The Night I Envied the Lesbian

I believe the greatest benefit of our emotions is they are a window into our subconscious. They can be a powerful mirror if you are quiet enough to listen. I was 19 when I first heard “you only judge others for what you judge yourself for” and suddenly the people whom I couldn’t stand to be around, the personalities whom were nails on a chalkboard to me, suddenly became a reflection of my fears.
Jealousy is not an emotion I encounter often. She rarely shows up in my life. I have a “bloom where you’re planted” mentality and little aspiration for material wealth, so there isn’t much to envy. I am grateful for an amazing husband, a sweet little girl and a great family support system. Seriously…what more could I ask for?

Until I saw the woman on the dance floor.

I am a wedding photographer. In December I was shooting a reception and couldn’t help but notice this confident woman. She and her partner were having the time of their lives. She was cute as a button in her suspenders, top hot and crazy tie. She brought so much life and vitality to the room. The other guests seated at her table were constantly erupting in laughter when she was talking. I noticed that everywhere she went people just perked up. Her energy was contagious.

But why couldn’t I smile around her? Why did looking at her bring up these strange, unfamiliar emotions for me? What did she have that I wanted?

When the dance floor opened, she owned it. Whether her skills were good or not was completely irrelevant. She was out there for every song, never dropped her smile, and drug everyone along with her.

With one hand on my lens and the other hand on the trigger I just kept photographing her. Mesmerized. Trying to figure out the source of these emotions. It wasn’t attraction. “I’m not jealous of her being gay…what is this weird feeling?!?!?”

It hit me. Freedom.

She was free. Her posture and confidence screamed “I am who I am. It’s out of the closet. There are no secrets anymore. Hello world. This is me. Take it or leave it. I couldn’t care less what you think. I own who I am and am going to enjoy every second on earth that I can.”

Authenticity. Freedom. No skeletons. That’s what I want.

The hour drive home from that wedding and the days and weeks that followed I couldn’t get the image of her carelessly moving about the dance floor out of my head. Why did I feel like a bird in a cage? What is it I feel I need to come out of the closet about? What part of me is hiding in there?

Fast forward a couple months and I can’t answer this question clearly for you, but this is what I can tell you.

My motto for this year is to “fearlessly be my authentic self.”

What I have learned about myself is that I have been desperately searching for a label to put on my forehead to say “This! This is what I am. This is how I can be defined.” And it’s not there.

Our human minds desire labels. It allows us to put things into boxes. We hear one part of a person and fill in all the gaps so that we can make our assumptions and decide where that person fits in our organizational system.

I am stuck in the middle everywhere, which can feel quite lonely. There aren’t many places I can go where someone can get to know me and walk away saying “oh yeah, she’s totally one of us.” It’s usually like “Man, I absolutely LOVE this about her, but yeah….that part of her life I just cannot relate to/agree with/understand,” whatever the word may be. I’m craving a community where I can feel at home. A place where once a particular belief ,opinion or practice comes out of my mouth I’m not suddenly feeling awkward because people’s energy or tone has shifted. The feeling of “she’s cool, but she’s not really one of “us.” I want “my tribe,” fellow in-betweeners.

Want examples of what I’m talking about? Where do I even start….

I’m a Jesus follower…who doesn’t “go to” church. I respect people of all spiritual faiths and believe we have much more in common than separates us. I want to fight to protect their freedoms as much as my own.

I’m a crunchy, granola mom who co-sleeps and breastfed to age two, who also loves being a self-proclaimed work-a-holic. The season of my life I tried doing the at home thing were my least favorite of my 30 on earth. When I look back on those days and how NOT MYSELF I was, I just want to run back and rescue her. I love my time away from my daughter as much as my time with her.

Absolutely no political party fits me. I want to just put all of their “issues” stances in a line and cherry pick the ones that seem like common sense to me and flush the rest. So no matter who is “representing me” it’s going to be someone who I hope does some good and doesn’t absolutely screw up an area that is going to affect my life and our world.

I absolutely LOVE to travel, except that I don’t. I love being at home, inside my four walls. The best part of traveling is leaving and the best part is coming back home.

I am an introvert interior with an extrovert exterior. I absolutely love my time alone, deep conversations and introspection. But not at the cost of my FOMO. I love meeting new people, making friends with strangers, meetings and talking until I finally crash on the pillow.

I crave having my hands in multiple pots. I tried that whole “cutting it back” thing and it doesn’t work for me. I own a photography business, a network marketing business, am getting yoga teacher certified, and feel a deep desire to start this blog too. I’m on a board and involved in two organizations I love. Oh, but I also value quality time with myself, my husband, my daughter, my family and my friends. Everyone in my life and every book says it’s too much. But I don’t care. This is where I thrive. There are occasional days I think I’m insane but most days I’m really damn happy.

