Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fighting off the Urge to Settle

I had things figured out for a little while- got a job, moved to a great apartment, met some awesome neighbors and new people, had time for myself. Now I'm back in that place I like to speak of often- the land of limbo. I knew my job would wear out its welcome fairly quickly, after all it was the same job I left behind in another state. After getting to know my new coworkers and a different customer base, I see that things are the same no matter where I am. My coworkers all have other career ambitions and wish to be elsewhere, and the customers just want their money. The goal I created in my head was to only be there for the summer and then find something else. I have been at this job almost two months and am ready to move on. It's finding the motivation to do so that I find challenging at the moment. 
I have actually been working more hours because everyone else has been on vacation. This is great for my paycheck, but after adjusting to my part time status and having multiple days off in a row, day five out of six has me pretty tired. I don't know how I used to do nine or ten day stretches when I was full time. What I really need is a structured schedule. I know most people can't stand the daily grind of nine to five, but I relish it. I want my weekends back, and I want my life back. I feel like I've just been coasting the past two years, but I am finally making strides in the right direction. I moved in March, I searched for a new job to no avail, but I made contacts. I've had more time for myself. I started this blog. I really have accomplished a lot in a short time, but I have to continue on that track or I will get stuck once again, just in another state. 
I have found that I am the master of acquiring jobs that I don't want. When I moved here in March, I had a job offer the second week from a man I didn't trust and a company for which I didn't want to work. In April, I got a job at another company, but the people and environment proved to not be conducive to my career and personal growth. Here I am back at the same company from which I ran, obtaining that job within a half hour of my interview. The latest achievement in that category came last week. I was contacted by a recruiter from a different bank about a position that would mean more money, more hours, more responsibility and unfortunately more travel. They offered me the job the day after I interviewed; however, I had already decided that I didn't want it. All of the financial institutions are the same, and I know I want to leave the industry, so why job hop around to different banks while I figure out my life? I'm staying with the job that I know, in a place where I feel comfortable, until I can make the leap into my actual field of study. 
Finding the drive to go after what you want isn't always easy. Trust me, I know. Now I am struggling with that feeling of settling again, and I hate it. I don't want to drag my feet every day on my way to work because my job doesn't inspire me. I want to be in a place where my talents are put to use and recognized. I can learn any job, but I want a career where I can thrive instead of remain stagnant. I have done what I needed to in order to pay the bills for the last two years. I have worked my way up in a field that I now understand I can not stay in for much longer. I have revised my resume yet again and have received notifications solely about jobs in the field that I'm currently in. It's hard to change directions when your experience is primarily in one area. I now have to sell myself with my education and my extracurricular activities, such as writing this blog. I hope to make some big changes soon. I should say, it's imperative that I do.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Live, Laugh, Love... In the Moment

Recently, I read this wonderful article on the beauty of impermanence (check it out at http://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-beauty-of-nothing-reflections-on-impermanence/). The author reminds us that life is short, so instead of trying to capture every moment on film or on paper or through photographs, we should step back and merely enjoy the moment. We lose part of the moment we are trying to capture for the possibility of recreating it later if we fail to live within that moment and truly embrace it along with the emotions it invokes. I thought this fact was very poignant; so many times I wish I had my camera or my journal with me to freeze a certain moment in time, but looking back, I realize that the lack of those things meant I simply lived within the moment, a memory that I maintain within my mind despite not having physical proof of its existence. 
I thought about this point the last couple days. On Saturday night, I sat on the porch with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. There was a chill in the air, and it almost felt as if fall was coming despite it being mid-July. I was wrapped up in my grandmother's wool sweater, and I just sat watching the sunset and the shadows playing on the lawn through the leaves of the trees. I instantly thought that I should grab my journal and write down a poem or fetch the laptop and post about the beauty of the moment, but instead, my thoughts went to the article that I mentioned before and I sat back in my chair. I sipped on my drink and sat watching the traffic for a long stretch of time. I allowed my mind to wander and just stared at my surroundings. I had spent most of the weekend wishing my neighbors were around so I would have people to talk to, but in this moment, I was glad I was alone. I was aware that I must look foolish, wrapped up in my sweater in the middle of July, staring at traffic and passerby from my front porch. I just thought, "Maybe this is how I will be in 60 years- sitting on the porch, watching strangers walk by, musing over my long life, wrapped up in my wool sweater." It was a silly thought yet a calming one as I thought of all I have now and all I have to look forward to. The beauty of living in the moment is a truly spectacular thing. 
