2.15.2013

about



Seventeen years ago, while backpacking through Europe with my childhood best friend, I bunjee jumped in the Swiss Alps. The moment before I flew out of the gondola, I teetered on the edge of paralyzing fear AND giddy liberation. As I prepare to launch Laughing in Traffic, a deeply personal blog about trying to reclaim a stalled life, I'm on that same tandem cusp of fright and joy. Well, to be honest, right about now I'm pretty much only aware of the fear, but soon, if my predictions have promise, the liberation will follow. 1,2,3...jump.



The full story: I've been waiting. And waiting. And w.a.i.t.i.n.g...for my real life to start. I've been postponing my relationship with happiness, operating under the faulty belief that it couldn't possibly coexist with my constellation of struggles. I've been stubbornly waiting for my hard-edged challenges to shrink and morph into something softer and sweeter, something that looks at least a little more like what I thought I'd pre-ordered in my childhood dreams.

When I was 7, short-stopping it as one of two girls on the Dodgers little league team, or fourteen years later, co-captaining my college field hockey squad, I certainly couldn't have forecasted that by 24 my life would be restricted by a long, tenacious list of chronic health struggles, which remain with me today. As a late night giggle-instigator at slumber party after slumber party, I would never have predicted that I'd grow up to grapple with depression, a direct result of struggling so young and often with my health. And sneaking a first kiss with my fifth-grade boyfriend at Wayne Elementary School's log cabin on the playground, I sure as hell wouldn't have imagined that I'd reach the age of 37 without yet finding my life mate or starting a family of my own. I must have accidentally picked up someone else's life order, because this certainly wasn't the one I called in, when I was small. 


Waiting is a misleading word for the last thirteen years of my life, because I've been anything but passive. I'm a determined little punk. I've worked my ass off to try to solve my life's struggles, and to make it look like, on the cover, that I'm perfectly fine. My version of depression has always been a reasonably high-functioning one, and my health issues invisible, so I don't look or act like someone who is struggling deeply inside. And maddeningly, my relentless efforts to shake these issues have failed. 

So now, on the heels of my lowest point to date, the pain of which managed to somehow crack my heart wide open, I'm making a life-changing commitment to myself. I'm ready to try letting go of the achy disappointment that my life does not look or feel like what I always thought it would. I want so much to stop comparing my journey to yours and hers and his and theirs. This incessant, internal measuring only leads to exhausting envy. 

Experiencing the devastating death of my brother, Jeff, when he was only 40, and now, three years later, at the brink of my own middle age, I'm starting to really get it: there's not much more time to fuck around. I can live the rest of my life at war with circumstances beyond my control, or I can surrender. Consider the white flag raised. I'm ready to choose contentment over despair, to focus on my own bounties, and to find joy wherever I can, even if all the other struggles remain the same. Sustaining this vow will be the hardest work yet. But I'm tenaciously committed to the project. Laughing in Traffic chronicles a quest to embrace self and life exactly as they are right now, while still daring to hope and dream for what might come next.  

I'm taking time off from my small business, Cloud 9 Organize & Redesign, to general contract the bigger business of renovating my life. I'll go deep-diving for tools and experiences that bring me face-to-face with those pithy, powerful constructs, like vulnerability, imperfection, hope, honesty, faith, acceptance, patience, self-love, and gratitude. Then, after putting my own spin on them, I'll swim these gems back up to the surface to show them to you, just in case you're struggling with your own versions of w.a.i.t.i.n.g.

