Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Music's the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay."



Let’s test your sense of self for a moment. Shall we?  We’re going to play a game of sorts. So…if you don’t’ like games, stop reading now.

Close your eyes.  Well, no, I guess you can’t close your eyes and keep reading this at the same time. So, don’t close your eyes. Focus. Imagine taking a moment to step outside yourself. So, you’re no longer really ‘you’ at the moment. You’re someone else, looking at yourself. Now, as yourself this question, “WHO, is that?” Now, who do you see? Notice there I didn’t say ‘What do you see?’ Who do you see? It’s an interesting way to sort of ponder your ‘person’, who you are, what you stand for, where you’re going, etc. My professional recommendation is that you take the time to do this once and a while (but not too often---because then you get caught up in too many life ponderings) so that you can channel your chi.

Lately I have been participating in this exercise perhaps a little too much. I spent the better part of 6.5 hours a few weeks ago trudging through mud, climbing up hills, and trying not to fall off of a small cliff into a wooded ravine. Really, when one is presented with this situation, the only logical thing to do, is ponder every aspect of life imaginable. Which, in my case really isn’t anything all that unusual. I thought about a lot of things during those 6.5 hours. As I write this, I am laughing because, someone has been telling me for years that they always wonder what it would be like to be inside of my head. I always reply, ‘Well, you’d probably be begging to get out after being in there for 5 minutes.’ Funny thing, my mind. It. Never. Stops. Ever. The same person, has told me she can always tell when the wheels are turning. So…for those of you who are just dying to get inside my brain for a bit, here are just a few of my life ponderings during those 13.1 miles (or 6.5 hours).
·       
  •  Please don’t fall, please don’t fall   
  • Shit.
  • Note to self: check body for ticks after this
  • I knew I wasn’t as ready for this as I should have been   
  • Do not let yourself down
  • You won’t let yourself down
  • Okay, we’ve got this, we’re going, we’re running
  • Uniform 901-3213
  • Repeat the above over and over for about 20 minutes
  • Branch, bugs, trees, nature, so itchy
  • It’s hot
  • I’m hungry
  • How much longer do we have to do this for?
  • I miss my dad, God to I miss him
  • Don’t start crying, you’re fine
  • I wonder what other people are doing today?
  • What time is it?
  • What if there’s a snapping turtle in one of these mud lakes I have to trudge through? What if it bites my toe, and then I have no toe?
  • Serious life question, do left handed people prefer their computer mouse on the left side?
  • I’m going to be 30 in 3 months. How did that happen?
  • God. For being 30, I sure as shit haven’t mastered the ‘adulting’ thing
  • Well, if you haven’t mastered it, or you think you haven’t mastered it, let’s make a plan right here, right now in these woods to master it…
  • Oh, that’s right, you’re like the worst at following any life plan that you lay out for yourself
  • That’s why you can’t take yourself seriously
  • But are you happy?
  • ………are you?
  • Hello?
  • No.
  • Well, what makes you happy?
  • I don’t know right now. Getting out of these woods and crossing that finish line would make me happy.
  • Okay, let’s focus on that.
  • But really though, who am I and what am I supposed to do? What is my purpose?
  • Time will only tell…..
  • God, my hip hurts and I smell like a dirty hobo……………….

I could potentially write about 4 more pages worth of bullets. But I think I’ll spare you all from the inner workings of my brain. If you’re reading this blog, I am guessing that you’ve been reading my work for at least a little bit of time. So you know me on many levels. Through heartbreak, and depression, and life achievements, weight loss celebrations, and hilarious match.com date stories. You, readers, know the truest me.

Someone at work once started reading my blog….and told me that he finished all 50 (at the time) over the course of two nights. He said, it made him happy and sad, but also that he felt like he knew me better after reading. This is me, this is who I am. I think that a lot of people feel a great deal of things in life. Some of us express those things in different ways. I used to think I was crazy, always jumping from one thought to the next without any break. But this is me. Raw truth and all. Feelings are real, both happy and sad, and that’s what it is. 

