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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

Reunion: A sense of something past

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Depression and Mental Health, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on April 29, 2014 at 3:14 am

This past weekend was my 10 year reunion for Agnes Scott College. I was very excited, and it was a great weekend. A great many of the women with whom I attended school came, and it was something not quite nostalgic. There was a sense of something new: the chance to form adult friendships with women who are smart, accomplished, articulate. The chance to form mature friendships that I could not have formed as a young 20 something.

But, then, there was also a sense of something past for me. I did have good times in college, but (overall) it was not a happy time in my life. I have written before of how I dealt (back then) with deep depression that made me feel disconnected from other people. Strangely, though, I was brought into very close contact with people without whom I would have been unable to graduate on time and move beyond my stint in the behavior disorder ward. The administration of Agnes Scott and many of my friends made around me a protective circle of love, prayer, compassion, and faith. I’m forever grateful.

But, momentarily, I was flooded with questions like: why didn’t I…? Why couldn’t I…..? Shouldn’t I have….?

Is there a way to step, for a moment, back into that time and pick up the things that I missed? Or, can I at least figure out why I didn’t do this or that? I concluded, that for me, there is not a way to step back into that time. The things that I missed, the connections that I did not make cannot be redone or remade to be as if it had been ten years ago. For me, the best thing was to be grateful for the past, to be grateful for those who loved me in the past, to be grateful that I have a chance to connect with the women as they are now rather than lament that I missed the chance to connect with who they were.

This past weekend was a practice in living the now. And, I realize that I need to allow myself a healthy amount of grief over the very young and scared woman who was me. Until now, I mostly ignored her and the past. But, there is no need for shame, embarassment, and denial. After all, she eventually became me. But, grieving over her is not at all the same thing as resurrecting her. I cannot make her time happier, but I can work to make my time now happier. I cannot reach back across 10 years and make her experience peace; but, I can be at peace with who I am now.

And, oddly what so worried and saddened me 10 years ago was the thought that I would never feel happy or at peace. Some things do fall away into the past. Moving beyond those crippling thoughts and being the woman I am now among other women of the now made me happy–perhaps not exactly nostalgic–and glad to be with them.

Being the change and other nearly impossible things

In Encouragement, First World Problems, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 6, 2014 at 3:11 am

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

All oft quoted, true, and useful words to live by. As a teacher, I often reinforced my classroom management with one of these phrases. They are on posters, in scripture, on pins, on t-shirts, on walls, on billboards. They are short and to the point. As you go through your day, dole out benevolence in heavy measure because everyone else should feel equally as benevolent.

At least that’s what I thought they meant.

I can be such a douche bag sometimes.

It’s not so easy to do unto others when you feel like the world is doing it unto you already. I mean, how much doing is a person supposed to endure? Now, there: there is where some evaluation had to take place (today…..perhaps as recently as 15 minutes ago….I will neither confirm nor deny that….).

1. Do I, in fact and actually, ever at any time behave in such a way that is worthy of repetition and reproduction? Answer: Sometimes. Rarely. This means that I need to get that together. Tell the truth more. Be more accepting. Be more forgiving.

2. Do I really believe that treating people the way I want to be treated will make a difference? Answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

3. Am I willing to treat people the way I would want to be treated if I had just angered someone, insulted someone, been unkind to someone? To say it another way: am I willing to apply this “be the change-ness” to those who have hurt me, rejected me, insulted me, etc.? Answer: Yikes. I usually think about treating others the way I want to be treated when it comes to giving someone my umbrella, holding the elevator, or letting someone vent to me. So, now I gotta be loving, forgiving, and honest with the broad who just insulted me? Ugh. This is really starting to sound much less grandiose.

4. But, wait! How DO I expect to be treated when I insult others, am unkind to others, am unforgiving of others? Answer: I have no idea! What I would like is for everyone to cower from the horrible gaze of my eyes and give me my way. Somehow, I feel this is not quite right. Probably what I should expect is to be corrected in no uncertain terms.

