Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recognizing Your Passion

I feel as if I've abandoned this blog lately. Honestly, I can say that I've abandoned myself lately. I have gotten so wrapped up in the holiday season, in the tragic events of Newtown, in the depressive nature of winter, that I have forgotten myself as I am apt to do. As a result, I become an emotional basket case, crying for reasons unknown to those around me. I can not answer them as to why I'm crying because I no longer know. It's too much, it's everything all at once, it all becomes too much. I haven't been writing, I've been avoiding my journal, and this blog's December entries are pitiful. Sometimes life sweeps you up and you forget to breathe and take a step aside. So I'm taking that breath now and stepping aside for a moment. 
We all need to remember how important it is to take time for ourselves. For me, I get so wrapped up in living with someone and spending all my spare time with him that I forget I have hobbies too. But those hobbies fall by the wayside when I drop my things on the floor after work and curl up on the couch, TV blaring, mind set to numb mode. I let my exhaustion from the day come home with me and as a result my creativity remains squashed. I spend my ride to work and back listening to lyrics on the radio and thinking up poetry and journal entries, reminiscing about people and things that would be prime material for my blog. Yet, the second I step over the threshold of my apartment, my brain flips into exhaustion mode and I flop right onto the couch. It will take discipline, but I have to get it back. I have to rediscover my passion for writing. 
It is the journal entries that are suffering most. When I was part time at my old job, I would take my time waking up in the morning and with a cup of coffee in hand, the words would just flow- dreams from the night before, thoughts of events to come, memories of people long gone. I've lost that will to wake up and write, I'm too exhausted. Are we sensing a theme here? It's all too easy to fall into a pattern- work, eat, sleep, repeat; however, if we don't add things into our day that we are passionate about, what makes the day worth living? What makes it special? What makes it significant to the rest of our life? 
It is my pledge for the new year to honor myself more. Writing is what grounds me and yet simultaneously allows me to float to wherever I wish. My best memories are still lying in the back of my brain waiting to be written into the novel I'm always preaching about; the best characters are stowed away, waiting for me to call upon them; the best emotions lie hidden, still waiting to be tapped. So I ask you to think about what your passion is. Don't let it fall by the wayside. Take your passion and run with it because you only have one chance. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Newtown Strong

I have been at a loss for words this whole week. In fact, I believe the whole nation now carries this same sentiment. The tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012 has left me speechless. It has instilled a writer's block in me that I haven't been able to break until now. Words are the way in which I express myself, the way in which I've always expressed my feelings, my emotions, and yet the scope of this tragedy has been ripping across my core and tearing away my ability to form words for the past few days as I watch endless news reports filled with suffering and loss. It is hard to see the pain of families whose trees are embellished with presents that will never be opened. It is difficult to see parents who have school photographs in their living rooms, these photos being all they have left of the loved ones whom the frame now features. It is unbearably painful to see the flagpole standing in the middle of town, its flag sagging limp at half mast. It is hard to watch all this and know that I once called this sad place my home. 
I was born and raised in Newtown, CT. We moved out of the state when I was in fourth grade, but my childhood memories remain locked in the halls of St. Rose. I never thought that the town in which I made my first friends, the place where I learned how to live and how to love, would be featured as the guest of this unspeakable horror. No one wants to see his/her hometown ravaged by violence and destruction, yet there on the television flash the names of loved ones lost. Right there, displayed in the middle of the screen, lies the mess that one sad soul can bring to a community. I used to have to explain where Newtown was to people, often giving up and saying I was born near Danbury but grew up in Maine. Now everyone knows where Newtown is; you no longer have to repeat yourself. The name lingers in the air as people in the room turn to give you knowing nods and mournful looks. 
However, in spite of all the tragedy of the past few days, it is a resilient community. I am fortunate enough to not be one of those directly impacted by this horrific event. Although I still have family and friends that live in town, the lives of those I know are still brilliantly vibrant with hope and courage. I still refer to my old next door neighbors as my neighbors, despite 14 years and many miles that speak to the contrary. Speaking with them, viewing my hometown on every major news channel, seeing "Newtown" make headlines is all so surreal. It is heartbreaking to see a community shattered, yet heartwarming to see that very same community come together in the midst of such devastation. 
Many people are speaking about it, lecturing, singing, praying, preaching; now I am writing. I have seen this tragedy take its toll on both members of the community and strangers to it. In the midst of awful hatred often comes unwavering love. In the middle of the darkest of times, we see light and life from those who come together to support each other. I am proud to say that I was born and raised in Newtown, and proud to be a citizen once again of the same state in which I have witnessed such extraordinary strength and selflessness. Despite the years that have taken me away from my hometown, the bravery of those connected with Friday's events and the love of an entire community make me proud to call Newtown my home. 
While all these words may have been written and spoken before, I hope to convey the depth to which this event has touched me and possibly create the words for those who have none. I can not claim to have answers or clarity because I do not believe that either can be found. I know that words are never going to be enough. 
Newtown strong.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giving Thanks

