Meandering Thankfulness: the adventure continues

Last year, I wrote a Thanksgiving post that seemed to speak to a lot of people. That wasn’t necessarily the intention, I was just trying to get some thoughts out about my journey in the year thus far, the things I had learned, and what had changed. So much, and yet so little.

And you know what this year has me realizing? The case is still the same.

As I took M on our second annual Thanksgiving morning walk, I thought about where I was last year. What was going on in my life. The wins. The things I thought were wins but were actually losses in disguise. The battles. The highs. The lows. The adventure. When I think about where I was last year versus now, it is easy to brush it off to say very little has changed. It’s also easy to say so much has changed.

The events as a whole in the last year continue to reinforce the idea of being pieces of a bigger mosaic of life. There are those splotches where I threw my fists on the painting in sad frustration about not feeling like I’m where I thought I’d be right now. There are the bright and sunny pieces of accomplishments, of happy moments spent with the dearest of friends. It’s all a part of life. It’s a part of the adventure. I’m equal parts thrashing, singing, serious, happy, sarcastic, playful, studious…I’m living an adventure because I choose to see life that way. In a world where very few people actually LIVE an adventure, I’m thankful for the mindset that lets me do so.

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Granted, as friends and family can attest, that doesn’t necessarily make me the easiest person to live with. Always pushing. Never settling. Those things can get tiring.

Falling on your face gets tiring.

But you know what’s more tiring? Standing still. Whether it’s out of fear or complacency or simply because you see no need to push. That doesn’t feel like a life to me. What are you learning by standing still? Sure…I fell on my face. There’s some red on the mosaic from blood or embarrassment, but I learned something. And I got up and moved forward. Adventure. As Jessie J would say, I’m creating my masterpiece.

I realized last year that I am thankful for the fact that there is a bigger mosaic. That all of these highs and lows of the adventure along the way add up to something. This year I am thankful for those highs and lows in general. It takes courage to live. It takes courage to seek happiness. You have to know, like a toddler learning to walk, that there’s a high likelihood of you falling on your face when you let go of that couch. The toddler may not have known that the first time, but as an adult you’ve let go enough that you know the consequences. It’s ingrained in you.

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I’m thankful for the mindset and courage that lets me seek happiness, all the while knowing I need to work on the mindset that lets me see the happiness in the day to day. Most of all, this year I’m thankful for the dear friends and family who put up with me. Who chose to love me and live this adventure with me. My mosaic is brighter because of you. In each day, in each moment, you teach me the true meaning of love. Of grace and happiness. In my most thrashing of toddler-esque fits, as I’m fighting and pushing to make things better, you stick with me and show me grace. You stand beside me and know me. You let me know that I am loved and known in those moments. When I let go of the proverbial couch and take a step forward without falling, it’s you who I celebrate with. When I fall a couple steps later, it’s you who helps me get up and keep going. It’s you, your love, that covers me in happiness this Thanksgiving.

You make the adventure worthwhile. Thank you.

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And so I return…

I apologize for the hiatus.

That’s all there really is to say about that.

I took a hiatus, mostly because I didn’t feel like writing, or that I had much to write about, or was simply too overwhelmed with other stressors to focus on writing. Writer’s block is a real thing, and it comes in the form of life events, stress, and sleep. That last one may be a reaction to the first two, but still…no writing gets done (and I like things in threes).

I think I was stressing about the job situation, the lack of income situation, the “fresh meat to the market” situation (that had my phone blowing up with notifications, which was slightly confidence-boosting)….The perfect storm of chaos was reigning down on me. And so, at a time when I probably had good material, I didn’t write. I was focused on the storm.

Sometimes you need that, though. You need to shut down the outside world and focus on the storm. You need to focus and just get. sh!t. done. Sometimes it’s not necessarily soul food, but it’s finding the next thing that will actually put food on the table. Either way, the little things slide. They probably shouldn’t, but they do.

