I wasn't sure I wanted to write about this. At all. Like, ever. It's difficult to talk about. Hell, it's difficult to think about these days. But here's the thing- I have Bipolar Disorder.

After more than ten years of mis-diagnosing, mis-managing, and mis-medicating, I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder in December of 2006 (I made the switch into Bipolar I after my first psychotic manic episode in 2010). At the time I was diagnosed, I was engaged to be married, preparing to be a step-mom, living with two of my best friends, and still struggling (as always) to hold my life together. Not two months later, my fiancee broke up with me, I never got to say goodbye to the two amazing boys I was preparing to be a step-mom to, I was going through the highs and lows of trying to find the right medication (which took the better part of a year) and my life and brain fell massively and spectacularly to pieces. Ever the scholar, I took my new diagnosis to heart and decided to become an excellent student of my own condition. I read books, I researched online, I found people (just a few) with the same disorder and soaked up their experiences. I wanted to become an expert. 

Instead, I was accused of being addicted to my disorder. Not by people truly close to me, people who shared my life with me and witnessed first hand the cost of what I was going through. But by people who saw me struggling and thought they had the right answer for me. People who wanted to help, but instead made it vastly more difficult for me to be able to draw the line between what was me and what was the Bipolar. It's something that still challenges me every day, to be honest. But I feel I'm closer to it now than I ever have been. In those days, it wasn't so clear. In fact, it was a huge fog of pain, confusion, and not knowing what was real or what was in my head. My intention was to own my disorder, so it didn't own me. What ended up happening was that I internalized it to the point where I couldn't distinguish who I was anymore. People who wanted to fix me advised me not to acknowledge it, to put it far from mind and from peering eyes. That didn't seem to help either. I was lost.

I would have periods of hypo-mania and think that I could conquer the world- everything was sparkly, magical, imbued with secret meanings just for me. Then I would crash or have a major depressive (God forbid, even a psychotic or suicidal) episode and promptly lose my job/ fail out of school/ push friendships to the brink with my excessive neediness/ anxiety/ craziness. I would get just terrible episodes of social anxiety and not be able to leave my house for weeks- even for parties, concerts, events long planned and very happily anticipated. I would sit at home, longing to go out and spend time with my friends and cry for hours because I just couldn't make myself go. I would drive to work or to some other engagement and look for ways to crash my car without hurting anyone else, just so I would have a reason not to be there. I'm telling you, there were times I was all the way outside of my damn mind.

Finally in February of 2010, I had a true psychotically manic episode, complete with spontaneous hallucinations, which were so vivid, I was convinced that someone had somehow sneaked a hit of acid into my drink while I wasn't looking... until the hallucinations and paranoia lasted for days. Then a week. Not consistently, but over and over. I was convinced that my life was imaginary- that I'd been hypnotized in the past and the last few years were nothing but an elaborate hypnotic trick. I had elaborate visual hallucinations- saw myself in a rainforest when I was really in bed, felt tiny men (I called them "dozers") digging through my abdomen and down into my mattress. It was terrifying.

After the episode ended, I started to get serious about my condition again- found a new doctor, stopped drinking with friends, got on a regular cycle with my medication, joined online support groups and generally started taking my mental health seriously. Still, I struggled seriously. And at any mention of my disorder or its affects (what I called being self-aware and taking responsibility for my own mental health), I was accused of using my diagnosis as a crutch. And again, I would take on too many projects trying to prove myself (even small projects), push myself too hard, and have major depressive/ suicidal breaks. There are episodes that are still too scary and too painful to discuss. So I won't for now.

I used to speak openly and freely about my diagnosis, hoping that if people knew what they were getting into right up front, they wouldn't be scared away later when they encountered my darker side. Then I got scared to talk about it at all. 

