It’s The Little Things Part 1

“Every artist was first an amateur.”

To be an artist one has to find beauty in ordinary things. Find 10 things of great beauty in the landscape that surrounds you. For example, crumple sheets on your bed in the morning, the smell of coffee making its way around a busy office.

It seems like in the last week or so we have been surrounded by constant negativity; the stock market is in limbo and there are frequent doubts as to whether or not we are headed for another recession. Our government leaders are doing the best to reassure us that they have the best interest of the American people, but it does not seem that way at all. Everything in the news these days is often so dark and grim, leading me to ask, along with many other people, “what exactly is this world coming to?” 

It’s times like these where I literally have to take a step back and re-count my blessings; I realize that this is incredibly cliche, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in all this worry and what-if that I forget about all the wonderful things that I am surrounded by. They’re small and at times are difficult to pick out in the hustle and bustle of life, but nonetheless they’re there. 

1. Having a Cup of Coffee in the morning-This has become part of my routine since eighth grade; it is the reason why I tend to get up early in the morning, just to have an hour or so to myself before everyone else is awake. There is no rushing around trying to complete morning tasks along with attempting to wake up. During this time I normally watch my soap operas (don’t laugh) or catch up on whatever shows are on my DVR at the moment. Other times I read, write in my journal or blog.

2. Taking a shower-Sometimes it’s before I have coffee and other times it’s afterward. But there really is nothing like taking a hot shower, whether it be to start the day or end it. 

3. Swinging-I have a swingset in my backyard, one that would normally have stopped being used once my siblings and I grew older. However, that was not the case for me. I still like to swing on my swingset, listening to my ipod and allowing my mind to wander for a little while. I could do it for hours if I wanted to. It’s nice just to be outside, especially with the view of the lake. 

4. The lake itself-When I was very young, I used to think that God either put diamonds in the water or sprinkled glitter on top of it. In reality, however, it was just the sun reflecting off the water. I didn’t go swimming in it this summer as much as I normally would. On the hottest of days I was at work, and then during the rainy ones I would be stuck sitting inside. But I do think it is one of the most beautiful things about the property that we live on. Natural bodies of water don’t bother me very much at all. And although the yard and the house is often a lot to take care of, I believe that it’s worth it. 

5. Mom’s flower garden-I absolutely love flowers; Mom has several gardens planted in the backyard and every once in awhile she’ll pick some and put them in a vase in the kitchen. When I went through a photography phase (I literally took pictures of everything in the backyard), flowers took up the majority of the pictures. They’re a major staple in my current bedroom and will continue to be when I move into my apartment.

6. Books-Once again, I am probably stating the obvious, but I love to read. My closet is full of them, and whenever I go to the library. It’s a shame that some don’t care to pick up a book unless they absolutely have to; I understand that everybody has their personal preferences, but I feel like I’ve learned a heck of a lot more about life from reading books as opposed to TV. 

7. Family Photo albums/home videos- I haven’t been looking at either as of late, mostly because it makes me cry to the point where it’s difficult for me not to look obvious that I’m crying. But there are so many memories of my childhood, from crazy holiday get-togethers to vacations filled with happenings that we still talk about to this very day. But there are moments where I struggle with understanding that I’m no longer a kid anymore; that I am now an adult and I have to take on adult responsibilities. But I feel blessed and fortunate enough to have gotten to do so many amazing things, and have grown up with wonderful people around me. 

8. My pets-They’re no longer small enough to carry around and can be huge pain in the necks, but I adore having them around. It’s nice to give hugs and kisses and not get any complaints (well, for the most part anyway). 

9. My Disney movie collection-I still watch Disney movies, probably more this past summer then ever. Somehow watching them always makes me smile, especially the princess ones. Those are definitely coming with me to my apartment as well.

10. My bed-In the past I have always taken having a warm bed to sleep in for granted. There are so many people who don’t get to come home to warm, clean blankets; sometimes not even their own mattress. So that is definitely something that is beautiful. 

