What Can I Do?

 

What can I do? I wrote these four words in my journal on a particularly challenging day in November 2009. It was my first year teaching high school and I felt helpless. The majority of students in my class either neglected to choose an elective so the school chose for them or had been kicked out of another class and entered my room mid-semester. I felt like I didn’t know how to relate to my students or how to make a difference in their lives – which the doe-eyed dreamer in me so yearned for. I wanted to make a difference. To bring a little more good into the world.

I cried and cried as I thought about these four words. What can I do?

Love them. That was the only answer I could think of. Love them. And so I did.  No turning back. They didn’t always make it easy, but I loved them. I decided that year that I wanted them to learn, but I didn’t care if they remembered a single thing from my class as long as they knew and could remember that I loved them. That somebody loved them and was on their side.

I don’t know if I made a difference, but they certainly made a difference to me.

As I lay in bed tonight, unable to fall asleep, tears fall on my pillow and I ask myself the question again. What can I do?

Same question, different circumstances.

What can I do? What can I do?

There’s been too much heartache, violence and hate and once again…I feel helpless.

What can I do?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t know for certain what will create real and lasting change for humanity, but I do think The Beatles were onto something when they said “All You Need Is Love.”

Love doesn’t make pain go away. In fact, sometimes love only makes the ache that pain causes to grow stronger. But it’s something I can do. It’s something I can do until I know what else I can do.

I can treat people with love. All people. Including myself.
I can mourn with others.
I can be a voice.
I can join other voices.
I can stand beside them and show my support for them.
I can be a safe place for people to open up.
I can verbalize and remind them about just how magical and precious they are simply because they live and breathe.
I can be ready to help and be a voice when an opportunity arises.

There’s a lot I can do. There’s a lot we can do. Love isn’t limiting.

I’m not the first one to write about “love” following actions of disaster, hate or terror – all of which humanity experiences far too often.

But, I guess writing this is my way of coping. My way of feeling marginally less helpless. Of trying to add a little more love, a little more good in the universe  during a time that feels too dark.

And maybe love isn’t the only answer. Maybe it can’t do everything. But it breeds a lot better results than hate of any kind ever will.

Pressing the Testimony Reset Button

(Disclaimer: This is merely my experience. I do not wish to project that it should be yours, but I believe that there is much we can glean from sharing authentic experiences with each other and so I attempt to do that here, and hope you will share with me your experiences.)

(A few buzz words to understand if you don’t know them already:
Church– In context here is referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Bishop – Essentially, your church leader for the particular ward that you attend.
Ward – Essentially, a synonym for congregation)

In May 2015 I walked into my Bishop’s Office, sat down, and basically told him that this was my last attempt at staying active in the church.

You see, unbeknownst to all but some close confidants I had been struggling with my activity at church for a year or so. I mean, I would attend each Sunday, but mostly out of habit, for social reasons, and guilt/paranoia of what would happen if I stopped attending.

For the sake of my experience, I think it’s important you know why I was ready to be out.  I was completely and utterly exhausted. I was exhausted by my interpretation of the gospel, as well as, my practice of it. Basically, I was living what I now see as a skewed interpretation of the gospel.

At this time in my life I was feeling the need to be perfect.  Since I could never attain what I thought “perfection” looked like, I would get discouraged and think why even try? Because of my imperfections, I was certain God would never bless me, or never answer any of my prayers  because those are only things he does for righteous people. And since I was so imperfect, there was no way that could happen for me.

On top of that, I would constantly feel guilty for the fact that I wasn’t doing all of the things I had been taught my whole life to do – reading my scriptures daily, attending every meeting, praying, having faith, etc. And when I would do any of these things they were done out of guilt.

Basically, somewhere along the way in life my discipleship had turned into one where my actions were based on a foundation of guilt and the idea that God was disappointed in me because I was never doing enough, but at the same time, I was too exhausted to do more than I already was.

I proceeded to tell my Bishop that it was up to him to convince me to stay.

No pressure, right?

Looking back, I see the millions of ways this was wrong and the millions of ways that it could have gone south very quickly. And you know what? Sometimes it does. And I don’t fault those people. We are all on our own journey.

