{Surrender the Swords}

I realize I am defeated

By my own mind.

When I rip open the fresh wounds

We created together

And pour a river of salt

That I imagined came from the hands of you.

The sight of sweet surrender

Is on the Horizon

Of such manic feud.

But, can only be seen by the eyes of lovers

Whose swords have fallen.

The time has come

To lay them down

In blissful forgiveness.

The Battle no longer worth fighting…

…nor the haste in our hearts.

Photo by: @jeffagoldberg // Chicago, IL

Present Moment Living

You can have amazing opportunties to have beauty in a new relationship, new job, or when moving to a new home. But, every day thinking, prospecting, creating stories for the future is one day of damage for that new opportunity.

Don’t bring up situations or thoughts, fears “what if’s,” prospective “disappointments,” “should of’s,” “we can’s” …for an unforeseen future. It will suffocate what is beautiful in the present moment and will smash the precious, fragile gift of new joy that you carry so lightly in your hand. It will crush it to the point that it will be irreparable. You will not be able to put it back together and you will be unable to see what you originally loved.

When you look so far into the future, make up stories and assumptions in your head that you become blinded. You can’t stop and think “What is going on right now and what worries me so much?” You become so out of sync and fearful of a past that you haven’t unpacked.

If you don’t fix what hurt you in the past and remedy it with the medicine that you need, your present cannot be beautiful. You, simply, can’t live a fulfilling life to the point where you are alive in each present moment like it is your last day. You’re actually just hoping you wake up the next day…and that everything is just…better.

And that’s not living. That’s just being alive.

Be around people that make you feel like you are living and dying in each moment…with each breath.

Photo by: Jeff Goldberg // Chicago, IL

The Path to Self-Awareness

“The soul is like a bowl of water, and our impression are like the ray of light falling upon the water. When the water is troubled, it appears that the light itself is moved, too, but it isn’t. So, when a person loses their composure, it isn’t their skills and virtues that are troubled, but the spirit in which they exist, and when that spirit calms down so do those things.” -Epictetus

“You messed up a little. Or maybe a lot.

So? That doesn’t change the philosophy that you know. It’s not as if your reasoned choice has permanently abandoned you. Rather, it was you who temporarily abandoned it.

Remember that the tools and aims of our training are unaffected by the turbulence of the moment. Stop. Regain your composure. It’s waiting for you.”

It can be difficult making mistakes and admitting when you’re wrong or have become derailed or misguided on life. However, taking a few deep breaths before moving forward or reacting can be a game changer. It’s also totally okay to admit when you made a mistake. But, learning how to get back on track is important. What are your priorities in life? What do you truly value? Can and how will you swallow your pride?

Many people fear self-assessment because they are worried they have to admit some things about themselves such as potential weaknesses. That makes becoming self-aware impossible.

“It is thought that an animal has self-awareness when it is able to fully recognize itself in a mirror.”

What does it take for us?

People might feel they are “downgrading” some of their beliefs about who they are and the true potential they have in life. However, this is not true. Don’t doubt yourself. Unless you look at yourself in the mirror of truth, you will never be free and true happiness and love will never find you.

Inspired and Quoted by: The Daily Stoic.

Photo by: Jeff Goldberg // Chicago, IL

Love Letter Never Read

{A love letter I wrote that I never got the chance to give}

“The universe made the right choice by aligning the stars that mate our souls. I will never argue with that. I will never fight that decision. It’s the single decision that proves that love, lust, passion, romance, and magic exist in our world.

But, that also means I cannot fight and argue with the decisions the universe makes to challenge us and to challenge our love. I can no longer question the obstacles that come in the way of our passion and lust despite the heavy weights of doubt and worry they have brought upon us.

We spend and have spent a lot of time thinking about and wondering about our future. That has stood in the way of our present. Our time is now and our love is now and the universe says so…I don’t want to fight that.

I don’t know how long we will make it. I have no idea how long our love will last. Some people believe love, truly, never dies. Being with you, sometimes, gets me back into old, bad, fantastical habits…

Maybe we will grow old and gray together for all of our days.

Maybe not.

For now…I love loving you and learning more about relationships, love, myself, adventures, and so many other neat things everyday.

It’s a fun journey!

Let’s not take any moment for granted.

They are all gifts. Just as we are for each other.

We possess nothing.

Xo.”

My Natural Habitat // Photo by: @jeffagoldberg

Live Like It’s Your Last Day

I received some sad news a few weeks ago from one of my best friends: one of our mutual friends passed away, suddenly. That’s, truly, the worst news anyone can receive. Steve was an important person in my life because he was the first person I ever started telling my stories to. He was my first listener. Steve always anxiously awaited the trials and tribulations of what was/is the dramatic life events that keep my days interesting, laughing hysterically the whole way through. I remember at work he would always say, “Ohhh, Barone…You could write a book with this shit. I’ll be the first one to buy it.”

We never really know when it’s our time. It could be whenever. We never know when fate or the universe or God has decided that it will be our last day and we will take our last breath.

That’s something that some people fear.

I have a very difficult time with death: I have a hard time accepting it. (Relationships, pet dying, etc). I can definitely admit to being in denial on many occasions after important people in my life have died. When people leave my life (moving, one of my student’s graduating, etc.)…even that can be extremely difficult for me. But…trust me, my therapist earns a good chunk of change from this gal and death is always on the agenda as topic of discussion. HE’S WORKING ON IT.

