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I have a temporary Tattly on my arm right now that reads, What To Focus On: HAPPY. It was the one I picked out in a pile from James’ collection. There are about 25 rings around the outside of the word happy, as if it’s a bull’s-eye marker. I wonder what the rings stood for in the designer’s mind – probably any one of the thousand other things that we can worry about any given day or moment. It really is just that simple though, to focus on what makes us feel good. Are you in a job that makes you happy, are you in a relationship that makes you happy, are you living in a city or house that makes you happy? If the answer is no to any one of those, then you haven’t been true to yourself at some point. You’ve gone off course into the realm of acceptance. There are absolutely some things that are beyond our own control, but how we feel isn’t one of them. We create our own environment, we have chosen to be where we are at this very moment. Things will become unbalanced from time to time and changes will have to be made to correct your path. I consider myself to be a fairly lucky person and my path is rarely free from obstacles. But sometimes if I just change the way I look at a problem, or slightly adjust my perspective, the obstacle shrinks. Sometimes what I perceive as an obstacle is actually helpful, but I couldn’t understand until I reached the other side. All that to say, maybe worry shouldn’t have so much power over us. Instead let’s look at the bright side, because there is usually one to be found. By focusing on the happy we are surely going in the right direction.
Negative emotions are heavy to carry around: sadness, jealousy, insecurity, hatred, anger, loneliness. Having people around you who carry those burdens are almost equally as cumbersome. It is so important that when you’ve reached a state of healthy well-being, that you take care to keep that balance in other parts of your life as well. Of course, we all go through life events and happenings that require healing and time. But there is a difference in wanting to feel better and just dwelling in misery. Surround yourself with people who have a common goal – to live the best life possible. How do you lighten your spirit? By letting go of negative emotions. I think sometimes that negativity is a form of self-protection, that you can’t be hurt if you are already prepared for it. That if you already realize the faults, then they can’t come up and surprise you later on. I know this to be true because I’ve done it myself from time to time…and I’m one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. It’s easy to take the low road and give up, as staying optimistic is an ongoing effort and takes practice. Optimism is a habit that I’m glad to have, it’s almost a default emotion for me now. James has told me many times that I say, “It’s going to be OK” repeatedly in less than desirable situations. And while it might not always be OK, at least I give it the chance to be. So a thought and lesson for myself, and maybe even you, today is this: Let go of the negativity. It doesn’t do any good. Be open to positive change. Be open to being happy!
I love the first day of school on Facebook, it is so much fun to see all the little kiddos in their outfits and the looks of anticipation. The parents always seem equally as excited as their babies, until after they see them off. Then you start to see posts about tears of realization that the years have somehow gone by way too fast. The first day of school is in fact a big life moment for both parent and child. There seems to be landmark events that bookmark our lives at different points: birth, walking, talking, first day of school, driving, graduation, college, first love, marriage, child-birth, career…then there is this big lull from like age 30-55 or 60 where there’s a definite lack of what’s perceived as noteworthy. This is the time where most people’s focus shifts to their children’s lives, then the whole cycle is repeated again. There is certainly joy in watching another human experience important events, especially when they are your own baby. But what about your own life during this time? As a woman with no children at 33, I’ve found that I have to make my own “big events” to look forward to…which is actually kind of awesome. I’ve said many times before that growing up I couldn’t really see myself past the age of 34… not that I thought I would be dead, I just didn’t know what kind of visual to assign to it. What am I doing in the future with my life? What are my long-term dreams and goals? I think having children is a wonderful, wonderful thing, and maybe one day it will happen to me. But if it doesn’t then I still want to have a bad ass life worthy of looking forward to everyday and remembering when I’m old and gray. Here are some things that I would love to do and uphold:
1. Travel as much as possible, see as many places as I can.
2. Write a book, or twenty.
3. Make a feature film, become a respected female director.
4. Treat my body well: keep it in shape, feed it good food, and love it every day.
5. Make things with my hands.
6. Love with no insecurities or agenda.
7. Laugh as often as possible.
8. Do good work.
9. Help other living beings.
10. Embrace optimism.
11. Continue making experiences a priority.
12. Appreciate everything that I have.
13. Learn from others wiser than myself.
14. Be passionate about everything.
15. Be open to change and other viewpoints.
16. Define my own life.
17. Be remembered as someone who lived as best as they could.
Sometimes rain can wash away your best laid plans… and that was the case for Vero and I this morning. We had planned on a 6 mile run that I was really looking forward to, but instead I got to stay in bed for an hour and a half longer b/c of the weather. I have to say though, that is always a nice Friday (or any day) treat to get in a few more hours of rest.
