Aging Without Limits

Those who know me, even slightly well, know that I’m a voracious reader, often indulging in numerous books throughout the month, savoring them and then advising others to read them, as well. Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine, offering me refuge from an often stressful and tumultuous life. For me, reading is a comfort, transporting me to the life of another, allowing me to travel from the comfort of home, or wherever I may be. Each page turned is an adventure to embark on, with the words often coming to life.

With that being said, innocently enough I requested a new book recently recommended in one of the many magazines I read. I was excited to indulge in this particular book, having read a brief excerpt. As I typically do, upon picking up the book from the library, I turned the book to the back to learn about the author; a year jumped out at me: 2010. It was the year I graduated college, a year that served as a culmination of four often painful and excruciating years to endure due to emotional and physical constraints. The brief biography of the author stated she graduated college in 2010, as well. Absorbing this fact, I was caught off-guard to say the least and quickly found myself falling down the comparison trap, yet again. There I was, perplexed as to where I would fall as far as a career and personal life and yet held within my hands was a potential bestseller, or at least a published novel, by my peer of the same, or vastly similar age.

Instead of continuing to fall deeper and deeper into the comparison trap, I forced myself to recite this very phrase: “Everyone has their own time.” It is true though, isn’t it? There is no set time, place or moment, that we really have to be doing anything at all. Our life is own, our own story to write and detail each day, each breathe and each moment. The stories I love most are the ones I hear about people who realized this, people who didn’t set a time limit for achieving their goals and dreams. Often times, people who are most inspiring to me are the ones who were brave enough to make significant changes and take significant risks, years or moments beyond when people “typically do.” What do I mean when I say this? I mean, the women who may have had children in her 20’s, who had dreams of becoming a nurse, and abandoned her goals for the sake of her family, but later returned to school in her 40’s to become a nurse and ended up being one of the best nurses a hospital or medical facility could ever ask for. Or, the girl who suffered so deeply from illness as a child, or never was able to travel and later became a travel writer, as an older adult, traveling the world, writing and telling others all about it. Bravery and courage and the ability to continue on, in spite of our difficulties or the ideas in our heads about “how it is supposed to be,” are most attractive to me. Each day when I find myself wallowing about the current state of my life, I remind myself of these people and remind myself that no matter how alone at times or isolated I may feel, (learned from a quote I read last night!): I can always look outside at the sun or moon and know that at that very moment, someone, somewhere is looking at that very same sun or moon.

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Maybe others can relate to these sentiments, or perhaps not, but regardless, I thought it was important to share, because they are thoughts that help me during life’s toughest moments.

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Choices and their Consequences

About a month or two ago, while perusing several websites, including one of my favorites for books, Goodreads, I stumbled across an author whose two books called to me. Her third book, slated to be released this month, in July, was also one that had particular appeal to me, so I immediately requested all three from my local library. After reading the first two, already-released books, Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of the books I am referring to, quickly became one of my favorite, go-to authors. Her writing is simple yet poignant, with words and stories I can easily relate to. The books have a certain flow to them, one where I can start reading, and then look at the clock next to me and realize an hour has passed. Her stories have the ability to take hold of deeply-etched emotions with me, bringing back feelings of the past and allowing me to deal and process with those sentiments I neglected years ago.

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Needless to say, when I learned of the title of her newest, third novel, “Maybe in Another Life,” the memories of my past came flooding to me. I often spend chunks of the day wondering what my life would have been like if I had made another choice in various situations, or if I hadn’t made a choice at all, or if I had simply spoken up verbally, rather than through bodily actions. Throughout my life, I regrettably made a lot of rash decisions seeking instant gratification or to numb myself from the situation at hand, without considering future consequences. I suppose a part of that was being young, not realizing how the actions of the present time could prove to impact me in future years to come. Often as a teenager, it’s difficult to really understand the impact of our actions. I’ll be first admit I was self-centered in much of my adolescence, often believing it was a catastrophe if I had no weekend plans, or if I wasn’t invited out with friends. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that decisions made as a 17-year-old still feel hauntingly poignant in my life, now as a 27-year-old.

