Wednesday, November 14th, 2018
The walk I walk is treacherous.
The hill I climb is not for the weary.
I am a veteran of the castle, hanging off the side of a mountain.
The hippies, artists and thieves awaken in the gulch.
Coyotes call from the distant hills.
There is a calm hush over this sleepy little town, the quiet before the rush.
The sun attempts to break through the haze on this cold fall morning.
It struggles, like most of us. It is Hump Day after-all.
The air is crisp and my nose is cold.
Wearing white long-johns and sweater-boots, an oversized turquoise sweatshirt with a gray thermal shirt underneath, black gloves and my dreaded Michigan coat, I step outside into the early morning chill. Not because I want to, I’m simply out of half-n-half. Coffee without creamer is torture for me.
My views of the Verde Valley are shadowed by an overcast sky.
A hot air balloon is barely visible in the smokiness that hides the red rock mountains.
I crave snow and the smell of wood burning in a fireplace.
My breathing is heavy. I stop halfway. A laundry-line strung across a porch for all the world to see - socks and shorts, t-shirts and towels - frozen in time. An empty parking lot in the middle of town, Jeromies emerge from their homes half-alert, classic rock music plays from a radio on a windowsill of an apartment above the storefronts. The volume is turned down low, just like the voices of passers-by.
A nod, a wave, a smile, a “mornin’” thrown at me here and there.
A simple smile is returned.
I open the door to the little coffee shop, the warmth and the aroma overwhelm my senses. A sigh of relief stretches far across my face. An Americano with creamer and a cranberry-orange muffin served warm are well worth the walk up the hill. Breakfast on The Steps, there’s only a few things better than that.
A black glove mysteriously wandered off, I hold the other for ransom.
Retracing my steps back down the hill, I find the escapee and return it to my coat pocket.
With my feet on the earth, I am reminded why I'm here.
I am a part of this place, and it is a part of me.
The warmth of my studio invites me back in.
My day has begun.
- Zushka Biros
Photo Credits: Zushka's iPhone
Art Debut: Expect the Unexpected
A combination of Zushka's original artwork, plus artwork created of Zushka, in one show.
I'm going to start off with this statement: "My name is Zushka, and I am anorexic."
That does not mean that I am starving today, or manipulating food, or over-exercising, or stepping on a scale, or measuring my hips, or a multitude of other dysfunctional behaviors that stem from the disease. Simply stated, it reminds me that I am not cured.
I didn't plan on becoming a model, it just sort of happened. Nearly 6 years ago, a friend of mine who was also a photographer, invited me over to her house to test some new lighting equipment. I belly danced in her backyard while she shot away. That began an invisible healing process, which continues to this day.
The photos are stunning for sure, but there is a lot more going on behind the scenes, and I don't mean physically. Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anorexia are diseases that remain inside a person's psychological makeup throughout their lifetime. I use the analogy of Alcoholism as an example: Even after an alcoholic becomes sober, they are still an alcoholic. The disease of alcoholism does not go away just because the alcohol has been removed from their life. The same is true for Anorexia and BDD. The absence of dysfunctional coping mechanisms and activities does not remove the disease(s).
The healthier I became, the more I believed that the disorders would leave, and go away once and for all. Years had passed, and when that didn't happen, anxiety started to set in.
Eleven years ago, I "sobered up" by learning how to eat, what portions to eat and when to eat. I learned which foods affected the body in which ways. I detoxed, with the help of a Naturopath. I took a lot of supplements, hired a personal trainer and started gaining muscle weight. It took a while before I noticed any difference in myself. I relied on what the professionals were noticing. BDD is tricky, and although I felt better inside, I couldn't see what was going on outwardly. In other words, when I looked in the mirror all I saw was a distorted view of my body.
Here's a little crash course on BDD and Anorexia:
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder characterized by the obsessive idea that some aspect of one's own body part or appearance is severely flawed and warrants exceptional measures to hide or fix their dysmorphic part on their person. In BDD's delusional variant, the flaw is imagined.
Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by low weight, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin, resulting in food restriction. Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight even though they are in fact underweight. If asked they usually deny they have a problem with low weight. Often they weigh themselves frequently, eat only small amounts, and only eat certain foods. Some will exercise excessively.
