Minding the Gap

One of my bigger epiphanies in the last year has been that I struggle, pretty much all the time, with the gap between reality and how I think something should/will feel. What it basically comes down to is that my imagination sets me up for a sense of loss because it has a tendency to gloss over the details, make everything seem magical, easy, and amazing and totally ignores the necessary effort–the FREAKING struggle–to achieve the desired outcome. I feel like it’s kind of a hybrid of impostor syndrome and maybe aggressive idealism?

So, when I actually have the experience in real life and it doesn’t come easy to me I have feelings of failure and question why I thought I could do it in the first place. And let me be clear, I’m not afraid of working hard and I’m not particularly prone to quitting. For whatever reason I just assume that if something doesn’t come naturally to me I must suck, because obviously everyone, literally anyone else on the planet can do a better job, right? And that’s so FUCKING PREPOSTEROUS it’s insane. Because we’re all idiots. Truly. Sorry to burst your bubble. We might have moments of clarity and talent when the stars align and we fucking get it, but, generally speaking, humans are morons and we’re all just doing the best we can with our limited knowledge and experience.

And I only JUST realized I do this for most things! I do it at work. I do it in my relationships. And I do it with my many varying interests. Now I can recognize it and talk myself out of it, but it takes conscious effort to stop feeling like a loser and to acknowledge that the struggle is part of the process, that the end result is usually pretty damn good, and that all that really matters is that I keep trying.

Sometimes I totally miss that a life event I wanted to happen has actually happened because it didn’t feel like what I was expecting. I’ll give you an example. When I moved here over a year ago I put a lot of mental pressure on myself to make new friends. It took me months to chill out about it and change my perspective. I actually realized I already have amazing people in my life so, while I was still open to meeting new people, I decided to focus more on being a better friend and strengthening existing relationships. Lo and behold, further into the year I reconnected with a college friend who invited me into her ever growing friend group and suddenly I have a bunch of new people to exercise and hang out with. But, because I didn’t consciously decide that I was going to make friends damn it and it all sort of unfolded organically, I didn’t fully realize until recently that my network has grown considerably since I moved here almost a year and a half ago.

Reality is almost always more subtle than what I expect. We don’t just wave magic wands around and poof! there’s everything we want in a neat little bow. And thank goodness for that. How boring would that be? Life would be a lot less special if it were that easy.

There is such an insanely huge gap between the world in my head and the life I’m actually living on a day to day basis, it’s no wonder I’m always falling off the damn cliff. And, honestly, I kind of love it. I don’t find the gap disappointing. If anything, it shows me possibilities and forces me to recognize the magic in the struggle and the little gifts of life that often unfold without having to strive for them.

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Tickled by life

This morning I drove to Skaneateles. My primary goal was to check out this bakery I found online. You see, Skaneateles just feels like a place that would have a great bakery. And I was right. In fact I was almost gluttonous enough to go to two! But I’ll save Patisserie for next time. Skaneateles Bakery was a treat. I bought an over sized pink lemonade macaron and a raspberry muffin and ate them near the lake where some seagulls were also enjoying their morning.

I spent some time people watching, soaking up the sunshine, walking down the pier, and even finished reading my book. And, as I sat there, I felt more content than I have in a long time. Moving here was the best decision I could have made. I can feel myself settling more into who I want to be and I think this time alone is exactly what I needed. I love exploring on my own. Who knew?

You don’t realize that every person in your life and experience you have adds weight to your life until you make a big shift like this. Or at least I didn’t. And the weight usually isn’t a bad thing. It adds depth and value and love to living, but I feel less weighed down now and it’s freeing. There are less demands on my time and my mind and it’s helping me to feel more connected with myself. I cook what I want, go where I want, and do what I want without needing to compromise or wonder if someone else is going to be okay with the decision and, man, that feels so, so good right now!

I’m tickled by this season of life. I know it’s not likely that I’ll be on my own or want to be on my own forever, but right now I’m going to soak it up and enjoy it as much as I can. Cheers to being comfortable in your own skin and finding out you’re pretty damn capable all on your own.

The call of the country

I’ve always been open to a variety of music, but since moving to Syracuse I have been inexplicably drawn to the country stations on the radio. I know country music as a genre tends to be pretty polarizing. I’ve never had a strong opinion about it one way or another, but lately it seems to perfectly fit my long drives to nowhere roaming around the farmlands, cutting through the mountains and weaving around the lakes of central New York. They also match my mood lately; a little bittersweet, nostalgic about love gone awry…hoping it will still work out somehow, feeling like it must.

