Rediscovering Dreams

The dream was always to live at the ocean. I fantasized about living at the beach and living on an island most of my life. I imagined what it would be like. I envisioned being able to go out to the beach and swim in the water whenever I wanted.

It was always just a dream. A make believe dream that would never become reality. I never believed that it would be possible. Life was surrounded by family, responsibility and doing what was expected of you. It was doing what must be done to survive day to day, to pay the bills and have a roof over your head. The messages I received about life were confusing mixed messages but I knew which messages I was suppose to follow and which were to be considered unrealistic fancy .

My mother believed life was a harsh reality where you struggled to survive. You worked, you married, you had children, and you worked some more to put a roof over everyone’s head and food on the table. Family stayed together and all contributed to its survival. You ignored your own interests and individuality to conform to the group and by group one means the leader, the mother. Simply what she said was law and you conformed.  Your loyalty and responsibility was to the family. Never loyalty or responsibility to yourself. You had to sacrifice that because real life demanded it of you.

The messages from my father tried to slip hope of something else, of dreams, passions, individuality, and a larger world out there with different opportunities and experiences to partake of. He opened moments of possibility with trips to the beach, Bermuda, and cruises to the Caribbean. I wanted to believe so much.

It became my belief that these trips, these experiences of opportunities beyond our basic life existed but I was only allowed to experience them on a limited level. Only on a vacation did this life exist. It was temporary and not real life but a short lived fantasy one was allowed to indulge in but only if you worked hard and long for many hours, days and months and years first then you could treat yourself selfishly to a trip-a yearly vacation if you were very lucky.

These brief interludes of dreams didn’t last and eventually you have to go back to the reality of life-real life as my mother called it. Dreams were a waste of time really. Make-believe like when you are a kid. Even as a kid your imagination gets squashed and pushed down. Daydreaming becomes shameful as you get older.

I followed the path of mom’s beliefs the best I could but sometimes I would break free for brief moments. It was then I would hear, “She’s just like her father, a dreamer.” I knew that this was meant as a negative comment not a compliment. At least not in my household.

I became emotionless to life. I felt nothing. Life was empty for me. I was empty except for those brief moments. The times I was off on that vacation. There I would get lost in another world. The ‘real world’ didn’t exist. I lived in that fantasy world blocking out the life I had waiting at home for me. Eventually I fell completely into the path of what was expected of me. I had prolonged it as long as I could but the pull, my mother’s voice and command of authority was stronger than I was.

I did what was expected of me. Worked, married, had kids, struggled to work to survive. I was barely surviving. I was suffocating. I walked through my life like I was watching someone else live a life I wasn’t in but it was my life. My existence wasn’t in it. It was a body, a shell with no person living inside or experiencing this life. I had given up on believing in dreams. My mother had won. I was living the life she wanted and expected of me. The life she kept telling me should make me happy but I wasn’t happy.

Whatever happened around me I walked through blindly. I become more emotionless to reality. Three major events through this part of my life each played a part in my regaining my belief in dreams. It didn’t happen at once but it sure felt like it in the end.

The first event was the birth of my third daughter, Monica. It sent me into the depths of depersonalization and derealization that manifested on the outside as depression.I began to question this life I was living. I began feeling a need to search and see if there really was something more to life. More importantly I wanted to know if someone actually existed inside myself. Why was I so numb? Why didn’t I feel any moments of joy when something wonderful happened?

The second event was the death of my father. I was devastated. I lost the most solid foundation of myself and my dreams I had. I felt like any hope of the reality of dreams was shattered. I fell apart. I felt anger for the first time in my life. The great thing about that is that I experienced a feeling completely and fully for the first time I could remember. If I could feel sadness and pain so deeply then I must exist inside somewhere. Hope that I could discover her arose. And thankfully it didn’t end all my hope that dreams could come true. Hope arose in the midst of grief and anger that I hung onto for a very long time.

The third and final event that sent me full flung into an adventure of discovering the person inside myself and that dreams could come true was when all my daughters flew the coup and began living life following their dreams. I fell into a state of fear of losing the only piece of semblance of the life I was suppose to be living. Dread of continuing to follow that path and do what was being expected of me now sent me into fear of being forced into the world of reality that I hated with a passion because it only made me feel invisible and numb.