Studies have been done for decades, trying to figure out how and why certain people end up with BDD and/or Anorexia. The conclusion could be genetics, low self-esteem, childhood abuse, trauma and any number of variables. In my own personal experience, childhood abuse and trauma resulted in a nightmare of starving myself, without knowing I was.
Fast-forward to adulthood: The word "anorexia" didn't become a part of my vocabulary until I was 35 years old, in a therapist's office. Yet it still took 7 more years before I decided to do anything about it. And another 7 years after that before I even knew what BDD was. (Flashback: my flavor of anorexia began at age 7.)
What does modeling have to do with any of this?
When I belly danced in my friend's backyard, and she took lots of photos, I was able to see myself for the first time. I know how weird that sounds, but it's true. When she stopped and showed me an image on the back of her camera, I started to cry. I didn't believe it was me, even though I had watched her take the photo. I kept asking her "is that me? Is that really me??"
She had no idea I had a problem with my body or food, all she saw was a pretty normal-looking person. I told her about the disorders and she also began to cry. I kept moving and she kept shooting, and by the end of the 5 hour shoot, it felt like a huge burden had been released from me. I wrote about the experience as soon as I got home that evening.
Since that time, I have modeled for 23 photographers. Each shoot is different, artistically as well as mentally, for me. I journal about each experience, but what makes this one different than all the rest is this: I just turned 53, and I never thought I'd live this long. There is permanent physical damage as a result of the disease, and, well, frankly, 53 is a long life for an anorexic.
I showed up for the shoot on the morning two days before my birthday. My boyfriend drove while I tried to sleep during the car-ride. It was a long drive. I was dressed appropriately, wearing huge pajama pants with a leopard print, and an over-sized soft sweater; thick socks and slipper-boots.
Dave's cabin out in the woods of Payson, AZ, was a peaceful place - part photo-studio, part home. The clawfoot tub out back in the woods caught my attention right away. I, of course, brought way too much stuff with me. I knew we wouldn't be using it all, but I like having a variety of things to choose from. Photo shoots are spontaneous, although they are somewhat planned.
I don't get nervous on the day of a photo shoot, which is amazing. I mean, I would imagine most people would be a little nervous baring all for a stranger. Nude modeling comes naturally for me. But this shoot was unlike any I've ever done before. I would be wearing a garter-belt, stockings and sexy heels.
Rosemary, a brilliant local musician and salon owner, created a look for me that was perfect - my hair was transformed into burgundy and deep brown with pinkish-purple at the ends. It was time for a serious hair change, and she did not disappoint.
I applied makeup, which I only use for photo-shoots. Any average day you'll find me wearing no makeup whatsoever. I prepped for weeks, but that's a story for another blog.
I introduced my boyfriend (who, by the way, is also a photographer) to Dave and his lovely wife, Linda. And then we got to work, while my boyfriend took a walk with his camera.
First pose was in the clawfoot tub. I took my sweater off and sat in the tub, while Dave took some test shots. Connecting with the photographer is important, in my opinion. If I don't feel a personal connection, the shoot is a bust. We talked, while he was shooting, about photography, modeling, life. I liked him right away.
One of the rooms in Dave & Linda's home is for boudoir shoots. We went there next. A couple of hours posing nude, semi-nude, clothed in barely anything - this is where the magic happens. What's going on behind the scenes inside of me is what it's all about. The finished images are just the icing on the cake.
The fact that I was turning 53 in just a couple of days was running through my mind, while posing nude for a photographer with an incredible reputation for his artistry. I felt empowered. I've probably used that word in other blogs about modeling, but this time it was overwhelmingly powerful. When I told Dave my story, and how modeling has nothing to do with vanity for me, he set his camera down for a moment and listened.
"These photos represent that I'm still alive, when really the odds are stacked against me. And that I'm more than just alive, I'm healthy. I have earned all of this, my weight, my curves. My body has been scary-thin, very fit, and now, this. I accept it for what it is today. I'm turning 53, and I feel more vibrant than ever. I'm grateful for all of this."
