Excuse me, this torch is kind of heavy.

It’s strange to realize you’ve reached a point in life that used to be a distant vision. To hit an milestone or experience that you can remember imagining in earlier years as someday.

It’s natural to reflect on these moments during significant events–weddings, graduations, meaningful purchases–but there are so many other, smaller signs that are just as poignant. Things like role reversals…how we interact and advise our friends and parents, even the conversations with people who work for us. These moments create bizarre reflections on how far we’ve come and everything that’s changed over time.

I readily seek the advice of others, sometimes to a damning extent, but there are only a select few individuals who always have my ear. These are people I’m thankful for everyday because, at least in my opinion, they know everything. My encyclopedias of life advice.

This week, one of my encyclopedias came to me upset and in need of advice; suddenly roles were flipped. I was acutely aware of the irony of the situation as it occurred, and the weight of the proverbial torch being passed for a moment. It was a pretty heavy torch, but grasping onto it even momentarily was a welcome weight. Despite the negative feelings that prompted the exchange, I ultimately gained a sense of confidence in my own abilities to reciprocate advice and serve as a trusted confidante.

Until you’re forced to take on the tasks that always seemed impossible, you’ll never gain the satisfaction of knowing what you can achieve. Life pushes us out of the nest with moments like these, giving us a chance to stand, awkwardly, on our own two feet.

The art of reflection is a gift and a type of meditation. The more we learn to reflect not just on our current experiences but also how they relate to past experiences, the greater the opportunity to stay mindful of the present and confident in the future.

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You’re leaving corporate America to teach sky diving?

One of the best parts of getting older is letting go of the feelings of inferiority that sometimes plague younger years. There are lots of things I’ve always admired in other people and wished I could embrace, but it just never happened.

People who book travel plans on a whim, spontaneously move across the country or have a hidden penchant for tai chi and French cooking. Friends who take jobs with huge pay cuts to do something new, or quit awful ones without first figuring out COBRA payments.

There’s a lot to be gained through admiration of others, but in excess, comparison becomes the thief of joy. Getting older has helped me find a greater appreciation for others’ unique lifestyles, but also freed me from the jealousy I used to associate with my own lack of these things. Every year seems to bring increased comfort in my own skin and less senseless comparison.

What’s that? You’re leaving corporate America to teach sky diving? Sweet. Your passion is pretty badass, but I would lose my mind if I made that kind of choice.

The real irony is that for all the time we spend comparing ourselves to others, we neglect to realize our own awesomeness. While we’re longing to be more [fill in the blank], people around us are silently wishing for the things we take for granted about ourselves and our lives.

Truth is no one’s perfect or has it all, despite how it might seem on Facebook, which is why we gain so much from having all kinds of people in our lives.

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Change the world and have one hell of a good time.

I’ve been thinking more and more about closing up this blog for a bit. Not ending it – but going on a break.

It’s been seven years of history and thoughts here. An amazing relic to revist, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes hysterical. It’s been a good ride, but more and more of me needs to write new and more challenging things, in different ways. I’ve never made this a distinct destination, and accordingly, it’s become a blend of a journal, professional writing, miscellaneous lists, recipes and rants. Which I guess, in a way, defines a perfectly authentic diary.

I love writing more than almost anything, and not just putting thoughts into words; it’s the connections and sharing with others that really energizes me. There are times I can’t wait to write because I know how certain people will react or share in response. I’ve also met some cool strangers here. And I’m so thankful for everyone who’s supported my writing…by reading, kind words and funny comments. Every single time I get a response I’m elated, because it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

But, there’s a pressure with knowing so many of the people who read your writing. To make it good, to not be too raw, to not expose the parts of you that might makes others uncomfortable. Not out of fear of judgment; more from a place of apprehension in blending worlds. Will they still like me if they knew ____?

In a way, it’s a relief to share parts of yourself that are normally hidden–but it’s also the scariest thing ever. If I’m going off the high dive for the first time, I might want to do it alone, not in front of a crowd.

Over the past few weeks (months?) I’ve felt a greater need to write for my own sanity, to express some hard things and uncomfortable feelings, so I’ve started composing lengthy, disorganized emails to my oldest (and incredibly understanding) friend. We often remark that as two very different aspiring writers, we should just publish the notes, cards and emails we’ve been exchanging since we were 13, and then we’d have our masterpiece.

I think I’m on the verge of starting something new, and I know I’ll share it eventually.

Until I figure that out, there’s this awesome quote: “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time.  Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” -E.B. White

 

Defining Faith

I sometimes think it’s strange to see the ideas of religion and faith used interchangeably. I recognize the connections, but also see a lot of distinctions between the two ideas.

