Living Loud & Open

We are a culture fascinated with people expressing their feelings. The headlines imply shock as they caption images of the President with tears in his eyes. Reporters stand in front of frozen images of screaming mothers and crying children as they tell the tales of tragedy. This was so bad, people felt things. Our society seems to have an acceptable range of emotion before it becomes a spectacle. Maybe I have made myself a spectacle by feeling things here out in the open. Maybe that is bad, but I don’t even remember how to hold back anymore.

“Not everyone shares as much as you, Tori.”

Maybe I should share less, but I have never been good at holding back my feelings. There has always been a size and urgency to things when I feel them. Before social media, before livejournal, before the internet enabled me to express my words broadly, publicly, I drowned my closest friends in my tears, joy and pain. I even drove some away.

I cry a lot. I have always been a crier. My mom told me once that she thinks I feel so deeply because she cried so much when she was pregnant. My father died just 2 months before I was born. I was born into loss. My path has been challenging, but life is hard for most, and they don’t spend their days in so much sadness. My grandmother says I should be tougher, that I come from strong women. I am tough. Just because I feel things, just because I cry, it doesn’t mean I’m not strong. This life I have lived, it has given me no choice but to be strong. I have learned to be strong.

“I think that’s part of my mission here. To show people it’s okay to feel things.”

Empowered with a keyboard, I express more than my share – I live loudly. Both in my pain and celebration, I am loud. I know that not everyone shares as much as me. I figure people who don’t want to follow, will look away, will walk away. Or maybe like a car wreck, people just can’t help but look at someone feeling something. Even as they judge. Perhaps I am searching for validation, for inclusion, for cheerleaders, for love. Sometimes the fear and loneliness feel so big, it’s crippling. This imaginary connection to the world, this cyberspace that connects these words to your screens, makes me feel less alone.

There is no logical reason to feel lonely or unworthy. I have amazing people in my life. I have lots of people that say that I can call or text or reach out to them when I need, but I still struggle alone on a Saturday afternoon. My pain is small compared to the lives they are living. I don’t want to bother people. They should be laughing and reveling, not listening to my tears. I am working on why I feel so little in the world, why I feel unimportant. I want so much to matter. So I look to the internet to ask, beg, cry for reassurance that under this pain there is worth and value. Even though I can’t see it, I want to believe it’s there. Passive-aggressive displays of weakness begging for attention. I soak in your words like a sponge, trying to fill my heart, and then feel dirty and weak for it. Why can’t you just suffer in silence? Why can’t you just shut up?

Maybe because I have a hard time with being social. Maybe because I am more introverted that I show. Maybe because I feel like I can only handle people in small doses. Maybe because of all of this, I have come to believe that people feel the same about me. Even the people who I believe like me, I believe like me in moments. There is only so much of this that people can take. The bigness that is my feelings, that is the way I express myself in the world, is too much responsibility. When I receive validation, I reject it, certain that they just haven’t seen enough to realize the truth. So before they push me away, I run. Maybe I am afraid that they will get to know me, the real me, and not just the first impression of me. That once people actually see who I am, they will go away too. I cannot handle more loss, more rejection. I am doing the best I can. Tell me how to be better. I will be whatever you want. I am too much, or not enough. So I feel things loudly. I am upfront, all cards on the table from the start. This is who I am. Leave now while you can get out safe.

I have always assumed people don’t like me. I remember being a camp counselor for rich, smart kids for two summers. The second as a supervisor, I spent the majority of the summer certain that the pretty, popular counselors disliked me. I felt like an outsider. They were never mean, they just never expressed their approval otherwise. I remember the last night of camp, as we tossed back shots, and I shared with them my assumption. They laughed, because I was completely wrong. How did I get so off base?

I have never forgotten that moment. I have tried to use it, almost a decade later, to have confidence in my worth and value in people’s lives. People like me. I’m not that bad. Why wouldn’t people want to spend time with me? I’m awesome. But then all the doubt comes back and I start to think that I should be smaller, quieter, that I should somehow not be me and it would be better. But I just don’t know how to hold back. I can’t be anything but me. This is my truth. So rather than intrude on people’s space, invade their lives, I let them choose. I live loud and let those who choose to listen do so.