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That being said, the title, Maybe in Another Life, has lead me to contemplate and wonder, some of the many “what-if’s,” in my life, so rather than have them running rampant in my often frenzied mind, I figured I would share them and ask those of you who might reading, how you might finish this sentence, “Maybe in another life, I would have…” The other day, the author herself, Taylor Jenkins Reid, posed this question on Twitter to her followers and it stayed with me, triggering an outpouring of memories and contemplations.

My senior year photo from 2006.

My senior year photo from 2006; sharing a time when a lot of the choices I made at that time proves to still impact me, very much so, today.

“Maybe in Another Life,”….

  • I would have been a magazine editor/journalist, working in the city, interviewing different types of people, writing articles, researching, and discovering my voice as a writer.
  • I would have a great group of friends who love me for who I am, no matter my quirks, who bring out the best me, who I would meet on the weekends for a lingering brunch of excellent food and conversation and share laughs about the latest TV shows, guys we’re dating, and other events.
  • I would have been in a loving relationship with a man who makes me feel loved, cared for and appreciated. He would love me for who I am, no matter the blemishes, imperfect aspects of my personality and body and would celebrate me for the person I am and who I’ve become. He would comfort me when sad, share in my laughs and tears, and hold my hand every night as we feel asleep together. With him, there would be no self-conscious feeling, no wondering if he likes or truly loves me, no games, but only simple, wholesome love.
  • I would have been married and a mom to children; children who would grow up to be loving, well-adjusted individuals.
  • I would have been more trusting and confident in my body, respecting myself and realizing I am not my body, but a woman with thoughts, feelings, dreams and goals who tries her hardest to be supportive and encouraging to others.
  • I would have a father in my life who loves and respects me and acknowledges/validates my feelings, who doesn’t make me feel ashamed of myself or ashamed of my body. He would offer me advice and provide me with encouragement and love.
  • I would travel extensively throughout the world, seeing different cultures, learning different languages and allowing myself to relish in the beauty of the various architecture and lands.
  • I would be able to eat and enjoy anything and everything I wanted, realizing that food is something to be enjoyed and celebrated, not pushed away or manipulated. I would enjoy plentiful meals with friends and family, cooking all the recipes I’d love to and able to share in the love that is that of homemade meals.
  • Most importantly though, maybe in another life, I would be confident enough to take the risks I think about taking and allow myself to feel pain and disappointment that might come with these risks, but realize failure isn’t final and that each new day is another chance to make a change and to even start all over again. Maybe in another life, I would have the courage to start over and live the past 10 years the way I thought I always would. Maybe in another life, I would realize it really isn’t too late, because every moment alive I’m given affords me with a chance for change and a chance for happiness.

Start Over Quote

So, now that I’ve told you some of my “maybe in another life” responses, I’d love to hear what some of yours are, if you’re willing to share, which I hope you will be. Thanks for taking the time to listen today.

Solace in Pages

It is now Sunday evening and the holiday weekend is winding down. Naturally, I don’t have to inform you of this, but a part of me is indifferent about it. To say this weekend was eventful would be an understatement, but of course, eventful does not always have a positive connotation. To be honest and frank, the past several days have left me undeniably heartbroken and wracked with a kaleidoscope of emotions. At times, I became angry and resentful, while other times, I longed to step into the past and alter decisions and actions I’ve made. Most times, it was difficult to even place into words the sentiments floating through my heart and mind. While I say I was heartbroken, it is not of the romantic kind, but rather ones involving family and in particular, my father, the man who as a child and even as an adolescent, I mistakenly thought would be my hero, the one I could look to for protection and guidance, the man who would steer me in the direction towards achieving my dreams. To arrive at the realization that this is not in fact the truth is perhaps the most challenging truth to accept at all. As children, maybe we uphold beliefs that our parents are significantly different creatures from us and it is only later, as adults, we begin to realize, they are human, just as we are. Often I wonder if maybe I expected too much. As I grow older, I realize people love in a multitude of ways. More importantly though, they love in the way they can and I try to accept this, no matter how challenging it may be. Each day, I try to remind myself of this necessary truth, because holding a grudge and wishing for a different reality, I’m aware, will lead me nowhere. It will only make me harbor resentment, hurt and anger and prolong the stinging, like a scab on an old wound that someone continuously exposes to air. Healing takes time and as I’m learning, so does acceptance.