There are always things to be grateful for and to appreciate. It is just a matter of taking the time and effort to look for them.

Intuition Is A Powerful Thing

Now what would happen if my intuition were an actual person?

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you could picture your intuition as a person, what would he or she look like? If you sat down together for dinner, what is the first thing he or she would tell you?

My intuition, just looking at her from a small distance, would appear to be very interesting. She would wear a black and white polka-dotted dress, an indication most of the choices and decisions that I find myself making within my life are not as complicated as they seem. She wears a pink jacket over the dress, along with a pink floppy hat to match. Beneath the pink hat one can see her black old-school, cat-eyed sunglasses. And if you look close enough, there is a small diamond necklace around her neck.  She says she has something important that she has to tell me. 

We sit down at a nice Italian restaurant; I would have preferred to order penne pasta with vodka sauce and tiny sausages (my new favorite dish as of late), but from the look on her face, it’s probably best just to go with the bread for now. 

What she’ll tell me in the following conversation is no-hold’s barred with no amount of sugar on it. It”s not clean and it’s not pretty. But in the end, it does make a lot of sense. 

“All right, sweetheart, let’s get down to business. You’re not listening to me. Or should I say, you’re not being completely honest with yourself.” 

“What do you mean? I listen to you. Didn’t I choose education over friends when it came to choosing which high school to go to? Didn’t I go to the college that made me happy as opposed to what would have been physically easier to get around on?” 

“Yes, and those have turned out to be wonderful decisions. But I’m not talking about school here. I’m talking about dating, falling in love and all that stuff that you tend to make more difficult than it actually is.”

“Oh, right. It’s not that I don’t listen to you, it’s just that I want to give the guy a chance.” 

“Honey, it’s one thing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt if you have a decent feeling about it. But if your stomach is in knots from the moment you meet him, and all you’re thinking about is that it probably won’t end well, then it’s best to cut your losses while you can.”

“But what if he’s just trying to get to know me?”

“If he asks about your virginity and just how far you’ve gone within a short time of meeting you, more than likely he doesn’t want to get to know you. He wants to get to know your body and eventually get into your pants.”

I don’t say anything for a little bit, knowing that she’s right. “Well, I have made up a list of standards!” I want so badly to change the subject already. 

“Lady, it’s about damn time!” she laughs. “Now tell me about them?” 

I name off the five standards that I have come up with in the last couple weeks. 

She nods approvingly. “Can I ask, what in the hell took you so long?”

“I was afraid that I would be expecting too much.” 

“I could give you an entire list of what expecting too much really is, but that’s not the point of this conversation. Another problem is that you’re often afraid, especially of your own feelings. And you shouldn’t be.”

“But what if I do or say something at the wrong time? And what if my feelings don’t meaning anything at all? That’s what I’m afraid of.” 

“Number one, if you don’t know when another opportunity is going to come, maybe it’s best to just do or say what you need to say while you have the chance. Number two, a good feeling is never worth fighting off. Sometimes you just can’t help it.” 

I nod and slowly take in what she just said. 

“Al, you know deep down who you are and the kind of woman that you want to become. You have the power and the ability to become that person. It’s just a matter of listening to yourself and having the courage to follow through with it.” 

Intuition is a very powerful thing, isn’t it?

Picking Up The Pen

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know I. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I once received a fortune cookie that read: “Speak less of your plans, you’ll get more done.” What’s one project that you’ve been sitting on and thinking about but haven’t made progress on? What’s stopping you? What would happen if you actually went for it and did it?

Day 10-Speak Less

I have not done a whole lot of writing this summer, aside from blogging. There have been so many emotions, feelings and thoughts swirling around in my brain. From fictional story ideas to personal observations to poetry, it’s all there. Yet I haven’t really taken the time to get it all down, even in my private journal. It’s not that I haven’t had the time, energy, or even things to write about; it’s actually a rarity for me to be at a loss for topics or ideas. 