Thankfully for me, I had a Bishop that knew me well, understood my needs, and listened to The Spirit.

He gently looked at me, listened to me speak for about 40 minutes straight, and then kindly said,

“Katie, I’m going to tell you something that might sound a little unconventional. I don’t care if you attend church. I don’t care if you read your scriptures or pray.  Do I want you to? Yes. Would I miss seeing you at church? Absolutely.  But I don’t care about any of those things.  I only care that you have a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Let’s get you back to that.”

Not the answer I was expecting. And yet, it was the perfect answer for me.

He then shared the following verses with me:


 

Mark 12: 30 – 31

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.


He went on to explain how in the grand scheme of things, these two greatest commandments were all that really mattered. Everything else was just additional.

He gave me counsel to not feel pressured to attend my church meetings, reading my scriptures, praying, etc.

The only thing he asked of me was to practice and implement these two verses in my life and to do it in whatever way I could. He didn’t place parameters as to what the practice of it should look like. He allowed me to discover what it would look like for myself.

I’d like to say that I left his office that day and a week later everything was fine. In all reality, it took months. Months of literally thinking of these verses and trying to implement them in everything I saw and did.

However, slowly yet surely I began to rebuild my testimony and church experience.  This time, however, it wasn’t built on a foundation of anxiety, perfectionism, guilt or fear. Instead, it was being built (and still is) upon these two commandments – love thy neighbor as thyself (“Thyself” being a key part to this that we shouldn’t overlook) and loving God with all my heart.

As I focused on these two things, and pretty much only these two things, for several months I started noticing a few things:

  1. I had a desire to read, search and study my scriptures because I wanted to know more about God’s love for me and my fellow men. I didn’t read them every day, but I read them when I wanted to because I wanted to see and feel more of God’s love. Over time, the frequency of my scripture study increased, but this time not out of guilt or feeling like I “should” be reading them.
  2.  I felt God’s love for me. Sometimes, I would literally sit down in silence, eyes shut, and I would just try to feel God’s love for me.  It worked. I would feel a warmth inside of my heart that began to grow stronger over time.  For this first time in several years, I felt like I was enough in God’s eyes. Not because I was trying to do everything perfectly, but because I spent time just feeling His love.
  3. As I felt God’s love for me, my love for Him also continued to grow.
  4. I became happier and more hopeful. My Faith increased.
  5. My prayers became personal and meaningful again. I wanted to pray and speak with Him because I loved Him and no longer felt like He must constantly be disappointed in my lack of perfection.
  6. I wanted to attend Church – not always all 3 hours of it, but I think that can come with more time.

At the end of the day, it essentially took pressing the restart button on my testimony and beginning with the basics for me to see what this gospel is really about.

It’s not about completing a checklist of all the things we are “supposed” to be doing, or even understanding everything in the gospel at this time in our lives.

To me, it’s about loving God, loving ourselves and fellow men the way God loves us, seeing God’s love for us individually and then allowing everything else to just grow from there.

 

30 Cardinal Life Rules…As Defined by Someone Who Is Still Figuring It Out

I’ve decided my childhood was a bit of a lie. (insert dramatics here)

Growing up, I’d look at my older and wiser cousins, siblings, grandparents, teachers, parents and think, “Wow. They know everything about life.”

That it legitimately did get easier as you got older and all life’s answers perfectly unfolded themselves before your eyes.

You see, the thing is, they never did anything that lead me to believe anything to the contrary.

(So maybe they’re the liars here. It’s hard to say. It’s a chicken or the egg situation, you know?)

As I approach the age of 30 in just a few short weeks (gasp) I’ve been freaking out.  Just a bit.  I mean, it’s cool. It’s just another number. Whatever.

BUT

I can no longer use excuses like, “oh I’ll figure it out when I’m 30” or “I don’t have to know that yet, I’m still in my 20’s.”

Insert wise friend who gave me a new perspective. (Her name might be Julie Allen. She is in her 30s – so maybe there is hope for figuring out this life thing after all. In fact, maybe it happens AT 30!) Anyway, Julie pointed out that now I can use the excuse “oh, well that’s something I would have done in my 20s but I don’t because I’m too wise and mature now.”

