Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

Monthly Archives: June 2018

Rebirthday

Six years ago today, a road sign changed my life.

I’d been struggling with a short story, and taken off for a long drive in order to sort my head out. Driving along the highway to the lake, I’d seen the sign for Texas 66. Which kicked off ideas in my mind of driving Route 66, a life long dream.

But of course, me being the me I was at the time, I told myself why I couldn’t take the trip. Family that needed me, not enough money, the length of time it would take me to drive the iconic highway. I had so many reasons why I couldn’t do it.

They were all excuses rooted in fear.

And then I realized that all the reasons I told myself I couldn’t go, they were bullshit. They had some merit: I did have three kids and a sick father, and money was tight. But there wasn’t enough weight behind them, and I looked at everything that was stopping me and realized that wasn’t why. I was why. And I was terrified to step outside of my comfort zone.

I woke up the morning after, with a very clear head, and a new drive to truly begin living, to step out of what I knew to be comfortable, to actually experience my life.

I drove Route 66 almost four years later, flying into Chicago the day before the Cubs home opener game, finally seeing Wrigley Field, another bucket list item I had long dreamed of completing. For the next sixteen days I drove the historic route and saw all the incredible landmarks.

But I digress.

June 29, 2012 was a day in which I finally realized that no matter what the goal is, the only thing stopping us is ourselves. The person I was when I woke up that morning is so far removed from who I am now, that it’s like looking at two different people.

In January 2013, coming up on my birthday, I had groaned to a friend that while I didn’t mind getting older, the lead up to my birthday always held bad news and bad memories. (I’d give you guys this list of birthday drama I’ve experienced, but you guys have better things to do, like maybe buying a certain multi colored haired author’s seventeenth poetry collection and reading it). My friend’s suggestion was to pick a new day, and celebrate that, calling it my rebirthday.

So, I took his advice, and the date I chose? June 29. Because in a very real way, that day was a new start for me.

A funny thing happened once I started celebrating June 29th as my rebirthday: my actual birthday stopped being so traumatic. The year I turned thirty-nine, nothing happened, with exception to me waiting for the other shoe to drop. When I woke up the morning after and realized I had finally had a birthday with no drama, no bad news, no heartache, I arched an eyebrow and wondered if it was done.

My fortieth birthday was amazing, and my birthday this last January was everything I could have wanted.

The thing is though, June 29th still deserves recognition, even if it’s just me saying “yay!!!!” and bouncing around. And whereas some people might not get it, or might think it’s stupid, I don’t care, because this is for me. This date means something to me, because I finally began to move forward with life, healing old hurts, finding forgiveness, and letting go of things that were hurting me.

Last year, I celebrated by publishing my twenty-fifth book, and having dinner with friends at one of my favorite local restaurants with my favorite bartender on staff. It was quiet and lovely, and just what I wanted.

This year? I’ve released my seventeenth poetry collection, and will be celebrating quietly, but with a great deal of joy. Because on that night six years ago, I finally let go of fear of stepping outside of my comfort zone. The experiences I have had over the last six years have been incredible, and in the past six years, I’ve lived life more than I had in the thirty-five years before it. Where I am now is nowhere near where I thought I would be when I envisioned life at forty-one. And I have no idea where I’ll be in five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now. I’m not focused on those future destinations, just focused on the journey to them, and living each moment fully present with joy and love.

It’s an amazing, beautiful life that I’ve made for myself.

Much love,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

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The Return, Part 3

Hello, Dear Reader, and thank you for returning for Part 3. It’s good to have you here again, and I promise this is the final part. There’s no “to be continued” at the end of this, instead there’s a quiet wrap up of my recent adventure to New Mexico and Colorado. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. Settle back, settle in, and I hope you enjoy the conclusion.

Part 3.

I woke up around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning when I rolled over and the movement set off pain in my right knee, the result of a baseball injury in my early twenties being irritated by the fourteen mile hike the day before. I carefully got up, took a few ibuprofen, drank some water, then laid back down on my bed to gently stretch and flex my knee. Lying there, my knee throbbing, I thought to myself that the first chance I was able to the next day, I’d buy a compression sleeve for my knee.

A year ago, I’d of been angry at the walk, because of course, the walk had caused that old injury, that old hurt, to come to the surface. That morning, laying on my bed, smelling the sweet air that was coming through the open window in our hotel room, I realized I didn’t care my knee was hurting. Sure, it wasn’t my idea of fun. But I had no regrets regarding doing the hike the day before, despite the pain I was in.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? Our lives are a balance: there’s good, there’s bad; there’s light, there’s dark. The pure, natural beauty that surrounded me on the trail up to Lost Lake was well worth the pain of my knee. The loss of people in our lives, whether through death or the end of a relationship, that type of hurt is very much worth it to experience the joy of having shared a time with people, for having had the honor of loving them and them loving us.

It wasn’t Red River that was the eye opener for me on that weekend away. It was everything surrounding it: the stress in the week before, the knee jerk reaction of panic when I realized I didn’t have cell service, how often perfect strangers said “Good morning” and “Good afternoon” on the streets, how we’d talk with other groups on the trail, and parting, someone would call out, “Have a wonderful time and be careful.” It was the almost continuous (yes, even I shut up occasionally) conversation between my friend and I throughout the weekend since we had so much time together in their car. It was the woman next to me at the sinks in the bathroom at Coors Field who rushed to get me a bag of ice when the high elevation in Denver caused a nose bleed, and stayed with me until the bleeding stopped. It was conversing with perfect strangers in the restaurants at Denver’s airport while I was waiting on my flight. It was the man sitting next to me on the plane who offered me his hand in kindness when I said I was terrified of flying (“I’ll just leave this here,” he’d said, placing his hand palm up on the arm rest. “If you need it, feel free to take it.” I took his hand and said thank you).

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m holding onto values that are obsolete. But what I want are real connections. Real conversations that (when possible) are done face to face and in person. I want to hear and see my friends’ reactions when I tell them about experiences in my life, whether those experiences are from trips or just moments when something simple and beautiful happens. I want to reach my hand out in comfort to those who need it. I want more comments, and to give more comments, than simple clicks of a “like” or “love” button.