My point is this: We really do have to live each day like it’s our last day because you never know when it will be.

What will you want to have done on your very last day?

Does that mean we have to do every single activity for your last day on Earth? Maybe!…Why not?

Another thing I think about is that…the “good ole days” will come to an end. Your “good ole days” aren’t going to last forever. Just like the “best days of your life” won’t.

Who will you want to have spent those days with?

Think about this: it’s up to you to make things last as long as you want them to. I think we have so many things we can do to prolong our happiness. We have some choice in the matter. If there are certain people or places in your life that make you happy…gravitate towards them! Keep them around for the good days…because you never know when you might have your last ones.

It’s not worth it to feel misery if you can help it. It’s not worth it to do things that will make the good days end sooner. I can do things to make them last longer by being around an environment with the people that make me the happiest in order to create those beautiful moments.

Yeah…those moments might look differently than they did when I was in my early twenties and they might look differently than when I was in high school; but that’s okay. I still appreciate and adore both sets of memories.

What matters out of this thought process I’m having right now is to keep in mind that we don’t have a long time on Earth. Some of us have longer than others; but, none of us have any idea what our timeline is. Don’t put yourself in a position where your best days are spent miserable because you’re not living each day as it is presented to you. You can’t go back, you can only move forward. One step at a time.

And before you know it, your time is up.

As for Steve, I hope books are cheap wherever you are…my manuscript is already written. 🖤

Dancing Queen 👑 🏡🦋🦁

{Wreckage}

Wish not, want not

I must stop yearning for you

Desire makes me vulnerable

To the pain you put me through

Time after time I pine for your touch

A soft kiss on the lids of my eyes

As they shut

Your voice the calm strength to my slumber

For the most of you

I hope against hope

Only to set myself up

For disappointment

Fate will always intervene

Reminding me

I am in control of nothing.

So, maybe one day I will see

That wanting only leads…

…To wreckage.

Soft Edit Photo by: Jeff Goldberg

{Fairytale Romance}

You pretended to be

Something you believed

Out of a storybook romance

And your childhood dreams.

But, the wind of reality turned the pages too fast…

…Making it hard to last

In the costume of a King.

Me the Woodland Nymph // Chicago Suburbs // Photographer’s Name is Withheld Publicly; Require Privately for Inquiries.

So…what is this “love,” exactly?

(Updated from the original Valentine’s Day post on my Main Instagram account @m.leigh_8)

This post requires some work from you…my reader. ❤

You can close your eyes if it helps you, but I want you think about the word: LOVE.

Think about a moment when you felt that word, truly, felt that word: LOVE.

What, where, when were you at this moment that brings you back to the word: LOVE?

What was happening?

Most importantly: Describe that feeling to yourself. What does the feeling…feel like?

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy can be our teacher.” -Pema Chodron

I had an amazing experience having my cards read by my favorite reader Cally Nelson via Skype from her location – NYC. What resonated most with me was this idea that in relationships people may sacrifice emotional vulnerability and connection because of the questions that practicality put at the forefront.

It’s so much easier to give up on love because it doesn’t seem practical. That reasoning makes it a lot smoother of a transition into the next relationship…right? Not always. It’s never a good idea to ignore emotions and feelings especially not the ones that make you tingle in all of fibers your being…like love.

Not all emotions deserve attention at length and they don’t all deserve to be acted on. However, it’s vital to acknowledge that what you feel exists and that it’s valid, it matters, and nothing or no one else (not even practicality) should be suffocating those feelings with “reasons” to believe that they are wrong or irrational.

Opening your heart is a scary AF thing to do. You are volunteering to play a dangerous game and signing up to, at some point, feel the PAIN of that contact sport. But, think of all the times you’ve made it through before…you learned so much from that, didn’t you? So, as you are getting back in the game (or in the game, already) this time around, you have new plays, maybe more pads on, practicality is gliding on the surface (but, not at the forefront)…and love is growing, teaching, guiding you to victory.

So, keep in mind that love, when with the right person, is not complicated. Love is not confusing. There is no ambivalence. Love is not something that goes on “autopilot.” Like Netflix, it can’t chill in the background of your life while every once in a while you have to check in on it and make sure someone is still “watching.” Love is not just one more thing to add to your checklist for the day, it’s not white noise that clouds your head with, questions, concerns about the future, or problems that you feel you have to fix or solve because you think something just isn’t right.

So, when you answered the question before you began reading…what kind of feeling did you feel when you heard the word: LOVE? Was it warm, full-bodied, tingly, fluttering? Was it soft, sweet, gentle, fun? Was it exciting, fierce, easy? Was it slow, tender, smooth? Was it an “autopilot” kind of love?

When you find your right person, your twin flame, love will become the brightest fire that fuels your days and lights your nights. Love will lluminate the earth with passion and lust, allowing you to fully surrender to each day eagerly to begin anew with each other in the next.

Like myself, please don’t ever give up hope that you will find your true love. Your twin flame. Love lives everyday, all days. Open your heart, to all possibilities, close off practicalities, let your emotions bleed, and the fullest love will find its way to your soul.

Me // Photo by: Jeff Goldberg // Chicago, IL

{The Lust of Wander}

Lovers are so much more than just

Sex & Fantasy.

I fear that as time has passed

You see me as only that.

But, maybe one day you’ll embrace

The lust of this wander.

Only, then,

To finally feel the same regret I hold

As a rusted toll for this mistaken love.

Me // Chicago, IL // Photo by: Jeff Goldberg