And so, as I approach the BIG 3-0 I’ve thought about all the lessons I’ve learned in my 20’s and the mistakes I hope not to make (again) in my 30s.

For what it’s worth, here are my personal 30 cardinal rules I’ve learned (in my almost 30 years of life) to navigate this crazy, beautiful world of ours:

  1. Don’t say “sorry” unless you’ve legitimately hurt someone else or wronged them. Otherwise, be unapologetic for who you are right now. (For those of you who know me well, you know I overuse the word. Not anymore! or at least…not as much. Shaking off years of Catholic guilt doesn’t happen overnight, people.)
  2. Talk less, listen more. (Adapted from talk less, smile more.  You Hamiltones know what I’m talking about!)
  3. Don’t act out of insecurity. If you’re acting out of fear or anxiousness that usually comes from insecurity. Instead, refocus and act out of confidence and love.
  4. If you’re uncomfortable…Leave. You’re an adult now. You don’t have to stick around and please everyone.  If you don’t want to be somewhere…Leave.
  5. Develop a good poker face.  (And I’m not referring to playing poker here. I’m talking about when your boss does something insane or someone says something stupid. It happens. Trust me.)
  6. Own your decisions. It doesn’t matter if they were good or bad, but own them. Own up to them, learn from them.
  7. Stop trying to fit in. You will LITERALLY never be anyone else, but yourself. Own it.
  8. Do something that terrifies you. (I mean, within reason. You will never find me scuba diving 50 ft. in the ocean bc that’s something only crazy people dying to get eaten alive by a shark do).  When you do something that terrifies you, you see just how bold and brave you are. More often than not, things are alright and (some) fears are unfounded.
  9. Tell people how you feel about them.  Tell your family you love them (assuming you do). Tell your friends how important they are to you (assuming they are or I can’t imagine they’d be your friend).  You get the point.
  10. Embrace your awkward.  Because basically, everyone is awkward in their own way. Literally EVERYONE. (Yes, even Leo and especially Taylor).
  11. Anticipating what will happen is USUALLY worse than what will actually happen.  Stop worrying about what MAY happen, just do it and see what actually happens. And then, once again, own your decisions.
  12. Exercise for mental health and clarity. It’s amazing what a quick run or long walk outside does for the soul.
  13. In life, it usually won’t be the best case scenario or the worst case scenario. It will usually be somewhere in the middle. So stop fretting. (Thanks, Mom)
  14. Be grateful for life TODAY – no matter what it looks like. It won’t always look like this. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be different.
  15. Ask questions before assuming. Miscommunication is too common.
  16. Always be kind to others. (If you treat everyone with kindness, those haters won’t have anything bad to say about you.)
  17. Never define yourself by another person. Relationships are wonderful, but only if you don’t lose yourself in it. You’re still you.
  18. Wherever you go, walk in with reckless abandon.
  19. “I’m fine. You have to stay positive.” (Thank you to my lovely friend who passed away recently. Even until the very end you set an example of positive thinking for those around you. When asked how she was doing she would respond “I’m fine. You have to stay positive.” What a gift of perspective.) STAY POSITIVE. (as much as humanly possible)
  20. You can literally do anything you want. ANYTHING.  It may take time and creativity, but if you want it, it’s yours. I really believe that.
  21. Love yourself at a 10. Every. Single. Day. (Rachel – thanks for imparting your wisdom)
  22. Choose not to be slaves to gravity. (interpret as you wish. I know what it means to me)
  23. We teach people how they are allowed to treat us. Know how you want to be treated.
  24. You can’t get anywhere with your head down. Look up.
  25. If you ask a question and someone says “that’s a good question” 9 times out of 10 they are buying time to make up an answer. (Trust me. I used to be a teacher)
  26. Sometimes there is no saving face in relationships and that’s ok. This life isn’t about who can look like they care less.  Sometimes things happen. Allow those vulnerable moments.
  27. There is power in just letting things go. (I used to battle with my dad constantly when he’d tell me to “not sweat the small stuff.” The annoying thing…he’s right.  Most of it is small stuff).
  28. Care about someone without knowing whether or not they will care back. (You’re a beautiful human with feelings.)
  29. Don’t play the victim. You get to be the hero in your life story.
  30. If you believe in something – religion, philosophy, etc. Believe it and don’t be ashamed about it.

