A Tangled Path to Acceptance

Let me ask you this on this Friday morning: how often have you looked back on your life, no matter how positive or not so positive it has been and regretted a choice, thought, or decision you’ve made? To that end, how many times have you thought, if only? If only I had made a different decision or choice – if only I had taken a chance, or maybe, if only I hadn’t taken that chance? It is often easier and even, sadly, a widely-accepted social norm to berate or chastise oneself for the decisions one made or didn’t make.

Instead of focusing on the reasons WHY we made that particular decision or choice, we focus on where it has lead us to, what we have lost, or the ramifications of it. Instead of focusing on what actually drove these past choices, we may ruminate, analyze, or play out scenarios in our head of what our lives might have been like if we’d made different choices or taken different paths. Often times, this only leads us to sadness or regret and as a result, we spend much of our time dwelling in the past, envisioning a life we don’t have instead of relishing in what we DO have and the time we have been given to live it.

On the flip side, there can in fact be positives to reflecting on the past. It can keep us from making future poor decisions or provide us with insight into difficult choices, decisions and other situations within our lives. Self-acceptance has often been something I’ve struggled with in particular through the years and acknowledging where I am at the present time. Being kinder to myself is something I hope and wish to employ at I begin my 28th year on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Begin Again quote

As I said last year on my 27th birthday, for those of you who may recall, birthdays for me are often a chance to set a new goal, a new dream, or maybe the decision to choose to pursue a goal I neglected, but always harbored within me. With that being said, my goal for my 28th year, is to acknowledge I may not have or be living the life I believed I would, but then again, when I envisioned my life, I was a very young, impressionable adolescent or child, unaware of what life could bring or what I could encounter. I didn’t realize that the plans we make for ourselves can and will change as we grow and develop as a person and see more of what life has to offer. Some of these changes will be positive, some of them will be negative, but just because the path I thought I would take is vastly different, does not mean it is the one I will always lead. To get what we aspire to have out of life, we have to start somewhere. This year will be the year I decide to acknowledge what I’ve lost and the choices I made, but instead of ruminating and wallowing in self-pity, will choose to start again and adjust my sails.

After all, there truly is no time limit on when we can achieve our dreams or set new goals; why not start now?

Starting Over quote

Advertisements

Notable Reflections

Perhaps it is because it’s what I’ve been subconsciously searching for, or maybe it is simply a coincidence, but recently I’ve noticed numerous articles, quotes and pieces of advice centered around the concept of fear. Fear is something I’ve battled throughout my life on many occasions and it is only when I make a choice to act in spite of it, I feel a surge of confidence and comfort. Shying away because of the fear we harbor within us is one of the easiest ways to feel overwhelmed and ultimately, trapped. Acting and making choices in spite of fear is not an easy feat by any means, or at least to me it isn’t, but when I summon bravery and courage, most of the time, I end up feeling at piece with my decision.

Courage quote 2

Sometimes, the occasions when I’ve experienced fear were simpler and less significant than others. For instance, when I was about 17, my sister and I traveled to Disney World for a quick spring break vacation. I was excited and eager to ride an upside-down roller coaster for the first time. Though I’d been to countless amusement parks in the past with numerous opportunities to ride upside-down roller coasters with friends, I’d always opted out and chose to wait on the sidelines as my friends squealed with excitement over the largest, complex roller coasters around. In some instances, I was frustrated with myself and my fear of riding the roller coaster, or rather, by my decision to not experience it at least once. My fear and worry continued to get in the way, leaving me curious to what it might feel like to be upside down. On that particular trip to Disney World, I made the decision to ride the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, one of Disney World’s only upside-down roller coasters, in spite of the fear I still harbored within me. When the moment of truth arrived, I stood at the foot of the coaster, with the ride employees urging me, “You need to make a decision now.” My fear was piquing at that moment, but when a ride employee volunteered to ride along with me and talk me through the ride, I took a chance. Some of the ride is blurry to me now, since it has been 10 years since that moment, but what stands out to me, is my courage and ability to ride that coaster in spite of the fear still pulsating through me. Though it might sound so simple to some, for me, it was a feat proving I could still make choices and take action in spite of fear. Fear does not have to completely dissolve within us in order to make a choice or take action.