I thought of this article again this morning as I walked to the post office to mail a card. I watched the cars drive by and wondered what they must think of me- hair still wet and tangled from my shower, sweatpants and a band t-shirt on, walking with my card and my keys, just watching the world around me. I smiled as I walked by an office with a golden labrador retriever passed out on the floor. "How simple the life of that creature must be," I thought as I watched his tongue loll out of his mouth. Animals are such a great example of the necessity of living in the impermanence of the moment. They play, eat, sleep, and live without caring about anything more than whether the neighboring dog will share his ball. As I watched the dog lying on the floor of the office, I smiled and made sure to check if he was still there when I passed by on my return trip (he was). I began to count my blessings as I crossed the road to my apartment. I relished the drops of water falling through the tree branches as I passed underneath, remnants of this morning's storm. I waved to my neighbor as I passed him on the street. Back in the apartment, I was thankful that I had a place to call home that I could return to, and a source through which I can relay my thoughts to those who will read this. So I urge you today to make sure you live, laugh, love... in the moment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Morning of Peace

This morning is one of the best examples I can give of living in the present, living in the moment. As I have previously posted, I am extremely bad at doing this, but often being in the right place, at the right time, reminds me that it is indeed possible. I had to share my morning because I feel more peaceful and at home today than I have in a while. 
I slept in this morning and actually slept last night for the first time in I don't remember when. When I woke this morning, I thought I heard a pattering on the windows even over the noise of the window fan. I got out of bed to turn off the fan and heard the rain outside. Rain, after days and days of unbearable humidity that forces you to stay inside with the blinds drawn like a hermit. I opened the shades and embraced the sound and the feel of cool air in my room. I opened the blinds around the apartment and reheated a cup of coffee. I was cold just walking around in my shorts and a tank top, so I went to my closet and took out a piece I have been waiting to wear- my grandmother's wool sweater. I chose it from her clothes after she passed because there is a picture of us taken together a few years ago in which I am wearing the sweater and she is hugging me. As I take it out of the closet and wrap it around me, I can still smell her scent on it, yet I smile instead of becoming sad. The microwave beeps and I am called to the kitchen, stirring in cream with my coffee. I take the steaming mug to the bedroom and sit at the desk, pen in hand. As I journal, I can't help but smile as the rain hits the windows and the world seems quieter, more peaceful outside. 
The sound of rain has always been calming to me. The flow of running water brings peace and cleanses all it touches. In this case, it brings some cool air back to the summer and a fresh scent to the stale air. As I sit here writing, I have goosebumps because this really is my perfect morning. My cup of coffee, my writing, the rain, my grandmother- it's all here. Everything that brings me peace, everything that brings me joy, everything that has the ability to take away the worries and burdens in my life. There is no stress, at least just for this morning. I'm sure once the rain lets up, the afternoon will fill with heat and hostility again. But for now, I had to share this perfect moment. I had to remind both you and me that living in the moment does exist, that sometimes when we need a break that moment has the ability to present itself unexpectedly. So can you do me a favor? Embrace it, don't let it pass by unnoticed. I promise you won't regret it. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stop, Look, and Listen

One thing I'm really good at is being loyal- loyal to friends, loyal to coworkers, loyal to a job, loyal to a customer. One thing I'm really bad at is being loyal to myself. I often put my loyalty to others before my loyalty to my own needs and desires. One example: I stayed at my old job for way longer than I should have because I felt as if my presence was needed. I led myself to believe that I occupied a role that no one else could fill. People depended on me; the company depended on me. The problem was, I no longer depended on my own happiness. I became so wrapped up in making others happy and doing what I was told that I neglected myself. While I've gotten better at this, I still struggle. 
I received a phone call yesterday about a potential opportunity for my career. Immediately my head started whirling in various directions- what if I get another job? Will I like the job? What will my current coworkers think if I leave? Will my boss hate me? Is this the right decision for me? Now, this was all before I even had an interview. I had to remind myself to breathe, resist the desire to say no, and continue to listen. We all heard the phrase "Stop, Look, and Listen" when we were young before we could cross the street safely. Well recently I've had to revert to my five year old self and remember those words. Just breathe. I have the tendency to get ahead of myself, weighing the pros and cons of a decision before I even get the chance to find out whether I will have the opportunity to weigh them. My mind immediately floods with questions and I lose sleep worrying over what will happen. I really do need to take a chill pill. 