So when I meet someone new and they ask, “what do you do?” I cringe inside and have no clue how to answer this question. I spend more time with my family than any other area of my life so do I answer by saying I’m a wife and mom? I pay my bills primarily through my photography business and my Arbonne business, so do I tell them about those income streams? I’ve felt a calling to start this blog for years and now I am, so am I now a blogger? I teach two classes at the yoga studio a week, so I just let me students assume I’m a yoga teacher.

When I’m asked that dreaded, confusing question, I usually just grab one of my roles and present myself as that person, knowing I am leaving behind so much, and I have no idea which perspective of “who I am” they’re wanting to see. I know they’re just wanting to make conversation and figure out which box to file me inside their brain’s organizational system and if they knew it all they would just be confused and walk away.

So yeah….this blog is finally starting. I’ve been creating it in my mind for 6 years. I have so many things I know I am called to share, but I have been holding back. Why have I held back? Fear of judgment. There are people I love so much who may read my posts and love most of them and then come across “that one” that rubs them the wrong way and suddenly they don’t see me the same. At least this is the story in my head. That someone, somewhere will get upset, not like me, be offended, etc.

Here’s the problem though…I’ve known for six years that I’m supposed to write these stories down. The experiences I’ve had were given to me that I may share them. Allowing fear to stop me is ultimately, selfish.

So here’s my “coming out of the closet” moment. I’m an internal hot mess, doing the best I can with what I have and dead set on creating a better life for everyone: myself, my daughter, my community, my family, my friends, America and humanity. If I don’t take the veil off and show you who I really am then I cannot fulfill my purpose on earth.

I am here to tell you stories that will hopefully inspire you to look inward too. To continue your own personal growth curve. And to empower you to step into your purpose.

Subscribe on the homepage if you want updates when I post. Like I said earlier…there’s a lot going on. So I cannot commit to regularly scheduled posts. When something is on my heart, when I feel inspired, when I know I cannot stay silent, I will share. And if you want to listen, subscribe.

Question……do you have a skeleton in the closet? Are you living a life true to who you are? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail (and that everyone would still love you after you did it)?

Love,

Sophia

When I paused life, found my purpose, and buried it for five years

A self-portrait I took on February 24, 2011 when I stopped by Ikea during my sabbatical
A self-portrait I took on February 24, 2011 when I stopped by Ikea during my sabbatical

I paused life for a week.

In 2011 I was a wreck internally. Outside it looked great, but internally I was ready to bust at the seams. I was working a full time job while also putting in full time hours with the company I launched the year before with my husband. I was still living in the 470 square foot studio we bought together in college that was worth 20% of what we paid. Our dream was to be living in L.A. immediately after college for my husband to pursue his film ambitions, and I had yet to move out of the same zip code as my parents. I forgot to eat most days and felt guilty for the amount of time I took to get ready in the morning because I couldn’t figure out how to make that half-hour window of my life productive. I was stressed, gaining weight, letting people down all around me because I was over-committed and putting on a facade that I had it all together.

One day, I had one of those moments you cannot explain other than to call it a divine intervention. I received a message so strongly that my heart was pounding, ready to explode. It was a calling I had to respond to immediately:

There is a woman inside of you screaming to get out. Find her.

Take a week sabbatical and get quiet enough to hear what I need to tell you.

All of a sudden I grabbed a pencil and looked for every scrap sheet of paper I could find around me. I started seeing characteristics of this woman. The woman I longed to become but who looked nothing like the Sophia currently walking the earth. I filled three random envelope-backs with her characteristics. A few I remember are :

Lovely human being.

Cares deeply about people.

Meditates in the morning

Is healthy

Inspires people

Speaks in kindness

Patient

Makes an impact in her community

Knows her purpose

 

It’s very relevant for you to know that nothing about this list reflected the version of me at that moment. I was opposite in every way, which was obviously the cause of my internal struggle.

The list went on and on. All I knew was I felt like a fraud. I wanted to be someone completely different than who I was at age 24. I opened up my calendar and realized that if I spent the next week unloading all of my responsibilities then the week following I could have replacements for all of my commitments.

I approached my husband:

“I need to get away. Well actually…I need you to get away. I am always on the go, and I need a week of a silent sabbatical. At home. Can you go find some friends to stay with, maybe bring the cats with you? I want to lock myself in the house for a week alone.”