I call it invisible healing because no one can see what's going on inside of me while I'm modeling. No one knows how the shoot is affecting me psychologically. I show up and I'm totally myself, I don't know how to be anyone else. And what comes across through the lens is truly magical, because the photographer is capturing the essence of me, not just a flat image of what I look like on the outside. Whatever shines through in that moment when the shutter clicks, is a glimpse into who I am.
How I felt when I saw the first image that Dave sent to me: Wow! Just, WOW!! "Halloween & the Full Moon" is what I captioned it. The second one, "Birthday Suit", was the perfect birthday gift to myself. Thank you, Dave Kelley.
Why do I write about BDD and Anorexia?
It's really simple. I believe that when you expose something dark to the light, it loses its power over you. When you speak your truth, it becomes less frightening. And before you know it, other people reach out to you who understand your path, because they have experienced it too. It was not easy for me to admit that I was anorexic. The word was terrifying to me, so much so that I could only whisper it when I was in therapy at age 35. Thanks to a 12-Step Program, I was able to see it for what it truly was, instead of a glooming overpowering grasp on my life.
I love what I do, and I'll keep doing it for as long as I am able. I'm grateful for the community of young models who inspire me, and I am glad that I inspire some of them. We are all on this planet for a short period of time, so do whatever your heart calls you to do. Create art, build a house, climb a mountain, bake cookies for your kids, design an empire, whatever it is just do it. That's my little bit of advice for those who want to hear it.
Thanks for reading.
Have you ever woken up and realized that your life is the dream you've been creating all along?
Today is one of those days for me. They happen periodically, sometimes quite often, but today it hit me. My studio, and the business that I run from it, has been in existence for almost 3 years. Actually, 2 years and 10 1/2 months, to be exact.
What a whirlwind of a ride I've been on since November of 2016! I had no idea what would transpire over time, or how long I would have my studio in Jerome, Arizona. I happened upon it by chance, and what a great leap of faith it was for me to take it, without a concrete business plan or a sense of what would come. All I knew was, once I wandered into that space, I had to be there. I didn't know what for, I just knew I needed to be there.
With just a desk, chair and computer, I got to work doing what I did best - writing, and developing websites, marketing & social media promos for clients. Within weeks, the photographers, whom I've worked with, started to come up the mountain to Jerome, after I sent them photos of the huge wall of windows and natural light - a photographer's paradise.
The monthly photography workshops started just a few months later. Today, with over a year and a half worth of workshops under our belts (me and the instructor, one of my photographers), an incredible reputation gradually grew, offering unique photographic opportunities with amazing professional models.
Since that time, a lot has happened. Last October the monthly art shows began. Shortly later, musicians were paired with the artists, creating monthly events that have only grown in attendance and popularity.
Classes, workshops, events, meetings and services have come and gone, evolved and transformed over time, opening up what's to come in this next year.
I still write, and there are several books in the works. Blogging and short stories (and soon, an online magazine for artists) are my thing, and I love it all. I still model, and have several big shoots coming up before the end of 2018.
Here's the scoop: I've partnered with an entertainment company, promoting music events and parties (raves). Our first independent show will be on Saturday, October 20th, just in time for Halloween. I am beyond thrilled to be organizing and arranging something this huge. It calls to my passions, a combination of art, music, visual and technical skills, writing press releases, meeting all the players, arranging the event details, photography and videography, creating marketing material and promoting. I couldn't ask for something better than this. It's like putting together a party on a gigantic scale.
What's coming next? January, 2019 - LOOK OUT! Zushka Transformed.
Watch the video on this Blog, see the cast of characters, the usual suspects (including yours truly), and follow me by subscribing to my blog.
Original Blog on Red Bench Photo Studio: BLOG
I am truly grateful for everyone's support and encouragement.
#Tagboard is one of my favorite things on zushkabiros.com. Want to know a little bit more about my personality? Go there! Inspirational quotes, funny quotes, motivational quotes, silly quotes... they're all there. Not a website follower? No problem. There's more on Instagram, plus other random photos. Have an adventurous Labor Day Weekend.
