Perfectly Enough

Celebrating a year in recovery.

Vacations to several of my favorite places.

A job loss that led to something better.

Meeting awesome people.

Relationships growing and changing.

Welcoming a new baby into the family (for the first time in twenty years!)

Waking up the morning after an election, and experiencing hope instead of despair.

A reigniting of fire; to grow in my faith, and to grow closer to God.

And for the first time since I graduated college, actually wanting to celebrate the holidays.

2018 has been a plethora of things. An eclectic mix of joy and heartbreak. A mix that I struggle with summing up in a singular word. The magic wasn’t necessarily in the circumstances, but in the moments. As my sister said recently: It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly enough.

Oh, how perfectly enough.

I’ve noticed that reflecting often comes with the tendency to take it to the extreme; it was either amazing and we want to hold onto it for as long as we can, or it was awful and the end cannot come soon enough. But why do we always have to label anything as good or bad? Why can’t it just be reality, the kind where there are good things and there are hard things, but we can still say, “It is well”?

Yes, it is well, with or without the warm fuzzies to go with it.

I still have intentions for 2019; intentions in general aren’t filled with unrealistic expectations and leave room for grace and flexibility. They’re not centered on physical appearance or require validation, relying more on self-care, along with emotional and spiritual growth.

I would like to be as financially stable as I can be, and then move into my own place.

I want to write and read a little each day, whether it’s merely in my journal or a chapter in a book.

I intend to continue building my personal brand, and not get caught up in the numbers game.

I would like to join a small group again, and to focus on building relationships in person.

And I would like to get back into cooking, along with learning how to meal prep and plan ahead of time.

But most of all, I don’t want someone’s understanding or perception of me to determine whether or not I feel at peace with myself.

Let it be so, and may you have a joyful and prosperous New Year!

Project Publish

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A couple of months ago, I submitted an essay to be reviewed for possible publication; the piece itself is a personal narrative, and one that I’d spent months composing and editing while simultaneously coming to terms with the subject matter. At the beginning of October, I finally decided to hit, “send” and then sat back to wait on a response. While it had been well-received by the editors, I was told that unfortunately it was not the best fit for the platform. I wouldn’t be human if I said that it didn’t sting a little bit, but I was grateful for those on the other side who took the time to give genuine and truthful feedback. It was the first time I’d submitted anything in a while, and in hindsight I was just glad to be getting my feet wet again.

The majority of serious writers know that getting their work out there can and often does take a long time. Depending on the genre and length, it could take years:  Write. Edit. Submit. Critique. And repeat. I first started the summer before my last year in college, where the process of researching, emailing, and waiting actually took several months. Eventually I put it aside to focus on other things, and didn’t think about trying again until after graduation. By that time I was becoming more of an essayist, which compared to fictional short stories, is most definitely another ballgame.

The past year has helped me realize that I want to take it to a platform that’s perhaps a little bit bigger than this blog or my Facebook page. It’s not about bucket lists or recognition, but having a unique perspective and sensing that the world needs it, especially right now. I’ve been told over the that I have a different way of thinking and communicating, which I’ve been quiet about because I don’t want to brag or act like I’m better than anyone. I don’t have all the answers, and there are certain situations in which I don’t think I have a right to offer my perspective, simply because I haven’t been there. Yet, I continually find myself asking, “isn’t there another way? Does it always have to come down to this or that, without any gray areas?” There are always layers and complexities to unpack, especially in a culture that’s constantly changing and advancing.

But there’s also a personal side to it, and one that I didn’t think much about while composing the original piece: writing helps me to connect with people. It’s my way of saying, “here is an invitation for you to truly get to know me, and I hope that you will allow me to get to know you.” Of course this is hard to accomplish with a multitude of strangers, particularly when sharing something on the internet. Over the last several years I’ve taken to writing uncensored versions of things and then sharing them with my closest friends, at times way before it goes public. They are my tribe, the ones that don’t mind curse words, revealing details, or occasionally using the all caps button to get a point across. To know and to be known is a beautiful and most precious gift.