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Searching for reprieve, or at least a momentary, “escape” if you will, I opted for one of my favorite author’s newest novel entitled, “Morning Glory,” by the undeniably talented, Sarah Jio. If you’re unfamiliar with this latest novel of hers, you may have read some of her other favorites, “Blackberry Winter” and of course, “The Violets of March.” To say I am thankful and grateful for her words this weekend would be a vast understatement. Her beautiful control of words and the English language in general has captivated me so these past several days as I traveled into the fictional literary world she created. The words seem to flow with each page I turn, as I delve deeper and deeper into the lives of the characters lining the pages. Her talent is rare and one I truly cherish. For me, it is quite simple to discern whether or not an author/book and I “click.” With Sarah Jio, her books have a way of weaving mystery, romance and intrigue so profoundly, the book is difficult to put down. When I place it down, I find myself curious, wondering what the pages will leave me with next. In fact, at times, I force myself to place the book down, so that I can savor the rest later, like a forbidden treat.

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Books have always captivated and cushioned me. They keep me company when I would otherwise be lonely. Though to some they may simply be binding and words on a page, to me, they are a work of talent, creativity and a world outside of my own. When reading books, it’s as though I am transported away from my troubles and for as long as I am reading, I am safe and anesthetized from the pain and disappointment living within my everyday, conscious life. 

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So today, I’m here just to say how very thankful I am for the talents of fellow writers, such as Sarah Jio, who share their craft and mastery of the written word with each of us and who inspire me each and every day to keep going and not to settle until I find my true calling.

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Words Keeping me Wise

Happy Weekend! I hope you’ve been enjoying your weekend, thus far. This weekend, I both stumbled across and encountered several instances where words have triggered memories, new ideas and simply thoughts, overall, to ponder. These have been in the form of quotes I noticed on Pinterest, as well as in the new memoir I started reading, former “Clarissa Explains it All,” and “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch,” star, Melissa Joan Hart‘s, entitled, “Melissa Explains It All.” Of course, her book isn’t heavy reading, but then again, sometimes it is a refreshing and welcome change to be able to read something lighthearted, with a friendly tone, that still manages to spark new ideas and concepts within my mind. It is a telling book, revealing encounters with several celebrities including, but not limited to (I’m only about 100 pages or less into the book), Soleil Moon Frye (former “Punky Brewster”), Drew Barrymore and Calista Flockhart. In the book, Melissa writes honestly and openly, candid in her descriptions and recollections. I’m told that parts of the book will surprise and shock readers, so I’m holding tight and bracing myself! It is an exciting read and I do recommend it, if you’re unfamiliar with it or on the fence about it.

Melissa Explains it All

In other words, the quotes that spoke to me over the weekend appeared through the “Quotes,” section on Pinterest (check out my Pinterest page: @Stylinstar53) This morning, I was searching for inspiration and turned to the trusty Quotes section, where of course, it did not fail me. While I posted these under my “Quotes & Thoughts I like,” page, I decided to share them in this post, in case you might have missed them:

“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”

“When I’m feeling a litte low, I put on my favorite heels to stand a little taller.” (Those who know me well, know this fits the bill, as I am often in heels!)

“Today I choose to live by choice, not by chance;
To make changes, not excuses.

To be motivated,not manipulated.
To be useful, not used.

To excel, not compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self-pity.

I choose to listen to the inner voice, not the random opinion of others.”

So there you have it! Just some words for you to consider, ponder and take with you on this Sunday evening. Have a wonderful night, my friends!