As I sit in my kitchen letting my feet thaw in my slippers and allowing my fingers to warm themselves on this keyboard, I suppose I shall share some thoughts upon which I have been ruminating. I just went for a luxurious twenty minute walk around the block. Wearing my brown flats, which are insensible in this weather yet I refuse to retire them for any season, I set off in my bright pink pea coat with my thoughts, my black leather gloves, and my slowly dying cell phone. I find that a walk is often all I need when I'm stressed, anxious, over thinking things, or just battling with boredom. I wasn't really dealing with any of these situations, but I knew that my body could use some fresh air. Walks always seem to have a calming affect on me, letting me unwind and attend to the emotions and thoughts I often neglect during the day.
As I walked, I thought about how all my Facebook friends have been posting things for which they are thankful during this month of giving thanks. I also began to compile a list in my head. It's quite simple actually- family, friends and experiences. I am lucky to have grown up with a family that is so close. I have shared a bond with all of my siblings since I was young and with my parents, which came easier as I grew older. I often take for granted what a rare breed I am. I get to go home to a house full of people for every holiday- no pressure, no stress, no disagreements, just fun with a healthy, wholesome, crazy family. They are my life and always have been. But the point of this post is not for me to rave about how awesome my family is, or how I am blessed to have a boyfriend who is my complete opposite and thus both challenges and supports me, or how I am lucky to have amazing friends who have never stopped loving me, no matter what differences we may have faced at various times. No, the real reason I sat down at the computer this afternoon was because I realized something important. Not only do those people who are close to me affect my life, but so do those who no longer are.
Shuffling down the sidewalk this afternoon, I looked, as I usually do, for the car I know I will see around town at some point, for the face of a guy with whom I used to be infatuated. I know some day I will face him, probably when I am unprepared and flustered, probably not when I am as calm and level-headed as I am now. Even though things didn't work out with this person and me, for good reason, he is still a part of my life, or was. I learned who I was and who I didn't want to ever be from that relationship. So not only are we affected by the ones who surround us; we also are influenced by the ones who are no longer in our lives. As I lingered in the cold air, I was aware that at that particular moment I would be okay if I came across him. I would be able to face him head on, but that's not how life works. When and if I ever see him again, it will probably be at the most inopportune moment, at the most inconvenient time. But that's what life does- it throws us challenges when we are least able to accept or handle them. However, we always manage to survive.
So, I am thankful. I am thankful for all of those people in my life, past and present. I am thankful for those people I have yet to meet and the journeys ahead of me to come. I am thankful for all the experiences that I have had, both good and bad, because they've made me into the person I am today. They've made me into the woman who sits here watching the sun set from her living room window, thawing in the silence of an empty apartment, ruminating on how lucky she is and has been to a world wide web full of both familiar people and strangers alike. And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The First Snow

Why is it that the first snowfall of the season always brings with it the romanticism of the season and memories fated to remain forever in the past? As I sit at the computer this chilly November morning with my lukewarm cup of coffee, I stare at the fresh coat of snow outside. It covers everything- the ground, my car, the leaves that have yet to fall, the roof of the diner across the street. Its presence brings a certain warmth, the promise of Christmas, but that's not all. For me it brings romance, it brings desire, it promises passion. 
Now I am not a winter girl, which leads me to wonder why I have lived in New England my whole life and refuse to leave it, but the first snow always seems to take my breath away. It brings all these promises with it that I can't describe or begin to explain to you. The first place it brings me back to is college. I remember each flake sparkling as it fell, wrapped in the spotlight of Alumni Hall. I remember walking with a colleague who loved to push me into snowbanks any chance he got, falling with me every time and never failing to do so without a slight grin on his face. I remember being hailed across campus because of my signature red pea-coat, which no one failed to miss as I traversed to class and back and forth to the library. 
The snow brings it all back, that feeling of cold wrapped in warmth, the blizzard whipping around outside while the fire blazes at home. Christmas with the family, snowmen in my youth, baking cookies, peppermint coffee- these are all promises that the season makes us. Now, by the end of winter I am ready for a break. The harsh reality of cleaning off my car at seven in the morning or being stuck in a parking lot of people who can't handle the snow becomes more than annoying. The holiday crowds, the pushing people, the Nor'easters, by January first I am ready for the spring. But I always find the first snow of the season to be magical; it's like we're all children once again, itching behind our small school desks ready for release, ready to taste the flakes on our tongues, ready for the hot chocolate waiting at home, ready to bundle up in our snowsuits, ready to go sledding. That feeling is still ripe in the air, ripe for all to pick up on. 
I'm sure I will forget this post in a mere matter of minutes once I am outside scraping the snow off my car, trying to get it to move over the snow mounds that the plow so kindly shoved around it overnight; however, I think it's important to capture the magic of a season in words. The snow marks waves of nostalgia for me, longing for youth, longing for college seemingly long gone now, longing for the innocence that the white, sparkling flakes seem to bring. The snow makes silent promises to me every year. It brings back the past and with it, remembrance of a time long gone.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bad Moods and Bad Memories

