Category Archives: attitude

some help here?

there’s a picture of me at the age of four. i’m at my grandma’s house. my light brown hair is swooped into lop-sided pigtails, and i’m standing next to a table smiling with a big cup of yogurt and spoon in my hands.

my smile is huge. it’s toothless and bright. it’s purposeful and knowing.

my eyes are squinting and gleaming.

the ties of my sundress have fallen from one shoulder. the late-day sun is shining behind me and lighting up the bursts of blond in my hair.

i don’t even have the picture in front of me, but i can tell you exactly how it looks. it’s one of my favorite pictures of myself as a kid. because of the glint of unabashed stubbornness i can see in my eyes.

as a child, my mother tells me, i was ferociously independent. “i can do it myself” was my daily dictum. if i wanted to go outside and swing, i did it all by myself. if i wanted some juice, i poured it myself. if i wanted to draw a picture, i got my crayons and paper and i sat down to draw. no help for me, thank ya very much.

when my mother did offer me help, i was offended. mortified. disgusted.

and this independence, this desire to do everything “by myself,” followed me through life. it made for some interesting times as i entered junior high, high school, young adulthood. it seemed that accepting any help from anyone was a mortal sin and a sign of weakness to me.

through two marriages, “i can do it myself” was difficult to surrender. i didn’t want to depend on anyone, even someone who was supposed to be my equal and a sharer of my life. every time i was offered help – whether in the daily minutiae or in problems that weighed heavy on my heart – i seethed at the thought of someone insinuating that i was incapable. that’s how i saw it.

that glint has gotten the best of me. it has made me weather many situations alone when i didn’t have to. it has made me shoulder troubles without having a trusting ear in my vicinity. it has put me on the floor of my bathroom sobbing because i felt that, if i couldn’t do it myself, i was a failure.

within the last year, i have been learning to ask for help… or at least to realize when i am over-burdening myself. though reaching out to another person – a trusting and loyal person – is still quite a relinquishment of power for me, i am gradually, slowly beginning to understand that i can be an independent person even during my vulnerable moments.

i can ask for help, and knowing it’s there will only serve to strengthen my spirit.

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a little perspective.

this is my first post of 2010.

and i’ve prepared for it, appropriately, by reading through my archives dating back to the beginning of this blog in september, 2009.

i feel as though i’ve been trying to tell myself so many things. about myself. my life. my work. my relationships. my passion.

i’ve been openly embracing what i’ve learned about myself, not just since i began writing here, but also in the five months leading up to that time.

today, as i was reading through, i realized just how far i’ve come (metaphorically and realistically) since my first post. even in four short months, life can change so drastically, so unexpectedly. and i am at a good place.

my loneliness has become an opportunity for me to speak with myself, to understand who i am, what i want and when and how and why. all of the answers to my questions are slowly becoming available. every time i do something for me, i get to know me on another level, i can hear the clicking and unlocking of a long-closed door.

there have been many doors creaking open in my life recently. where once i could only tell you what others thought of me, i can now tell you what i think of me. it is refreshing, liberating and wildly overdue.

i am learning that i can only be who i am. and who i am is perfectly flawed.

my goals and dreams are not exorbitant. but my expectations to stretch and create while also maintaining the “me” are resolute, steadfast, impenetrable. that’s me. that’s that.

i dislike when people say they feel “lucky.” i don’t really believe in luck – good or bad. but i do believe that we all have the ability to manifest (most times, subconsciously) the roads we travel and the stops we make along the way. and we most certainly choose our attitude. of all the things in life i am thankful for, it is that i’ve surrounded myself with positivity. even when negativity tried to pry its way in, i addressed it, turned it back around and kicked its ass out the door.

i don’t need it. because i’m discovering, slowly and benevolently, that i am everything i will ever need.

and life itself is just a bonus.

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’til her little heart’s content.

excerpt from the journal of a 16-year-old tootie:

i want to be strong enough on the inside to accept things the way they are, but i don’t want to be so strong that i am heartless. i want to cry, i want to laugh, i want to be angry — but at a whole different level.

i often wonder about this 16 year old.

after almost 12 years of learning and growing and stretching into a grown-up skin, i still feel a commonality with her. 15-year-old tootie? too socially awkward. 17- and 18-year-old tooties? both entirely too boy crazy and quick to please superiors.

but 16-year-old tootie… now, there’s a girl i can get behind.

i guess it’s largely because she was almost there. she almost had it right.

every once in a while, i feel like i channel her. i know how ridiculous that may sound… seeing as how i am her. but there’s really not a better way to describe it. she makes me remember what it feels like to pour the soul onto paper. yes, paper. with an ink pen. real old-school style stuff.

and i remember what it felt like for her to be alone with her thoughts and this paper. to reach down, down deep until she struck a well, and her hand couldn’t keep up.

to 16-year-old tootie, the reality she lived in was only a figment of something larger — something she couldn’t quite place, but was still as real as ink or trees or books (all of which she loved).

this is the tootie who wanted to feel deeper, no matter how hard it hurt.

she wasn’t afraid or ashamed or embarrassed by what spewed forth from her gel rollerball.

because once it was out there, for all the world to see, it became everything she needed it to be.

and then she could turn the page.