I'm reminded of my favorite Spanish phrase "Que sera, sera" (What will be, will be). There's no use worrying and stressing over things that may or may not occur. One major lesson that I have learned when being presented with potentially new and scary opportunities is to relax. Okay, so I may still be freaking out internally, but I have calmed myself to the point where I can ask informed questions and figure out whether the opportunity is worth exploring further. Sure, maybe the new position isn't in my field, but it's a step up with better money and better hours. Is this what I really want? I'm not sure, but I have the opportunity to figure it out and learn more. Just because you receive a tip or a call doesn't mean you are hired. Just because you go to an interview doesn't mean you are obligated to take the position. Just because you weigh some options doesn't mean you necessarily have to embrace change. These are all the things I remind myself as I am hyperventilating due to something new and different coming along. After all, wasn't it change I was searching for? Who am I to know in what form it will present itself? 
So I guess what I'm saying is allow opportunities to play out. Explore your options, and resist the urge to say no right off the bat because having the courage to learn more might actually lead to wonderful things.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It's All About Attitude

It really is all about attitude. One thing I wish to share today is the importance of having a good attitude. Let's face it, we all have our bad days. We all go through periods in our lives where we'd rather not smile, we'd rather just mope. A lot of times, these periods of sadness are justified and even healthy; however, one of my pet peeves involves people who (knowingly or not) push their negative attitudes on all of those around them. You know what I'm talking about- the coworker who comes in with a grudge, the customers who regard you as dumb or worthless because you can't give them what they want, the stranger that bumps you on the street yet continues to walk by ignorantly. These people impact us. At least, they impact me. 
I was in a perfectly good mood at work today when I was faced with negative person after negative person. It was as if I just kept crashing into storm clouds when all I was searching for was sun. I understand that everyone has things going on in their individual lives, but please do not take it out on me! I will listen, I will sympathize, but what I don't want to do is bear the brunt of your frustrations while you refuse to explain them to me. That's not fair to me, and it's not really fair to you. The longer you hold on to that grudge and continue to take it out on the wrong people, the worse it gets. You can't solve anything by blaming the wrong people. In doing that, you ignore the root of the problem and the situation can never be resolved. While you may not want to face that ex-boyfriend, parent, or best friend, the only way to rectify a problem is by addressing it. The more you ignore, the worse it will be. Why take it out on random people or those you love when you could spend your energy and time making it right? 
Now, I'm not saying that I am never guilty of this offense. Oh no, I'm far from perfect. I'm the best at being cranky with those I love when something else is bothering me, but I've gotten better. I recognize that I hate being the brunt of frustration that should never have been aimed at me in the first place, so why would I do that to someone else? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" comes to mind. 
Our attitude doesn't only affect us; it affects others. So I would ask you to just step back for a moment and think the next time you feel like screaming at the cashier because she didn't deduct your coupon or when you feel like tackling your significant other when he/she doesn't do the dishes. Ask yourself: what am I really upset about? Maybe you really are just frustrated with your cashier or your significant other, but most times it runs deeper than that. It only takes that one annoying event to set you over the edge. I just ask that you don't take your frustration out on the wrong audience. Confront the person with whom you have an issue, then move on. Life is too short to hold grudges, and it's way too short to lose the respect of those around you due to one misdirected comment or outburst.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crazymakers in Unexpected Places

Something has come to my attention lately that has been weighing on my mind. It seems as if now that I have figured out the relationship aspect of my life, I am surrounded by people who view relationships and the opposite sex in a solely negative view. I am reminded of Julia Cameron's use of the word "crazymaker," which is someone who only brings up negativity, keeps our spirits down, discourages us from accomplishing our goals, and deters us from succeeding. But it's funny because I would never have labeled these people as crazymakers until this point; they had always been my creative champions. I just grapple with why they would try to dissuade me from my decisions and wrestle me away from love. 
The topic of significant others' betrayal pops up unwarranted all the time now- divorces, ex-boyfriends, messy relationships. It's as if now that I've found happiness, it's being challenged by the real world examples of relationships not working out. I can't say that I don't understand where they are coming from. Believe me, I've been there- bashing the guy who cheats, crying on my bedroom floor due to heartache, seeing someone who has hurt you on a daily basis. I get it, I really do. But what I think makes a huge difference is how you handle it and in what company. I would talk about past heartache with friends I could trust, but I never tried to bash love or relationships. I never put down their boyfriends. I never made them feel terrible about being romantically linked to someone else while I was miserable. I never made them doubt that they should be happy with the love they had (at least, I seriously hope I didn't). 
