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

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Scenes from a 17th September

Lately, it seems I’ve been more nostalgic than usual. Most of my nostalgia, I feel, probably stems my desire to make some imperative, much-needed changes within my life. I’ve always been a firm believer in the notion: if you’re unhappy with your present life and feel as though it isn’t “you,” then it is worth it to pursue change. Of course, while I’ve been a believer in this sentiment, it isn’t always the easiest to actually implement or attempt this change. Often times, when attempting change, or trying something different, I’ve become sidetracked, discouraged, or traveled down the path to procrastination. The more I age, the more I realize how important it is to take chances, no matter how frightful they may seem. These fears though, as I’ve come to know, are often fears we’ve created in our minds, building up these changes to unrealistic levels, creating negative outcomes in our minds that would probably never happen. There is so much I aspire to in life, so many ideas, creations and concepts I’d love to work on, so many people and families I’d love to help and yet, my fears have always prevented me from doing it. My own preconceived notions about my abilities, or lack thereof, and chastising myself for not being in the place or in the life I thought I would be as I approach my 28th year has led me to where I am today.

That being said, last night as I watched the latest Hallmark Channel movie on TV (yes, I’ll admit to it, but this movie actually proved to be one of the better ones of the bunch!), it prompted a prolonged nostalgia within me for reasons I can’t really understand, myself. So allow me to reflect a bit, without delving too much into the meanings between the words:

It was September 20, 2005, I was 17, and I still remember what I wore that day, a navy, fitted t-shirt, with white lace adorning the collar, fitted jeans and heeled sandals; my unofficial “beginning of senior year of high school uniform,” for the preceding weeks. I can still remember the way the clothes felt on my body as I slid them over my shrinking body, feeling the fabric skimming over my hip bones and the way the tag on my t-shirt rested on bones of my neck. When I look back, I can still feel myself slamming the backseat car door in the parking garage, angry and afraid, unsure if I wanted to scream or cry, wanting both all the same. The scene is still as clear as day; not a cloud lined the sky, the air was pristine, a temperate breeze filled the town of Princeton, NJ. When the parking lot’s elevator door opened, I marched my way into the building in front of me, unaware it would be home for the time being. Both my parents trailed in the background, as I desperately ran from them. They hurried to catch up, but my feet continued to carry me faster.

The next several hours were a hazy blur; papers being signed, questions asked, numbers recorded, heads nodding, tears shed, and my anger mounting. The numbness lingered through my body that first day and night. Words escaped me and my thoughts were scattered that first afternoon, outside on the lawn with the others, all of our respective blankets adorning the first floor lawn. As I lay on my blanket, I closed my eyes and hoped that when they opened, my life would be my own again.”

“Sometimes, it takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence, and absence to value presence.”

A “Hello” of a Thousand Words

This morning, I was innocently perusing through Facebook, mindlessly looking over the endless amounts of posts with little or no pertinent information, not believing I would find anything of true substance, but contrary to my preconceived notions, I did. Years ago, when I first became acquainted with her music and at the height of her career, I apparently “liked” Adele, the renowned singer on Facebook. For about two years now, she has been noticeably absent from the music scene, taking time to write, live her life and plan her next steps. Her absence from the music world was upsetting for me, as it was for many and made me curious as to when she would make her return, if ever.

Adele picture

Then, I started hearing buzz on the radio and TV about her impending return, this year, at some point. The other day, a 30-second clip of her latest single, apparently aired on the British version of the X-Factor TV show. Her new album was confirmed (officially, this morning!) to be titled, “25,” which chronicles her transition period, documenting where she’s been, what she’s encountered and more importantly, what she’s learned. I think her album is bound to be filled with bravery, strength and inspiration. I’ve always admired Adele for her talent and presence. She is one of the few singers who can simply stand on stage and sing. She doesn’t need to perform intricate dance routines or wear scantily-clad clothing; she can stand on stage and command the attention of all with her voice.