So where am I going with this today? I just realized that this blog today is super unfocused. Perhaps that’s because I feel that way on so many levels of my life right now. Two years ago, I believe, I wrote about the Girl in the Snow Globe (if you need a refresher, go back to that blog and read, it’s a gem). I, of course, was the girl. In a lot of ways, I still am. Actually, in all ways, really. I always have this tendency to feel sorry for myself, in a way. Like, I’m a good person, how come I am so stuck, blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day, when a person is feeling stuck, they only have one person to blame. Themselves. I can say that, beyond a doubt, 100%. Life circumstances are life circumstances, sure. Great. But if you’re stuck, or you’ve been feeling that way for a long time, it’s about time that you ask yourself one question:

What have I been doing to keep myself here?

Some of us, are stuck, because whether we like it or not, there might be some semblance of comfort in the place(s) we’ve chosen to tuck ourselves into. I complain a lot. I look at other people, and where they’re at, and I wonder why I can’t do those things. A few weeks ago, I did do something. I walked away from that finish line happy, yet still reeling from being stuck in my head all day long. This carried into the week. It stuck with me for 5 days. I cried twice this week during conversations with two separate individuals. Same conversation. Me asking what I’m supposed to be doing. What my purpose is, and how to move forward and get out of this rut.

The answer from both individuals was simple, really:

You have to figure out what makes you happy.

I’ve spend a good majority of my life making others happy. If others are happy, then I’m happy because life is generally harmonious and all that jazz. I’ve spent a good majority of my life thinking happiness lies in physical appearance, in things owned and achieved, etc. Until a few weeks ago, when my horoscope sort of rounded out the inner turmoil of this week in an almost perfect way:

Today, Leo, you need to recognize that happiness does not come from outside sources. While it would certainly be nice to have more money, a bigger house, a spectacular vacation, or whatever else you might be dreaming of, if you aren’t happy at the soul level, it won’t really matter. You may be focused on some goal that you think will make the difference in your life between happiness and unhappiness, but you can be happy no matter what. There will always be another goal to aim for, but happiness should be a constant condition.

So today I ask this question, in a more honest manner than I have ever asked it before. What do I need to do in order to make myself happy? When I look at myself, I know that a lot of people see what I see. They see good. Yet, they also see an easily irritated, easily flustered (nearly) 30 year old woman, who builds up her walls so high that she’s created her own barriers. A woman who hides her demons, and just pretends all is well, all the while just struggling to figure out where to go and what to do. I’ve been saying this since I started this blog in 2012. It’s a question that I don’t think we ever stop asking in life. No matter who you are, what happens in your life or how ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ you are. There’s no straight path to get to where you’re going in life, even if you are ‘going’ somewhere per say.

At this present juncture, I cannot give you the answer to the question that I ask so often. I don’t know that I will ever be able to. I honestly can’t even give you an ultimate purpose or intention for this blog. What I can say, and do know at the moment, is that life is boring living in the walls you’ve built up so high. Even though they’re meant to protect, they often shelter you in a way that ends up hurting you in the long run. Let the walls down, and even though you might get hurt in the process of living your life, at least you didn’t spend it wondering where you’re supposed to be and who you could be if you hadn’t taken shelter in your castle.

And…

Even though you’re vulnerable….like a man on a paintball mission….you might just be able to see a little light and the end of the path you’re running down.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hold On Loosely

Spring is most definitely in the air. Warm weather means a great deal of things for me. It means Monroe and I can take journeys to the dog park, or to the field behind Woodland Elementary School. It means that the sun will be out for more than just a day at a time. It means cookouts, camping and bonfires. It means laughs with friends, and random adventures with my sister. The warm weather holds so much promise. Yet, it also holds sadness. A sadness that I didn't really think ever existed. Not until Sunday, when I got the real first taste of summer's touch.

