If my life had a theme…

Photo by Peter Heilman via FlickrI recently read a blog by one personal growth guru or another about how each of us has a “theme” in our lives. Perhaps if we have more to learn (or maybe it’s just if we were cursed with a particularly challenging life) then we have more than one “theme.” These themes will show up in various situations until we have successfully learned the lesson. 

I knew in an instant what my theme was: loneliness. Apparently I haven’t passed the test, because this is something that’s lurked in my periphery for years.

There have been times when I thought that I had tamed the beast — formulating umpteen lists about why being alone was actually rad and creating new mantras that said, in so many words, “I am enough.” 

Yet, it continues to reappear like one of those spiders that’s been smashed by a shoe, swatted with a newspaper, and sprayed with Lysol — but still manages to scamper across the floor unscathed. 

I hate loneliness just about as much as I hate spiders. 

The truth is, I’ve deliberately chosen situations that come with a side effect of loneliness — not because I have some sick need to make myself miserable, but because each of those choices were the best thing for me at the time.

In high school I opted to leave what was familiar, for a slightly less “normal” situation: homeschooling by myself in the morning, then heading off to my local high school in the afternoon — a school where I knew maybe two people.

In college I said “hell no” to dorm life and opted for a commuter school instead. (Making friends is a bit harder when a good portion of your classes are with the 40+ crowd.)

After college I decided I wanted to create my own schedule and thus opted to call myself boss and work from home.

Add to that a long-term relationship with a military man turned overseas contractor and you have one huge life recipe for loneliness.

I’ve always had friends — good, lifelong friends — but these individual ties seem to connect me to people who do have a “community.” I don’t think I’ve ever fully felt like I’m apart of something larger, a group that would say that I belong.

In the past, this thought led me to experience some pretty dark patches in my generally sunny life. Now I simply see it as an observation — an invitation to welcome change and stop seeing this as my “story.” After all, I’d rather say “I sometimes experience loneliness,” than “I’m a lonely person.” 

There’s much snazzier adjectives I’d like to have describe me. 

Maybe it’s not an “aha” moment that we need to stop our “themes” from reappearing, maybe it’s just the ability to recognize them for what they are and acknowledge that they’re there to serve as a reminder. A reminder to tweak our thoughts and our actions so that we do get the outcome we desire.

Our outside circumstances stem from our internal experiences — so using what’s happening “out there” as proof that we are right in our feelings is actually looking at the outcome and saying that it caused the steps leading up to it.

It just doesn’t make any sense. 

I’ve created this feeling of loneliness, not by choosing the wrong place to live or people to be friends with, but by selecting that “loneliness” as my reality — no matter the situation I’m in.

What’s your reoccurring theme?

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Playing Nice and Dropping the Drama : Birthday Resolutions Worth Sticking To

Photo by Will Clayton, via FlickrI’ve never really been one for setting New Year’s resolutions. The truth is, we’ve been told to set them, then inundated with all these facts and figures about why they don’t actually work — so what’s the point? 

It’s the same mentality that goes along with, “I’ll start the diet on Monday – ya know, after the weekend.” This is a spoken hall pass of sorts – one that gives the speaker permission to eat Big Macs and a pound of fries in the meantime.

So in between February (the month when all hope of receiving fantastic results from these New Years resolutions has dissipated) and December (when it comes time to start the fruitless cycle all over again) we let ourselves wallow in the habits of last year. The same ones that will probably continue the year after — if we rely on these resolutions to spur the house cleaning.

I do, however, believe that every birthday is a chance to start fresh. Maybe it’s because birthdays are a little more personal (and less of the “one size fits all” variety). Either way, this is when I like to re-evaluate the “me” I’d like to see in the coming year.

So with the big 2-4 looming around the corner, here are my list of intentions:

1. I intend on no longer entertaining the “my world is falling apart” mentality.

If I feel like things are off track in my work, relationships, etc., etc., etc., I am one dramatic bitch. My fear is that if I don’t express the dire nature of the situation to those around me, I may never be taken seriously. So I often speak as if my world as I know it is crumbling – and there’s no hope of anything getting better. Ever.

