Yesterday was beautiful. It was the first Valentine’s Day in ages that I didn’t wear my Bullet for My Valentine tee with the band’s name and a gun shooting a heart in metallic (yet fading) red across the chest, paired with my studded black collar as if in warning to everyone around in some dark humorous way poking fun at this “Hallmark holiday.” Yesterday was different and it was amazing.

After driving to school this morning at 6am, I returned home and sat on the porch as the sun rose, and the dogs and Astrid watched with me. The air was a cold, crisp 16° and it felt refreshing. I hadn’t made coffee yet, and yet didn’t feel cold, just grateful. As I took in the world around me, I felt something different. This year I didn’t wear my Bullet for My Valentine tee, or wish people a happy Bullet for My Valentine’s Day, poke jokes at the sappiness of the holiday or make fun of anyone giving anyone flowers or chocolate or showing other signs of affection scoffing as if affection and love made you weak. I also didn’t fly away somewhere this year – the past few I’ve been in Florida – and as I sat on my porch swing watching the sun paint the horizon in whitewashed colors of winter morning light as it lifted itself over the mountains, listening to the birds chirp at the day ahead, I realized that I felt something entirely different. I was exactly where I was meant to be. Right here, right now, on that porch swing, yesterday running errands, talking to colleagues and friends and family. I bought flowers and ice cream to make people I care about smile, knowing they would be coming home to something sweet after an emotional day. I wished strangers “Happy Share the Love Day”, and “Happy Galentine’s Day,” and said “thank you,” and “I love you,” and “I’m excited for you,” every single time that or any other thought came into my mind that I felt was worth sharing to help make the world a better place.

You see, I don’t believe we need to be headed towards another civil war, or world war, or mass destruction or self-destruction or anything else negative for that matter. But I do believe that in order to change that path, we all need to start by sharing the love more and so I celebrated yesterday, with plans to carry that message forward every day.

We need to share the love with ourselves more, allowing ourselves the grace and forgiveness to accept our pasts. We cannot change it, but we can learn from it and even the stuff we may regret right now we can learn to be grateful for when we realize that it was another step forward, a learning experience, and a valuable lesson that helped shape who we are today. There will be more. More experiences – good and bad, easy and hard, more challenges, more heartbreaks, more losses, but there will be more laughter too, and more love and more confidence and more reassurance, and more happiness if we start by forgiving ourselves, and looking up.

We all need a sense of self, and self confidence. We need friends and to find our tribe, too. A sense of belonging and connection to others is how, with love and vulnerability and expression, we can begin to change the world. One little act of kindness can start a ripple effect if you let it. Pay it forward (like the movie showed) can make truly profound changes across a neighborhood, a community, a region, and even the world. But it has to start somewhere. Why not with you?

I know why I am here and am confident of the path I am on even when I question details and things such as why didn’t this work out, or why did I push that person away, why am I afraid of relationships or change or whatever else it is that I am afraid of that I probably never had the courage to share with you before. I am learning how to recognize those fears and really feel them and sit with them and work to understand where they are originating from so that I can continue to rise above and move forward. Always one step closer to everything amazing that is yet to come.

My ability to share my emotions and share love and show people how to find all the magic and wonder in life is truly my greatest gift, and I am so grateful for it. I sat on the porch swing this morning and breathed in the crisp morning air and felt something different. Alive. Not just living, but filled with life and wonder and hope, and knowing there was so much joy to come from sharing all of these things with people around me. And I realized that we can make the world a better place by showing compassion and openness and even telling stories of our own pasts – even the parts we may be afraid of or ashamed of or that make us question if we’re even worth loving – with the people we care about and love. But I also realized that it’s even more important to share those things with the people we don’t love, for they are the ones that need it the most.

So please, do me a favor, if you have anything to share, please do. Practice random acts of kindness. Reach out to the person in town struggling with addiction or depression or both who’s losing everything around them and let them know they’re not alone. It doesn’t mean you have to be their friend or their support or their counselor or guardian angel. It just means you are letting them know they are not alone, and sharing a little piece of hope that they may not otherwise be able to see themselves. We live in a society where people are shunned for their pasts, where depression-turned-addiction is met with ridicule instead of compassion, and where everyone is measured by what they have rather than who they are. Why? Why do we keep accepting this? Why do YOU keep accepting this? What are you waiting for? A sign that it’s time to change? Well here it is. It’s now. Change. Be. Trust. Grow. Love.

