Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wherever You Are



If you had told me one year ago how much my life would have changed, transformed, been torn apart, subsequently reconstructed, twisted, crazy, topsy turvey and downright crazy that it would be today, I would have laughed in your face and walked away -- most likely continuing to laugh with each passing footprint toward whatever destiny was to befall me anyway. I imagine that many of you out there can say the same thing; I imagine that far too many of you reading this can also attest to the fact that in just 365 short days, 8,760 hours, your life changed dramatically. And maybe now, it’s changing dramatically again. And maybe, just maybe…it’s supposed to.

You see, the past couple of weeks got me wondering: “What if wherever you are is precisely where you are supposed to be?” Because if you were anywhere else, nothing could fall apart or come together in quite the same beautifully imperfect, improbable way that it is or that it has? I began pondering that if you don’t make bad choices, how can you ever decipher what the good ones might be? And then I got to wondering why so many other people wonder why it’s not okay to be not okay…because it is you know. It’s perfectly okay to not be okay, to not pretend as though life is wonderful, happy, sunshine and roses. It’s okay to be you, whoever that is, and even to let your freak flag fly -- within reason, of course. Because, you see, a perfectly normal dose of self-expression is, at the end of the day, quite a healthy normal thing, regardless of whatever button downed life guru might say...at least for me.

Mind you, I’m no psychologist, and I’m certainly no self-professed authority on life. I’m just wading through the pits just as you are, but I do often enjoy asking the questions that (it seems) so few people want to ask one another, or even themselves.

Here is how it worked for me; this is how it clicked. It wasn’t until I let go that breakthroughs really started to happen; amazing, life changing, conscious altering breakthroughs. It wasn’t until I waved the white flag, took a time out and actually did the things I kept saying I was going to do that things really began falling into place precisely where I needed them to, in a way I never could have expected.

So instead of wondering “Why” something is happening, spending time dwelling on what’s lost, what’s suspended or what’s out of reach, maybe it’s better to wonder how that same something will look 365 days from today, after 8,760 hours have passed once more.

Just a thought.

What are yours? 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Forgoing Foresight


I never would have foreseen things turning out the way they have, not in a million years. But you know what? I’m grateful that they have. Despite all of the twists and turns down this winding road, I finally found what I needed to find, and I finally found it all by myself.

Mine & Yours
I own my life. Do you own yours? Good decisions, bad decisions, right decisions and wrong ones, all of these decisions are now mine again. Completely, totally and utterly mine. And that has given me a lightness of heart I’ve never had before, as well as a capacity for forgiveness that I was lacking for a very, very long time. I’m not angry anymore. Finally. And that was a long time coming.

Justification
We all justify things in our own minds based on what we think we know. Truth is, we probably don’t know as much as we think we do. And where does that line of thinking take us? I’m not sure. And that used to bother me. Now? It doesn’t. Not one bit. I found my reality check and cashed it. And from it, I was left with change…not of the monetary variety, but a change in me. And I rather like what’s left over. It’s something I can work with and mold into something better. I let go of the justification, the anger and the regret and found something underneath it all that I wasn’t expecting to find at all: acceptance.  Because you are never going to get where you are going if you stay stuck where you’ve been.

Irony, Humpty Dumpty and Quiet
Ironically, I wasn’t able to put anything back together, not the way I needed to, until I silenced everything and everyone else in my life. And now? Things are coming together in a way that they never would have before, of that I am quite confident, and in a way that I never even dreamed possible. Because for the first time, in a long time, I’m taking my own advice…and owning it, sans justification. What’s more, is that I know that this Humpty Dumpty repair bit that I’m embarking on is the right thing for me…which is all that truly matters.

I suppose that sometimes we all need that catalyst to make us realize that it’s time to reinvent ourselves, and maybe to even reinvent our entire lives in the process. I am. I took a good, hard look at a lot of things in my own life, and actually learned from them this time. How? Because this time, I’m doing something about them, one by one and I’m doing them in silence until they are done. After all, talk is cheap…a rather Herculean epiphany coming from a word merchant, right?

What’s my point in all of this? Well, it’s simple. None of us can change our yesterdays, but we all have the power to change our today’s. I don’t know about you, but I’m taking that little tidbit and running with it, and, even more than that, I’m taking ownership of it. Your turn. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What does silence really say?


“Saying nothing...sometimes says the most.” - Emily Dickenson

In the past I have been quite vocal. Perhaps overly so. In fact, I have resented those who are silent more than I could possibly even put in to words. Now, however, my perspective has changed.

Silence doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re wrong. It doesn’t mean I accept your argument or that you accept mine. What it does mean is that I’m tired of explaining things that no one can truly understand better than I can to anyone other than God. That’s it.