Anyway, back to the premise of this post – this morning, I stumbled across Adele’s Facebook post. In her post, she explains the concept of her new album and quite frankly, it is one of the most candid pieces of writing I’ve ever read and one that closely resonates with me. I felt compelled to share it on here, in case you might not have seen it, and also, I’m hoping that it will provide inspiration and comfort to some, as it has for me. Here it is:

Adele writing

(Since it is a bit challenging to read the actual text from her Facebook post, as you can see above, I am posting the actual words below)

ADELE’S Post (posted on Facebook and Twitter and shared on various websites)

“When I was 7, I wanted to be 8. When I was 8, I wanted to be 12. When I turned 12 I just wanted to be 18. Then after that I stopped wanting to be older. Now I’m ticking 16-24 boxes just to see if I can blag it! I feel like I’ve spent my whole life so far wishing it away.’

‘Always wishing I was older, wishing I was somewhere else, wishing I could remember and wishing I could forget too. Wishing I hadn’t ruined so many good things because I was scared or bored.’  

‘Wishing I wasn’t so matter of fact all the time. Wishing I’d gotten to know my great grandmother more, and wishing I didn’t know myself so well, because it means I always know what’s going to happen. Wishing I hadn’t cut my hair off, wishing I was 5’7. Wishing I’d waited and wishing I’d hurried up as well.

My last record was a break-up record and if I had to label this one I would call it a make-up record. I’m making up with myself. Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. 

‘But I haven’t got time to hold onto the crumbs of my past like I used to. What’s done is done.Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap bang in the middle of my twenties. 

‘Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully-fledged adult, I made the decision to go into becoming who I’m going to be forever without a removal van full of my old junk.

‘I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back. When I was in it I wanted out! So typical. I’m on about being a teenager, sitting around and chatting shit, not caring about the future because it didn’t matter then like it does now.

‘The ability to be flippant about everything and there be no consequences. Even following and breaking rules…is better than making the rules.

’25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realising. And I’m so sorry it took so long, but you know, life happened.”

Welcome Back, Stars Hollow!

Good Morning! By now you may have already heard, but in the event you haven’t yet heard this exciting news, Gilmore Girls is apparently slated to return to Netflix for an *all new* series of roughly four 90-minute movies, as opposed to a full season of one-hour episodes. The return to the small screen will be produced by original creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her executive producer husband, Daniel Palladino. Hearing this news, I was more than ecstatic. For the number of years it aired, Gilmore Girls was a TV show I looked forward to each week and highlighted what I had to look forward to in my teenage and college years, as depicted by the stars, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. It was a show that attacked not only lighthearted topics, but also those with a heavier and more controversial take, such as teen pregnancy, drug usage, and volatile relationships. In my mind, Gilmore Girls was one of the few TV shows where the characters seemed to “inhabit” their roles. None of it really ever seemed “acted,” but rather, it felt as though I was taking an insider glimpse into people’s everyday lives – a reality show without the “reality,” if you will.

Gilmore Girls

Even years after the show officially ceased airing new episodes, I would watch the reruns during my college years, in-between classes, thankful I was able to relive my favorite episodes and see familiar faces. The fictional Connecticut town of Stars Hollow where Gilmore Girls was set, was one that created a concept of the “ideal, cookie-cutter” town, I would later search for. One town I encountered in particular, Newport, Rhode Island, brought this town to mind, and though it wasn’t exactly the same as Stars Hollow, it evoked that small, hometown, locavore feel I looked for. It was a quintessential New England town and I couldn’t help but think about Gilmore Girls as I explored.

The TV show, Gilmore Girls, was one of the few TV shows that shaped my childhood and teen years. Along with Felicity, 7th Heaven and Everwood, they were TV shows that always left me in a contemplative and reflective state. The acting and storylines were emotional and sometimes happy and thrilling and other times, heartbreaking; similar to how a person’s true life can be. The writing was beautiful and telling and the acting even more so. To me, a lot of these aforementioned TV shows were more than just that to me; they were similar to some of my favorite novels I’ve read, serving as a guide for events and situations to come. A lot of the time, situations I would see in these TV shows would mirror my life and at times, provide me with a unique perspective or take on the situation.

Gilmore Girls 2

Needless to say, the news of the Gilmore Girls revival brightened my day, as I learned of it during early evening, yesterday. While of course it is always good to welcome new TV shows in to my repertoire, sometimes, it’s comforting to have a bit of a beloved favorite back for an appearance, even for a short while. So with that, I say, “Welcome back, Stars Hollow.”