And this is one of the many stories I have that make my husband amazing. I remember him thinking I was crazy. I remember him rolling his eyes. But I don’t remember him telling me no or fighting me on it. He could tell I wanted this badly so he went and crashed at a friend’s house.

My plan was to spend the weekend cleaning and organizing my house to spotless perfection and then sit in it for the week. What ended up happening was my body shut down on Thursday. I had been running so hard that it just went kaput. I spent the first two days in bed mostly just sleeping.

By Sunday I was able to head to the produce stand. I decided to eat only raw fruits and vegetables during my week off and cleanse my body. I told my family if they needed me to drive to my house for emergencies only and that I was shutting off my phone and computer the entire week.

I cleaned, organized and sat. Months before, I bought the book “Meditation for dummies.” I read through it, not helpful. So confused. I tried sitting on a comfy pillow, getting into that crossed-leg position and meditating. My mind went everywhere and it felt completely silly. I dusted off some books I had been wanting to read and magazines I was subscribed to but never made time to open. Finally, I decided I needed help. I remembered that I had a professor in college who talked about how he meditated every morning for 30 minutes and could not begin a day without it. I also remembered he retired. We were Facebook friends so I turned on the computer to send him a message.

I asked for meditation advice and said “P.S. Do retired professors have time for coffee with old students?

He replied (four days later) with a plethora of advice that sounded like a second language to me and invited me to come to his house for tea the next day. I broke my rule of silence and drove 45 minutes away for a morning meeting. That day changed my life. I had so many questions about life, direction, purpose, God, truth etc.

Nine a.m. turned to noon, and we ate lunch. He had errands to run before his wife got home so he invited me to continue the conversation in the car while we went grocery shopping. He welcomed my brain picking for hours and hours and by 3pm I was finally on my way home. I remember there was so much for me to digest, I just drove to Ikea and sat around on couches. I was people watching, questioning everything there is to question about life.

When I got home I decided to start an activity he recommended. He told me the story of how he found his purpose through an exercise at a retreat he had attended a few decades ago. I decided to duplicate it for myself (will share with you in a future blog post) and see if I could discover mine.

And I did.

My purpose in life is to help others grow.

I didn’t know what it looked like, how to execute it or where it would take me. What I did know was I HAD to pursue a life that allowed me to regularly help people grow into a better version of themselves. It may sound vague but for me, it was filled with clarity.

With the remainder of my time alone, I decided to make a vision board. I heard of others who did this for goal setting and it sounded like a great idea. I made my list (I’ll make another post on how I did it), found images to match my goals, stuck them to a board and started chasing after them.

When my husband returned, and I had to step back into reality, I was refreshed and living with intention.

Six months later I had replaced my income and quit my full time job.

One year from that date I was a completely different person.

Five years later, very little about my life resembles that girl. Most of my vision board is complete, almost finished, or not possible yet (like….grow old with my husband. 30 isn’t old 😉

One piece has been missing though. There was a piece on there printed very largely “A full time job enriching the lives of others. Blogger. Speaker. Motivator.”

This girl has stayed inside for many reasons. Am I worthy to teach others? What have I accomplished? Don’t you have to be super successful to do that? What if I fail? If I’m not good at this and it’s my biggest life dream…then what will I do? I have no back up plan. Who even wants to hear what I have to say? There are so many other authors, teachers and speakers out there saying pretty much the same things I want to say. People can just read their books and blogs and listen to those people. I’m not important enough.

Do you hear these lies? They are such powerful lies.

They are the lies that keep most of us from doing what we were created to do.

As I started preparing my 2017 dream board, I realized I was ONCE AGAIN going to be carrying over the goal “Launch my brand.” I said enough is enough. It may not be perfect, but it’s something. I might be messy at first, but I will learn and improve. I may not have it all figured out, but I definitely know plenty enough from all these mistakes I’ve made that I can share them with others so they don’t repeat them.

So here it is. The first official blog post of the Sophia Hyde brand. There is so much more to come. I literally LIVE to help YOU fulfill your purpose. I want to see you shine. I want to see you in your element. I want to see you step into your greatness. I want to see you overcome your fears. There is nothing more satisfying in the world to me than to watch your journey.

Please comment below. Fill this with questions. I may or may not have answers but I would LOVE to search for them with you.

You matter. You have a purpose. I believe in you.

Do you know your purpose? What is it?

How to Create Hope

To my fellow Trump haters who are waking up this morning confused, I would like to share with you the hope that is keeping my spirits high regardless who is the POTUS.

-Above all, my joy does not come from circumstance. My joy comes from a higher power beyond myself that is the source of all love, all positive energy and all good things. No one can take that away from me.