Ok, 30, we’ve got this! (Fingers crossed)

 

As the Sun Takes Control

She sits with her face towards the sun
Soaking in every tender fleck of light it’s willing to bestow upon her
Piercing through the skin to reach her veins
As it travels with urgency until it meets the heart
Melting inside of itself and beating at a steady even pace
While it calms her mind from the worries in the shadows
Until it moves to the outer corners of her mouth in an upward motion
as far as they are willing to lift
And there she knows she’s only happy in the sun

Love is Everything We Need It to Be

Love is beautiful, complicated, ever-changing and expanding, cheesy, romantic, friendly, spiritual, unrequited, imperfect, uncomfortable, displayed in a myriad of ways, feels different and yet the same for everyone, literally has no limit to its actions or feelings, and so much more.

But most of all, it’s my favorite human emotion because it’s the easiest one to give, the simplest one of all and can change a person.  Even better…it’s free.

I had the opportunity to attend the funeral this week for one of the purest hearts I’ve ever known.  Diane didn’t have much when it came to worldly pleasures.  She passed away in her 50’s without ever going on a single date, or having a romantic kiss, or even a group of girlfriends to have brunch with every Saturday.  And yet, in that moment as I sat at her funeral, I truly felt that no one had been loved more and no one loved more than Diane.

It didn’t matter who you were. Diane was there with a smile. A smile that reached ear to ear in love. Love for you. A total stranger.

May we share our love a little bit more by smiling.

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Every year, or several times a year, I reread my favorite book: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The whole book is chalk full of amazing thoughts and expressions, but among some of my favorites are those that speak of love.

1. “I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”

May we find a person with which we can reunite. A person we care about and experience the end of missing someone.

2. “I hope that one day you will have the experience of doing something you do not understand for someone you love.”

May we be willing to experience the kind of vulnerability that only love can bring.

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Last year, I got a heart-wrenching phone call and had to take a break from work to walk around outside and clear my head.  Working downtown I would pass the same homeless people day in and day out. I would try to smile at them, but for the most part we didn’t know each other.  On this particular day, a certain homeless man that I’d seen countless times before came up to ask me for money.  Not having my wallet on me, I told him I was unable to help him. He walked away.

As he turned around to come back, I thought to myself, “I already told him I can’t help him. What does he want?”

He smiled at me and said, “You’re crying. Can I help you?”

It was utterly beautiful to feel that kind of love from and for a total stranger.

May we be more willing to reach out in love to a stranger who may need our help.

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One of my favorite writers, Pablo Neruda once wrote:

1. “To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”

May we feed others lives with our love.

2. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

May we love so much that we allow others to become a part of us and us a part of them.

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Of course what would an article on love be without a quote from Taylor Swift. In this particular instance she is speaking to a fan who is struggling with unrequited love.  However, I feel her advice rings true in any situation whether it be romantic, a friendship that is struggling, someone who simply doesn’t like you, etc:

“No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember that what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you’ll ever have your affections reciprocated.”

May we be more selfless and love just because. Not because we expect anyone to love us in return.

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Matthew 22: 37-39 says:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

May we love ourselves in such a way that we see ourselves as God sees us.

————————————————————————————————————–

As Goldie Hawn says, “I’ve finally stopped running away from myself. Who else is there better to be?”

Be you. Love you. You’re the best.

————————————————————————————————————–

Love is everything we need it to be.

May we give of it freely and in total abundance.

With Faith to Move Mountains

{Disclaimer: To those of you reading this who may or may not identify with Christian religion I hope that you still find something within the thoughts to apply to your own spiritual journey – whatever that may look like.}

Mark 11:23

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

I’ve read this scripture a thousand times.  I’ve heard it paraphrased a thousand times.

It never sat well with me.

Not because I didn’t believe it to be true, but rather I’d get frustrated thinking I couldn’t access that kind of faith. How does one simply “have faith to move mountains”?

