Monthly Archives: February 2013

Passion

passion

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
– Oprah Winfrey

Passion.

Don’t you just love that word?  Just saying it makes me happy.

(And no, I’m not getting ready to blog about romantic passion.  Blech.  If you noticed a few blogs ago, I’m checking that crap at the door for a while.)

No, this blog is about the good stuff.  Real passion.  Lasting passion.  The kind that once you truly discover it and recognize it, never ever goes away.  (Quite UN-like romantic passion, actually).  You can silence it at times, maybe even ignore it for a while, but it’s not gone.  Ever.  It’s always there waiting for you to pay attention to it, and to act on it.  And somehow you’re never truly satisfied until you do.

I’m talking about the things that move you.  The things that when you’re doing them, you’re transported away from everything else.  Other problems take a hike, and for a brief moment in time, you are fully and completely…YOU.

About a month ago, when I was going through some of the hardest, darkest times of my recent breakup and accompanying issues, I woke up one morning with an odd thought.  Rather than waking up sad like I had been for the few weeks prior (Man, I was such a big baby…), I actually woke up with a strong motivational thought.  Amid all the sadness and chaos, and seemingly out of nowhere, this thought dawned on me:  I am SO lucky to have passions.  And not even just one.  I act, I run, and I write.  And all three of those things are true passions.  They make me me.  When I’m doing any of them, I’m not worrying about anything else in my life.  I lose myself in them, and yet I find myself at the same time.  Strange how that works.

It’s so important to have those passions and to act on them.  If you’re reading this right now, I know something pops into your mind.  Maybe it’s not the same as mine.  Maybe yours is drawing. Or dancing. Or gardening. Or playing the ukulele – I don’t know.  But whatever it is – DO it!  Lose yourself!

Just do me a favor, okay?

Make sure you don’t fall into the trap that I’ve fallen into many many times in the past – don’t let another person become your passion.  That’s so so dangerous.  A quote by Joseph Addison on that topic:

“Admiration is a very short-lived passion that immediately decays upon growing familiar with its object.”

Romantic passions are temporary.  You can try with all your heart (trust me, I know), but they aren’t going to fill the void that exists in you for that true passion.  The one that is all about you.  That one that makes you feel complete, without the help of another human being.

Because, you see – the only person that will remain permanently in your life is you.

I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer here with that statement.  Not at all.  Just trying to make you (and me) realize that if you’re going to pour your heart and soul into something…make sure it’s something concrete and stable.  Something that won’t unexpectedly disappear on you.  That can never be another human being.

And hey, I know I don’t know anything.  I’m floating around out here on this sea searching for life rafts just like the rest of you.  But I’ve noticed lately that the life rafts I start clinging to that don’t require the involvement of another person, those are the ones that seem to do the best job of keeping me afloat.  I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m discovering that my true refuge – my safe haven, if you will – is me.

And that’s kind of awesome when you think about it.  Because I know I am not going to let me down.

So.  Find your passions and do them.  Save yourself.

Right now.

Go!

***

Next time I’ll be braver
I’ll be my own savior
Standing on my own two feet.
– Adele, Turning Tables lyrics

Allowed to Breathe

selfish 5

Oh, if I had a dollar for everytime I’ve heard that lately…

Now, when I first started hearing it, I was worried.  I was afraid that I was letting circumstances get to me and turn me into someone I’m not.  But now that a little more time has passed, I’m starting to realize that it’s actually quite the opposite.  Yes, the circumstances are getting to me.  But they are actually turning me into someone I AM.  And, as it turns out, some people don’t really like that.  But you know what?

I do.

See, I’ve always been a people pleaser.  I think a lot of us are like that really.  It’s just easier to go with the flow…”Oh, it doesn’t matter where we eat – you choose”  “No, it’s ok if you have other plans, I didn’t really need anyone to go with me anyway – I’ll go alone.” “Oh, there’s only one [insert item here] left?  Sure, you take it, I didn’t want it anyway.”  Ya know, stuff like that.  And to an extent, that’s a great way to be (especially for us mommies – it’s ingrained in us.)  But if you’re not careful, those little things start turning into bigger things.  “Oh, you think I’m not a good person?  Well, since I’m so used to deferring to your judgment, you must be right about that.  So, I’m going to believe what you say.”