Lately, I have been finding myself with a lot of time on my hands. Since I don't start my new full time job for a few weeks, I have tried to devote this spare time to writing. I have become a member of a fabulous website called She Writes. My page can be found at for all readers interested. I have been trying to write different things there than I write here, but it all sort of ends up in one big overlap, self-promotion on both sites. I have been trying to gear myself up to right that novel I'm always telling people I will write. I'm hoping with my membership to this new site, I can make some actual steps toward doing so. I'm all talk right now, and I'm well aware of that fact.
Anyways, so I guess my post for today alludes to my past, as my posts so often do. After having dreams for the past few nights about someone I'd rather not be dreaming about or even mentioning, it inspired me to write the first poem that I have written in a long time. I will include it below after this post, but it got me thinking. My greatest inspiration is often pain. Why is that? I'm beginning to wonder if pain is the strongest emotion that we feel as human beings, not love or lust or happiness, but pain. It's always fresh, no matter how long ago the incident may have occurred that initially sparked it. You can live a happy life, but happiness often becomes a constant, and while there may be a rush of unexpected joy now and then, I find that it's the pain that lingers. It rears its ugly head and jabs us with a one-two punch to the heart every now and then. While my past is in the past, I hear mention of it through mutual friends, I have dreams, I see the model of my ex's car driving around town. I am willing to admit that similar things happen with joyful memories, yet it's always the ones that we look back at with disdain that seem to alter our mood.
Now I should go into a lecture about how not to let it affect you and how to move past the past, but I won't. Every once in a while, we need to reflect on the bad memories, live out the bad mood, if only for a little while, then let it pass. I'm not in a bad mood currently, just contemplative. The thoughts will pass and I will enjoy my day off of bad TV and cleaning the apartment. But for now, I'm giving myself the time to reflect.

I watch you move with listless eyes,
Your body betraying your sad disguise.
You follow the cracks in the sidewalk,
Shuffling silt as you talk
To me of your great plans,
Your wondrous life, your adoring fans.
But I can see right through to your core,
Your rotting heart, your lack of allure.
You’re no longer good, though you boast you are.
Prepared to wander near and far
To find another source of lust and adoration
Of a life no longer worth contemplation.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Live, We Learn, We Leave the Past in the Past or in Dreams and Fiction

I really am a basket-case. Now, unlike Ally Sheedy in my favorite movie The Breakfast Club, I am not eating a sandwich of Captain Crunch and pixy sticks or shaking my dandruff over a painting to create the effect layered snow. No, I am an emotional basket-case. One minute life is beyond alright, everything is going my way, the sun is shining, all those wonderful, happy, often yawn-inducing things. It only takes one event or one dream or one flashback to the past to sending me reeling off my stable axis. While I have just become aware that I am describing some symptoms of bipolar disorder, I assure you it's not that. I have been an overly emotional person since I was younger- reliving guilt over and over again over a stupid mistake made in childhood, replaying a fight between friends in my head while wishing I could have stopped the words that came rushing out of my mouth, pressing the rewind button as I will myself to get up off the floor and not react so embarrassingly to a boy breaking my heart.
Why am I like this when so many people can seem so unfeeling? I mean, while I'd rather be emotional than dead inside, it can be an extremely annoying condition with which to live. One instance from one dream the other night had me replaying the past over and over in my head all day long. It's the past, it's gone for a reason; however, when it is brought back to light, I have the hardest time shaking it. I can't shed the feeling that things could have been different, that I could have tried harder, that I could have made a significant change. I know this to be untrue because when I was living in the moment, I tried as hard as I could without crossing the line and being downright rude. I often have to pull myself out of the reverie of remembering one person's touch, now a stranger's touch, and ground myself in the present, realize all that I have in front of me. My past never seems to go away, and it has an unwelcome way of rearing its ugly head at the most inconvenient of times.
It leads me to wonder if we ever really shed the skin of our past lives. Maybe the past remains hidden in the back of our minds only to reappear when our guard is down, when sleep takes over our fragile bodies, when we're vulnerable. As scary as that is to think about, I think it may be true. We don't live in the world of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where memories can be erased and written over like cassette tapes, where people whose influences have become ingrained in our mind are no longer relevant. Where would we be if we forgot all the experiences of the past? We'd be stuck making the same mistakes over and over again. We'd learn nothing. So while my mistakes and past people of influence may haunt my dreams, at least they stay there now. I no longer have to live with them because I've learned, and now I know better. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thank you Sandy, For Making Me Thankful

