courage over comfort: coming back home

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Growing up I felt that I was truly a rebel. I marched to the beat of my own drum and I felt that I did things by my own rules. I defied the wishes of my parents, and hung out with some kids they didn’t think were a good influence; knowing that I was changing the world by showing love to those that I didn’t feel were getting it from their own homes. I dressed however I wanted, and I drove over the speed limit. In my heart, I was truly a rebel who was also going to make the world a better place.

As I moved through my high school years and into my 20’s, I was always the child/grandchild/sister/niece/friend that everyone always wondered “what will she do next?” For other self-identifying rebels, I was about a 1.5 on a 1-10 scale of rebellion. In my family I was at least a 9.7! Everyone in my family were great at following the order of things and the rules.

You went to high school, you went to college, you got married and you had kids.

I wore my uniqueness and my desire to forge my own path as a badge of honor. I was always acting true to my spirit and to the calling of my heart; even if it made others uncomfortable. In my eyes I was living on my own terms and the rebel spirit was at the wheel! So I went to high school, went to Junior College, went to Cosmetology school, moved to New York to be a Nanny…and the journey went on for a while and was full of great adventures and countless stories I hold dear to my heart.

I was also learning that when you live this way, it can make others uncomfortable and worry about you. They will also judge you. Even if they think their judgements are for your own good, they are still judgements. I have also always been someone who does care what others think, so these judgements had a way of seeping into my subconscious thought.

Back then it was more in a way of taking in what they are saying, but still making the decision I thought was best for me; even if it went against what judgement or opinion someone had shared.

It served me quite well, and it gave me a life full of adventures, failures, sheer joy, and great challenges. You know, Living Life!

Over the next couple of decades my rebel spirit became tame. Society has a way of doing that. You’re told you need to “grow up” and do things a certain way. You need to have health insurance and a 401K or retirement plan. You need to “plant roots” and “settle down”. Slowly you start to see everyone else around you doing this. Getting the stable job with all of the trappings, starting families, buying a house and possibly a mini-van. Although some of these things appealed to me, these things didn’t seem to be showing up at my doorstep. I was getting restless for something that looked like stability, as that was what I was seeing all around me. I was open to whatever it was.

It showed up as a moment in my living room, watching Oprah. The Universe was telling me loud and clear that I needed to go back to school to become a teacher. I heeded the call and took the steps I needed to get started. Although it didn’t seem rebellious to go to college, for me it brought back those same feelings. Fear, excitement, bravery, change; and the desire to make a difference in the world.

I went back to school. I worked hard and earned 2 degrees. I started a career that met all of the criteria that had the big safety net. It has served me well, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, but as of late, some questions and curious thoughts have entered my mind. Am I truly living my life, or have I chosen to just be comfortable? Where is my rebel spirit? Where is my need to explore new places and to try new things? Have I chosen comfort over courage?

About 2 years ago I began the task of cleaning out my attic space. I ran across some old photos, notes, books, and memorabilia that transported me back to my rebel-self. This also happened during a time of great turmoil in my job and a time of deep self-reflection; as I was feeling lost, battling depression, and just feeling very disconnected with myself and the world around me. I ended up putting the items back into the attic and closing the box on those memories until I knew I was ready to dig deeper. Not into the attic [which will easily be a 3 day project when I get the courage to tackle it, again], but dig deeper into myself.

It is now over 2 years from the time I found those items in the attic. The attic is STILL not organized and I haven’t revisited those photos yet; but now I am excited to see what other treasures I have buried in there. I won’t approach the job with trepidation about what I may discover, but I am excited to relive some of the amazing things I have done in my past.

At the same time, I am finally ready, and have actually begun to find my rebellious spirit again! To be able to find it, I had to really understand what it actually was for me back then.