Now that I am on the other side, it's tough to hear the criticism and the cynicism. I stay quiet in my corner as people assure me that they don't mean to scare me. I doubt my relationship despite knowing that I am happy. I wonder how long we'll last as everyone in my life seems to pepper me with awful stories and terrible outcomes. I feel as if they're all giving me the not so subtle warning "This could happen to you." It's just disappointing that I have helped other people through their struggles and have supported their relationships, whether or not I thought they would work out. And now when I am at the point where I could use reassurance and reinforcement, I'm met with a wall of resistance and resentment. It's unnerving and frankly it's heartbreaking. While I know that I don't need anyone else to justify my choices, it doesn't help when people are kicking down all the ideals for which I have been striving and am finally achieving.
All of this just puts me in a bad mood after I was beginning to feel happy and live with a positive attitude. Again, I shouldn't let the opinions of others affect my mood and the way I live my life, but it's often difficult to ignore the opinions of those people with whom you have chosen to surround yourself. Like it or not, their thoughts and words leak into your consciousness. Warranted or not, they sneak through those barriers you may have in place. I know that I am lucky and happy to be where I am. I shouldn't let the opinions or critiques of others dictate the way I feel about my own life. That's not fair. What's right for one person isn't necessarily good for another. What one person believes may not be your belief. 
I guess my message for today is don't let others persuade you to be anything other than yourself. The people you trust, the people who are your friends, should accept you for who you are. This includes accepting your decisions whether they agree or not (obviously provided they aren't dangerous or life threatening). I realize that my move to another state took me away from friends who care about me, but I'm not dead, I'm only three hours away. I didn't move to hurt anyone, I wasn't forced to vacate the life I lived. I made a choice. I chose to move for love, and was that the easiest decision to make? No, it wasn't, and I didn't make the decision without serious thought. But I survived the transition and I'm here to stay. Now is when I really need the support of my friends whatever the outcome and despite what they may believe. Surrounding me with negativity will only make me push farther away. Sometimes being supportive means not sharing all of your opinions, but just being there. Just be there.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Forgiveness. It's a loaded word with which I've been grappling lately. What does is actually mean? Is it achievable? I claim to have forgiven and forgotten things and people in my past, but can it really be done? Lately I'm inclined to answer no because despite claiming to have cleared people for their past sins, we never actually forget, do we? We can't because those encounters and those people define us in some way. They may define our mistakes or represent answers to longtime questions that we've had, but they can't be forgotten either way. 
I suppose I should give some background as to my slew of inquiries this morning. I've recently come face to face with a person who used to be part of my life. Now I don't mean face to face literally, but he has popped up in conversations and is more real now than he has been in the past two years that I've spent trying to bury the memory of him. In an ironic twist of fate, we moved to the town in which my ex-boyfriend resides. I knew this from the start when I was at home looking for jobs in this state. I laughed when I found that the closest store to which I could transfer was in my ex's hometown. Snorting and rolling my eyes, I put that idea out of my head and tried to focus on a new job to follow. As you well know, I ended up here anyways, working at that same place I thought I wouldn't end up, in the same town as him. When my current boyfriend and I were looking at apartments, I was determined not to let the knowledge that he lived here deter us from looking or moving. Obviously it didn't because we're here, but I'm always worried that I will run into him in town or bump into his mother at the grocery store. It is because of this fear that I've realized I haven't truly forgiven him. I'm afraid of my reaction if I ever see him again- that doesn't exactly exude closure now does it?
The thing is, he hurt me pretty badly. Being naive and trusting, I accepted him into my life again and again, believing his apologies, believing he had changed. We started out as friends in college and slowly crossed the line to being more than that. I hopped that line back and forth between being just friends and more several times in college. It was as if I was playing a constant game of hopscotch but I never could get to the end. The blurred boundaries cost me a lot of sanity back then and gave me more trouble than I really needed at the time. The problem is that I like to see the good in people. It's not a bad trait to have, but if you can't recognize the difference between someone actually being sorry or just saying what you want to hear, then it becomes dangerous. I listened to his apologies more times than I should have because I felt guilty for the grief he was suffering (or I believed he was suffering). While I do believe in karma, I also believe that at some point a person has been punished enough. So time and time again, I let the guilt I felt lead me back to him and forgave him so we could be friends again. This cycle wore on me and after graduation I severed all ties. 
