Category Archives: joy

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

 

 

a joyful life

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 Wow. I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. Life has been an incredible journey over the last two years. Yes, it has been TWO YEARS since I have posted!

Life is a funny thing.

 In the last two months I have come full circle to things I had left behind during the last two years. I have come back to rediscover things that bring me joy, happiness, creative energy and peace. I have taken a big leap of faith that has brought about a kind of child-like joy that can only be felt and seen, but not described in a way to do it justice.

 I AM BACK!

 I feel more alive than I have felt in several years. My heart is full, I am creating some beautiful wrinkles on my face because I am smiling and laughing more than I have in a very long time. It’s interesting how we can lose ourselves in our lives. How our jobs become our world and how we sacrifice ourselves (our health, relationships, sense of self, etc…) for a paycheck to buy things that we don’t even have time to enjoy. A joyful life is what I have always been working on. I don’t search for it, I have to create it. Sometimes the creating of a joyful life makes many of those who love me a little bit nervous, but I am scrappy. I can figure it out and make ends meet. You see…when I am truly seeking a joyful life, through hard work, kindness and being true to myself; I create a life that is authentic, fulfilling and meaningful. A life worth living.

It is funny how life decides things for you when you can’t decide them for yourself. It is the small voice I have disregarded for a long time that lead to the unimaginable roar that I could no longer ignore. (it can also come in the form of a very knowledgeable and caring doctor showing you that your life is literally killing you quickly and if you (I) don’t get off this road you’re (I’m) on, life is going to end much sooner than you (I) want it to).
 
What is amazing is that when I finally embraced what that little voice (and my doctor) was telling me,  I had a feeling of relief, wonder and excitement wash over me; all the way down to my bones.  There is no more hesitation, second guessing or fear. There are fewer self-deprecating thoughts, feelings of anxiety or concerns about the future. It’s pretty damn awesome!

I am also aware that some of these feelings will come back at some point, but I am basking in the joy that I feel today. The joy that comes from making hard decisions that lead to a better life. The joy that comes from realizing that our days with those we love are numbered, and that we have more control over how we spend those days than most of us give ourselves credit for. The joy of realizing that I am the only one with the power to make the decisions that I must make to live the best life I can. 

So, going with the theme of this blog, a new phase has started! This isn’t a small phase, such as taking on a new hobby. This is the start of a life-changing phase. So, how big is this new phase? Well…

  •  I quit my job without having another one lined up (I’m scrappy and can figure it out!)
  • I have taken a month off and not looked for a job (I started my job search after my one month of unwinding, regrouping, and relaxing! )
  • I have been swimming laps 4-5 days a week (I have finally found an exercise I LOVE to do!)
  • I have FINALLY been following the expert advice of Marlene Merritt and have been eating healthy foods, given up all fast-foods, sodas and sugar….and that make me feel AWESOME! (she has been waiting for this day to come for over 5 years!)
  • I have made time for friends, family, reading, sleeping and anything else that brings me joy 

It’s a new phase. A big, awesome, exciting, delicious new phase. 

 love,
-e 
 

"Enveloped" in Happiness

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Have you ever had an envelope bring a HUGE smile to your face?

Over the holidays I received an envelope in the mail from a long-time friend. Her creative, beautiful spirit flowed through the Christmas card that was enclosed in the envelope that had my address written in her signature handwriting. I know it may sound odd, but as long as I have known my friend Dawn, I have been obsessed with her handwriting. She tutored me in Math when I was in middle school and I remember going home after our tutoring sessions and trying copy her handwriting. It was so creative and unique…and my handwriting was atrocious…so I went home and practiced and practiced. I have never been able to write like her, but I have become obsessed with people’s handwriting ever since!

This envelope in my mailbox made me realize that there are so many small things that can bring about large amounts of happiness and joy. It is something I sometimes forget when life gets a little tough, and this sweet card was a gentle nudge to pay attention to things…because there are hidden bits of loveliness all around.

It was also a great start to an AMAZING holiday season! The envelope was a fantastic reminder to pay attention to the little things that bring joy… because the joy I feel can become contagious to those around me. I wanted to spread joy around like the flu…a good flu (if there is such a thing).

By being focused on happiness, my holiday was profoundly affected. It was a peculiar phenomenon. When you focus on joy/happiness you don’t have the time, energy or need to focus on the negative things. I was able to be more engaged in the things I was doing and I was engaged for no other reason than the fact that the activity or conversation I was involved in brought me joy. Whether it was helping out with dinner, reading my book, laughing at the most ridiculous things, or deciding that the 1/2 inch thick bolt that was stuck in the front tire only after the third hour of travel on a 13 hour road-trip…wasn’t going to ruin the fantastic vacation I was driving home from. It helped that my friend and travelling companion, Carolyn, also decided to find the humor in this otherwise complicated “challenge” we were facing…and we turned this “challenge” into a road-trip that will have memories and inside jokes to last a life-time!

The amount of joy and happiness I felt during this time was directly related to my choices. My choices about how I would “spin” something, what I focused on and how much I was willing to stop trying to control. It was awesome. I was “enveloped” in happiness.

So, as this New Year begins…..my focus will be on finding joy and happiness in the little things. Enveloping myself in the never-ending loveliness that appears each day….and taking the time to search for it on those tough days…when it takes a little more effort. It is worth putting forth the effort because when I don’t take the time to look for the good things, I am really missing out. I am so thankful for the fantastic holiday that I just wrapped up.

A holiday season that started with a sweet Christmas card from a dear friend…who has the coolest handwriting I have ever seen.

xoxo

happy new year!

e~