As many of you know, I take several 30-Day Digital Detoxes each year. (And incase you didn't know, this is something that reenergizes me.) My life gets busy, I have less and less time for jumping on social media, and before I know it my health is failing. Scrolling through newsfeeds on Instagram or Facebook, texting instead of calling, and responding to tons of emails isn't a healthy choice for me. I become desensitized.
Around 4:00 this morning and immediately got to work on my computer, when an idea came to me to separate myself from digital devices, particularly my iPhone. This is something I've been wanting to do for months, and I spent a lot of time preparing for it. Life just feels a whole lot better when I'm disconnected. I'm ready to take the leap off of social media.
For those of you who are already asking me "why", here's the scoop:
1. I am busy. SERIOUSLY busy. Between my photography business, modeling, website design work, writing, my art gallery and event planning, I simply don't have time for social media anymore, and that's totally okay. I'd much rather spend my time creating than scrolling through newsfeeds.
2. I found myself looking at my phone too much. Even though I disabled notifications months ago, I still found myself looking at my phone throughout the day. It's not only not-good for me physically (my neck - looking down), it drains my energy on a soul-level.
3. Although it's fun to keep in touch with people, I'm pretty much old-school. I like meeting people for coffee or a walk, and talking to them face-to-face. I like meeting up with friends for a movie or a show. I'd much rather have human interaction than digital contact.
4. I believe that we are what we eat, look at, listen to and practice. I made a conscious decision years ago to change my life, and that included where I lived, what I ate, what I read, what I watched, what I listened to and with whom I chose to spend time with. Social media doesn't nourish me.
5. I'm totally an introvert and an empath. I love being alone, which means lots of time meditating, reading, journaling, detoxing, resting and reenergizing.
6. For me, social media can be a big distraction. I could spend a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeeds, to the point where it could become addictive. I've spent a lot of wasted hours looking at things that are really none of my business.
7. I'm a pretty private person, and although I've shared a lot on social media, I have found that I feel like I'm exposing too much of myself out into cyber-world. Not a good mix for me.
I think that about covers everything. Of course, nothing is ever written in stone, but my goal is to stay off social media through the end of the year, hopefully longer or indefinitely.
For me this is a healthy decision. Life is short, and I'm seriously looking at where my time is being spent, what I'm allowing into my life and what my personal boundaries are.
For those of you who are in the same boat, welcome aboard! Take a 30-Day Digital Detox challenge, see how you feel. I'll warn you, my first one caused serious withdrawals, but the outcome was so worth it.
Thanks for listening.
My grandmother arrived in the U.S. by way of steamship, owned by the infamous Starline Fleet, in 1936. An immigrant child from Czechoslovakia, she traveled with her mother, Zuzana, after a seven year separation from her father. The ship docked in New York Harbor, as they were quickly ushered off to Ellis Island, where her name was changed from Mária to Mary .
At the tender age of 7, she began her journey in this country with a million other ethnic children, all speaking different languages, learning proper English in American schoolrooms. She picked it up quickly and her love of books began. She frequented public libraries and read a book a day, mostly fiction. She consumed books, lots of them.
Not always having a place to live, she and her mother spent time in alleyways, eating day-old-donuts and drinking black coffee for breakfast. Her mother sewed rags into usable pieces, such as blankets, selling them for pennies and nickels on the streets of New York City.
Eventually her mother was able to save enough money to buy a home in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Over time, she bought a row of fourplexes on Main Street, renting them out while remaining to live in one of the upper apartments.
Mary didn't have it easy. She ran away from home when she was 16 years old, and lived in an abandoned building in New York City with a bunch of other runaways. She worked in a factory during the day, and loved dancing in the clubs at night. It didn't take too long for someone to notice her. She was beautiful, exotic, and she looked like a movie star.
She married a man 10 years her senior, became pregnant with my mother and returned home to Connecticut to angry parents, at the age of 18. She and her husband rented the apartment downstairs, which was where my mother was raised.
With little education or skills, she got a job working in a bakery decorating cakes. Although she liked her job, it didn't pay well. Times were tough for the family, but she persevered.