It seemed like a cavalier quote you say to someone when you don’t actually know what to say to get them through their current situation in life.

I remember sitting on the porch of our cabin as a kid, looking at the mountain ahead of me, trying to access enough faith to move it. To literally watch it move to the right or left in front of my eyes. Praying to God to see if he would help me, or at least validate that I had enough faith in Him and His word. Squinting to see if that helped.

But to no surprise I wasn’t Matilda and I couldn’t just move things if I concentrated hard enough.

As the years passed, this idea of “faith to move mountains” frustrated me. I didn’t understand how to access it.  I’d read, research, study, think, try.  Sometimes I’d catch glimpses, but they’d exit just as soon as they’d entered.

Then a few days ago I was walking through a place called Temple Square in Salt Lake City, UT.

{Note: If you aren’t familiar with Temple Square, you may be more familiar with the “Mormon Temple” that resides there. See below}

Temple_Square_October_05_(8)_c-1

At Temple Square, they have the Temple (as shown above), but they also have Visitor’s Centers that teach you about the beliefs of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the early pioneers who established the land.

I’ve walked through Temple Square and its corresponding visitor’s centers dozens of times in my life. And yet, on this particular day I paused at a diorama of the early pioneers moving granite from the mountain to build the temple.  Above the diorama was that phrased I’d always heard, “Faith to Move Mountains.”

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out.  But, somehow in that 30 seconds of pausing to look at the diorama, I found the clarity I’d been searching for over the past 20 years of my life.

I finally grasped a portion of what it meant to have that kind of faith.  It didn’t mean sitting there, praying and pleading for something to happen – in my case testing God to see if he could really give 9 year-old Katie the power to move a mountain left or right.

Sure, praying and pleading are important aspects of it.  But it’s so much more.

The pioneers LITERALLY moved a mountain by carving out one granite block at a time.  Which they then painstakingly transported across the land to the site now known as Temple Square.  From there, they built the temple out of this mountain – a mountain which had been moved to it’s new location to stand – miles away from it’s original home.

So perhaps then to live “with faith to move mountains” means I too must start by carving out portions of my life that I want to improve upon and take small steps to act, however painstakingly long it may take to see the fruits of my labors.  So part of that faith is acting and then waiting.  Trusting you’re doing the right thing.

The Salt Lake City Temple took 40 years to build.  Which means it took 40 years to move the mountain. Not to mention the additional years it took the pioneers to even reach Salt Lake.

And so, I sit here typing, no longer frustrated by whether or not my faith is active enough. Instead, I see the small things that daily add to my faith. That it’s a process where I can’t see the outcome yet, but I trust it’s there. It may be 40 years or more ahead of me. But it’s there. And it’s worth the wait.

 

Walking into a world of sunsets

(Adapted from a journal entry I wrote a couple months ago)

I stared into the sunset, transfixed and still. It’s bold azure burning into deep purple igniting the sky with it’s fiery flickers extending as far as they could reach. The clouds passing through in hopes that they too could be a part of the Divine beauty that had caused everyone, including myself, to just stop in that moment.

Three minutes later is was all over.  Never to be seen again in the exact same way.

After the sun had set, everyone else went about their normal activities. I couldn’t.

I just sat there.  Thinking to myself that I wish every day could be like that sunset. To hold on to that type of beauty and grandeur in every moment.

Why can’t it? I wondered.

Maybe I was asking myself the wrong question.

Perhaps the better question was…How?

My mind instantly flashed back to February. February was the first time I had seen my dad since he’d been sick. I walked into the house after a long car drive expecting him to jump up as usual and shout “Kate the Great! You made it!”

It didn’t exactly happen like that.  In fact, he couldn’t get up. The energy was visibly drained from his face.

I remember calling my mom with a panic attack.  I couldn’t breathe, I could barely speak and you could have filled an ocean with my tears.  I didn’t know what would happen. I’d never felt so unsure of the future.

My mom couldn’t do anything to take away my pain, but in pure mom fashion she could help me see the light from the dark over the phone.