Upon further inspection I saw that the scope of my true rebel spirit didn’t meet the Merriam-Webster definition. It was more subtle than that. Much more subtle. I didn’t skip school or party. I didn’t sneak out of the house or steal. I actually followed most of the rules, had a high respect for authority and the great desire to not disappoint anyone. But what I felt was the SPIRIT of rebellion. I was the only person in my family who didn’t fit the “mold”. I didn’t follow the same path or the beaten path. My path was forged by me and me alone.

I could see that I felt I could do anything and I KNEW I was brave enough to do it.

I took risks, but didn’t seek out danger.

It was a force within me that only allowed ME to define myself. I was strong, brave, bold, and I knew that life was for living and I was going to squeeze everything out of it that it was offering up to me…even if it made those around me a little uncomfortable.

That was my definition of my rebel spirit.

Now at 46 years old, I see that being a rebel only takes BELIEVING that you are one! It’s being BOLD and BRAVE. Faking it until you make it. Saying it out loud in the mirror to yourself. Saying it over and over again in your head as you’re walking down the hall at work.

Saying it until you BELIEVE it!

Because in the not too distant future, it will become your truth; as it is becoming mine again. The rebel spirit can return. Your bold, brave spirit will emerge from its long hibernation, ready to stretch its legs…and kick some ass!

Rebellion may be loud and messy, but it can also be soft and subtle. Your bold, brave self is defined by YOU. It is defined by choosing Courage over Comfort. Thank you Brené Brown for your quote “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both”.

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I have chosen courage over comfort recently, and it is serving me well. It doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. That is where the learning takes place. That is where the rebel spirit resides.

When rediscovering your rebellious, bold, brave self,  it also requires having grace with yourself.  It looks different on all of us and it manifests itself differently based on a myriad of things. It may be that soft, quiet voice or it may roar like a lion. It’s unapologetically yours and can look however you choose.

I invite you to explore your own rebellious spirit. To answer the call of your heart and to see where it takes you. It will be a grand adventure, and I know it will be well worth it.

Allow it to be what it organically is….YOU. POWERFUL. REBELLIOUS. BOLD. BRAVE.

YOU.

 

~e

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i will do it now

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I will not wait until I am thinner, richer, have my closets cleaned out or my drawers organized.

I will do it now.

I will not wait for this weekend, or Monday or March or 2016.

I will do it now.

I will not wait for the weather to cool off or warm up, for the stars to align, or the seasons to change.

I will do it now.

Whatever it is that I have put off for the “right time”.

I will do it now.

I have figured out that waiting for this to happen or be completed before I move forward on what I need to do to live a better life, is just procrastination based on fear. It means I am hedging my bets on my life. I have created truly non-existent barriers, huge walls to climb before I get to the “good stuff”.  It means that I have created an excuse long before attempting whatever it is I want to do… because of fear of failure. Today the walls come down, I lay my chips on the table and the excuses and fear stops.

It stops now.

I will no longer waste valuable time.

What starts now are all the things I’ve postponed.

Life it way too short.

It really is.

It’s time to start living.

I will do it now.

~e

my wish for growing old

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I want to grow old gracefully. I want my face to have lines and wrinkles that tell a story of a life well lived. I want my eyes to show that I have asked questions and sought out answers. That I felt joy and pain. That I made mistakes along the way but didn’t let those mistakes keep me from continuing the journey. There will be a sparkle of wisdom that glimmers in my eyes to signal that I have lived life with a curious spirit.

I want to feel comfortable in my wrinkly skin; feeling beautiful because of the stories the lines and wrinkles tell. I will dress in colorful frocks and wear interesting jewelry that I have collected during my travels. I will change my haircut and color depending on my mood. I will have developed a deep sense of my personal style and will not let others dictate what I wear.

I want to have colorful stories to tell of adventures I took and things I experienced. Adventures full of family, friends, lovers, and strangers. I want others to be able to read on my face that I have lived a life that was full of joy and hope, love and loss.

A life well lived.

I want my laugh lines to be deep and to continue to grow deeper because my days are speckled with laughter that leads to tears of pure joy.  The best kind of laughter.