The Sidewalk Film Festival is one week away, and I couldn’t be more excited! I can’t wait to absorb in all of the films and be surrounded by artists of many kinds. The festival has an energy that I can’t describe…and the fact that it only happens once a year makes it even more special. We are so very lucky to be able to host an event recognized across the nation as one of the best film festivals. And it’s right here in our own backyard.
This weekend I get to explore Athens, GA with James, a city I’ve never been to before. That will make two visits to Athens this year – one in Greece & the one in Georgia. We will be taking the Megabus from Atlanta on Saturday morning and will return Sunday afternoon. I’ve always heard Athens, GA is a really fun college town full of art, music, great food and history. It’s only an hour and a half from Atlanta, so it will be an easy trip to and from. And maybe I will run into Michael Stipe if I’m lucky…
What is your time worth? Have you ever thought about that? Most of us only think about that concept in relation to work, but really every second has a price tag – monetary or otherwise. If you were to stand aside and look at your life as an ongoing project, would you let it be subject to negative thoughts or emotions? Would you let it watch mindless TV instead of doing something that would let it grow emotionally? Speaking only for myself, I know that I take for granted that I still have many years left, and that time is my oyster. If I don’t do it today, then I can do it tomorrow. Then I think about people who I know that are sick, who have definite limited time left here on earth, and they do not let one moment pass by without taking full advantage. They savor life and its moments like a piece of delicious chocolate. Another thing I’ve noticed about these people is that they express their love unselfishly at every possible chance. They want all of their loved ones to know how they feel, and by doing that they generate this positive energy – almost from another space and time. Like they have a secret that we don’t know. That love is the answer to everything, and truly living is the only way to move forward in this short life we have. Sometimes it’s nice to sit on the couch and have a “me” day, as the body and mind need rest. But if we find ourselves sitting there being unhappy, then we aren’t fulfilling something crucial in our destiny. What is it that you’d like to do with your time on earth? I know my answers to that question. I’ve even started to visualize myself at older ages…something I couldn’t do until recently. I see myself clearly at 35, 40, 45, 50, even 75…as a woman who means something to herself, to others and the community around her. I only want to do important work. I want to create, to write, to accomplish my goals and dreams. I also want to be surrounded by love and people who lift me up. I think the future has that in store, because it’s what I want.
One of the best parts about having a blog is coming up with the titles everyday. I wonder if I’ve duplicated any out of the 775 posts that I’ve done? It’s always the last thing I do after I write, tag and select my entry categories. I’ve had days where I just stare at the title blank with no clue as to what to write… but most of the time I can easily find it within the body text. It would be a fun project to do a post full of titles and nothing else. I wonder what all of the words streamed together would say? Probably a bunch of nothin’.
I know most of you are probably over the Olympics, and I’m pretty close to it myself. I’ve seen all sorts of commentary on it being the year of woman, not being the year of the woman, and questioning whether or not it’s ok to be pretty, muscular and/or a strong female personality. This time around there’s a strange focus on the athlete’s personal lives that I’ve never noticed before. We see a lot of the their family, back stories, and interview-type questioning. It’s almost like a reality tv show – a little scripted and maybe crossing a few lines away from the point of it all. It does give you a more intimate view of the athlete themselves, which provides a connection that might otherwise not have existed. Anyway, it’s neither right or wrong…just an observation. The one thing that I have really appreciated about these games is the fact that a strong female body is becoming widely viewed as a beautiful thing. I love that most of the female athletes have a little meat on their bones, have muscular definition and have competitive spirits. Not in the too distant past were these things viewed as masculine traits and possibly even unattractive or unfeminine. I love any human soul that has a passion to fight to their limit, whether physically or mentally. You see that quality in almost anyone who is truly successful in any area of life. On the other end of the spectrum, you see that same spirit in people who are fighting for their life…whether from cancer, danger, injury or anything else. It’s something that exists in all of us, but what does it take for it to come alive?