It was my youngest, Monica that told me. “Mom, go have your own adventure” It was time. It was well past time. I had done what was expected of me and except for the girls and some other brief moments it had turned into an empty shell of a life where I didn’t exist or experience any of it. I wanted to feel life, experience life, live life but first I would have to find the person who was hidden inside my body who was hiding inside my soul afraid to live.

Where was I to go? What was I to do? How was I going to find myself and live my dreams? What was my dream it had been so long since I let myself dream I had even forgotten what the dream was. I vaguely remembered I loved the ocean but I was afraid and still didn’t believe in my dreams. I followed the winding path into the woods. Lost wandering while examining my past and finding the way into my soul. And when I was almost there I stumbled out of the woods onto an island with the ocean before me. I didn’t plan this. I didn’t strive and plan moving to this island or any island or this beach or any beach. I stumbled onto it just trying to get out of the woods and to the ocean. I was just reaching for the ocean. I couldn’t have planned it. I wasn’t capable of planning anything. I was making choices day to day, minute by minute. But I found myself on an island at the beach with the ocean in front of me.

And living the dream began.

Here I began living completely in the present moment. In those moments I became. Moment by moment, piece by piece I began living through my being. It was in the being that my true self began to emerge little by little. I uncovered a piece of myself as I watched the ocean waves roll onto shore, as the tides came in and went out, as the sun rose and set each day. It was in the living within those present moments that I emerged from the shell.

I was discovering who I was, not who I was suppose to be, not who my mother wanted me to be but who I am from within. I began experience these moments of life. I was experiencing nature and experiencing me and interacting with life going on around me. I was seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching life in all its dimensions.

It is a daily process but I have come far. I am no longer that quiet shy timid little girl. I am no longer that reserve empty shell of a person going through the motions. I feel a connection to the little girl I was becoming before my path was altered and I became someone in reaction to outside circumstances. The little girl hidden away in shame has reemerged. She is not complete yet. I would say she is a teenager still growing into herself.

I have also discover the sage that lives within my soul. There the wisdom of ages resides. It guides me forward to allow my true being to continue to emerge. I am a sage who is growing up experiencing a new life after being shut off and silent for most of the years of this lifetime. Finally living this lifetime continuing to uncover the depths of being, its passions, its loves, its dislikes, its dreams and letting them become real. I believe in dreams again. I am living my dream and creating new dreams to live into.

 

 

Memoir: Falling to Pieces

This is an excerpt of my Memoir Manuscript

Through the Woods to the Sea: Stepping into Myself, Stepping into My Life

By Cathy Teoste

Falling to Pieces

My life is falling apart. Not that it has been an exciting great life but it has been the life I have been living. I have been watching the life that I have created fall away piece by piece. I have even helped pack it up and send it on its way. My daughters, Nikki, Sam and Monica are going off to begin their own lives as young adults.

What about me? What do I do? This has been my life despite the fact that I haven’t fully lived it. I have been making the best of it for years sometimes barley hanging on so why as it is falling apart am I in a panic. Fear and panic swarm me externally and internally. The only thing that has mattered in the life, my daughters, are now leaving me. My life line that held the little pieces of me left together and the reason for me holding on to living is abandoning me.

I find myself in a place I am very familiar with where I have lost my sense of identity, questioning the structure and the rules of the world and my faith in God. I am standing in a time of uncertainty with negative thoughts, fears, and judgements escalating all the voices in my head.

The expectation from those around me is that now I can get back into real life. I dread real life. Feeling pressured I explore job opportunities, every resume I send out and every response to my quires makes me nauseous. As I get closer and closer to landing that position that would take me back into the ‘real world’ I get so sick to my stomach that I am throwing up.

I don’t want to live in this world or live the way I am expected to live it. I have never felt comfortable in that world. I know that if I take one step in that direction I will once again fill my life from a place of doing what I am expected to do, doing what I think I should be doing, trying to please other people, social expectations, demands, influences and circumstances.