5. Do I believe that I can establish new norms for myself (and possibly others) simply by talking or not talking about something; by doing or not doing something? Answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

6. Am I willing to be mindful of the things that I talk about and do? Answer: Whoa. Whoa there. You mean that I have to cut back on gossip and cutting talk and talking about my appearance and all that? Well, that leaves me very little small talk. I will actually have to read the real news. Double ugh. Now, I have to talk about and DO acceptance and forgiveness and love and kindness. I’ll need to subscribe to Harper’s again….soon.

I mean, this is starting to sound like a real lifestyle change. GO!

After the suicide attempt…

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 3, 2014 at 4:55 am

[Note after writing: I am pressing publish with a deep sigh.]

In a couple of months, it will be almost exactly ten years ago that I attempted suicide during my senior year of college. I suppose I fit the stereotypical cliche that my attempt was a cry for help. I took a handful of random, but not very menacing, painkillers. I admitted what I had done to three of my friends and spent the next 72 hours in the behavior disorder ward of a nearby hospital.

It would be really great and deeply gratifying to say that I emerged from that ward a changed person; a butterfly from the chrysalis. But, I remember that ward as being scary as all hell and hardly an environment that nurtures change. I emerged tired, hungry, and fragile.

Thus began a long journey, a slow battle of the bulge, a crawl, a marathon. To be honest, I did not then and I do not now really know what the end point of the journey is but I remember full well what the starting point was. So, the journey has been to put as much space as possible between myself and that starting point. Some days I feel like the theme song from _Chariots Afire_ is playing every where I go. Some days are just days.

I have found out that there are many people on the same journey, and that many of us on the journey do not want to talk about THE JOURNEY because people can be cruel and abusive and manipulative. Simply by writing this post, I am aware that someone may read this and think that I am weak, weird, or crazy. But, I know there is someone at the same point that I was 10 years ago; some days I feel like I’m back at that same point.

But, I remind myself…..

1. That this life is entrusted to me and me alone. Apparently, God thought I was good enough to handle it. When the criticisms of others burrow so far into me that they become my own criticisms of myself, I remind myself that this life is mine. Despite what anyone thinks or believes, my life is not at anyone’s disposal. My life was not created to be firewood for someone else’s life.

2. That I am not disappointment, or saddness, or tragedy, or anger. Oh, I will disappoint others, sadden others, and anger others. But, that effect does not define who I am.

3. That I am flawed because I am me. That’s the way life works. But….

4. That flaws are sometimes simply misunderstood limitations. For instance, I can be overly emotionally sensitive. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. But, I choose to look at it as a limitation in one sense and a characteristic in another. I would not make a particularly good surgeon (one really doesn’t want a surgeon who melts into a puddle when one is on the table and things start going wrong). But, I do make a good listener. So, really: is it a flaw or is it a strength?

5. That I must be cautious around those who want to force me to see my limitations and characteristics as flaws. I mean, I could spend a lot of time trying to become less emotionally sensitive. I could spend a lot of time trying to “fix” that “flaw” if I surrounded myself with people who “encouraged” me toward that “goal.” I do admit: I have had to harness my strengths, limitations, and characteristics to work for me rather than allowing them to master me.

6. That I must dig deep when confronted with anyone who believes that I am worth less because I have attempted suicide. I have learned the hard way that such a person often wants to use me as a stepping stool for his/her own ego. Such a person often wants to make me his/her do-it-yourself fixer upper. A close relationship with such a person will usually force me to constantly remind myself of #1 and #4.

7. That the world, for a number of reasons, is a messed up place that labels normal people as crazy. One of the strongest impressions of the behavior disorder ward that I carry with me to this day (and that, to this day, will bring tears to my eyes) is that most of the people inside that ward were not crazy. We were people who were some combination of quiet, shy, sensitive, hurt and healing slowly, or sad in a world that values talking, outgoing, brash, devil-may-care bravado. Back then, I felt that I was lost on a journey that so many other people were making quite easily. Little did I know that many, many people were not only as lost as I, but also in denial.

8. That nothing is ever gained by lying to myself about who, what, and where I am. As I become ever more accustomed to being true to myself, it is easier to be truthful with others, and miraculously others have been beautifully truthful with me. As alone as I sometimes feel, there are others lost and blundering in the dark, too. We just need to play Marco Polo to find each other.