You can choose to delete people from your life- block their calls, "defriend" them, but you can never erase the memory of them or the hurt they have caused. I spent so long not thinking about it, that the mention of him smacks me in the face like he is back from the dead. In fact, we often pretend those people are dead, don't we? They're gone, we don't see them, hence not living. My best friend and I pretend that they are eaten by velociraptors so that every time we hear about our unmentionable people, we damn those dinosaurs for not doing their jobs by keeping those people extinct. But the truth is you can't ever block someone from your life, not really. They will always still be there, possibly around the corner or maybe across the country. They have the annoying ability to pop up in dreams or come up in conversation. Everyone believes you've moved on, but the hurt sometimes lingers despite the years. 
I think of what I would say if I saw him again. I couldn't tell you. The rash part of my brain thinks I would punch him in the face, enacting my own version of karma. However, I know that I am not capable of doing such a thing. I would probably fain interest in his life and find myself caring only the slightest bit. He told a mutual friend that he wishes he hadn't been such a dick so that we could hang out. Again, true colors are shown. The remorse does not come from hurting me but because he could have a friend in town, if only. So maybe I haven't forgiven. I have moved on, but not forgotten. I thought I had absolved him from his sins against me once upon a time, but I think that forgiveness comes with age and maturity. It will take me a while to completely forgive him after four years of hurt. I've finally gained my trust in people back, and I would not have that shattered by an encounter with the one person who stole that from me. I am a stronger person now because of him, but I hate that I let myself get strung along for so long. 
I hope that he's learned his lesson, made his peace, understood exactly how much he took from me. But sometimes people don't learn. I saw the good in him, I saw a good person, but he chose to take advantage of my insight instead of being thankful for it. We all have good in us, but it's whether we act on it that separates us from those who recognize goodness yet refuse to honor it. I will continue to see the good in people and try to forgive, but it's not a black and white process. Forgiveness is entirely composed of shades of gray. I hope that if I continue to try forgiving, I will be able to discern some color along the way.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July and Another Article Published

Happy Fourth of July everyone! I just wanted to write a quick post to share another article of mine that was just published online. I recently spoke to a woman, Paula, who has a blog named Soul Cuisine. She is an inspirational writer and has asked me to share part of my story on her site. Be sure to check it out at http://soulcuisine.co.nz/everything-happens-for-a-reason/. Thanks for reading and enjoy your holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Deja Vu

As my life starts to form a clear picture piece by piece, experience by experience, day by day, I can't help but smile. I am such a worrywart. I spend my time stressing about money, family, and friends only to have my life choices validated soon after. Now, I think that worrying about things is a normal part of life, but sometimes I go to the extremes, losing sleep over things I can't change or control. That is an unhealthy way to live life and more than one person has told me to cut that habit. I guess I'm finally starting to listen. It's not that I never worry anymore, but as I start to see things falling into place, I can relax a little more and actually start living as opposed to just planning. 
I made this realization last weekend as I walked home from work to be greeted by a porch full of neighbors with ice cold beers in hand. I smiled and quickly went inside to change, running back out to the porch with my book and flip flops in hand. We all just sat outside talking and laughing. It made me appreciate the decision I had made to move to this state, the decision we had made to move to this specific apartment. We were no longer in an apartment complex, but in a small house with neighbors that care and have the possibility of becoming good friends. I came home on both Saturday and Sunday to this scene, and it put a big smile on my face as I was able to relax from my work weekend and just revel in the present (something with which you know I struggle). 
I was reminded of things working out for a reason earlier in the week as well. I had been sitting on the porch talking to a neighbor as she weeded the garden when the older couple who lives in the building behind ours came over with their dog. We were talking to them, and as I sat there on the porch I had such an intense moment of deja vu that I found it hard to continue in the conversation. I sat back and watched the scene unfold in front of me exactly as if I had dreamed it. While I do not rely on deja vu as the sole source of reassurance in my life decisions, I do believe in its power. I have had plenty of experiences that I feel as if I've already lived or dreamed. I find comfort in these experiences, as if they are road markers that I can look back upon and say with certainty and clarity that I belonged in that specific place at that specific time. It assures me that my path is my own, and I'm making the best decisions that I possibly can. 
As I sit here typing this morning, I am greeted by a stretch of four days off. I still can't get used to this part time thing, but until my job becomes full time, I vow to make the most of the summer that is laid out before me. This time has been given to me for a reason and I plan to use it wisely. Using this time may be as simple as taking a day to read and organize, but it's a day that I can use towards me. Give yourself the time you so desperately need and be proud of your decisions. Remember that no one needs to validate your life choices. While you may welcome advice from family and friends, you are the only one whose opinion truly matters regarding your life. As long as you stay true to yourself and your beliefs, life will work out the way it's supposed to even if it doesn't feel like it at the time.