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Share a Book, Share a Memory

Today’s impromptu post on this blistery, cold Autumn day, was inspired by my spur-of-the-moment trip to my local library, located a mere 7 or so minutes away from my home. I had an appointment during the latter part of this morning and instead of heading home immediately thereafter, I decided to take the short trip to the library, given I am nearing the end of yet another book by one of my favorite authors, Amy Hatvany, and am in need of additional reading material. Unlike many others, I rarely purchase books. Sure, I would love to have the ability to add to my own personal library at home, but unfortunately, books are expensive. Instead, I voyage to the library and tend to check out at least two books at a time, thankful for the ability to quickly renew them via the library website with the click of a button. To be honest, I actually enjoy visiting the library. From a young age, my mom, a teacher, instilled a love of reading and the library, in general within my sister and I. When we were young, she would take us to the various events our local library would hold, including the beloved, “Teddy Bear Picnic,” where children would bring their favorite teddy bears and books to be read and shared on the library’s front lawn. Also, during the summer months, my mom would enroll my sister and I in the summer reading program at the library where we would read certain books selected by the children’s librarians assembled on a list. Each week, we would meet with the librarian and fellow peer readers to discuss and create projects based on all we read. It was an activity I loved and looked forward to.

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My love of reading and the library spilled into my adolescent and young adult years, as I would frequently visit to check out books advertised and mentioned in my favorite magazines and newspapers. The more I read, the more I started to follow authors such as: Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Berg, Ann Brashares, Megan McCafferty, among others. Most recently, I started following Amy Hatvany, Elin Hildebrand, Meg Donohue and a host of others. As a self-professed, “writer,” I tend to find a certain sense of comradeship in these women authors, impressed by their craft and handle of the English language.

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My visit to the library today, though nothing out of the ordinary, for some reason, felt special to me, in a way. The library, as it typically is, was packed. Though, at that time of day, early afternoon on a Monday, it was filled with many elderly patrons, many of whom may be retired, mothers with their children, young adults – perhaps college students, researching and maybe some like myself, who are still figuring out their life’s path. Still, it was comforting to be among others, who might harbor a keen sense of love for books and literature, in general. It was interesting to look around and take note of the picks of others, some interested in learning a new language and others curious about the latest recipes in a cookbook. When I approached the checkout counter, I noticed a young boy attempting to sign up for his first library card. Unfortunately, the library clerk informed him that in light of his age, he would need his parent to sign up with him. Hearing this, I softened, remembering my first library card, as I proudly signed the front of the card with my mom. It was also refreshing to see a young child, eager to read and take advantage of our ability to utilize the library as we so choose.

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Today’s visit to the library made me all the more appreciative we are provided with this right, as members of the community. So, if you haven’t in awhile, I encourage you to visit your local library, if you happen to be near one. There is much to be learned and utilized there, in my mind.

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QUESTION: Do you visit libraries? Why or why not?

 

Black, White and READ all over: What Newspapers mean to me

Good Monday morning, to you! I hope your week is off to a pleasant start, thus far and also that your weekend was one filled with fun and relaxation. The weather held up for the most part, so that is always appreciated, of course. The past two days seemed to pass by rather quickly, but it was good, nonetheless. Let’s do a quick breakfast snapshot, before I indulge you in today’s musing:

Breakfast (August 12, 2013):

1 container Yoplait Light Boston Cream Pie Yogurt: (I’m not sure if I’ve ever had this flavor before, but it was a decent one. I’ve come to really enjoy Yoplait Light yogurts, as an alternative to Greek yogurts. What I truly appreciate about it, is that despite it not being Greek, it still maintains a rather thick consistency with more substance than other traditional yogurts, outside of Greek. Plus, I love that Yoplait Light has so many different, unique flavors.)

1 cup Dora the Explorer Cereal: (Okay, before you laugh, roll your eyes, or maybe, both, this cereal is yummy! I’ve never had it before, but last week a HUGE box (19 servings, total) was on sale for about $1.99, so it was a steal! I’ve really been enjoying it. They are small stars, with flecks of cinnamon and are sweet, but not overly, so.)

1 cup Special K Red Berries: (As always, a tasty favorite! Sadly, I’m approaching the end of the box, but I still have the Special K Multigrain Flakes in the cabinet, so we’re A-OKAY for now!)

1 Banana (Yum! The bananas from Whole Foods, for some reason, are particularly sweet and satisfying… perhaps because they are a mere .49 per lb?! Perhaps, just saying!)

