Grasping for Hope

By- Traci Taylor
November 2015

Vulnerability is standing on the edge of hope,
eyes shut and knowing failure is an option.

Courage is built from mistakes in the past,
that have wounded the heart with a shard of glass.

For the people that continue to live through each day,
regardless of the darkness it may be filled with.

Secretly longing for light to shine through,
unknowing when or if that time will come.

Being open to possibility feels unsafe,
but the rainbow never appears until after the rainfall.

Holding on in the storm and seeking out tomorrow,
is grasping onto hope at the most vital of times.

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Live, Thrive, & Be Vulnerable: Self-Love

**Note from the author: This is the end of a series I never thought I would be able to conclude properly. When I first began writing LTBV I was at an extremely low and vulnerable part of my life (that was almost a year ago to date). I re-wrote this particular last piece over and over and over again for the past couple of months. I just wasn’t in love with the words enough to post them, and considering this topic it didn’t seem right to publish something I couldn’t stand behind. Never have I felt more exposed with my writing, and never have I have been in love with something I have written more than each topic in this series. Here’s to the readers out there I hope you now feel like you have a shoulder to lean on with the words I have written.

By Traci Taylor
September 2015
Live, Thrive, & Be Vulnerable series

As summer winds down and my favorite season of the year approaches the feeling of fear overwhelms me instead of the usual joy of anticipation for autumn. This time last year I was in deep with depression, nearing the end of a relationship with a person that was my absolute best friend, and in turn fighting a losing battle with alcohol abuse. It was as if my world was crumbling around me without any real exit strategy for survival. I had hit a rock bottom that I seemingly couldn’t get out of without just throwing in the towel. After my relationship officially ended that second week in October I lost myself in helplessness and made an end all choice that I am grateful now I failed at attempting.

I approached the next day thankful to still be alive and decided it was time to start loving myself instead of loathing myself. Somewhere in that almost tragic wakeup call I became aware that drinking needed to come to a halt and I needed to begin living a healthier, happier lifestyle. I started a new job (left the one that was adding to my misery), got sober from alcohol for 8 months, and began writing this series (Live, Thrive, & Be Vulnerable) that is finally coming to a conclusion with the topic of “Self-Love”.

Sobriety was far from the easiest thing I have done in my quarter century existence on this planet, but in the same thought one of the most self-rewarding accomplishments. Through abstaining from alcohol I learned the importance of self-love and relearned what genuine happiness feels like. I know I have come a long way over the past year, but the hardest part of it all is being aware that this time of year will stick with me for my lifespan- it just depends on how I choose to fight through it. Everything does happen for a reason, and I believe my existence is proof of that.

Making sure self-love was a part of my everyday routine first started with self-care which meant beginning therapy. The best part of being able to talk to an educated individual who has no prior knowledge of your struggle is how rewarding it feels after the hour is up. I recall a day after one of my sessions where I was walking home and looked up to this gorgeous bundle of trees with leaves of golden browns, yellows, and reds. A sudden smile spread over my face with gratitude that ensured me I still have a long journey ahead of me. It was then that I felt an abundance of love for myself and for all of the life experiences I had yet to accomplish.

When winter started creeping around the corner, life got a tad bumpy again. The new restaurant I had been working at was reaching point of closing and I was weeks away from being unemployed. Needless to say I was beginning to feel that sense of helplessness again. Just when I was as stressed out about life falling apart at the seams, I got luckier than I ever fathomed was possible. Part of me still believes what happened next was one of the reasons I survived that day last October. For every day I chose to not give up on myself, I was about to experience the answer as to why.

As a kid it is hard to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that every difficult task life throws your way is for a better purpose. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones that had a childhood painted with a white picket fence of a happy family or a yellow brick road to success. Like the majority of peers in my generation I got by with finding the strength within myself despite surrounding circumstances. It is simple to ponder the thoughts of the “grass is greener on the other side” but what is more self-satisfying (in my opinion) is being at the top of the hill after the climb when you thought you would never make it from the start. Self-love is about knowing I can get to the top as long as I choose to trust that I am able to. If I have gained one thing thus far in life, it is that reassurance. If I didn’t have that last winter, I wouldn’t have the opportunity that was about to come my way or what I like to refer to as my “top of the hill”.

