Face the Bear

Katerina Plotnikova

Friend, relationships are difficult.

They require work, whether that is picking up the phone to chat, planning and spending time together, or settling in to have the hard conversations…

…they, relationships, require effort.

Additionally, we all have triggers, pasts, and ‘imperfections’.

The closer you get to someone, my friend, the more likely these things will reveal themselves.

When they do, will you have the conversations, will you be willing to see someone for who they are and still say yes?

Will you be able able and willing to stand with them and hold space for them?

Will you be able to allow these things, when they rise up, to run their course while you remain centered, focused and confident?

And, what if – friend – you are?

You’re a full body yes, but the one you’re with is indecisive about whether or not they can stand with you?

What if, the one you’re with, when your triggers, past, and imperfections rise up, is unable to stand and hold space for you?

What if, instead, they show you who they are by yelling, fighting, or running away instead of remaining centered, focused and confident for you?

What then?

Friend, you choose you.

You love yourself the way you want to be loved and you let go.

You cannot force or coerce anyone to be ready to jump into the deep end of a relationship.

Real relationships require a scary amount of vulnerability, honesty, and transparency to both see and be seen completely, and it isn’t always pretty.

We carry with us scars, and while it’s no one else’s job to fix us – it is their job to choose us by holding space with us when the inevitable happens and we let the ugly bits loose.

Often we are too scared to let people this close, going into freeze, flight, or fight, as our bodies are geared to protect us from the unknown.

As our brain senses the danger of vulnerability, of possible hurt and rejection, it triggers those same urges as when faced with a bear.

We need people who will face down the bear with us.

Who when scared by vulnerability will, instead of running from the ugly bits, sit down with us and create true intimacy and connection as we reveal all of who we are.

That’s the reward, and it has to be worth it for both if you.

If not, choose you, because there is no relationship in which you can face the bear alone and ALL of you deserves to be seen and chosen.


Your Trusted Friend ❤️

The Roles We Play

Who has society told you to be, friend?

Has it whispered lies to you, forcing you to take a form that isn’t quite right, making you feel you’re supposed to play a role that isn’t meant for you?

Have you sawed off the bits of you that don’t fit, stuffed the unseemly parts away, and hid away the parts of yourself that you’ve been told are not acceptable?

Do you contort, twist, and shrivel, making yourself small, shrinking down to fit into a role that wasn’t made to fit all of you?

So often we look outside of ourselves to decide who it is we are meant to be, plucking the roles like overripe apples and gobbling them down without checking for rot and worms, assuming that since everyone else is eating – we should too.

It is only when we get sick, squirming at the ill fit of the role and the cancer of discontent and unhappiness that has grown inside of us, that we realize we had fallen prey to poison.

Some people will ignore the itch to pull of the costume they’ve donned, say that they just need to get accustomed and used to it – be content with what they have, where they’ve ended up, who they are – never waking up to the fact that the dream they’ve thought they created is actually a nightmare in disguise.

We are all, every human being on this planet, as unique as a fingerprint and as diverse as snowflakes, because of this there is no common role, costume, or off the rack disguise, that will fit each of us.

So, when we look outside of ourselves to decide who it is we are mean to be, how we’re supposed to behave, what we’re supposed to do, what the right answer is for us…

the answer we find, my friend, will always be wrong.

Nothing we pick up and try on will fit the way it should.

The only place you can look for the right answer is within.

There is no one way to be, no one way to live, no one place to find answers.

There is only YOUR way.

I tell you this as someone who tried, for a very long time, to do all the ‘right’ things and follow the prescribed path laid out before me and I happily stuffed myself into the role society dictated for me…

Graduating high school, attending church, going to college, getting engaged, waiting for marriage for sex, beginning my career, and settling into the role of wife and caretaker.

When my husband left after only three years together there was no warning.

There was no painful downfall we walked to divorce. Instead, it was a shocking exodus executed while I was out of town, one that left me broken and aghast as I’d DONE everything ‘right’.

I’d looked outside of myself and put on all the things that I thought I was supposed to, paying no heed to the fact that nothing fit quite right.

My life, many of my relationships, hobbies, my marriage, was like poorly put together IKEA furniture.

It looked good from afar and was easily affordable, but don’t move it, and definitely don’t test its fortitude under stress or duress.

It wasn’t until I went through my divorce and was forced to take a good, long, hard look at myself that I realized how ill fitting the life I had created for myself was.