There are two things that I always try to include in my writing: the first is elements of my own personality or certain experiences, if such applies. The second is a level of vulnerability and truth; when I write, I usually don’t like to hold anything back, whether or not that concept pertains to language/word usage, opinions, etc. The way I see it, if you put a rein on yourself when you write, you’re defeating the purpose of writing. And that purpose is to speak and to use your voice, regardless if you’re trying to teach a lesson or just get something off of your chest. 

With that being said, it is important to be mindful of the fact that our words may come across as hurtful, and even more important to be considerate of how others might be effected by it. This is something that  I will most definitely elaborate on that more in my next entry. When I say “don’t hold yourself back” when writing, I mean don’t over-think about whether or not it will be considered “good.” Personally, I tend to over think things before I even get them down on paper.

But there are times when the idea of being vulnerable scares the crap out of me, regardless if it’s in person or in writing. I consider myself an open and honest person, with little to hide at that. Yet, laying all the cards out all the table can be jarring; until you say something, there’s no way of knowing how someone will genuinely react to it. 

For instance, there is a specific topic that I’ve be wanting to blog about for quite some time, but haven’t been sure as to how to introduce it. Whenever there would be media coverage on it, I felt a push to write about, yet never felt like I was ready. 

In terms of fictional pieces, most of the time the following questions go through my head: is this storyline/plot believable? Has this been done already? What can I do to make this story unique? They’re good questions for any writer to ask, but are exhausting at the same time. A big part of me thinks it would be better to wait until I got back to school. 

And as far as my own personal thoughts? Maybe I just don’t want to admit that I’m feeling a certain way about what’s going on in my life. There are times where I would rather suck it up than rather break down and say that I’m not doing good. Not to mention I become easily distracted when I’m journaling and eventually get a hand cramp from writing so much. 

That’s not healthy at all. 

My only answer is this: What people are often afraid to say are the things that need to be said; and the longer you hold it in, the more damage you’re doing to yourself. 

Side question: does anyone else experience that kind of problem/difficulty?


Throw It All Together and You Get…ME

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.

Day 9-My Ordinary

I had to read this prompt several times in order to fully understand what the author was talking about. Even as I write this post, I’m only doing so based on my interpretation of what the author is saying. In a way, it’s a continuation of my last post, so it might be best to read that one first. 

I have always been rather aware of the fact that I’m not exactly like everyone else. Not just physically, but on an emotional level as well. However, I’ve been on the fence when it comes to how I feel about it. It’s not something that I’m ashamed of, but I not particularly proud of it either; and by proud, I mean it’s something that allows me to be on a pedestal of some kind or to claim that I’m better than others because of it. 

Without being overly specific about it, I would say that my “ordinary” is very much a multitude of things. I have a lot of different interests and enjoying spending time with different groups of people. For example, I can be reading a book one day and then be outside throwing a football the next. It all very much depends on how I feel. 

When it comes to current events, I’m extremely middle of the road. It’s not that I don’t care to pick a side, it’s just that I would like to understand what both sides of an issue are saying before I form an opinion. 

I believe in using kind words, but also have a tendency to be a bit of a smartass; I call it sweet, with a little bit of spice. 

I like variety and having options; that’s why I chose to attend a public University as opposed to a small liberal arts college. 

It seems like a lot of young generations (including mine) are under so much pressure to define themselves and/or to be “different” from their peers. My question is, why is it such a big deal? Is there ever a point where a person says knows exactly who they are and has it all figured out? Like it or not, we all change at some point. 

When it comes to being unique and being different, people see it in their own time. I’ve seen a number of musical artists who appear to be moving heaven and earth to maintain their individuality, yet it’s now coming into question as to whether they’re being themselves, or just being flat out obnoxious. Take Lady Gaga, for example. I enjoy her music, but some of the songs that she’s been releasing after “Born this way” don’t make any sense to me. Which leads me to ask, do these songs have a particular message, or is it just for shock value?