I look back over the losses of loved ones, and it hurts. Marcus’s final weekend alive was spent celebrating his life with a living funeral. Some people flew in from all over the country, and in two different cases, from other countries, in order to say good-bye and celebrate the life of a man who meant so much to so many people. There were no social media posts about it, because that would have been disrespectful to a man who lived in the moment and fully present with those he was around. When he died, I and two other of his dearest friends were holding his hands.

I used to spend all my experiences snapping photos and then posting it out on social media. I still snap those photos, yet, some of the most important and poignant moments of my life in this last year of change, they’ve never made it to the public’s eye. If you’ve read me for a time (or if this is your first time reading me), you’ll notice that there are times where I don’t even refer to the person I’m talking about by anything other than “they/them”; because I have learned to guard certain parts of my life, and want to afford that respect to those in my life if they don’t live as public of a life as I sometimes do. There have been experiences I have shared with people that never made it onto my Instagram or Facebook pages, because they were private, either between me and another person, or something I wanted just for me. Because they were too important, too meaningful, too special, and moments I’m going to remember when my final breath takes place.

Around my fortieth birthday, I was contacted through my website by the sister of a former friend. Years before I had broken ties with her, due to continuous fighting and her focus on the negative. The sister told me that she had died the week before. My first thought was not, “Oh, I regret…”. Instead, I felt badly for her daughter, her sister, her parents, those people in her life who loved her. My memories of her were negative, and worse, sad.

But it kicked off a question in my mind: if I died, right in that moment, how would I be remembered? Would I be remembered for the trips I took, the brightly colored hair, my tattoos, the things that don’t really matter? Or would I be remembered as being kind, thoughtful, considerate?

The expression “Don’t go to bed angry” is one that’s applicable. If we were to die, or someone we love dies, what would our last words be to them? Were they kind? Compassionate? Filled with love? Or were we angry, hateful, lacking compassion? How often have we lost the chance to say what is written in our hearts towards others in our lives?

So my focus shifted, and still, today, it’s shifting. Red River was just the pivot on which I fully shifted over into acceptance of what I truly want in life.

On the first day of the road trip, my friend asked me if I thought people were born good or evil. It’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation, and it certainly won’t be the last. I believe that we all have equal parts good and bad within ourselves; the important thing is our choices. Do we chose to make the right decision? Do we chose to act with kindness, compassion, and love?

“What do you want for yourself?” That was the question that gave me pause, the question that has lingered in the back of my mind daily since that pivotal meeting in August 2016. “What do you want for yourself?” The question I’ve been asked more times in my forties than in any other part of my life.

I have lived so much of my life in fear: fear of hurt, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of physical pain. Last October, during a twisting workshop, the owner of Gaia Flow Yoga shook up my life by a simple statement. Attempting to assist me deeper into a twist, she had taken my arm in her hand and pulled. I pulled back. Smiling at me, she tried again, and again, I pulled back. After the third time, Chrystal let go, placed her hand on my arm, and looking me in my eyes said the words that would shove me directly onto the path I am now on: “Amber, stop resisting. I love you. I am not going to hurt you.”

Twelve words is all it took to break me open again. Twelve words, said with love, said with compassion, said with understanding. Six months later, walking up that narrow mountain trail, I initially resisted my muscles aching, trying to keep up with my friend. Then I stopped, and kept to my honest pace, the pace my body could handle.

“What do you want for yourself?” I couldn’t answer in 2016. Fear of facing what I wanted deep down, fear of hurt, fear of repeating past mistakes, it kept me from answering the question. Yet a year and a half after being asked that question, and six months after being told to stop resisting, I found my answer on a mountain path, in a town I fell in love with at the young age of seventeen.

As our lives change, as we gain new experiences, as we meet new people, we’re changed. I fully believe each person who comes into our life, whether for years or just moments, come into our lives with the purpose of teaching us something. We might recognize the lesson in the moment it happens, or maybe we don’t recognize it until years later. So what we want, what we think we want, what we need, and what we think we need, all of those things can change, and it can change drastically.

Walking down that trail, keeping my eyes on the path in front of me to watch for rocks (I stumbled a lot that day), I thought over that question. Aside from the obvious answer of a shower, a cup of coffee and a big dinner, what I wanted was more basic than any other time I had attempted to answer that question in my life. I wanted peace. I wanted more quiet. More time with those I love. I wanted more time to continue my yogic journey, more opportunities to teach. I wanted to do more for others. See my children happy and healthy. I wanted to love and to be loved, not in a swept off my feet kind of way, but in the way where you love with your whole heart, no reservations, no fear of future hurt and disappointment. I want to be remembered, not for how I looked, not for what I did as a career, not for those things which I survived, but for how I treated people, whether they are in my life for five minutes, five weeks, five months, five years, fifty years.

I thought of how many times I had blocked out people and experiences, simply out of fear of hurt. Simply out of fear of risking myself or my emotions. I thought again of Marcus, one of the most significant people in my life. He was in my life, as a dear friend, for twenty years. Looking back over the years we spent together as friends, the experiences, all of it was worth it. If I could go back to my twenty-one year old self and say, “Amber, Marcus will die in twenty years, and it is going to devastate you. If you don’t form this friendship, you’re going to avoid one of the biggest heartbreaks of your life,” I would not. I would not trade the twenty years of laughter and memories to avoid the pain of losing my dearest friend.

And maybe, just maybe, had I lived my life with that mindset, I would be a much different person today.

But that’s the thing: who I am now? I fought hard to become her. Every single moment of my life, every single experience, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, short, long, joyous, painful, all of them led to here. It led to a woman who laughs hard and loud, who loves deeply and loyally, who is blessed in having friends in her life that are family. It was worth the pain of the thorns to experience the beauty of the roses.

“What do you want for yourself?” To live a life filled with joy, with love, with adventure, with compassion, and lacking in fear. To have more moments filled with laughter, that don’t make it onto social media. To truly connect with others, to be more fully present with them. To continue to inhale and exhale, and move forward with my life.

My name is Amber Jerome~Norrgard. I am forty-one years old. I have survived an abusive adoptive mother, and an abusive first marriage. I am an adoptee, and I found my biological mother when I was twenty-four. I beat infertility three times, and lost my ability to have any more children to endometriosis and cervical cancer. I have survived severe, suicidal depression. My oldest child is a transgender male who has more courage than anyone else I’ve ever met in my life. Over six years, I lost over 100 pounds. I am an author, a publisher, a college professor, and a yoga instructor. I am terrified of heights and flying. I love hard, and I love deep. I snort when I laugh, and if I’m not drinking vodka, I’m a fan of wine. I love baseball, and have recently discovered the joy of hockey.

