Swinging for the fences

I haven’t been compelled to write in a while. I was hoping, unfairly, that this trip to Arizona would magically open my mind to what I want my next step to be. I don’t think it has, but it’s been a good exercise to lay some of this out and see what feels true and where I can call bullshit on my thoughts.

I am good at working toward goals, but right now I don’t have any. Just a vague sense that I’m not doing all that I can or “should” be doing. I used to feel like I was going to change the world. Now I just wish to feel like I’m doing something meaningful or useful, even if it’s in a limited way, and fun. I think fun is underrated. There’s also a draw to being left alone to create in obscurity, which is pretty easily achievable, but won’t keep a roof over my head.

Over the last year and a half or so I’ve had this thought that I can’t quite ignore and it’s that I believe we place far too much importance on our value as a race and that no matter what we do it has little to no value in the grand scheme of things.

And now that I’ve finally written that out, who the hell cares? Maybe it’s a good thing. We exist and we have to do something with our time. I no longer believe that any one profession is better or more valuable than any other, we’re all just people after all. No special fucking snowflakes here. It doesn’t matter if we’re saving lives or fixing the office printer, so long as we do good work and we try to grow and better our selves. Unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck and mucked up with obligations and forget to water themselves, eventually shriveling up to die in the shallow soil of the lives they’ve accepted in complacency.

I don’t know that I’m capable of falling into that trap. At least not without being hideously aware of my shitty existence. I’ve always always always been that person who’s looking at what’s next, what else, what more? It’s both a good and bad quality. It pushes me to do better and be better, but it also keeps me from appreciating where I’m at and what I’ve done. It’s not a great thing to always be seeking more. Sometimes it really is enough. For instance, my personal life is off the charts phenomenal and I’m beyond grateful and aware of it. It’s my professional life that’s lacking at the moment.

Ultimately, I think as long as I’m not actively making life worse for others then I can do whatever the fuck I want. I just wish I knew what the fuck it is I want to do so I can make some effort towards it.

Societal norms, particularly the lure of the safe company job, are so ingrained in how I can possibly expect to take care of myself that it’s brutally difficult to see what other paths I can reasonably take. I am somewhat open to risk, will be more so once I’m out of debt in a few months and can actually start putting money aside, but there is nothing I’ve been able to conceive that I’m passionate enough about pursuing to make the risk worthwhile! And having to worry about fucking health insurance and retirement some day really put a damper on swinging for the fences. Damn responsibility.

Having to be a slave to money means that I have to be a slave to other people to exist in modern society. The problem is, I don’t want to have to rely on other people in order to make a living. If I make a product, then I’m reliant on people to buy it. If I sell a service, same. There’s already so much shit in the world. Do I really want to add to it?

I don’t know that that’s possible to escape without promising myself to a life of poverty and pretending to worship a god. While giving everything up and sitting in silence holds some appeal, I think that’s probably a short-term Eat Pray Love kind of experiment at best and not a long-term solution for the life I want to live. Refusing to engage with life for an extended period of time seems cowardly and boring.

Damn it all to hell and back. I know I want more control over how I’m spending my days. I want to minimize the demands on my time for what I feel are pointless requests. I’d like to feel like I’m providing some level of value, although I know I will continue to wrestle with achieving that because of the aforementioned feeling that everything is basically pointless, at least on a macro scale.

My favorite projects allow me to be creative and resourceful and typically generate a tangible product. I like to work with both my head and my hands and prefer to work independently. If only I knew what I wanted, then I could try to lean into it. I’m so good at getting shit done for other people. There really shouldn’t be such a hang up starting something for myself, but I’m stuck on needing it to feel worthwhile and wondering if anything I can do will ever feel that way. I need to come to terms with my ego.

I’m aware that this is a painfully narcissistic post. There are some schools of thought that would suggest at least part of my problem is that I’m too focused on myself and not enough on how I can service others. But when I think about being of service to others in a general way, it loses meaning for me. It goes back to a sense of disconnection, of questioning our value as a whole. I can’t function on the macro scale. It has to be more personal for me–one to one and then perhaps build from there, but starting small is hard and makes me question, “What is the point?” Is it enough to help one person at a time? Who am I to decide whatever I might have to offer is actually useful to someone else? It’s a crisis of confidence and validation. I mostly have my shit together, but I’m extremely conscious of how little I really know and I have so many doubts and questions about my own existence, how can I possibly impose myself on others claiming I can help? What do I have to offer that isn’t already on the table a million times over? I know no one can tell me what I’m worthy of, it’s something I have to come to terms with myself, but I’m struggling.

