Quotable Lessons

What a whirlwind it’s been these past couple weeks! With my 29th birthday arriving earlier this month (on the 3rd), it caused me to reflect quite a bit on my life and in particular, the past decade. To say it’s been tumultuous would be an understatement. Much of it was difficult, painful and at times, excruciating to endure. Other parts of it were dramatic, but positive, in some respects. With that being said, I ushered in the last year of my 20’s feeling loved and cared for. In the evening, my family and I gathered together and shared a couple hours exchanging laughs and enjoying each others’ companies. So often, I find myself in moments drifting away, worrying and fretting about the next day, hour, moment, and beyond. Though, this time, I centered my focus on that present moment, knowing that if I didn’t, I would regret it hours later. Consciously I knew, hours later, I would lay in my bed, reflecting upon the day wishing I had simply enjoyed the moment, relishing in the time with my family. Looking back, that evening was a defining moment in my 20’s, as I felt more loved and appreciated than I could have envisioned.

Flowers Blooming 2              Flowers Blooming

Pictured: Flowers spotted while on a walk the day of my birthday.

To that end, I found myself looking for even more quotes than usual, as I embarked on my 29th year. So often, I stumble upon the most intriguing and expressive thoughts through Twitter, of all places. With that being said, I thought I’d share a few of these quotes or statements, because perhaps they might impact someone who may be reading this:

“Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.”

“When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.”

“Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others.”

“You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone – profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are.”

“Spend your life with who makes you happy, not who you have to impress.”

“If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.”

“Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.”

“In this life, we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

“Work hard in silence; let success make the noise.”

“Every scar has a story, don’t be afraid to tell it.”

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.”

“Those extra 5-10 pounds, that place where your body naturally wants to be – that’s your life. That’s your late night pizza with your loved ones, that Sunday morning bottomless brunch, your favorite cupcake in the whole entire world because you wanted to treat yourself. Those 5-10 pounds are your favorite memories, your unforgettable trips, your celebrations of life. Those extra 5-10 pounds are your spontaneity, your freedom, your life.”

Closure by Inquiry

Just over five years ago, I was 23 and employed full-time in a profession I loved, which more or less fell into my lap one day.  One moment, I was unemployed, desperately searching for a career, unaware if my degree would prove fruitful and the next instant, I was helping to impact people’s lives on a daily basis. Battling self-esteem issues the majority of my life, I was still highly critical of myself, but slowly managing to combat these emotions in a more constructive way as time progressed.

Longing for a romantic relationship of some kind, or at least someone to date, I met a guy who intrigued me, but also sent perplexing thoughts through my mind. He was three years my senior, working in a high-level position and for one reason or another, captivated me. Still to this day, I never quite understood what it was about him that stirred such emotions within me. That being said, I was enthralled with him from day one, yet we never could seem to figure each other out. We were never “together” per se and much of our communication was conducted via text message. He and I lived a distance from each other (the suburbs for me, him – the city). Though I had a car, I was desperately fearful of city-driving, hailing from the suburbs my entire life. As an anxious person, driving in the city, or even the mere thought of driving in the city, frightened me beyond words. My fear of driving in the city erroneously translated to him as me not wanting to see him and rather than explain myself, I suppose I allowed him to believe it.

Time passed and he moved away years later, back to his hometown thousands of miles and states away. No words were exchanged, but for years, I still thought of him and wondered if he followed suit. At some points, we would exchange text messages, but never made concrete plans to see each other again, or travel to one another. Still, in the back of my mind, I always wondered what could have been or what it could or may lead to. Perhaps it is the romantic in me, or quite possibly, I read too many novels, but the idea of us somehow “finding each other” after all these years, left me swirling with contentment and contemplation.

Then, roughly two days ago, my fate was more or less sealed when it came to him. Knowing he was living in the midst of the Hurricane currently plaguing portions of the US and outside areas, I fretted and contemplated texting him. My inability to text him at the first thought was my fear of him being in a relationship and not responding to me, or at my worst fear, him exchanging a hurtful message to me. Still, I couldn’t live with me not inquiring after him to learn if he was safe or not. Summoning the minuscule amounts of courage left within me, I bravely tapped out a message to him, reading none another than, “Hey, how have you been?” To me, it was innocent, but friendly, a friend simply inquiring after another friend. There were no romantic implications in that, or so I believed.