This is why you cannot be creative without being vulnerable. Creativity doesn’t necessarily stem from inspiration, but a willingness to get to the heart of whatever you’re trying to depict or communicate. And it’s challenging because not everyone will understand; your words might be misinterpreted as an attack, rather than mere expression. They might say you’re overanalyzing or going too deep, when in actuality you’re just too deep for them. You have to find a balance between telling the truth and taking others’ feelings into consideration. Sometimes regardless of the disclaimers or choice of words, they’re just not going to get it. Authentic writing requires thick skin, or at least an ability to recognize when someone is temporarily lashing out versus expressing genuine hurt.

By the time this year ends, I’m hoping to have sent another piece out for consideration, one that I specifically wrote for The New York Times “Modern Love” column. Two years and nearly ten drafts later, I’ve held back because of how meticulous I’ve been when it comes to editing. I’m more afraid that it won’t be “compelling” enough, and that ultimately my point is just going to fall on deaf ears.

Of course there is life after rejection, and a singular no doesn’t indicate that there won’t be a yes somewhere else. I’m considering Thought Catalog (and others) as a main base because I’m still  a new and emerging writer, and for now that might be my best bet. It also seems to have a larger audience, and from what I understand, a submission fee isn’t required.

It’s something that I’ve wanted to do my entire life, and will keep pursuing until that door closes on me for good. If it ends up that this gift only stays between me and certain audiences, so be it. Nevertheless, it is a talent that I will not let go to waste, and will use it to make a positive impact in any way that I can.

Photo Credit

The Waterfall

The coffee was absolutely delicious.

The all-inclusive resort was a perk.

I’m not sure I would do the zip-line again, but I’m glad I tried it once.

Yet out of everything I experienced on my inaugural trip to Costa Rica, the highlight of them all was a little-known local spot that my family and I decided to spontaneously visit a day beforehand. We packed a cooler, hired a driver, and set out to cross a long-time item off my bucket list: standing under a waterfall.

We had to hike a bit in order to get there, but having done my fair share in Colorado and Arizona, I wasn’t all that concerned. As we got closer, I could hear the sounds of the water and began to giggle like I used to when I was a little girl (side-note: this is how you know when I’m really happy). I had to force myself to walk slowly so that I wouldn’t trip and fall over anything, which was a challenge as the anticipation kept building. Once we made it all the way down, I couldn’t believe my eyes:

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Swimming out to the surrounding rocky area was a little bit tricky; I wore my gym shoes so as not to risk cutting my bare feet, and apparently was so excited that I forgot to take my glasses off at first (I did go back and put them away, but initially I wanted to make sure that I was able to literally see it all). I put my arm muscles to good use throughout, and eventually clawed my way up and around, standing close enough to be under this sight to behold, but far enough away from the edge so as not to lose my balance.

There aren’t words to truly describe what I was feeling in that moment, but grateful would be a good start. I know that not everyone gets to do something like this, and certainly not everyone who deals with physical challenges like I do on a regular basis. I was thankful for legs that can move and eyes that can see. I was thankful for the risk we took in asking a stranger to get us there (and back). I kept saying, “thank you” over and over again, sometimes in my head and sometimes out loud.

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I’m not sure if I jumped off of anything or just slid back in off the rocks (probably the latter, because I’m not a jumping bean like my sister and didn’t trust what was at the bottom). We swam around for a bit, and at one point I tried to duck under the fall and so that I would be directly behind it. The current was incredibly strong and aimed to pull me in several directions, where I became panicky and momentarily thought I would get sucked under. It was somewhat scary because my body was getting tired, and I’m not exactly skilled at treading water. I eventually found my footing and stopped to rest in the shallow end.

Before we left to head back to the resort, I stopped and said a quiet prayer in front of this amazing creation. I had dreamed of doing something like this since I was a child, and knew that I would always remember it. If not what it looked like, than definitely the freedom and wonder and awe that I felt in the midst of it. I’ve never been a travel fiend, but this made me want to explore more. It also dawned on me that a lot of my bucket lists aspirations have to do with water. In my lifetime, I would like to experience the following:

Swimming with dolphins (technically I’ve already done that, but I would like to do it in a place where I’m not with a boatload of people and have a little bit more time to enjoy being around one of my favorite animals).

 

Slow dance more often; I haven’t slow danced since my senior prom, but I don’t have to be at an event or party. It only takes two people, am I right?

 

Be kissed in front of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom.