Then... finally, after an extreme episode near the beginning of 2011, I had a pretty good year. Even after my life fell apart earlier this year, I didn't have an episode- either manic or depressive. I didn't lose my mind. I just waded through the pain until it receded. I slowly rebuilt and put the pieces of my life back together. I got myself a job, got myself together, and began to prove to myself that I could really live "normally." And I had a really good month. After over a year with no major incidents (just what I think of as "normal" highs and lows), I honestly thought to myself-

"I'm cured. That Bipolar part of my life? That's over now. Now I get to be normal like everyone else, and never have to worry about the really scary stuff. It's over!"

And then I broke. The other week, after days of building pressure and anxiety, my brain just... broke on me. And I had another episode. It was scary, and I won't talk about the details yet. Even more than the incident itself, I felt betrayed by my brain for not functioning "normally" the way I wanted it to. For reverting back into the scary Bipolar stuff when I least expected it to. For going "crazy" yet again, when I was hoping to never have that experience again.

The thing is, I might. It's difficult to talk about, because I was hoping that it was a part of my past, and not something I would ever have to discuss in the present tense. But the truth is that I have Bipolar Disorder, and so far, it hasn't gone away. It might always be a part of me. But it's only a PART. It's part of my challenges, and part of my blessings, and I must keep that in mind. It doesn't define me. But that doesn't mean that it's disappeared. It only means that I must work harder to manage the symptoms and to take care of myself and take responsibility for my psychological well-being.

The truth is that I'm a beautiful, powerful goddess of infinite love and light, and this happens to be part of my story. If it's part of your story or someone you know, please try to know with your heart that you are not alone. I write about this here so you will know that you have a friend, that you have support, that you are deserving of all the love and amazing things that life has to offer. It will get better. It will be difficult too, but you are strong enough to handle it. You are much stronger than you know. And with all the love in my heart, I am sending you hope and blessings right now just for reading this and keeping an open mind. You are loved. I may not know you, but I love you. I am strong enough to love you just the way you are, just for being you. Without knowing it, you are still shining your light in the world, just by being glorious YOU, and that is a beautiful thing. 

If you have something you'd like to say, please leave it in the comments below. I heard someone say once that stories are powerful, and that someone might need to hear yours in order to heal. I sincerely write this with the hope that we heal together. We can be who we are and still be deserving of love and beauty. I know that I face dark times ahead, but I believe with my heart that I have the strength to see them through, even if things get rocky. I want you to know that I believe that for you too. We will make it through. We WILL.

With love, compassion, and renewed hope,

Lindsay
 
 
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Jaimes laughs with her whole heart!
One thing that I want to do with this blog is to create a community atmosphere of beauty and support- to introduce you to the goddesses in MY world who have supported and inspired me, so that even if you don't happen to have such women in your life at the moment, you can be inspired by some truly incredible women. And let me tell you that I am blessed to know some truly amazing and wonderful women, who I'm sure will fill your hearts with as much joy as they do mine!

In that spirit, let me introduce you to the first of the  goddesses in our little garden here- Jaimes, my Venus sister (as Taurus and Libra, we are both ruled by the love planet), dear friend, and one of the women in my life who most embodies the goddess spirit!

I've known Jaimes since she was a teenager, and have watched as she has grown and evolved into her true spirit- a spirit of joy, adventure, learning, and FUN! Her nickname is Rainbow Weather, reflecting the joy and excitement that is her energy- she will always find a way to make you smile, make you think, and make you feel like the true goddess that you are. She sees beauty in everything and has the courage to express that in so many forms- she is an painter, a jewelry artist, tarot reader, and cultivator of incredible relationships. She lives her life in resonance with the earth itself and is a true bohemian woman (although she'd call herself a hippie)! She's never afraid to explore the world, to expand her mind or heart, and her spontaneous energy gives me the freedom to make real my dreams (rather than just ruminate on them, which I have a serious tendency to do). She is beauty in ACTION and a true inspiration to me. I feel so lucky to have her in my life and hope that her words will inspire you in your life!