I know there will be days of pain, sorrow and loneliness, but I want to be able to gather the wisdom and strength of my years and navigate these days with grace. To come out the other side with the lesson I was meant to learn.

I want my eyes to sparkle with the same curious spirit that was the driving force in my younger days.

My possessions will be few when I am old because I will have learned along the way that too many possessions  have possessed me before.  I will have sold, donated or discarded many of my possessions, paid off all debt,  and spent my money on experiences and travel that fill my heart and life with intangible gifts.

I will have life-long friends whom I speak of with a love as deep as I have for my family; because I will have learned that these people are just as much part of my family as those related to me by blood. I will meet friends and family regularly for long dinners or afternoons chatting over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

I will have become a great listener. I’ll have learned that being a great listener is much more valuable than being someone who always has something to say. I will have learned to listen with compassion and not always try to fix the problem that might have been shared. I will absorb the stories shared with me and will celebrate the celebrations and be a soft place to land when life seems unfair. I will not preach or try to fix. I will be there to love and comfort and listen.

I will remember stories of days long gone that live fresh in my memory. These memories will live right next to the new ones that I will be creating each day. My age will not mean the end of adventures or make me shy away from learning new things. It will be quite the opposite. I will have realized the true gift of being able to get up for another day on the Earth. I may not be as quick on my feet and I might have more aches and pains, but I will know that I am lucky to be alive and will live with that in mind each and every day.

I will be someone, who regardless of the number of candles on my birthday cake, will approach each day with the curiosity of a child. Allowing the excitement of learning something new or turning a stranger into a friend to pump through my veins and remind me of the gift of another day.

I will continue to be a person who finds solace in being alone sometimes. I will still know that having time alone does not equate to loneliness.

I will be a voracious reader and will write letters to those I love on a regular basis. I will not clutter my mind with things on TV, but will fill my soul with books, music, and the love of family and friends.

I will be old and wrinkled with a head full of stories and experiences, and a heart full of joy.

When I am old and I look back on the life I lived I will not give much time to “what ifs”. I won’t reminisce about things I hoped would happen that didn’t, or spend time on “the hand that I was dealt” during the difficult times in my life. I will just be thankful I was invited to the table to play.

I will know with a full heart that I had a lion’s share of great things happen for me and I will be grateful.

 

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I am a work in progress to become the old woman I wish to be. Here are some things I need to remember now so that my wish for my old future self will happen.

Remember:

  • Faces are meant to move and bodies are meant to age and wrinkle. No matter what the media says otherwise.
  • Possessions can posses you. Only have what you truly need, the rest just bogs you down. So does debt. Do what you have to do to get rid of your debt. Sell the things you don’t need and give away the rest. Spend money on things like a good mattress, good food and travel. Get rid of things that don’t serve a true purpose in your life.
  • Listen. Don’t always talk. Don’t always try to solve what is shared with you.
  • Don’t gossip. It’s not attractive or productive. It’s also a sign of insecurity, so if you catch yourself gossiping stop to see why you feel the need to do so.
  • Be a good friend. Be honest, even when it is difficult. Be there for friends when they need you and when they don’t.
  • Allow others to be a good friend to you. Reach out when you need to. Real friends will be there for you no matter what.
  • Meditate. It’s hard, but it really does change your perspective.
  • Don’t stay in a job that makes you miserable. It’s just not worth it.
  • Travel. Travel alone sometimes as well as with others. Go off the beaten path. Explore.
  • Help other without judgment.
  • Be comfortable with silence.
  • Make time for the little things, they usually mean the most.
  • Love deeply and honestly.
  •  Be grateful and express your gratitude.
  • And most important….don’t wait. start now.

 

I am looking forward to becoming my old self, wrinkles and all.

 

love,

~e

 

 

jesus lives in ohio

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Earlier this week my phone rang mid-day. It was a call from my Dad. Now, it’s important to understand that my Dad isn’t really much of a phone-talker. He will chat for a minute or two if I’m calling, but calls from Dad have generally been reserved for bad news. Mom calls to chat and catch-up and Dad calls to let you know that the cat has died. It’s just how it has worked for us.