All she kept saying to me was “Katie. STOP WORRYING. STAY IN THE MOMENT. Remember that for today you have your dad.  For today he is there.  Be with him today. Enjoy today.  Even if he’s different and it’s hard, he’s still your dad and TODAY he’s here. STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE”

Was that possible? Was it possible to not worry about the future? What would happen if I didn’t have my guard up and then life surprised me with a disappointment?

I wasn’t sure.  But I thought I’d try it out. It felt like my only option at that point.

So, I sat there, wiped my tears and walked downstairs. I sat next to my dad and read a book. We weren’t talking about all the things we used to, in fact, we weren’t talking at all. And that was OK. For in that moment, I was where I needed to be – enjoying the moment and not worry about what MAY or MAY NOT happen.

Something within me changed in that moment on the phone.  I hadn’t realized it until months later when I was sitting there thinking about my sunset.

I had learned to practice living in the moment. To worry less about the future. And ENJOY that 3 minute sunset I was witnessing without clouding it’s beauty with worry.

As someone who used to be a natural worrier this was new. It was new and it was liberating.

Here I was 7 months later…and my dad was still sick, not much had changed there.  Other worries that used to keep me up at night were also still there for the most part. But I was different. I was practicing the art of enjoying the moment.

The word “practice” is important because I still have times when I panic about the future when placed in various situations.  Moments where I anxiously wonder what I will do if XYZ happens? (XYZ = a myriad of situations ranging from small to large).

But thanks for wonderful friends and wonderful family that talk me through those moments (cue: The Beatles “With a Little Help From My Friends”) I’m learning to do it on my own too.

I am learning to live in and appreciate each and every moment, good or bad, scary or happy, mundane or exciting without thinking about how they will reflect on my future.

Keep in mind I said LEARNING.  Not totally there yet, but getting there.

Maybe that’s what a sunset really is. It’s void of worry. It takes in all of the color, beauty and grandeur in that moment and lets itself shine, without wondering if it will set one day or diminish in it’s glory.  It just exists in that moment.

As Lewis Carrol said in one of my favorite stories, Alice in Wonderland,

“If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”

Well, I know where I’m going now. I’m walking into a vast world of sunsets.

IMG_5462
WEST TEXAS – OCTOBER 2015

not a poem

This place used to feel like home to me
but something feels altered now
Changed when I wasn’t looking
Like I’m the stranger here

These are the same streets I grew up running
sneakers to pavement in the same fashion

Only I run a little faster now

Hoping that maybe if I run fast enough
I will run right back into the way things used to be
Before everyone grew older
Before everyone moved away
Before people died
Before everything changed
Before I changed.

My feet can’t seem to move fast enough
There is beauty in forgetting
There is beauty in remembering.

And this is where I am now

Anxious to once again see the streets that molded me
Straining under the weight of memories
Knowing they won’t look like this forever

It will keep changing
I will keep changing

Running further ahead
A little faster
The future starts to illuminate
My feet become lighter
YOU are there, but I can’t see you
And I wonder is it really so wrong to now be a stranger here?

One 45 Second at a Time

When I started this fledgling little blog of mine I thought it would be easy. I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of feels and I like to share them. To me that’s what this human experience is all about – sharing and experiencing with one another.  Surely I could think of things to write ALL the time.

Wrong. Writer’s block is real, people.

I typed several drafts over the past few weeks and never published them. They all sounded too cheesy or preachy. You know, like I actually had life figured out. Spoiler alert: I don’t.

I’m basically winging it through life.  Hopefully I’m not alone in this.

Most days my life is more like this:

201511_2321_ieige_sm

I don’t have my life completely together. I don’t think many people do (if you know someone that does tell them to call me) But all jokes aside, I feel closer than I ever have in that pursuit.

I’ve realized over the past 3 weeks that by “saying yes” I’ve also been letting go of control.

Right now, in many way I feel like I have no control of the future. And that’s a good thing.

Unlike most paths in life, I don’t know where this one will lead me. It energizes me to think that the possibilities ahead of me are endless. I can literally do anything.

Here’s the good news…that doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and eat, pray, love to feel this way.