So most of you readers and fellow bloggers may have been following the news and the progress of Hurricane Sandy, which has blown through the east coast in quite the fury. I was a victim of her progress, but luckily, I was fortunate. We only lost power here for about a day or so. While at first it was exciting, I quickly realized how much we rely on electricity for everything- lights, heat, entertainment. It begs the question, what did we ever do before the invention of electricity, cable, internet, Netflix? 
We attempted to play Monopoly, but I had to give up after a half hour because my eyes were straining so much in the candlelight. I guess I wouldn't have made a good pioneer. During the daylight, I actually began to enjoy it (only a tiny bit). I had no distractions to give me excuses not to journal or read my book. I had a whole day stretched in front of me of nothingness. With my phone battery slowly draining, I took in my settings and got to it. I cleaned the entire apartment, washing dishes in cold water, sweeping the dusty floor. We had a little reserve hot water in the sink so I filled up a couple buckets of that and washed my hair. I was actually quite proud of myself for that one, especially since I was dreading taking cold showers. Thank goodness we have town water, so at least that is one thing the storm didn't take. 
Watching the news, all you see are pictures upon pictures of streets completely flooded, trees that ripped through homes, people who were killed. I think of how extremely lucky I am that my biggest woe was lighting a candle instead of flipping a switch. I find that death and natural disasters always seem to put things into perspective and show people, or at least me, what is really important. As we spent the first hours without power with our neighbors drinking beer and watching the storm, I realized this is really all I need- good friends, laughter, and love. All the rest is just excess. I mean, of course we need to pay bills, drive cars, go to work, but when all of that is taken away temporarily, what are we left with? The people who surround us, the entertainment we make for ourselves, the love and friendship we share with others. 
So my advice for today is when you're feeling down or overwhelmed by everything in life, think about what it is you really need. Think about life being about the bare necessities, think about all the excess being taken away, and what are you left with? Those people or those things or those activities that lie very near to your heart are the ones on which you should focus all your time. Electricity flickers, cable may go out, hot showers may no longer be a possibility, but does it matter? Surround yourselves with things that matter and daily life will prove a whole lot sweeter and a lot less complicated.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Give Your Notice, Your Life is Waiting

I have been lying in bed for the last two nights, staring at the ceiling, letting the week's events whisper around in my mind as I had the thought: I should start writing at night. Of course, I continued to stare at the ceiling, tossing and turning for hours until I found sleep, or rather until it found me. Unlike normal people who, worn out by the events and worries of the day, fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow, I lie awake and think. I just start thinking and fail to stop. That is the time when my imagination gets the best of me, and that is the time I should be writing. Maybe I would have two novels by now had I gotten up the motivation to get out of bed and sit at the computer. I think the urge to write so late at night is the urge to get things off my mind, to purge the events of the day, to let my creativity shine, and to let my imagination have its say in words, outside the realm of my head. I try to journal first thing in the morning (as author Julia Cameron calls writing my "morning pages"), but I'm beginning to think some writing at night might also do me some good.
This morning, the major thought consuming me was those five words which I always view as terrifying. I am giving my notice. With that one sentence, my fate changes. I leave one career path for another, I leave one set of coworkers for another, I replace all that's known with the unknown. You see, I wasn't going to take the path that had been presented to me recently, but after I wrote my post about embracing the unknown and not being scared, I realized that I was being a hypocrite. I was the one who looked like the coward, hiding in the corner, afraid of new opportunities that might not turn out in my favor. So in opposition to my previous position on the fate of my employment, I chose to think that the future could work in my favor, and so I leapt once again into the realm of possibility.
I was on my way to my employer this morning to face those five scary words I mentioned earlier when my heart started pounding uncontrollably. I was nervous, my palms sweaty, my mind racing for the right words to say once I walked in the door. You see, if you haven't gleaned from my previous posts, I have the most extreme conscience. I felt guilty signing papers for another job, I feared that others would judge or not understand my life choices. Not many people understand why I react the way I do in these types of situations. I don't mean to say that I am an extremely selfless person and never do anything to promote myself, but often I do put the happiness of others before my own. I sometimes fear the opinions and judgements of others without stepping back and realizing that I make specific decisions for myself and for my reasons alone. I know that I will follow through regardless of what others think, so why do I care so much?
I may never have a good answer to that question. I like to make others happy, but after reflecting, I try to remind myself that I am allowed to come first. The decisions I make affect me first and foremost, so most of the time I have the final say. And after giving my notice, I felt lighthearted once again and nervous for new possibilities. I have been told that it will take a while to stop my bad habit of caring so much about what others think and focusing on myself. I took a small step today by looking past the things and people I would miss at my current job and imagining the future and what is best for me. It's scary, and while I still question whether I made the right decision, I would never know if I didn't take a chance. I am trying to take more chances, which in turn means that I might be making more mistakes, but at least it means I am growing constantly. I'd rather spend my life making mistakes than regretting never having taken chances in the first place. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding My Focus