A short amount of time later, his number was swiftly deleted from my phone, tears began to fill my eyes and the ruminating and disparaging remarks directed towards me filled my head. “How foolish I felt. How stupid I was, how grossly ashamed I was. I was undeserving, ugly, to be ignored and forgotten of. How idiotic I was to have thought I could have meant something to someone like him.” This disparaging inward monologue transpired within my mind for much of the evening. Instructed to delete his phone number, because he was “dating the woman he intends to marry,” I was filled with shock and an inability to initially comprehend all I read. Sure, I can understand if he is with someone else, it is his right and prerogative, but to have sent me such a hurtful message as that, to me, is unacceptable and not to mention, undeserving. What did I do to deserve such a message, I asked myself? All I merely asked him was how he was. I struggled to come to this conclusion, but when I ultimately did, I decided I was proud of myself for who I am. I’m proud that I was a big enough person to ask after him, because I was concerned about his wellbeing as a person who I believed was living in the storm zone. There was nothing romantic about my inquiry. Therefore, it is him who should be regretful. Him, who should feel guilty because of the language he used and the harsh tone of his words. It is not me to be reprimanded or who should feel ashamed, I’m proud that I am caring, I’m proud that I am brave and I’m also proud that I took the time to speak my truth through this blog post, because if it happened to me, it’s happened to others, as well. So, whenever you feel the urge to berate yourself because of someone else’s words toward you,  remember that the way someone behaves or speaks to you is not a reflection of you, but a reflection of them, as a person.

I’m glad I learned now, rather than later; it is the closure I needed and in the wise words of someone I know, “Beauty is what you feel inside, not what you see the mirror.”

Starry-Filled Morning Skies

Good Starry-Filled morning to you! You might be wondering or confused by what exactly I mean about a starry-filled morning and trust me, I’d be wondering myself, if it wasn’t me who typed it! This morning began as most of my typical mornings do and as I settled in to watch some of NBC’s The Today Show (my morning show of choice!), I was pleasantly surprised to learn I’d be treated to a live performance by Coldplay. For years, I’ve been a Coldplay fan. Yes, a lot of their songs are melancholy, but as melancholy as they may be, the words behind them are beautiful and emotive, allowing me to reflect on the past and present. There is something about Coldplay sounds that causes introspection within me. It also sparks a bit of personal creativity, hence me writing this very post after a brief hiatus.

It really isn’t that Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay has the most beautiful or strongest voice I’ve ever heard, but rather the emotion he evokes when he performs. The entire band shows their passion and authentic contentment when they are performing on stage. Their energy and passion for music and performing is infectious; I could literally feel it from the confines of my home. It is an undeniable passion and enthusiasm and just seeing them on stage feeling the very music they are playing captivates me. I’ve yet to ever see them perform in concert, but it is my goal. If I’m not mistaken, they will be visiting my local area for a concert in the coming months, but unfortunately, I haven’t purchased tickets and I’m sure it’s probably sold out. All the same, I can settle for watching them live on TV, because their passion and emotions are just as real and felt as they would be if I were to see them in concert.

So, if you haven’t seen Coldplay perform before, whether it is on TV or in-person, I encourage you to take a moment, when you have a chance, to check out a performance or do, ideally this morning’s performance. It is a reminder to me of the power of music and how it has the ability to remind, encourage, soothe, console, and reflect.

A Quotable Thursday

Good morning! I realize the title of my post is not a very creative one, but if anything, I feel it does accurately describe what the contents of this post will end up becoming. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog, is aware that quotes are one of my favorite things to read, share and post. They offer me not only perspective, but the utmost source of contemplation, inspiration and often serve as a muse for writing. Lately, I’ve seen a large outpouring of quotes I really have taken to on Twitter. Therefore, I thought I might share some of them, thinking they might be of interest to others, or at least provide some introspect as we begin to ease into the end of a long week. Before I do that, I’d just like to mention that if you haven’t already heard, today just so happens to be National Cheesecake Day!

Memory Quote   Cherry Cheesecake

I’ll be first to admit, cheesecake is a definite favorite of mine. I’ve never considered myself to be all that fond of chocolate cake, though of course, it has its moments, but for me, cheesecake is the ultimate dessert and one I’ve highly-regarded since childhood, though I don’t eat it all that often. That said, some of my fondest memories are of sharing a slice of cheesecake with my dad at a local diner and also, at the famed NYC spot, Lindy’s. My dad and I shared a similar fondness for cheesecake, anything cherry flavored (sodas, Twizzlers, etc), so looking back on this helps bring back a bit of childhood happiness (how appropriate, since today is a Throwback Thursday, anyway, right?!)