To me, it simply means letting go of control.  And for me, this was my way to discover that.

Well, I’m certainly no expert in this whole letting go thing. I only have my experience and the experiences I observe of those around me.

To me, I think giving up control means putting both feet forward into the unknown, not keeping one foot out the door on safe ground, and believing that life is inherently good and anything can happen, including disappointments.

As humans I think it is easy to generally become complacent with life. We may find it easy to believe that there is something great in our future when life is looking up, but maybe tend to avoid addressing disappointment when life isn’t.  But I’m learning that maybe if we embrace those disappointments instead of avoiding them we will, in time, allow ourselves to open up to even greater things. You know, embrace the good and the bad. Let them co-exist together.

Personally, I’ve had those moments where I tried to block out the sad, the negative, the fear, and I soon saw that I can’t block out one without simultaneously blocking out some of the good too.  I think it’s the same with control.  Trying to control disappointments or not allowing ourselves to be open to endless possibilities thwarts us from ALL we are capable of.  Maybe. I’m still learning.

These past 3 weeks I’ve been less worried about the outcome of each situation I encounter in life because I’ve already done something that was scary to me. Magically, that one decision and its outcomes have spilled over into greater confidence and excitement in family relationships, friendships, dating, and more.

Who knows, maybe with time and practice I’ll feel like I have my life together for than 45 seconds a day.

 

 

 

 

Hello world! It’s me.

IMG_3714Say yes to the world and the world will say yes back to you.

Sounds sort of hippie/new age-ish, right? Totally.

But, I believe it.

And so, here we are on my new blog where I will recount all the things I “say yes” to these days and the glittery goodness that comes with being open to this brave, beautiful world of ours and what it has in store for us.

If I’m being completely, totally, and utterly honest, I was embarrassed to start a blog.  I still am.

Who would read what I write? Who would want to read what I write? Will people find it weird?

For me though, this blog is an opportunity for me to become more vulnerable and to hold me accountable to my writing.

For the longest time I’ve wanted to write. I love to tell stories, I love to evoke emotion and transport people from their daily lives, even if for a brief moment.

I’ve tried to write for several years now, but full-time jobs, dating, family, social life, anxieties and wanderlust always got in the way. There was always an excuse.

Personal insight tid-bit:  Believe it or not, I’m quite shy.  Typically, I don’t do things unless I know I’ll excel at them – or at least have a chance at excelling. Not only that, but I tend to run away from things that are uncertain.  Quite frankly, I’ve been playing it safe.

Not anymore.

I don’t know if anyone will ever read my blog. I don’t know if anyone will ever read the book I’m writing. Does it really matter though?

Alice Seabold, author of The Lovely Bones, kept a sticky note on her computer while she was writing her now best-selling novel and it read “For the Five”.

So no, it doesn’t matter.  If I can write something for the 1 or the 5 or the 5,000 then it’s worth it to me.

This life is all about human experience and interaction. How do we treat those around us? Do we care for our neighbors, strangers, family and friends?  How do we connect with those around us?

If writing connects me with even 1 person my life will be richer. And hopefully theirs will be too.

So here I am, ready to say yes to writing.

Since I’ve made this decision, I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I’d leave a job I love to do this? Why now?

This year, my dad has been quite sick. It’s been hard living far away and not being there for so much of it.  I got to a point where I felt I needed more flexibility to be available for whatever happened.  And so, I made the extremely difficult decision to leave a job I love. To leave a job with wonderful co-workers and opportunities to follow this uncertain path.

It was one of the hardest decisions to make. Sometimes it’s still hard and I panic at least once a day.

I was lucky to be at a point in my career where I could freelance and still have an income while I write, but it’s still scary.

You know what though? I’ve learned that scary can be good.

Scary can push us past the limits we’ve consciously and subconsciously set for ourselves.

Since I made this decision and dived into the unknown I’ve noticed other aspects of my life open up and change as well.

I’m more willing to do some of those scary things that my once shy self would have avoided like the plague.

And if I fail? So be it.  A wise mentor told me that we could all afford to fail more. I believe him.

So here we are. Join me in this one girl movement of saying yes to the world and let’s see what happens!