And I mean no disrespect to her in any way whatsoever. I think she’s got an incredible amount of talent. What I’m trying to say is that there is a line between trying to be your own person and being in everyone else’s face about it. If you have a point to make or a message to spread, by all means do so. But at some point, some will become overwhelmed or annoyed and just not want to listen anymore.

But that is why I say just be. I’m not going to constantly worry about defining myself, because I know that I’m in no control over what other people think. Just because you put a label on yourself doesn’t mean you’ll fit into it.

A friend jokingly once told me, “Alyx, you’re just too much to handle!” What can I say? That’s just me!

Celebrating Myself and The Beauty of Being

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?

Day 8-Divine Idea

Imitation has always been somewhat of a weakness for me; there have been many periods in my life where I have wanted things, and I believed that the key to getting what I wanted was to base my actions off of those who already had them. For instance, when I was in middle school thought that acting older meant cursing like a sailor (thankfully, that was in sixth grade and it only lasted for a year). There was a time when I believed being beautiful meant wearing make-up, and a ton of it at that. Honestly, I can’t think of a time where I didn’t somehow slip into a particular pattern because that’s what supposedly worked for everyone else.

But what I’ve learned about imitation is that somehow it will come back around and bite you where it hurts. Not because what you’re doing is a terrible thing, but because it’s just not who you are. People don’t succeed by directly following in the footsteps of those who have gone before them; they succeed by working hard and allowing their own creativity and personality to shine in the process. 

There is the whole idea that people change, which to a degree is true. But when a person doesn’t necessarily change for the better, they will eventually run into a wall. No matter what kind of experiences or struggles you have in life, you never completely forget your core values or who you are on the inside. 

For me, stepping away from imitation meant facing a few truths about myself. One of the most important ones is that I’m not quite like everyone else, and that I have somewhat of a different perspective than most people my age. I didn’t want to admit those things because I didn’t want it to sound like I was better than anybody (which, for the record, I’m not). I didn’t want to separate myself from my peers, either, because I get the feeling that some are intimidated by me as it is. 

Which leads me to say that there are a lot of traits and aspects that make me unique. However, I would prefer not to mention every single one of them; not because I’m ashamed, but  because I would rather have people see those unique things in me as opposed to me spelling them out. Actions speak louder than words, so I find that it’s always better to live something out than verbally proclaim it. Plus, there’s no harm in being a little bit mysterious, is there?

They say that good things come in small packages. I can only hope that I might be a diamond in the rough; you know, they kind that you can’t really find anywhere else.

I don’t believe that there are necessary steps to finding a sense of uniqueness in oneself. You just how to allow yourself to be, and eventually certain things will be revealed through emotion and action. Don’t worry about putting a particular label on it, or how you will appear in the eyes of others. If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that you have little to no control over what others think of you. 

Never be afraid to celebrate the things that make up exactly who you are. Even if you don’t know exactly who you are as a person, don’t fret. You will figure it out eventually.

What I Know

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

Day 7-I Know This

I can most definitely identify with this topic. It seems like these days there are so many resources out there that claim to have all the “answers”; talk-show hosts, therapists, pastors, self-help books…you name it. Add friends and family into the mix, and it becomes even more overwhelming. 

But what I’ve begun to see is that not everything works for everyone. Just because someone gives you advice doesn’t mean you have to necessarily take it, and/or that it’s the right path to take. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate people who take the time to try and help me work through a situation. But I have been learning to respectfully disagree with someone when I feel the need to. Instead, I think about the things that I have learned- the things that I have come to know from my own experiences. 

1. Not everyone will see things the way you do; it doesn’t matter how many times you try to sit a person or a group of people down and explain it, they’re just not going to get it. 

2. You cannot fully protect yourself from pain or suffering. 

3. No matter how rough the road may be, you’ll get through it. It may take awhile, but you will. 

4. It’s OK to admit that certain days, months, etc. just suck. It doesn’t mean that life in general sucks, but everybody has their bad moments.

