When you look at your life, what do you see? Is it the life you had planned for yourself? Is it more? It is less?
How do you evaluate something so multifaceted? Is there a checklist to determine if you’ve done a good job or if you’re still a work in progress? I know that in a way, we are all a “work in progress”; a never-ending project with tweaks to make here and there. There are potential improvements, of course. A friendship that needs a little mending, a job that could be better. There are always things we could “fix”. We are a nation of fixers. We want to take everything, every little thing, and morph into what it “should be”.
Expectations versus reality: how do your plans match up with your actuality? Do you recognize the person you see in the mirror? Are you happy with your list of accomplishments? What would you do different if given the chance?
We all want to believe that this life, the one we have created for ourselves, this is it. This is what we wanted. We took so much time to construct it, after all. We took pieces and placed them side by side, one at a time, until we completed a puzzle that is supposed to be our masterpiece. The time, the doubt, the sacrifices; they were all worth it. Now we have it. We have succeeded.
But what if we haven’t?
Working with older youth, it’s common to discuss goals. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten? What kind of education will you seek? What kind of career do you want? What is important to you?
Five years? They’ll say. I don’t know where I’ll live next month, let alone 5 years.
Ten years? They laugh.
Education? I don’t know. I want to make something of myself.
Career? I want to make good money. I want to provide for myself.
What’s important? Family. Happiness.
The answers are so vague, yet so clear. These kids want what we all want, I think. When it comes down to it, we all want to be loved. We all want to feel like we have succeeded in our accomplishments. Whatever path we take with school and work, we all just want to look back and say “I am happy”. Sure, we want the nice paycheck and a lavish home to go to after a long day at work, but that’s not what really matters. What matters is that when we lay down to bed at night, we can say that we are healthy, we are happy, we are grateful.
Sometimes life can seem overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what path to take. Sometimes it’s easier to take no path at all; to succumb to the “I can’t” attitude. Sometimes, though, all it takes is a gentle reminder that the every day subtleties; your morning cup of coffee, your favorite song on the radio, a night in with your family… those are enough.
This life is enough, even if you haven’t got it all figured out just yet.
You want the things you’re saying, doing, planning, dreaming about, to matter. You want to believe that there is all some bigger purpose to life than the day to day monotony. Surely life isn’t all 8-5’s, health insurance premiums and pension plans, right? Everything that you do all year; the stress, the extra hours at the office, the anxiety over raises and promotions… is it all for one week of vacation? Is your life a waiting game for that one little slice of time where you allow yourself to “let loose”, to do the things you really want to do, to be truly happy? Not “oh I found this really inspiring quote on Pinterest that I’ll post on my Facebook and subsequently my Instagram (with a selfie)” happy, but legitimately happy. That logic is really hard for me to wrap my head around.
I mean, what is it exactly that we are all trying to do here? I understand the materialistic side of things, I really do. I want the clothes, the car, the house, the level of comfort that having money provides. I also understand hard work, dedication and a sense of responsibility. I subscribe to all of those beliefs and find them to be important qualities for the general population to pride themselves on. BUT… is that what life is? It’s really sad for me to think that my life up until this point has been geared 100% towards obtaining some kind of skill/education that allowed me to begin a career. Now that I have that, the rest of my life is just planning for retirement? I know that we’re supposed to be thankful for the little things. I should be grateful that I’m lying in bed on Sunday night typing away in bed. I have a candle lit (a lovely soy candle called “sunshine” that I bought in Sarasota, Fl. this year on vacation), my tummy is full from dinner and I have a job to go to in the morning. I’m grateful for all of those things; but, can’t I be both grateful and still want for more? Maybe I don’t want for “more” but for “different”. I want spontaneity. I want crafts. I want travel. I want love- the ache in your stomach when they walk in the room kind of love. I want French-pressed coffee with whip cream and I want possibilities. I feel like I can have all of those things if I let go of this traditional way of living that everyone is so convinced they MUST live by.
You can be a cliche and note that you only live once; but I prefer the add-on to that saying. “But if you do it right, once is enough.”
So the question you have to ask yourself is, are you doing it right?
Everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows all of the time. Sometimes, plans don’t work out. Sometimes, you get thrown off track. Sometimes, you wonder what the heck you’re even trying to accomplish. Sometimes, you get placed out of your comfort zone. (If you’re me, that one would be always).
It’s easy to throw in the towel when things get difficult. It’s easy to give up on the idea of change when it gets overwhelming. What’s that saying? “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” That quote can really apply to whatever you are trying to accomplish; whether that be a weight loss goal, a lifestyle change, a career move, etc. I’m not going to lie, I have a very bad habit of quitting when things get uncomfortable. This is mostly because I frequently feel uncomfortable. Thank you, anxiety. In “normal” situations where everyone else is just going about their day, I’m silently freaking out. It’s a great time.