I am the best at being everyone's therapist, but the worst at taking my own advice. I help others figure out what it is they truly want, while I remain stuck, too stubborn or lazy to heed my own words. I've found myself in another rut. (This seems to be a recurring theme with me). I was offered another job, but in an industry I told myself I would never consider because I knew I would hate it. I mulled over it for weeks, and I have come to the conclusion (along with everyone else in my life) that it would be better for me to stay where I am for now, where I've been for two years, and leave only for a field in which I have interest and excitement. I'm hoping to get more hours soon at the job I do have and if that doesn't happen, well then the search for a second job begins. The truth is I am so bored with part-time work. Twenty hours a week is not enough for me. You may think I'm crazy, and I will probably long for my twenty hour work week when I am employed full time, but right now the lack of doing something meaningful with my time is slowly draining me. I never thought that I could watch so much bad television in one sitting. It has become my routine day after day to park in front of the TV, moving only for a snack or bathroom break. I find it not only sad but disrespectful; I've been disrespecting myself and my abilities. 
I still try to write in my journal every day, but my enthusiasm for that has become lackluster at best. I try to take the occasional walk to clear my head, but it only creates more worries as I over-think every decision I have made. I have become a basketcase of worry and regret and what-ifs, the exact thing I preach against. I have lost the ability to take joy in my days off and instead lament that I have been exiled to the couch for yet another long series of hours. I have lost confidence in myself and my ability to do something more with my time. I have lost the desire to write, to reach out to people, to discover something new. There is so much more I could be doing with my time. Watching a marathon of the Real Housewives of (insert name of major city here...) never solved anyone's life problems, so what is my problem? I need to take pride in my life, I need to show interest in myself again. 
Ironically, Carolina Liar's song "Show Me What I'm Looking For" just came on my Pandora station. For those of you readers who are not familiar, the chorus is as follows: "Save me, I’m lost/ Oh Lord, I’ve been waiting for you./ I’ll pay any cost,/ Save me from being confused./ Show me what I’m looking for." I find it a fitting addition to my post this morning. All of us get derailed from the bigger picture at one time or another. All of us get discouraged and put our dreams on a high shelf, only to be admired but no longer to be reached for or achieved. I want everybody to take those goals back off the shelf and start going after them. I am pushing myself to do the same. I want to take more interest in myself and my writing again. I've been losing myself in the familiarity of the couch, in the monotony of comfort. It's about time I made myself uncomfortable again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Making Mistakes

"The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, 
while the stupid ones are full of confidence." ~Charles Bukowski 

I discovered this quote yesterday while I was on a major guilt trip and found it to be very true. I have found lately that I have less self-confidence than I used to and bring myself down constantly. I make every decision with the fear it may be the wrong one, and am overly cautious when I should be comfortable.
I think the same can be said with intelligent people making mistakes, owning up to them, and fearing the consequences while those who do wrong may do so not caring or blame others, therefore not accepting the consequences of their own actions. I made a mistake at work yesterday and even though I owned up to it immediately and contacted all the right people, I still felt a nagging sense of dread and guilt. I didn't sleep well last night and my dreams were filled with images of corporate tycoons firing me. I woke with a huge headache and a nasty lump in my throat that I just couldn't shake. I stopped by work today to see how things had turned out, and it seems that I am the only one beating myself up about it. While I dreamt of being fired, others saw that I am a good employee who made one mistake. I often forget to allow myself to be human and mess up every once in a while. But the thing that has always been true for me is that I am my own worst critic. I have the biggest guilt complex. In fact, I'm pretty sure I feel guilt for those who no longer do or have never been able. That's a lot of guilt and a lot of pressure to put on just one person, and I'm the only one to blame for doing it to myself.
I know I'm rambling this morning, but I thought it would help me to write about it. I admit I made a mistake, and I take the consequences and move on. That's it. It's so easy for me to replay the whole situation in my mind over and over again, but that helps no one, least of all myself. I took the blame and now whatever happens happens. I wish I could fully believe in all the words I'm typing right now, but the guilt is still choking me a bit. So I suppose I shall try to relax and find some peace in knowing that no one is angry or thinks immediate termination is in the cards for me. Good work often outweighs the small mistakes we may make along the way. I'm human, and I constantly have to remind myself of that. 