 

Witness sea turtles hatching, or just look at sea turtles. Turtles in general are adorable!

 

Have one of my essays be accepted for publication.

 

Sit on a rooftop and watch the sun rise in Chicago.

 

Meet the Blackhawks, or at least catch up a game up real close.

*I’ll keep adding as I think of things. This is just a shortened version.

I’m a dreamer. I’m a romantic. And I don’t mind it at all.

Adulthood On a Slide


When the Miley Cyrus Video Music Awards spectacle happened, everybody was all up arms about how she was “too sexy” and basically flipped the bird to her younger fans. I’m not disagreeing with that, but I saw something that may have gone over everyone else’s heads: she was trying to announce to the world that she is no longer a child,  when realistically she’s just shy of being a  year younger than I am.  While watching her performance I thought, there is a difference between being an adult and being an idiot; she was obviously going for the latter.

A week or so later, a distant/extended relative of my maternal grandmother made a point to compare college to a country club, and then made an even bigger point of informing me that the real world absolutely sucks. That Sunday in church, the closing prayer was “help us grow up before we grow old” while friends are starting to panic  when we’re not even halfway through first semester yet.

It all kind of makes me sigh and wonder what adulthood even means these days.

There’s no arguing that it’s different for everyone, but part of why so many may struggle with it is because people from the age of twelve and onward are given mixed messages, and they end up burning the candle at both ends. On one hand, young kids (particularly girls) are told that in order to gain approval by their peers or be popular, they have to dress a certain way. But then morality cries that girls are completely dismissing their youth by wearing revealing clothing or piling on the make-up.

Then come the teenage years, seven years which can be emotionally taxing and confusing. There are those that have to “grow up” early; they take on a parent-like role for their younger siblings, they have to help contribute to finances or give up a paycheck entirely. Some move out on their own or go to college. Add in curiosity about alcohol, sex, perhaps drugs, and things can get complicated. The icing on the cake is when teens get put into a glass box for the sake of “protection” instead of learning how to actually cope and properly handle it.

Once you’re in your twenties, it can go two ways: you’re either an upstanding role model with a good head on your shoulders, or a selfish, lazy party animal. You’re considered stupid and irresponsible for making choices that your parents probably made twenty-five or thirty-something years ago. Showing emotion and being vulnerable is taboo because few know how or even want to deal with that. You’re not allowed to voice your doubts or ask questions; rather, you get your college degree and a warning that it’s all downhill from that point on.

While it’s true that a lot of those things are stereotypes, it all points to the same pattern: one extreme or the other. And it could just be me, but I’m beginning to think that it doesn’t really have to be like that at all. You can still have fun and be responsible, and you don’t have to exist on a teeter-totter.

I’m still in the threshold of all of it, but I’ve come to understand enough that “adulthood” doesn’t have to be as daunting as most assume that it is.


You’ll never have it “together

The phrase “I have to get my shit together” is slowly becoming one of those that are like fingernails on a chalkboard. A friend once said it  mid-rant and I had to hold my tongue while trying not to cringe. Let’s face it: no matter how hard you try and no matter what you may think, you will never completely have it all figured out. You can plan and prepare all you want, but most likely it won’t happen exactly as you envision it to.  It’s like trying to carry a multitude of bags in an airport: stack ’em, sling ’em and what have you, but eventually you will get tired and stuff will get messy. In other words, too much preparation only leads to insanity. Emotionally, I missed out on a good chunk of my senior year in high school because I was worried about functioning in college. Do what you can and let God take care of the rest, or at least deal with something when it happens and not beforehand.

Needing is NOT weakness 

It has taken me two decades, but I’m finally in a place where I don’t balk at the idea of asking for help. It’s easy to stand up and yell “look at me now, world!” in regards to how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. Honestly though, I didn’t get here without some kind of guidance. Sure, I had to dig my heels in and fight for what I wanted at times, if not all the time. I’ve made choices when everyone around me thought I would fail. But I have gotten where I am today as a result of love and encouragement, despite all of that. In a way, I’ve learn to see pessimism and negativity (from others) as a motivation; not to prove anybody wrong, but to continually ask myself, just what am I capable of? How far can I push myself? Most of the time it works, although occasionally I do question the reasoning behind that determination.