I woke up Sunday morning, to the sun touching my face through the side of my blinds. As I opened my eyes, I could hear the faint sound of an engine running in the garage. I knew the sound all too well. It was a sound that a kid like me could never forget or mistake growing up. It was a sound that I'd often hear during the summer months. One of my favorite sounds ever. It was a motorcycle.I almost felt like a kid again. I literally jumped out of my bed so fast, put my contacts on, threw on a sweatshirt, and ran outside to the garage. This time, though, there was someone different standing next to the bike. It was my sister. I watched her roll the bike out into the driveway, and helped her check the tire pressure. She started the bike and sort of coasted to the street, revving the engine along the way. Just like that, she took off. And I just kind of stood there watching.

Just like I did with  my Dad when I was a kid.

Now, if you're friends with me on Snapchat, this would have been about the time I added the snap of Stephanie driving away to my story with a comment that read something like:

I wish I could do cool things, but I guess I'll just do lame Alex things like read a dumb Harvard Business Review. Because I suck. And Fail.

Not really sure if that's what I said verbatim---but it's pretty close, and pretty much along the lines of what I might have said at that time. So, after I had my small soap box moment. I proceeded to sit on the concrete apron of the garage, with my sister's dog. And cry. Like a child. It wasn't really an ugly cry, just tears. I sat there for awhile, until my Mom came outside. She asked me a question, and I answered it, and she could tell I was crying....so she asked what was wrong. Queue ugly crying.

A lot of what I explained to her, I'm sure, made absolutely no sense. I basically told her that I was sad, because I couldn't go with her. I can't ride, and my legs are too short, and I failed my class back in the day. And now, because of that, I can't enjoy the things she can enjoy, and it's a piece of my Dad, and he's never going to see me ride a motorcycle, etc., etc., etc.

You get the gist, right?

I felt bad, because I unloaded a whole bunch of shit on her. And I don't think this will end here. Summer was important to my Dad. He loved fishing and camping, and sitting in the garage watching the people go by, all the while listening to KHITS on the radio (which occasionally picks up Waukegan Airport air traffic control haha). Now, the chair is empty, and the garage is quiet. It's so eerie, and so sad.

Someone recently told me that I'm going to have these kinds moments. I understand this. I'm not new to grief. I know what it's like, and how I've dealt with it in the past. It's different this time around, just because I feel like a physical piece of me is gone. The saddest part about losing someone, is all of the things they will 'miss', and how much it hurts that they'll miss those things. Dad has been gone for almost two months now, and the time that has been passing feels both long and short at the same time. Sometimes I feel like he's been gone for 100 years. Other times, I feel like I talked to him just yesterday.

There's so much that comes with loss. The struggle that has found me----is appreciating and accepting the balance. When someone dies, there are so many people there for you. Just to generally make sure you're still alive. In my experience, that's when I wanted to talk to people the least. Now, almost two months later, it's like dead quiet. Once the service is over, everyone goes radio silent. It's nice, and it's also sort of sad at the same time. There's so much I feel on a day to day basis---so I try to just sort of weed through what's worth telling people and what to keep to myself. I've had many tell me it's not healthy to keep it in. Nevertheless, I am so used to that behavior, that it's just easier than depressing people with my inner thoughts. I'm rational, yet very irrational. Over the last month I've had this sudden urge to figure shit out pronto. I've gone from nearly applying to school to get a master's, to heavy budgeting, to thinking about obscene places to venture to. It's been difficult to get back into the swing of things. I've been going through the motions all too regularly, without much thought or care at all. It's just been whatever. And I've just sort of been okay with that. But not okay at the same time. Hoping that something more, something happier will find its way to me.

More than anything, I've been both surrounded but also very alone in this grieving process. Alone, is what I feel more than anything. Most people know that it's painful to lose someone. But I don't want to bring anyone down with the constant thoughts and memories that cross my mind each and every day. And while the rest of the world goes on with their lives, I'm just sort of starting to run with the pack again. All the while mustering up some kind of smile. Meanwhile on the inside, I just feel plain sad.  Now, don't get all concerned. This feeling doesn't follow me around all of the time. It's just kind of always hanging on, almost like a little annoying pimple that won't go away.