Most of my life I have built around a false sense of self or no self. It was built from outside circumstances, events, expectations and demands. If I stay here and rebuild my life from this empty shell I will just reconstruct another false self and false life. I know exactly where this road will take me. I know that I will live with a void of emptiness inside. This thought scares the hell out of me.

I don’t want to continue living this way.  I have been trying to play the part I have created for myself and the part others expected of me. My whole life has become a play in which I have been pretending day after day. I have been a character in the play but have felt like I have been in the audience watching my life rather than being a part of it. I fear that I am being sucked into the direction of expectations and the responsible path. If I do that I will step into a world I don’t like and don’t want to be in anymore.

I know that this person I have been-have become-is a cover, a hard shell around my heart that I created. I fashioned myself from a core that was broken, pushed down and controlled when I was young. From that point on I hid who I really was. I hid in shame of who I was. I have lived my life with a deep rooted belief that I am not good enough. Who I am inside is not acceptable in the outside world. I believed I had to become who I was expected to be. I never felt comfortable in that shell.

My soul has been crying out for years and I have done what I could to pacify it. The thought of continuing to live with this emptiness inside is unbearable to my soul. I don’t want to do that anymore. It has become too painful. The truth of the matter is that I have wanted to run away from my life for years. I have wanted to get out – get away but responsibilities and obligations have kept me trapped. Fear has kept me from action. If I stay here I will drown in the sacrifice of myself. I’ve already given myself away but sacrificing myself knowing full well what will happen to my soul is suicide.

Yet the pull to get sucked into living a façade is strong. I am at my weakest moment. I have always tried to fit in, to make myself into someone who would be liked and accepted. Yet I have never felt accepted. Even the false creations of myself who were fashioned to be the person others wanted me to be was not accepted. I have felt rejected and abandoned then and now. This is the theme of my life, trying to please everyone and pleasing no one in the process. It runs through every choice, every decision I have ever made. Because of these deep rooted feelings I have isolated myself from life, others and myself. Everything within me is telling me this is the moment to break free but can I? The conflict of following the ‘right path’ and following my soul is paralyzing me. All I can feel is fear and panic.

My inner life and being has been screaming at me to pay attention to it. It seems scary to turn inside when it was in turning inside that forced me to live outside myself. How could doing the very thing that sent me into this empty chasm of a person be the solution and answer into becoming my true self? As confusing as this seems I am being drawn into this idea that this is also the way out.

The outlook is shadowy and indistinct, feeling empty and full of nothingness. Nothing makes any sense and answers are lost in the distant fog. I have been wandering aimlessly for years unable to regain any focus. This confusion is unsettling. Inadequacy and doubt like vertigo distorts my balance. I fearfully wander in a vast and empty, yet deeply emotional wilderness. As I wrestle with the darkness, a rush of panic rips a hole in my heart. I struggle to catch my breath as I drown in the depths of emotions that are rising and falling like storm waves of a violent hurricane crashing a rocky shoreline. An immobilizing lack of confidence and fear has forced me into a junction of significant change.

This is an excerpt of my Memoir Through the Woods to the Sea: Stepping into Myself, Stepping into my Life By Cathy Teoste

This manuscript is still a work in progress.  I will continue to share excerpts from the manuscript as I continue through this rewrite/edit.

A Sense of Place – A Sense of Self

If one believes in astrology then it makes sense that I am so at home at the sea. I am a Pisces, two fish swimming in opposite directions, one swimming with the current and the other against the current. This sums up my life in simple terms. I grew up with two distinct parts of myself in conflict with each other.

When I arrived on this island I knew I had found home even though it was far away from everyone and everything I had ever known. Home is not an address. For me it is a place that speaks to my soul, a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of identity, a sense of self, a sense of being. A place where I feel at peace, where everything comes together, where I feel inspired, connected to my inner wisdom, where my spirit is nurtured and cared for.

The ocean is my soul. It gives me peace. It touches my heart. It gives me love. It gives me joy. It gives me hope. It gives me life. I am blessed and graced because of it. I am grateful for the abundance it brings to me, for the substance and nourishment that it provides me. I can never again live without being near her.