This weekend was a string of those “sometimes” for me. It sucks, but tomorrow is Monday and the start of a new week. I didn’t have the blissful weekend of reading and crafting like I had hoped and I had some things get me down… but that’s no excuse to give up on my goals. Don’t let one bad weekend turn into a bad week, a bad month or a bad life. Holding onto that sadness and bitterness is only hurting one person: yourself.
I would like to shed some positive light on things, though! Since I began posting again I have journaled more, gone to the gym more, done yoga more, drank more water and (for the most part) quit smoking. I have to, unfortunately, say “for the most part” because I probably smoked about 8-10 cigarettes since Thursday. I just have to keep on keepin on and work towards that goal, along with everything else I am striving for. According to my app, I have NOT smoked approximately 90 cigarettes. Progress, not perfection…
Here’s to a better Monday.
I haven’t written in awhile and I’m creepin’ up on my self-set bed time (gotta get those 8 hrs of Zzz’s!) but here are a few of my recent goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve been feeling rather creative/inspired lately but I haven’t been able to find an outlet for it. I know that I want/need to make changes, but I’m not sure where to start. Here are some vague ideas of where to start…
Yoga Every Damn Day! (I’ve been slacking lately).
Disconnect more from social media- I have a slightly addiction to Instagram & Pinterest. I need to stop scrolling through pictures of other people’s lives and start living mine!
QUIT SMOKING. While being social. While driving. Just quit, sheesh. (36 hours into attempt # who freaking knows.)
Go back to the gym. I was going 4-5 days a week and while I have been doing work outs at home instead… I’m wasting the $32/month. Locked in for a year, so, may as well use it! Orrr suck it up & spend the $70 to cancel.
Be more frugal. Between paying for student loans & a car payment on a social worker’s salary… I am strapped for cash! I need to really sit down & look at my bank account to tally up all those random “small” expenses to see how much they add up! At least if I can ditch the cigs I’ll be saving $6-7 every time I DON’T run out and buy a pack. So far I’ve saved $4.89 according to my quitting app. 🙂
And the famous last words of every blogger, blog more. Seriously. Blogging is one of my favorite things to do; it only makes sense that I dedicate some time for it.
I’ll write a full post soon (promise) but now it’s time for some yoga & an organic sugar face scrub before bed. I’ve got quite the to-do list to tackle tomorrow!
“Each day, you have a decision: make progress, or make excuses.”
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
― Thomas Jefferson
Ok so I kind of went M.I.A there for a little bit, but I’ve been really busy with school. In fact I’m taking a break from the paper I’ve been attempting (and failing) to write all day. I’m on page two of fifteen… baby steps, right?
So, for once I actually have different things going on other than the mundane response of “work, school, you know.” I landed an AWESOME internship at a foster care agency and I couldn’t be happier! There were 3 places that my advisor was looking at, and the one I ended up meeting with was my top choice. 🙂 It’s going to be a really great opportunity that allows me to explore all types of different programs within the social work community. Hooray!
I also cleared up an issue with my transcript that was going to prevent me from applying for graduation next semester. I’ve been trying to get this resolved for around 4-5 months, so this is another HUGE hooray.
Basically, things are going great and I am so glad that I stayed committed to getting my education despite the many times it would have been easier to throw in the towel. I remember very clearly being 18 in my first shitty apartment, making less than $8 an hour at Joann Fabrics, thinking that my “real life” was so far off. I was so incredibly impatient and I wanted the house, the car, the kids, the marriage right now. Brandon would tell me all the time that “we will get there” but I didn’t believe him. I thought that I was going to be forever stuck in my awful apartment with forest green carpet and coin-operated laundry. Now, albeit 5 years later, things are finally falling into place and I realize more than ever that hard work pays off. These things didn’t happen just because time passed and I got older; they happened because I worked for them. I put myself through college, I decided that I wanted a career rather than a job and I made it happen.
It might sound self-centered and braggy (I don’t think that’s really a word) but damn it, I’m proud of myself.
& I’m going to try to stop being so scatter-brained and write more than once every other two weeks, promise.
If you’re feeling like your goals are too complex or are too far-reached… just keep going. You can do it.
It’s easy to say that you want to do something. I want to write. I want to travel. I want to do this, that and the other thing. I could tell you a 100 things that I want to do but I probably couldn’t begin to tell you how I would go about doing them. How does one make a career out of writing? I don’t know. How would I be able to afford to travel? I don’t know. How could I do any of the things that I constantly find myself talking about? They all seem so impossible; unrealistic goals that really only serve to make me unhappy with the life I do have. I’ve thought long and hard about what stands in my way.
