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.