-Of all the things on the ballot yesterday, this particular bubble affects our lives the least. It gets the most attention because of the media. It’s the one and only race  they can talk about that applies to all their viewers. However, state and local politics affect our lives in much more substantial ways. Get involved at the local level if you want change. Plus, thank God for balance of powers. He can’t be the dictator he has been in his other roles because our system prevents it.

-Look at the last 100 years of elections. America just keeps flip flopping between parties because many believe the slogans that this ONE person can make things better. Not true. Actually….biggest lie we could possibly EVER be fed. The only ONE person that can have a significant impact on your life is YOU! That’s it. Don’t like something about your life? Fix it. Upset about a particular issue? Take action. Every single issue they debate is actually best reformed through the actions of the American people. We vote more strongly with our attitudes, time, and dollars than our voting booths. If there is something you don’t like about your life or your community then take ownership over it and bring some like-minded friends along to make a difference. That’s always how things improve. We don’t need to make America great again. It already IS! You have all the resources you need at your disposal to start making a difference. You are not a victim of circumstance!!!!!

-Remember to focus on your circle of influence. I have friends texting me and posting on social media about being in states of fear, sobbing, and stressing. This does not serve you or your country. You must evaluate your circle of influence. Here’s an exercise. Draw a large circle to represent all the issues you are worried or concerned about. Next, inside that circle, draw another circle to represent the things you are worried about that you can actually do something about. Now, let the rest go. AH! I know….it feels so hard sometimes, right? But it’s a total waste of your energy to spend any time there. It’s robbing the impact you can make in the smaller circle. Pour all your energy you are using to stress into improving yourself, your family, and your community. We each only have a finite amount of energy within are bodies and minds. We must be wise with how we spend it. Respond by investing in making the things better that you actually can influence.

-Of all the words filling my newsfeed I keep seeing this one over and over again referring to the Trump supporters as racist, homophobic, deplorable, and all sorts of insulting words. I am proud to say I did not vote for him because I never for a second liked the man. However, a lot of people I know and love did. These are people I personally know don’t fit that description. I watched them welcome people into their home of many races, who lived on the “other side” of the tracks but had no place to call home that was safe so they gave them a free room. I’ve seen them surrounded by close friends who are homosexual. I’ve watched them dedicate their lives to the service of their communities. Welcome foster care children into their homes or fight for them in court. If you truly believe that about 50% of the population are idiots, start right there. If you want to end racism…go get to know these folks who are “deplorable.” You’ll likely find yourself super confused like me. There are other issues Trump stood for that mattered to them, or things about Hillary they couldn’t get behind. If you find yourself harshly judging 50% of the country….I recommend starting right there. Find a space to love them, be genuinely curious to understand their perspective. If you keep screaming hatred at them, you will not convince them that your way was the one that was hate free.

-Maybe you are on the other end and you are rejoicing because to you Trump represents making something better. What is that issue you are excited about he says he will fix? What power or influence do you have in that area? If you really do believe that issue needs help, it will not happen by eating chips and ice cream every night in front of the TV waiting to see updates on the nightly news about what he has done about that problem. Redirect your energy to getting involved in the issues that matter most to you. If you really were a Trump fan, then get involved and take action on improving something in America so that all of us who think he is a bully can be proved wrong. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be proved wrong on this one.

We are the ones who possess the power. Decide that YOU are the one person who has the ability to make a difference. Grace and peace be with you friends.

Breaking My Silence: We’re being told the wrong story

For the past few weeks my Facebook newsfeed has been going viral every day with something else. I’ve even considered getting off for a while because it’s filled with so much anger. Every controversial issue that arises I have friends spewing hatred at the thoughts other friends believe. I chose silence. I chose to participate in the discussions in person only when my opinion was directly requested. I have chosen the silence to focus on the things in my life that require my energy and attention.

However, after waking up to yet another tragedy filling my feed, today I have decided that I have something worth sharing. I’ve had it on my heart for over 5 years to start a blog, I had this template built in January but I’ve never posted in fear of offending or upsetting some people and a fear of the site not being “perfect.” This message is worth me breaking my silence. Getting over my fears. This message is worth being my first official post on my website.

I want to encourage all my friends to seek out a journey to find your calm. Find your peace amidst the chaos. Feel the sadness and grief and then respond with love and action.

The current social and political issues matter today, but will be forgotten tomorrow. The lives lost are heart breaking, but our anger does not bring them back. When you feel like the world is crazy and out of control remind yourself that every single generation in the history of the world has felt the same way. Part of the human experience has always been navigating through good and evil. Trying to cope with suffering. Asking questions of why things happen. Fighting for injustices.