And I believe all things happen for a reason. And that reason? Love.

Love yourselves, and love one another with compassion.

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

 

 

 

#notepadpoetry

I can already hear my editor grinding his teeth at the title of this blog post.

Sorry, Dear Editor. I know this goes against everything you know about proper writing. But seriously, the title is hashtagged. And “#notepad #poetry” just doesn’t look as good as a title.

It’s been an amazing six-and-a-half years since I hit publish on The Color of Dawn back in January 2012. Had someone sat me down and told me where my life would go and what I’d experience over the last several years, I’d of laughed and called them a liar, because no way would I have believed this is where I’d be.

So much has changed since then. The first year of my life as an author involved way too much self-doubt and fear. I’d sit with my hand hovering over the mouse, terrified of clicking on the publish icon, certain no one would like my work. Then I’d spend hours hitting refresh on the product page on Amazon to watch my sales and see where I was ranking.

But things change. Newbie writers turn into seasoned writers as they release more work and gain more confidence when their readers review their work.

Life as an author has at times felt surreal. I’ll go to Amazon, search my name, and then be surprised that so many titles come up. I’ll be making the rounds of pre-event interviews and media pushes before IndieVengeance Day, and someone will call or email me to say they saw my picture on the front page of the local paper and read the article. Or I’ll be giving a workshop or at a speaking engagement, and the person introducing me reads my bio and I’m sitting there going, “Damn, I actually did all that!”

It might be the fact that my life generally revolves around yelling at my kids to put their laundry in the hamper, or household cleaning (kids are incredibly  messy in the bathroom), or endless baskets of laundry. Or I’m walking and trip over my own two feet, or more hilariously, go to take Crow posture in yoga, and finally get it for two seconds before the sweat on my arms causes me to slip and face plant hard in the middle of yoga.

On paper, I come across as put together, intelligent, accomplished, and well spoken. In reality though, well, if you’ve actually met me, you’re aware I’m accident prone, I’m damn good at getting my tongue tangled up, and unless there’s an act of God and Congress simultaneously, or at least my hair dresser Sarah’s hand in it, my hair has a mind of it’s own.

Yet somehow, I managed to pull off putting together my twenty-sixth book (and my 1000px Notepad Poetry Ebook Cover 6x9seventeenth poetry collection), set to release this Friday, June 29. #notepadpoetry came about when last summer, I was without pen or paper, and with nothing to write on (or with), I used the notepad function on my phone, intending to write it out later on. Which never happened, probably because there was more laundry to do. A few weeks after, inspiration struck again, and again, I opened up the notepad function in my phone. Eventually, I had enough poems to put together in a collection, and the name was a no-brainer.

But this book is different from any other poetry collection I’ve written and published. Before, my work was inspired more often than not by things I was struggling with, by the painful parts of life. As my life has changed over the last six years, so has my writing. To be completely honest, I began wondering a year ago if I had any more poetry left in me: Life had been (and continues to remain ) happy and I had been content for quite some time.

Writers often talk about how they use their experiences in their work. Certainly, my poetry has been influenced and inspired by what I’ve been dealing with, and is definitely a form of therapy for me. But I wondered if being happy, if being content, if finally being at peace with myself would cause the inspiration or ability to dry up.

Really, there’s only one way to find out and test the theory: hit publish. So I set #notepadpoetry as a pre-order on Amazon, and it’s now available. True to form, I’m keeping my e-book pricing at $1.99 for the book, and the price won’t go up.

If you’d like to snag a copy, you can do so here. And that’s all the sales I’m going to throw at you, Dear Reader, because if you’ve been reading me for a time, you know I loathe promoting my own work.

If you do happen to read it, I hope you enjoy it. I hope it speaks to you, and brings something to your life.

Much love and huggles, Dear Reader. Thank you for being a part of my life as an author.

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

The Return, Part 2

Welcome back, Dear Reader. I’m happy to see you’ve forgiven me for my “to be continued” at the end of Part 1 of this three-part blog series. If you’d like to catch up, you can find The Return, Part 1, right here.

We good? You caught up? Same rules apply as with the first part of this post: grab your favorite beverage, maybe a snack, and make a pit stop in your bathroom. Settle in, relax, and I hope you enjoy this…

Part 2

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“Why hello, delicious birthday cake!”

 

I couldn’t sleep the night before, partly due to the immense amount of my youngest sons’ birthday cake I had ingested, but partly due to the fact I was returning to New Mexico, the only state who’s symbol I have tattooed on my body. I was returning to New Mexico, and I was going to stay in Red River, a town that had gotten a hold of my heart twenty-four years before.

I managed about two hours of sleep before calling the attempt to get a full night’s rest a failure at 3:30 a.m. I got up, got my coffee going, did some last minute work. At 6:30 that morning, we were on the road. By 1:00 pm, we were at the Cadillac Ranch, enjoying some legally sanctioned graffiti. By 1:45, we were eating a late lunch at the MidPoint Cafe, one of my favorite restaurants on the planet.

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Yoga at the Cadillac Ranch, after a little bit of legally approved graffiti….

Not long after, we crossed into New Mexico, and like every other time I’ve crossed the state line, I felt peace. More than that, I felt giddy joy.

It took another four hours to hit Red River, owing to wild fires, and a nine mile section of our route being unpaved. But that unpaved section of road was beautiful and the temperature was low enough to roll down the windows and let the air mess up my hair.

Arriving, I was once again taken by how amazing the town was. After checking in at the hotel and getting situated for the weekend, we took a walk down the main drag. What amazed me was how quiet it was. Bar patios were filled with people, yet their voices were quiet to my ears, as were the sounds of cars driving by on Highway 38, which serves as the main street to the small town. Compared to Dallas, and the constant noise, it was a balm to my soul to be in such quiet. Add in that my cell phone service only worked in certain areas of the town, and I was unplugged, away from the stress of day-to-day life.

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Handstands in the Sangre de Cristos Mountains

The next morning, we had breakfast, then set off for the day. Initially, we had planned on hiking only until lunchtime; but coming up on a mile marker that gave the option for a shorter hike one mile away or a longer hike four miles away, we debated which to do. My friend pointed out they’d attempted the longer hike up to Lost Lake several times, and had never been able to complete it.