Memories Quote

Without further adieu, here are some quotes currently on my radar; I hope you enjoy them as much as I have:

  • “Be yourself, because and original is worth more than a copy.”
  • “It is better to learn late, than never.”
  • “Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness.”
  • “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because greatest secrets are often hidden in the most unlikely places.”
  • “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”
  • “Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.”
  • “Nothing can be loved or hated until it is understood.”
  • “By having something to look forward to, you bring happiness into your life well before the event takes place.”
  • “Never regret something that once made you smile.”
  • “To send a letter is to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”
  • “The first step in healing is realizing there’s a wound.”
  • “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin and inspiration will find you.”
  • “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”
  • “Certain things capture your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.”
  • “Sometimes, it’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off.”

Always believe

Is it or Isn’t it?

Good Morning! I hope your weekend was a pleasant one. This past weekend was a fairly routine one for me, though on Saturday morning, my mind and emotions were churning as I perused Facebook and spotted an article, now widely popular and circulating nationwide. The article I speak of, I originally spotted via my local ABC News affiliate’s Facebook page (6abc Philadelphia) and detailed/shared 11th grade Brooklyn, NY High School student, Chanie Gorkin‘s poem. If you read it top to bottom, yes, the poem is a poignant and eloquently-written one, but it is when you read it from the bottom to the top, when you (or at least, I did) suddenly realize how truly creative, unique, and inspiring it is. If you’re unfamiliar with this specific poem I’m referring to, here is a link to the article and the actual poem, itself:

http://6abc.com/875990/

“Worst Day Ever?” By Chanie Gorkin

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
Because
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
Creates
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day

**Now read from the bottom to top.

Wow, truly, wow, is nearly all I can really begin to say about this poem. I was taken by such surprise and awe. As a person who used to write a lot of poems myself (see my Poems and Literary page on this blog, if you’re curious), I was truly speechless. The poem is so beyond the point of creativity, that I can’t even imagine how she would have thought of something like this. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen and while yes, I may very well be overly enthusiastic about it, since I am a person who has an affinity for words, I always look to those who can write with such creativity and tact with the utmost admiration. Though the writer of this poem may be a decade younger than me, it truly shows that writing ability knows no age. It doesn’t matter one’s age, education, employment status, or anything they’ve been through or encountered, anyone and everyone has the ability to be able to write something inspiring and of the utmost meaning.

Words Quote

Not only though, was the way in which this poem was constructed unique, but the words themselves almost reach out and take hold of the feelings I often harbor within. It can be true that in weathering through life, one day can feel like the worst day, ever, and then the next day, or a couple days/weeks later, all can seem content and promising. Sometimes, I feel like this poem is a way of confirming the thought: “Life is a paradox.” In any case, this poem grabbed hold of me and given the number of shares, comments, likes, and how it is appearing all over social media and TV, apparently, it has struck a cord with others, too.

Writing quote

A Curiosity Trap

Good Morning, to you. I hope your weekend has been a pleasant one, thus far. I contemplated writing this post for the past several days after I first encountered the finding I will mention momentarily. Perhaps you’ve personally experienced this, yourself. Having an ex-significant other as a friend on Facebook and periodically “checking,” their page to see what they’re up to. It’s not really that you’re still interested in them or pining for them, but merely, you’ve fallen into the “curiosity trap.” It’s so very easy to type in any name and instantly see snapshots of their life appear and though it may present as something completely different than their actual reality, if you don’t personally see them anymore, there really is no way of knowing the truth vs. what you’re seeing on their page.

This instance for me, though, was slightly different. To provide some brief, background knowledge. Back when I was 15-years-old, the summer leading into my sophomore year in high school (which for me, was technically my “first year” in high school, because 10th grade started the high school building, since my middle school went up to 9th grade), my best friend at the time and I met two guys at our local mall. Back then, I was bubbly and overly-excited about all the new people and adventures I would encounter when starting the high school building. When my friend and I first met those two guys at the mall, I didn’t very much like the one (let’s call him “M”). I found him to be off-putting, unfriendly and certainly not interested in me at all, though I did find him physically attractive. Still, the physical attraction was not enough to entice me or even begin to romantically consider him. The other one, was funny, talkative and outgoing (let’s call him “T”). Physically, I wasn’t all that attracted to him, but his personality appeared to shine through and in turn, he became attractive to me in a sense. We all exchanged phone numbers (or at least I believe we did, anyway) and from that point forward, I actually began talking on the phone to M every day on the phone. After arriving home from school, him and I would chat for what seemed like hours. He started to call me each day on his way to work, on break from work and so forth. At first, we started talking about his friend, T, when I expressed interest in him. Before long, it became apparent, that my feelings towards M were starting to change. At that point though, everything was still new to me. It was a new school year, a new school in general, and my only concerns centered around what I was doing on the weekend, whose parent was chauffeuring my friends and I to the football game and then afterwards to visit a local eatery. At that point, life was good and I was thoroughly enjoying being a teenager. In fact, it’s probably the fondest part of my life, I can really recall; a time when I was truly happy and at ease within myself.

