REAL Talk.

Last week, a friend of mine was really struggling. She reached out and we talked for a very long time. It was heartbreaking hearing her crying over the phone, but it also felt incredibly…sacred. I felt deeply humbled by her choice to confide in me and share the source of her pain. While I haven’t experienced the exact situation she was describing, I could certainly relate to it, and even if I couldn’t relate, what I realized after we hung up was that it didn’t matter…all that mattered was that I was there for her. And I was. I was so incredibly connected to her that I found myself crying my own tears along with hers. I could almost see the thread between us when I closed my eyes, and I know she felt that thread connecting us, too.

And it was beautiful.

In all of her pain, there was so much that was also beautiful.

Later in the week, another friend reached out to share something devastating that has shaken her to her core. I was incredibly sorry to hear about what had happened, but also tremendously grateful that she would share her pain and shame with me. We talked for over an hour, and after we hung up, she sent me a message to let me know how grateful she was for my time. I felt I hadn’t done enough to help, but she said that I had reminded her to breathe…and I think that was what she needed in that moment; to be reminded to breathe.

I went for coffee a few days ago with a friend who is grieving the loss of a loved one. We sat and she cried and I listened as she shared memories and feelings and frustrations about someone dying when she wasn’t ready for them to leave. It was heartbreaking and also beautiful in the way that heartbreak and sadness are also beautiful.

Because it is REAL.

I believe that as I continue to find my place in the world–really trying to find how I will serve others in the very best way I can– at the core of my search is a relentless pursuit to find what is REAL.

I do not want to talk about the weather. Or the winning team. I want to know what keeps you up at night. Or what makes your heart sing. Or what shakes you to your core.

A few weeks ago, I shared a deeply personal story about asking my dad the hardest question of my life. And as painful as it was, it was equally beautiful…because it was real. And I asked of my readers to reach out when they were in pain, rather than stuffing it down. I also asked that people do the reaching out, if they felt a friend or loved one might need the support, because when people are in crisis, they can’t always bring themselves to pick up the phone or send that text.

I am so grateful that I’ve been able to build the kinds of relationships where we talk about the real stuff; both online and IRL. And what I’m realizing is that by putting out the energy I wish to attract, I am attracting the exact kinds of conversations I want to be having.

And it feels like heaven to me.

Being able to sit and cry with someone; allowing our guards to come down and just be who we really are, experiencing all of life’s emotions–even when we might wish so badly for those feelings to change or go away or get easier–this, to me, is living. THIS, to me, is what it means to be alive. Not just waiting for the good things to happen, but learning from the things that almost paralyze us or suffocate us…but don’t.

I encourage you to seek out these kinds of conversations in your own life. Because I believe that by having the hard conversations, we reduce the power that difficult experiences have over us. We bring our pain out into the light and we are freed–perhaps even for just a breath–from its ravages.

Because I believe that shared pain is lessened.

Because I believe in the power of real talk.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. This is one of my favourite poems. I think it captures beautifully what I fumbled to express:

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

~ By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

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