Gilmore Girls Quote

Everything We Don’t See

It’s been a rough couple weeks for me, to say the least. It’s hard to place into words how it’s made me feel and where I am, emotionally right now, but nonetheless, I am trying my utmost best to pull through and keep my head up. I know that life can change at any instant, in both a positive and negative light, so I keep looking towards the future with the hope that life gets better. What I can control, I try to do so with good intentions. Like I’ve said before, intent is one of the most important aspects of life, or at least, to me it is anyway. It was something I learned at one of my old jobs. They used to stress the importance of intent in everything we did. I worked in a customer service department of a health insurance related company and the entire day consisted of me assisting individuals over the phone with their health insurance issues and questions. I didn’t always feel the most confident in my abilities, but the main thing the company wanted us to focus on was our intent. If our intent is always to help, then the other steps of correctly answering the customers’ questions or resolving their issues comes second. We can always find another co-worker, supervisor or employee to help us in answering the customer’s question, but if our good intent is missing, then all is downhill from there. When I first heard this perspective, it was a new concept to me. For most of my life, I had always focused on how well I could answer questions and resolve issues. For instance, throughout school, in math class, the goal is mainly to answer the questions correctly, and so I never really considered the steps I took in getting there. I later realized that we can take many of the correct steps and still come up with the wrong answer, but as long as initial instinct and intent was on the right path, then that is really what is most important.

What I more or less mean, is that we don’t always see what successes we’ve made, or how much we’ve accomplished through life if we don’t have something tangible to show for it. In other words, just because we don’t have an abundance of wealth, a large amount of “friends,” the largest house or a closet full of designer clothing, does not mean we haven’t been successful or made good choices in our lives. It doesn’t mean we haven’t helped someone by offering a helping hand or listening ear. It doesn’t mean we haven’t inspired a child by fully listening to them and encouraging them. It also doesn’t mean we aren’t beautiful just because our faces aren’t blemish free, or our hair isn’t poker straight, sans free of frizz and split ends. It just means we are beautiful in a different way, a way that is unique to what is thought to be conventionally “beautiful.” The meaning and connotation of beautiful is so very different to each and every person.

My aforementioned thoughts were more or less inspired by a quote shared by my cousin on Facebook. A couple days ago, I was innocently trolling through Facebook posts, when I stumbled across my cousin’s, which spoke to and resonated with me in more ways than I can truly verbalize. Perhaps you’ve seen it before or maybe not, but all the same, I thought it was best for me to share it in hopes that maybe someone else who could be reading this, might be as inspired or intrigued as I was:

“It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up silent with our chests rising & falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care in your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and pure happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly your authentic self.

Reading this lead me to question, when am I my most authentic self? I’m my most authentic self when I am laughing with those I love most, forgetting about all the insecurities, failures, missed opportunities and chances. I’m most my authentic self when the disappointments and sadness I feel are pushed aside because I’m having too much fun and joy seeing my niece smiling and waving and experiencing all the goodness of life for the first time. I’m most my most authentic self when I look outside at the leaves beginning to fall and see not a missed opportunity at a changing season, but a chance for a pleasant and fulfilling future filled with love, happiness and success.

Season Quote

What it Takes to Know: A Month of Reflection

It’s hard to believe about a month or so has passed since I last posted. At the beginning of this month, I embarked on a new venture in the job realm. While I was apprehensive about it, I decided to take a chance, feeling as though the possibility of success and at least some type of learning experience could come of it. That said, the morning of the first day, I awoke with a sense of fear and dread, questioning what I’d gotten myself into. Did I act on a whim? Should I have given my decision more thought? These were real, true wonders I had and I could feel my sense of dread growing with every minute inching me closer towards my 8:30am start.

What I walked into is nothing I’d like to describe. In fact, I’d like to keep most of those thoughts for my own private reference and reflection, but what I’d like to share is mainly what I’ve learned, even if it might seem cliche, or obvious to some people.