It’s become common culture for needing someone to be viewed as weak, although life has shown me the opposite. True strength lies in taking the hand of or upholding another, because it shows that one simply cannot go through life alone. Once you stop using anger, isolation, and self-reliance as a form of protection, your experiences with others will become so much richer.


It Takes (A lot Of) Time

There is no such thing as “growing up too fast” and being successful at it. Young celebrities think that they can go from teen royalty to sex icon in just a matter of months, but reality does not work that way. Old habits and routines are not things that you can simply switch on and off; it all takes adjustment and getting used to. And just because you go from one phase to the next does not always have to mean doing a one-eighty and becoming a completely different person; you just learn to take it down a few notches, and/or do certain things in moderation. Overall, you cannot control how others see you or whether or not someone will take you seriously. Shout it and out tell the world all you want, but that doesn’t mean that the world will listen. And if you’re going to do anything drastic, make sure it’s for you and only you. 

A lot of people are probably in the same place you are: they’re scared and uncertain, wanting to make sure they don’t just end up living in the mundane day in and day out. Be patient, because you will get stuck and possibly even fail on more than one occassion. That’s not a bad thing, really; it teaches you how to be humble and recognize that there is something bigger than you out there, whether or not you believe in God or some sort of higher power. 

I still have a ways to go, but I’d like to think that the basic definition of adulthood is simply outgrowing and evolving. Like it or not, we all do and most of the time don’t even realize it. Embracing your sexuality is part of it, but it’s more about perspective and maturity,  and I think that’s where I’m at right now. I no longer carry this gigantic weight on my shoulders, instead of walking in peace and faith as opposed to shame and hurt. Things still do happen, but for the most part I’m calm and relaxed. I’m learning not to take shortcomings too personally, and to see people as human beings.

I don’t believe in “glory days” or that the best parts of life always take place when you’re young. Though I’m in no rush to get older, I’d like to think that there is something beautiful about every life stage, despite not usually recognize it in the midst of the daily grind. Cherish what you have and be present in the current moment, but don’t be afraid to move forward. If there’s one big lesson I’ve learned this year so far, it’s that each day is a gift. Age should not mean that you lack anything, but that you gain something; wisdom, experience, whatever it may be, you have more of it. 

My hope and prayer is that in the midst of all of it, that I don’t lose my child-like sense of wonder and zest for life. It’s a sad misconception that one has to give that sort of thing up once they reach a certain age. What they don’t realize is that it’s the ability to see beauty in everything, and take notice of the small stuff that keeps you going. When the road gets tough, sometimes it’s the truth that all will be OK eventually that helps you to hold on. You can have joy without ignoring pain, and you don’t have to ignore the pain in order to love life. Some call it living in the past, but I’d rather see it as setting myself free. 

As I finish writing this, one thought occurs to me: maybe we shouldn’t call it growing up, because we never really stop. As I mentioned, you can outgrow things and want to go in a different direction, but there’s never a point where you say “I know all there is to know and I’ve done all there is to do.” From now on, maybe I’ll just call it growing.

photo credit: Rachel.Adams via photopin cc

Keeping Up With Creativity

With any kind of creative art, it’s common to experience a lack of ideas or a complete block all together. However, I’ve always found inspiration just about anywhere, from my backyard, my own life experiences, and the crazy dreams that I tend to have while asleep. So I’m not necessarily beating my head against a wall for the sake of getting the wheels to turn. Rather, it’s allowing others to see the end product.


When I was young (about ten or eleven) I can remember being extremely defensive about my writing; I didn’t want anyone to read it, nor did I want anyone to talk about it. 


At thirteen, I began writing poetry, and I only shared those poems with one other person. At the time, I was extremely vulnerable and believed that he was one of the few that understood where I was coming from. To this day, no one else has read them. 


And even just recently, I wrote a poem for my grandparents fiftieth anniversary and read it out loud  during the toast at their party. I was terrified, so much that I was literally shaking and crying. 


Looking back on it, a lot of my resistance comes from my fear of being vulnerable. When I write something, I try my best to put everything I have into it. There are some pieces that involve being nearly transparent, as if I am allowing another to see into my soul. To put it simply, it’s like being emotionally naked, which sometimes makes me want to run away and hide. 