Courage 3

In hindsight, what I’m attempting to say is that I’ve missed out on many opportunities, chances, friendships and relationships because of fear. As I grow older and I reflect on these instances within my life that stand out to me, I realize how fear is something we can control. Sometimes, it feels as though fear may control us, but we are the ones creating that fear and are in the driver seat of that fear; we determine the direction the fear charges towards. Perhaps my perspective is flawed, but it is what I feel most resonates with me and my particular experiences.

Life Quote

That being said, here are some quotes I recently stumbled across that I hope will bring you some perspective and comfort this rainy Tuesday (if it is rainy where you are today; here in Pennsylvania, it is a rainy, chilly day!):

“I could conquer the world with just one hand… as long as you were holding the other.”

“Sometimes we don’t notice the things others do for us until they stop doing them.”

“If you live in fear of the future because of what happened in your past, you’ll end up losing what you have in the present.”

“Fear is not your enemy, it is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow.”

 

 

 

Fall Through the Lens

Good Morning! It’s not often I post photos I’ve personally taken, but I felt that today was as good a day as any to provide a quick glimpse into my iPhone camera album! Some of the photos I’ve taken are unique in my opinion and unlike anything I’ve taken before and though they may be simple, I thought I’d share them. Before I share these photos, I’d like to share a quote I stumbled across this morning, which was said by one of my favorite authors/poets, the late Maya Angelou:

“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility.”

In reading this quote, I thought, what an appropriate sentiment for a day like today, a day in which people are constantly faced with judgment and criticism, a world where so many people each day ruminate in the past, wishing they’d made different choices. Why not make a different choice today? A choice to see the past differently and offer acceptance/forgiveness to ourselves, what we have been through and encountered.

Today, I’m making a choice to share the photos I’ve taken myself. They aren’t professional, they aren’t monumental by any means, but they are a snapshot into my life and in simple terms, the “Fall season through the lens.”

An apple tree from a local orchards from last month.

An apple tree from a local orchard from last month.

A closer image of the apple tree.

A closer image of the apple tree.

Another angle of the apple tree.

Another angle of the apple tree

A horse at a local farm store I recently visited.

A horse at a local farm store I recently visited.

Horse 2

Horse 3

Horse 4

My first Starbucks holiday cup of the season.

My first Starbucks holiday cup of the season.

Just say YES!

Yes. Whether you say it as oui, si, or in any other language of your choice, it is a word that often comes with an impact, whether monumental, or minuscule. Some of us, (myself, included) will often say yes to things I’d like to say no to. Sometimes, I say it out of guilt, fear, laziness, or worry. Other times, I say it because I feel if I do it, perhaps I’ll come to enjoy it. Then there are many other times, both past and present, where I wish I HAD said yes, but instead said no and shied away from opportunity, chances and experiences. It’s sometimes difficult to make the decision to say either yes or no and after making a final decision, having to deal with the repercussions of it, if they happen to be negative.

Yes photo

That being said, yesterday while perusing some of my favorite social media pages, I stumbled across an article posted by a coupon service I often frequent – RedPlum. It was an article written by Jennifer Frye and appeared on their October 7, 2015 blog post. If you’d like to view the actual post I’m referencing, here is the link to browse at your convenience: http://www.redplum.com/blog/151007/6-things-you-should-consider-saying-yes-to

Decisions Quote 2

In the post, the author highlighted 6 things we should consider saying yes to. The article left me reflecting and considering what I have in fact said yes to through the years. Here is what the author feels we should say yes to and my perspective on it:

  1. Making time for you. Your physical health and overall well-being are a priority. Do take the time to relax, exercise, read a book, take a bubble bath, or do anything that makes you happy.