Most of my life I have been drawn towards wanting to help/please others, particularly those in my immediate sphere, out of a desire to be liked and to foster a sense of belonging I suppose. I’m damn good at it and that still holds true, but I’ve realized over the past year that it has come at the expense of often smothering my opinion or wants to make space for others to have what they want. After 27 years of this, I’m exceptionally bad at asking for what I want or even knowing what that is. And I struggle to trust that if I have the audacity to take up space and be fully seen that the people who matter most to me will still love me. I’m rolling my eyes a little at the cliche language that seems to be defining our generation, but it holds some truth. In reality, I don’t think I want anything particularly radical. It’s mostly about making a conscious decision to have and share my preferences and opinions particularly when asked instead of shrugging and saying, “Whatever you want.” And maybe also being brave enough to voice negative emotions when people overstep my boundaries instead of letting things slide for the sake of their peace.

Gosh, what a rambling post. I think I’m glad I wrote it out. I don’t have a conclusion.

I think maybe I’m excited to see where I go from here? Maybe it’s enough to question, enough to be aware, enough to be open and engaged with life. Every day I’m learning. We’ll see what happens next.

 

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.

Ready or not, here I come

Here we are in a new year, a little sicker, a little reluctant, a little resistant.

I am a big fan of symbols. New beginnings, goal setting, big dreams…I’m typically all about it. But right now I’m a little tired, a bit worn out by nothing in particular. Unwilling to return to a predictable schedule and routine. Simply not quite ready to lean into the discomfort of becoming more of who I want to be in this new year.

2018 was mostly great, barring one large unexpected loss. I’ve accomplished more than I thought I would, but also less. I’ve cultivated deeper relationships and realized the importance, luck, and gratitude of having friends who feel more like family. I revealed new layers in myself, and shed old ones. I am both burdened and energized with questions.

I would like 2019 to be the year that sets me up for self-employment and it very well could be if I can commit to an idea of what I’d like that to be. I have been struggling lately with the rampant nature of consumerism. I’m certainly not above it. Maybe it’s because of my schooling and career, but I’m hyper aware that we’re constantly being sold to and I’m tired of it. I’m not sure I want to wade into the endless sea of voices hawking goods and services we probably don’t need, but I don’t know if there’s another way.

Mostly in this new year, I hope to write more often, more deeply and honestly in an effort to capture and make sense of my thoughts and feelings. I want to remember, with less effort, that we’re all just people trying to live life to the best of our abilities, and it is a needless waste of energy to seek approval or to impress others. I expect that I’ll continue to try things on and let go of what doesn’t fit quite right. And I’ll keep finding the good in both the dark and the light.

2019, ready or not, here I come.

The good life

Let’s talk about the magic of making small decisions that feel good. I’m having a day. A really good day. For a hundred relatively small reasons. I actually have my period, but I seem to be in reprieve from the toxic wasteland that my thoughts often turn into during this time of the month and I’m going to use this space to give way to my gratitude for the day.

A project I’d almost finished at work has evolved into something bigger. I was annoyed at first, but now I see that I’ve been given a gift to flex my creativity and I’m in love with the process of making something that is hopefully worthy of printing.

I decided not to be a total bum and offered up myself for a volunteer opportunity which I also used as an excuse to rope in some other coworkers, because yay friends.

I took Dorian, my car, in for an oil change and let them talk me into balancing and rotating my tires and new brake fluid. I had planned on saying no to any and all additional sales pitches, but he asked me about some specific car symptoms and sold me with his rationality so I feel responsible and pleased with the purchase. My car is hands down my favorite possession. It means freedom to me so it’s worth the bit of extra maintenance. On top of the new breaks I just got last week to pass inspection, in the six years I’ve had him he’s never driven smoother. We’re feelin’ fly as hell. Unstoppable. Maybe we’ll make it a couple more years.

I took 45 minutes to close my eyes and zen out because I haven’t been sleeping well. It was restorative.

Then I remembered to take out my garbage before I went to Target to get deodorant and look at skateboard helmets. No helmet yet, but I got sunscreen and a glass pitcher to make all of the sun teas and fun summery drinks and I’M SO STOKED!

I’m writing this from my floor pillows stationed next to my balcony with the door open so I can hear the birds chirping and kids screaming and cars speeding by while I eat the leftover chicken lo mein I made earlier this week and I’m so high on life. And you better believe I’ve got a mint peach blend slowly steeping out there to break in my new pitcher.

None of these things is particularly earth shattering, but it’s funny how simple and good life can be when I focus on simply making decisions that feel right. They add up.