9. That Jesus is not disappointed in me for my attempt. How ugly, how truly ugly a thing it is to tell a hurting person that she’s let down the One in whom she believes. And, I was told that. And, it hurt. But, it is not true. If God is God, then I must believe that He knew my limitations and my strengths far ahead of me. He did not send His only Son to die for a bunch of smarmy know-it-alls who have their stuff together. Where is the grace and mercy in that?

10. That somehow, mysteriously, miraculously, slowly: things do get better. I do eventually untie the knots, work out the puzzles, clean up the messes, and learn the lessons. Life may not pick up at the same thread, but life does continue. Laughter returns. Smiles return. In the end, there is no darkness that can wipe out the light. That is the great thing about light. One small spark is enough sometimes. And, sometimes, a Youtube puppy video can provide that spark.

Assassinating cynicism

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Friendship, Happiness, Thoughts on Christianity on January 21, 2014 at 3:28 am

I hate cynicism. It’s snide and snarky only as a veneer to hopelessness and unkindness. But, I really like Conan O’Brien.

So, I’m a hypocrite because I have been feeling very cynical lately. The hypocrisy has nothing to do with Conan.

I rarely “talk” (that is, in person with audible words) about church or Christianity. I rarely talk to people with whom I used to go to church. I rarely enter a church building. It didn’t hit me until recently that when I talk church, or go to church, or associate myself with anything that brings up church….cynicism takes over and I become someone very unlike who I actually am. I become mysterious, closed, cowardly, inarticulate, distrustful, and angry.

I’m not that person.

Have you seen Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop? It’s literally quite an interesting documentary. I remember Conan when he first started with Late Night. To this day, he is as he was then: funny, sharp, sarcastic. Then, he got fired or he quit. Let’s meet in the middle and say he quired. He gave a lovely farewell speech. Apparently, he also hates cynicism. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/22/conan-obriens-heartfelt-f_n_433954.html

Watching him work through the anger and the disappointment of leaving the Tonight Show was overwhelming because at every turn, I could literally feel him beating back the cynicism in a triumphant process full of hard work and trying moments. He spent time mulling, then he put together a comedy tour, hit the road, rocked Bonaroo, and played guitar with Jack White.

I don’t play guitar. But, recently, I have seen or heard from several of the teenagers I used to work with in teen ministry. It’s been so refreshing. For so long, I questioned my purpose for having been there. I questioned whether or not we did any good. I questioned whether or not I had been helpful. I questioned whether or not church as it is has a legitimate and meaningful place in the lives of today’s teens and young adults. Notice I said church–that weekly religious gathering. I had questions, but not a lot of answers.

Getting hugs and e-mails and text messages from these people has not really given me the answers. I have realized, however, that the questions I am asking are not that important. I cannot allow the sadness and pain of the present dim the truth of what happened in the past. Allowing the present to color the past inevitably leads to cynicism about the future. I worked with some great adults and teens to try to provide a safe, healthy, loving environment for teens to come and learn about Jesus. We laughed and cried and laughed and preached and laughed and prayed and laughed and travelled and laughed and fussed. We laughed a lot because we enjoyed being together and we found joy in talking about Jesus and in loving each other.

Thanks to Conan, I know that just because I left doesn’t mean that I have to harbor bitterness. Just because I felt pushed out of that church doesn’t mean that I can’t find a place in another church. It’s pointless to rehash the past. It’s done. The hurts are there. The wounds are there. Healing is process that looks to the future.

Stages of returning to crazy

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, First World Problems, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on January 12, 2014 at 4:35 am

I’ve been arguing with myself about blogging this topic. Too private? Too personal? Ultimately, in the spirit of an Agnes Scott College alum with a political science degree who took many classes with Dr. Allende, Dr. Scott, and Dr. Cochran: I realized that the personal is, in fact, political and that politics is merely the organized exercise of power and, therefore, a true exercise of power is to discuss the personal.

I’m about to share something very personal.