You see, when I learned that my husband had left… my first reaction wasn’t heartbreak, it was a sense of failure and a wondering how I would tell and face people again.

This was such a fear of mine that the taking of my own life seemed a preferable option.

The role I’d squeezed myself into was ripped to shreds. The pieces left to decay around me. I was naked without it.

To have your reality forcibly shattered is hard.

Growth is always hard, but to have it thrust upon me felt impossible.

Being able to stretch into the roles that fit me, ones that I determined and decided was not easy, learning to to trust myself as I make these choices for myself is still an ongoing battle.

Change hurts like a motherfucker – but it’s worth it.

I was invited to create my own reality, instead of stuffing myself into some cookie cutter role that I thought I had to fill, and I picked up all the shreds of myself and I put them back together into a design of MY choosing.

Not everyone wakes up to the nightmares that they’ve forced themselves to live based on what society has dictated and told us life is…

But if you do wake up, if you’ve asked yourself why your life doesn’t seem to fit, why you feel you’ve had to shrink yourself, cutting off pieces of yourself, and – while you have done everything ‘right’ – nothing FEELS right…

Follow that call inward and find out what YOU want, who YOU want to be, how YOU want to live.

Throw the damn IKEA furniture away and build your own damn palace.

Tear the ill-fitting costume off, rip it to shreds, then pick the pieces up and make a role perfectly crafted and created by you, for you.

This, my friend, is what we are meant for.

To forge our own paths, figure out who we want to be as we exist in the world, and create our own staring role.

As long as we attempt to force ourselves within expectations we will always feel trapped… we were not meant to conform to roles.. like an animal trapped in a cage… we were meant to be free to write and create our own.

Your Trusted Friend ❤

The Realities We Create

Ever since my divorce at 29, after a very short lived three year marriage, I have struggled to find love…not because it hasn’t been there, but because I have not felt worthy.

When you don’t feel worthy of love, and yet you’re out on the hunt, it doesn’t bode well for your success.

What you search for, what you feel worthy of, you find.

Returning home to the apartment I shared with my husband to see it empty, cleared of all of his things without warning, created a story in my head of who I was and what I was worth.

I answered the question, “How could someone leave me like this?” by assuming that it must be my fault, there must be something horribly wrong with me.

I must be unlovable.

These are the truths the voice in my head said again and again… there was something wrong with me.

My solution, friend, was to try to be good… to be perfect.

The outside world shows us women who and what we are supposed to be. We’re supposed to be thin, mysterious, alluring, sexy, capable, and secure… but not too much of any of these things, we have to leave space for a man to swoop in and take care of us.

So, I embarked on a journey – sometimes a subconscious one – to be and do all the right things in order to earn the love of a man.

Maybe if I was pretty enough, mysterious enough, thin enough, alluring enough, sexy enough I would meet someone who would stay, someone who wouldn’t abandon me in the middle of the night, someone who wouldn’t run away from me.

I believed that there was something about me that forced people away, a repellent of some sort that deemed me unlovable.

My role was to be a lesson, a stepping stone, a distraction, a rumination on the way to someone and something better. These were the roles I was comfortable filling, for they protected my heart and proved my story to myself, that there was something wrong with me that would force people to leave.

The thing with a belief system is that if you believe it, if you think about it, it will become your reality.

So I made this story true, again and again and again.

Heartbreak after heartbreak, each carefully created, tended, and designed by my own hand.

What a revelation that was.

At some point you HAVE to stop and take long hard look at yourself. You have to look at the life you’re living and those lessons that keep presenting themselves to you over, and over, and over.

If you don’t learn the lesson, you will continually find yourself in the same circumstances again and again, just as I did with the relationships I found myself in.

Because I felt unworthy and unlovable, I chose partners who were either physically distant or emotionally distant. I chose partners who were not a match for me in some way… either intellectually, emotionally, or physically.

Because I felt unworthy, I believed that I would have to continually work or try or fix myself or a relationship in order to BE worthy. I had to choose relationships that were lacking in some way, so that I could do the work, earn the love, prove my worth.

What finally woke me up was a devastating breakup of a relationship that I tried so hard to make work.

I knew that there were problems, red flags that I pretended I didn’t see.

There were the harsh words that I brushed off, the unexplained late nights that I felt guilty to question, the little bags of white powder hidden around the house, the lies told to explain phone calls, pictures, and text messages that I convinced myself to believe.

The sad truth, friend, is that I didn’t wake up on my own to see these things. I persisted in not staring straight at the truth before me. Instead, I purposelessly unfocused my gaze so that I would see only that which I wanted to.