You might wonder (like I do, on an hourly basis) why I don't just track this journey in my bedside journal, instead of broadcasting it over the blogosphere, where I subject myself to criticism or worse, radio silence. (For the record, this is MUCH scarier than jumping off a swinging gondola in the Swiss Alps.) I blame this blog on my inner revolutionary chick. No matter how much I protest, she insists that by sharing our story, we help change the dominant culture, which stigmatizes people for being anything less than shiny-happy and for honestly admitting struggle. Since that little counter-culturalist won't let me out of this and I have been idling for an awfully long time, I decided to maximize the experience. So, I'm also hoping to use Laughing in Traffic as a rocket booster for growth, by bundling six projects into one online experiment:
  • Memorial Project: On August 17, 2007, I lost my brother, and best friend, Jeff, to suicide. He was the kindest, smartest, funniest person I knew, as well as my most cherished confidante. For the thirty-four years I was lucky enough to overlap with him in this world, Jeff was my Biggest Fan, urging me to never stop excavating the power, health, and vitality that he knew lived inside me. He always believed that my long journey was an inspiring story, well worth sharing. So, if for no other reason, I'm doing this for Jeff.
  • Service Project: Jeff knew, and I know, what it can feel like to live without hope. It's brutal and it's lonely. So if sharing my story can help even one person feel less alone, or if my quest can plant a tiny seed of hope for someone in w.a.i.t.i.n.g, then that's worth the fear I'm facing to write this blog. By revealing my truths and vulnerabilities, maybe it will inspire you to share yours. 
  • Community Building Project: Depression relies on isolation for survival. Laughing in Traffic holds the potential to expand my community, reaching other kindred seekers who are equally ready to claim a peaceful heart. Plus, at my age, many of my friends are partnered with children, leaving them with a lot less social freedom. I'm tired of grieving that fact; now I'm just shopping for more friends, who have the availability to see a last-minute movie or share an impromptu meal.
  • Accountability Project: I've already specified my story's ending - contentment without qualification. Now I just have to figure out how to get there. And knowing that I've publicly committed myself to reporting on the process is a good motivator for trying new tools and experiences.
  • Freedom Project: Depression depends on something else for survival - basing our self-worth on the mercurial perceptions and judgements of others, instead of building a loyal relationship with our own self-love. I recently heard Al Sharpton tell a story called "Conviction" on The Moth. Toward the end of the tale, he says something I'll never forget: "And that was the last time I ever worried about what someone else thought of me." Amen, Al. I can't wait to meet you there. If I can survive posting such a personal journey on the intranets, then I will be as free as I've ever wanted to be. And that will make me a peaceful human.
If my journey reflects even a tiny slice of your own, I hope you'll join me on this virtual, hard-won path to contentment. I warmly invite your comments and discussion. 

So let's get this shit started. May this be the year we learn how to laugh while sitting in traffic, no matter where it's blocking us from going, or how late we are in getting there. There might be a treasure hidden inside the delay.


I'm a sporadic blogger, so the easiest way to follow Laughing in Traffic is by email subscription. There's a box over there on the right to sign up!

I also have a tumblr blog, State of the Interior, which is where I store inspirational tidbits: photos and quotes and links and videos that give me hope.

Gratefully,
Kyle    

P.S. If profanity makes you bristle, this could be an uncomfortable ride. As the youngest girl of three older brothers, cursing is like breathing for me, and it's pretty low on my self-improvement priority list. I'm lying - it doesn't even make the list. Plus, I'm sure it makes my mama proud.
Me and my brother Jeff

32 comments:

  1. Kyle, I love the pictures. I really think people will connect with this as these are issues almost everyone faces in some form or another over the course of their lives. Thanks for putting yourself out there
    chuck

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  2. Thanks Chuck - I really appreciate the support!

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  3. Thanks for sharing Kyle! I miss you!!! If i can figure out how to sign up for a blog, yours will be the first that i sign up for! Amy

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  4. Kyle,
    Good work getting your blog going. Love all the old pictures and those rad Nikes you were sportin' on the bungy jump!
    xo
    Bevin

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  5. you're awesome!

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  6. What a gift to all of us and to yourself. Thank you!

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  7. I love this already. More swearing, I say.

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  8. Holy shit. You have no idea how much this blog means to me. I have suffered from clinical depression for (at least) 8 years. It's a daily -no, hourly- struggle that exists in complete darkness. I wonder how many of my friends & family know that I suffer from a real disease, take a shitload of pills and go to more therapy than Woody Allen. The isolation & stigma is horrendous. I've often thought about starting a blog like you have, just saying fuck it to social taboos, but like you said, the fear is paralyzing. Well, not anymore for you! This is all to say ... THANK YOU. I look forward to waking up tomorrow to read more. And please do tell us more about Jeff. I'm excited to meet him.

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  9. Kyle, I'm just so moved by the important themes, your writing, the wrestling and the hope--I'll be following along, and living the struggle with you. Thanks.

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  10. This is wonderful. Thank you for bringing depression into the sunlight to join our conversation, as it were... So many of us have personal or familial stories that we haven't felt we could tell for so long... My ex-husband (my children's father) committed suicide August 2008. That, too is a much-avoided topic. Suicide sucks-- literally: it sucks energy and joy and possibilities and replaces them with sadness and confusion and with so many unanswered questions... I look forward to reading about Jeff and about whatever you decide to share about his suicide and its aftermath. Good luck with wherever this ends up going. It's already a good thing! :-)

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  11. omg! sneaking kisses in the Wayne Elementary School log cabin, i guess it was a right of passage :)...what memories! kudos to you for doing this, it takes boatloads of courage and as someone who has had similar struggles (and experiences in the log cabin), my hat is off to you!

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  12. How courageous of you to make this commitment to yourself and to take the scary leap of sharing it with others. I hope that it helps you and others.

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  13. Tania & LizFebruary 25, 2011

    Fucking Bravo, Kyle! We're inspired already -- let 'er rip!