I had no idea so many people were listening.

My heart has been breaking for over a month. I have not hid that fact from the world. I am angry, and sad, and disappointed. I feel like everything about me has been rejected. My best wasn’t good enough. There is nothing wrong with me, but it still wasn’t enough. I make assumptions that I am the one feeling this loss, while he has ridden off into the sunset, happy we are now strangers, relieved of the burden of me. I have been struggling more than average with the idea that I need to find a way to be smaller, to feel less, to make less of an impact on this world and those around me.

But, then, you were loud too.

Thank you for your notes. Thank you for your words. Thank you for the validation. You have answered my selfish calls with powerful voices. Words of love and encouragement have reigned down and I have tried to sit with them instead of push them away. It is so hard for me to believe you, but I need to. I needed your words and approval and encouragement. I needed you to hold me up. I am sorry I am so needy. I don’t want to be this way. I am not as strong as I pretend. It is an act. So many people I thought ignored me, I had no idea you were watching. It is hard to believe, but somehow, being loud and open, it was okay. You see something I can’t right now. You witnessed strength when I didn’t see it. So thank you. In very big ways. Thank you. I wish the emptiness in me wasn’t so big, I wish I didn’t need you. But I do. Thank you for everything you’ve given me this month. I will never forget the kindness I have experienced in the last month of my life. If all the pain was to have that in my life, it is worth it. You opened my eyes. You made me believe in myself again. You made me see what you see. It has been a true kind of magic. The love has been bigger than anything I’ve ever known. Through the anger and sadness, it has been hard to feel anything bigger than the gratitude. A billion times, thank you.

I am okay. I am not too much. I am lovable. I am worthy.

I’m going to keep living loud. You can cover your ears if you don’t want to hear. Someone out there does. They told me so.

12 Books I Finished in 2012

I could lose a whole day here!

I started and stopped a dozen more books, but these are the 12 books I actually finished in 2012 (and date finished.) Maybe my goal after I finish the really long (and unexpectedly vampire populated) book I’m reading now, (The Passage by Justin Cronin), I’ll try and knock out the 10+ non-fiction books started on my nightstand that are in various states of completion. (Cleopatra, Liars and Outliers, Compass of Pleasure, The Billionaire’s Vinegar, Start Where You Are, etc.) I haven’t been in the mood for thinking much during my reading time the last many months. 2012 was the year of brain candy – but hey, I was reading!

Dark Places
Flynn, Gillian
Dec 26, 2012

Before I Go To Sleep
Watson, S.J.
Dec 09, 2012

1st to Die (Women’s Murder Club, #1)
Patterson, James
Nov 26, 2012

Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
Nov 26, 2012

Gone Girl
Flynn, Gillian
Nov 23, 2012

The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway #2)
Griffiths, Elly
Oct 07, 2012

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
Larson, Erik
Sep 30, 2012

The Red Garden
Hoffman, Alice
Jul 29, 2012

The Dovekeepers
Hoffman, Alice
Jul 25, 2012

Defending Jacob
Landay, William
Apr 25, 2012

The Sherlockian
Moore, Graham
Apr 12, 2012

The Tiger’s Wife
Obreht, Téa
Mar 24, 2012

What have you been reading? Have any recommendations? Leave them in the comments below, or find me on Goodreads.com!

Update: Yay! I just counted and realized that I’m on a steady increase year over year. I finished 8 books in 2011, 7 books in 2010, and 6 books in 2009. (2008 was a big giant win of a string of amazing books and authors that I’ve been lusting for but not been able to recapture.)

Advice from a Volcano

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Earlier this year I had the great blessing to get to spend some time on the Big Island of Hawaii. While I was there, I was able to visit Volcanoes National Park. Even though the lava wasn’t flowing, and I only saw the reddish glow in a pouring rain storm at night…it was a magical experience. I picked up a shirt with the above graphic while I was at the gift shop that morning. It’s a good set of reminders right now, while I’m going through a difficult time. I’m wearing it today and focusing on the good of the moments I’ve had.  Going to try and go with the flow…

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Santas Lap at the NASSCO Boat Yard.