“Flip a coin,” I suggested. The truth is, I didn’t want to say yes or no to either. I figured if the universe had made it possible for me to be on that trailhead, the universe would know which was the better path. We’d chosen Lost Lake as heads, and when that’s how the coin landed, we began hiking up.

And up.

And up.

When four miles was marked off on my FitBit from the trailhead, and Lost Lake was no where in sight, I realized it had been correctly named. My legs were aching, my hamstrings in particular yelling at me that I was going to be feeling it the next day. But every time I paused for breath, and to rest my legs, I lost the breath I was gathering in the sheer beauty of the place. I took photos on my phone, but they in no way encompass the magnitude of how incredible the place was.

At places on the trail, there was barely enough space for one person to walk, let alone

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Lost Lake.  Bucket List item for my friend, worth the seven miles up, the achy muscles, and the chance to breathe and just be still.

two, with the mountain sheering off down below. I kept my eyes towards my right foot as I was walking; my phobia of heights was coming up, and I essentially had a “come to Jesus” talk with my anxiety: “You’re in a place you’ve never been before. You’re standing smack dab in the middle of a mountain, on top of a damn mountain, in a town you’ve dreamt of staying in for over twenty years. Cut the shit, take a deep breath, and keep going.” Still, having to hug the the incline next to me when someone would walk or bike by (as a mom, I was terrified watching people cycle by on the narrow path, but kept watching, to make sure they made it safely) would cause my fear of heights to kick off again.

My anxiety elected to shut the fuck up.

One mile past the four the trialhead sign claimed was the length of the upward journey, we came to the lake. I sat on a rock, and just looked out over the water, tears in my eyes. I thought of how at my age, my father had already had one of his hips replaced, how he already had to walk with a cane. I thought of a dear friend with a heart condition who never could have made that hike (my heart rate was hitting 140 bpm at several points). I thought of my oldest and dearest friend, Marcus, who had lost his battle to prostate cancer the week before my forty-first birthday this year, who would never see that view. In my early twenties, we had taken a spur-of-the-moment road trip to New Mexico, and he had been just as taken with Red River as I was.

I thought of how three years before, my doctors had told me my fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis were progressing enough that I had three years before daily pain management would be a necessity. I thought of how when I was fourteen, I could hardly walk due to Grave’s Disease causing my feet to swell up so large that they would crack open and bleed. I thought of surviving endometriosis only to gain one hundred pounds due to my metabolism dropping to nothing and the medications the doctors put me on. I thought of how six years before, a half a mile walk would have been too much for me. I cried for the teenager I had been who was not allowed to take physical education due to the heart complications related to Grave’s Disease, and I cried for the woman I had been been unable to move due to extreme pain from endometriosis. Maybe I had started the hike for myself, the Amber I was in that moment, and for my friend who I was traveling with, but I kept going when it hurt, when I was tired, when the fear of heights made me dizzy, and I kept going for my dad, for my friend with the heart condition, for my friend who had died, for anyone I know who has physical limitations, and most especially for those younger versions of myself who couldn’t have taken the hike. Because the me at age forty-one could. Because finally, for the first time in my life, at age forty-one, my body has healed and has become stronger, and because I am finally healthy.

It took four hours to make it to the top of that mountain to view that beautiful lake. It took about half that heading down since we were on a decline. Due to the fact my friend has at least a foot of height on me (and probably double the leg length), the journey down the trail was primarily done alone. Occasionally, they’d pause, look back and check to make sure I was still on the trail, and not, you know, crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the mountain.

Most of the hike down was spent in quiet reflection. I thought over my life this past year. I thought of the people who were no longer a part of it, and those who had come into it. I thought of where I had been, and where I wanted to go. And my mind kept returning to a conversation I had with a stranger I had met in a bar in August of 2016 when he asked me what I wanted. When I told him “For my children to be healthy and happy,” he looked me right in my eyes and said, “That’s a bullshit answer, Amber. Everyone wants that. What do you want for you?” Back then I thought I’d had an answer to that question, but in reflection, I didn’t have an honest answer. Because I was terrified to admit to my thirty-nine year old self what I wanted.

Walking down that mountain trail that day, it occurred to me that something has been leaving me unsettled for quite some time. Maybe it’s how so rarely do you see people focused on one another at dinner; their eyes locked on their cell phone screens. Maybe it’s how communication with others is rarely more than a text message

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“Colorful”, my kind of place.

or a private message on various social media sites. There’s a lack of communication, a break down in sharing that is lending to a feeling of sadness and loss in my life. Sure, we all like one another’s photos on Facebook and Instagram, but how often do we weigh in with a comment that’s not an acronym? How often do we really sit down, and invest a couple of hours in talking with those we love in person? How often do we meet for dinner, shut our cell phones off, and go without checking in to wherever we are, taking photos of the places we’re visiting and the food we’re eating? How often do we neglect to take half a second to hit “o” before “k” when we respond to text messages? I’m no better than anyone else; it’s become a knee jerk reaction to open up Facebook and Instagram on my phone to record what I’m doing, who I’m doing it with, and where we’re at.

Seventy-five percent of my trip to New Mexico and Colorado left me without cell phone service.

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Another ballpark visited, and quality time spent with one of the great loves of my life.

 

There was the understandable eyebrow raising thought that what if something happened to my kids, or what if when I was hiking I did fall (or my friend) and was unable to call for emergency help? But aside from that, being without service for most of the long weekend was refreshing. On Saturday night, while watching a baseball game on the television, I saw something that reminded me of a dear friend. I unlocked my phone to text her, then called her instead to share that I had thought of her, and we both laughed over the shared inside joke from a baseball game we were at together last summer. When we ended the call, she said it was wonderful to have heard my voice, and I echoed the sentiment. Because it was.

The drive from Dallas to Red River was around thirteen hours. In which my friend and I talked about anything and everything and nothing in particular. The conversation flowed easily, and what we actually discussed wasn’t the important thing: the important thing, the healing thing, the thing I had been needing in my life without knowing I needed it was a real conversation. No real interruptions of focusing on our phones, no long length time spent on social media. Just two people, being honest, being real, and actually being fully present in the time we were together.