I had been unemployed (restaurant industry isn’t known for its job security) for over a month and a half after the restaurant I work at closed New Year’s Eve. Constantly applying to jobs, getting interviews, but no real luck until I got the phone call I never thought would come. During my numerous amounts of job applications I decided to randomly apply to a job as a lacrosse goalie coach at a well-known private school in Philadelphia (a sport I once adored and missed dearly). To my surprise I got a call back weeks later, interviewed, and was eventually hired. Transitioning from athlete to coach was quite the obstacle at first, but it is one that I quickly learned to fall in love with. It was the change of perspective on life that I needed, and I believe the opportunity came into my life at that time for a distinct reason. Similar to the reward I get from writing (sharing my voice in hopes of helping others), coaching does that much more by mentoring future leaders through a mutual appreciation for a beloved sport. Being on the other side of the sideline unravels the big picture that the learning process never stops, not even if you are the coach (or teacher).

Each morning I wake up I no longer crave the sunset, but am now appreciative of the pale blues and fiery pinks of the sunrise. I am aware that not every day will be without a struggle, but with every day there is a lesson to learn. The greatest lesson over this past year has been accepting that I am only human, and I am allowed to have faults as long as I remember to love myself regardless. It’s hard to feel a nagging grey cloud of depression surrounding you and still try to believe that you deserve unconditional love. Sometimes, in those moments, your greatest accomplishment may be getting through the day (I’ve been there- it is valid). Just remember it may not get better tomorrow, but it will (I promise) get better at some point. When that day comes you will be so thankful you made it this far. Not a day goes by that I don’t ponder what life would be like had I not made it past that second week in October last year. Everything that I have become so grateful for over these 12 months would not exist. I used to think being a hopeless romantic was believing in finding the end all love, but really the greatest love of all is self-love. Once you have that, everything else will fall into place.

Walking Behind

By- Traci Taylor
July 2015

Time has remained still,
only the sky has changed color.

The mood of my mind
has been stuck in the hole in my chest.

Gravity has sunk the stars,
and darkness overtakes the city.

Too long have I waited
for a sign that was shattered from the start.

My eyes remain forward,
but I still continue walking behind.

The Tide

By- Traci Taylor
June 2015

Within focus, my grasp loosened
I lost the control within the tide
Swiftly the waves pulled me under.

Instinct is what kept me thriving
digging for the fight to continue on.
Promising myself to never live beneath the sea

Pressures of the ocean can be dangerous
Deceived within its beauty I let go
Finding my footing I rose above sea level-
learning to always look ahead, never behind.

To Overcome

By- Traci Taylor
June 2015

The sense of relief that was felt,
No longer weighted down by an enemy.
To be free is to be sanguine.

This path was narrow and unclear,
somehow the reigns transformed from paper to steel.
To overcome the fear has me feeling whole.

The guiding light began to dim out,
it was the twist of fate that brightened the bulb.
To again recognize the lost sparkle in my renewed reflection

The journey is winding yet freshly paved
finally refusing to surrender to existence
To realize struggling to prevail is worth the fight.

Morning Dew

By- Traci Taylor
May 2015

Gratitude comes from within the sunrise,
not the sunset.
The dew of morning lingers momentarily,
time is never endless.

Moments take years to appreciate,
it’s never what is expected.
Hope is what remains for the innocent,
the cynics surrender early.

When the sky is like an oil painting,
the dreamers rejoice.
Vulnerability is rewarding,
but only appreciated when the sun disappears into the ocean.

Vulnerable Heart

By- Traci Taylor
April 2015

I loved in the lights of a city
When those lights dimmed,
I discovered darkness.

Hopeless and without love,
a demise to my open heart.
Seeking answers with only crickets of a reply.

It was the sound of the ocean waves
that brought me back to myself
My will power to still believe in endless love.

Finding the light within myself
was the answer of hope I was searching for.
No longer was the fear in control.