It means that I’m staying busy. It means that I’m focused on what I need to do. It means that I’m far more interested in coming to the table with what I have done, instead of a plan of what I am going to do. It means that actions speak louder than words. It means that the time for conversation is over for now, and that something, somewhere has got to give. It means that I clearly recognize my faults, and I know my areas requiring improvement. Which leads me to ask, do you? Or do you spend so much of your time analyzing what other people should be doing that you fail to see your own shortcomings, faults and areas of improvement? Because here is the thing: you aren’t an authority on life and living. Neither am I. No one is.

Even more than all of that, though, being quiet means not saying a word unless it improves upon that silence. It doesn’t mean you’re shutting anyone out, it simply means that unless you can improve upon the silence, it might be best to shut up until you are confident that you can.

So, when in doubt, shut up. 


Monday, March 4, 2013

Surprises




I hate surprises. In fact, I loathe them. As a self-professed control freak, I much prefer knowing what to expect and when to expect it. And in kismet’s truest form, tonight, something so wonderful happened that it surprised me down to my core. A small thing, but a big thing all the same, that makes my soul feel lighter and lets some sunlight into the dusty, dank corners of my mind...and of my tired, old heart.

And it was then that I realized something.

All of that sunlight in my heart and in my mind begins and ends with me. Even more, it begins and ends with you too.

So maybe, just maybe, surprises aren’t so bad after all. Perhaps surprises are fate’s almost comical way of reminding us that, “She’s got this,” and we are really just along for the ride. It could even be that things really do fall into place at exactly the right time, at precisely the right moment and for the most perfect of reasons. That everything really does happen for a reason; good and bad. All we have to do is just sit back, have faith and exercise a little grace and understanding. And maybe that’s the secret to closing one chapter and starting a new one, as we author our own destiny and move forward, even if there is a twist or turn in the book.

Maybe.

Every great journey begins with the first step, even if you have absolutely no idea where you are going. But isn’t that the beauty of it? Sometimes everything in life has to get lost before it can be found, before the lights can guide it (whatever it is) home.

Life all about moving forward. It always has been, and it always will be. So you put aside bygones, mend fences, take chances and just trust your heart. Because if you can’t, no one else will. And above all else, remember this:

Good things happen to those who do good. Happiness washes over those who bring happiness to others. So do good, make other people happy and trust in my good old buddy, fate. She might just surprise you.

With that said: surprise me. I think I can take it now. Who knows? I might even like it. I'm willing to take that chance. The only question left is: Are you

Tonight’s  ‘Soundtrack of Life Song’ just fit, and it made sense of my own personal brand of nonsense. Who knows? It might even make sense of yours too.

Thoughts? Comments? Leave them below! 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Focus, Forethought, Forgiveness and Fate


Okay people, focus. I have a lot to say in a short window. But I suppose I’ll begin from the beginning. It is, after all, the most logical place to start.

Focus
This week has been a challenging one for me on a personal level. A lot bubbled to the surface; my head was pounding with thoughts from last week that carried into to this one. On Wednesday, my emotional roller coaster came to a crescendo with a four-hour phone call that left me bawling my eyes out for hours. No, not because I was sad, not because I was angry and not even because I was upset; I was just emotionally exhausted. I went in my room, shut the door and let myself cry.

Then, the next day (ironically, spaghetti Thursday in my house), it hit me. I picked a dry noodle up off of the ground. For no reason at all, I broke it in half, then, I broke those two halves into two more, and continued on, until I didn’t have the strength to break them anymore. Suddenly, it hit me. The more you break something, the stronger the pieces become.

Stay with me. I have a point.

Forethought
Thursday put things into focus. I put some forethought into my life and made the conscious decision to be positive, be happy and walk through the day with a smile on my face. After all, if life taught me anything, it taught me that the best way to cheer yourself up is by cheering someone else up.

Hiding in Plain Sight
That notion, however, got me to thinking even more deeply. And thinking deeply (as it most often does) got me frustrated. They -- whoever ‘they’ are -- say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And I agree with the faceless, nameless ‘thems’.

The only problem is that sometimes the words pictures are worth are nothing more than a pack of lies. If we looked at everyone’s life based on their Facebook photos or personal albums -- or even status updates --, we would see nothing but a sea of shining, happy, somewhat politically correct people with minimal authenticity. And yes, lack of authenticity is a big problem for me, because, quite frankly, it creates resentment from my seat…but stick with me, again, I’m going somewhere with this.

But here’s the thing: When you look at all of those status updates, the smiling photos and the fa├žade that we all put up, you have to remember that no one photographs the moments when we are weak, when we break down. Few people document them and fewer still publicize them. And it’s because we’d rather forget those moments, and we certainly don’t want anyone else to see the chinks in our armor.

Even though those moments that break us like a spaghetti noodle are the ones that make us stronger, the ones that build our character and the ones that expose our naked vulnerability that matter most. It's these moments that actually give us the power to have someone else (maybe) feel their own vulnerability  and better still, may be able to help them get through whatever they are trying to get through. 