5. In order to love or take care of someone else, you have to be able to do the same for yourself. 

6. Regardless of what magazines or books say, when it comes to any kind of relationship, it’s all about communicating openly and the ability to be yourself. 

7. There are some things in life, that you can’t necessarily “try” to be good at. For example; flirting and being sexy. Those things just have to come naturally.

8. Beauty is not about what you look like, but rather how you feel. If you feel good, then chances are  that the people around you will notice.

9. Don’t ever make judgments against a person for their bad choices when at one time you either thought about or went about doing the exact same thing. 

10. On second thought, don’t ever judge someone based on what another person tells you. Meet them first and then form an opinion. 

11. You can do things for the right reasons, but still end up going about it in the wrong way.

12. Cutting someone out of your life does not necessarily mean you’re cutting them out of your heart. No amount of picture deleting or lack of contact with erase the memories or the times that you had together.

13. The only time you should ever regret a relationship isn’t when you didn’t learn from it or grow from it.

14. It’s important to know when to just listen and when to give advice. 

Maybe I’m wrong by some of those things. But nevertheless, that is what I know.

The Courage to Connect

To fully understand what I am talking about, you might want to read  my previous entry “This I Believe”, which you can find here

Day 6-Connection

Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who is one person that you’ve been dying to connect with, but just haven’t had the courage to reach out to? First, reflect on why you want to get in touch with them. Then, reach out and set up a meeting.

Connection: a basic human interaction that I love, but something I found myself genuinely afraid to do (especially during this past school year). No, it’s not that I didn’t make friends or that I didn’t talk to people, but only to a certain extent. I allowed many to see my strengths, but not my weaknesses; I felt that if I did, they would somehow see me differently or feel this unwarranted obligation to take care of me. And before I opened up to anybody, I had to have this definite reassurance that that kind of thing wasn’t going to happen. But even when they did reassure me, I still felt the urge to put on a brave face because I didn’t want to come across as a negative or bitter person.

Again, my freshman year was extremely eye-opening and wonderful. But there were definitely times where I felt lonely and wanting to get to know someone but not really knowing how to approach them.
I don’t normally consider myself to be a shy person: during the first week that I moved in, I had no problem knocking on neighboring doors or stopping people in the halls and introducing myself. When I went out, I hardly thought twice about asking a guy to dance in a dimly lit night club (well, unless another girl got to him first). But I do have some insecurities, which have kept me from talking to people (at least right away).
For example, I have a friend whom I have known for close to two years. We met in my junior of high school and wound up at the same college together. Despite the fact that I’ve known her for some time, I would get intimidated and afraid to go talk to her every time we ran into each other. Or, there were people that I would see frequently around campus, but it took me awhile to do it simply because they had an aura of sorts that made me think “well, it’s not if I should talk to them, but how.” I would find out that most of the time it was easier than I made it out to be.
In turn, I’ve realized that there are times when I, personally, can be difficult to approach. I understand that just be seeing how I walk, people may or may not know what to say to me. That’s why when I’m walking around, I do my best to always say hi to those that I know and to smile while I’m at it. It’s my little way of saying “I don’t bite; you can talk to me.” I will clarify that there are times where if someone is joking around with me, I may look like I’m taking it too seriously. The truth is, I don’t always know how to respond in a way that is somewhat, if not equally funny.
To some, connecting with others may be easier these days because of the advances that have been made in technology. Facebook almost literally allows a person to see what another is doing and when. Texting and skype enable people to communicate with each other anywhere, anytime (for the most part). And the best part is that it’s all behind a computer screen.
But over the years I’ve seen that communication and technology can be both be a double edged sword. When texting, tweeting, or facebook chatting, you have to make sure that what you’re saying doesn’t end up getting interpreted the wrong way. Just because you write on someone’s “wall” doesn’t mean they will necessarily write back. Heck, just because someone has a Facebook doesn’t mean they’ll use it all the time. Not too many people have landlines these days, so if their cell phone breaks and they can’t get a new one right away, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to talking to that person.
It’s not that technology is completely harmful and/or useless. I use it not because it’s always easier, but at times it’s the only option I have. Life gets busy and there are time periods where my friends and I aren’t always able to sit down and catch up. So we do whatever is necessary to keep in touch, even if it’s somewhat superficial. I think that’s why I post my blog links to Facebook; because there are instances when there isn’t even a whole lot a time to even talk on the computer. It’s my way of saying “we may not be able to really talk right now, but here’s what’s going on in my life and how I feel about it.”
I’ve learned that connecting isn’t always about sitting down and telling someone your life story. Sometimes it’s just having lunch together or telling a friend about what you did over the weekend. Sometimes it’s whispering back and forth over a really boring lecture. Sometimes it’s laughing your butt off over stupid jokes. And sometimes it’s just saying a simple hello or giving somebody a hug.
And a lot of the time, it’s not about waiting for the “right” moment to do it; frankly, the right moment is often whenever there is an opportunity being presented.
With the original question in mind, yes, there are several people that I’d like to re-connect with, or perhaps even just connect for the first time. I can name at least five or six people; the issue is, it is more often a matter of being able to talk to them; as I indicated previously, some don’t have working cell phones (or I don’t have their numbers), don’t use Facebook a whole lot, or are just flat out busy. The best thing I can personally do right now is just to appreciate whatever amount of time someone can give me, even if it’s just five minutes.  My goal is to have been able to connect with certain people, or getting to know them all over again, by the end of 2011. 
Yes, digital connection may be the easiest thing to do. But I need to be able to look at a person and actually speak to them. That, I believe is how you get to know someone; not by the things that they tell you, but what you notice about them. 

