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From Darkness to Community

This blog focuses on positivity, on bringing people up, on celebrating what's good and empowering and creative in the world. But it's not about sugarcoating the difficult aspects of life.

I often wonder about the duality of good and bad, light and darkness. Our world is full of both. These forces are so inherent in all of us; I don't believe a life can only have one or the other. Yet I question why the dark exists in a way I rarely do with the light. Does my experience with depression mean I'm doing something wrong or is this just the way life is?

So I actively seek out inspiring news, heartwarming stories, and uplifting podcasts. I practice writing my gratitudes. I maintain a regular yoga, meditation, and exercise practice and choose anti-inflammatory, happy foods. I remind myself that my brain has the power to literally create my reality. I try to master a high vibe in order to attract good energy. And I keep going one day after another.

It helps. It all helps. But some days I still feel like I'm swimming upstream.

This spring, I set ambitious financial goals for myself and I didn't meet them. After completing a 31-day writing challenge in August, I felt proud of my 10 minutes a day. Then I talked to a friend about how she churned out 10,000 words daily on her most productive days, so I thought, Hey, I'll give that a try. Long story short, I ended the day with a negative word count (due to some very valid revisions) and a sense of hopelessness.

I think about giving up on a regular basis. I frequently debate leaving the entrepreneurial world for a steady desk job with benefits. Then I feel tired at the thought of putting together a resume. I'm often confused about my dream of being a writer, and I wonder why it's so hard all the time.

Some close relationships have ended in my life over the past few years. On some days, this feels like a blessing where I've opened up to new possibilities and people. And on other days, it feels like life is full of isolation and making new friends as an adult is hard. And on some really bad days, I call an old friend and sob about how I don't see the point in any of it. It's just so much work to find the positive and I feel like I'm constantly slipping backward.

Sometimes the darkness calls to me and I'm drawn to it.

The tides threaten to pull me under. The thought is enticing, tempting. It's a force so powerful, so compelling, it feels useless to try to break free. It's like there's a magnet inside of me that is being drawn into the depths. Sometimes it's easier to feel the allure of the shadows than fight them, just let my head slip underwater . . . and let go, breathe . . .

deep blue waves at eye level with the words "sometimes the allure of darkness pulls me under"

Sometimes I wallow in this murky land for an eternity. But I never completely surrender. Even when most everything about my life feels absolutely pointless, I go to bed at night and wake up to another day. I wonder if this is how it feels for the rest of the world. Is everyone's life this much of a struggle or is it just me?

But I just keep swimming. My therapist once said that depression isn't my identity; it's simply a spell that's been cast over me. Sometimes that helps give me permission to look for a way out without feeling guilty like I'm abandoning myself.

So I keep my feet firmly embedded in the muck while also keeping an eye on the horizon. Sometimes I see something that pulls me back up quickly. Other times, I slog one foot in front of the other with no discernable change until one day I look around and find myself suddenly in a whole new landscape.

As I return to the land of the living, I know that connection buoys me. Deep, authentic, human touch. I can't create my art or my life without community. I need people who offer support and accountability along the way, as well as those who see me putting my soul out there and tell me, "Hey, I see you. Thanks for being you. Keep doing what you're doing."

Oh my goodness, that makes such a difference. To those of you who have seen me and shared in the joy of our human connection, thank you. It means the world to me.

And as I move from my victim to my hero mentality, I also choose to create that community for others. It's at the heart of what I do with the Tadpole Press 100-Word Writing Contest. It's why we offer a Celebration of Words and community write-in events. It's why I start each business day with a note of thanks to one person who's inspired me recently. And it's why I write. So I can share it with the world and maybe, hopefully touch someone's life for the better.

I'm sure I'll continue to cycle through these phases of good times and bad, but for now, please know that I'm so grateful you're with me. I see you. Thanks for being you. Keep doing what you're doing.

P.S. I created a playlist that reflects this energy and specifically the shift from darkness into community. Fun fact: Alvaro Soler's song "El Mismo Sol" is on here twice. JLo was at a dinner party with her friends when the original song came on and they all started dancing. She loved the song so much that she reached out to Alvaro and collaborated on a new version together. You can see them dancing together here. I love this vision of community so much!

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