The thing about me being a professional woman is that I feel that I have to hide the personal in order to be professional because the things that are personal about me can easily be seen as weaknesses and those weaknesses could be seen as incompetence and that incompetence could affect the amount of business I get and that chokes my bottom line.

I’m about to share something very personal. If you read all of this and then think that I’m weak and incompetent: come at me. I can pull myself together in 60 seconds or far less. Insert further bravado.

A very competent psychiatrist prescribed me anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication not so very long ago. In my lifetime, I’ve been through a few of these meds, but I have never had a doctor as patient and perceptive as this gentleman. He listened, and helped me find a medication that actually helped me pick myself up, dust myself off, and get back to business. Unfortunately, I had to stop seeing this great psychiatrist because of the type of practice he has. But, our closing appointment left me pretty confident that I could continue on the positive trajectory.

And, it took one nincompoop (is that how you spell it? Regardless, you know what I mean) a mere thirty minutes to destroy all of that. The doctor that I went to after Dr. Competent (like, THAT could literally be his name and no one would laugh) was somewhat less efficient. This doctor simply prescribed me whatever I told her Dr. Competent had prescribed me with no questions asked this past September. In December, I was running out and had to go back for authorization. After waiting for an hour to see her for the authorization, she walks in; introduces the med school student who is shadowing her; and, promptly says, “so when are you coming off of these meds. You should be ready. I don’t think you have that much stress going on right now.”

She had some madcap scheme for tapering me off the meds that was not at all measured or planned. In the moments, days, and weeks since that moment sitting on her exam table/couch/chair (what is that thing?), I have found out that there are stages of coming off meds. I’m sure these stages are different for everyone, but here are mine. I go back and forth through these.

1. Bravado. “Felt like crap leaving her office” was the positive tag line to how I felt. I cried. Then, I dried my tears and immediately decided to go cold turkey off the meds. Taper me? Taper THIS! You don’t know me. This world can’t handle me off meds. The meds are for YOUR protection.

2. Elation. Making a big decision like that in the face of such negative talk from a doctor was empowering. Granted, I probably had some remnant meds in my system…….but, I was functional. I was waking up, getting up, getting dressed, handling business. And, all in a more or less organized and sensible way.

3. Despair. DR. COMPETENT! PAGING DR. COMPETENT. I realized that my psychiatrist would have had a far more organized planned to help me get off the medication. I don’t have the severe nausea that some have, but even the mild physical side effects are disconcerting. So, maybe despair is a strong word. Cut me some slack.

4. Self-distrust. Is this me? Is this me coming off the meds? Is it my hormones? “Over analysis” would also be an appropriate title for this stage.

5. Self-care. Eat all the veggies.Eat none of the junk food. Do all the yoga. Drink all the water. Get all the sleep.

6. Anger. How dare she? How dare he? How dare I!? I need to get myself together. You need to get yourself together. She needs to get herself together.

7. Quiet. My favorite stage. Feeling everything all at once, but not feeling anything to the point of being overwhelmed. Not needing to express anything,

8. Sharing. Talk about all the feelings.

John Mayer, Hot Wheels, and Self-Revelations, #ctstw

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Uncategorized, Using my words for good #UMFWG on December 3, 2013 at 4:48 am

I pressed play on “In Repair,” John Mayer’s heady ballad about a life on the mechanic’s lift (so to speak).

Earlier today, I fixed my young friend’s Hot Wheels car factory that melts plastic, squeezes it into a mold, and cools it into the shape of a toy car. Some of the cold plastic ended up in the wrong place (well, truth be told: my young friend PUT a piece of cold plastic in the wrong place), so I unscrewed some things, poked around with a screwdriver in a manner that likely voided warranties and……voila! My young friend was making plastic toy cars again.

And, it hit me as I was driving the rolling hills of Rainbow Road away from South DeKalb mall. I saw the wonderful–in a completely opposite way than the song indicates.

I am not in repair. You’re not in repair. John Mayer’s not in repair…..though he did write quite a song.

Repair…..when something needs to be fixed, one has that thing repaired. Repaired…..put back together so that the thing works as it’s meant to. Repair…..re-made into some whole version of the thing.