By the time I came along in October of 1965, my parents lived in an apartment just down the street from my grandmother. I remember riding my tricycle on the sidewalk at 3 years old, with my mother walking closeby, on our way to Grandma's house. She always had snacks and goodies waiting for me, and I knew which kitchen cabinets they were hidden in.
My family moved to Bethel, which was about 38 miles away, just before my 4th birthday. But it might as well have been a million miles away. I missed my visits to Grandma's house. I loved it when she would call on Saturday mornings, and I would answer the phone and tell her all about school and what I was doing. I loved the two weeks I spent at her house every summer, playing at the beach all day while my grandfather dug for clams and my grandma watched me run and splash in the water.
As it is for all of us, time rushes by and before we know it childhood is a memory, and we get busy with our own lives. The summer visits stopped, I was wrapped up with my teenaged-self and suddenly I was off and running on my own journey.
During a 7-month period, at the age of 35, I lived with Grandma. It was one of the most difficult times of my life, as I had just separated from my husband of 16 years. Grandma and I became close friends, confidants. I no longer saw her as a little old lady. She had stories, lots of them, and she was a woman who was married and had a child. She understood me. We spent hours talking about life, about love, about what it was to be a woman in this world, which she made look easy. After my divorce, I moved on with my life and had little time for her. I knew she was sad the day I moved out of her place, but like with so many of us, I thought I had plenty of time for her, later.
I could say I have regrets, because that is the truth. I could say I wished I would've spent more time with her, called her, or wrote to her. But I didn't. Mary died this morning, August 28th, 2018, at the age of 90. She ate breakfast with my mother on the coast of Oregon, went inside the cottage where they were staying and laid down for a nap. I couldn't think of a better way to leave, peacefully in a deep sleep.
A few weeks ago, while rummaging through an old family trunk, I found a passport that was preserved in a ziplock bag. Inside of it were the photos of my great-grandmother and Grandma. Pages stamped with different countries, chronicled their path, as they made their way from train to train across Europe to board a ship to freedom.
They escaped a few years before the war began, but the camps were already starting to be built, and people were starting to be rounded up. I can't even imagine what it was like for a 7 year-old girl to leave the village where she was born and raised, leaving everything behind (except for a doll that she grasped), traveled by train and by steamboat with thousands of other immigrants, to the land where the streets were paved with gold, only to end up mostly homeless and hungry.
Mária was gentle and strong in her own right. She lived exactly the life she wanted. I know, as I write this now, that she is here with me. I feel her arms around me as tears fall from my eyes. "Thank you, Grandma. Thank you for everything."
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My day starts with coffee. I'm talking, before I can even speak, before my vision starts working, coffee. The stronger, the better. I am a self-proclaimed, full-blown coffee addict, and I'm not ashamed to say so. That's where my day starts, and that pretty much gets my day ticking, but why would you want to sign up for my Patreon just because of that?
Here's the Scoop...
I do a lot. And I mean A LOT! My day is full with such a variety of diverse activities, that it's sometimes hard to keep up, even for myself. I have a hundred tabs open 24/7, and I somehow manage to manage them all. I am...
A Typical Day in My Life Looks Like This:
I usually wake up very early in the morning on the couch in my studio, because I work all night long. I nap, I don't really sleep-sleep. I get up and stumble over to the coffee maker and brew a pot. I guess you could say I'm a nudist because I prefer being nude most of the time, when I can. Naked Coffee always tastes better.
Meditation is essential first thing. Without it, my day spirals out of control. Not that I'm in controlof anything, but you get it. My morning practice balances and centers me. Soft music plays while I create my day. Today's Music: Larisa Stow and Shakti Tribe (mostly mantras).
I decide what I want my day to look like. I do this through visualization during meditation. If that doesn't make sense to you, maybe this will: I sit on a pillow on the floor of my studio, close my eyes, take deep breathes in and out and see my day as I want it to be. I make a conscious choice as to what I want to feel today. It really starts there - the attitude I choose. Gratitude quickly follows. I make a mental list of the things I am grateful for today.