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Now onto today’s musing. Each morning, my routine is relatively the same, no matter if it is a weekday or weekend morning. Upon stumbling down the steps, I prepare my breakfast, pour my coffee, turn the news/Good Morning America on, and seat myself at the kitchen table. However, while seated at the table, not only am I eating, and listening/watching the TV, but I am also feverishly reading. Since I’ve been a young child, each morning/day, I read the newspaper – not one, but two. For as long as I can recall, my family has always subscribed to the newspaper – the local county paper, as well as the larger, national city paper. It’s been a staple in my life and in my reading repertoire, consistently since the fourth grade.

Fondly, I can recall the newspaper stacked up, near the sofa, waiting to be read by my dad upon his arrival home from work, as a pharmacist. No matter how late he returned home at night, the newspapers would be read, in one way or another. In some way, the newspaper eventually became a source of conversation for my dad and I, as we often reflected on articles written, topics addressed and what we liked and disliked. My love of the newspaper was cultivated most specifically in the fourth grade, as I mentioned above. In the fourth grade, my teacher at the time, requested each of us to complete a “Current Event.” In other words, we were to scour the newspaper for an article of interest, clip it, and summarize it in paragraph form. However, not only were we required to summarize it in written form, but we were also instructed to present it to the class, in order to confirm our understanding of the article and all it entailed. From then on, reading the newspaper became a ritual, one I looked forward to and relied on.

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My love for writing, news, media and the newspaper, in general further expanded as I grew older. In fact, in high school, I applied and was accepted as a “Reality” Teen Panelist, in the Reality Teen section published each Thursday in my local county’s newspaper. Constantly, mind was churning about what topic I would write about next and there was no greater feeling than opening the newspaper on Thursday morning and seeing my byline and article. It was a silent honor and one I very much appreciated. How satisfying it was to know that people were reading my thoughts and words. My love of writing and newspapers spilled over into my local high school, as I became the News Editor, for the school paper. Though I tend to view my writing as more creative than hard news, it was a learning experience, as I learned how to operate Pagemaker, copy-edit, and spend much of my days attempting to ace and practice “AP – Associated Press Style.” Stemming from my days at both the school paper and the county paper, I still cringe when I notice someone utilizing a newspaper as a makeshift “umbrella,” often wondering if they know how much work, dedication and drama goes into producing the paper, each day. It is time well spent in my opinion, but one that often falls to the wayside, especially in today’s day and age, where many people turn to the internet, as opposed to the daily, tangible version of the newspaper. Of course, don’t get me wrong, as I am a media and news fiend – not only do I read the two newspapers each morning, but I also closely follow the news on Twitter, Facebook and the like. I always like to be “linked-in” – no pun, intended!

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At this point, you may be wondering as to why I decided to reminisce about my love of newspapers, today, of all days. Well, yesterday, believing both newspapers would be waiting for me, to be read at my disposal, one was noticeably missing. How empty my morning feels, sans a newspaper. In a way, as odd and dramatic as it may sound, newspapers have come to serve as nearly a friendship to me, as I am quite familiar with many of the writers/reporters, the sections of the newspaper (right down to the engagement and wedding announcements). Realizing one of the papers is absent is a palpable vacancy and void. While to others newspapers may nearly be extinct, to me, they are a link to my past, my childhood and truly, where my love of writing, reading, media and journalism was more or less cultivated. It is also an area, which bonds me to my parents, because they took the time to foster the love of reading, in me, providing access on a daily basis not only to newspapers, but to books. For that, I am always thankful. Until they are no longer around (which I truly hope they ALWAYS are), I will forever be a faithful reader of newspapers, available on the internet, or not. There is just something about the tangible feel of that newspaper, the scent of it, and being able to rely on it waiting for me on my front doorstep. Though the times may be changing, with media being readily available with the touch of a fingertip on a computer, phone, etc, there is something beautifully nostalgic and traditional about being able to touch all of the words and stories by hand, whether it is a newspaper or book.

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QUESTION: Do you read the newspaper? If so, do you prefer the paper or electronic format?