Here’s what I’m feeling lately:

Like I loved you -Brett Young

Die a happy man -Thomas Rhett

In case you didn’t know -Brett Young

See you tonight -Scotty McCreery

Runnin’ outta moonlight -Randy Houser

Leave the night on -Sam Hunt

Play it again -Luke Bryan

I don’t want this night to end -Luke Bryan

Small town boy -Dustin Lynch

It goes like this -Thomas Rhett

Get me some of that -Thomas Rhett

Because I knew you

It’s not particularly novel to feel reflective at a major turning point, but this thought has been tumbling around my head the past few weeks and it’s time to give it proper dues: I have been so damn fortunate, in every stage of my life, in the people that I have met, befriended, lived, learned, explored, worked, fought, and crossed boundaries with.

For every great experience I have had, it almost always comes down to the people.

It’s true. I’m one of the lucky ones. Blessed with one of those families that was built on a rock solid foundation of mutual love, respect and belonging. I didn’t start to realize how rare that was until high school and it really does change everything. It is the best and most precious gift I’ve ever been given.

I’ve always made friends pretty easily. One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is how to let people go and that it’s natural to outgrow some friendships. My very best friend growing up was three years younger than me and lived two houses down the street. During the summer we used to be out the door by 7am, ready and raring to go. We both had crazy active imaginations and would have fun dressing up and inventing games, pretending to be everything from wild animals to rock stars. We’d write stories, choreograph songs, have snack time and adventure time. Scrape knees, climb trees, build forts…we did it all. In seventh grade when I realized we were growing apart, it broke my heart. We were everything until we weren’t, but looking back on it, I know I was touched by a beautiful kind of magic.

Some of my closest friendships to this day are with people I bonded with in high school. The cross country team, my crazy band of misfits, gifted me with five deliriously special people that I’ve now been friends with for almost half of my life. And I had one of the greatest summers of my life so far with my other girl gang and while I don’t talk to most of them anymore, one of them is basically the sister of my heart, no matter how long we go between seeing each other.

If I could relive a year of my life, it would be my freshman year of college and the reason is squarely on the shoulders of the ridiculous and amazing people that I exploded into being with that year. Such a huge year of becoming. From a handful of certain classmates to the crazies that I dormed with, I cannot imagine a more perfect year with more perfect people. It wasn’t without its challenges, but every day I woke up on fire. So damn excited to see what else was in store. I only keep in touch with a handful of those people now, but they’ve all touched my soul.

My year of grad school gifted me with an interesting mix of people. I am so glad I walked toward and not away from that rambunctious group of weirdos blocking the hallway. Over four years later, my life has never been the same.

After graduation, I had a somewhat unique year of retail experience largely working with my friends and a great team of people. I actually learned a lot during this year, even though I was pretty depressed about how long it took me to find a “real” job, and it was largely in part to the new people I met.

And then comes Manzella, the heart of why I was inspired to write this post. For the past three years I worked at a marketing agency as a project manager. I won’t lie to you, it was not my favorite experience. But damn did I learn and grow personally and professionally in ways I couldn’t imagine. I was given unusual opportunities and earned the respect of great people. I worked with executives at major companies and contributed to a team of truly impressive creative people who I’m fortunate to also call friends. I gained so much; a mentor and a friend that I hope will be a part of my life forever; an exceptional, open-minded boss who trusted me implicitly and wants me to succeed, even if I have to leave; a creative director who gave me room to grow and learn to manage, and also took an active interest in me as a person; account executives that considered me a surrogate daughter. And more. So much more. I am so damn grateful for having had this experience. It was often uncomfortable. I knew it would be when I started. But I had no idea how much these people would come to mean to me or the impact they would have on my life and it’s something I don’t ever want to take for granted. I wouldn’t be moving forward without them.

So, if you’re one of the good ones (and I believe you are), thank you. Thank you for pushing me, pulling me, raising me, berating me, changing me, growing me, loving me and quite simply being with me. It has made a world of difference.

To quote Wicked:
I do believe I have been changed for the better, and, because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

As I start this new chapter, I’m excited about the people I’ll meet and the new friends I’ll make. Who will change my life? Will I change theirs? I hope this is an overwhelming season of becoming.

