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.

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

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