My Take on it: I think this is of the utmost importance and completely agree with the author’s suggestion. Often times, when I find myself overly-stressed or worried, taking time to relax, through reading a book, listening to music and belting out my favorite tunes, or indulging in a favorite movie, like “Serendipity,” leaves me feeling rejuvenated and puts things into perspective for me.

      2. Go out on the town.  Visit a new museum or restaurant downtown. Catch a movie, grab drinks with your friends, have fun outside of the home.

My Take on it: This is a fun idea to indulge in and think about. Sometimes, it’s simply running to the nearest Starbucks, taking time to sit and savor a favorite beverage, taking in the scenery and relishing in the moment. Other times, it could be going apple picking (as I did this past week!) and spending time in nature, enjoying the weather, Fall foliage and landscapes

      3. Take a random trip somewhere. If the opportunity to travel presents itself, just go. Whether it is to Japan, South Africa, or Paris remember to see the world.

My Take on it: Oh, how I absolutely love this idea! I’m a traveler at heart, but I don’t get to travel nearly as often as I’d love to. The idea of one day visiting Paris and enjoying the Eiffel Tower, practicing my French language skills and indulging in the French cuisine are all travel plans I aspire to someday fulfill! Though, even the smaller trips, such as a couple years ago, when my sister and I visited Delaware for a brewery tour and some outlet shopping, can make the all the difference and is still an experience in itself.

      4. Make a new friend. You never know where introducing yourself to a co-worker, classmate, or a neighbor can lead, possibly to a new friendship. Take the time to meet new people.

My Take on it: This is definitely true and I have done this numerous times in the past. For instance, back in middle school (starting in 6th grade), I became acquainted with the girl who would become my best friend through senior year on the bus ride on the first day of school. Other times, I met another close friend in a summer class I took in college, prior to my senior year. We can often meet friends in the most unlikely places (in line at a store, in a doctor’s office, etc, the possibilities are endless) and in my mind, a new friend is always welcome and something I’ll say yes to.

       5. Spending time with family. It is important to nurture and spend time with the people that matter the most in your life. Call, Skype, or visit your parents, siblings, cousins, and grandparents as much as possible.

My Take on it: I’m a family girl at heart, so this is something I will surely always say yes to without having to put much thought into it. My mom and sister are my closest confidantes, so I always value and cherish the time I spend with them. Since becoming an Aunt in August 2014, spending time with my niece is always the highlight of my life, as well.

        6. Accomplish your goals. Never give up on your goals. Overcome your fears and take the first step to seeing your dreams come to pass.

My Take on it: How true is this? It’s difficult to really place into words, but many times over the years, I’ve proven this concept to be true. What immediately comes to mind is my high school years. I may have mentioned this on here before, but early on in my high school years, I applied to be a writer on the Reality section of my local newspaper, which is a teen section published once-per-week. It allows adolescent writers on the teen panel to write about anything and everything they are interested in. It was my goal to write for the section since childhood, having read the newspaper on a regular basis since assigned current events in elementary school. The first year I applied, I was rejected, with the editor telling me my writing simply wasn’t “up to par,” or the type of writing that would appeal to readers. Hearing this, part of me was crushed, discouraged and let down. Since I am often critical of myself in general, I decided to make it my goal to try again next year and throughout the year, hone my writing skills, working as hard as I could to improve them. Unsure if I was able to accomplish this, the subsequent Summer, once again, I submitted an application to join the Reality panel and much to my surprise, was graciously accepted and welcomed aboard! My excitement was palpable and I began to envision all the possibilities and the ideas I wanted to explore and document. That particular school year, I entered filled with promise and excitement. The day I found out I would be joining the panel, my friend took me to celebrate and I remember feeling euphoric as we indulged in a celebratory slice of cheesecake. That being said, never giving up on your dreams and goals is definitely, without question, something to say a profound, concrete YES to.

Chances

So there you have it. Now that you’ve read the author’s suggestions and my take on it, what will you say yes to, today?

A Forever “What if?”