I have pineapple and wine in my fridge and I remembered to buy chocolate earlier this week because I tend to crave it. It’s supposed to be a rainy weekend and I have plans to clean my apartment, start editing a book for someone, and meet up with some friends to exercise.

I’ve got photos from my trip to go through and I’m already dreaming of where I want to go next. Tonight I’ll spend some quality time letting my mind wander and appreciate where I’m at mentally and physically.

Life is good.

The year of the unicorn

If you’re an observer of the blogosphere, you may have noticed a few weeks ago that it was pretty trendy for bloggers to choose their word of the year, something to base their intentions on. While I don’t consider myself a blogger anymore and this space has really turned into a personal catchall where I indulge my whims or neglect it for long periods of time, I appreciate any kind of wordplay, especially if it encourages substance.

So, for me? This is the year of re-schooling which I have fondly nicknamed the year of the unicorn because it’s more fun to say and there is magic in learning, especially learning for fun and mischief.

Why re-schooling?

Because there is so much I want to learn about still! Hopefully always. I never want to lose my curiosity. I want to investigate random shit for no reason other than I’m curious about it and want to know more. I was always a good student when I was in school and I’ve always been a solid employee, but I’m finding in my adult life that I am not great at showing up for myself and committing to personal goals and ambitions because I get tired and lazy and it’s easy to push off things I want to do because I’m not being held accountable by anyone but myself. But, no more wimpy excuses! I’m hoping that by learning new things and experimenting that I will keep growing and my journey will continue to be interesting. Plus, I don’t want to be a damn cog in someone else’s machine my whole life. I’ve got big ideas and an independent heart.

So! I’m sure this will evolve, but here’s a list of things I’d like to start with:

  • the science of baking
  • new recipes (I LOVE to play with food! and I already do this weekly, but I will continue to experiment)
  • clothing deconstruction and pattern making
  • the US mail system
  • how to use more power tools
  • Thoreau’s writings
  • Da Vinci’s inventions
  • existentialism
  • transcendentalism
  • traveling solo
  • poetry/creative writing
  • photography/videography

I may chronicle at least some of my adventures here as this space is sort of my own personal time capsule–open to the public, but not actively shared. If you’re reading, you’re welcome to join the adventure.

 

I never lose. I either win or I learn.

As I close in on another birthday, I guess it’s about that time to get all reflective. It’s been a crazy fucking year. 25 was, in a word, turbulent, but the last two months have been so damn sweet. I feel like I’ve gone through my own personal renaissance.

I’ve lived in three different places this year and where I’ve landed…well, I think I’m going to be here for a while. I feel like a lot of the pieces that I’ve been waiting, hoping, wishing to fall in place finally are.

I changed jobs. I am doing exactly what I wanted to be doing and it is even better than I could have hoped. The cherry on top is the ridiculously amazing people I get to interact with everyday. How so many awesome people all ended up in one place just blows my mind, but I’m damn grateful we found each other.

I lost love, but gained some hard won clarity about who I am and what I want. I want outrageous, raw, unapologetic, real love. A partner. Someone that won’t make me doubt I’m wanted. Someone that will choose me, choose us, even when the going gets rough. Someone that believes in me and the magic of life and all it has to offer. Someone who isn’t afraid of disappointment. If I don’t find it, I’m happy on my own. I’m not in a rush and I won’t settle for less.

My small side business did better than I ever would have expected, especially with pretty extreme periods of neglect on my part. I’m not a salesperson, but I ended up with four clients that all gave me repeat business. It’s no where near a livable income, but it’s nice extra money doing work I enjoy on the side. I’m not sure how actively I’ll pursue the continuation of it, but it’s been rewarding knowing I can make money from something I created.

I didn’t end up traveling anywhere this year; landing a new job took precedence. But I’m heading to Seattle in a few weeks with my brother on a work trip and I’m thinking I might go to Utah or Ireland later this year. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve been having a blast exploring Central New York.

That quote at the top of this post? I just came across it today and it sums up my enlightenment period from this year. The last two months hit the refresh button on my life and I desperately needed it. I’m grateful for the good, the bad, and the ugly, but right now I feel like all the good things are coming my way and I’m going to soak it up.

I don’t have specific goals this go-round, but these are my intentions for the year:

  • make bold moves
  • embrace vulnerability
  • be open to opportunity
  • live on purpose
  • stay curious
  • find the wild and keep it close
  • let go of things and people who aren’t meant for me
  • enjoy the hell out of whatever brings me joy

Cheers to 26 and whatever craziness this year has in store for me. It’s going to be one for the books.

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.