I will always carry a piece of my Dad with me, no matter what. I think that the things he loved will always hold a special place in my heart, and I truly believe the weekend of motorcycle activities, or lack thereof is what really set my feels off. I know, that if I put my mind to it, I can learn to ride, and I can pass the test. I think I am afraid of failing, of letting him down. I'm also sad that he won't be there to celebrate victory with me. Just like he won't be at the finish line for each of my Spartan Races this year. Despite all of these feelings, I must keep going, because I just can't stop living. And I can't keep everything in. If people don't want to hear my inner thoughts, then, well, they'll just have to tell me. Because everything is not fine, all of the time. And that's the way life works.

So here's to just figuring life out---even though a piece of it's missing.

A.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

9.

Someone once said, if you don't learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it. There are many variations of this quote....and I honestly cannot tell you who's responsible for this sentiment. What I do know, is that it's been used by parents and teachers for quite some time. I mean, what kid isn't somewhat terrified of not learning from the past and potentially repeating actions that had really bad outcomes?

Many believe that the past is the past, and that it should be left there. I often tend to agree. Yet, living in the past sometimes becomes a force of habit for many of us; and even if some do indeed live in that place---their reflection of those memories often does not result in any type of learning. For me, reliving the past very much causes me to think about the 'Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda' factor (sorry if the spelling for that euphemism is off). I hate that factor. I think that factor sometimes makes things worse. Things happened because they happened. We reacted to situations in a certain manner, because we were supposed to react that way. The only redeeming quality of that reflection is the knowledge we may or may not have gained from whatever it is that happened.

Apparently, according to numerology, this year, in my 29th year of life, I am supposed to end an era. It is supposed to be the year to complete unfinished business, reach conclusions and tie up loose ends. It's all about accepting doors that have closed, facing the reality of the past, how it's impacting my present and decide how I want to create my future. It's a year of great preponderance and reflection.

Thus far, I can tell you that the 9 year sucks. At least it does for me. I overthink everything, and I feel like there's something out there that I am meant to figure out...yet I have absolutely no idea what that is. I don't feel like this is a standard life moment either. Like the typical early to mid twenties time period where you ponder what you're supposed to do with your life. I feel like I sort of figured that out a little while ago.I am just wondering what I need to let go of. Many would say past relationships, or negative past experiences. However, as many of you can see (from reading past blogs), I think that I've worked through the aftermath caused by the ending of a past relationship. While I am sure there's still plenty to learn from it, it does not really affect me anymore.

So what's left?  There's one thing, and I believe that it's something I carry with me, and probably will continue to carry with me always. I had a conversation with someone yesterday that really brought it to light. As many of you know....weight, and the issue of weight is something that I cannot let go of. I think about it all of the time. During a discussion yesterday, it was mentioned to me that there was concern and wonder when I first starting gaining all of the weight.

You would say you were on a diet, and then sit down and eat a bag of chips...not even realizing that you are doing it. We talked about signing you up for 'What Not to Wear' because you'd wear unflattering clothes that made it worse.....

Does it hurt to hear these things?  Sure. Did I think about it for the rest of the day? Yes. At first my reaction to this was one of hurt. People always make comments when others gain weight like 'Well, do they know...' and then they wonder if they should say something. Here's my take on that...people look in the mirror every day. They know what they look like. Making changes or staying the same is 100% up to them. In my case, it was a cumulative weight gain...and I hit that peak in 2013. It took me awhile to get my shit together. Weight has been a struggle my entire life. I started really looking at my weight gain in late 2012---and the actual weight itself didn't start to come off until 2014. It took time. It's still taking time. It's going to be a forever thing for me. With this process, I carry the pain of the person I was, the actual weight of who I was, the comments, the stares, the feelings of inadequacy, the comments from people who were 'concerned' or 'meant well'.  That shit hurts. At the end of the day, I know that people only mean well---but change and the changes that people need to make are the ultimate responsibility of that one individual. Others can help to facilitate that change...but only after that person has made the conscious decision to change. 