I’m guilty of it and perhaps you are, too, whomever you might be, reading this post of mine. Lying in bed, you glance at the clock and realize it is minutes before you must get out of bed, attempt to make yourself presentable and progress through another day. Though prior to rising of your bed, you grab your cell phone lying on the nightstand adjacent to your bed, eager to peruse the latest happenings on Twitter, Facebook, or your other social media platform of choice. For me, this morning, as with most other mornings, my choice was Twitter. Scanning through many seemingly meaningless tweets, I arrived at one by one of my favorite fiction authors, Jane Green. In her tweet, she provided a link to a website, simply tweeting, “So thrilled to be hosting the Booksparks Summer Reading Challenge this year! And I cannot believe the amazing… (then she inserts a hyperlink to her Facebook page, where she details the aforementioned “challenge.”) Needless to say, I was intrigued and contemplative.

About an hour or so after reading Jane’s tweet, I logged onto my Facebook via my laptop and began to familiarize myself with the challenge she mentioned. If you’re curious about it like me, here is the link to the official post and explanation about it: http://gobooksparks.com/SRC2015/

The overall premise of the challenge is to read a new book each week. Bloggers can sign up to participate and review a book per week, as they complete them. Non-bloggers who are book lovers, can still join in the fun and read a book per week and tag the books and the challenge in their social media posts to win prizes throughout the summer. If you’re eager to participate, the sponsors of the challenge encourage readers to RSVP on the event’s Facebook page. Each book is a new “destination” (i.e. set in various locations, such as Los Angeles, Montana, etc).

Scanning through the list of selected novels, some, but not all are appealing to me after reading through the descriptions and also heading over to trusty Google to learn more about each book. For those I am interested in reading, rather than purchase each book, I logged into my account on my local library’s website and requested them. Some of the books are new and yet to arrive on book shelves, so it is necessary to wait for their arrival. One book in particular, truly captured my eye and mind, becoming the muse behind this very post.

The book I speak of is entitled, “Maybe in Another Life,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. After reading the brief description on the challenge website, I felt as though I more or less was reading my life in a snapshot:

“At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?”

Rapidly approaching my 27th birthday, I can relate to Hannah’s sentiments, unsure about what to do with my life. Like her, I’ve had several different jobs since graduating from college nearly five years ago. I’m not at all where I thought or hoped I would be, way back when I was a teenager. I would think of my twenties and believe it would follow the pre-determined pattern I set for myself – graduate college at age 22, fall in love, have an excellent career, attend graduate school then graduate, get married, have children and carry out a domestic life while being a career woman. To me, there was no “in-between,” or room for life to happen. I operated under the immature assumption that life will transpire in the way I want it to, simply because I said it would.

Now as I am edging further into my late 20’s, I realize that the choices and decisions I made often haunt me, each and every day. I realize that we don’t always have control over the things and events that happen to us and in all honesty, it took me years to come to terms with this truth and realization. Sometimes, it’s still hard to accept it. Now more than ever though, I realize that while I may not have control over everything that happens to me, what I do have control over is how I respond to it. I can choose and control the way I respond to each hardship and obstacle thrown my way. I’ll never know what might have happened if I made a different choice years ago. I don’t know if had I made a different choice 10 years ago if I would be married, or a mother today. I don’t know if I would have had the fulfilling career I always dreamed if I had chosen a different path for myself.

It’s hard to believe that nearly ten years ago, I was about to turn 17-years-old. It was a poignant time in my life, because a lot of the choices or decisions I made way back then, as a teenager still impact and affect me today. Those choices and situations shaped the last decade of my life. When I look back, I wonder what might have happened if I had used my words instead of actions to communicate my internal sentiments. More so now than ever though, I try to practice more self-acceptance, realizing how important it is to accept the choices I made, realizing that it was what I felt was best at that moment. I was young then and yes, while I still am young, back then I operated in the mindset that the choices I was making then would have little or no influence on my future. If I had known what I know now, I can’t be confident in saying I would have made the same choices. Sometimes I wish I could go back and be a friend to my teenage self. The things I felt were of the utmost importance then seem so trivial now, but that is apart of life. It is apart of what it means to be young, taking risks and chances that might leave our future selves scratching our heads and contemplating about what we were thinking back then when we made those choices.