Surprised, Much?

Day 5-Surprise

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself.  How will you surprise yourself this week?

When I read this topic for the first time, I scratched my head trying to think of something to write about. There are so many things that have happened and so many things that I have done, where I have come out of it thinking Did I really just do/say that? to where it’s almost impossible to pick just one. But then I read it again, and that it dawned on me: my entire life has been filled to the brim with endless surprises; it has been that way since the day I was born, and probably will be until the day that I die. 

When I was an infant, the doctors were extremely skeptical that I would survive. At that time, most babies who were born as prematurely as I was didn’t live very long. It took about four months worth of hospital stays, tubes of medicine and plenty of kicking and screaming, but I did come home a happy and healthy little girl. 

A year later, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. My parents were given a list of physical tasks that I supposedly would never be able to do. The main ones took a little motivation from the arrival of my brother, but I did it. I went on to play various sports, win a gold medal and graduate from high school. 

Nearly twenty years after that, not many people thought I would go away to college. They expected me to stick around locally, or a small private school at best. But I had bigger dreams than that; I would be damned if I allowed physicality, or even finances to keep me from doing what I felt was right. So despite the worries from family members (I even heard through the grapevine that some of them had made a bet on how long it be before I came home), I packed my bags and took off for Iowa. Needless to say, when I came back for a semester break, those that had expressed concern politely apologized. 

It’s funny how the power of faith and the human spirit can take precedence over a medical diagnosis. In other words, I may have a handicap in regards to scientific studies and the human body, but that does not mean I have to allow those “limits” to forge the path that I should take; it does not determine who I will be or what I will do. In my eyes, they’re just words and nothing else. 

I also believe in the power of confidence, and how it can propel you to overcome things that maybe you thought you couldn’t. It honestly isn’t natural for me though; I have to actually do something, maybe multiple times over, before I can become completely comfortable with it. But the whole reason I’ve accomplished so much is because of my ability to feel secure with whatever it is I’m doing. 

However, it’s not just the physical aspects of myself that tend to throw me for a loop; it is partially emotional as well. There are times where I can be feisty and aggressive, and I’m becoming less shy about calling it as I see it. I may appear to be a tiny little furball, but I have the strength and determination of a tiger. That will all speak for itself at some point or another. 