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Jaimes and I sometimes look like sisters!
To see what goddess-hood meant to my friends and to help you get to know them better, I asked them a few questions. Here's what Jaimes had to say:

1. To start with, what's your sign?

 "Libra - Ruled by Venus - Keywords: balance, relationships, graceful, art, beauty, dichotomy, indecision, two-sided, idealistic, judgement."

2. What does being a goddess mean to you?

"Being a goddess means doing what I love, to keep inspired so I can inspire others around me. Having self respect, for the inner goddess can only emerge when we feel powerfully grounded within ourselves. Practicing spirituality, and more importantly "practicing what I preach", so ideas can be manifested practically down to earth. Manifesting consciously, because if we really are goddesses incarnate, our thoughts, feelings, words and actions have much more impact on our lives than we realize. There is magic all around, and to be a goddess is to feel it with every fiber of your being! 
To participate in life, and not just observe it is to awaken the inner creator inside the layers of the soul.To be a joyful influence on the world around me, for what we put out comes back magnified. To have a pure intent, for highest good and harming none, never to encroach upon the will of another. To remember that LOVE is the driving force of life, that it can heal all wounds. To have compassion, for compassion is love's ultimate healing tool. To forgive, for in forgiving we set ourselves free. To find my true will, to live my dharma, and to express it in the most beautiful way."


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Photo art by Adam Scholle.
3. What makes you feel like a goddess?

"The earth beneath my feet, the soft grass, the light breeze, the warm sun and my spirit glowing inside of me! I feel like a goddess when I honor nature, dancing with the shifting of the seasons. I feel like a goddess when I face my fears and realize there was more light in the depths of my soul than I could have ever imagined. I feel like a goddess when I stare up at the full moon, letting its rays wash over me and knowing that I reflect the light of the divine too. I feel like a goddess when I allow myself to heal wounds of the past and let my inner child breathe easy again. When I'm sleeping under the stars, feeling open and free to dream. When I'm gathered with other goddesses and we empower each other, bring each other to new insights and new heights of imagination and wonder. I feel like a goddess when giving loving service and devotion to my fellow gods and goddesses, hoping to brighten someone's day or bring understanding through true caring. I feel like a goddess when I feel nurtured and when I nurture, and when I remember that we are all nurtured by the same central source. I feel like a goddess when I remember that I am an instrument of the divine, that the same spark that fuels all life is alive within me, and to respect that fact, for it brings great responsibility. Taking responsibility for my own life makes me feel like a goddess, and changing my destiny for the better is empowering. When I feel empowered, I hope to empower others. That is what makes me feel like a goddess."


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Jaimes as the butterfly goddess she is.
4. Which goddesses/wise women are you most inspired by?

"Lately that is a rather fluid answer.. It used to be Radhe or Lakshmi, or at times Kali, and outside Hinduism I have loved Diana, Isis, Cerridwen, Aphrodite, Mother Moon, there are so many goddesses for so many different things! But lately I have been inspired by the Earth herself in relationship with the Sky, something more like both of them, you could call it the Universe or the Great Spirit. something that goes beyond gender, beyond the limits of time and space. I pray to this be-ing because it is within that place that we become so connected that we are one with creation, and that is a powerful place of love. It is an unlimited source to draw upon, and more importantly and unlimited source to be grateful for, and to to send all the love in my heart and be sure that it will come back in a picture even more beautiful than before."


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Jaimes embraces the setting sun
5. If you could say one thing to your goddess sisters, what would it be?

"To love yourself, to appreciate yourself, and to never forget that the face in the mirror is the face of the goddess manifest! To never let yourself think of yourself as less than you are, for each woman has a gift - the power to love, the power to heal, the power to change the world. Remember to empower each other, and not let the little things get in the way of your devotion to living your highest truth. To be compassionate, to forgive, and to learn to let go and move forward. To have the courage to be happy, to dare to think new thoughts about yourselves and the world around you, to go to places within yourself that you never dared dip your toes in before. There is so much power and beauty all around, just waiting to be expressed through the loveliest of vessels - you! Let yourself live it, live it, live it!"