I live my life one day at a time. All we really have is today, this moment. So, I don't think about the past or the future. I make myself my first priority. What does that look like? It looks like a healthy nurtured body, mind and spirit. Once I get myself prepared this way, then I move on with the rest of my day.
I keep my ego in check. This is important. I've worked hard at this and it is the only way I know how to live, not only in my personal life, but with work also. I check on myself throughout the day, making sure I'm living in a humble way. That means reminding myself that I am just like every other person on this planet. We are ALL special, gifted, talented, beautiful, amazing creatures. That quote "I treat the CEO and the janitor of a company the same way" rings true for me.
After I eat a bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries, I throw on some clothes, kick on the computer and sit at my desk. Next: open some tabs and get to work.
I'm a one-woman-show. The majority of my time is dedicated to marketing. Right away I check the calendar on the blackboard behind my desk to see what is scheduled for today. The past couple weeks was a mixture of artists coming in to install their artwork, meeting with a new website client, a big Art Opening with live music, prepping my studio for a photographer for a private shoot, a City Hall meeting, getting ready for weekly interpretive dance classes in my studio, a board meeting with an area homeless organization, a few hikes with my camera, editing photos, meeting with a videographer to go over my latest motivational talk, blogging, getting together with my editor for lunch, playing in the river, meeting with a prison aftercare group, traveling between Jerome, Sedona and Flagstaff.
My studio is an old classroom in an old high school that was built in 1923, on the top of a mountain. The high school closed down in 1975 and reopened in the early 1980's as working art studios. There are 2 large wall-sized blackboards, 5 tall old-schoolwindows on one wall, and hardwood floors. It's literally untouched from when it was built. I love it. It's a nostalgic place, historic and unique.
Between meetings, classes, art shows, marketing, photographing, modeling, writing and dancing, there's the daily stuff that we all do, and I am no exception - laundry, dishes, groceries, making the bed - you get the idea.
I run from yoga class, which is across the hallway in my building, to a meeting 20 miles away, to a video chat with a client, to responding to messages from photographers and models for my next workshop, to checking my bank balance on my phone, to taking a few photos on a short walk, to emailing my newsletter, and the list goes on and on. I do it all on the fly - in my car, at the coffee shop, walking along a hiking trail, at my desk in my studio - wherever.
I'm quick to share my personal story with others, because I believe in the power of words and actions. Who knows who I might meet today, that may need to hear something I have to say, and vise-versa. I am a grateful member of a 12-Step Program, a recovered anorexic with body dysmorphic disorder, a self-motivated, uncomplicated woman. Basically, I am a survivor.
What I'm offering here on Patreon is an intimate communication with you. Sure, you can find me on social media, see what I'm about on my website, but there's things I don't share with just anyone. I journal daily. I'm offering a peek into my personal life, along with my daily quotes, videos and what I'm working on next. My life is always evolving and I am always transforming.
Take this journey with me. Tell me who you are, what makes you tick, what your day looks like. And in the process, help support an independent author, model, blogger, photographer, and sign up for the rewards that you're comfortable with.
I am incredibly grateful for this life I have, and for your support in me. I'm looking forward to sharing my adventure with you. Thanks for reading. Now, it's time for another cup of coffee.
Seven Canadians walked into my studio one day.... no, this isn't the beginning of a joke. They wandered in because the door was open. My studio isn't just where I work, it doubles as a photography studio and an art gallery. I offered them coffee and cookies while the mom of the group discovered my book, which I sell on a little table near the door.
"Is this a true story?" she asked. "Yes, it is. Let me tell you about it." From there, I told them about my life. I had a captive audience in my studio, and soon we became friends. They spent an hour with me, when the dad said "are you a motivational speaker?"
"No, but that's a good idea." I quickly wrote it on the blackboard on the wall behind my desk.
I was inspired, my adrenaline was running. I contacted my editor who put me in contact with someone who organizes community talks at a local church. I had a title and an idea. But then something miraculous happened.
My recovery took an unexpected turn when a model named Abby asked me to do a photo shoot with her. Everything I thought I was going to say at the talk changed after that shoot.
I invite you to watch the video and see what I mean. This is the beginning of something big for me. I'm preparing and practicing for a TEDx Talk coming up at the end of the year.