The ocean with her magnificent waves, her depth and expansiveness out to the horizon is my home. It is where I belong.

Because I live on an island, no matter how good or bad the day is, I get to see the magnificent ocean. I slip into a peaceful state of relaxation where all my cares and woes drift out to sea. The ocean brings her energy to me and she revives me. My senses come alive. I see clearly. I hear the songs of the waves. I smell each scent that blows on the wind. I taste the water and the air. I feel the particles of sand on my feet and particles of water and salt on my skin.

The ocean reaches into my weakest moments and reminds that I am strong. The waves lull me into the present moment….into stillness. Life is determined in the present moment and its glory is in the details.

The different colors of the ocean can change in an instant. It shifts and changes with the light right before my eyes. The colors can range between a grey green to glistening blue with white dancing dots to hundreds of shades not just green and blue but purple, pink, brown and black. It is diverse from shore to horizon in any given moment. I might miss it if I am not paying attention.

Here I look out over her surface to the horizon and stand on the horizon of myself, my hopes and dreams. My life is contained within the depths of her.

The beach is the in-between place between the ocean and the land. It is where transition and change take place. It is a sacred space of healing and comfort. Here on the beach, I can experience all of the shades of life and self.

I sit on the beach and dream. I listen to the wisdom of the sea…so many lessons to learn….so many joys to experience…so much beauty to see. It is all here to savor.

The beach is where I have contemplated life, my life, where I have been, where I am going.

I come here with my confusion and a restless spirit, disconnected and broken. I come here with all of my faults, my inadequacies, my regrets, my sadness, my heartache. I give them all to the sea, tossing them into the wind and into the waves.

I come here with my joy and happiness. I come here with my gratitude and love. I come here with abundance to share. It is the cradle that allows me to experience the ocean.

Here on the beach everything comes together. I never know what I will find on the beach. I may be alone and find myself basking in stillness and serenity. I may find connection and friendship with others. I may find playfulness and fun. I may find a storm brewing off shore, racing towards me. As the landscape of the beach is changed by the tides of the sea I am changed by my experiences of the beach.

The ocean is my foundation. It has shaped my sense of self, my identity. It is a deep part of who I am, and where I am. Each encounter and experience with the ocean has nurtured my growth and development. I have grown into myself on each journey to Bermuda, the Caribbean, each beach on each island I have visited, each cruise I have taken.

I have grown into the person who I am because of those journeys, because of my connection to the sea. I have become human again, found my way through my demons and challenges. I continue to grown stronger and more into my being and into my fullest potential as I continue to live and travel the ocean.

I love sea days, when the ship is in the ocean with no land in sight, surrounded by her expansiveness, her magnificence. I feel strong and happy, content and exhilarated. I live on an island at the beach. I vacation on a cruise on the ocean and visit a new beach on each island. Each experience adds another dimension to me. It changes how I see and experience myself and my life.

Living and traveling the ocean and her shores is a part of me. It is who I am. It makes me who I am. It is my life. It is my home. I am dancing on the beach of life. I am ready and excited for the next journey.

Misadventure to Our Epic Journey

British Airways Flight 632 London to Athens, Cancelled.

We wake on the morning of our Epic Cruise Adventure to find out that our connecting flight to Athens is cancelled! All flights in and out of Greece have been cancelled.

The air traffic controllers of Greece have threatened to go on strike. We knew that they were threatening. We called British Airways yesterday to see if we should fly out early and they told us there was nothing to worry about.

Now they have cancelled our flight to Athens! Several more calls to the airlines and to Carnival Cruise lines. Our goal is to get to Piraeus in time for the ship but our backup plan is if we can’t get into Greece in time that we will fly to Malta and get the ship there.

Still hopeful we can get to Athens in time, we go to Logan for our flight for London and see what arrangements can be made when we check-in.

Standing at the British Airways flight desk we explain our dilemma to the customer service agents. One agent begins to check us in for our flight to London while another wonderful agent is looking for new flights that are being added to Greece. The two wonderful women are doing their best to help us get to Athens.