That, my friend, is not cool.

And sometimes, something happens in your life that shakes you up.  It makes you start realizing that maybe, just maybe, you have slipped over into that mindset.  And you start thinking that maybe you need to do something about that.

For me, that time is now.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I understand fully where my naysayers are coming from.  I’ve been there myself.  I’ve watched the non-people pleasers before and may have had those same thoughts – that they’re being selfish by putting themselves first.

Oooh.  Now, there’s the magic word, isn’t it?  Selfish.  (Yep – I’ve been hearing that one a lot lately too.)

And here’s one of my favorite things I’ve seen on that topic:

selfish 2

Let that sink in for a minute.

What good are you to anyone else if you’re not strong enough?  If you’re not allowed to breathe?

Are you really helping anyone by always staying in the background, by taking the crumbs that are left behind rather than jumping in there and getting a full piece of bread for yourself?  You absolutely HAVE to find out who you are, what you want, what you like – and then DO IT.  You never know who you might inspire by doing just that.  And isn’t that what we’re really here for?  To help each other?  To let our short little wisp of time here serve as an example?  How do you want to be remembered?

And on that note, to counter the naysayers, I’ve also received some compliments that have surprised me.  I’ve had people that I didn’t even think ever paid any attention to me or knew me at all, send me messages that I am inspiring them with how I’ve started writing and how I’m showing others that they’re not alone through those writings.  Those are the people that I’m choosing to listen to.  The ones who have told me that I’ve changed probably are just the ones that aren’t benefitting from the way I used to be.  And you know what?  I’m not sorry about that.  Not one little bit.

selfish 3

So, who are you choosing to please today?

Or better yet  –  who are you giving your oxygen mask to?  Hmmm?

Become who you are.  No more living in others’ shadows.  Got it?

***

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: but it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.
We must be hatched or go bad.
– C.S. Lewis

Loyalty

loyalty2

Man, that is a STRONG word.

I struggled over writing this blog.  I try to keep the things that I write on a general level.  I don’t call out specific names of anyone I may be speaking of, etc.   Of course, if you know me, you know who I’m referring to in my last breakup, who my children are when I refer to them, who my family is, things like that.  But for the most part, this blog is just a general compilation of stories and life lessons that I’m trying to pick up along the line.  Healing through my pen, I guess you can say.

This entry will be no different.

However, a few things in my life lately have brought up this touchy, sensitive, ever-important subject of loyalty.

Do we even know what that word means anymore?  Well, here’s how MacMillan Dictionary defines it:

Loyalty (noun):
support that you always give to
someone or something because of your
feelings of duty and love towards them.

You know what stuck out to me in that definition?  The word “always.”

Always.

How many people in your life can you think of that you always support simply because of your feelings of duty and love towards them?  If you’re like me, you probably want to shout out a list of names and defend your own loyalty to the death.  But really.  I want you to think about this.

When a friend asks a favor of you, or asks you to do something because it means something to them, have you ever tried to talk them out of it because you thought they were just being silly?  Be honest.  Have you?  Or have you refused to do it altogether because you disagreed with them, or because you may have just had your own personal reasons for just not wanting to do it?  I have.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve let my own ego get in the way at times.  We all have.  Or, have you given unwarranted advice to someone?  Told them that you think how they are behaving or what they are doing is “wrong.”  I’m guilty of this one too.  I have acted like I know better than they do and that they are just confused or being childish, and tried to ‘lead them down the right path’ and give them what I thought to be helpful advice and guidance.

But having been on the receiving end of this lately has caused me to put some serious thought into it.  Is that behavior showing loyalty?  Is it?

I think maybe it’s just being bossy.