Religion is clearly defined with rules, customs and principles. Traditions guide actions, and holidays are charged with different convictions.

But faith? Faith means a lot of different things to different people. It might mean acceptance in a higher power, or hope during hard times. Faith can represent a desire for a certain outcome or simply maintaining strength amid certain obstacles.

I’ve always seen faith as the belief that no matter how bad things might get–how hard or unfathomably overwhelming–they always get better. It means hanging onto that lone sliver of confidence and optimism, even when it’s slippery as hell, because deep down a part of you knows it won’t last forever. And it never does.

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It’s complicated as hell and startlingly simple.

The thing about being sick is that you get lots of time to sit around. Lots of sitting. Lots of thinking.

Sitting still is something I’m particularly bad at, but over thinking things? I’m a pro there. Combine the two and it’s a perfect storm. So the past week has been an exercise in I don’t know what…self control? Boredom perseverance? Couch sitting? It’s been a little brutal.

I was thinking one night – in a fog of humidified medication – about the way love and relationships change over time. How we get from one point to another without ever really noticing the changes as they occur.

It started with, how am I old enough to own a house with a guest bedroom, which led into, should I really be allowed to do my own taxes, which spiraled into all sorts of thoughts on how life has come to be as it is.

Years ago, when my husband was still my boyfriend, I would have been a little mortified to be around him looking and feeling as sick and disheveled as I’ve been. I might have put on a front that I was just fine rather than letting him take care of me and witness me blowing my nose like a steam engine. My independence and self image were such important factors then, in such different ways than they are today. Growing into yourself is much like growing into a treasured piece of clothing that’s always been too big. By the time it fits properly, you know every detail of the fabric and stitching by heart and wearing it feels completely natural…but you never felt yourself changing.

The days of checklists, testing boundaries and keeping score seem so present some days and others, so far away. It’s impossible to measure love in flowers or anniversaries or who took out the trash. Everyday is different. Love is equal parts formed through good times and bad ones, and the realization that another person has chosen to give up his own life to start one with you. And you’ve relinquished a part of yourself to join him. A beginning and an end, woven together in a way that’s untraceable. It’s complicated as hell and startlingly simple.

The older I get the more I start to realize that I’ll never have it figured out. It gets a lot harder in the grown-up world, but with the challenges comes the potential for something I know is really great. Something that can envelop your thoughts on sleepless nights and be enough to make you happy when nothing else can.

I love love

One of my favorite beginnings to a song is Inches and Falling by The Format.

I love Love
I love being in love
I don’t care what it does to me.

In high school I figured love was an infatuation. Doing everything with someone, having deep, meaningful eye contact on a regular basis, and slow dancing a lot. Love in college meant a lot of new experiences managing adult feelings and youthful emotions.

I learned a lot about love from a lot of different people, but the older I get the more I understand what it really means. Not for everyone, but for me.

Yes, it’s sometimes a lot of corny things, but it’s built on the things that only matter to you. There’s no set of rights and wrongs or must haves that define love, it’s only what you make it and take from it.

In our house, love is lots of different things. It’s knowing when it’s your turn to clean up dog vomit. Having a special language of weird words, phrases and voices, just for each other. Ordering what you know I really wanted, so that I can eat half of it, because I was silly and ordered a salad.

Love is brushing your teeth in the guest bathroom to let your partner sleep. It’s tickling each other when we’re having a bad day and doing the laundry when we’d rather watch tv.

Love is support and trust, laughing, screaming and communicating. Sometimes it’s an emotional ride, other times it’s boring. And it’s all ok. I love love, I love being in love, I don’t care what it does to me.

Sporks & Hold Music

There are so many occasions when things happen at work and I just have to laugh. Mostly because of the absurdity of the circumstances, but also because if anyone had told the bright-eyed college-student version of me that these things would happen, I would’ve scoffed in disbelief.

Last week I was asked to write an email about sporks. SPORKS! Prior to that, I had to review samples of new on-hold music for our corporate switchboard. These bizarre moments are outliers–certainly not the norm–but they’re enough to keep my ego from ever losing an edge of humility.

As much as I grumble about this kind of activity when I’m in the moment, it always grows into a positive reflection. I think it’s essential that all of us get regular doses of the awareness that we’re never too good for any task, or too important to be included in different types of work. As soon as that mentality is born, it’s really easy to become an ass, and no one likes an ass.

You can’t avoid the occasional menial task, so embrace it. Recognize that there’s a value in everything, even if it’s buried, and when it’s accompanied by obligatory deep sighs and eye rolls.

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