Until his daughter whispered the truth to me.

Until his daughter apologized with tears running down her face, in a voice that kept catching in her throat, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. He’s seeing another girl. She stays the night when you’re not here. The walls are thin. I’ve heard it all. Dad ruins everything,” and then she flung her arms around my waist and hid her face in my shoulder.

In that moment my whole world came into focus and it struck me, almost taking me off balance, that I was teaching this beautiful young woman a lesson in what women should accept in life and love. I was showing my own daughter the expectations she should have of how she deserves to be treated. I was helping to model how men treat women they love to his son.

The life I’d settled into. The life I was accepting as ‘good enough’ for me, wasn’t what I wanted to show the children watching me.

I wanted to teach a better lesson.

So, I said that I loved her and her brother very, very much and that I was so thankful for them and how she, in particular, looked out for me. I told her that I was sorry that she had to be put in the role of caretaker and truth speaker, that I should have been taking better care of myself.

So I have, friend.

Finding love has to first begin with learning to love yourself, with facing down all the ugly stories that you tell yourself, and demanding better.

Recently I was told that it sounds like I am trying to convince myself that I am a ‘big deal’…

and it’s because I am.

In my heart I know that I am worthy. That who I am is good enough. This is a truth I know in my core.

However, I’m still rewiring that old story that was on a loop in my head for so long, the one that had me convinced that no one would ever love me because I was inexplicably deficit and flawed.

So, my heart is demanding and doing better, it’s doing the work to convince my brain that who I am, as I am, is a ‘big deal’ – and it’s going to keep repeating that mantra until in drowns out the old story and the brain believes it and acts on it without even thinking.

That is the reality that I am creating for myself now, because we all have a choice in the realities that we create and this one is mine.


and so are you,

and so are we all.


Your Trusted Friend ❤️ 

Be Someone

I am someone, not somebody.

The distinction is important.

This isn’t a grammar lesson, it’s a lesson in how you allow yourself to show up and be in other people’s lives, and what you accept into yours.

We as humans crave and desire intimacy, yet it is also one of the most feared aspects of human connection.

We want someone to see and know us, yet we are so afraid of being rejected, abandoned, and left that we often fail to fully show up or to give all of ourselves. We keep parts in reserve, hidden.

Instead, we settle for being and accepting somebody to satisfy the craving.

Somebody who maybe isn’t quite right for us, isn’t quite ready for us, or who doesn’t quite fit us.

We settle for the almost, both in giving and receiving, because the almost is good enough and really rather okay. If the ‘almost’ rejects us we can dust off and walk off knowing that we didn’t reveal all of us…

so they didn’t really reject all of us.

They just rejected somebody.

When we allow ourselves to be, instead, someone special, our unique selves completely and fully, when we receive love and acceptance of this caliper and allow ourselves to be someone special to someone else we are courageously vulnerable….

We have to be if we want to be open to love, acceptance, partnership, and truly being seen, and not in the ‘good enough’ kind of way…

Good enough is someone to keep you company. Good enough is someone to stave off the loneliness with. Good enough is a distraction. Good enough is the easy button.

Good enough is settling to be just a somebody…

Instead of waiting for someone and letting yourself be someone.

Someone is being seen for all of your quirks and habits and being accepted and chosen for everything that you are, “by someone that would never let you be anything less than your beautiful and sometimes flawed self” (@momentaryhappiness).

When this happens, this is the kind of love that will wake up wanting to learn you every day, want you, need you, love you in slow motion because you know that you have forever to grow, to learn, to change, to inspire, to adventure, to discover, to become again and again and again…

and it won’t be just “good enough”, it’ll be everything…

it won’t be somebody to fulfill the craving for intimacy, it’ll be the someone you crave because they brought your world alight… when you never knew it’d been in shadows.

If you feel you’re just somebody that is being used to fill time in order to chase off the loneliness, that you’re ‘just good enough’… cut them loose, because we don’t have time or energy for halfway anymore.


Your Trusted Friend ❤️

A Poor Shopper

“Hungry people make poor shoppers”.

We’ve all been the person in the grocery store, grabbing all the things we don’t need because we are shopping hungry – leaving the grocery store with chips, cookies, pastries, and all the sweet and salty goodies we crave when we go too long without properly fueling our bodies.

The same is true when we are hungry for love and approval.

There is danger in not tending to our own hearts, investing in our sense of self worth, and when we fail to fill the voids in us and – instead – look for for validation from external sources.

