Baring My Soul

July 10th, 2019 – oops, I mean, July 11th, 2019: But why use the word “oops”? “Oops” suggests a mistake, and I have come to belief that mistakes are a myth. 

Who cares about action? What matters is intention.
Please do not interpret this as a black-and-white statement.
Huh: “Black and white.”
Is it possible to use those words without an underlying racial charge?
Is it possible to reclaim their meaning? 
Perhaps – but that’s another blog post.

Let’s get current.
I am currently stirring my coffee with a fork.
I’m tempted to say “spork,” because I saw Toy Story 4 on Friday night, but I’m using a fork. A metal fork. There are no wooden “stirrers” available at this cafe, but even if there were, I would still choose the fork. I would choose the fork because A) it’s creative, and B) it serves Mother Earth. In fact, I’m sipping from a light green mug, adorned with a dark green peace sign. If this isn’t an ode to Mother Earth, I’ll be damned.

I now sit in a certain cafe where I previously sat last Sunday. This mysterious cafe shall not be named, for the sake of mystery and anonymity. Okay, it has a chess piece in its title, something my girlfriend’s little brother would appreciate. Hmm: was that appropriate? Maybe. Maybe not. Oh well! Point is, Nola coffee fiends, if you choose, you may figure it out.

I sat down this morning and asked myself, Is _____ Cafe the right place to go today? In response I heard, Yes. You have unfinished business there. For the record, this is my understanding of prayer. It is a quiet connection with my higher self.

What is my unfinished business, you ask? I’ll tell you, and if you don’t care to know, sign off. While here on Sunday, I noticed a table of flyers. I asked my new barista friend, let’s call him Serafino, which I believe was my great grandfathers name (Mother, if you’re reading this, correct me if I’m wrong), if any soul might put flyers down, and he said, “well, sure! Why not.”

Okay, he didn’t say it like that. There was no grand declaration, no exclamation point. It was more along the lines of a gentle nod, a subtle yet sincere nudge towards the affirmative.

Huzzah! I declared, albeit silently. A place to advertise for Destination Recovery! 

I decided I would put some flyers at this cafe and see what happens.
I decided I would come back the next day.
But I didn’t follow through.

You see, I take issue with promotion, particularly, self-promotion. When I picture it, I squirm. I would rather build my network organically, through attraction. I see promotion as egotistical and selfish. I want to release my own agenda, and place my message at the center. I want to write for humanity’s highest good, not for my own self-interests. Thus, putting my face on a flyer feels…quite frankly…icky.

But that’s clearly a judgment, and it’s holding me back. It’s holding my message back..

I have mounds – miniature mounds, but still mounds – of flyers and business cards in my desk drawer. I printed them 11 months ago, but do I use them? Seldom. I feel, embarrassed. I feel shy. New Orleans is a small town. And when I picture myself advertising, I imagine old mentors seeing my cards around town and laughing at me in condescension. 

Shyness has been my greatest enemy in this life.
Shyness is one of my anorexic qualities, one that I developed early on, pre-physical symptoms.

You see, there’s a difference between shyness and prudence.
There’s a difference between shyness and reserve.
At least in the way that I understand them, in the way that I experience the words.

Shyness stems from low-self-worth. Reserve stems from politeness. When I’m acting shy, I’m feeling small inside. 

I, Bella Florence, carry the belief that I’m too young to have anything of value to say, that I’m too young to be taken seriously, that the adults in my life will just laugh. 

“Oh, Bella, you’re a child,” my mind says. 

I have internalized ageism. I am an agist in disguise.

This demon has been a recurring roadblock for me. I felt it last summer when doing O Negative. I wrote the play. I also directed it. I also acted in it and produced it. But I shied away from all compliments about that. I was the youngest person on the team, so I felt drastically unqualified.

My internalized ageism also materializes in my recovery meetings. I’m often the youngest one in the room, conversing with people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, even 70s, all the while hearing in my head, What makes you think you can hang?

I often receive feedback after, such as, “You are so lucky to have this recovery so young.” And I agree: I am lucky. But those comments make me clam up. I react with guilt.

What am I supposed to say? I’m sorry? I’m sorry that you didn’t have recovery so young? What am I supposed to ask them? Do you resent me?

Then, there are things about advertising that simply overwhelm me. For instance, I got an email this morning that read as follows: 

For less than $49 per month I can get hundreds of people who are ready to buy to come to your site. Want to learn more? Just reply to this email address for more information: ______@_______.

(Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.)

Huh? Bella Florence, sell herself? Is that really in my repertoire? Unverified user, indeed. 

But, I took this as another sign to get going. I knew that I had to leave my flyers and then detach from the outcome. It doesn’t actually matter if people read the flyers or not. The act of me leaving the flyers reflects my belief in myself. So I got in the car and I drove to the cafe, where I sit now, having completed my business.

According to the Bhagavad Gita, there are two types of yoga: the yoga of meditation, and the yoga of right action. For the matured being, the best route is meditation. For the still-maturing being, the best course is right action.

I am still maturing. I am still recovering from my eating disorder. I am still healing my relationships. I am still healing my body. I am still making peace with movement. I am still discovering my sexuality. I have so much to share, so many stories to tell, and thus, for me, right now, I need action.

My right action is nurturing my blog. In fact, I saw my nutritionist two weeks ago, who told me that my experience gives me the flow to write my blog, which according to her, “helps so many people!” If that’s true, and it is, then who am I to give it up? I have nothing to lose except baggage.

It’s funny: While first approaching this cafe last weekend, I spotted a certain person through the window of the cafe next door. This certain person was my old theatre director, the first one to recognize my voice. In fact, I wrote my college application essay about an experience I had with him, an experience that connected me to my voice.

I have not laid eyes on this man since that experience in 2012. And I see him this weekend, this weekend, on my way to this very cafe? Something bigger is at play here. Something divine, cosmological. And today, I am ready to acknowledge it. Today I am ready to commit to my story, to commit to baring my soul. What happens next is none of my business.

In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own; take what you like and leave the rest. If something here spoke to you, write to me, or share it! Together, we can start a dialogue.

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