Let’s begin.

 

Those moments when…

You feel most alive. When your soul is leaping from your skin. When you feel like you can take on the world and be the very best version of yourself. When you escape the confines of your brain and become all heart.

Those moments are so damn special.

I made the decision to actually go out to see a band I’d never heard of last night. And it was the best decision I’ve made in a while. Magic Giant, you’re doing it right. You guys are pure positive energy. Keep doing what you’re doing. Thanks for coming to Buffalo and thanks Leanne, if you’re reading this, for bringing me along!

I’m guilty of listening to whatever is easy, whatever the radio feeds me. There’s a comfort and laziness in that so I appreciate friends that introduce me to new music I wouldn’t seek out on my own.

Magic Giant, you’re a keeper.

Grit & Grace

I’ve been in this really good mental place lately and I hope it sticks around for a while after the ever present anger, confusion, and sadness of the last six months. It’s been a nice break. I feel more like me. Back to appreciating the small magic in mundane moments. I don’t know where my life is going or what changes the next few months will bring, but right now I’m feeling really grateful for the moment I’m in, even the less than ideal parts.

The boyfriend situation continues to be complicated, but I think this time apart right now is important. It’s just a feeling, but I think it will impact us in some big way down the road, whether we end up together or ultimately decide to let each other go. It’s hard going from living together and everything being awesome to only seeing each other once in a while. The ache is real. But I’m trying to put my trust in the universe.

The job is…weird. I’ve come a long way in 2.5 years. I am so, so grateful for some of the opportunities I’ve had and the relationships I’ve built, but there are days when I hate what I’m doing, hate being there, can’t see the worth in what we’re doing. I’m sure that’s just a reality of working as an adult, but I can’t help but wonder if I could do something more worthwhile with my life. And working 8:30-5, five days a week is never going to feel normal. My heart and my brain rebel against such strict structure. But, like most worthwhile things in life, it comes down to the people and I have a whole team of people that I love and respect and have grown with in some mildly dysfunctional ways.

110 Proof is doing better than I ever thought it would and I have my dad to thank for the latest opportunity that fell into my lap. I am editing a book, maybe several even, for a student he had over 20 years ago. This was my long-term goal. Editing a book was the dream. And now it’s my reality! Sometimes the world really does give you what you need.

I’ve been feeling strong. Physically. Mentally. Feeling very in tune with myself. This is often best reflected in my clothing choices during the week. I just love when an outfit perfectly expresses who I am or want to be on any given day. There is a small power in that and in the confidence it brings. This is me. Take note. And from my experience, people do take note.

I just ordered Mark Manson’s book, The subtle art of not giving a f*ck, a deck of tarot cards, and a vintage blouse from Australia. I’m trying to commit to taking a trip, but I hate planning ahead and I can’t decide if I want to do Utah/California, Ireland, or let my friends talk me into splurging on getting to Thailand. Right now I’m in that delicious stage where anything is possible. As I said earlier, who knows what the next few months will bring?

I rode a roller coaster to work today…

An emotional roller coaster that is. My iPod had me laughing and crying during my 20 minute drive. With the music on shuffle (and a few skips for good measure) here was this morning’s playlist:

Significance: This song was introduced to me by my old neighbors and best friends growing up. They moved to Texas a while ago, but the song never fails to remind me of our friendship and impromptu living room/basement/garage/backyard concerts.
Mood: Pleasantly nostalgic
Significance: I probably haven’t listened to this song since high school and man, is it emo. I found the lyrics to be particularly tickling this morning. “Please understand this isn’t just goodbye, this is I can’t stand you.”
Mood: Subdued hilarity
Significance: I just think this song is cute.
Mood: Happy
Significance: This song brings me right back to sophomore year cross country with some of the best people I’ve ever known having some of the best, most ridiculous times I’ve ever had.
Mood: Decidedly gangster
Significance: Queue the tears. Ugh. I sang this song at my high school graduation and it never fails to tug on the ol’ heartstrings. It always feels relevant and for some reason it hit me especially hard this morning, in the best way.
Mood: Poignant
Significance: Ed, thanks for leveling out my emotions this morning. This helped me pull myself together. Plus, I just love this song.
Mood: Grateful and spunky