It’s important to take the storms of life seriously, but as I’ve learned over the past couple years, it’s also important to do the little things that feed your soul. That keep you full, happy, alive with a fire, eager to begin the next day…and not just begin, but charge forward in hot pursuit of your dreams. The things that feed yourself and your soul and your mind. Those little things are different for each person, but they’re equally important.

My things are my friends, my family, this blog, and a good book. I’m eager to get back to them, now that I’ve resurfaced from the storm and can resume a more balanced life.

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I actually bought myself a piece of jewelry recently that is called the “balance necklace”. It was hand-designed, with the description that read:

“A happy life is one of balance, not perfection.”

Sometimes you get caught up in the storm and start to lose air, start to lose the things that bring you joy, that feed your soul…and it only sucks you into the storm more. I am a focused and determined person and I know I struggle with this, but I think, if I were to create an overarching goal for this year, it would be one of balance. There are many things that I would like to achieve, many things that are important to me, but if I only focus on one of them, all of the others fall away. This is not to say that there are moments and things that require one’s full attention because the outcome of them makes everything else easier to achieve…but balance overall is the goal.

And so I move forward, ship steadied, ready for adventure…

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{Happy} Friday funday with a splash of music

I watched the first :30 or so of this video and  set it up as a saved draft for next Wednesday’s “music wednesday”. As I finished watching the video, I realized I couldn’t wait.

Thank you to Fast Co for bringing the initiative of this video to my attention. Just watching the promo clip made me smile from ear to ear and start tapping my foot along to the beat. The lyrics hold true, too, to what I’m trying to accomplish in my life and what I think I’m writing about searching for in this blog. I think a lot of people will be able to relate. I mean, look at the chorus:

“Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof 

Because I’m happy 

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth 

Because I’m happy 

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you 

Because I’m happyClap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”

Sometimes we let others or the things around us get us down. Sometimes we let those things seal us and our happiness potential into a space too small….a room WITH a roof. We deserve to be happy, and we can be. We just have to act towards the things that make us that way and cast aside or ignore the things that don’t.

I am really excited to see the full 24hr production and can only imagine the fun they had making it. The article mentions that this will be the first 24hr video produced and talks about the creative obstacles related to that. Pharrell actually has a really good quote about how creative obstacles are the best kind because they force us to push ourselves and think in new ways.

“The best work comes from people who are motivated by crisis–when something stops the original idea, they respond by coming up with something even better. Existence is all mathematics,” he says. “There’s an equation for success in every obstacle.”

I think this is true with every obstacle in our life, creative or otherwise. Thinking about, taking action, and overcoming something that was a hurdle in our life’s path causes us to be an even better version of ourselves. And probably happier too!

Happy Friday guys.

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Give a little

I know I’m a day late on Music Wednesday. I blame the plague that visited over the weekend. Anyway…

This song makes me want to boogie around the apartment in my undies. It’s got a great beat, and I think the message applies in all aspects of life, but especially love. If we all focused on giving, making others happy, TRULY happy, I think most relationships – personal, business, friendships – would benefit greatly.

This will be a struggle for me having had to take care of my own happiness for so long, but I already see how happy I am currently and am becoming as I grow in my new life. It makes me excited to find the person out there who will willingly and gladly be my equal and give happiness to me as I will give to him.

But for now, dance party time.

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Real vs Perceived

I saw a tweet the other day that spoke to me:

Sometimes it’s hard to live the life that would make you happy instead of the life that would make other people think you are happy.

I think it pretty well sums up some of the kickback we received after letting people know of our decision. A lot of people, when they found out, throw all sorts of “fix” ideas at us. Like they somehow thought we wouldn’t have tried everything in our power. I am beginning to understand it’s their own version of a coping mechanism in hopes to be helpful because they don’t know what else to do. But it’s tiring to have to re-explain and convince them that we did our due diligence and made the decision we think is right.