Video courtesy of Mark Short of fotographfx.com
In my past life, I changed my personality with the wind. I shifted to suit whatever environment I was in. I lost all sense of who I really was.
I was so worried about what people thought of me, that I did what everyone else wanted or expected of me. I did that for so long that I didn't even know what it was that I wanted anymore. Over time, I became unrecognizable.
Somewhere in my early 40's, I wanted to find myself again. Her are some things I did to be more authentic:
1. I stopped apologizing for who I was or what I loved.
I love what, and whom, I love. I don't apologize for who I am. This is the person I was create to be. When I apologize for who I am or what I love, I send the message to myself that I am not enough and need to be fixed. I spent lots of years apologizing for who I was; I felt like a burden to other people. Today, however, I realize that I don't need to apologize for the fact that I struggle with depression and anxiety. What I now understand is that I am exactly who I am and it's beautiful at times, chaotic at times, and sometimes both.
2. I have my own beliefs.
I am curious about things. I have been this way since I was a kid - about what I was told, what I heard and what I saw. I don't need to accept things as they are. I used to let what others said affect me a lot. I would even let others' opinions of me affect my self-worth. Today I find this funny because I realize that there is no "one and only truth." What people say and do is about them, not about me. I have learned that it is okay to be okay with my curiosity about life and form my own beliefs and opinions.
3. I ask myself what my motivations are.
This is something I have to do on a regular basis. My ego can look like a thousand different things, and if I don't slow down and try to understand what my motivations are, it can run my life. In my past, I was a people-pleaser, a caretaker, a worrier. I wanted people to like me and to think I was a good person. I used to say things that I thought people would want to hear. Is my motivation true to who I am? Or is it run by a need of approval? I am constantly checking in with my motivation.
4. I trust my gut.
If something feels wrong, there is a reason. There's been many times where I've ignored my gut feeling, and regretted it later on. I ignored my gut feelings in past relationships. I felt something wasn't right but just carried on until one day it could not be ignored any longer. If something doesn't feel right, there's always some truth to it. My body can sense when something isn't right for me. I pay attention to my gut instinct and trust that my intuition is onto something.
5. I spend time alone.
I spend time alone because I need to stop absorbing others' energies. I need alone time regularly to detox from the world, find center again and balance myself. When I constantly surround myself with others, it is impossible to ground myself. I make time for myself on a regular basis. I meditate daily. I go for walks by myself to the Post Office. I get to know myself, by myself.
6. I speak my mind.
If I hold back what I really want to say, I get sick. Seriously, I'll get a migraine. I need to speak my truth and be heard. This doesn't mean I need to always speak my truth, but finding one space where I can honestly and freely communicate is something I need. Usually it's a journal, or a close friend, and sometimes it's a support group. I'm personally a big fan of writing, support groups, coffee dates with friends, and therapy.
7. I surround myself with people who accept me exactly as I am.
It is really difficult for me to be my authentic self when the people who are around me are not those who accept me. I remember a time in my life when I discovered something new about myself and chose to change my way of life. Some people judged me and didn't accept me. I surround myself with people who respect and support me. I let go of those who are judgmental and critical of me.
8. I discriminate information.
I was not designed to swallow information whole. I make information my own. I don't absorb everything around me. I ask myself a couple questions: What does this information mean to me? Is it important to me? These things are what make information relevant, meaningful and important to me.
9. I know it's okay to let people down sometimes.
I am a human being; I am fallible. I will continue to make mistakes and let people down at times. Being true to myself means that I am okay setting boundaries with others, even if it feels like I am letting them down. People that I want around are people that will accept my boundaries and opinions.
10. I accept myself entirely.
I am loyal to myself. I am a beautiful, messy and lovable creature. We are all beautiful creatures, displaying our own unique array of colorful personalities. Our biggest challenge in life is accepting the whole spectrum of ourselves and of those around us. It's a journey of a lifetime, one that can not be easily mastered overnight. But the one thing I do know is this: it is entirely worth it.
I am living the dream, one day at a time, and sharing my experiences with you.
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© 2016 ZUSHKA BIROS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.