There is a little frog snow globe that sits on my desk at work that my friend Demet gave me for Valentine’s Day. The frog is holding a red heart with the word “Love” on it. Sometimes I stare at it when my thoughts wander away for a few minutes, or if I need to focus on an idea. I’m sure it cost less than a $1, but I have spent more time gazing upon it in the last few months than most other things in my life. Sometimes I think about how it’s made, sometimes I think about why I still even have it. I think I held on to it because it was the only Valentine’s gift I got this year. I remember seeing it for the first time and smiling at how ridiculous it was. I instantly fell in love. It came with a little card and I remember saying to my coworker that I had a Valentine after all. She brought it to my workplace which made it even more special. I have no idea why I’m telling you this today, but since I caught myself staring at it again this morning I thought the story needed to be told. Sometimes the smallest gestures can mean the most.
I think my Baby Kitty is lonely. Since Kitten died in early March, we’ve both been missing a piece of our hearts. I still think about her spirit and how she was such a wonderful pet. I hope the time is near when we can get another member to our little family and make it whole again. Just like everything else in life though, the timing needs to be right before we can cross that bridge. I am hopeful that it will be in the next few months. Whenever it is though, he/she will definitely be a rescue.
When I look at my snow globe, I just stare at the word love. I like to incorporate it into sentences that are most appropriate for my thoughts of the day. Sometimes I think of all the ways love applies to my life, from things I love to do and the people I love the most. Or just about love in general… because it’s the one word/feeling/hope that makes life worth living. Love is passion, love is fuel. Love keeps us going, whether for another person, a cause, or a dream. All we have to do is find the things that light our hearts up the most and hold on to them for as long as we can….and savor every moment we get to enjoy them.
Faaaaaaaa-riday!! Happy jig happy jig happy jig! Wiggle wiggle wiggle!
I wrote a happy list this week of things that I’d like to have happen in the near future, which were all attainable. The same day I wrote it, a coworker brought up a surprise four leaf clover to the office…. so I taped it to the back just for good measure. I’ve been reading it every day, even multiple times if I an remember. They say that is how vision boards and even self talk (whether positive or negative) works, if you see or repeat something to yourself enough times…it is more likely to come true. If you tell yourself that you are ugly or that you’ll never lose weight, it is certainly true. You could be the most beautiful person on the planet, but if you think you are unattractive, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. I love to see confident women who are outside of what we normally think of as beautiful. I find myself being attracted to their magnetism and light. You can tell when someone really likes who they are, and it makes you like them even more in return. I struggle with self-image from time to time, as we all do, and I have to remind myself often that I am perfect….because I’m me. It doesn’t matter if the scale goes up a little bit, or if my face is broken out. Each day is a gift with endless possibilities, and my body is precious because I get to use it to taste, smell, see, hear and feel. And not only that, but I get to share my days and minutes with other beings just like me. Who have the same obstacles and same joys. Together we can experience a life that we were truly meant to live, love and enjoy.
Does everything really happen for a reason? It’s hard to justify that statement to the loss of something or someone significant in your life. Maybe it is to learn a lesson greater than we can comprehend on this earth. I find myself saying that statement to others, and even to myself from time to time…. but almost always think – is that really fair? How can you tell someone who has lost a child that it was for a reason greater than their comprehension? Nobody wants to hear or even think about that in a situation of loss. It’s almost as bad as saying I was blessed that the tornado didn’t destroy my house, but it destroyed all the ones around me. Sometimes shit just happens for no reason at all…and it’s the way we handle it that makes or breaks you. Sure, there are things beyond our realm of understanding, but that doesn’t mean that everything that happens to us is fair or predetermined. Instead we should think about what we do when those unwanted things happen to us. How do we look at the situation and react to it? I think that is where the learning comes in, and the ability to eventually find peace.
While I do believe that things just randomly happen to us from time to time, I also personally believe that there is a map-like structure in each of our lives. That there are things that are meant to be, and people that we are supposed to know and love. That there are souls that match perfectly with our own. Sometimes we even experience a feeling of doing the same thing twice, and maybe that’s not by chance. There is certainly more to life than any of us can pretend to know. You can’t predict highs and lows, or what tomorrow may bring. That’s why there is beauty in all things, and in every moment.