So the phone ringing mid-day with Dad’s picture coming up on the screen brought a whirlwind of thoughts about what tragedy had befallen the family. I answer the phone with dreaded anticipation.

me: Hello…

dad: Have you talked to your sister today?

me: (heart racing) No…which sister? What’s going on??

dad: Your older sister

[At this point I am about to throw up in my mouth. I think to myself: What has happened? Stop delaying this! PLEASE TELL ME NOW!! I CAN TAKE IT! I CAN HANDLE IT! JUST TELL ME!!]

dad: (with a slight chuckle) So, today your niece went to Vacation Bible School, and they were talking about that Jesus lives in your heart.

me: Um…Ok….

(at this point my blood pressure is heading back into the safe zone since it seems that everyone has survived whatever it is he needs to tell me)

dad: So when she got home, her Mom asked her what she learned today at VBS

(dad begins laughing and it is actually a bit hard to understand what he is saying)

me: Um…OK….

dad: Well, she told you sister  that she learned that “Jesus lives in OHIO!”

(dad is still laughing and has to pause to regain his composure)

dad: I guess she misunderstood them when they told her Jesus lives in your heart and she thought they said he lives in Ohio!

  (dad is officially cracking up at this point…and so am I)

I can only image my sweet niece sitting there wondering why does Jesus live in Ohio? Oh, well…if that’s where he wants to live, then more power to him!

The pure laughter and joy that was brought about by that phone conversation may not translate well in this post, but that’s OK. This was just one of those times in life where the innocence of children, the joy of laughing, and the importance of family was so pure and awesome, that I wanted to share it.

So remember as you go about on you Sunday, that wherever you are….Jesus lives in Ohio.

~e

cat people, unite!

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Cat people UNITE! It is time for all the cat-loving single women to no longer be referred to as “crazy cat ladies”. It seems that anyone with more than one or two cats is left to live with the Scarlet C for the rest of their lives. Although I am only a 2 cat household, I have been warned of the peril that will befall me if I choose to add to my cat family.

Living in awesome Austin, Texas it doesn’t take long to realize that this is a dog’s town. You can take your dog to the numerous parks in the city, you can take them to many restaurants and there are even bars that are dog friendly.

Now, don’t get me wrong.I am not anti-dog. Not even a bit! I grew up with dogs and am a wonderful dog “aunt” to one of my best friend’s dog. Who, I have to say is the most bad-ass dog around!  Exhibit A:IMG_1289

I also think it would be quite interesting frightening to see cats at a restaurant or in a bar. Jumping on the tables and knocking over your drinks, trying to claw up your leg to lazily sprawl out on top of the hanging rack of stem ware while giving you dirty looks for bringing them to this abysmal place.  I know cat’s aren’t meant to be taken anywhere. It’s enough to get them to the vet (which requires ninja like skills to get them into the carrier, followed by the sounds of 10,000 dying angels all the way to the vet’s office).

I’m just asking for you to consider, that labeling people who have a few cats as crazy, might not be a fair conclusion. I think it is more appropriate to just name them what they are. Cat people. Or people who have cats as pets. See, that was easy!

I mean, look at that face in the picture at the top of this post! How could you pass up that cuteness? Well… I didn’t pass up that cuteness. And there were 2 of them, brothers. So I HAD to adopt both of them!  Although Henry (the cuteness above) is now a full-grown 11lb man-cat. Here he is with his precious brother, Huck, now a 12lb man cat).

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and here is one more:

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Can you IMAGINE having to break up these two brothers just to avoid the possible life-long stigma of being called a “crazy cat lady”?  If you have even an inkling of a soul, I am thinking the answer is “NO WAY!” Here is what would be missing in my life if I only had one cat:

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 Um…..

O.K…..

I see your point.