I’m not saying that I’m a people pleaser, but I don’t deny that I get a kick out of proving people wrong; there have been moments where I’ve wanted to stand up on anything ridiculously tall and say “look at me now!” Or at the very least go up to someone that ever had doubts (believe me, there are some) and say “I told you so.” 

I think that I often surprise a lot people, especially when it comes to my family. Then again, perhaps that’s a good thing; it means that I’m not always predictable and I’m not as easy to read as some might believe.

I have come a long way to get to where I am today. But that doesn’t mean I’m done yet…not by a long shot.

This I Believe (But Maybe, You Don’t)

Day 4-One Belief

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

It may a bit uncommon, unconventional and not quite the smartest belief to hold dear. To some, I might as well be jumping off a cliff and not bring a parachute with me to ensure a safe landing. On a more literal level, I might very well be opening a door to allow my heart to be battered, bruised and eventually smashed to pieces. 

Regardless of what anyone says, I wholly believe in taking the time to invest in people; to talk to them and get to know them, no matter what kind of relationship it is or what the future may bring. 

From what I read on Facebook, Twitter, etc. it seems like the main idea in terms of how we relate to others is this: That it’s better to be lonely than to be hurt, and in order not to get hurt, we must keep them at arms length. And if we do end up becoming close to someone, the only way it can be deemed successful is if that particular is free from any sort of pain, betrayal, etc. If not, it becomes an unspoken regret, as well as a waste of time.

To put it plainly, the only way to not regret forming a particular relationship is if it works out exactly the way we want it to. 

But I don’t think that’s true; at least, I don’t think that should be true. I have had some relationships (or if you really want to get technical, I’ll just call them friendships) that have started quickly and ended quickly. Some that have lasted for a long time and are still going strong. Some where we’re really close, but just aren’t talking right now because life has kept us both extremely busy. But no matter the situation, I do not regret the time that I’ve spent with them. Ultimately, I do not regret having the be a part of my life.

There have definitely been a lot of people that have let me down; friends, family…oh heck, there have been times where I feel as if God has let me down. But that does not mean that I don’t care about them or that I’m not willing to forgive them; there are people, especially friends, who will always have a special place in my heart. We may have endured a tough road together, but I still have wonderful memories as well as wonderful things that I’ve learned from them.

And that is why I choose not to regret investing in those relationships, or any relationship. I may have been hurt at some point, but I learned many things about myself, about the relationship as a whole and about life. Now this is just my personal opinion here, but if you come out of a relationship having learned something, then who’s to say that it was a waste?
The other side of the issue is the concept of pain. It’s only natural to not want to get hurt. Nobody wants to experience being lied to, cheated on, taken advantage of, etc. So a person decides to keep another (or several) at arms-length; in the end, they may not get their heart broken, but what other benefits does it truly provide? It doesn’t bring full joy or laughter.  From my perspective, it doesn’t seem to do a whole lot of good.
  Through my own experiences, the one fact that I cannot dispute is that pain is inevitable. You can try and protect yourself all you want, but eventually you will experience some form of brokenness or hardship. Not just in relationships, but in life as well. That’s not to say you should walk around with a negative attitude or completely focus on it, but rather just accept it and deal with it when it happens.
It’s like locking yourself up in a house because you don’t want to run the risk of anything bad happening. You just don’t get to experience the possibilities and the opportunities because you’re not willing to take a chance. I don’t know about everyone else, but that does not seem like a healthy way to live.
And maybe I’m getting a little off-topic here, but I don’t think it’s fair to put someone else’s faults on other people. To be specific, someone hurt you and you tell the next person that comes along “I’m not going to put a whole lot of effort into this, nor am I going to trust you because of what happened in the past.” It’s completely normal to be cautious, but only to a certain extent.
There’s a little saying that I have: “Don’t let the pain of the past keep you from having joy in the future.” That is true not just for relationships, but for life as well.
With that being said, I don’t think that one should just go and tell the entire world every little detail about themselves. There are definitely times and circumstances where it’s not always a good idea to be a completely open book. It may seem that way when I am blogging, but I do hold back certain details in my writings, mostly for the sake of my loved ones and that there are a lot of sick people out there in cyberspace.
When it comes to investing and knowing when to trust somebody, it’s hard to tell from the get-go. You really don’t know what will happen a month, a year or a couple of years down the road. All you can really do is trust your instincts and know that genuine relationships of any sort tend to take a lot of time. In other words, don’t try to explain your life story to someone right when you start getting to know them. Let them slow pick up on the little things about you and then talk about the deep stuff when you’ve known each other long enough.
I realize that not everyone may agree with what I’m saying here, and that’s perfectly fine. Every situation is different and each person has their own way of dealing with this kind of stuff. All I know is that I, personally, do not want to spend my life feeling lonely and cut off from people that could potentially be bright lights in my life. I spent the majority of middle school doing so, as well as a portion of high school; I don’t want that to be what I remember about my college years.
Lucille Ball once said, “I would rather regret the things that I did do then the things that I didn’t do.” Never have I found that to be more true than right now.

