Down So Long

I’ve been listening to a lot of Jewel lately – I don’t think she gets nearly enough credit for what a great singer and songwriter she is. I find that so many of her songs speak my truth for me, for times when I can’t find the words to say, or the courage to say them – I can always count on Jewel to help me out.

Let’s listen to a couple of her tunes, shall we?

Sun sets’ cross the ocean
I’m a thousand miles from anywhere
My pocketbook and my heart both just got stolen
And the sun act like she don’t even care
The wind blows cold when you reach the top
It feels like someone’s face is stuck to the bottom of my shoe
I got a plastic Jesus, a cordless telephone for every corner of my room
Got everybody but you telling me what to do

But I’ve been down so long
Ooh, it can’t be longer still
I’ve been down so long
That the end must be drawing near

 

Great, eh? If you haven’t read her book “Never Broken” yet, you really ought to – her life is one hell of a fascinating read, and her honesty and bravery when telling her story is really something to behold. Here are some of my favorite bits from the book:

You need nothing other than what is in your heart.

No one can keep you captive.No one can keep you unhappy. We do not need to let our histories or our losses define us except in the way we choose.

Reality is our perception of it. Our reality is what we believe it to be. What we believe informs our thoughts. Our thoughts inform our actions. Our actions build our lives.

You don’t outrun pain.

Each of us has a self that exists undamaged and whole, from the moment we are born, waiting to be reclaimed. My life has not been about fixing what is broken. It has been about engaging in a loving and tender archaeological dig back to my true self.

A spirit cannot be broken.

Hard wood grows slowly.

I wish I could tell every young girl how special and valuable they are. I wish someone had told me.

I realized that happiness was not some bird that landed on your shoulder by accident, but was a skill that was taught, or not taught, in certain houses and families.

Negative self-criticism is an iron chain that will never let you ascend to real greatness.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you condone or approve of what they did. Forgiveness is not for the other person at all. It has nothing to do with whether they deserve it or not. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. The best revenge really is a life well lived.

In you lives my hopes and dreams. I believe in you.

I have always felt I had to try so hard to be loved, as if being alive were not enough. I had to be perfect, had to make myself small, unfalteringly kind, without needs. Even though I knew better rationally, I felt that who I already was wasn’t enough to be loved by a parent or a partner.

Before you have a baby, you have an ego, an image of yourself that’s been built up over time. You have an identity, forged in the ways you define beauty, sexuality, romance, success, the who and why of your self-worth. And when you have a child, you literally just take a hammer to it. The center of the universe is changed, and you have to redefine who you are relative to this new addition in your life. Sex and what’s sexy to you are no longer the same. What’s romantic to you is no longer the same. Everything is redefined. We mourn the loss of freedom and identity, and we must discover and redefine what makes us feel beautiful, sexy, supported, romanced, successful. You have to give yourself space to learn what the new definitions are – you don’t know overnight. I was a new piece of art. I was a work in progress.

Love and partnership mean being a witness to someone’s life, and loving and supporting them the whole way through no matter what.

A heart can break only if it is closed – if it remains open there is nothing to break.

Life is everchanging. What is consistent is knowing I am up for anything. That I am never broken.

Life broke parts of me that needed to fall away for me to live an open and truthful life.

Life demanded that I get rid of my ego, my facade, my contrived safety nets, until I was reduced to my true nature, so it could shine unhindered. I needed to know great darkness to know my light. I needed to understand extreme constraint to know my freedom. I needed to face shame to know my own worth.

This has been a long and imperfect journey. It is a journey I am still on. I will always be on. And it is one I would like to share with you. I want company along my road. This is an invitation to question your life and, should you desire, to find the courage to erase the lines that imprison you and to reimagine a better you. And if you do not get it just right (none of us do), you are invited to keep redrawing and redrawing until you feel your outer world matches your inner life.

This is serious. Every day that passes is another day closer to looking back on your life and seeing whether you have done something meaningful. Don’t let the days pass wtihout doing something great. Be the architect of your dreams.

 

She’s really got it figured out, eh? Or, perhaps more accurately, she hasn’t got it figured out but she has found peace in the uncertainty – I love that. I’ve always been an obsessive planner, always looking towards my next move – in work, in relationships, in life in general. I’ve lost so bloody many great moments because I’m too damn busy looking forward instead of just looking around me and enjoying the view. I’m really working on this part of my life, and I’m hopeful that this will make a difference. Learning to be happy with where you are and what you have is my goal – and I think it’s a good one. 🙂

 

One more Jewel song before we go:

 

You find yourself falling down
Your hopes in the sky
But your heart like grape gum on the ground
And you try to find yourself
In the abstractions of religion
And the cruelty of everyone else
And you wake up to realize
Your standard of living somehow got stuck on survive


When you’re standing in deep water
And you’re bailing yourself out with a straw
And when you’re drowning in deep water
And you wake up making love to a wall
Well it’s these little times that help to remind
It’s nothing without love


You realize your only friends
Has never been yourself or anyone who cared in the end
That’s when everything fades or falls away
‘Cause the chains which once held us are only the chains which we’ve made…..

Love her! Happy Sunday, friends!

xxx

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