So what do I learn? What do I let go of? I think the first thing would be the pain I carry with me. The second, would be to slowly let go of the girl who was. The third would be to accept the girl who is. The fourth would be to plan for the girl who will be. It's always good to look toward the future, it's amazing to think about the potential each and every one of us has deep inside. To think about the person we can be. Yet, often times, we need to accept, love and nourish the person we are. All the while realizing there's always something we can do to better ourselves.

So in this 9 year, I need to figure out how to move on. How to let go of all the anger I have towards myself. I need to accept what I have achieved, and set milestones for what I'd like to achieve. We all have things we'd like to change about ourselves. My aesthetic desires seem to be the main focus of everything I want to make better....but  maybe I need to figure out how to make that my main focus in a mentally healthy way.

I turn 30 this year. Turning 30 terrifies me for many reasons. Too many to really get into today. As I look to the next decade of my life, the changes I need to make, and who I want to be, I realize that I need to close the door on some things, and open the door to others.

After all.... T.S. Eliot once said:

What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning. 
The end is where we start from.



More blogs to come. I've been slacking on the blog game lately. Stay tuned for more info on my 9 year journey.

A.

Monday, August 8, 2016

29.


In today’s world, it’s sometimes hard to forget that we’re all one thing: human (Unless you’re not, and you’re some other type of being---but hey---this is the track I’m on right now). Human. It’s so weird to think about, because humans in their nature are extremely complex. Think of it this way, when you picture a shark, you mostly know what a shark does. Sharks, in their very nature are of course, well, sharks. They troll the ocean, will pretty much eat anything, and if given the opportunity, will do so. I’m not the kind of person that desires to swim with sharks, or any other sea creature really. Nevertheless, if an animal, reptile, fish, etc. is in the wild, we mostly likely have a good idea of what that creature is capable of.

 
Humans are not this way. We are all inhabiting this Earth together, but each of our stories are different. Like an intricately woven textile in a Victorian era home. The textiles of our lives are all original, one-of-a-kind works of art. I like to think of each and every person in my life as a walking novel. Each piece of their story combining with mine to create an anthology of sorts, I suppose.  


You’re probably wondering why I’m rambling about sharks and humans and textiles and novels. I suppose, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about myself as a human, and who I am in this very state today. As per the usual, with my 29th birthday rapidly approaching---I like to stop and reflect upon my own human nature.

 
For the past few weeks, I’ve been attempting to take a life poll. I ask the same question to various people: “If you had to explain or describe me to someone, what would you say?”

Here are some of the answers I’ve gotten. Some very honest, which I appreciate. Some quite comical (since I also polled a 7 year old):

·         Humorous

·         Uptight

·         Witty

·         Fiercely loyal

·         Thoughtful

·         Generous

·         Judgmental

·         Strong

·         Goofy

·         Cold at times

·         Apprehensive

·         Don’t be mean to Alex, or she’ll punch you in the face (...laughing as I type this)

I’m sure there’s more—but I am drawing a blank. Some of this is raw. When you hear something negative about yourself, your first inclination is to vehemently deny it. That’s what I did. It’s hard to hear that you’re judgmental and uptight. BUT—when I really reflected…when I really took all of these comments into consideration, I realized that I am all of these things. For sure. As with any person, there are things about me that I don’t like. That I would prefer to change. But our flaws help to make us who we are.  Each person in this world possesses both good and bad traits. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that neither these good or bad traits define us. I’d like to think they bring us balance and make us whole. As long as you don’t let one shine more than the other…..


So here’s the question that’s been running through my mind over and over for the past month or so:


What are you going to do to end your 20’s in a positive and meaningful way? 


And so…I’ve decided to make 29 affirmations, for my 29th year of life. I guess, also, some of these are words of wisdom for my brain. More so than affirmations. Nevertheless, I write these thoughts down, with the promise that I will try to embrace and remember all of them in one way or another…..