After several searches she pulls up a flight that leaves London 12 hours after we arrive. It is the first new scheduled flight out. Excitedly jumping up and down we thank the understanding and helpful British Airways customer service agents. We don’t even care about spending a day in the Heathrow airport.

Change of planes, change of plans. As we wait for our flight to London we cancel all our Athens reservations. We are not going to arrive in time to stay in Athens or take the tour of Athens we had booked. Knowing we will still arrive the day before our ship we book a hotel at the port for that Monday night before the ship leaves on Tuesday. Sitting in Logan airport waiting for our flight to London the beginning of our Epic Journey is revamped and rebooked.

Our flight to London is on time. We are on our way. Exhausted we arrive in London at 9 AM on Sunday morning. I tried to sleep on the flight but to no avail. It will be a miracle if either of us can get any sleep at the airport. The anxiety of not knowing if we would make it to the ship and now the time changes have me tired but awake unable to sleep.

The day is inching along moment by moment, hour by hour. Our flight isn’t even on the flight board yet. We walk around Heathrow to see the available food options. I need tea and food. We choose a restaurant and have breakfast.

We are in London and stuck inside this terminal. Susan is disappointed that we are stuck inside the airport and not able to at least go out and explore London. London is one of the places on her bucket list. If only we could go out and sightsee! All we are seeing of London is the airport.

Hours tick by….we close our eyes at times jolting awake just as we begin to nod off.  We take turns sitting with the carry-ons and walking around the terminal. A few more hours tick by. We are constantly looking at the flight board for our flight to show up. We notice that the flights on the board do not list a gate but a time when the gate will be shown. Gates are shown when the boarding begins. We do not like this. We would like to at least be sitting around the gate or area where our gate for our flight will be.

Our flight is on the flight board! Still hours away but now at least we know that it is still scheduled. Rest my eyes, take a walk, look at the flight board, rest my eyes, take a walk, check the flight board, Rest my eyes, take a walk, have something to drink, check the flight board. Rest my eyes, take a walk, and get something to eat, check the flight board. Close my eyes, check the flight board, sit and look around, check the flight board. Hours crawl by. Check the flight board. Check the flight board again.

There are two ladies sitting nearby they too are waiting for the same flight we are. Time inches by minute by minute. It seems to be slowing down as we inch closer and closer to the time our flight gate is to be announce. All four of us now are annoyed. We have waited all day why are they not telling us what gate our flight is leaving from.

Then it flips over and says please wait. Please Wait! We have been waiting all day!! One of the other ladies goes and asks a customer service representative, Gate A1. We head in that direction. And finally it is announced, Gate A1.

The gate area is filling up quickly. We are told the flight is slightly delayed. Several other people are heading for the same cruise we are. Some people like the two ladies we have been talking to are heading home to Greece after being stuck in London for a couple of extra days.

And finally our flight boards. It is now after 10 PM London time. Sleeping is impossible. Everyone is restlessly awaiting arrival in Athens. Touch down is at 3 AM Monday morning. The airport is essentially deserted except for the airline employees, immigration and custom agents waiting our arrival. The immigration agent just takes our passport and stamps them. They do not question what we are doing in Greece, where we are going or how long we are staying. They just want to get us out of here as fast as possible.

Outside the terminal, in the dark we get a taxi to take us out to the hotel at the port and hope they will have someplace where we can sleep. We are way beyond exhausted now.

On our way our taxi driver points out the Acropolis light up in the night sky. That is about all of Athens we will see. We arrive at the Dream Hotel in Piraeus, Greece at about 5 AM Monday morning.

The hotel receptionist realizes that we are fatigued and tries to find us a room where we can sleep until our room is ready. She provides us with a room key and says they will call us when our room is ready. Grateful we head up in the tiny elevator to a small room and fall into bed and asleep.

At 12:30 pm the phone rings in our room. The front desk lets us know our room is ready for us to move into. We are beginning to come alive. We may not be in Athens but we are in Greece so we will venture out and see what we can see of this port city, Piraeus.