I found this picture in doing my (limited) research for this loyalty blog:

loyalty

Wow.  Think about that.  Really think about it.  What’s more important to you?  Being “clever” and “wise” and spouting off all of your possibly unwanted knowledge to someone about how much better they can be by behaving a different way?  Or maintaining a friendship by just showing support and loyalty, and believing that they, like you, also have a brain.  They may be in troubled times, may even be a little misdirected at times, but they know better than you do about what they need for their life.  Before showing “tough love,” ask yourself where that tough love is coming from.  Is it coming from a true place of love and concern, or is it just wanting to boost your own ego and show your own cleverness by showing how much more you know than they do?

Rather than trying to impart your own principles, morals, ethics, etc., on someone else, how about just be a friend?  Ya know?  Show loyalty and support.  Just be there.  Do whatever it takes to help them – by doing what they need, not what you think you should do.  Sometimes you need to “do unto others” as they ask you to.  Not as you deem fitting.

Put ego aside.  That’s all I’m asking.  If they ask you for help, give them what they ask for.  Be loyal.  And if they don’t ask for help?  Just hold their hand and be quiet.  Sometimes that might just be all they need.

And if you can’t do that?  Then maybe, just maybe, it might be time to move along.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
– Dalai Lama

Uphill Both Ways

“When I was your age, we had to walk to school uphill both ways…”
– Every Older Person There Ever Was

Yesterday I ran a route that I’ve been wanting to run ever since I started running.  There hasn’t been much of a reason why I haven’t done it yet.  At first, I wasn’t ready for it (physically or mentally); then I wanted to wait for a special occasion on the calendar (all of which came and went); then it was Winter, etc. etc. etc.  Not sure why I put it off as long as I did.  But yesterday, without even any true destination in mind, I put my running clothes on, hopped in the car, and just drove.  I ended up here:

houseedit

This is the house that is still standing in the Potato Creek community in Virginia, where my grandpa was born and raised.  He passed away in February of last year.

He wasn’t much of a talker when he was with us.  Very quiet – filled with secrets.  But my grandmother filled in the gaps.  Through her, I’ve heard about the house he grew up in and have learned about the hilly path he had to walk on to school and back and everyday.  I’ve driven this path many times, but ever since I became a runner, I have always wanted to run it.  It’s not that far to me now (a little more than four miles), but when I first started running, I knew I wasn’t ready for that distance.  And distance wasn’t really the issue anyway.  Holy crap, is that thing hilly!  But I kept telling myself that one day I would be ready to run it.  Turns out, yesterday was the day.

This may have been one of my favorite runs ever.  It may sound crazy, but a part of me felt like my Pa-Paw was actually running with me.  I’m not sure he cared for the Kelly Clarkson, Pink, and Cee Lo Green that was busting out of my headphones, but nonetheless, I think he kept up.  In fact, I think he probably passed me a few times.  Especially on those dang hills!  Did I mention there were hills?  (From now on, when an older person tells me they walked uphill to school both ways, I’m not questioning that statement. I just found out for myself!)

hilledit

But man, were those hills beautiful.  The whole route was beautiful.  For a little less than an hour, I stopped thinking, stopped feeling, stopped obsessing, and just ran with my grandpa.

The old school that he went to is no longer standing.  From what I understand, it burned down years ago (long after it was no longer used as a school and was just being used as a barn for local farmland).  After the run, I went and looked at the area a little and this was the only remnants of the school that I found:

school

Here’s a view of the whole area where the school stood:

school2

And still standing (and still in operation on occasion) just beside the old school land is the church that he attended – Potato Creek Church.  Such a beautiful old place that holds many many memories, I’m sure.

churchedit

And since I’m sharing pictures, I have to share one last one.  Now, I can’t remember – did I mention that this run was hilly?  HOLY COW, it was hilly.  And at one point, I kid you not, I saw something painted on the road that cracked me up.  I’m convinced that someone else before me tried to run this thing and happened to be carrying a can of spray paint along with them on thier run:

roadfaceedit

I feel ya, fellow runner.  That’s exactly how I felt too!