Yet, I also realize that I have been given a precious gift; one that has the capability to teach people something and perhaps someday make a change. As scary as it was to write my last post about the underline issue with dating, deep down I knew that so many people needed it. We’re constantly led to believe that romance is the key to absolute happiness, and that it’s going down the drain because few seem to care about it anymore. I wanted to offer a different perspective, something that was realistic, but not incredibly negative. 


My other issue with creativity is that I tend to second-guess myself while I’m going through the process. It’s not necessarily, “am I good enough?” but rather, “Is this believable and will it make any sense to those that read it?” Whenever I did workshop for any of my writing classes, the big thing that always came up was plausibility (whether or not it was realistic). So now whenever I’m working on something new, that’s always the question going through my head. Even when I come up with ideas, nine times out of ten I don’t put them out on paper right away because I’m trying to figure out exactly what the story will be. 


What I have to remind myself of is that there is a little thing called editing and revising; it may not be near perfect during the first go-around, but that doesn’t mean that it never will be. I need to get in the habit of just writing it down, instead of doing a little bit and then going back and seeing what can be changed. That’s why it takes so me so long to finish whatever project I’m working on; I want to figure it all out, to have a perfect vision; and that’s not the way it goes. 


I’m currently in the process of submitting something for publication; as far as when that will happen, time will only tell. 


I’m also thinking about new ways to branch out; I always thought that to write a memoir, you either had to be a lot older than twenty or many years worth of larger than life experiences (see either Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber’s autobiographies). But that’s not the way I want to go about it; I would like to write a series of personal essays that focus on the small, but equally defining moments of my life. Many of them will be deep, and some of them I may just choose to keep in a folder for a while until I’m ready to be open about what happened. Either way, I believe in the power of writing down your own life story, and I plan on doing it; it’s just going to be a little at a time. 




When it comes to my own creative talents and gifts, I don’t think they were given to me just for the sake of my own enjoyment. I can only hope that all of them will be a blessing to many, even if it’s just in the smallest of ways. But if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that gifts are meant to be unwrapped, and in one way or the other, they’re meant to shine.

My Greatest Fear…And How I’m Conquering It

I only recently began to think about this when it hit me just a couple of days ago, and I have only spoken about it personally with two of my girlfriends. Many of my readers will probably want to slap me upside the head and call me absolutely crazy afterward, but rest assured it is a fear that I am no longer trying to hide in; instead, it is a fear that I am both willing to embrace and overcome.


It took root after what I consider my first real heartbreak at sixteen, and then manifested itself in the years that followed. Throughout my junior and senior years, as well as my freshman year of college, I took interest in several guys that I probably either should have just stayed friends with or kept at a distance. It was nice and exciting at first, but eventually their true colors come out and they would cut off communication from me.  While in retrospect it was probably for the best, it did initially hurt.


And the middle of all that, there were the guys that only pursued me for the sake of sex; those were the toughest situations because most of the time I had no idea how to handle them. There would come a point where they’d get the hint and leave me alone, but it still left me with a twinge of disappointment. More so, I was frustrated because at the time,  I didn’t understand why they (or any other creeper, for that matter) would want to prey upon me, specifically.


It got to where I realized that for the past three years, I have been going through this kind of cycle; I meet someone, I get to know them, and then it turns out to be a dead end, one way or the other. Sometimes it’s because they turn out to be not who I thought they were, and sometimes it’s because it just doesn’t go anywhere.


And that is where my fear comes in; I have had a fear that I will never be able to break that cycle, and that I will never be able to have that experience of genuine and true love.


The hardest part about not being a romantic relationship isn’t necessarily that I don’t have anyone to do things for me. That is a factor, but only a small one. On the contrary, I want to be able to do thing for a man as well; to be there for him, to take care of him, and be able to tell him how I feel about him.


I want to be wanted and pursued for the right reasons.


And that will not happen if I keep my fear at the forefront.


But this is not one I feel I can face by confrontation, at least not in the traditional sense. However, I have come up with a few methods/ways to shut down this kind of unhealthy thinking.


Surround yourself with good and positive people


I used to think that when I met a guy, not talking to anyone about it made everything a lot easier; I wouldn’t have to deal with endless questions or suggestions. I could do what I personally thought was best for me, and if it went down hill I could quietly move on. It turns out that not discussing it made it a lot harder; after a while it felt like I was keeping secrets, and my insecurities usually overpowered my confidence.