I love traditions. When I was little, Christmas Eve meant exchanging a single present with my brother before my Mom sat us down to read Clement Clarke Moore’s classic. The past few years, it’s meant being inside a Christmas card, full of love and family warmth. This year there is no fireplace or endless trays of desserts, but there is still love and warmth. I am so grateful to be with my friend today, to know how loved I am. It is a season of transition this year, a season of evolving my traditions. I can create whatever I want from this holiday. What will happen next?

Dear Tori…

Dear Tori,

I know you are hurting right now. I know that you are feeling loss. I want to wrap my arms around you little girl. I want to whisper to you. It will be okay. I will take care of you.

I know that you are struggling. I watch you searching for validation and acknowledgement. You are taking words into your heart like a sponge to drown the sadness, but I know it’s not enough. You are not going to be satisfied. You still feel the loss in the chorus of voices. I want you to try and listen to me though. Please, hear me. You matter. Take these words now and simply carry them in your pocket until you can pick them up. You are enough.

I know your heart is tender. I know you are questioning. I want you to stop searching. You don’t need the answers. You don’t have to ask. You do not need permission to own your truth. Your story is yours to tell. Your intentions made it real. Your path built the you of today. Your history makes you who you are. You are allowed to find happiness in your memories. No one can deny you the change and growth brought by your past. You are never a fool for loving. You should never regret the pureness of that motivation in living. Be proud that you gave so much. Celebrate that you held nothing back. You could not have been more. You do not need to be more.

You are wonderful. I know you cannot see all that you are right now. I hear you trying to define yourself by your shortcomings. There is no fault with you to fix. You do not deserve less love because you are human. You are not experiencing loss because you’re broken. You did not cause this because you are lacking. You are capable of being loved. You are more than the challenges in your life. You have had trauma in your life, and you grew. You have not shriveled, you have grown. You offer more than you cost. You are not a burden. You are allowed to be imperfect. You are doing your work. You live and love with everything in you. Do not find shame in that. Do not shelter your heart. Do not stop giving the world all of you. You give so much of you. Don’t change that. You have a rich life to share with the world. I will help you see that again. I will keep saying these things to you until you can hear me.

Be kind to yourself. Keep asking for help. It will get better. Someone will hold your hand again. You will not walk this path alone.

You are a beautiful soul sweet, little girl. You have had so much hurt. You have had a challenging road to get to where you are. Today that place feels heavy and dark, but the clouds will clear and you will see. The sky will open and you will see the world that you have built for yourself. It is truly amazing what you have created. You will open your eyes and see yourself again. You will see why we all love you so much. I know this is hard. I am so proud of you. We will get through this. We will do amazing things.

Live loud. Life is long.

Capable.

You are an amazing person - Seen in Austin

It’s been a challenging time lately. Professionally and privately, I’m being challenged with some pretty weighty personal growth opportunities. There has been a lot of self-examination and doubt. Do I really have what it takes to be successful in my desired path? What if my best isn’t enough? It’s a heavy burden of thought to carry recently. But, sometime in the grey and rain of yesterday, I remembered something. I remembered I’m capable.

ca·pa·ble  /ˈkāpəbəl/
Able to achieve efficiently whatever one has to do; competent.

Striding on the elliptical machine at the gym, staring out the window through the rain to a point on a building in the distance, I remembered. Somewhere between ‘The Cave’ and ‘Castles in the Sand’ while I was wiping away sweat, somewhere around mile 2, I remembered that I always do what I have to do. I make things happen. I do things. I’m capable of things. I’m capable of many things.