So, anyway, this blog is not going to be like most of my others.  I usually try to wrap up with some type of life lesson that I’ve learned from some experience.  But nope.  Not this time.  I just wanted to tell you about a run with my grandpa that I finally took the time to do.  A run where I cleared my mind, appreciated the scenery, traveled back in time in my mind to try to experience what it had been like for my ancestors before me.  You know – just took a break from everything else and appreciated who I was and where I came from.

Hmmm.  Maybe there’s a life lesson to be learned in this after all.

Thanks for the run, Pa-Paw.

Here Goes Nothin’…. (Literally)

“One of the cruelest, most selfish things you can do to another human being is to use them to fill a void. Having learned this the hard way by being on the receiving end, I vow to never ever do that to anyone myself. The cycle ends at me. The next person I am with will get the full, complete version of me, and will not have to live in another’s shadow. This may take years to achieve. So be it. Until you are complete, you have nothing to give to anyone else. Remember that, and this world will be a happier place.” ~ Me

I put the above quote as my Facebook status message shortly after my recent breakup.  And I’ve been giving it a lot of thought lately.  I think it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

As most of you probably know, I absolutely unashamedly adore Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love.  I love her wisdom, her wit, her knack for seeing beyond the surface of things and discerning a lesson from the hard times.  I adore her writings and am not ashamed to admit that I base my own stuff on her style and technique.  I suppose you could say she’s my mentor (even though we’ve never met).  Well, part of my obsession with Elizabeth Gilbert is my love of the movie Eat Pray Love that was made from her book of the same title, starring Julia Roberts.  If you haven’t seen this before, and you know me at all, I’m not sure how we’re friends.  I’ll give you time to go remedy this situation.  Go on.  Go watch it and come right back.  I’ll wait.

***

Are you back?  It was AWESOME, wasn’t it?  See?  I told you.  And now you should read the book.  Can’t afford to buy it?  Don’t have a library nearby?  Well, guess what.  Here’s a link where you can read it for FREEhttp://archive.org/details/EatPrayLove

Well, now that you’ve done all that – back to my blog…

After having watched the movie (and read the book!), I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this since you already know – but the movie is the true story about Elizabeth Gilbert’s “escape” from her life.  She’s just coming out of a divorce and is already involved in another messy relationship.  She finally just decides to chuck it all and go figure out who the heck she is.  As her character in the movie describes it: “Since I was fifteen, I’ve either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy. I have not given myself two weeks of a breather just to deal with myself.” 

(Boy, does that sound familiar….)

So, what she does is this.  Rather than taking two weeks, she takes a year.  She just leaves.  She goes to Italy for four months, India for four months, and then finishes out the year in Bali.  Wow.

Now, my finances and parental status don’t allow for such a drastic ‘escape,’ but the desire to do something similar has been pulling at me pretty strongly.  During the second part of the movie, while Liz is visiting an ashram in India, she meets an American from Texas.  His name is Richard, but for my own personal reasons, we’re going to call him Bob from this point on.  Because I said so.  Got it?  Ok.  So, “Bob” tells her this:

“If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love that you ever dreamed.”

I want that.  I want it bad.

So, here’s what’s going to happen.  I’m gonna pull a Liz Gilbert.  While I can’t escape from my life per se (nor do I want to), I’m going to escape from men.  I need a break.  I need to figure out who I am and why the heck I attach my happiness to whether or not I’m in a relationship.  As Liz states in her book, “Desiring another person is perhaps the most risky endeavor of all. As soon as you want somebody—really want him—it is as though you have taken a surgical needle and sutured your happiness to the skin of that person, so that any separation will now cause a lacerating injury.” 

Yeah.  See, that crap’s gotta stop.

So, I’m taking a year off.  Really.  My relationship ended in January, so for the rest of 2013, I’m making it a point to be single.  No dating, no flirting (well, except with the hot substitute mailman that comes to our office sometimes…hey, I’m not becoming a nun…), and no romantic relationships.  It’s time to get to know myself again.  Oh boy, here comes another Elizabeth Gilbert quote… “Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.”  Hmmm.  You know, I think I do remember a time like that.  A time when I liked myself and didn’t base my worthiness on how much some guy does or doesn’t like me.  I kinda liked that chick. I think it’s time we hang out again.