We ‘shop hungry’, settling for crumbs of attention, bits of time, and limited connection.

Instead, we should wait for the whole meal… but when we’re hungry… we don’t always make the best of choices.

We grab the crap and gobble it down.

When we crave love we will settle for scraps, permitting people to treat us poorly, often even making excuses for them out of our deep longing

Maybe we even try to fix and repair ourselves, hoping that the end result will be the love that we so desperately crave.

Because when you shop hungry, you buy crap.

How do we ensure we’re not looking for love and approval in the wrong places…

Thinking that the bare minimum of respect is sufficient, making excuses for all the gaps and leaks in the facade, ignoring the red flags?

We tend our wounds. We learn to love and accept ourselves… and, maybe, we seek professional help to teach us and guide us when we’re lost and floundering.

If you’re full of self love and aware of your own worth you’ll pass on the crap, you’ll pass and wait on something truly delectable.

You’ll recognize that the junk isn’t good for you, and you’ll make better choices.

Your Trusted Friend ❤️

Bread Crumbs

Our hearts, our energy, and our time are valuable commodities. We need to be particular about those people who we let share space in these golden spaces because the people that we invite in become a part of us.

When we invite people who are unwilling to meet us equally, we diminish our own worth. We settle. We allow breadcrumbs to be enough.

Friend, do not go all the way in with someone who is only willing to go part way.

There may be times when it might be easy or alluring to settle for bread crumbs, as at least we have somethingsomeone. It’s easy to put aside what we desire, want, and need when there is uncertainty regarding its attainability.

However, friend, if we do settle, we give a part of ourselves away. We allow the deepest parts of ourselves to be viewed and observed by someone who isn’t able to fully appreciate the magnificence of the view.

By doing so, we only serve to injure ourselves. Settling for mediocrity isn’t worth the pain when all we need to do is wait.

Wait for someone who will go all the way with you, and for you. You deserve nothing less than that.

Keep opening your heart, don’t fear taking risks, and continue feeling…

but, friend, be ready to say no to maybes, to indecision, to anyone only coming part way, and to anything that is less than a hell yes.


Your Trusted Friend ❤

Growth Mindset

“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

The idea of growth mindset is that the hand we are dealt is merely a starting point.

One in which requires you to ask yourself, where will you go from here?

This mindset is based on the belief that basic qualities are things that can all be cultivated and grown.

Dr. Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests or personalities – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

With this type of mindset any challenges are viewed with excitement, as an opportunity to overcome, became you know you will get something out of the process.

Sarah Montana is someone who embodies this growth mindset, someone we can all look to for inspiration. She has faced many obstacles in life which could have devoured her, things which could have crushed her. She refused to let these things define her, and instead used them as moments that shaped her.

She says that, “things shape and change you, but YOU decide who you’re going to be. Can’t control what happens to YOU, but you decide what it means.”

Will you be a victim or a survivor?

I’d like to be like Sarah. Since people always tell their own stories best, hers.

We are all facing a hardship right now. Some are experiencing this differently, more acutely, but we are all facing the same obstacle.

With this obstacle comes opportunity, an opportunity to grow, to change.

While there are many things outside of our control, we friend, we get to decide how we are going to react and what it means to us. .

As a high school English teacher I, along with my colleagues, have had to immediately adjust – overnight – what we do and how we meet the needs of our students, their parents, and even our community.

Not only have teachers transitioned to preparing, delivering, and offering feedback on learning opportunities online, but schools are ensuring that students have breakfast and lunches delivered, access to technology and internet, and teachers are individually reaching out to all students to see what it is we can do to help with any needs that arise.

A good friend of mine is using this current obstacle to explore a career path she’s always wanted to pursue, but was prevented to do so by fear. She feared changing from something that is known and comfortable to something that is new and unknown.

Another friend in the fitness industry is providing online team workouts and printed schedules and meal plans while people are stuck at home.

Is any of this ideal?

Absolutely not, but this is our opportunity to be creative and bold – to view an obstacle as an opportunity for growth.

Which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck. We don’t have to pretend that this is something magical and wonderful, because it’s not.

However, it is still an opportunity, and we won’t let it break or destroy us, we will – instead – allow it to push us to grow – because that is the only option.


Your Trusted Friend ❤

Stay Grounded

I found myself in tears last night, friend.

There was a prevailing sense of hopelessness and anxiety as I went out and about yesterday. Not my emotions, but those of others.

I felt them crashing upon me like waves.