Clearly I need to take a chill pill on this. 

2. I intend on being kinder to others (translation: not so judgmental).

Ok, so we all judge. I’m just really, really good at it. If you are ever wondering why you should judge someone, just ask me. I’ll come up with a spectacular reason — and convince you of it’s validity while we’re at it. 

I realize I can’t make this go away at the drop of the hat, but I know that if I make an attempt to be more aware of when I’m doing it, eventually I’ll slow it down — until it stops altogether.

3. I intend on staring failure in the face.

I’ve realized over the course of the year that I am petrified of being told “no” — being turned down for another job, looked over for another opportunity — the list goes on and on. So in some aspects of my life I’ve stopped trying altogether. 

Yet I know that all of those huge accomplishments come with the threat of being turned down. So if I’m not willing to experience that, I’ll be shutting the door to some really great experiences.

It’s time to go big or go home. I’ll choose to go big.

4. I intend on being more grateful (no matter how sucky things are).

Perspective is a powerful thing — and mine needs some shifting. It’s so easy to get caught up in how things aren’t going according to plan (i.e. still making only pennies when my dreams were of the millionaire variety). But in the grand scheme of things I have it pretty great: I have a home, supportive friends and family, and the chance to actually pursue something I’m passionate about. 

How can I really be upset when I think about it that way? 

5. I intend on looking towards the possibilities.

Staring at the “what is” of a situation is not much fun. Looking at what is possible, on the other hand, is magical. Like driving past your dream home and imagining what kind of furniture you’ll buy for it when it’s yours. Or thinking about what it will feel like to board a plane bound for some tropical location you’ve only seen in posh travel magazines. 

This is where I want my focus to be for the next 365 days.

Now where’s the champagne??

Embracing Unrest and Fine Tuning My Intuition

When I was younger, wearing jeans would send me into full on panic attacks. It wasn’t the material that bothered me, it was the fact that they didn’t hug my ankles like my in-at-the-time stirrup pants did – the bagginess alone had the ability to make my palms sweat and my heart beat a little faster. If I was coerced into actually putting them on, I would spend a good thirty minutes (at least) attempting to roll the bottoms so they actually touched my skin. 

Even though the fact that a clothing item caused me such distressed was a bit, well, psychotic, it made one thing very clear: I knew from a young age – as we all do if we’re tuned into ourselves and our intuition – when things just didn’t feel right.  

For the past few years – and the past few days in particular – I’ve been wrestling with this feeling of unrest, attempting to find the “rightness” in where I am in this moment. Constantly feeling unsettled is driving me to the brink of insanity. 

Just for a moment I’d like to shut it off, forget the “big picture,” and convince myself that I don’t need to keep searching for fulfillment. You know – lose myself in a few days of drinking and pure indulgence and quiet that voice that keeps telling me there’s more out there.

Yesterday as I was spewing all this craziness out to anyone that would listen, my mom shed some much-needed light on the situation:

That ability to tell when things aren’t right is a blessing. It’s the Universe’s way of guiding you to something that fits better for you. If you didn’t have that you’d never move forward, never get out of your comfort zone, and never experience some of the greatest things life has to offer. That nagging feeling is there for a reason – it’s pushing you in the right direction. 

The truth is, she’s right (yes mom, I said you’re right). Every time I’ve made a big move in my life it was spurred on by this feeling that there was a better place for me – that I had the capacity to experience even more happiness than I was already experiencing. 

It’s not about failing to find happiness and beauty in the current moment, or looking outside for solutions to internal problems, it’s about allowing these feelings – something most people find as inconsequential – to serve as a guide to what should come next.

Out of all the things we strive to accomplish in our lives, I believe that nothing is more rewarding than experiencing a deeper sense of joy. The fact that we are able to discern between what will bring us closer to this state of being – and what will take us farther away – is amazing.