It’s important to have a good sounding board to lift you up, and help keep things like self-doubt and negative thoughts at bay. Find people who will give you unbiased advice as opposed to just spitting out cliches or saying that men/women suck. In that case, sometimes there will be only be a few to confide in, but having a few is better than having none.


Personally, I am also trying to spend less time using Facebook and Twitter. From people posting depressing statuses about relationships or it seeming like everyone but you is constantly getting into one, it can be (and often is) a real downer. Overall, frequently relying on social media for guidance is not the best way to go.


Trust Your Instincts 


This is a given, yet almost cliche. There have been instances where I doubted my own intuition because of the way things turned out, but what I was really doing was doubting my sense of awareness.


Intuition isn’t just about that tiny little voice in the back of your mind, but also about how you feel when you’re with someone or in a specific type of environment. If you don’t have a particular good feeling in either circumstance, perhaps you should slow down or hit the brakes before going any further.


Don’t OBW


That is, don’t overthink the situation, blame anybody, or wonder day in and day out what might be or could have been. When you think too much, you lose sight of what relationships are really about. When you blame past loves or yourself for what you can’t change, it just causes more heartache. I understand how easy it is to say “So and so hurt me and that’s the reason I can’t get over it.” But after a while, the only person that is holding you back from anything is yourself. At some point, you have to let it go.


Have Faith


I can’t speak for those who don’t believe in God or don’t identify with certain Christian beliefs. But personally, I have found that prayer and reminding myself of God’s presence in my life has been helping ease my fear, little by little. It has helped me to see that I am never alone, even though there are times when I feel like it.


Lately, I have been trying to ask God for peace in what I am currently experiencing, and peace is the sense that everything will be all right.


At the very least, everyone can have faith in the fact that if it doesn’t kill you, you will be fine. Have faith that even though a relationship might not have worked out the way you wanted it to, at least you gained experience and insight. Have faith that you will overcome your fears and get to the place that you want to be in.




I have also learned not focus on the setbacks, but the progress; this year in particular, I made a list of important qualities that not only do I want in a significant other, but what I want between the two of us. In turn, that list has helped me to keep my distance from guys that haven’t been good for me. Both of those things are huge steps.




Love, or at least right kind, is not meant to be feared or denied. It is a blessing, a gift that should be both welcomed and cherished. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I’m not going to rob myself of it because of my past mistakes, or what I have seen from the mistakes of those around me. I am not those people, nor do I have to be.


As the saying goes, it’s not about destiny, it’s about choices. One can either choose to live in fear, or they can choose to live in joy.


I choose joy.

An Eighty Year-Old Woman Once Told Me….

I am currently into week two of the blogging and writing challenge a year with myself. One of the topics for this week is “If an eighty year-old wrote you wrote the current you a letter, what would they say?”


I’ve done similar exercises like this beforehand, but never to this extent. I’ve written letters to my thirteen year old self, and my current self five years ahead of time. So, it will be interesting to see where this takes me. 


Dear Alyx, 


I am sitting here right now, back at you, my nearly twenty year-old self. You’re at the threshold of becoming a woman; a woman with big dreams, glorious determination and ambition, and a mighty heart. In a few days, you’ll be going back to school to begin the second semester of your sophomore year in college. You have a vision of what you want for these next three months; a vision that involves gaining more independence, but at the same time deepening the current relationships that you have in your life. You want to start achieving what you’ve set out to do on your bucket list for the year. And you’re perfectly capable of going after exactly what you want. What you do get will be worth it, and what you don’t get, you’ll learn from it. 


But I also sense that you’re scared; you’re scared because making that vision a reality involves letting go of a particular friendship, a friendship that you so much idealized, but has done nothing more than prove to be toxic and full of stress. You’ve tried your best to be there for this person, and you can’t come down on yourself because it didn’t work out. 


You’re also afraid to leave your family, especially during a time where you have brought them so much joy and vice versa. You want to be there for them as well, especially your little sister. 