But, I am not a car. You are not a car.

I work the way I am meant to work. I am a flawed, crazy patchwork of failures and successes.

Suddenly, thinking of people as in need of repair annoys me. The person who murders. The child who is abandoned by careless parents. The careless parents who abandon their child. The person who snatches purses and wallets. The arrogant person. The rude person. The gossiping person.

Are they in need of repair? In need of love, in need of compassion, in need of nurture, in need of guidance. Maybe those things are a part of repair. But, repair seems to me a discrete process, while love and so forth should be endless. Right? Maybe?

Maybe this is just a (horrible, horrible) semantics game. But, thinking of people as needing repair suggests that a diagnostic test can be run, a few changes made, and voila! A functional human emerges. But, what is a functional human being? Even medical doctors will admit that an accurate diagnosis and a corrective procedure may not get at the root of a physiological problem.

I have a few rough emotional edges and a deep store of self-loathing and a noticeable mean streak. I can change those things, but not with a simple process of repair in which someone unscrews me, pokes around, voids some warranties, re-screws me and voila…….Moi 2.0! There is a huge chance that I may never totally unload my self-loathing. In other words, I may never FIX that about myself. And, why should I–you, we, us–drip our lives away trying to fix this thing or that? When, much like the case of my young friend’s hot plastic car molder, external forces caused the “malfunction” in the first place.

If we could rewind the life of the arrogant person or the gossip or the murderer……would we see crucial moments when another person intercepted that life and altered it? Would we see abuse or shame or abandonment or loneliness or embarrassment or judgment? Probably. If you could rewind your life to a time when you weren’t in need of “repair,” and then pressed play: would you recognize the ways that others affected you and the way you affected others?

What am I saying? Hm. I’m not sure really. Well, maybe this: if there is any screwing to be done, screw those who tell you that you are less than, undone, in need of repair, wanting, not up to snuff, below the mark. You keep living, loving, sharing, giving, cooperating, raging, flourishing. I’ll do the same.

Happy New Year.

#UMWFG: Career 2 to Career 1

In Education, Encouragement, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on November 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I used to be an educator. I taught public school for four years after I earned by Master’s Degree in Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies. Before I left the classroom, I taught grades 4, 5, and 7.

I hated it. I LOVED my students, and they had great parents. My co-workers were, for the most part, intelligent, funny, and wonderful to work with. Administrators could be rather a mixed bag of both astonishingly capable and astonishingly nonchalant. But, my employer. Sheesh and good grief. Sheesh and good grief.

I’m no longer in the classroom, and I have no desire to go back to the classroom on a five-day a week, eight+ hours a day basis. I volunteer with high school students, and that usually fills my desire to help and teach young people. But, looking back, if I had known some things up front, I may have passed a more pleasant and meaningful time in the classroom–and maybe I would have stayed longer.

1. CELEBRATE. Most first-year teachers get caught up in a whirlwind of preparing classrooms, grading papers, getting into the schedule, and writing lesson plans. Stop each day–if only for a couple of minutes to celebrate where you are. Take before and after pictures of your classroom. Keep a one sentence journal of at least one good thing that happened that day.

Celebrate with your students in small ways. At my first school, some really awesome teachers would give their classes “silent sprinkles” or “spirit fingers.” It was just a small way to celebrate the small learning victories that your students truly will make everyday. Some concepts are really hard. In my field, grammar parsing is a notorious trap of confusion. I gave sprinkles every chance I got, and it really came to mean something good for my students.

Smiling students = smiling teacher = happier days

2. ERASE THE NEGATIVITY OF OTHERS. I clearly remember one of my coworkers trying to have a come-to-Jesus moment with me and reveal to me all the things that I “can’t” do. I listened quietly, simmered internally, and immediately went out and got a hat made that said

SONY DSC

I didn’t realize that so many people in a work environment would be into crushing my spirit. But, that’s about what happened. And, I was unprepared for that so EVERYTHING affected me. The lunch lady who cursed me out in front of my students; the principal who called me into her office for “sitting wrong” during a meeting. More than shutting out that negativity, I should have let each of them know in person that, even though I was 24 years old, I was a professional and a human being. I was not there to make friends or be liked. If any of them had a personal problem with me, I would not have minded addressing it. As it was, I wore my emotions on my face and they each smelled blood, and went for the kill.

