Believing in Better Tomorrows

Wherever you might be today, I hope your day is going well and if it’s not, I hope you see the hope and promise of tomorrow, as I try to do on particularly challenging days. As you might know if you’ve read my blog previously, I’m constantly searching for inspiration, even in the most unlikely places. Though, most often, I tend to find inspiring quotes and food for thought on mediums such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and in magazines/books. Relatively often, I noticed fellow “friends” on Facebook and Twitter posting or sharing the quotes and thoughts of SimpleReminders.com. Perhaps you’re already familiar with them and are aware of their consistent posts throughout each day, but if you’re not, they are one site I’ve taken quite a liking to. About two days ago, I took the time to scroll through their Twitter feed, easily becoming enthralled with all they shared.

With that being said, I felt compelled to share it with others, such as fellow readers who might not have seen their posts, and it is my hope that someone might feel as inspired as me after reading some of them (NOTE: Not all are from SimpleReminders.com, but many are):

“The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”

“Life is a mural that you create. Every action you take is another brush stroke. Make yours beautiful.”

“True friends are those rare people who come to find you in dark places and lead you back into the light.”

“Be the girl/guy who decided to go for it.”

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“Flowers grow back, even after they are stepped on. So will I. Resilience.”

“Not everything faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“Use your eyes to see the needs, and use your talents to meet them.”

“Love is not what you say. Love is what you do.”

Garden Quote

 

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.”

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.

change-quote

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.

life-limits                     never-too-late

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.”

Spring Forward in Thoughts

Good Morning, to you and Happy Earth Day! Since I’ve only very recently resumed blogging after a brief hiatus, I neglected to welcome in the new season of Spring (hardly new, now a month into it!). That being said, Spring has always been a season I’ve looked forward to for a multitude of reasons. Living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, we often endure a harsh, frigid winter (or at least, in reason years we have) and so the Spring is always a welcome occurrence in my mind. There is truly nothing better than having the ability to step outside of my house, sans a heavy winter coat and boots and feel the light, Spring breeze tousling my hair and allowing for a cleansing fresh start. The beginning of Spring is also an acknowledgement and reminder of new beginnings. Not only are seasonal flowers and produce blooming and growing, but it’s also the chance to try something new and with that, it leads me to my recent discovery via Twitter, one of my favorite social media platforms.

Spring Quote 2

Having recently read the latest novel by acclaimed author, Debbie Macomber, I decided to check out her Twitter page and see what she’s been up to and if she’s sharing any inspirational words. While on her page, I noticed her “retweeting” several quotes and other motivational tweets by the Twitter name – World Changing Women. Curious as I was, I clicked over onto their page and discovered an entire outpouring of motivational and inspirational quotes, posted multiple times throughout the day. To me, it was just what I was looking for and hoping to see. Immediately, I clicked “follow” and since then, have been actively enjoying their tweets, liking them for further reference.

So, I thought, what better than to share some of my favorite quotes thus far, or at least those that have profoundly resonated with me:

Quotes/Thoughts from “World Changing Women” (Twitter handle: @WomenOfHistory)

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”

“Worry does nothing but steal your joy and keep you very busy doing nothing.”

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

“When you do something out of love, you don’t count the cost.”

“Some people pass through our lives in a shorter time frame than we had hoped to teach us things they never could have taught if they had stayed.”

“The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn’t mean it’s the end of the book.”

“Don’t let your fear of the past affect the outlook of your future. Live for what tomorrow has to bring, not what yesterday has taken away.”

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

“People who are meant to be together find their way back, they may take a few detours, but they are never lost.”

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition; giving up is what makes it permanent.”

Spring Quote

 

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.”

Half the Truth

The other day, a rough, emotionally-driven, raw afternoon, I sat in my car with the windows drawn and tears streaming down my face as I mindlessly scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed on my phone. Like clockwork, I scrolled through the countless photos of people’s children, engagement and pregnancy announcements, party photos and simply happy moments. Sure, mixed in here and there were trivial complaints or motivational quotes, but nothing capturing my undivided attention, until…

A favorite author of mine, Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer behind the popular non-fiction novel, Eat Pray Love, posted a short piece of writing entitled, “Not this.” Words filled my newsfeed, words that seemed to spill from me, capturing each thought, worry and sentiment I’ve felt through the years. Realizing others and more specifically, Gilbert herself and the others she speaks of have experienced similar feelings was all the comfort and reassurance I needed at that moment. Reading this piece summoned a certain confidence and courage within me, words I needed to hear at moment, thoughts I needed to propel me forward. After reading it, I pushed open the door to my car and felt as though a window had suddenly been opened.

So here I am today, on a beautiful Spring afternoon in April, hoping that by posting her piece, maybe somewhere a window will be opening for someone else or at least will be a reminder that we’re never truly alone in our thoughts and fears:

“Not this” by Elizabeth Gilbert:

Dear Ones –

Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.

Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.

This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying.

I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.

Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment.

All you know is: NOT THIS.

Sometimes that’s all you CAN know.

All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced.

Your body is saying: NOT THIS.

Your heart is saying: NOT THIS.

Your soul is saying: NOT THIS.

But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…

So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”

But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.

I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan.

People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon.

People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.

I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.

I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.

I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.

I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.

I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS.

I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out.

Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.

And yet….

And yet.

If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.

You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.

The bravest thing to say can be these two words.

What comes next?

I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS.

ONWARD,
LG

– Thank you to Elizabeth Gilbert for bravely sharing this inspiring kaleidoscope of words, they are many words I’ve thought, but never written.