I had a longer wait at the airport (my friend had offered to hang out in Denver with me before my flight, but I told them to go ahead on with their road trip, that I’d be fine.), and parking my rear end aspect on a bar stool to do some work, I’d converse with strangers

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Amazing artwork at the Denver Airport

who were also waiting, either for their flights or their loved ones. I made three new friends that day, and again, our conversations were real. The only times our phones got attention was when we friended one another on Facebook.

Technology is wonderful. The way we’re able to be in touch with, get to know, connect with people in far flung parts of our world is nothing short of miraculous. But it’s a double edged sword. There’s a decline in face to face time, there’s a decline in actually being fully present with others.

About six months after my father passed away, the nail salon I frequent offered me a free trial of eyelash extensions. I figured why not? If I hated them, I could remove them and never do them again. And it wasn’t that I really enjoyed them; I was rather indifferent to having them on, and could achieve the same look with false eyelashes in three minutes at home. I kept having them done because for one hour every two weeks, I was forced to keep my eyes closed. I was forced to unplug, forced to put my damn phone down, forced to actually be alone in my thoughts, rather than locked in on some social media site or app on my phone. Eventually I stopped having the eyelash extensions done, and revisited meditation. Not long after I entered instructor certification, the studio I was taking my certification course from began a weekly sound bath meditation. On weeks where my mind won’t slow down, shut down, when my heart is heavy, and my shoulders are bowing under the weight of life, it’s been a blessing.

For so long in my life, I shut down and shut out people out of fear. Back then, I thought I was being brave and strong by putting up walls. Wasn’t I just so amazing and independent, alone in my tower, surveying those who were dumb enough to let people in? I thought that if I kept my emotions in check, if I didn’t let people see me, see my flaws, my hurt, my scars, I was saving myself from hurt and loneliness. I was risking nothing, so I wasn’t going to hurt. If I kept up a shield of keeping people at a distance, if my only interactions were superficial, if I kept my conversations less than real, if I didn’t allow people close enough to touch me, I would be okay. I’d be without pain, without hurt.

….To be continued….

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah…. you want to know the rest of the story…. I promise, it’s worth the wait.

 

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Ahimsa

Last night, out with my nearest and dearest, I got in a conversation with a gentleman on the next bar stool over. As with most first-time conversations, after we got through the parts about our ages and how many kids we have, he asked me what I did for a living.

“You’ve got about three-quarters of a beer left, that should be enough time,” I said, and launched into the longgggggggg list of things I do to make ends meet. When I got to “yoga instructor”, he responded in the way most people do.

“I’ve never done yoga; I’m really not that flexible.”

Ah yes, I’ve heard that before. I’ve said that before. And I’ve said it recently, but ended that statement with the word “today”. I totally get it. You see all these photos and videos on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, Flexi-Lexis all twisted up into pretzels and launching their legs up into handstands with ease. Guess what? Those postures took some time to get. A few days ago, I posted a video of myself taking a supported headstand (salamba sirsasana), a posture I take before any practice because of how it realigns my spine and resets my mind. I’ve often been asked by other members of my studio how I’m able to take it so flawlessly without falling over, and without using the wall or an instructor for assistance. The answer is simple: I took the posture daily, for several months, against a wall, or with the assistance of a friend. Once I was able to come up without touching the wall, or being kept in balance by a friend (having developed muscle memory for the posture), I moved away from the wall. What that video doesn’t show is all the times my feet landed against the wall before I straightened up my legs, it doesn’t show all the times I fell out of the posture, and it doesn’t show all the times a friend or an instructor was there keeping me from falling over. Whereas there are postures that come natural to each person practicing yoga, they’re all different, and different factors lead to what our strengths are. A yogi who can take full Lotus might not be able to get their handstand, and vice versa. Postures that were easy to come by on one day, might not come so easy the next day, or the next week.

Here’s a brief overview of what yoga really is: yoga is a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual practice that dates back at least 5,000 years. Pantanjali, the father of yoga and author of the Yoga Sutras, divided the practice of yoga into eight limbs, postures being the third limb.

That means that when you’re talking about being flexible, or not, as my friend last night described himself, you’re just dealing with one part of the larger picture. Let’s break this down in a way that’s relatable to most of us: Say you have a pie. The pie is cut into eight slices. If you eat one, that one slice you just enjoyed covers the physical aspect of yoga, the asanas.

And if you’re like me, that one slice is just not enough. I want the whole damn thing. Give me more pie, or in this case, yoga please. I’ll take the whole shebang.

Remember those limbs I was talking about? Well, I’m going to start telling you about them. But let’s start at the first and go from there, shall we?

The first limb of yoga are the Yamas. Yamas are simply things we abstain from,The Yamas guidelines in living a kinder, more mindful, more compassionate and loving life, not just towards our fellow man, but towards ourselves as well.

The first of the Yamas is Ahimsa. Ahimsa translates to “non-violence”. There’s the obvious no-brainer that you don’t hit people. But taking a bit further, practicing Ahimsa omeans we live without harm in word, thought and action. Not just to other people, but to ourselves. We approach all situations with compassion and understanding. How often are we driving in traffic, and someone cuts us off, and our reaction is to give them a single finger salute, or curse loudly? What if we took just a moment and considered that maybe, that person was rushing to the hospital because a person they loved was hurt? Maybe they were rushing to get home to their child. Or maybe they just weren’t thinking. Just because someone behaves in a negative manner, we don’t need to respond in the same way. We are not responsible for other people’s actions, but we are very responsible for our own reactions.

How often are we in a situation where we beat ourselves up over an error in judgement? We tend to be our own worst enemies, when we should be our own best friends. We should handle ourselves with love, first and foremost, and remember that past mistakes aren’t what matters. What matters is what we do moving forward in our lives.

On our mats, how often do we come to our practice with unrealistic expectations? How often are we angry when postures aren’t coming to us as easily as they have in prior practices, or when our neighbor on the mat can take the full expression when we’re barely able to take the posture?

Last December, I became determined to get my handstand. I signed up for a private lesson with Becca at my studio. For an hour, we worked on different techniques, Becca very patiently guiding me through possible ways to get my handstand. At the end of the hour, I got…… Nope. Didn’t get it. Because my focus was on the destination, not the journey itself. The more I tried, the more frustrated I became, the farther I was from my goal of getting my toes up in the air with my shoulders over my wrists.