6. If you were a deity, what would you embody? (Goddess of Love, Music, Rain, WHATEVER!)

"If I were a goddess, I would embody the rainbow! I am rainbow weather after all! And it's because I love color, and I feel like my life purpose is to be an instrument of the divine, to help people take their light and put it into something beautiful and full of magic. The rainbow is a bridge between here and the other side, and the other side is definitely very present in my life. Heaven is in our hearts if we can only open them!"

 Thank you Jaimes for sharing your heart and wisdom with us! I feel so inspired and lightened by your words! 

Please leave a comment for Jaimes below and let us know what your thoughts on these subjects are! And stay tuned for the next in our Boho Goddess Garden interview series!

 
 
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When I was 15, I went on a river trip with my younger brother, older sister, her then-fiancee, and a family friend, Larry, with two of his children. For roughly one and a half days, we floated peacefully down the Green River in Utah through the most picturesque red rock landscape with only the occasional wildlife for company. I spent hours laying on my back, floating downstream, watching the trees pass overhead and feeling more peaceful than I'd ever felt in my life. We stopped on a shoreline and dug our toes into the mud; my sister (a budding filmmaker) recorded it all on her vintage video camera. I fell asleep in the raft while it rained lightly, woke up under an umbrella and read a beat-up second-hand copy of "Valley of the Dolls" wrapped in a plastic bag, and waited for the sun to reappear. It was heaven.

And then came the mosquitoes. 

We found out later that the mosquitoes on the river that weekend were the worst they'd been in a hundred years. It may as well could have been a thousand years, or a million. We were sure that the mosquitoes were the worst they'd been since the dawn of time, and that they were emissaries of satan himself sent to torture us. I can't remember how many mosquito bites we each got, but we did take the time to count them once we'd gotten safely home. Hundreds, I'm sure, and I'm truly not exaggerating. Our peaceful river trip had become a gauntlet of torture and pain, each stinging bite taking us further away from the reverie we had so enjoyed at the beginning of our trip. Night fell and we made camp as far away from the water as we could manage, burrowing deep into sleeping bags and zipping the tent closed tightly. It helped a minimal amount, and the adults chose to stay awake to look after us miserable kids. 
Still, we had precious few hours of fitful sleep before it became too much to bear and we gave up.

We packed up camp and got back on the river as soon as the sky began to lighten, hoping to make it to our exit point as soon as possible and get home to tend our wounds. Everyone seemed miserable, grumbling and complaining about the pain, the lack of sleep, each other... anything was cannon fodder at that point. And then from ahead I heard a loud cry of what I assumed to be frustration, but what turned out to be joy. 

In the raft ahead of me, Larry called out a series of gratitude unlike anything I'd ever encountered. "I love this river! I love this sky! I love this view! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" It went on for a number of minutes. At first, my jaw dropped, bewildered, wondering if he was being facetious or ironic. There certainly could be no cause for joy at such a miserable moment in all of our lives. However, it slowly dawned on me that not only was he being genuine, he was right.

The water, although swarming with thousands of mosquitoes, was certainly clear and beautiful. The sky was filling quickly with sunlight and becoming a gorgeous shade of sapphire- not just blue, but sapphire! The view was not to be underestimated- the red of the rocks set against the green of the trees and the sapphire sky... suddenly every color seemed to enhance and heighten the others, every tree and cloud seemed imbued with a new kind of beauty; even the mosquitoes seemed to let up for a few minutes to let us enjoy the truly breathtaking sights. More likely, we just stopped noticing them.

That was the first moment in my life I began to understand the power of gratitude, especially at the unlikeliest of times. John "Halcyon" Styn (http://JohnStyn.com), love warrior, leader of http://Hugnation.com, and Burning Man enthusiast, talks often about the concept of "crap or cone." Basically it states that at all moments you have two things going on- you have a delicious ice cream cone in one hand, and a big piece of poop on your shoe. It's where you choose to place your attention that determines how happy you are. You can choose to do many things in that situation, all of which are acceptable, it just depends on how happy you want to be at that moment. You can complain about the crap, you can do something to fix the situation, or you can ignore your shoe for a few minutes and concentrate on the delicious ice cream before it melts. I could go on. 

