Destroy what destroys you.

DenaSeptember 12, 2011 | what destroys you

Everything passes. Everything changes. Just do what you think you should do. —Bob Dylan

Recently a gracious friend featured my words in his essay, How we see. In it, I said that my journey through crippling depression was like crossing a river. There are two sides to the river—the hopeless side and the side of hope & light. When I finally made it across and I was looking back, everything had changed. I was overcome with a deep sense of gratitude for all of it, even the struggle.

I use the metaphor of the river to describe my journey from darkness to light, but it also applies to my life every day. Each day I must choose again which side of the river I will stand on. Each day brings with it new beauty and new struggle. There will always be 1,000 obstacles. But—there will also always be—a choice.

When the obstacles begin to stack themselves against you, will you buckle or endure? Are you willing to fight for this?

Yesterday, I officially submitted my application to pursue my teaching certification. I simply do not have the words to express the enormity of what that means to my life’s path. Suffice it to say, it is huge. My life is changing once again.

The things in your life that have power are the things that you choose to give power to. From fear to hope, weakness to determination—over the past few weeks, my emotions have run the gamut. Here’s how I got through it. The next time that you find yourself struggling, I hope that these tips may serve as a life raft to you, too.

  1. Breathe. Breath is always the first and most important step. Before you do anything else, take control of your breathing. Take a deep breath in through your nostrils. Let the air flow through your chest and deep into the pit of your stomach. Allow your stomach to expand, like a balloon, as it fills with air. Then slowly exhale through your nose and expel all of the air from your body. Breathe in deeply again, allowing the air to fill your stomach as before. Each time you inhale, take in the positive energy & light around you. Let it fill & calm your soul. Each time you exhale, push out your negative energy & fear. Continue to do this until you feel calm.
  2. Trust your struggle. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much you plan or how carefully you’ve lined up your goals. Just when you finally think you’ve got it all figured out, life will pitch a shit storm at your head. Don’t fight it. Trust your struggle. Remember that even though it’s not always easy to see it in the present, when you look back on your life, the struggles are the most beautiful parts.
  3. Choose light. John Wayne said that tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday. I couldn’t agree more.Every day we wake up and we have another choice to make. Choose light. Remember that the things in your life that have power are the things that you choose to give power to. Surround yourself with people that bring you up and shut the others out. Give power to love, hope, and strength. Let the rest go.
  4. Take action. When the time is right, you will know what you have to do. If you open your heart to it, the answer will be crystal clear. If you don’t know now, you will know soon. Have patience, stop fighting, and just listen. When you are ready, move forward. Don’t let anything get in your way.

In love & light,

Comments (12)

  • crista!

    September 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    amazing, dena. <3

    1. Dena

      September 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

      thank you, love. i am so excited (a little nervous!) but i can’t wait to be back in the classroom. <3

  • Mark

    September 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm


    Thanks again for contributing. Your “vision” is so restorative.

    Got me thinking: if I really have anything to share (anything of real value), it’s not charisma or vocab or storytelling.

    It’s what’s been salvaged from deep and inimitable suffering. It has informed my teaching & made it more than a job.

    Kids are suffering little adults and want/need people who’ve been there. The deeper the pit, the greater the comfort we’ve to share.

    Warm regards,

    1. Dena

      September 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

      Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share within your net. Those experiences are some of the best I think. Taking a few moments to step into another person’s terrain and let your heart slip out for a moment, to share what’s inside.
      There are a great many things that you have to share my humble friend. As ever, I am so grateful for your presence in my life.
      Ah, the deeper the pit, indeed.

  • andra watkins

    September 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Bravo Dena! Congratulations on biting off the biggest part of any journey – the beginning. I can’t wait to hear what happens for you in the coming months. xo

    1. Dena

      September 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Thank you, my beautiful friend. It’s so exciting, fresh, new. These parts of any journey are so much fun aren’t they. Now to keep up the momentum when the going gets rough. Here I go! <3

  • Andrew

    September 13, 2011 at 6:52 am

    !! So happy for you, very proud that you made the decision. This is going to be huge for you.

    Enjoyed your writing on, three completely different ways to see the world, it was a good mix.

    1. Dena

      September 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Andrew! Your support, encouragement, and advice have meant so much to me through these recent… adventures.

  • Lou Mello

    September 13, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Thrilled for you, you are a teacher at heart and will be great at it. I taught school for 4 years and loved it and then life sorta took a turn and I would up doing something else. I always look back at teaching as a wonderful experience and I try to bring a part of it to whatever I do today.

    1. Dena

      September 13, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Thanks, Lou. I used to teach, too. I taught for a few years while I was an undergrad — K – 8 grade Spanish. I was teaching nine classes a week. It was a tremendous experience and I am thrilled about getting back in the classroom. The next stage in my adventures. 🙂 Thank you for always being here! I’ll bet you were a phenomenal teacher. (You still are!)

  • Caitlin May

    November 10, 2011 at 10:55 am

    “Destroy all that which is evil, so that which is good may flourish”

    1. Dena Botbyl

      November 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      love it! <3

Leave a Comment

Prev Post

A Beautiful Fight

Next Post

Life is Magic: My Home