Friday, October 12, 2012


Settling. Who knew that one little word could have such positive and negative implications? On the one hand, settling can be a comforting thing- making a life for oneself, getting well acquainted with a job or a relationship; it's a good thing, right? Not always. Often we find ourselves settling for something that's easy- a job we'd rather not get rid of yet we know it no longer fulfills us, a relationship that's easier to hold on to than dealing with the pain of letting go, a risk we'd rather not face and so we don't. In the past, I've preached a lot about the dangers of settling, yet I find myself doing it once again. While I have settled in the positive sense, getting used to a new apartment, a new state, a new set of acquaintances, my bad habit of settling on a job has reared its ugly head again. I have been part time with the bank since June, picking up more hours in the summer due to vacations and such, but now I'm struggling. The money is getting tight and I'm not getting the full time I hoped I would achieve by this point. While I am looking for other jobs, I'm settling on what I'm looking for, trapping myself in financial positions and insurance. Insurance, one field I swore to myself I would never end up, the same field in which I've been offered a job and have spent the last few days agonizing over whether or not to take it. 
Life is full of decisions like these, endless forks in the road, choices we have to make if we are to continue on and not remain stagnant. My current choice comes with complications as the potential job opportunity comes with strings attached, a probationary part-time 30 day attachment to be exact. This makes my life complex because it's become a choice of one job over the other, as this new job may be a conflict of interest with my position at the bank. And so I am stuck in the middle of two choices, neither of which I see myself making a life from in the future. And there, I said it. Neither is my choice of employment, both have become pertinent examples of settling. I am finding myself drawn more and more towards scrapping the whole situation and beginning my search all over again. After all, what's the harm?
What I have come to realize over the past few months is that my self-confidence has taken a real dip. I know that I am a hard worker, I receive praise regularly from both customers and my employer, yet I find no fulfillment in what I do. That's a problem for me. I need to be in a work environment where I am busy, where I am challenged, where I enjoy all that I do on a daily basis. I want to tell people what I do with flourish and a smile, not with my head tilted downward with embarrassment, my face full of excuses. All this extra time I have lately, what with my twenty hour work week, has pushed me to be lazy and reluctant to take chances and make changes in my own life. But that attitude has to stop, and the only one who can stop it is me. I have to be the one to build myself back up, to realize that I am worth as much as I tell myself that I am, and that there are opportunities everywhere from which I can grow, I just need to find them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happiness Comes From Doing

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. " ~Dalai Lama 

I find the topic of happiness an intriguing one. For a long time, I did not know the true meaning. I glimpsed moments of it and analyzed my emotions, trying to capture what it was and how it felt. I've learned that happiness means something different to each individual and therefore, defining it is an impossible task. However, one thing that I have come to realize is that we absolutely create our own happiness in the way we view the world, in the way we view others, in the way we allow these things to impact us. Happiness is not left to the gods of chance, it is not something to be gifted upon us or something withheld because we are undeserving. Each one of us creates our own light and our own life. 
I bring up this topic because I have been forced to view the impact of happiness on my own life and on the lives of those that surround me. I say forced because sometimes people's situations can not help but impact you and the way you think. I had a customer the other day who gave me a lecture on marriage and how I should never marry because it will end in a bitter divorce. His opinion clouded my own beliefs if only for a second. But I realize that his decisions are not my own, his life is not mine. We often let others paths cross our own and start to see our lives reflected in the eyes of others. This can be dangerous if we allow that glimpse to become a worrying doubt, a haunting belief that maybe that will happen to us too. 
I've been hearing a lot about relationships lately, about how they never work out, about how guys will betray you, about hardship, about fighting. I try not to let it in. I try not to let it affect me. But the truth is it always has a way of creeping in the cracks. Now is my relationship perfect? No. But I am happy, and just because these situations are happening around me, it doesn't mean that they will happen to me. I keep my life separate, I keep my opinions quiet because the only person to whom they matter is me. If I let every person in my life sway my opinion, I would be a very unhappy person. At the same time, if I let everything that happened in my past, every relationship that went terribly wrong, every person that I lost affect my every day decisions and thus those of the people around me, where would I be? Nowhere. I would be lost. I would be stuck never moving on. It's unhealthy, and I choose every day to move forward and not look back. 
The point I'm trying to make today, and I hope I'm being clear, is that we do make our own happiness. It may not look like the happiness of the next person, and it will be perceived differently from an outsider's opinion, but it is our own. No one can judge how happy we truly are, no one can tell us how to feel, no one can predict how our lives will go. You need to remember that, because if you start listening to everyone else and stop listening to yourself, that's where the real trouble begins. You are the only person who knows what is right for you. If you're not in a situation you like then change it. If you're not happy then find something or someone that will make you happy. Talking about it and projecting the drama of your situation onto others only helps you to blow off steam, but it's worth nothing in the end unless you actually do something about it. After all, actions really do speak louder than words, so stop preaching and start changing. You'd be amazed at what you can find when you stop the cycle of talking and not doing; you'd be amazed at what you can find when you start focusing solely on you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nostalgic Rain