So many people are feeling stress, hopelessness, and despair.

These feelings seem to be contagious, for I felt them.

In my return home I felt the weight of them.

This morning they were still there, lumbering on my heart.

It struck me the rightness in allowing myself to feel them, but in also finding a way to let them go – for they are not mine and, as a friend told me, “You deserve to be free.”

So, today I am allowing these emotions to drift through me and I am letting them go.

For friend, if I allow myself to to feel despair, hopelessness, and helplessness these things will become my reality.

I am none of these things.

While I allow all feelings space, I do not allow all feelings to stay.

Feelings serve as a signal to check in with ourselves. They are neither good nor bad in and of themselves.

It is how we allow these emotions to take root in us, and how react to them that creates our reality and can be labeled as good or bad.

When you feel anger, do you allow it to burrow deep within you and burst out on someone unsuspecting who bumped into you in the hallway?

Or, do you let that anger spur you to stand up for someone or something that can’t speak for themselves.

You decide, no one else, on how those emotions are going to move through you and if you’re going to allow them to take root or not.

Choose to be an observer, choose your actions accordingly, and then – friend – let them go.

Feelings do have a purpose. It is our job, as a good friend said to me, to acknowledge the feelings as they pass through – “like clouds that shape shift in the sky as we lay grounded safely on the hillside”.

Stay grounded with me, friend.


Your Trusted Friend ❤

In This Together

Friends, we’re facing some trying times right now.

Many of us are not sure how to feel or what to do.

Additionally, we’re questioning whether or not we’re taking the current outbreak of Covid-19 serious enough or too seriously.

First, we need to have a healthy respect for what is spreading across the globe. It’s not a joke and it’s not manufactured by the media as some way to scare the public.

Second, we need to remember that we are a community.

All of us.

We are in this together.

All of us.

Those in distant countries currently in the epicenter of this viral outbreak, and those watching and awaiting it’s encroachment are in this together.

What’s more is that this pandemic can serve as a reminder that we are not invincible, nor are we better than anyone else around us.

We can, however, be stronger by working and caring for one another.

By practicing patience, understanding, empathy.

With actions fueled by grace, kindness, compassion, and understanding.

I’ve felt a fever pitch of panic around me, and it’s left me saddened and overwhelmed…

Yet within that hum of fear I’ve seen rays of light.

People banding together and offering to help in a wide assortment of ways.

Two examples especially warmed my heart, that of a young mother offering her breast milk to those that can’t find formula and are unable to breast feed and the Hollywood Theater keeping employees on full pay and benefits while shutting down.

These are selfless acts that prove that our world is full of so much love and hope.

These examples of community banding together make me hopeful.

Hopeful that in the weeks to come, which will surely get harder, we can make it through and be stronger and closer as a result.

Let’s not allow this pandemic to continue to propel us to fear, but instead instill in us a deep sense of community from which wealth of love overflows for our fellow man.

Please, friend, know that we are in this together and it is our responsibility to band together and to support one another.


Your Trusted Friend ❤

Letting Ourselves Down

There are many ways in which we can let ourselves down.

When we say yes, when we’d rather say no.

When other people’s feelings are placed ahead of our well-being.

When we silence our voice out of fear of how we will be perceived.

Most importantly, though, we let ourselves down when we fail to recognize our worth.

When we settle for less.

Perhaps part of why we settle for less then we deserve, is because we never get clear about what it is we really want.

Whether that is at work, our friendships, or our romances.

Maybe, though, we don’t ever really stop to consider all the details of what we really want.

Before you began your career, did you ever think about the kind of life that it would provide for you?

Meeting a new friend, did you stop to think if this would be someone you could call and rely on in a moment of crisis?

With a romantic partner, did you get clear about what it is your desire and what you want out of that partnership?

What do all of these things look like to you? How do you live and interact within all these facets of your life?

Have you thought about it, or have you just allowed things to happen to you?

Instead of actively living your life, have you passively let the tides take you where they may?

How about, from now on, you get clear about all the things you desire?

All of them.

What do you want to do every day when you go to work? Where do you want to live? What hobbies are going to occupy your time?

Most importantly, how do you want to be treated? How do you want to be loved and communicated with? How do you want people to respond to you when you have a disagreement?

There are so many little things that occupy our time, and many of those we just let happen to us instead of deciding what it is we really want.

So, friend, from now on, let’s not let ourselves down with our own passivity.

Let’s decide what we want, work for it and expect it.


Your Trusted Friend ❤