My advice to you: address problems like this head on, in person, and in no uncertain terms. Failing to address these problems will not make them go away.

#UMWFG: Friend dumped redux

In and other uncomfortable topics, Friendship, Happiness, Love and Romance, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Using my words for good #UMFWG on November 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I’ve written before about being friend dumped, but at the time I was studying for the Georgia bar exam and life was an emotional roller coaster.

I found out that I passed the bar several days ago. So, I decided to revisit those feelings. Not surprisingly, things look different now that I am in an emotionally different place. I still hurt from those losses, but I also see that I have done the same thing to other people for both good and bad reasons (from my point of view). That realization has helped to move to a place of forgiveness toward both myself and others.

In my victim-mindset, I had all questions and no answers as to why anyone would do such a thing. But, now that I am in a more triumphant mindset, I am able to supply some of my own answers–and maybe answers for others, too.

1.  I THOUGHT WE WERE CLOSE.

There are areas and zones of black when it comes to answering any questions about human relationships. But, often times we WERE close. We shared physical and emotional space. Sometimes, however, perhaps *I* thought I was closer to the other person than I actually was. Perhaps *I* wanted to be closer to the other person than I actually could be. Nonetheless, we still shared some degree of connection.

I should NOT allow the disappearance of the friendship/relationship to diminish the closeness and connection that genuinely did exist.

2. WHY DID YOU LEAVE?

Sometimes, I left because the leaving was in my best interest. Maybe I felt emotionally dominated or suppressed by the other person. Maybe I felt recurring but unpredictable tides in the relationship that I just couldn’t decipher. Maybe I was trying to make some changes in my life that I didn’t want to force that other person to become a part of. Maybe I was changing and that other person blatantly did not want to be a part of that. Maybe I was just too immature to handle the weight of that relationship.

Sometimes, I left because the leaving was in the other person’s best interest. I do freely admit that I did not do altruistic abandonment very often. But, the times that I did, it was because I knew (felt) that other person wanted something from me that I couldn’t give and I knew (felt) that other person would not accept that fact that I couldn’t; that I was emotionally unable to deliver.

Sometimes, life pulls people apart. Maybe I was courageous enough to fight life’s gravity, maybe I decided to just be pulled away. But, I still harbor gratefulness, thankfulness, and fond thoughts for those people that life pulled away.

3. WHY DIDN’T YOU OFFER SOME SORT OF EXPLANATION?

No explanation is good enough, anyway. Truly. Besides, sometimes “explanations” turn into blame games. And, that would just leave everyone feeling terrible. Of course, that’s a cowardly response. There was a way for me to explain what was going on with ME without involving YOU. Also, in situations where I was wrong and continued to be wrong and knew that I would stay wrong for a while: it’s so much easier to just tiptoe out of the backdoor in my socks. HOW could I look another person in the eye and admit: “So, yeah. I had underhanded motives. Still have them. Will continue to have them. Sorry for not being sorry about that.”

4. DO YOU EVEN CARE THAT I AM STILL HURTING?

Maybe. Maybe not. For some people that I friend dumped, I do feel bad that I changed the locks, didn’t let them know, and now refuse to answer the door. I know those people didn’t deserve it, but I’m just too cowardly to reopen the subject. A couple of times, I have reopened the subject (but, years later). I felt awkward at first to bring up something from so long ago; I thought it would seem as if I had been ruminating for all this time (true); I thought maybe that other person would not remember what I was talking about; I thought they would curse me out. It WAS awkward. S/he DID remember. S/he was, surprisingly, mild and mature in response.

But, it doesn’t get easier to reopen to past friend dump.

Sometimes, though: I don’t care. Sometimes (in a most UN-WWJD way), I feel like I screwed him/her because s/he screwed me first.