On the river that morning fifteen years ago, Larry showed us how to enjoy the ice cream cone. There may have been perfectly valid reasons to stay miserable, but unbeknownst to us, there was an entire world filled with little miracles just waiting to light us up and show us how beautiful life can be, anytime, anywhere. And when we placed our attention on those little miracles, the problems seemed to abate for a little while, as if the world was responding to our level of interest. 

I want you to know that, regardless of what miseries you are currently experiencing (and we all are, trust me, you are not alone), there are a multitude of little miracles just waiting for you, waiting to give you rest from your troubles and show you what a beautiful and amazing place the world truly is. Today, if nothing else, I'm grateful for that river morning, watching the sun rise into that sapphire sky and learning for the first time how powerful gratitude can truly be.

I hope you find your cone. Please, tell me about it! I'd love to hear what little miracles you find! Don't ever stop searching.

With love,

Lindsay

 
 
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(Me on the right, laughing my heart out with fellow goddesses: Jaimes and Sarah)


I love meeting new people, but it's been a while since I've taken the time to really open myself up and let someone new get to know me. It's been a while since I've had to open up the big book of Lindsay and had to attempt to explain to someone new the ins and outs of my personality and life. But here in this new job, I'm getting to know lots of new people who are asking me interesting questions and want to know about who I am. It shines a light for me on the ways I've changed over the years and the person I've grown into.

The past few years have been filled with change for me, on all levels. I've undertaken quite a journey through spirituality over a number of years and have changed my ideals about what spirituality means to me and what kind of a spiritual life I want to have. Psychologically I've dealt with many challenges to my psyche, from learning how to accept my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, to learning how to not let it define me and living with authenticity and balance (more on that later). I fell in love with my best friend of fifteen years and watched as our romantic relationship evaporated, and had to learn to navigate our way back into the friendship we so valued while letting go of the romance. I've changed my physical living location half a dozen times, let friendships and relationships run their courses in my life with positivity and love, and tried a handful of new careers.

It seems that since the last time I opened up the big book of Lindsay, I've become a brand new person.  And I've realized that the time has come to write a new book. 

In this new book, I am actually shining my light freely and openly to the world, rather than hiding myself in a corner out of fear of rejection (or, more accurately, rejection of self). I am giving myself the freedom to explore who I am and the possibilities for the kind of person that I want to be, and I'm learning new things all the time. 

 The other day I realized something so crucial to my well-being and my own personal idea of happiness: I am absolutely devoted to my personal spiritual/soul evolution. I've begun taking classes and e-courses on subjects like happiness and living with love, I watch videos and listen to interviews with wise men and women and take notes on the things that I believe will enrich my life, I participate in creating supportive environments, both online and in my physical life, I read voraciously on the subject, etc. More than anything, I simply try to let my life be an authentic reflection of the divinity I feel within.


I started to explain this to my goddess sister and dear friend, Jaimes, the other day and she sweetly interrupted me with a bit of laughter and the exclamation, "But dear, you've ALWAYS done that! It's one of my favorite things about you! No matter how dark, you will always find the spark of light." It nearly brought me to tears and simultaneous giggles that, first of all, someone I value so dearly would have that opinion of me, and secondly, that apparently there are aspects to myself that have always been present that I'm only now discovering! How exciting to find that you yourself are a treasure map of beauty and wonder just waiting to reveal its treasures!

How overwhelming and lovely self-discovery/creation can be when you allow your energy to flow naturally with the world. It reminds me of a quote I heard somewhere, "Sometimes we must let go of who we are in order to become who we are meant to be." And what a beautiful process that can be.


Time to write a new book of me. I wonder what kind of story I will tell?