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the time to finish is never.

a few weeks ago, i got tired.

tired of feeling/being stagnate. tired of getting ideas and never following through.

and so, so tired of breathing but not living.

i felt stuck. and frustrated. and determined.

so i opened microsoft word and typed three words:

“the being list”

because i feel too young, too eternal to think about dying. (however, i’m not delusional and do realize it is inevitable.)

but the idea of preparing for death seems a bit… morbid? dramatic?

and maybe it’s just the thought of “kicking the bucket” that displeases me.

regardless, i wanted this list to encompass those things in life that make you an addict of living. nothing dangerous, or illegal, or moronic.

just simple, yet complex pleasures that make me want to soak in every drop, expend every ounce of myself and still leave me feeling… whole.

finished… but not yet finished.

the being list is about nurturing the soul. it’s not a race to accomplish as many incredible tasks before death finds us. it is a guideline, a plan and a memoir for finding ourselves — a list of those things we believe are important, significant, life-worthy.

the goal is not to finish. but to keep going.

because even when we feel as though we’ve accomplished all there is in life, we should search for the next thing and the next and the next.

life stops when we want it to. as long as we are being, we are living.

and i began typing all the things i could do that would nurture me. that would wrap me in a metaphorical snuggie and serve me love in a cup of hot cocoa.

and here it is. a work in progress, just like me.

because life is about expanding our selves, our minds, our hearts and filling our days with moments that allow us to open our eyes and be…

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a lesson in numbers.

i have $190 in my bank account.

i have a credit card that is almost maxed out at $4,000.

i have $16,000 in cumulative student loan debt.

no savings. no house. no assets. no financial plan.

i am, by today’s standards, a non-existence.

a prime example of how to do it wrong.

because, in today’s world, you have to have stuff, and you have to get it the right way. and it has to be the stuff that everyone else has. or better yet, the stuff that no one else has.

i’ve been bogged down in stuff: i am reminded everyday of the tv i don’t have, or the family i don’t have, or the house i need or the car i should be driving, or the job i should strive for relative to my age.

but the truth is, all of those things can come and go; they can be taken away. money can be spent, houses and jobs can be lost, families can leave.

and the fact that i can’t keep up sometimes makes me jealous and angry and sad. mainly because i am human, surrounded by a human world propagated by human emotions and desires.

it all sounds very complex.

when it’s actually quite simple.

striving for these things doesn’t make us less admirable or less deserving. it’s only when we allow the stuff to control our happiness that we’ve made a wrong turn. when we wake up in the morning and our first thought is of something that may or may not be here tomorrow, we’ve lost the magnificence of life.

this morning, i had plans for my day. and those plans made me happy. they made me pop up out of bed, eager to start the day. and, as quick as it came, my mood spiraled when i was made to feel inadequate about my choices and my current financial position.

and then i cursed my own sensitivities. why was i letting this affect me?

i had no answer.

other than my mind started off on the wrong foot.

i set my focus on the wrong things.

i made a mistake in thought.

because, in the vastness that is life, my bank account is not representative of me.

i am not $190.

or $4,000 in credit card debt.

or $16,000 in student loans.

i am not houseless, spouseless, stuffless.

i am hope and passion and gratefulness and love.

and knowing that i am not alone in that truth is the focus i need.

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everybody wants to rule the world.

i haven’t written in 10 days.

it seems that i have been letting life’s ennui drain my energy and my focus.

it happens.

now i’m preparing to celebrate another family holiday as “newly separated, potentially crazy, sad and lonely girl.”

(not my choice of words.)

thing is, i don’t feel crazy or sad or lonely. sometimes, lonely. but not as such an overwhelming adjective.

but my family has a tendency to treat me as such.

they walk on eggshells around me.

and, at the mere mention of the words “divorce” or “marriage” or “husband,” i watch in amazement as eyes dart around the room with the hope that the words are lost in a paranormal shift.

or drowned in the silence that follow them.

and i’m left wondering what the fuss is about. why the need for discretion?

as if i am unaware of what is unfolding in my world.

i try to step back and look at it from their perspective. they are concerned because they are full of love for me and want me to be happy.

to them i am, as they say, fragile. (not to be confused with weak.)

perhaps they are unsure how to handle fragile. maybe fragile makes them uncomfortable. or scared.

but the world is full of fragile. i’m not alone in that regard.

and if i could tell them anything it would be that fragile is just a fact of life. it’s not more or less meaningful when it happens to me than when it happens to anyone or anything else.

even fragile has its place, and any efforts to control its causes or consequences are even more futile than attempts to prevent the spin of the earth.

or maybe that’s what i need to tell myself.

after all, i haven’t written in 10 days.

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the hardest thing i’ve never done.

we are all careening through life.

we are trying to be successful, be loved, be happy.

we grasp at anything that gives us the smallest glimpse of the right direction.

i’ve never been good at direction.

not in driving and, some might say, not in living.

but i’ve always felt like i’ve given it my best shot.

and that’s all that’s really mattered to me.

i’ve prided myself in having not regretted the decisions i’ve made – even the ones that may have gotten me lost.

because i’ve always found my way home, in the end.

it’s never been difficult for me to find light in the dark or smile through tears.

because i’ve always known that the wrong turns don’t really matter. they are simply there to lead us back to where we need to be. and they give us a new purpose: to focus our energy on what does matter.

today, i closed my eyes, let the sun hit my face and cleanse my thoughts.

then i asked myself what has been the most difficult thing for me to do.

of all the experiences i’ve had, when did i feel the most lost?

the answer didn’t surprise me. or thrill me. or scare me.

but it was simple:

the hardest thing about life, my life, has been the times when i told myself i couldn’t do something.

i told myself that it was too big for me. too great for me. too good for me.

the most significant battle i’ve faced in my life has been to believe that i can do it.

whatever it happens to be.

and, when i opened my eyes, i sat there with this revelation.

and i held it in my heart.

and i told myself that i am good.

deep-down, good.

that i deserve good.

then i asked myself to start believing it, trusting it.

and making it the first step in a right direction.

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