  • The easiest and quickest way to be sad and lonely is try to be someone you’re not. Whether it is through working at a certain-type of job or environment, spending time with people who don’t understand you, don’t respect you, or most importantly, celebrate you for who you ARE, quirks included.
  • I like to do my best, whether I am going to receive a benefit or not. It doesn’t matter to me if I will gain something monetarily, emotionally, or anything else. If I am going to do something, I will strive to do it with all my heart. It doesn’t matter if someone else has snubbed me or lead me astray, I will still try my best to do what I feel is right.
  • Intention means more than doing something the “correct way.” For instance, I didn’t always complete each task the “right” way when learning new skills in different jobs, or in school, but what I’ve learned through the years is that if my INTENT is to help, or to do something with all my heart and effort, than that is what really matters.
  • When I make a mistake, I OWN UP to it. I don’t deny that I haven’t always made the right choices or decisions, whether small, insignificant or not, but I will always admit to it. Sometimes admitting to certain mistakes are easier than others, but I will still admit fault where and when warranted. I’m not ashamed to show people I’m not faultless. Yes, I have quirks, insecurities, fears, worries, sometimes I can come off as a perfectionist, sometimes I can talk too fast, sometimes I can obsess over things other people might give little thought to. These all make me who I am, but I’m not trying to pretend.
  • What I’ll never understand is why people choose to behave one way towards another person and then completely turn around and snub them in the worst of ways. I’ve contemplated this for weeks now, as to why other people choose to bring other people down. I will never understand why or how people would be able to obtain personal satisfaction and gratification from knowing they’ve hurt someone, insulted them, or made them feel awful. I could never understand or imagine someone feeling remotely happy or pleased with themselves knowing they’ve made their coworker hang their head in shame, or sit in their car sobbing to themselves, feeling as though they are worthless. I know that as individuals, we really shouldn’t give people the power to decide our fate and feelings, but sometimes, feeling badly when someone has used repugnant words or expressed negative and discerning emotions towards us, it is beyond difficult to not feel badly. For me personally, throughout my life, I’ve been guilty of internalizing the way other people treat me. I’ve taken their harsh words and emotions and used it against myself in ways to cause myself even more pain and for this, it makes me human. It makes me human to admit I’m not faultless and sometimes I care too much about what others think and how others perceive me. When it comes down to it though, my goal in life is to never make someone feel like they need to question who they are, or be ashamed of who they are. Everyone has something about them that makes them unique and rather than question or criticize these quirks or creative differences, I’d rather be the one celebrating them.
  • I’d rather make someone smile each and every day, then be the one who is making them cry. Enough said.

So yes, this month has been one filled with tumultuous emotions, tears and smiles. This month brought the celebration of my niece’s first birthday, and also allowed me to make choices and reflections on my life path. While others might question my choices and scratch their heads wondering about my reasoning, that’s not for them to decide. Not everyone’s path is for everyone else, and you know what? That’s exactly how it should be. It all goes back to that one Robert Frost quote I’ve come to know and highly regard: “I took the road less traveled and it has made all the difference.” I first acquainted myself with that quote on a college admission essay question to Northwestern University. I never thought that very quote would prove to follow me throughout the course of my life, a decade later.

Belief Quote

Nonetheless, here I am. I’m filled with ideas, dreams and goals. I try to see it as not a mess of a life, but more so a maze. Yes, a maze, that while the path is not always crystal clear, or easy to navigate, but one filled with adventure and promise, and though I might have to work a little harder than some to get through it, I tell myself, “don’t worry, you’ll get there soon.” For now, I’ll enjoy it and tell myself, life has ways of surprising us and to trust it’s process.

Belief Quote 2

Friends we Left Behind

I hope you’re Tuesday has been a pleasant one, thus far. Since beginning this blog about two weeks ago, it’s been my goal to be positive, uplifting and friendly, hoping to be a place where readers can visit for lighthearted reading and tips. Though, in doing so, I realize it is not entirely “me,” and lately, I’ve been feeling particularly nostalgic about my past, the present, and how it affects me. Not wanting to be pessimistic or overly melancholy, today’s musing will be a brief one, providing some “food for thought.” However, before I share with you what’s been on my mind, let’s focus on the first meal of the day:

Breakfast (Tuesday, July 23, 2013):

1 container Yoplait 100 Greek Vanilla Yogurt (Truly one of the *best* vanilla Greek yogurts in my opinion, the vanilla flavor comes through with a vengeance, easily combined with what it happens to be mixed with, if anything. It’s always a yogurt flavor I look forward to and one I recommend if you happen to be searching for a decent vanilla Greek yogurt, or simply would like another variety to add to your repertoire.)