And no, this isn’t Elizabeth Gilbert (it’s actually John Mayer), but I’ll end on this note:

aloneblog

Let’s do this.

Follow your Heart?

follow-your-heart1

I’ve been hearing this “follow your heart” stuff a lot lately.  “Your heart is on the left but it’s always right;” “Let your heart lead the way;” “In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart…”

Blah.  Blah.  Blah. 

And all I could think when I would see that stuff?  What a load of crap!  Because, frankly speaking, “following my heart” isn’t exactly an option these days.  Following my heart would just lead me to where I’m not wanted.  You know?  Maybe that silly saying just doesn’t apply to someone like me – someone whose heart gets her in trouble A LOT.  And it most definitely doesn’t apply to my current situation, that’s for sure.

Now, this?  This is more my style:

heart,brain

Ya know?  Ya feel me?

But, alas.  As what usually tends to happen when I think too much – somehow in the past few days, I’ve started thinking about this whole “follow your heart” mess in a different light.

Something that my co-worker has been known to say many times since I’ve known her is that the opposite of love is not hate, as you would normally think.  It’s apathy.  Not caring.  Deeming something (or someone) insignificant.  That’s how you know when the love is gone. 

Ohhhh!  Well there ya go.  There’s my problem.  I’m not even capable of apathy.  It’s not in my genetic makeup.  I can’t remember a single thing or person that I’ve been able to feel apathetic towards.  Ever.  I friggin care about EVERYTHING.  And that kinda sucks sometimes.

Or does it?

I remember my Mom telling me that for all of my life, even all the way back to when I was a toddler, I never knew a stranger.  I would make friends with absolutely anyone and just talk their head off.  My grandma said she used to be afraid that I would be kidnapped or something because of the simple fact that I would just go along with anyone and not sense any danger.  Well, some things never change, I suppose.  I’m still like that.  I still have a big heart and I extend it to anyone and everyone at a moment’s notice, without sensing any danger.  Is that a bad thing?  Maybe.  It does cause me to get hurt when I extend it to the wrong person at times, that’s for sure.  But would I want to stop doing that?  Would I want the alternative – a life without love and passion and kindness?

No way.

So, I guess maybe I’ve been looking at “follow your heart” in the wrong way.  It doesn’t mean chase after the person you love who doesn’t want you.  That’s ridiculous.  No, I think it just means: be true to yourself.  Follow your heart – the key to who you are.  Find out who you are, what makes you you, and don’t let anyone or anything interfere with that. 

Don’t let a painful event turn you into someone that you’re not. Keep living, keep loving (maybe just refocus it a little), and keep being you. 

Ok.  Now that I can do. 

 

“Keep your heart above your head
And your eyes wide open
So this world can’t find a way to leave you cold
And know you’re not the only ship out on the ocean
Save your strength for things that you can change
Forget the ones you can’t
You gotta let it go.”
-Zac Brown Band lyrics

Flaws

flaws4

Whew.

So, I had the idea of writing a blog about flaws.  Not sure exactly where I was headed with that, but just thought it seemed to go along with a general theme I’ve had in my life lately.  When you go through a major life change (in my case, a breakup – but it can be anything, a job change, a move, a death of a loved one, etc.), it’s actually a good time to do a little reassessing. Ya know, looking around.  Trying to figure out who you are, why you’re here, etc., and use that information to make a fresh start.  And in my particular case, it has made me take a pretty good hard long look at myself and wonder what part I may have played in getting to where I am now.  Now, I’m not saying I’m beating myself up.  On the contrary, actually.  It’s just a little self-analysis.  A little realization of who I am – the good and the bad – and deciding what might need to be worked on.

So, that was the idea.  But.  Well.  That’s not exactly what ended up happening.

I didn’t realize what a can of worms this would open up.