I may have become a crazy cat lady.

Never mind.

~e

plus size…like it’s a bonus.

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Being fat has its challenges. I am working on becoming healthier, which I know will lead to me being less fat. I have been fat for most of my life and all of my adult life. I have been various “levels” of fat, but I have embraced that I have total control over it and that it is going to take time to get healthy and lose some weight.

My beef (no pun intended) isn’t about me being fat. That’s my problem and I’m working on it. What I still do not understand is why are all clothes for fat/big people given such absurd names?!? I will share with you the names and why I find them absurd. Here’s my list:

  1. Plus Size– It is a bonus? Plus what? Yes, it is a larger size but an 8 is bigger than a 6, so shouldn’t an 8 be a 6+2? I do not understand.
  2. Full Figured-O.K., yes, my figure is full. But the figure of a skinny person is not empty. Their figures are full too, just not as full.
  3. Women’s Sizes– I know for a fact that I was fat a long time before I was a “woman”. Plus, my Mom is a woman and if she shopped in the “women’s” department she would look like she was wearing a tent.
  4. Sized for “Real” Women– So does that mean my sisters, who probably wear a size 6 or 8, are not real? I mean I was just visiting with both of them this past weekend and I’m pretty sure they are real.

I know that clothes that fit me are outside the sizes that all the designers design for. I know that they label these sizes with names so that those of us who need to find them in the store can find them with some ease [even though we are usually sequestered to the 3rd floor in the far back corner of the big department stores…usually behind the luggage and/or home appliances].

I am not a “fat acceptance” advocate, I am an all people advocate. Regardless of your size, weight, wine preference, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, left or right-handedness, etc. I think you should not be labeled and sent off to a special department because of this.

I think that is time that these “specialty” departments become a thing of the past.

I am a realist in the understanding that not all clothes should be made for all sizes. You will never see me cramming my big old ass into a pair of skinny jeans. More power to anyone who wants to, it’s just not my thing. I know that many designers find fat people repulsive. That is their loss. We have money to spend too, so if you don’t want us in your clothes we will spend our money elsewhere. But that really isn’t my point.

Really, what I’m trying to say is that we all need to be able to shop in the same stores on the same department store floor with each other, regardless of the size jeans we need. A first step would be to move these bigger sizes to a space on the same floor as all the other women’s clothes. We, as women, have enough to deal with… as we are inundated with airbrushed perfection at every turn. The least we could do is be OK shopping with each other, regardless of our jean size.

It’s got to start somewhere.

Why not here?

Just a thought.

~e

 

 

is rigor mortis possible when you’re still alive and can it be caused by swimming in a neti pot?

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I think my muscles have pulled away from my bones, my joints have locked, and I don’t think my neck will turn from side to side without some WD-40. I am making a huge assumption that this is what rigor mortis would feel like.  What’s weird is that I’m actually enjoying this feeling!

You see, when your body aches with soreness from spending the day throwing your two nieces in the air, catching them as they belly flop into the pool and having winning a diving contest with your two nephews; this is a ache worth having. My face hurts too, from smiling and laughing so much. I got the best core workout from trying to balance on a “pool skateboard” and from laughing until my sides felt like they would split.

Yesterday was filled with family fun and my body is reminding me of this today. Moving my fingers to type this is about the only movement my body is making that looks natural. Walking, sitting, reaching for my coffee cup out of the cabinet; are all met with winces and cracking sounds followed by a sigh and a smile as the memories of yesterday flood my brain.

My sinuses are also clear today! We swam in a salt-water pool, which is basically like swimming in a Neti pot; a really awesome Neti pot! If you have never had the opportunity to swim in a salt water pool, I highly recommend it.  It’s like swimming in an ocean, minus all of the mysterious things at the bottom.

Yesterday was just one of those days that makes me realize, again, that the littlest things can be the most important things. One of the reminders that I am doing what I am meant to do.

I am

just.being.me.

I wish you a day of just being you. A really awesome day.

~e