1 cup Special K Red Berries (Yes, a repeat from yesterday, but I am attempting to complete this box, before I can move onto the next!)

1 cup Barbara’s Bakery Original Puffins (Box completed! Don’t worry, though, I have two other Puffins flavors in my cabinet that are just WAITING to be devoured!)

1 Banana (Petite, sweet and satisfying – just the way I like it!)

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So, I’ll be honest with you, I often think and reflect on old friendships I’ve had; it’s hard not to when I still live close to where I grew up. Sometimes, I’ll run into people I shared many experiences with and they often look the other way, turning a blind eye to me, pretending they haven’t clue as to who I am. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t sting, as I watch them turn away, or it didn’t make me wonder what I did wrong, if anything. Even if I don’t happen to see former friends in person, due to Facebook, they are still present, at least in the social media realm, in my life.

For awhile, upon graduating from high school, or even prior to graduating, I would look at the photos posted by my former group of very close best friends, seeing them smiling and sharing moments with one another, but I would search and search in their photos for someone or something, who wasn’t there. It took some time for me to realize the “someone” or “something,” I was searching for, was me. For many years, it was always the 5 of us, conquering the world together, spending copious amounts of time at each others’ houses, but more specifically one girl’s home in particular. We would scour the mall for hours, daring each other to run up to the guys we thought were “cute,” buying matching clothing, and wiping each others’ tears when life got in the way. The way I saw it, we would be friends forever, bridesmaids in each others’ weddings, maybe even having our children become best friends like us.

Our senior year of high school, it all came crashing down. Having known these best friends since the 6th grade, I watched each of them turn away from me, soon becoming a distant memory only recollected by the scrapbooks they once made me, the words they wrote on a “Xanga” site we all used to maintain, and the feelings I stuffed deep down inside me. Having battled my share of personal demons and pain, perhaps looking back, it was too much for them to take on. Maybe I was wrong, maybe I expected too much, failing to realize we were still teenagers at the time. It still hurts today, though, at 25-years-old, because it all feels so unfinished, a door left open, and I wonder, if it will ever be closed, or if the pain will ever truly subside, as I contemplated where things went wrong.

Months ago, I tried for the second time, to reach out to one of my former best friends in particular only to receive no reply. It’s not her fault and I suppose when I think about it, it’s not mine. She has her reasons for why she chose to disconnect and as a mature adult, I have to accept that. It’s hard to brush it aside, when I see other friends marrying, with their best friends, whose friendships I watched blossom, are at their side. It makes me think of what I could have had, if things had been different, if my mind hadn’t betrayed me, all those years prior.

About two weeks ago, while reading the newspaper as I typically do, I stumbled across the Obituaries page. It’s page I come into contact with each day, at quick glance, not expecting to see anyone I actually know, or at least I hope I don’t. That day, however, I did. It wasn’t my direct friend, but a former close friends’ older brother, a guy a couple years older than us, who often drove us where we wanted to go and was particularly close to my friend. This friend and I were close in a way, where we understood each other. She shared with me the pain and heartache her family endured and trusted me with these tender, raw truths. Seeing the obituary of her beloved brother threw me for a loop. Instantly, I was transported back to the year prior when my former best friend’s father passed away. That time, I immediately wrote to her, send her family card and attempted to reach out. Though it wasn’t the first time I tried to reach out, my attempts went unanswered. I tried to understand and place myself in her shoes, a difficult act enough to complete.

Weeks later, I still wrestle with whether or not I should try to reach out to this friend, who is clearly in pain, attempting to make sense of all that has happened. Thoughts of my former friends often fill my mind, as the pain is still a viable presence in my life. I try to silence it, but sometimes, especially during times like this, it reminds me of everything and everyone I left behind.

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