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My friend Debbie always tells the best stories from her past. When I read her blog posts, I notice how different our styles are. She uses memories to tie in current happenings and feelings. I really like that about her. Her recall is pretty accurate and she can paint a crystal clear visual of past events. I have a hard time remembering 10 minutes ago sometimes, especially spoken words and dialog. I find that I am more inclined to write about things yet to happen and how those motivations impact my life now. Maybe I should take a moment to remember things from time to time and document them in my blog. I will give it a shot today, but first, a quick observation.
Speaking of the past, do you ever look at old photos of yourself wishing that you had fully realized how wonderful you were at the time? That happens to me often. Even looking at pictures from just a year ago I can recall not being able to fully see myself and my surroundings/circumstances. Even though I can’t always remember specific words and conversations, I can always remember how I felt. Looking at old pictures makes me want to reach through time and yell, “Hey, YOU! Jen West! You are awesome. You look really cute. Here is a high-five from the future!”. Which then always inevitably makes me think.. oh gosh, have I lost that time? It’s another year past, what have I missed out on from not being fully self-aware? But… that is exactly the problem. I should never think that, or ask those questions. Thinking that now only puts me back in the same trap, the same loop of thinking. Then once again, a year from now, I will recall feeling regretful. I do not want that to be the case – ever again. The feeling of regret is probably the worst thing you could wish upon yourself. Because regret means that you lost a chance, that you can’t get that opportunity back. Regret sucks, and I want nothing to do with it.
Now for story time! When I was 16 I really really wanted to have a job, so I started working at the Captain D’s in Gardendale, about 15 minutes from my then-home. I would reek of fish and cleaning projects after my shifts, and my mom started washing my work clothes in separate loads from everyone else. I’m pretty sure no one enjoyed anything about my first career choice, except for me. I loved having my own money and being “independent”. Hahaha. One time I even caught a rat under a to-go cup and got a round of applause from my coworkers. Despite all those unique highlights, my favorite memory is my family coming to visit me every Sunday. They would wait until the end of my shift, and we would all have dinner together in the restaurant. I think Captain D’s offered some sort of special Sunday discount, and if I ordered the food myself we got an even better deal. It was really sweet. I only made it there about 9 months before throwing in the towel, but I will never forget my entire family sharing hush puppies and fried fish while I told them stories about angry drive-thru customers after church let out. I’m not exactly sure how this story ties in with anything about my blog post today, but it’s entertaining none-the-less.
Last night I had my monthly Drinks with Debbie, and it never fails to be so rewarding for my soul. I love hearing her stories… they cross a wide gamut of feelings and topics. She makes me laugh, think and smile. There is always so much to catch up on, even if it’s only been a month since our last date. After we wrapped up, she invited me over to her house to meet her two new kittens – Rojo and J Clyde (after two popular restaurants/bars in B’ham). They are about 7 weeks old and completely adorable. We talked for a little bit longer on her porch as the sun set over Birmingham, as she’s got one of the best views in the city. The perfect ending to a great evening with a dear friend. If you haven’t already, you should check out her blog here. I hope that she considers writing a book or play one day…as she has such an interesting and humorous perspective on life in general.
I was talking with someone recently about the pressure to “do”, and how what we’ve done or plan to do somehow defines who we are. While I think that accomplishments can certainly provide a snapshot of a life, there is just so much more to us than that. I know I have a lot of self-applied pressure to do what I consider to be big things – like write a book, make films and complete crazy physical challenges. I wonder sometimes though why I feel like I have to accomplish these things, and would my life be any less enjoyable if I didn’t? Actually… I think so, and it’s because I really want to do them. The real issue here is that maybe we don’t put enough emphasis on doing nothing at all. Why isn’t relaxing a priority? When you write a goal list, or see someone else’s, why isn’t exploring or having adventures usually included? Recently I did write a list that included things that were fun, and as I read it to myself in the mornings my heart gets the most excited when it comes to those items. I think that goals shouldn’t always be a challenge or super hard to attain. Maybe, instead, they should allow you to just be yourself.
Last night was my monthly “drinks with Debbie”, and we couldn’t have had a better time. It makes me so happy to see her happy, and she was beaming from the inside out. We have an interesting relationship, as we don’t really hang out outside of our dates, and we don’t share many close friends. This actually makes us feel more comfortable to share personal information, and makes our time together very special since it doesn’t happen very often. She has several wonderful things going on for her right now, and they are all greatly deserved. I see so many good things coming for her in the near future too, which makes me want to do a little happy dance. I think I will do one now! If you’ve never checked out her blog, you should do it now. We’ve been doing our monthly dates for a little over a year now, so that’s something to celebrate.