My life was finally starting to take shape back then. I remember feeling excited about each day, thrilled to finally have that “teenage life,” so often described in books and magazines I read, or in movies and TV shows I watched. My friendship with M started to take more of a shape, as we made plans to hang out as a group. He asked if I would like to come along to his town’s harvest day (a town I actually now live in, today). Though I didn’t know any of his other friends, I was excited and eager to explore and see what his town and friends were like. My mom dropped me off and I ended up spending much of the day with him and his friends, though it was really him I spent most of the time talking to. I felt grown up as I strolled through his town with him, having been on my own, away from my solid group of best friends, really for the first time.

After that day, M and I talked even more and it became evident something beyond friendship was slowly developing. With Halloween fast approaching at that point, M asked me if I would like to join him and two guy friends on a hayride and haunted house adventure at the local farm. Having never been there before, I eagerly accepted and felt no fear being the only girl around three guys. That night, things changed between M and I. Though him and I never officially shared a “title” solidifying our relationship, I always look back to him as my first boyfriend. He was the first guy who ever drove me alone in a car, and I remember that first time as clear as day. It was a Sunday afternoon and though we were only driving to our local mall, I felt grown up and independent, as though I was truly a woman now. I remember how surreal it was, sitting next to a boy driving me alone in the car. I felt so feminine and free, so excited for what the future was to hold. I was carefree and swept in a sea of euphoria. After several quick weeks, I came to know his car quite well; every scent, every dent, each of his movements. Though at the time I believed my feelings with him were love, I came to know, years later, they were that of infatuation. I was enthralled with the idea of him and looking back, my relationship with him was nowhere near functional.

Though parts of our budding relationship at times felt like a fairytale, most of it was not. Having told me, “I didn’t look that great,” with my hair down, I always made sure to wear my hair up when I was with him. Other times, when not around him, my hair would be down, as I felt more comfortable that way. With him, my hair was always up, because I wanted so desperately to please him. The meaning of his words didn’t matter to me, at the time and I didn’t realize just how much they impacted me, until months later. My entire sophomore year of high school centered around him, seeing him several times a month and then skipping months altogether. He would never refer me as his girlfriend, I was always kept on the side, as he feared he might “meet someone better.”

Many nights, I sobbed myself to sleep, or would call my sister, away at school, crying into the night, asking her time and time again, why it was so hard and if it would get easier. Finally, in April of my sophomore year, I saw him for what would be the last time, though for months after, I still thought of him nearly each day. I wondered about him and hoped that he would come back to me and finally make the commitment I longed for all year. Periodically, he’d message me or send a text message to which I would reply, but then they started to drop off, as well and I began to realize, I simply didn’t care anymore. I had moved on and closed that part of me that felt wounded and broken. I realized at that part, I didn’t feel that sense of longing for him anymore, that he was no longer the central focus of my heart and mind. For years after, even as recent as a couple years ago, he would occasionally message me and ask to see me, and would apologize for hurting me. His apology, though, meant nothing to me at that point, as I tried my best not to reopen the wounds that had taken so long to heal.

The reason why I recount this relationship, if you can call it that, which happened so many years ago, at this point, is because I fell into the trap of venturing over to his Facebook page. Facebook friends for years, I defriended him about a year or so ago, not wanting to see what his life was like at this point. He is married now, which I knew when I defriended him. Though, the other day, my curiosity got the best of me and I typed his name into Facebook, wondering what his married life was like for him, now. Within moments, I saw it. The smiling picture of him and his wife, holding a onesie, confirming their pregnancy. My first instinct, was to cry, then it became anger, and then, nothing at all. I clicked off his page, took a deep breath and tried my hardest to expect the truth and ultimately, reality.

I came to realize, my emotions were not because I felt sadness in seeing him married and expecting a child, but because I am disappointed with my own life. I’m not where I want to be and it’s often difficult to see others moving forward and experiencing all I thought I would have at this point. It’s important for me to be accepting of who I am and where I am today. I am not what has happened to me and I can choose to accept the current state of my life, realizing that it is capable of being changed. I’m not the 15-year-old girl I was when M and I first started dating, I am a 26-year-old (27, as of next Sunday), who is simply working to come to terms with who I am.

I’ll be okay.

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.