1.       I will try to live my life in the sunshine---rather than the cloudiness. Life is all about balance. After all, it’s so much easier to appreciate the beautiful days after the not-so-nice days.

2.      A very important, very wise person in my life always tells me ‘You create with your thoughts’ (or at least…I think that’s the jest of it). Either way, I’m starting to believe that this is very much the truth. I guess, I better start creating.

3.      Dreaming isn’t meaningless, nor does it waste time. Sometimes our dreams a really big—and that’s okay. It’s okay to dream---even when you’re very much a realist.

4.      Ignoring problems does not make them go away. Ignoring feelings, doesn’t make them any less apparent. When you do this, those feelings or problems come back in full force, and those situations are magnified.

5.      Be diligent in working towards what you want. There’s always tomorrow, yes. However, how many times can a person say ‘Tomorrow’?  If you want something, you are the only person that can make that happen.

6.      To build off of that, be willing to make sacrifices in order for those things to happen. The Titanic wasn’t built in a day---and it wasn’t easy to build. After all that hard work, it turned out to be more beautiful than anyone could ever imagine. There’s always, always beauty in the hard work that’s been put in to building something.

7.      Embrace your sacrifices, and don’t let them make you bitter. Everyone has to make them once in a while.

8.      You are where you are for a reason. No matter how much you try to plan your life, there’s always an unexpected factor there. That mystery, the unknown really scares some—and I know I am scared to death of it. Mostly because I love control. But I have to let go…because sometimes letting go allows some of the most amazing things to happen in your life.

9.      Relax. Not even in a like, sit in a hammock and read a book way. Like, in a ‘relax, all of this anxiety you create over stupid things can’t be good for your health, way’. So just let the chips fall where they may.

10.   Things are never as bad as you think they might be---and if they are, then deal with them accordingly.

11.    People say there is such a thing as being ‘too nice’. I tend to agree, sometimes. However, I truly believe that paying it forward creates good karma. I just have to learn, also, that saying ‘no’ isn’t a bad thing.

12.   It’s okay to say ‘no’ when you don’t want to do something. Even if someone gets upset, why cause yourself the anxiety of doing something you don’t want to do?

13.   Stop overthinking. There are consequences for all actions, yes. However, you act a certain way, and say certain things at certain times because in that moment, you thought it was right. It doesn’t necessarily make that behavior right. This life is all about learning, and so, you can regret things---but the more you overthink them—the more pain you cause yourself. Do what is right in your heart. If there’s an aftermath, use it as an opportunity to learn.

14.   Open your heart. In more ways than one.

15.   Give people a chance.

16.   Courage is everything. Get some this year, okay? ;)

17.   Embrace those closest to you when you’re not feeling ‘yourself’.  The more you push them away, the worse off you are.

18.   Work towards the things you want to accomplish. Yeah, something always ‘comes up’ but stick to your plan.

19.   Stop procrastinating all of the damn time.

20.  When someone says something you don’t like, tell them. It doesn’t mean you have to be confrontational about it---just be comfortable speaking your mind.

21.   Slow down every once in a while. Sometimes, it’s okay to just sit and be home.

22.  Even though you need to speak your mind, try to be thoughtful when doing so.

23.  Embrace the ups and downs of life—they make for one hell of a story.

24.  Find a way to surprise yourself at least once a week.

25.  Keep in touch with the ones you love—and make more of an effort to do so.

26.  You can always be more thankful. Always.

27.  Focus on the things you want, but never, ever take what you have for granted.

28.  Be more patient.

29.  Stop worrying about 10, 20, 30 years from now. You’re so worried about the future, you’re missing the ‘right now’. Let go of your fear---and just live.


While this all might be common sense, and most of it is---some of these affirmations, life words of wisdom, etc. are a lot easier said than done. Nevertheless, I truly believe if you write things down, you have more of a tendency to digest them. So that’s what I’ve done. I know that this is going to be a huge year of reflection for me. Since I’m going into my 9 year. It might drive me insane, but it also might be good. I think I’m ready for it though.


What's life anyway, without a little insanity?



A.