I am a girl that’s capable of making her body go 13.1 miles in less than 3 hours, multiple times within the same year:
Running Running Running
I am the girl that’s capable of taking a kick ass self portrait in a dust storm at Burning Man:
Dust Storm Diva!  Burning Man 2007
I’m actually extra capable at the self portrait thing. This may have taken 100 shots on the self timer while I was traveling alone in Puerto Vallarta, but this single shot is fantastic:
Puerto Vallerta
I’m capable of venturing out of the resort and ziplining on a solo vacation to Mexico:
Los Veranos Canopy Tour
I’m capable of riding a Mechanical Bull in San Antonio on Valentine’s Day with the girls:
Sexy Lady a ridin'!
I’m also capable of participating in large flash mob pillow fights on Valentine’s Day with the girls:
San Francisco Valentines Day Pillow Fight 2009
I’m capable of surviving New York City alone. I went there alone as a 30th birthday present to myself, as part of my Project 30 celebration and it was one of the best decisions ever:
Me & the Statue of Liberty
I’m capable of roadtripping by myself:
Road Tripper!
In fact, I sing in the car and I’m not shy about how absolutely capable of that I am:
52 Weeks: Week 28: My Biggest Joy - Singing in the Car
I’m even capable of camping by myself (and can start my own fires):
Grover Hot Springs State Park
I am capable of traveling internationally and navigating foreign cities by myself. A guy came and asked me if I wanted his help taking this, because I was standing there struggling to line it up right with my timer by myself. I had just spent the entire day walking all over the city by myself until I had so many blisters I couldn’t take another step. This day was so special:
Me in Paris!
I’m even capable of dining alone in international places. Having a moment alone with this tomato soup in Amsterdam is one of my most favorite life moments:
Amsterdam
I am capable of growing things. It may be extra challenging at times, but I have maintained a really awesome garden for 3 years:
Garden 2011
I want to keep remembering. No matter how many things there are lately that make me question myself, I want to remember that I am capable of many, many things.

Things I Love…This Picture.

I keep a running set of the “Most Interesting” public pictures in my Flickr account, and many of them have very sentimental moments attached to them for me. I think about some of them frequently, have others printed around my house. I want to tell their stories here. Here’s one of them…

The Most Beautiful Note in the Rain

A few years ago, I was walking in the rain down a corridor between the parking garage and a building here in Santa Cruz, when I found this note and took a picture. Almost an intrusion into a private moment between two people to not only read but document, it’s become something I have always been so very grateful to have experienced.  It has inspired me to know that type and intensity of love for a partnership and parenthood exists in this world. Thank you Za and David, where ever you are, for unintentionally helping me believe in love…and I hope that your love and family has continued to thrive.  I only hope to find something even remotely as beautiful for my future.

Four Favorite Katt Williams Comedy Clips

I seriously cannot wait to go see Katt Williams on Friday. It’s going to be awesome. I think he’s brilliant. Katt Williams: The Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1 has always been one of my most favorite comedy specials of all time. He’s not just funny, he’s a motivational speaker. I’ve even written about his awesomeness before. I’ve been watching a ton of clips lately counting down to the show. Here’s a few of my favorites to get your Monday started on a funny note.

Every Day I’m Hustlin’

Killed by a Tiger

Stretch Marks

Haters

This Week on the Internet

These vegetable animals are adorable! How clever!

Here’s 25 Shocking Before and After Photos of the Hurricane Sandy Destruction. Whoa.

Sociological Images is one of my favorite blogs. Sexy Halloween costumes are one of my favorite things to mock. The two combine for their ANNUAL HALLOWEEN “SEXY WHAT!?” POST. Sexy Tootsie Roll?!

Kindergarten Ninja Deserves A+ on This Homework Assignment – BRILLIANT!

Potential Employer Critiques Applicant’s Cover Letter – Not sure how I feel about this, but definitely mental notes made.

This is an Egyptian Print Ad from RadioShack for buying pepper spray. It’s disturbing to me.

Why casual sexism in science matters – GREAT write-up.

Miniature wearable Bluetooth camcorder – Anyone else get creeped out by this?

Edge Walk Over 1,000 Feet Up For The Thrill Seeker – NOT on my bucket list. Insanity!

Publicly Drunk Pregnant Woman Gives Birth At Santa Cruz Jail – Oh Santa Cruz.

The Power of Quiet, RSA Animation on the Power of Introverts. Love this.

These are gorgeous: Fantastical Photographs from ‘Wonderland’

Candles That Smell Like Jolly Rancher Candy – Interesting.

TRIPPY: Assemblages made from toys

I’ve never knew that much about Ouija boards! Now I do!

Happy Halloween folks. Stay safe out there!