I reached out to some friends (and even some exes if you can believe that) to ask them to be honest with me about what they saw in me that they would consider flaws.  Let me give you some examples of the answers I got.

  • An ex-boyfriend response: You were always wondering/worrying about my thoughts/feelings even when I insisted I was telling you the truth.
  • A close friend response: I feel that you are dependent on other people’s views & feelings toward you to determine your emotional state & self-worth.
  • Another ex-boyfriend: I always loved talking to you.  More than you know.  But when I would say I didn’t want to talk about something, you wouldn’t let it go.  I would get so mad, I would just shut down completely.
  • Another close friend:  I feel like you spend too much time searching for something externally to fill the God-sized hole inside of you.  [Wow.]
  • Another ex-boyfriend: I value my life too much to answer that question.  [Haha…that’s my favorite.]
  • Another close friend: You need to recognize your own worth and awesomeness more. [Ok nevermind, maybe that’s my favorite…and I actually got this response more than once.]

(Now, I could go in all kinds of tangents with analyzing those responses, but I’m going to try not to get too deep.  Just stating the facts here, peeps. )

  • Another notable response – When mentioning that I was writing this article, someone remarked: I think you’re just venting.  It’s time to move on.

Hmmm.  Ok.  We may have to come back to that one.  But first:

In doing all this ‘research,’ a friend of mine reminded me of the Jennifer Grey nose job story.  You’ll probably remember Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing.  But I’m willing to bet you that you don’t remember her from anything else.  After Dirty Dancing, she had a nose job.  Apparently she had a ‘bump’ on her nose (news to me) that she thought she needed to have fixed.  So, she did.  She saw a “flaw” and she zapped it.  But then, you know what happened?  Her career plummeted.  She was quoted as saying, “I went in the operating room a celebrity – and came out anonymous. It was like being in a witness protection program or being invisible. I remember going to a restaurant where I had been going for years. I ran into people I knew and would say, ‘Hey.’ Nothing. I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody recognizes… because of a nose job.”  She was no longer even recognizable.  Now, I’m not saying she had been “known” for her nose or anything – but changing something that made her who she was made her someone that people didn’t even recognize anymore.  Fixing what she thought was a flaw, ended up changing her life.  And not for the better.

Ok, so I’ve thrown this random smorgasbord of information out here.  Now, what do I do with it?

Well, here we go.

So here’s what I have decided, and it all comes down to this: I’m a hot mess.  Yes, there are definitely some things that I could work on.  There are. (Being less insistent for responses from others being the main one that jumps out at me.)  But, so what!?  I’m a little insistent.  Big fat hairy deal.  Yes, I care a little too much what people think of me.  That’s a flaw.  It’s me.  It’s who I am.  Maybe that’s why I write?  For the responses I get from others?  For the feedback?  Eh, who knows…

Which brings me back to the remark about ‘venting.’

Is that what I’m doing?  Ok.  Maybe so.  But here’s my response to that.  Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) is one of my favorite authors of all time. She motivates me and she inspires me. If she had stopped “venting” and just moved on without writing about it, she wouldn’t be where she is today. And maybe I wouldn’t be where I am today without that influence.  So, in that same fashion, I’m not going to stop either.  Writing is therapeutic; it’s healing; it’s who I am.  I take what happens in my life and I vomit it out on paper for all the world to see.  Am I crazy?  Maybe.  Am I too transparent?  Maybe.  Am I making a fool of myself?  Maybe.  But let me tell you something.  As of my latest stat count, people have looked at this crazy transparent fool’s blog a grand total of 500 times.  500 times people have looked at what I have to say.  And if only one of those 500 times ended up being a time that touched someone’s heart and showed them that they aren’t alone in this crazy world we all live in, then it was worth it.  Unlike Jennifer Grey’s nose – this blog ain’t changing.  I’m not changing.  Flaws and all, here I am.

And on that note…I’ll leave you with a quote from Robert Porterfield, the founder of Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia:

“If you like us, talk about us!
If you don’t, then keep your mouth shut.”