Then, I realized that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay. And it’s even okay to share that. We are all human, we all have our own unique struggles and we can share them in a way that doesn’t give all the details (unless we want to), but sharing that vunerability can help someone else open up their own vulnerability, and perhaps even help them make the changes they need too…who knows, I’m probably getting ahead of myself, but humor me.

Forgiveness
Anger weighs you down so heavily. There is no point in holding on to it. I’m finally making my peace with something that has been challenging for me to do, after a very, very long time. Yet, I’m extending my olive branch even further than I normally do. I’m making my peace with people who deserve it and even those who don’t. Mostly, because carrying that burden of anger and internal rage is exhausting. Having the weight of the world on my shoulders just don’t fit anymore. However, most importantly, I finally started to learn how to forgive myself. Because, truth be told, there is no one in this world who is harder on me than I am. I imagine it’s the same for many of you.

Stay Calm and Trust in Fate
Skip ahead. I had another difficult phone call on Friday evening. Yet, Friday night, I went to a benefit and I grinned my biggest grins and shook it off. I made up my mind to have a good time. And I did.

Then, I took Saturday to think, to lock myself away in my fortress of solitude and just ponder my own ponderings. I sat in a room for a while, quietly, and pondered many things. And, as do many of my deep ponderings, it all started with my being able to open up to close friend of mine, who helped me put a lot of what was weighing me down in perspective. At the end of my self-imposed thought session, I came to these five personal truths, but (most importantly) I think that these truths are not exclusive to me (I told you I had a point here), which is why I want to share them with you today:

We can’t keep walls around our hearts, not forever. We have to allow ourselves the permission to take a risk, to get hurt. And bank on the fact that we will, but also to know that it’s okay.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel our feelings and allow that permission to extend to those around us -- letting them feel theirs too. Feel it, embrace it, move on, but quit putting Band-Aids on bigger problems. Talk it out, and let it go.  

If you fall (and you will), give yourself a net, or at least have someone in place who can catch you.

Be crazy and bold enough to believe that there is a little bit of magic left in the world, masquerading as fate, and that if you are patient for just a little longer, you might be lucky enough to see it. Because, sometimes things are meant to happen just the way they are happening right now, even though we don’t understand them. And maybe, it’s because those things are designed to catapult us somewhere else, or even right back to where we began.

Lastly, believe in people, and do your best to never shut anyone out. For out of hope, faith, charity and love, the greatest of these is love. And it always will be.

What about you? What have you learned this week?

My “Soundtrack of Life” selection today is a song that vividly impacted me when I heard it. The reasons why, of course, are my own, but I imagine there is something applicable to us all in these lyrics. I hope it does the same thing for you that it did for me: instill hope. So that’s it. That’s the Sunday edition. I hope you enjoyed staying here as much as I enjoyed having you here, and if you didn’t, I really don’t care. :P

Of course, if there is a topic or suggestion you have for me that you would like to me tackle, leave it in the comments! 


Great Expectations



No, this isn’t a book review on the timeless classic by the incomparable Mr. Charles Dickens, nor is it even a shoddy attempt to follow in his Herculean wordsmithing footprint. It is, however, my own, unique look at expectations
.
We all have them
Expectations, desires, wishes, dreams, hopeful thoughts for the future, all of these sublime focal points reside quite comfortably inside our craniums, our psyches -- if you will; and equally we hold faults, sins, short comings and barriers inside of our own hearts. And while this never ending battle of wills rages inside of each and every one of us every single day of our lives, it seems as though the single ideal we cling to above all others is expectation.

Allow me to explain
People are programmed to project their own viewpoints, perceptions and (dare I say) neurosis on other individuals. Less and less do we seek to understand as opposed to dictate. Times grow fewer and fewer that we consider the feelings of someone else, without understanding theirs. More are more is humanity pushing its own selfish, fleeting desires, without holding fast to caring for those within reach. We have become complicit. We have become stagnant. Yet, we all make excuses for it, don’t we?

We expect
We expect people to understand us, without seeking first to understand them. We expect people to accept us for who we are, without making the slightest effort to accept them. We dally in the sphere of self-loathing and we project our insecurities on everyone else, unapologetically. We judge. We rally. We scorn. And we commit all of these atrocities name of great expectations; the sense that the world should be a mirror image of what we believe it should be, instead of what it actually is.

I’m not saying that having expectations in some facets of life is useless. Nor am I saying that we should throw expectations out of the window. After all, having expectations of how we should behave, on how we should treat others is a healthy thing. Expecting ourselves to achieve something better in life, holding ourselves to a higher standard of performance, expecting growth and change within our own hearts and minds; these are all natural, all normal things, vital to progression. Yet, perhaps instead of expecting everyone to see the world through our own fuzzy set of rose-colored glasses, the greatest expectation when it comes to understanding those around us might be having no expectation at all, and allow understanding to wash over us like the tide over rocks in the ocean.

Weigh in. What do you think?

Tonight’s “Soundtrack of Life” is one that is all about great expectations. Take a listen, and you’ll figure out what I mean by that. 


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