Most of this has calmed down, but I do think it is a continuous struggle to remember, after trying so long in a different vein, that I am worthy of living the life that makes me happy.

This is not to say we didn’t start happy. We were. But something changed. I don’t know what. I don’t know that I’ll ever know what. But I know that I put in enough effort to try and fix it to be okay with our decision. And I think that this long-span time of fixing singularly, while necessary, is what threw off our friends and family the most. Because in that time I continued to act in a way that made others think I was happy, that masked the real struggle. So when we decided to change the situation, to take the step to find and live the lives that would make us happy, it was a surprise to many.

There’s a song off of Sara Bareilles’s new album that sums this up pretty well.

“Let me paint a picture for you then I’ll have to teach you to see it
Illustrate the remnants of the life I used to live here in Eden
Rolled a lucky pair of dice, ended up paradise
Landed on a snake’s eyes, took a bite and ended up bleeding

You know if I could change anything, I think I would start with the name
The truth is all those angels started acting the same
And I know there’s no going back now cause
Life in Eden
Life in Eden changed
No way to make the pain play fair
It doesn’t disappear just because you say it isn’t there
So when they ask why’d she go you can say cause
Life in Eden
Life in Eden changed”

A conversation with a friend kind of sums this up. She questioned me a month or two ago. Not out of trying to change my mind, necessarily. But out of concern and understanding. She wanted to make sure there wasn’t something she was missing…some bit that made it all make sense to the outsider looking in. In trying to explain to her, I began to realize just how shut off I had made myself in the struggle. How hidden it was, even to my closest friends and family. And I think so much of it goes back to that quote. I had tried to continue to live the perceived life that made others think I/we was/were happy, while not really being happy.
Life in Eden had changed.
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Thursday Video: A diamond, a rose, a most precious material

A military friend sent me this the other day. It’s amazing how God speaks to you. This video is a reminder I need to give myself daily.

I am beautiful. I am smart. I am funny. I am kind. I am unique.

I am worthy. I am worthy of being treated like the most precious of gems.

I am worthy of a love and affection most powerful.

I am.

And until I am blessed with that love in this human life, I am secure in the knowledge that I have that love in Him. Unconditional. Unfailing. Without hesitation or question.

He gave me strength, and still loves me in my weakest moments. He gave me talent, and still loves me when I’m silly. He gave me a great love to give. A great love worthy of loving.

While I seek to find that person in me, those characteristics, again – the strength, the love, the talent, the kindness, the patience – I have hope because I know He already sees it. While I journey to find a person to share my life and my love with, a person who will love me as God loves me, who will show me happiness in the darkest of days and be my partner, my equal in my life’s adventures – I have faith because I know He already sees not just the journey, but the destination.

I am awesome.

And when I forget it, I have awesome friends to remind me. I have me to remind me. I have HIM to remind me.

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Inspiration from unexpected sources

Sometimes you have to live your life…and just let things happen to you. You have to just sit back, stop pushing, and see where it goes. As a planner, this is a really hard concept for me. I always want to know the next step, the next goal. I always want to be working towards something.

But right now…I am coming to the understanding that this is different. Yes, I’m still working towards an ultimate goal of happiness. Of enjoying life. Of feeling fulfilled. I know that this will be a constant goal, a constant effort. But, at the same time, I realize that a set plan is not how I get there. You can’t have a list for happiness – whether to create it for someone else, or for yourself. It’s not a piece of furniture that comes from Ikea with step by step instructions. It’s life. And it’s messy. And unpredictable.

Which is why sometimes you you have to just sit back and say “Ok. I’m going to focus on this one thing I know I can do, and just let the rest be for awhile.” And then life happens to you. In crazy, unexpected ways you find inspiration.