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  14. Kyle, thanks for sharing this with all of us. I love hearing your voice and your honesty and your sass. Thanks for changing the perspective around and shouting it out loud. Keep your words coming--I'm inspired by them! Love, Ali

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  15. As always your wonderful writing is touching and inspiring. Lots of love for your journey and I'm looking forward to following along. xo Sarah

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  16. well, shit. I'm a fan! Thank you!

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  17. I'm a friend of a friend. Looking forward to being a spectator of your ride, and appling it to my life as I can. We all have bouts of depression in varying amounts, and it is always good to have more tools in our toolbags when we need to get out of a funk. You go girl! We'll be watching and hoping for the best.

    Diane

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  18. Kyle - bravo! I celebrate your milestone and courage. I can relate in my own way to some of the things you've shared. I look forward to your blog. And I am a sucker for a last minute move or dinner invitation so add me to your speed dial. - lily weitzman

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  19. Kyle,

    I look forward to reading everything you write. Supporting you all the way!!!

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  20. Dear good birds, thank you for these incredibly supportive comments - they will help me keep at it, for sure! And to those who refer to your own depression, thank YOU for speaking up. And to those who mention wanting to know more about my brother Jeff, and to get to know him, well that's about the kindest thing anyone can invite me to do. And I will - he is a man worth knowing!

    Thanks so much for your company.

    Love,
    Kyle

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  21. Craig BancoffFebruary 27, 2011

    Kyle I am so moved. I am proud of you! I can relate so much with your process. When you emancipate yourself you emancipate others, Thank You.

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  22. marilyn sternFebruary 28, 2011

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  23. marilyn sternFebruary 28, 2011

    "May this be the year we learn how to laugh while sitting in traffic, no matter where it's blocking us from going, or how late we are in getting there. There might be a treasure hidden deep inside the delay."
    I love how you put words to this, and many more difficult realities...I think you're choosing a window on experience that will open up the view for lots of us. Already has. I'm happier, just being a part of this. And touched by your courage , in popping the privacy bubble and coming out as a revolutionary chick! marilyn

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  24. hi kyle,

    i don't know you. i saw a link to this blog from a mutual friend. i just recently found the courage to admit that i suffer from some form of depression, after years and years of struggling with my career and life in general. i went to my first therapy session last week. i can't tell you how thrilled i am to discover this blog. i am terrified about what the future holds for me and do not want to live in that space any more so i am REALLY looking forward to reading, and hopefully contributing to the wonderful blog as i too start my journey to joy!!!

    thank you so much for this service!

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  25. Kyle,
    As someone who grew up right along side you as classmates I feel as though my eyes have been opened up to you for the first time. Thank you for sharing your personal journey of growth and enlightenment. The path to self discovery is never an easy one but always a rewarding one! Be proud of yourself and be gentle with yourself! You are truly a beautiful spirit and I look forward to following your journey and learning from you along the way. I am giggling a little bit right now because as a teen, you were the one I was most envious of. I guess we Never really know the impact we have on people unless they tell us. So, I am
    telling you now...you were always inspiring!
    Would love to get together for dinner when I am in Boston later this month if you
    have time. It would be great to reconnect with an old friend!

    Many blessings to you!
    Love,
    Amiee Ingram-Kelly

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  26. Thank you for speaking out about depression. It is a dark and lonely disease, I was without treatment for many years myself. Thank you for striving to rise above it, and thank you for informing and helping others on your journey.

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  27. Thank you so much for your continued comments. They mean more than you can imagine. When I get really scared to post something, I remember you telling me that in some way, this process is serving you. That's why I'll keep doing it.

    Love,
    Kyle

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  28. fantastic, kyle. right the fuck on !

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  29. Wow - Kyle - I'm beyond words - you need to find a publisher - because this (and I've only read this first piece) is the makings of a book - a book that would be read and re-read ! Thank you for putting yourself out there - you connected - believe this - you CONNECTED!

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  30. So refreshing to find someone in your age group who discovered what it took me until I was in my late 50's to find. I applaud you.

    I've dedicated my career and blog to staying positive, laughing a lot and ways to process the negative safely, quickly so we don't get stuck in traffic.

    sending you love and blessings. YOU GO GIRL!

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  31. I just wanted to put in a little thing.
    I was 41 before I got married. I'm so happy that I didn't settle.
    If it had taken me until I was 70 to meet this man, it would have been worth the wait.

    No we don't have any children. However, we are on the journey to become licensed foster parents.

    So yes, it may be late, but things are coming together.

    Hang in there. Life may be giving us a different path than we originally thought, so I'm just learning to look at things a little differently.

    wendy

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  32. Wow Kyle. You are an amazing and powerful writer! Your commitment to contentment without qualification - and to such authenticity and open heartedness really took my breath away. I can feel your powerful energy and commitment - to yourself, to life - from here and I'm rooting for you - and grateful that you're sharing your journey. Much love, Lorraine

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