I often find inspiration in the strangest of places. It is only eleven o'clock in the morning and already my emotions have flip-flopped several times today. I now sit in the laundromat, a diverse and unassuming place in which to find the urge to write. Sitting here sweating from the heat radiating off the dryers, I sit fending off the stray fly and curious passerby as I write here for the first time in a month. I can't believe that I have taken such a long hiatus from this blog. I have gotten so wrapped up in my life lately (which isn't necessarily a bad thing) that I have neglected the few online readers I might have. If I'm honest with you, I'm not even sure in which direction this post is headed today, but I will continue to make progress in whichever path my thoughts may choose to take me. 
I woke up this morning to the beautiful sound of rain on the windows. It was beating against the glass panes as I lay wrapped up in the blankets letting sleep gradually wear away from me. I thought it had to be at least ten o'clock since I had been lounging forever listening to the lulling sound that only the rain makes so well. It was only slightly after eight, so I languidly made my way to the desk by the windows. After pulling back one shade briefly, I decided to keep it drawn as I walked to the kitchen to reheat a cup of coffee. It was a silently gratifying experience as I made my way through the small apartment, the sound of rain surrounding me while I remained untouched by water and the outside world. As I sat down to journal, my mind raced in various different directions. The rain has the ability to affect me like that. I will wake up in one state of mind, thinking of one person or experience and then it brings me to another time spontaneously. It brings the nostalgia every time, and sitting at the desk staring at the shades, it brought me through countless memories. 
I don't know why or how it does it, but the rain can bring people and places back more clearly than if I sat in the dark and just used my imagination. It's evokes songs into my memory that I haven't heard in ages and never fail to associate with those I've lost in some way or other. So here I sit sweating in the man-made heat of the laundromat nostalgic for different days. Now I'm not saying that the present isn't a happy time or that the past was in some way monumentally better, but days like these make the past loom so close that I fear I may slip back into it. Nostalgia is the hardest feeling to explain, but I felt that I must give it a try, knowing that I will never give it complete justice. 
I honestly believe that days like this are necessary to living, to being, to feeling. It is most definitely an effective way to keep me in tune with my emotions, not that it takes much since I am an extremely emotional being. Another soul in need of wasting time has joined me at my small table, attached to his laptop as well. I would normally go on a rant about society being so connected to technology 24/7 that we are no longer in tune with each other and personal relationships, but I won't, not this time. Sharing my space with someone else involved in his own life is comforting in a way, companionship found in solitude. And so I have graced you with my first post for the month of September. I hope to continue writing more regularly, even my journal has been neglected lately, which never bodes well for my emotional well-being. Whether it is sun or shine that keeps you company today, I hope it evokes a good mood, or a reminiscent one if you are so inclined.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What Writing Means to Me

