I coped with this by simply NOT relating to them, but rather hanging out with teachers at recess, talking about life and the meaning of it. You know, simple kid stuff.

I've been blessed with incredibly special friends, particularly in my adult life. My relationships aren't perfect. They take work, because at any age, friendship is hard. I've always known this. We aren't tethered to our friends in the way we're tethered to a spouse, so on the surface, it may not seem like friends have the ability to jolt our emotional state, but they can. Friendship has the power to rock your world and rattle your nerves. Friendship can raise you up and it can take you down. Friendship has the power to test your boundaries and it can comfort your heart. Friendship can change you. Enrich you. Madden you. Bless you. And the thing about friendship is that when things go wrong, you either have to work it out, or go your separate ways, because unlike a romantic relationship, you can't have sex with your friend, in order to bridge the gap between angry and resolved. (Unless you do have sex with your friend, in which case, never mind.)

WHAT am I even talking about?!

Clearly, friendship has been on my mind lately, as Mercury has moved retrograde and it feels like my relationships are a sh*t show, in general. Honestly, in a lot of ways, my self-worth and self-esteem have always been so dependent upon how I feel about my friendships; am I being a "good" friend? Am I giving enough? Am I taking too much? Am I available? Is this friend available to me? Do people even want to be my friend? Sometimes I want to send a mass text to everyone in my phone each morning that says: "Hi! Are we okay? Are we still friends? Are you mad at me? No? Okay! LoveYouBye!" But that ain't cool. So instead, I always have open and honest dialogues with my friends each and every day, to make sure our souls are still aligned with one another's. Haha, just kidding. I stay quiet and on edge, and bite my nails and cry. Just kidding. I don't do that, either. Never mind.

I have a hard time when friendships change. I feel frustrated when friendships dwindle, lose their "spark". I feel sad when a friendship ends. I feel nervous when a friend seems to be "replacing" me with someone else, someone way cooler. I'm twenty-nine and I have all these feelings. It's okay. It's normal. And if there's one thing I learned from my Dad --who took friendship very seriously-- it is that there are different types of friendship and different levels of friendship:

Type of friendship pertains to the overall "style" and rhythm of the relationship. For example, the type of friendship you have with your friend "Mandy" could be one in which you need to hang out face-to-face in order to feel close to one another, while the type of friendship you have with your friend "Monroe" may be one in which you only text/email/Facebook message.

Level of friendship measures the degree of intimacy. *NOTE: The type of friendship doesn't always predict or represent the level of it. Like, just because you and your friend Mandy prefer to hang in person, doesn't necessarily mean you have deep, powerful, soul-defining conversation. Meanwhile, your text-only relationship with Monroe may boast a lot of intimacy and space for lots of emotional release and secret-keeping. And clearly, we can't expect all our friendships to be the same type or on the same level. Kapeesh?

I dunno, does this help? Is this new to you? Weird?  I guess what I want you to hear is: Friendship is a responsibility. It's tough. And it's tougher when we expect all out friendships to look and feel the same, socially, emotionally, etc. Be open to and aware of the different types and different levels of YOUR friendships. Try looking at them through this lens for a few days. Or not. I dunno. Take it from me. Take it from my Dad. Take it from Lifetime: Television for Women Who Literally Know Everything About Friendship...and How to Cry Over It.

Wholeheartedly,

Erica