For Myself…And No One Else

Day 3-My Own Path

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?

I wrote an earlier blog post for the Reverb10 project, detailing the first time that I decided to do something because it’s what I genuinely wanted (I would recommend reading that before reading this particular post any further). However, that was only the beginning; there were many things that happened afterward that cultivated into this particular realization. 

It wasn’t a moment in itself, but rather a series of moments. In the first few days of walking around campus, I felt as though this combination of weights and burdens had been lifted off my shoulders: I no longer had to play the role (if you want to call it that) of this older daughter who frequently had to be strong and hold the fort down for her family. I didn’t have to tell my parents everything I did, nor did I have to seek their approval before I did something. I didn’t have to worry about our financial situation. I was paving my own way and living my life the way I wanted to live it. And I must say, it felt pretty freaking good. 

That kind of outlook helped me to deal with choices that I would be lead to make in the near future: rushing for a sorority for a second time, (and as of right now, a third) and opting to live an apartment for my second year of college as opposed to a dorm. And although this is not a definite decision yet, I have begun to seriously consider staying on campus next summer. 

Of course, all of these choices have been met with some objections: Am I sure that I’m ready for this? What if…? 

I recently sat down with my parents as we discussed my resisting advice or help in the past, along with how that correlated to these decisions that I was being led to make. All in all I told them, “I need to do what I want, on my own terms and in my own time.” 

From these words, one could argue that I am being a selfish and defiant teenager. Truth be told, I have always been a rather stubborn little lady. My mom used to tell me that when I was in the hospital, I would kick off my diapers and frequently try to reconnect my arms and legs from whatever the heck they were hooked up to. In fact, it took me four months to come home from the hospital because I had to gain a certain amount of weight (apparently I refused to eat, or I probably spit it all back up) and I was unable to breathe on my own. In short, I didn’t do anything until I was damn well ready to. 

But sometimes it’s good to be selfish. The way I see it, there are two kinds of selfishness. One is where you choose to do what you want, but you’re basically telling anyone who objects to you decision(s) to go to hell. The second is where you’re aware of the feelings of the people around you, but you also understand that there comes a point where you need to take care of yourself my choosing to pursue your own dreams. And more so, you’re able to communicate that with those people. 

I realize that a lot of my choices and decisions have seemed out of the ordinary or just downright crazy. I understand that my parents miss me when I’m away from home, and that my choosing to do what I do requires a lot of money. But I wouldn’t (and still don’t) do anything unless I whole-heartedly believe that I will grow and benefit from that particular decision. I choose to do things because I strongly feel that it will be for the better, and that it will help me in becoming who I am meant to be. 

And order to become the best that you can be, sometimes you have to do things that not necessarily everyone else will agree with, nor will it be what they want for you.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: everything has its moment. I believe that my moment is now.

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