Here’s the thing, sweetheart: You’re at a time in your life where for the most part, you’re now in charge. You’re not really living at home, surrounded by your parents struggles. You should no longer feel obligated to put your life on the backburner to take care of anybody else. You have a chance to pave your own way and to make your own decisions. For crying out loud, stop doing things because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do, and start doing things because it’s what the small voice in your heart-the small voice of God, is telling you to do. 


And don’t think for one minute that you know all that there is to know. You have come a long way, but you still have a lot to learn. Seize opportunities when you see them, but don’t rush to get to a particular place. Soak up and appreciate as much as you can. 


I’m not going to tell you what will happen over the next six or so decades. That is one of the most joyful things about living; that is, being present in the moment and not worrying about the future until it gets here. 


With love, 


Your wise and beautiful eighty year old self

Bridging: One Side To Another

Day 31-New Beginnings


As 2012 begins, what bridges do you see yourself crossing? What will you do differently?


I didn’t get the chance write this a couple of days ago because I was so busy with my New Years plans. I had a small window of time, but I decide that I would rather write something well thought out and give myself enough time time to do it, as opposed to trying to write in a rush before 2011 came to an end.


As I enter this brand new year, I am envisioning myself crossing a bridge: one side is a representation of things that have ultimately held me down, at times for many years beforehand. The other side represents who and what I want to become, and what I would like to accomplish.


For far too long, I have made decisions for the sake of others, when deep down I felt that something wasn’t good or healthy about those decisions. I’ve said “yes” to what wasn’t right for me, and “no” to what was. And I did that because I wanted to be selfless; I wanted to give more rather than take more. 


Over time, I’ve come to no longer seeing it as selflessness, but rather allowing myself to get walked all over and pushed around by others. I know now that I cannot take care of anyone else if I cannot take care of myself as well. In order to say “yes” to something, I have to feel comfortable with it as well as confident. It might come off as harsh to those that are not used to me having this particular kind of attitude. There’s a chance that friends and family will view me a little differently. But one can’t win at both being liked and doing what’s best for themselves.


Another thing I would like to do is put more effort into my writing career. I can’t and I don’t want to wait until after I become part of the “real world” to start seriously writing. In fact, that’s how a lot of writers fall into a hole; they wait until the “right time” when truthfully the best time is now. I have a habit of creating a ton of material in my head, yet I allow it to sit for months. It has come from a long-standing fear of being vulnerable in that way, to both my family and my friends. 


Yet, I feel as if now I am ready to share this gift, as well as many of the gifts that I have somewhat kept hidden from the rest of the world. I don’t want to be published just to say that I’ve been published. I want to get my work out there so that people can actually read it, darn it all. 


The third and final element is to focus on cultivating my current relationships, instead of longing for my past ones or trying to find new ones. Don’t get me wrong, if somebody wants to come in to my life for genuine reasons, there’s no sense in trying to keep them out. However, I’ve been taking a lot of incredibly special people for granted. I want to be present for them, and to be willing to accept what they’re willing to give. 


I won’t call these resolutions, because resolutions seem to have a definition of something that one will only do for the particular year. What I’ve mentioned above is not what I want to do for the year, but what I want to get into the practice of doing for the rest of my life. This year is only a stepping stone. 


There is a strong, intuitive feeling inside of me that says 2012 is going to be good and filled with change. It’s not because I’m relying on such to come to me, but to go to it and make it happen. It’s why one of my two words for the year is “accomplish.” What I accomplish this year will help me to become the kind of person that I want to grow to be. 


While I’m crossing one bridge, there’s no telling what other little ones I will encounter in this particular journey. It will be beautiful and it will be strengthening. Care to join me?

The Road Now Taken

Day 28-Wisdom


What was the wisest decision you made this year?


I had dug my heels in about the whole thing since my unsuccessful second attempt at it during my freshman year of high school. I didn’t think it was right for me, and I didn’t think it would do a whole lot of good. But once I hit a wall back in September, my Mother calmly suggested that I try it again. “I think you need this.” She explained over a tearful phone call from my end. It turned out that she was right.


Two weeks later I was sitting down across from a therapist, trying not to let my stubborn demeanor get in the way of what I wanted to accomplish. Even though I’ve only been in counseling for three months, I’d say it was the best decision that I’ve made in 2011. 