It’s important to note that the choices I made in the past are reminders to me of what not to do today, or at least provides me with a snapshot of what will happen if I make those choices again. The pain of yesterday’s decisions sometimes radiates through me today, especially when I see or encounter people of my past. I can still think about the events and situations of yesterday, but this I know now: I can choose to not be reduced or defeated by them; I can look towards the present today and tomorrow, realizing that while I might not have made the best choices in the past, I can still make better choices for tomorrow and beyond.

It’s funny how reading a brief description of a novel can trigger an entire outpouring of memories and sentiments and a question for a myself: What if I decided to let life happen as it does and adjust accordingly? That, my friends, I CAN choose – in fact, we all can.

All it Takes is a Click

Due to yesterday’s inclement weather, I spent much of the day home-bound, alternating between reading books, magazines and sitting on my computer, browsing social media and other favorite sites. That said, it started innocently enough as it typically does. It then transpired into sentiments leaving me in a contemplative and rather melancholy state. In saying this, you might be wondering what exactly happened.

While trolling Facebook, I started to notice a recurrent theme: engagements, photos of people I attended high school with moving in with their significant others, babies being born, first houses being purchased and furnished, new jobs being celebrated and enjoyed, and whole host of other celebratory events. Taking this all in, the comparisons ensued, as did the negative, judgmental self-talk, transpiring into a monologue of, “That will never be me, or I’ll always be stagnant, in the same, old place.” Then, as if it weren’t already bad enough, I had to throw fire into the flame, by typing in a former (I’m not even quite sure as to what to call him, because it wasn’t ever really a boyfriend, but rather someone I “saw” for a very brief time, yet for some reason, seemed to capture a part of me I’m still not sure I completely understand) male friend’s name in. Within minutes, I was informed he was no longer living in the city of Philadelphia, but rather had relocated back to where he is originally from – Florida, working now at a different university, supporting the football team. I was speechless and taken for a spin. For so long, I’ve tried to distract myself from thinking of him and going down that path again. I try to remind myself of all the hurtful words spewed at me, the judgments, the criticisms, and how he ignored me for weeks on end. Sometimes, I’m ashamed of my behavior when I think back, of how I let him treat me that way, and still allow my mind to wander to him. At the same time, I try to remind myself that we, as humans, all have weak moments or times when we feel more vulnerable than others.

Image

Yesterday, I let myself fall into the comparison trap, blindsided by the “images,” I see on Facebook, not knowing what truth and reality is behind them. The people who posted the aforementioned events and occurrences are people I have not spoken to nor seen in many years. A lot of them I was never really “friends,” to begin with. They are all at different points in their lives and though I might be chronologically the same age as a lot of them, we all have encountered and experienced different situations and life events and we all do and accomplish things at different times. I try to remind myself of this when I start to feel down, self-conscious and self-critical. Just because I haven’t found the career I aspire to yet, does not mean I never will and the same goes for finding a man to fall in love with. I try to tell myself it doesn’t matter WHEN I find or experience these things, but rather, that I experience them at all. To experience love, a fulfilling career, purchasing a home to call my own, etc, is a beautiful accomplishment to be celebrated and cherished at ANY point in one’s life, no matter if they are 22, 25, 45, 65, or even 85 and beyond. There is no timeline, or “set age” anyone has to do anything. My goal is solely for my life to be one filled with meaning and true sentiment. It is not a race and certainly not a contest by any means.

Image   Image

So perhaps the next time I check Facebook, I’ll look with a discerning eye, because though it might only take one click for the self-defeating internal monologue to begin, it also takes only one click to distance myself from it. I can click away and turn a new page. This my life and no one else’s.

Image  Image  

QUESTION: Can you relate to this “comparison trap?” Have you ever felt this way after checking your Facebook? If so, what do you do to combat these feelings?