Instead of holding on with anger towards the people who have wronged you, or questioning if you’re worthy of being loved, capable of being honest, willing to dig deep into the uncomfortable stuff for the chance to find something amazing, or wondering if you can hold yourself to the same standards you hope for your children and those around you, why not start with looking yourself in the mirror each day and saying out loud one thing you are afraid of. Start there. Let one fear out a day. Let it go – but don’t push it away or chase it. Just release it. Release the anger towards others and release them with the understanding that we can’t change everyone, but we can let those who have wronged us go with compassion and love even as we hold our own boundaries, and at times that means closing the door behind them.

Let go of one fear, one piece of anger, one negative emotion you feel towards yourself or your past or your life every day but say it out loud. To yourself at first. Find the power in that. The power that words have in releasing those emotions once they are spoken, and how it takes the power out of the fear and the regret and the shame. It’s not your fault. It never was. We are all doing the best we can with what  we have for where we are in life at the present time. That doesn’t mean we’re automatically excused from bad behavior. Who we are absolutely is our own responsibility. It means that the addict may have no one to turn to. The single parent may have put their entire life on hold trying to rebuild a broken family and find their own “missing piece” in a partner that they never found their own tribe or friends or someone to really connect with and open up to. The bitter jealous controlling person who name calls and argues over petty details perhaps is just someone afraid to see their own insecurities and so keeps looking for reassurance from others without realizing that they more they grasp, the more they lose. Perhaps their perspective would change if met with compassion and love instead of resentment and rejection. Perhaps they already feel really, really lonely and don’t see the value they hold within because they are too distracted by their own self-concerns, fear that they are unloveable, fear of being rejected over and over again, too. Men used to write love letters while at war. Today’s men are taught that sharing emotions and feelings equals weakness, but where was the weakness in the men at war that wrote those letters? Why are we so afraid to say how we feel, when we feel it, in that moment as if someone who does not view you with compassion or love should ever have the power to hurt you? How can someone be compassionate and loving and honest to you when they do not feel they deserve it themselves and as such continually push others away?

Who is the first person you want to talk to when you have exciting news to share? Something big to tell? Someone to lean on? An honest opinion needed or help requested?

I’ve dreamed so much of this lately. The nightmares stopped at the end of the year and have been replaced with dreams instead. Not all are good ones. Several have been warnings. Someone hiding a truth from me about something that I later confirmed to be true even though I knew it because I dreamed it the night before it happened. Again with something different, a friend upset by running over a small animal when driving that ended its life (fortunately quickly) that I also dreamed the night before it happened. And again even more recently, seeing through my own past and mirrors of my parents in people in my present, transitioning to present day (or presumably the day after the dream) where someone started to see the ugliness of a person on the inside and realize that no amount of back-and-forth words and mind-changing and moving targets and insecure boundaries could change someone who didn’t want to work on themselves. Recognizing with new eyes how internal ugliness transformed them on the outside, giving weight to the metaphorical saying that beauty comes from within. It does. Allowing others to figure out their own paths, while being willing to listen to their excitement, share in their joys, and be there for their fears and their pains, too is beautiful. No human is meant to go through this life alone.

Sometimes you have to let something go with all the love in your heart to find out where you are really meant to be.

I am meant to be right here, in every way. Sharing my story. My past. And even some of my fears. Learning that some of the horrible things I have done don’t make me a horrible person. Even looking back to who I was decades ago, I can see now that she was a terrified girl who thought she’d never be lovable and never deserving of a real relationship and she acted accordingly and received the same in return. It took a lot of time and work, and disarming fear bit by bit, year by year, to get that girl to see she’s me. And she has so much love to share with the world if she just let down her guard a little. One day at a time.

cjmillar82 life without a paddle share

Just be you. No makeup. No filters. Nothing hidden inside or out. Completely, authentically you. The world needs more of it, trust me. ❤️