I finished another journal this morning. It's been taking me less time to fill each journal and tuck it away to look at later in the future. I know this is a good thing- I'm recording all my memories and words that may be useful in time. I know that in some way these journals will affect a novel if and when I decide to begin writing it. The copious volumes of my writing lie tucked away in chests beside my bed just waiting to be used again. This prospect both excites and petrifies me. Going through my writing means sifting through my memories and this can be both joyful and painful. Many of the things I have written in moments of despair or heartache or anger. Going back through those moments, while vital to future writing I may do, means tapping into those parts of me that were broken, it means digging all those emotions back up. That is something I'm not sure I possess enough strength to do. 
I have always been a writer. I wrote poetry at a young age and always enjoyed the creative writing aspects of class. As I grew older, I began to journal on and off about crushes and the usual teenage dreams, but as my writing progressed it became about so much more. I took a creative writing class my senior year in college, and I can still see my neatly slanting penmanship climbing across the pages. I took my writing very seriously because I wanted to present myself both creatively and professionally. In college, my writing was immersed in emotion and experience. There were lots of instances where I vented to friends at midnight in the dorm hallways or on the phone locked in the bathroom, but it was my journal that I turned to when I didn't want or need advice. It was my journal I turned to when I just wanted the one-sided story, my version written down in black and white so I could return to those moments when I most needed ammunition to defend myself. 
My senior year of college I took a course in Creativity. As a required part of the course, we had to journal every day. While some people groaned inwardly at the prospect, I embraced it. I had become lax in my writing and this meant that I had to do it. I relished writing pages after pages, admiring the way my handwriting looked on the page. You can tell what kind of mood I am in due to the way I write. When I'm distressed or upset my writing is sloppy, it's all over the page, there are cross-outs and mistakes. Some words may not even be distinguishable to the untrained eye. When I am happy or relating an event that happened in great detail or recording a dream, my writing is neat and straight, only slanting or falling apart when I begin to rush to get all the words out, not wanting to lose a single thought in my head. A lot of times words get away from me which is why I often scramble to get all my thoughts on paper. 
As I shut my journal this morning and looked forward to starting a fresh one, I looked at the box full of journals, at least a dozen of them. Most of them I have written in from the end of high school through now. The daily journal writing stuck and when I could, I wrote. The last few months I have tried to write daily, every morning, sometimes before I am even fully functioning. I take my cup of coffee to the desk and write. As we learned in Creativity, a lot of times what I end up talking about surprises me. Topics I didn't think I was still worrying about, problems I had pushed aside. Often my writing involves dreams I had the night before. I have vivid dreams pretty much nightly, usually reflecting events that happened the day before and almost always involving people from my past or present. Sometimes they distress and disturb me, other times they make me laugh, almost always they make me think. I analyze and over-analyze to find the meanings in my subconscious thinking. It may be unhealthy, but it's what I do. And thanks to my writing habits, everything is all down on paper. 
I am thankful for the gift of writing. I can't play a musical instrument or sing or dance or paint beautiful pieces of art, but I can write. I write for myself, and now I write for others. It's a gift I have always taken for granted, but now I see that it's a part of me. It's one thing that can't be taken away, one thing that not all people have. I continue to hope that I can make a living doing what I love. If it is only a hobby then so be it, but I know I can make it more. I know someday my lifetime goal of writing a novel will come true, despite what critics say, and even if it is never published, I know I can accomplish that goal. I continue to write more frequently than I have all my life, and I am thankful that I have the time and inspiration to do so. As long as there are thoughts in my head and words in my heart, I will continue to write. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Obstacle or Catalyst for Something Better? Ultimately, It's Up to You

Sometimes obstacles can get in our way. Scratch that, obstacles always get in our way. Whether they are big ones, such as not being able to pay our student loans or mortgage for the month, or small ones like our morning walk/run is cut a half hour short due to the unbearable humidity. Although these obstacles may be cumbersome and extremely annoying, they don't have to be. It's all in how we deal with the situation. If you step back and look at your finances, maybe you remember the small savings account you started a while back in case of emergencies and thus can pay your mortgage. Maybe my walk this morning would have ended disastrously had I stayed out for the entire hour, I could have passed out from heat exhaustion or sprained my ankle. We have the power to turn a negative situation into a positive one. 
Now I know some of you may be rolling your eyes at me because when things are bad they can be really bad. It's not as if you can just snap your fingers and magically will yourself to feel better. I understand. Believe me, I do. I have yet to determine whether I am a naive optimist or a self-loathing pessimist. I think that I pick and choose which attitude best fits the situation in which I find myself. I often straddle the two personalities, trying to find a balance and a way of accomplishing both positivity and a fair amount of cautious doubt. It doesn't always work, but at least I can say that most of the time I am trying, trying to make the best of the situation I am in whether it's a job I'd rather not have or dealing with my limited budget. I deal with these things as they come, and I try to find the joy in where I am. 
I realize that this advice of mine may not be practical for the situation you are in, or you may not think that it is. Take for example the death of a loved one. How can there be any joy in that? I agree with you wholeheartedly, but maybe that's not for us to decide. Maybe we have no clue what that person was going through, the pain they might have been in or the pain they may have suffered had they remained with us longer. I was upset at my grandmother's passing, but I was thinking of myself and not of her. I'm not the one who can judge how she felt. I'm not the one who decides how long she stays. Ultimately it is her life and it was up to her and to God. The death of a younger child is harder to explain away and the terrible news that flashes across the television screen at night seemingly has no meaning to it. I can't understand that either, I just pray that those people who have passed are in a better place and the people who are troubled find the help that they need. 
This post started this morning in my head as I walked back to my apartment, my walk being cut short by the overwhelming heat. I was frustrated and disappointed that within fifteen minutes of leaving I had a headache, my iPod had died, and the heat was blanketing around me, making it difficult to continue. It was the first walk I've taken in a few weeks, my hiatus due to the humidity and my laziness. By the time I got home, I had been out for a half hour which I consider a worthy amount of time to brave the heat. My walk was cut short, but instead I am here writing this post and reminiscing in my cool apartment while listening to Adele's "Hometown Glory." So instead of hating the obstacles that come your way, take a good look at them and what they mean. Maybe they're not obstacles after all, maybe they are catalysts for something better.