5. I KNOW YOU ARE VAGUEBOOKING/SUBTWEETING ABOUT ME.

SUCH a 21st century problem. Yeah, guilty as charged. I did. Totally. Sometimes, I vaguebooked/subtweeted from the victim’s mindset. Sometimes, I did so from the dumper’s mindset. But, yeah. I totally did it. Like, totes.

6. COULD WE REBUILD A FRIENDSHIP?

Ummmmm (from both the dumper’s and dumpee’s mindset)…..probably NOT, but maybe. I’ve never really tried it. Is there a way to rebuild a friendship after a such a rift? In my experience, no. By the time both of us are ready to mend the rift, we’ve both grown and changed–perhaps into an appreciably different person.

#UMWFG: The Dream Maker

In Education, Happiness, Law School Problems, Lawyer Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on October 28, 2013 at 3:23 am

That’s exactly what your brain is: a dream maker of the sleeping, waking, and life-long varieties. As a teacher, one of my favorite things was watching a student formulate a dream and begin to articulate that dream and take steps toward that dream. My 7th graders are now 11th graders, and it is so  cool to see them pursuing fashion, writing, graphic arts, computer science, music, dance, engineering, skateboarding, sports, public speaking, and general happiness. Encouraging and equipping young people to make dreams and pursue dreams is THE most important function of our education system.

But, I digress. The point is to use my words for good. At this moment, I want to celebrate by using my words for good. I found out Friday that I passed the Georgia Bar examination. I get to be an attorney 🙂 I have wanted to be an attorney since at least the fourth grade and probably since the first grade.

I am blessed to say that I didn’t reach this dream by accident, by luck, or particularly quickly.  While I am not insane enough to believe that every human being should become a lawyer, I am insane enough to believe that EVERY human being needs a dream to chase. More than that: every dreamer needs encouragement and the occasional push while hunting down that elusive and nearly invisible dream.

Here are some mental and emotional obstacles that I have encountered on my continuing journey:

1. I AM NOT TOO OLD. “By the time you graduate, you’ll be 32!” They said. But, I was going to be 32 either way, right? Don’t listen to this one.

2. I AM NOT TOO YOUNG. Ok, ok, ok. So, yes. LOTS of young people need to experience life before honing in on THE DREAM. But, I knew in high school that I wanted to major in political science and minor in history. I took a long path trying to make “sure” that the dream I had was the right dream. There is no “right” dream. There is my dream and there are the dreams that don’t belong to me.

3. THERE ARE NEVER TOO MANY PEOPLE.  “There are so many lawyers out there already. Do you really want to be one more?” They said.  Incorrect thought process. There is not another me who is already a lawyer. There is a reason that God dropped a love of politics and law into a 6 year old’s heart. I may indeed be one of thousands of lawyers, but I have a purpose that is unique.

4. MY DREAM IS NOT THE ONLY DREAM. There’s no need to trample someone else’s dream. That’s just rude. I have no right to do it to another any more than that other has the right to do it to me. It all comes down to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

5. SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OF YOUR DREAM. “Oh. A lawyer? Well, that’s not my thing. I’m perfectly ok with ______.” A few times when I told others that I was quitting my job and going back to law school, I was met with a chill. I don’t think that law is the best profession. Law is simply the best profession for me. The fact that I chose law doesn’t mean that I think that anyone else should choose law. Be careful of people who meet your dream with this reaction; before you know it, you might begin to think that your dream is TOO big, TOO impossible, and TOO impractical for you to chase.

6. DREAMERS NEED COMPANY. But, not just any company. I had to surround myself with like-minded dreamers. Dreams are tiring, exhilarating, elusive, and tangible all at the same time. That roller coaster can put pressure on partnerships and friendships if both people don’t know first-hand the weight of a dream. I lost friends and made friends during law school. The making of friends felt great. The losing of friends was wrenching.