Today is the last day of spring! Seems like summer already, doesn’t it? I am looking forward to many days poolside or beachside with my SPF 1,000,000 and a cold drink in hand. I also love running in the heat, which I think I’ve mentioned before. I’m always really careful about hydrating before and after a hot run…as I know it is tough on the body. I feel like I’m a little behind the pack these days, as Vero & Brandi have become superstar runners. I have been there before as well, and I know that I can return to that state of fitness when I am ready to mentally go there. But it’s been nice for a change to run just because I want to, and to relax a little bit when it comes to my fitness goals. I do get the itch when I hear about someone’s amazing 7 mile run and how much faster they are getting, but I also enjoy going at my own pace right now. Luckily, Vero doesn’t mind going my speed when we do our runs together, as she really appreciates the social side of it. I am very thankful for that! What I do need is new running shoes, as the ones I’ve got now are about to bite the dust. And that’s not good at all for your joints….so hopefully this weekend I can make that happen.
What I put in my body makes such a big difference in how I feel. Eating too much can make you feel heavy and bloated, while not eating enough can make you feel a little cranky and irritable. There are only a few people who I know of in this world that don’t have to watch their diets at all…. and even they aren’t 100% carefree. Athletes have to eat more than the normal person to keep their weight up. Overweight folks have to eat less in order to shed the pounds. Even people who are at their desired weight have to periodically keep an eye on the scale in order for it not to move in one direction or another. Even the luckiest of us still have to deal with age at some point, which inevitably brings new body challenges. I think this is important to remember when you feel like you are alone in your weight struggles, because you certainly aren’t. We all have to find the right balance for our individual lives, and the correct perspective for our own happiness. Food is a significant part of life, we should be able to enjoy it while also keeping our bodies healthy. It is supposed to taste good and make us feel alive. As I’ve gotten older I have a greater appreciation for vegetarian and vegan cuisine, while not necessarily always eating that way. By learning how to live off of fresh ingredients from the earth you become a more creative chef overall. You can make a deliciously satisfying meal without even touching a meat product. It is a little harder for me to go without dairy, not gonna lie, but that is also possible. Food is an adventure, and our bodies are a reflection of the journey.
This morning as I was leaving my house to run with Vero, I noticed a happy little songbird perched up on one of the power lines above my front door. I decided to quickly take a photo of him before he flew away, but he seemed undisturbed by my presence. I snuck up closer and closer, and he continued to sing without a care in the world. It’s little throat was going in and out rapidly making a beautiful song filling up the quiet morning air. He kept checking me out from time to time to make sure I wasn’t doing anything too suspicious by tilting it’s head to the side. It was still singing as I drove off. I was three minutes late getting to Vero’s because of this.
Last night I had my monthly date with Debbie at the J Clyde. It had been close to six weeks since the last time we met, so we had a lot to catch up on. While she was talking to me last night I started thinking about the evolution of our friendship and the nature of the meet-ups that we’ve had in the last year or so. Our conversations are usually pretty epic since we touch base on all aspects of life. I confide some of my deepest secrets to her because I know she will not judge me, and I know that it won’t leave that table. I think that she feels the same way. Last night I noticed an amazing change in her… there was something, different. Not that she isn’t normally happy, but there was a glow about her that just made me smile. There was peace coming from her face, and it was contagious. I think it is incredibly inspiring to watch someone’s life unfold, especially when they deserve the world. Debbie definitely has some good karma coming her way that I think is only just beginning.
I have some pretty amazing people surrounding me right now on all fronts. I wonder if it is a reflection of the energy that I give off in return? I hope so. When I start to think about each one individually, it starts to overwhelm me a little bit. Because there are so many. All with a different purpose or importance. Tonight I get to see my dear friend Micah, who I’ve known now for almost 5 years. We met back when I used to work at McWane Science Center. I’m not really sure how or why we hit it off, but it was pretty instant. When I think about her, the word constant comes to mind. She is someone that I will know forever, no doubt. Even if we don’t speak for months, we can pick up right where we left off. I am so grateful for her and all of my other life companions.
Last night I had my monthly date with my dear friend Debbie at the J Clyde. If possible, we always try to get the table in the bay window overlooking Cobb Lane. Since we usually meet at 5:15 on the dot, the last of the evening light streams through and lights up our happy hour conversations. They always have great music playing in the background too. My Morning Jacket seemed to be the band of choice for last night’s playlist. I’m never going to complain about that.
Since Debbie and I meet once a month, never more or less, we seem to have the exact right amount of information to catch each other up on over the last 30 days or so. We talk about our personal lives, our professional lives and our passions. Future game is also always included. :D I brought up the topic of contentment last night as it has been on my mind for the last few weeks. I asked Debbie how important it was to her, and if she’s ever had it. Her answer was very enlightening. She said that she felt like most creative people are never content, that it’s in fact that state of mind that drives creativity. Debbie said that she was about to turn 60 in 3 weeks, and there are still so many things that she wants to do. Then she said this – “Content doesn’t sound good to me, but I am tired of feeling anxious. I just want to feel like I am on the right path.” That was so validating for me to hear, as I relate 100%. I think we all need the piece of mind that we are going the right direction…but the hunger of wanting more is what gets us places in life. There is nothing fun about feeling anxious, which unfortunately is a common ground for a lot of ambitious people. So, I wonder if there is a way to turn that negative feeling into something positive? I guess you can find peace in knowing that you are always moving forward, and while you can try to pick the path, you never really know where it’s going to take you. We are all blindly navigating for the most part, but our internal compass is always better than we think it is.