This last week I got inspiration from two unexpected sources. The first was a cousin who lives out in Colorado and sent me a pin, maybe because I’ve been overloading her Pinterest board (sorry Pinterest followers), that made her think of me. I love it, and am considering printing it and hanging it somewhere I’ll see it every day:

The second piece was during the Grey’s premiere last Thursday. A friend came over to watch and drink wine. About midway through, a voice-over monologue – common in Grey’s – caught our attention about two sentences in, that caused her to look at me and say “I think they wrote this for you”:

“We’re all going to die. We don’t get much say over how or when, but we do get to decide how we’re gonna live. So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More Compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide.”

So yeah, I’m a planner. I want to know, set, and work towards the goals in my life. And sometimes when I don’t feel like I’m getting there, I act like a crazy child with Tourettes strapped into a roller coaster ride, anxious to get to the fun part and be done with the ka-chunk, ka-chunk of the uphill climb. But I’m slowly realizing that that uphill climb is part of it. And the goals in life wouldn’t feel like sweet, sweet victory without a bit of cursing and climbing. But mostly that, even through the climb and the cursing and clawing towards goals, there will be inspiration from friends or otherwise that remind you you’re not alone. There is a bigger plan, and sometimes it’s just worth relaxing and realizing you’ll get there.

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TED Thursday

Most days at work, I listen to music. But in the mornings, or in the dead of the afternoon while I’m willing my body to stay awake, I turn to TED. Hopefully all of you know of TED talks. If not, you need to remedy this quickly. With an array of topics, I can listen and learn about an intensely specific topic in the span of 6-25min (the varied length of the videos). The presenters, and presentation locations, are from all over the world. You can learn about things that are culture-specific, or things that are pervasive of every culture. Today’s first talk that I’ll share has to do with happiness. I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you ;)

I thought it interesting how she touched upon the idea of happiness pursuit vs. ordinary misery. And moreover the fact that happiness isn’t just a lack of ordinary misery. That there are things that must also occur to create happiness. That happiness, to most people at least, isn’t just a sense of complacency. That being content with life is important, but there must also be things that invigorate you, that inspire you to live and love and continue to better yourself.

I think in a lot of ways I was stuck in a place of contentment. Except that I wasn’t content with that. I had given so much of myself towards creating the happiness in another that I lost myself. I lost myself in effort, but also because that effort didn’t feel as if it was being returned. And no matter how much I gave, it didn’t make the situation any better. Instead of working to climb a wall, I was digging a well. (Funny, the drastic difference a letter makes)

Unfortunately, this idea of “ordinary misery” and happiness being a lack of that is a common thought in society. It seems stupid, but it is. I know that for a fact because I ran up against it in my conversations with friends and family. And my inability to make them understand that lack of misery in my situation was not enough…especially when I was so quickly digging myself into misery in trying to help nourish a relationship that was not nourishing me.

And now? That happiness is on me. It’s daunting but relieving at the same time. I’m no longer killing myself to provide the happiness for two and making myself less happy in the process. I am focusing on the adage “you cannot help others if you do not first help yourself”….something like that. This is my “me” time, because I need to be happy in me before I can ever take that on again. And I can already see the effect of this; I’m smiling, laughing, and enjoying more…of life.

I don’t know what that has done to, or says about, my ability to receive action that creates happiness from others. Or my optimism/pessimism that that is even a possible outcome. I would like to think it is. I think I believed it at one time. I think love makes a person believe that until experience proves otherwise.

This has actually been a topic of conversation with a friend more than once recently. The idea of trusting another person to take action toward your happiness. Knowing they will fulfill and nourish you as you do the same for them. Not having to worry about providing for yourself and thereby safeguarding your heart. I think true, giving love from the right person can accomplish that effortlessly. I think love and happiness is an effort but should never feel like work. I think when two people connect on that level, the act of providing happiness for each other is done without even knowing it is occurring.

Is that outlandish? Is that an unattainable goal? I don’t think so. I see that type of happiness in some of my family members and friends when they interact with their spouses. The optimist in me says it has to be out there, otherwise – what’s the point?

Until then, you can find me out there creating my own sunshine.

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