7. SHORT TERM SACRIFICE IS CONTINUALLY IN THE WINGS. Dreams are time-consuming and/or money-consuming affairs. Before I started law school, I was focused on paying down my loan from getting my master’s degree and also with saving money in general. So, no fancy handbags; no new cars; no elaborate vacations; no fancy crib. I didn’t have time to plan all my meals. Regrettably, I ate many meals from the snack machine. I didn’t have the money to get the AC in my car fixed right away, so I hot-boxed my way through town for a few weeks. I had to cut down on my church commitments. But, now I know that none of it was permanent. I can lose weight. I got my AC fixed (eventually). I have more time now to spare, and I have learned that new cars, vacations, and houses are not the causes of happiness but are rather the least important symptoms of success. Fancy handbags, I must admit, are my weakness.

8. LIFE IS A WONDERFUL EXPERIMENT. There is no guaranteed outcome for which every human being should be gunning. When I was teaching, I would spend my weekends grading papers and being angsty. Monday morning was a bad time, topped only by the first day after Christmas break. I was overwhelmed and exhausted most of the time. To put it bluntly, I was unhappy. Not because teaching is a bad career–but because I wasn’t meant to be a teacher for any longer than the 4 years that I did it. There is nothing sinful in changing directions. There is no shame in admitting that you need to make a new choice.

9. IT’S RARELY ABOUT THE MONEY. I won’t say never. But, I never cared much about being filthy rich. I’m not sure why, it just never was something I was into. I didn’t go to law school to make piles of money (though, to be sure, if was not blind to the fact that I could make piles of money). When the economy tanked and legal jobs were hard to find and salaries fell to bargain basement levels, I wasn’t *quite* as disappointed as I might otherwise have been. Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Thurgood Marshall, Nelson Mandela, Shirley Chisolm and Coco Chanel didn’t chase their dreams for the money (though money several of them made). Money is just a symptom of chasing and catching the dream. Money itself isn’t much good–unless (obviously) you plan on having a Scrooge McDuck-style money tidal pool.

10. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE. Don’t change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Don’t fail to change your dream because of someone else’s actions or words. Your life is entrusted to your keeping alone once you reach adulthood.

#UMWFG: What’s your excuse…?

In Happiness, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Uncategorized on October 23, 2013 at 3:43 am

There have been lots of media outlets flooded with this message: WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE? The fitspo category is flooded with this message. But, it’s not just fitspo. Politics, religion, education, and fashion have increasingly started shouting this question.

Ironically, I’m a ruminator so I often ask myself this question. It has become, frankly, overwhelming. And, I’ve been in a bit of a funk about the whole thing lately. Since I’ve decided to USE MY WORDS FOR GOOD this month, I figured there had to be a way to get out of this funk with words.

I decided to reframe the question. I’m asking myself the same question, but within a completely different context.

Most of the people and entities who ask this question are exemplifying some passionate pursuit: youth, faith, clothing, cooking, jewelry, career, ethics, fitness. Each pursues that which makes him/her/it happy

There it is. The question re-framed.

WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE FOR NOT DOING WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

I watch a lot of public television; Martha Stewart has a cooking show that comes on Saturday mornings. The look of pure bliss that Martha sports while whipping up a coffee cake exemplifies  the feeling that I have when I hit publish on a blog post is the emotion John Legend wears when he is at the piano is the air Stella McCartney floats on when her latest collection is on the runway.

But, back to Martha. Ms. Stewart has no excuse to AVOID making that (admittedly scrumptious looking) coffee cake because making the cake makes her happy. She enjoys making the cake. She likes hosting people who will inevitably eat the cake. She enjoys sharing her recipes with me on Saturday mornings. Does John Legend have an excuse for failing to make a coffee cake on my television on Saturday morning? Yes. He does: playing the piano and singing makes him happier than baking cakes.  There is no reason for him to beat up on himself because he doesn’t bake coffee cakes on my TV screen. But, nothing prevents him from enjoying a slice of that coffee cake if Martha invites him over for Saturday brunch.

So, that’s how I’m going to process WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE. I will appreciate that other person’s show of passion, and I will remind myself to continue to pursue my own passions at my own pace at my own time. I provide no excuses for being who I am at this moment.

I’ll be John Legend. You be Martha Stewart. I’ll play piano for you, and then we’ll eat cake. We’ll both be happy.