I worked on my handstand practice before class for the next few weeks. Rolling into the New Year, I finally decided to just let go and stop putting pressure on myself. On a Friday afternoon, after an intense HIIT weight session, I had gone to the studio after, due to the gentle and detox classes being beneficial in eliminating most, if not all, of my muscular pain the day after weight training.

Unrolling my mat, I debated: did I work on my handstand? I was tired, my body was aching, and what I wanted was to sprawl out on my mat in the ten minutes we had before practice began. I finally decided to give it five handstand attempts. If I didn’t make it, I didn’t make it, but at least I would know that I had tried.

By the fourth handstand, my calves and hamstrings were signaling me it was about time to consider stopping. “Just one more, then rest,” I said to myself. I planted my hands, inhaled and exhaled while lifting my right leg higher with each inhale. On the third inhale, I lifted off, both legs coming up, my feet landing on the mirror behind me. “Oh my Lord,” I’d said, as the yogis in the room applauded. I held the handstand for about twenty seconds before laughing my way out of it in joy.

I had come into my practice that day with no expectations, no goal in mind, other than to be in the moment, and accept what was presented to me. I had put no pressure on myself, experiencing no anger when I didn’t make my handstand. I simply allowed what was meant to be, to be.

Be kind to others and yourself, no matter the situation. Approach all things with love, with kindness, with gratitude, with compassion.

Much love,

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

The Return, Part 1

Sit back, Dear Reader. This is going to be a long read. Suggestions of your favorite beverage, snack, and a pit stop in the facilities are in order. I’d apologize, but I’m actually not sorry. Sometimes in our lives, we experience something, and 500 words aren’t going to cover it.

I’m fairly open about certain parts of my life here. I’ve written about post-partum depression and anxiety, facing cancer, losing my father, social anxiety, road trips, stress as a parent, my oldest child coming out as a transgender male, the writing process, losing my uterus at age thirty-three, and other mundane details of my life. There are things that I am not open about, primarily because they don’t always just involve me, or maybe they are things that are just for me.

In 2014, my father died. Two years after, I was struggling still, dealing with something painful, that out of respect for other people involved, I still won’t talk about openly (you guys got my hysterectomy story, you’re not getting this one). In June 2012, I published a blog post entitled “I am Free” which was basically a summary of a road sign causing me to pull my head out of my ass and stop letting fear rule my life. In early August 2016, I published a blog entitled “Awakening”, a blog covering a wake up call I received after a conversation with a total stranger that lasted well into the early hours of the next morning.

Since that experience in August 2016 (again, thank you to that angel who came into my life with a message I needed to receive, I hope you’re well my lovely friend!), I’ve been unsettled. Don’t get me wrong, the shift I began making has definitely been taking place ever since, and I hit my goal of being different by the time I turned forty. I have no regrets, and in these last two years, I’ve experienced a joy in my life that I never thought was possible.

I want you to take a quick second, or maybe a few minutes, and contemplate this idea: what if for most of your life, you were sad and hurting most of the time, with happiness being a rarity, rather than the other way around? That was me. The concept of happiness was foreign to me. I recently told someone that if they met me two years ago, or even a year ago, they wouldn’t recognize me. I used to constantly wonder what I was lacking, what was so wrong with me. Then, after that conversation in August 2016, I looked at the people in my life and realized that ninety-five percent of them were toxic. And I placed my value, my self-worth in the hands of people who were toxic, cruel, unkind, and unfeeling.

See, I had to rewire my brain. I had to take a big ass sledge hammer to a distorted mirror I was viewing myself through. I had to tell that Asshole Inner Voice to “Shut the FUCK up!”. Case in point: In December, I was fortunate enough to interview the staff at Utopia Foods and Fitness in Dallas, one of my yoga instructor certification classmates being the manager at a location near our studio. Going in that day, I had thought I was just going to ask about a half-hour’s worth of questions. Instead, they put me through the first day of the program, complete with measuring tape and calipers. When Stephanie plugged my measurements into the computer, I received a shocking result: I came in at 17.6% body fat, in athletes range.

Here’s the thing: I was aware my clothing fit looser, so much so I had to buy smaller sized yoga pants. I had been hearing compliments on how I looked for a couple of months. My mind, my stubborn, hurt filled, mind hadn’t caught up to what was really going on.

Wake up call.

But this isn’t about that. And it’s not about how ten weeks in an intensive yoga instructor certification course showed me that in order to be better, in order to heal, I needed to keep people in my life who would build me up, not tear me down. How in order to heal, I needed to reopen my heart, and stop hiding from feelings, stop fighting love. I needed to open myself up, let people see me as I truly am, and let go of those who can’t accept it or handle it.

My name is Amber Jerome~Norrgard. I am forty-one years old. I have survived an abusive adoptive mother, and abusive first marriage. I am an adoptee, and I found my biological mother when I was twenty-four. I beat infertility three times, and lost my ability to have any more children to endometriosis and cervical cancer. I have survived severe, suicidal depression. My oldest child is a transgender male who has more courage than anyone else I’ve ever seen. Over six years, I lost over 100 pounds. I am an author, a publisher, a college professor, and a yoga instructor. I am terrified of heights and flying. I love hard, and I love deep. I snort when I laugh, and if I’m not drinking vodka, I’m a fan of wine. I love baseball, and have recently discovered the joy of hockey.

And I believe all things happen for a reason.

Staying in Red River became a bucket list item for me around the time I was thirty-seven years. Because up until that point, I only had the good fortune of stopping in the small New Mexico town for about half an hour. The first time, I was seventeen, driving the Enchanted Circle with my father and younger brother. The next five times I took the scenic route were with various friends when in my early twenties, with no kiddos to be concerned with, we’d take off for Albuquerque or Santa Fe to soak up the art, culture, phenomenal food and wine. At age thirty-seven, just two months after my father’s death, I was headed to Phoenix to officiate the wedding of two friends. The Enchanted Circle was definitely on my list of places to go: it had been twenty years since I had first experienced New Mexico, and to return to that amazing day trip was necessary. Stopping in Red River to stretch our legs, we walked up and down the main drag, and upon returning to the car, I looked around one last time, at the mountains, and said to my friend, “I’m coming back one day, and I’m staying for a few days.”

It took almost four years.