It’s not money. It’s not that they’re impossible, or even unrealistic.
It’s me, myself and I.
It’s self-doubt, it’s the invisible hurdles that we put in our own ways that stop us from living the lives we truly want. If you want to be a writer, do it. Submit short stories, poems or whatever it is that you write. You want to dance, act, etc.? Go to auditions. You want to travel? Start saving. Throw your spare change in a jar, then add $1 a day, plus whatever you find laying around in the laundry, your car, etc. Whatever it is that you want to do, set small, obtainable goals and… DO THEM. It really is that simple.
Step back, look at the life you have versus the life you want. Are there any similarities? What are the differences? What would you have to do to increase the similarities and decrease the differences? Do you spend countless hours on social media sites or watching reality TV when you could be doing something more productive? (Guilty and guilty.) Do you sit around and think about all the reasons you CAN’T go after what you want? (Guilty.)
What really helps me is listening to music that I really like, finding motivational quotes and of course, coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Combine those three things and I could get lost in a project for hours, only stopping to realize I haven’t eaten or that I’ve neglected to do anything else I needed to do that day. Which reminds me: if you can get lost in a project, whatever it is, it is perfectly okay to let the dishes go another day, or fold the laundry some other time. I can guarantee that no one on their death bed has said, “I wish I washed more dishes.” Promise.
Alright, no excuses. Go do it, whatever it is.
Earlier in the week I talked about the fourth goal for my Happiness Project, which is to pursue a dream. I said that I was basically doing this goal throughout this entire process without even realizing it by writing on this blog and working on my book. The problem is that I haven’t written anything worth reading for my book in roughly two weeks, maybe longer, and I’m having a hard time with content for the blog too. I’ve been super busy with work, moving and school so it’s been hard to find a time to do anything let alone things I consider “extra.” I haven’t really read, write, watched TV or done anything else other than unpack boxes and put things together for seven straight days (albeit a couple short blog posts) and it’s starting to bum me out. I’ve said it before, I love my book and I love my blog… so why don’t I always have the motivation to write them? The most logical answers of course are time constraints and the fact that sadly, writing is my hobby not my job. It always has to come second to my school work, my job and soon, wedding planning. It’s true what they say, there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Thinking about this makes me wonder what it would be like to write for a living. I always said I wouldn’t want to write as a job because that would take the fun out of it, but now I wonder, what if? It’s an interesting thought to consider making a living out of something I love and doing it for that reason first and the financial aspects second. (It’s interesting to consider anything where money isn’t the motivating factor.) I’ve changed my mind and my majors three times already and I’m roughly 70% done so there’s no way I would change it again, but it’s something to ponder. I hope I enjoy the field of social work as much as I enjoy the idea of the field of writing/journalism.
So I guess I’m going to try and manage my time a little bit better so I can have more time to write, but I honestly don’t know how I can do that. I can’t make the day any longer, and there aren’t many things in my schedule I can cut out.
I haven’t accomplished anything by writing this, except making myself feel guilty for doing this instead of homework. Oh boy. You know you’ve got problems when you’re in trouble with yourself.
Til next time-A
Somehow, it is Monday already. I swear the week was on fast forward but that’s okay because I’m really excited for what’s going on this week. Today is Day One of my Happiness Project! If you haven’t already, check out My Happiness Project and give me your thoughts. I would just like to say that I realize four weeks is a short time and that I’m doing a condensed version due to time constraints. I realize I won’t yield the same results as I would by doing it for a few months, or even a year like the author did, but like she said herself “Everyone’s Happiness Project” will look different. Besides, I think it will be interesting to see if I can recognize problems (Check) establish goals (Check) and actually follow through with them.
Yesterday, I found myself looking through my blog, checking emails, loitering around Facebook/Twitter, making banana nut muffins and basically do everything else under the sun except write. What gives? I clearly gave myself goals and yet… nothing. I have a (very) rough outline of a book and yet I don’t find myself very motivated to continue it. I think it’s a great storyline, I love to write, I want to write a novel. Okay so if all the parts are there, why haven’t I made any progress? Negative thoughts started to drift into my head: Maybe I’m not good at writing fiction. Maybe I’m terrible at multi-tasking. Maybe I’m crazy to think I could write a book at all. To give myself credit, I do have a lot on my plate right now. Between school, work, looking for a place, my blog and just every day errands, I don’t have a lot of time. Then again, I probably don’t use my time as well as I could. (Something just came to me as I was writing this. Under the “Be Better” goal Use time efficiently)
So along with reading for class and everything else I have to do, my goal for this week is to spend at least half an hour a day working on my novel. Even if all I do is complete a character profile, that’s just fine with me. I’m only 21 after all, I have all the time in the world. (See, I’m being more patient already.)