We are just happy to be in Greece in time to make the ship tomorrow. Today we step into our Epic Journey after having another misadventure to our adventure! It just wouldn’t be one of our Sister Travel Adventures without some kind of misadventure in getting to our starting destination. This time it was not just me who had the misadventure! It was both of us together.

Our misadventure to Greece was easy compared to some of our fellow cruise passengers. Some passengers had more difficulties and complicated journeys to get to Piraeus. Some passengers had to use the backup plan and catch the ship in Malta. Still others gave up and cancelled their voyage.

 

Memoir: Introduction

This is the Introduction of my Memoir

Through the Woods to the Sea: Stepping into Myself, Stepping into My Life

By Cathy Teoste

Introduction

My life from the very beginning has been a long, winding, confusing, chaotic path that has led me to where I am today. It has been a journey to find my identity, to strengthen and stand strong in my sense of self and to live in alignment with my authentic self. To live each day being present in the moment expressing who I am in everything I do, in each choice and decision I make.

I just want to be happy and experience all the wonderful things life has to offer.  I want to not hate myself or be self-conscious or be afraid of taking risks or trying new things or worry about what other people think of me. I want to know who I am and be comfortable in my own skin. I want to live life being myself and being in and a part of my own life fully and completely

I have felt like I don’t belong in this world for as long as I can remember. Yet I have to live in this world. If I don’t fit in, if I don’t see why life has to be lived according to all these expectations of others and the standards others have set then it must be me who is wrong – who is defective. I tried to pretend that I could live as was expected yet everyone always seems to point my failures out to me. I multiplied those failures inside me. I forced myself to try harder to please everyone but I could never please anyone especially myself. The more I tried to be like everyone else the more I hated myself. Yet this suffering was internal. No one could see how it was destroying me.

This conflict of my identity has caused me such struggle and guilt within and throughout my life. I have had so many dimensions and faces of myself yet a deep knowing that none of them are really me. I feared that it can never be unraveled. The tears that I have cried create an ocean. Any progress I made seemed to get sucked up into the waves of worldly life and into living my life according to the rules and expectations of others and society. Whenever I hinted at what I wanted and believed, I was shamed into feeling guilty, irresponsible and selfish.

Unknowingly, throughout this journey it has been part of my life purpose to experience dissociation, depersonalization, depression and discontent within myself.  Though I often asked why I needed to go through these experiences, I now know it was necessary for me in order to arrive here, today, searching for answers not only for myself but for other women who must travel their own similar, but unique, paths. My story has many starts and stops, and twists and turns. It begins early in my life at five years old and continues on until the present moment as I am writing this, and will continue to unfold as I write this story, and will continue on after I stop writing.

Mid-life and all its changes opened the door for me to journey into all the hidden depths of myself and begin to unravel these questions. I had no idea what I was doing or why when it began but now I am grateful for the all the uncertainty, fear and panic that lead me to begin. It has changed my life but more importantly it has changed me – it has changed how I see myself- how I feel about myself- how I know myself- It hasn’t changed who I am- I have become who I am. I have Stepped into Myself. And now I am Stepping into My Life, living in alignment with my true essence.

As I was walking through this journey seeking to find the answers to my questions, these answers that are uniquely my own, strangers asked me my story. In telling strangers my basic story about leaping out into the unknown and that at this very moment I am still free falling from that leap, I was asked to write my story. Each person’s story often begins with these same basic questions yet each journey is unique and different and holds its own inspiration. I have learned from many other women’s stories. My story is your story and your story is my story all intertwined and connected.

Here is my story from my deeply personal messed up self trying desperately to unravel all the tangled pieces of myself as I process through it.

I hope my story inspires you to become your authentic self and leap into your life more fully and to share your own wonderful life story with others. Enjoy who you are each moment and each day and the rest of your life will take care of itself.

“Long Life, Deep Friendship, Honey in the Heart.”

This is an excerpt of .my Memoir Through the Woods to the Sea: Stepping into Myself, Stepping into my Life By Cathy Teoste

This manuscript is still a work in progress.  I will continue to share excerpts from the manuscript as I continue through this rewrite/edit.

 

Author, Cruise Consultant, Travel Writer