In May 2017, I returned to New Mexico, but despite my wanting it badly, the Enchanted Circle Drive didn’t happen. I was disappointed, but kept it in check; I was still in New Mexico, still in my happy, healing place, and still with a dear friend. My trip last year is one I’ll never forget, from the art work I purchased, the tattoo I got on my right hand and wrist, and the experiences I shared with a special friend.

But shortly before that trip, I began looking over my life more closely. I had success in business, a lot of incredible experiences, amazing friends, three amazing children, and was happy, for the most part. But something was missing. I’d spent a great deal of time after my father’s death having experiences that were mainly filler to avoid facing the heartache over his death. Despite the steps forward I had made in healing, in experiencing life more fully, I felt empty. I loved my children, I loved my friends. I liked writing, and I liked teaching my students at the college, and for the most part, publishing was still enjoyable for me.

“For the most part.” That should have been an indicator of where I was really at emotionally. I decided to see my therapist. I won’t bore you with the details of my session, but the summary was this: I wasn’t fully happy in my work. Parts I was thrilled, especially when I was helping a new writer get their first book launched. But in order to keep up with the costs of spa treatments, hair extensions, getting my nails done, hitting expensive restaurants with friends, and weekend trips to places like Las Vegas and New Orleans for no other reason than to just go, I’d been taking on event planning and large ghost writing jobs. Where as those jobs can be very rewarding, I’d dealt with several clients that were hateful and entitled, and the weight of it was growing. In mid March of 2017, a client shoved a plate of food across the table at a tasting, and stormed out, pausing just long enough to spin around, and point at me and shout, “You are so fucking fired you stupid bitch!” after I had showed her the receipt that clearly showed what she had ordered. “But they should have known that’s not what I really wanted!” she’d shouted and then shoved the plate.

The caterers had assured me that there were no hard feelings between us, but getting in my car, I had sat down, reached for the ignition switch, then let my hand drop, and cried for half an hour before pulling myself together.

That was sadly not the only example of that type of behavior in my work, just the one that stood out the most.

In mid June of 2016, a friend came into town for a week to visit and attend an author book launch with me. We hit a Mets/Rangers game his first night in town, and walking back to his hotel that night, we started talking. I’d mentioned to him before that I wasn’t that happy in my work. Sitting down for a drink at the hotel bar, he said, “Don’t think about your response, just answer the first thing that comes to your mind: When were you last really, really happy?”

“Sunrise Yoga on the beach in Santa Monica.” My answer surprised me.

“That’s what you need to do then.”

In all honesty, I had thought about being a yoga instructor before. But my work and life schedule was in conflict with the programs I’d looked into. I said as much to my friend.

“So what? You’re not going to do something that could make you happier? You, the woman who beat infertility three times? I call bullshit. If you wanted it, if you truly wanted to be happy, you’d find a way.”

Long story short? I found a way. I spent the next three months busting my ass to save up money to cover my monthly expenses, I stopped having my hair done professionally once a month, I cut down on nail salon trips, and I stopped frequenting expensive restaurants. Then I took a step back from publishing.

I entered Gaia Flow Yoga’s 200 hour yoga instructor certification with one goal in mind: to find more meaningful work. I also entered it with a closed heart, still clinging to my ideals about being a rock, an island and not letting people too close.

I stepped out twenty pounds lighter, with an open heart and open mind, dubbed the chick who would cry at the drop of a hat by her classmates. And I didn’t care. I didn’t care that Christine in class knew twenty seconds before I did that I was going to start crying. I didn’t care that every day I was on my mat, during closing Savasana, tears would leak out of my eyes into my ears. Because I hadn’t cried in public since my father had died over three years before. I hadn’t truly opened myself up to new people in years, yet, once the program was over, I felt like I had a whole new family, that I had truly found home.

Which is how in early May of this year, I found myself out to dinner with another studio member, discussing wanting to get away. “Been a year since I went anywhere,” I had told him.

“So put it out to the universe,” he’d said.

“What, just say ‘Hey Universe? Got a vacay up there for me somewhere? Cause I’d love one!'” I’d said, and my friend and I laughed.

Three days later, the Universe answered in the form of a text message.

A friend of mine was planning a five-week long road trip, starting one week after school let out (they’re an 8th grade English teacher), hitting New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, then onto the West Coast.. Talking with them about the trip, I mentioned they’d inspired me to bust my ass in order to at least get a weekend away in New Mexico later on this summer.

“Why don’t you come with me? Leave on June 8th, you’ll fly back on June 11th, then you can see the Rockies game with me.”

“There’s an idea. Let me think on it,” was my response.

You’d think I’d be jumping at the chance. Because the first two nights would be spent in Red River, New Mexico.

But I hesitated, because work had been slow. Because I wasn’t sure if I could afford the airfare. Because I was transitioning from full time publishing to part time and into the physical fitness industry. Because I’m a mom, and I didn’t know if I could take four days from my kiddos.

Then I decided to take the weight off my shoulders. The next morning, I turned it over to the universe, and if everything was to work out, if it wasn’t a problem for me to leave the kids with their father, if I could find a flight I could afford, if work wasn’t going to be an issue, if I would get in a bit more writing work to pay for my share of food, gas, and my part of the hotel stays, I’d go.

Within half an hour of putting it out there, I heard back from the kids’ father, from the employeers I needed to check in with, from a new writing client. Within one hour of asking the Universe to handle it for me, I recieved a phone call, asking if I would be interested in becoming a yoga instructor at a local gym.

Jaw hitting the ground, I couldn’t believe my luck. Everything had lined up. Still nervous about money, I decided to give it another day.

The next day, a website rewrite job came in. Raising an eyebrow, I checked flight prices.

Affordable. A slight stretch, and I’d have to fly out at 9 p.m., meaning I’d spend most of that day in the airport. But I could do it.

I was going.

….To be continued…..

 

 

Yeah, go ahead and hate me for that…. I still love you, Dear Reader!

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

 

Strengthen You

I had planned (and have been working on) a longgggggg blog post about my recent trip to New Mexico and Colorado, and what I learned on the four plus mile hike back down the trail my friend and I had taken up to Lost Lake. And this wasn’t one of those blog posts where I bang the bad boy out, view it, and then hit publish, all in under an hour. This bad boy is one I’ve been working on for a week now, complete with having one of my lovely editors weighing in on. It means that much to me.

In truth, I had planned on finishing it today, and having it go live tomorrow morning sometime. But you know what they say about plans, right?