Happy Monday! This weekend one of my favorite friends got married to an equally beautiful person. The wedding of Charles and Carrie Beth was a special one, full of love and happiness. They asked me a while back to read during the ceremony, which I gladly accepted. I didn’t really start getting nervous until Thursday or Friday, but it was more excitement than anything else. One of the readings was a Shakespeare sonnet (116), which I had to practice a lot to get right. It was very helpful to read the analysis to understand exactly what I was saying. Have you ever gotten so nervous that your knee caps start to shake? This is exactly what happened as I was reading in front of the 200+ in attendance. But from what I can tell, no one else seemed to notice, thank goodness. I tried to remember that it wasn’t about me, it was about the celebration of two dear friends coming together in love. And they couldn’t have been more happy. It’s people like them that stand as a constant reminder of what true love really is. I remember the first night that sparks started to fly between them – it was two years ago at the Artwalk after party. Charles walked up and introduced this glowing girl, and I could tell instantly that there was some magic happening. The rest is history, as they’ve been inseparable ever since. They both share a passion for adventure, food, music and travel. It is truly a match made in heaven. Congrats to you both!
Last night while trying to go to sleep, I couldn’t help but think of what a wonderful weekend it had been. Getting to spend time with James, hanging out in hammocks with Micah, and enjoying the company of friends almost every day made my heart smile. I just can’t seem to get enough of the people I love the most. Even my sister Rachel and her husband David came out on Saturday night for a few hours. They will be moving soon to Florida again, so it was nice to get to love on them a bit before their lives start to get busy with the transition.
I am in serious awe of this year so far. I would like to bottle it up and send it to myself in the future whenever I might need a smile. The note attached would read as follows: Hello from 2012! This has been one of the best years of your life. You love others equally as much as you are loved in return, and life has given you many gifts. Remember the moment when you met that special someone at Rojo? Or when you shared Gulf shrimp with a dear friend on a summer evening? Not to mention your sister’s wedding in Greece, or skinny dipping in the Cahaba River. Kisses, kitties, Atlanta, family and friends….this is the way your life should be every year. And if it isn’t, then eat a coconut popsicle and call me in the morning (after your 5 mile run with Vero, of course). This will get you heading back in the right direction.
Last night I went with my mom and dad to see my grandmother West for her 94th birthday! It seems old age can bring back a child-like quality, as you start to need help from others again and your view of life changes. I say that as if I’ve been old before… but I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to near the end of your time here on earth. My grandmother isn’t afraid of dying either, she’s had such a wonderful life full of love and adventure. Her husband Howard died when I was about 10 or so, and she’s never loved another again. She can’t wait to be reunited with him, she firmly believes that she will be with him and her sons who’ve passed away once her life is over. I believe she will as well.
My grandmother is extremely Catholic, in fact the majority of my West side is. My dad and his six brothers went to Catholic schools and were taught by nuns for their entire education. I too was brought up in the faith, going to a really small church in Warrior, Alabama (St. Henry’s) for most of my life. We were the odd ones out in high school being one of the only few Catholics in our school system. I think the only kid who had it harder was the Jewish boy. I say that with humor because looking back it is all very comical now. There were so many false ideas about what we believed since we were a minority, and for those who actually cared to listen we had to educate a great deal on our faith. For a long time I was a little bitter with the way we were treated by some, but in the end I think it was a good experience to know what it feels like to be different. I think it gave us a greater acceptance of others and the ability to deal with being unique. As for my current faith, I wouldn’t say that I have one. I do not feel like I am Catholic, though I do find comfort in a few things from the practice. Most of my immediate family still belongs to the church, which I respect. At this moment in life I just want to learn about everything, and be open to new ideas. I do the things that make me feel happy and bring me comfort. Those things usually involve being kind to others and living the best life I can.
The thing that I love most about my grandmother is her purity of spirit. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, and she is so giving at all times to anyone who needs a little extra love. She is also hysterical and is guaranteed to make you laugh at least a handful of times each visit. Even when she is feeling pretty bad, which has been the case as of late, she will always try to crack a few jokes. What’s even funnier is that her jokes are so rated G, but she manages to pull them off anyway. Most people can’t be funny without dropping a few eff bombs here and there, so it is great to see that she doesn’t need any shock value to make someone smile. She always ends each visit by saying something like this, “I pray everyday that your life is wonderful and everything you deserve. You are so beautiful.” She’s the one who is beautiful.