The main reason why I didn’t want to go was because of the stigmas that often come with receiving that kind of help; that is, you have major issues and are obviously screwed up. Therefore, others must keep a lengthy distance from you, or avoid you altogether. That’s why I didn’t tell many of my friends right off the bat, or why some of them haven’t heard about it from me personally. 


Yes, those stigmas are still there. But I don’t see myself as somebody that’s screwed up; frankly, the ones with the issues are those that are willing to sit around and wallow in their own crap and keep making the same mistakes on a regular basis. My biggest problem, in general was that I was running around in circles and always wound up back in the same spot. 


Thus far, it has been a refreshing, yet difficult journey. At first, my whole thought process was “how long is this going to take?” I didn’t want to spend the next two and a half years missing out on so many things because I was so focused on getting myself together. But your life doesn’t have to stop just because your dealing with a crisis. And you can’t give yourself a time limit with this kind of stuff; true healing won’t happen if you do.


I won’t specifically talk about what has taken place in those sessions, simply because I’m not comfortable with sharing those details right now. A lot of it has had to do with my family. A lot of it has to do with friendships that I’ve been burned by over the years. I’ve had to come to terms with certain realities. But most of all, it has had to do with breaking this godforsaken cycle that I’ve been in since I was ten years old (almost a decade, if I really think about it). 


I have felt like I have made quite a bit of progress thus far, but I still have a ways to go. I am  hoping to get into group counseling this coming semester as opposed to just individual counseling. While I know that I’m not the only one having to go through this process, I think it would be helpful to actually believe it. 


Making the decision to get professional help is almost never an easy one, but often turns out to be a wonderful one if gone about it the right way. For starters, you have to find somebody that will meet your needs; don’t just stick with the first person you’re given if you’re not comfortable. And granted, not everyone is a writer, but journaling before each session and after each session has been a great tool in discussing what I felt I needed to discuss, and allowing what I learned to actually stick. Truthfully, a lot of what I have gained has stemmed from my own conclusions as opposed to just being told what I need to do. 


I don’t plan on seeking counseling for the rest of my life, because I don’t think it’s healthy. From where I’m standing at the moment, I can’t speculate how long it will take. Regardless, I am grateful for the prayers, encouragement and support that I’ve received. I don’t think I would be where I am right now if I was walking alone in this. 


Which is only proof that we’re never meant to do anything alone. And if you let allow people to support you and be there for you, you never have to.

Genuinely Changing

I know I skipped a couple of days; truthfully, it was good to have the break. I will just start from today and continue on to day thirty one. 


Day 27-Transitions


Over the past year, have you experienced any major/minor life transitions? How has your life changed?


I initially felt it for the first time as my brother was preparing to leave for the Air Force back in July; I didn’t know how it would happen or when, but my instincts kept telling me that life wasn’t going to be the same, particularly with my family. When I first thought about it, it terrified me to the point where I was literally crying every day. I even cried for two weeks straight after he departed for basic training. This gut instinct was driving me crazy because I didn’t know what it was leading to. 


Looking back, I now see that it was more of an internal change- a change in myself as both a person and a woman. Granted, it’s not a turn-your-world upside down kind of change. However, I believe it to be the beginning of something bigger. 


It’s a little weird to think of myself as a grown up, an adult, a woman. Although I’m only on the brink of my twenties and still in college, I look at it that way because of how I have grown and matured on an emotional level. I feel stronger. I feel more calm and at ease. I’m able to look life in the eye and mold whatever curve ball it hands me into something wonderful, regardless if it’s positive or negative. 


The best part is that I’m beginning to let go of a lot of things that have frequently made me my own worst critic and enemy. I am breaking out of unhealthy patterns that have kept me going in circles for the last five or six years. It is a freedom I have only felt very briefly once before, but this time I intend for it to continue. 


I realize that I am being extremely vague here. I might have discussed this in previous blog posts, when I first experienced those feelings. The thing is, I don’t want to simply tell everyone what’s happening; I want them to see it. 


The biggest lesson I can take out of this is that change doesn’t just happen;you have to work at it each and every day. You have to hold yourself accountable for those changes. And it’s always good to have some type of support system that is rooting for you every step of the way. 


Regardless of where it may lead, I’m excited for the future and the opportunities that it will bring.