This morning, while waiting on my coffee to brew, I was reviewing my “On this Day” app on Facebook. Scrolling through what I’ve posted over the years has become a daily pleasure for me– not even a guilty pleasure, because I enjoy the hell out of it, and I’m not one to apologize for things I enjoy, whether it’s the books I read, the food I eat, how I spend my free time, the music I listen to, the people I share time and energy with.

Scrolling through this morning, I came across a meme I’d shared back in June 2012, and facebook_1529329324705again last year. Seeing the meme, my mind flashed back to what I was dealing with in 2012 and again in 2017 that made it so relateable to myself that I chose to share it. “When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.”

Feel free to roll your eyes at what I’m about to say. Or stop reading. Or call me a tree-hugging hippie. Or, continue reading. The choice is yours, and I won’t be offended whatever you do next.

A year ago, I released “Practical Life Advice… or some $#!+ like that”, a collection of musings that came from blog posts I’d make on or around my birthday each year. The blog posts were entitled “X Things I’ve Learned in X Amount of Years of Living”, the X being the birthday I was celebrating each year. Taking each list for the ten years I wrote it, I carefully went through and combined those musings that were similar.

The musing that got the greatest response, both on my website and within the book was this: “You are not responsible for other people’s actions; you are, however, very responsible for your own reactions.”

To put it in layman’s terms? If you punch me in the face, I have a choice: to punch you back, or to walk away. At around age thirty-five, I stopped punching back, and walked away. I had found that while it felt great momentarily to punch back, to pay back, it felt better and the healing was more complete if I simply just forgave and walked away.

But it needs to be said: Forgiveness does not equate with forgetting. Recently, I had to end a friendship after several months of fighting and anger between myself and a long time friend. Repeatedly, they’d do something that was both painful and minimizing, and after asking them to please be more kind, more compassionate, please think before they spoke in anger, saying things that were harmful and knee-jerk. Sitting down with them in person, I did the adult thing and was upfront: After months of asking them to treat me with respect and kindness, and after months of them falling back into borderline abusive patterns towards me, I was ending the friendship. “But you said you had forgiven me!” was their response.

If every time you wore a pair of shoes, you tripped and fell, scraping up your hands and knees, you’d stop wearing the shoes. You’d still love the shoes, you’d not want the shoes to be in pain or sad, and you’d hope they’d be a better match for another set of feet, but you’d let the shoes go. And you’d remember, if ever the opportunity to wear those shoes again came up that they’re not a good fit for you, resulting in pain.

But I’m not just talking about the end of relationships (whether platonic, romantic, or familial). I am talking about life in general. Let’s face it: life is tough. It’s hard. It’s not fair. You can be dealing with a shit heap of negative experiences piling up all at once: a sick friend or family member, employment issues, someone you were really into ending things with you. It happens. And feeling angry, hurt, sad, whatever you feel, that’s natural. You should be upset. You should hurt. You should be sad. If it hurts, that’s  how you know it meant something to you.

But past a certain point? By not letting go, by holding on, by continuing to feed those negative emotions, we’re simply just causing our pain to continue on. By holding onto hurt, seeking to inflict hurt upon those who have hurt us via revenge (in any form), by holding onto our anger and not letting go, we’re not achieving anything except giving power to those people and those experiences that have hurt us. Those experiences and those people who were unkind, lacking compassion, painful, hurtful, they’ve already taken enough from us. They’ve already taken our time, our energy, our emotions. Why give them any more when they weren’t able to give us the respect of kindness and love in the first place?

And do not get me wrong, when those hurts come up in my life, when my heart is hurting, when I’ve cried, when I’ve wondered why something turned out the way it did, when I wonder why someone left, I’m angry. I’m spewing out creative cursing in such a way I’d shock the most prolific of cursers (“are you fucking kidding me?” is one of my favorites). But then I pause. And then I cry, I talk to trusted friends. I let it hurt, I let it bleed, I let it heal, and then I let it go.

I wasted so many years of my life, wrapping myself in the blanket of past heartbreaks, using that as a reason to keep up walls and not let people in my heart. Did I prevent future heartbreaks? Yes, and no. I kept individuals from hurting me, but at the end of the day, my attempt at avoiding being alone and lonely failed incredibly: I had kept the hurt out, only to allow a different type of hurt in, that of isolation and missed experiences.

When we are faced with loss, with failure, with the ending of relationships, with death of loved ones, of health issues, of job loss, of not securing a job we really want, we have a choice: let it stay with us and let ourselves be defined by those loses and hurts, or we can choose to move forward, taking what lessons we’re being given by each experience.

While that essay about my recent trip is still on my metaphorical desk, waiting to be finished, I’ll tell you this much about it: I hiked fourteen miles one day on the trip. The day after, my right knee was throbbing, and I had to stop and purchase a compression sleeve, stretch repeatedly and take several doses of ibuprofen to get through the day. Despite that pain, despite the after effect of the seven miles to the top of a mountain to view an incredible site, hidden away in nature, it was worth it. Every time I stumbled over rocks on the path, every time my fear of heights kicked in, every time the muscles in my legs were crying out for me to just stop and go back to the trailhead, it was worth it for those moments, sitting on a rock by the water’s edge, watching the water lap gently against the rocks surrounding the lake.

My life hasn’t been easy, and it’s fair to state I’ve survived more than most people could face. But I’ve survived those hurts, those heartaches, those losses, by not allowing the people and experinces that caused those pains to rule my life. I don’t define myself by my abusive adoptive mother, my abusive first husband, the people I’ve loved deeply who have died, by my extensive health history. Instead, I define myself by what I learned from those experiences: I am kind, compassionate, loving, understanding, and whole. I am human, I hurt, I heal, and then I move forward and let go of that which does not serve me any longer. Our hurt, our anger, our hatred? That does not bring anything to us but pain. Our love, our kindness, our open hearts, our compassion? That brings us light and warmth, and it echoes out into those who we interact with.

I’ll leave you with these words: when faced with hurt, when faced with heartache, when faced with loss, simply let it hurt, let it bleed, let it heal, and then let it go. And then open your arms and heart up for the beauty of the rest of your life, for the beauty of experiences yet to have, ones you’d miss if you were closed off to the potential of hurt. Because while there may be potential for hurt, there is still the potential for beauty, light and love.

Love yourself, and love others,

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

 

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