As a former student and professional of the media, I have turned it off in my life because I understand its foundation is built on sensationalism. The world feels so much worse because Americans are more glued to their TVs and computers when they are in fear and feel dependent on media to keep them updated…and therefore we watch more ads. Or click on more websites that have banner ads. It’s the truth.

Though you may not realize this, we live in the most peaceful time in the history of the world. For as long as we have had recorded history there have been wars in the Middle East, senseless murders…dating all the way back to Cane and Abel in a field. Violent crimes fell by 51% from 1991 to 2013. Think texting and driving is our biggest problem? In the 40 years between 1973 and 2013 the US population rose by 50% but the number of car fatalities per year dropped by 40%!!! I could keep going. There have been so many ways our world has improved over time. But there are presently and have always been those who process their anger, hurt and pain by choosing to create anger, hurt and pain in others’ lives.

We cannot fix all the pain today. And honestly, nothing about the laws of nature give us any reason to believe they will ever go away, but we can choose where to take action. We don’t have control over the actions of other people, but we do possess control over our own.

So how do we respond to more acts of violence in our world? By doing the very, most simplest teaching Jesus recommended. To love your neighbor. Do you know someone hurting? Do you know someone in pain? Love them. Help them. Beyond giving money to a GoFund me website, we often feel completely helpless in regards of how to help a grieving family whose loved one has just been shot, a mother whose son was carried off by an alligator or a gorilla, or whatever tragedy will next fill our timelines and news headlines.

We cannot control these matters. They have been going on for eternity and will continue to occur. We don’t know when we will be the family affected by the next headline. We don’t know when our own tragedy will go viral. But we all know someone who is hurting today who can use a meal cooked for their family, a gas card to fill up the tank, a couple hours of free babysitting to take care of life without distraction, a lawn mowed because it’s the least of concerns they can process.

Friends, please understand that today, right now, you are living in the best time in the history of the world. Despite that when we woke up this morning we learned of more lives lost in France to another senseless act of violence, this is not new to history. This isn’t the first war ever. It’s no where close to the largest. It actually HAS been worse before, many times.

I literally cannot wrap by brain around what America I’m supposed to want to go back to? The one with segregation? The one where I as a career-driven woman would feel stifled at every turn? A world where information was challenging to find? Today we live in a world where ANYONE of ANY gender, race, handicap, background or personality type can achieve anything they set their mind to if they have a strong work ethic and are stubborn enough to not quit until they do. I agree that certain situations make the climb a little more challenging, but not impossible. The truth of the matter is, today, right now, there have never been fewer limitations to become your greatest self.

I personally, have so far to go. I am not the first to cook the meal or run to aid. I am typically too caught up in my own world to recognize how to volunteer without being directly asked. I am too busy reading my social media newsfeed to have a relationship with my next door neighbors. It’s true. I can’t remember their first names.

Friends, can we start a dialogue talking more about how great these times are we are in and how to make them EVEN BETTER? I want to continue paving forward on eliminating more glass ceilings, bringing more love to the unloved, more education to the uneducated, more violence ended, more food and shelter to the homeless children. The list goes on.

I want to live in a world that is continuing to progress forward. I want to get off my ass and DO something. It starts with keeping MY attitude in check, MY eyes open for who to help in my life, and fulfilling MY purpose on this earth.

Yesterday my sister woke up at the butt crack of dawn to be at my house by 7am so I could leave for an early meeting and someone could take my daughter to swim class. She washed the dishes while she was here. That was HUGE for me. My parents picked my daughter up from childcare and fed her dinner for me. I was gone for over 12 hours focusing on the things I believe are my callings and missions in life. I suck in the kitchen, mostly because I find it a stressful place to be. I don’t know how to operate a lawn mower, judge me, that’s fine. But I did a few things to help others.

When writing this post I was thinking that I may have had a particular selfish day until I realized I used my service, my skill set, to help two people. I’m a networker. I love talking, asking questions and meeting new people. I thrive in conversation. When I stopped to think about the tasks I did yesterday I realized I helped two friends get lined up for job interviews with two other friends hiring people of their skill set. I had absolutely nothing to gain in either scenario. It’s not big. It’s not glorious. But it’s something small I can do that helps another person. And I hope for both my friends’ sake they get hired, and I’ve helped them find the full time employment they were praying for….while my sister washed dishes and my dad cooked. Because that’s their service.

The world keeps moving and flowing when each of us gives, loves and does what we can.

What is something small you did yesterday to help someone? What is something small you can do today?

Who wants to join me in starting a different dialogue?

If you agree that the dialogue should shift, share this post with others. Let’s participate in the conversation with a different perspective.