I still have that feeling of unrest, but instead of allowing it to represent what is currently lacking in my life, I’ll choose to see it as a guidance tool – a very clear indication that I have some really spectacular things waiting for me just around the corner.

After all, our reality is only as good or bad as we choose to see it…

Standing in My Truth

“Do you have a legitimate job yet? Maybe you should get a job at the Container Store…”

The words were flung at me without malice or ill intent, but they stung all the same – like sprinkling a generous heaping of salt on an already festering wound. They were thrown into a conversation with a family member known for spouting off hurtful words without truly realizing the effect they might have. I know this. But it knocked me off my feet all the same.

The truth is, when you work alone without someone checking in to see your progress or handing you outlined tasks to complete, its easy for people to question your work ethic. And it’s common for people to say, “So what do you do everyday??”

Layer this on top of the idea that tackling creative endeavors isn’t worthy of a paycheck and can never be funneled into a real career, and under the intense scrutiny of certain people, I’ve achieved nothing more in my day than the beggar on the street corner.

That’s a little hard to swallow. 

It’s interesting how many people allude to the idea that I’m following some pipe dream that can’t possibly result in anything substantial. They’re waiting with bated breath for the day when I’ll take any job that offers benefits.

My inability to see the reward in doing what I should do makes some people uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable.

Yet, I know that words don’t carry any substantial significance. They only carry power if I allow them to through my own belief of they’re validity. I don’t see myself as a raging success as a writer, so anyone questioning what I’m doing with my life adds fuel to an already burning fire.

Ironically (or not so ironically if you believe in divine timing), I was asked by an employer to write a blog today summarizing a video of Bob Proctor (one of the big-wigs from the movie The Secret).

I’m not a huge fan of Bob Proctor, but given the fact that he’s a self-made multi-millionaire, I would assume he knows a thing or two about making things happen. His message was this:

We have the ability to choose what we allow into our conscious mind. Once we allow things into our conscious mind, they are funneled into our subconscious mind. What takes up residence in our subconscious mind profoundly affects the results we see in our lives – so if we allow what someone says to trickle down into our subconscious mind, we’ll begin to see it become our reality.

Clearly it’s not about getting my well-meaning relative to say less hurtful things, it’s about getting to a place where I can stand so firmly in my truth that what they say just doesn’t matter.

It won’t happen overnight – as evidenced by the fact that I still have a pit of anger burning in my stomach – but coming to this realization is a healthy start in the right direction.

What truth do you need to stand in?

 

 

Meth Heads, Military Wives, Fist Fights, and Being a Foodie: What Living in 29Palms Has Taught Me

In 7.5 days I’ll be packing up my meager belongings and making the trek back home – a place I never fully appreciated until I spent 5+ months in 29Palms (a town that most Californians don’t even know exists). I can say with 100% certainty that I won’t miss the surroundings (not even a teeny eensy weensy bit), but I will miss the people and certain aspects of a lifestyle I never thought I could become accustomed to. And on that note I thought I would sum up my experience with the 10 things I learned while I was here:

1. If a town is known for it’s meth heads, expect your neighbors to be the same.

Let me just begin by pointing out that a previous blog I wrote clearly stated my desire to not be stuck living among drug dealers and gang bangers (as I have been in the past). The universe must have somehow turned a deaf ear to this request because my neighbors? Yeah, they seem to be feeding the town’s meth habit right from the comfort of their own home. Let’s just say they are an interesting bunch without the street smarts of any successful drug dealer (thus their arrest yesterday). And they take showers with a hose and sponge in their driveway. Enough said.

2. Fist fighting doesn’t mean that a friendship is over.

While my boyfriend spent the last 4 years entrenched in the military way of life surrounded by guys, I was at home spending most of my time with my girlfriends. So when a night of drinking turned sour because two of his buddies started fist fighting over an eye gouging game that went a little too far, I thought that a rift would be formed right smack dab in the middle of our “group.” When I asked one of the guys if they would still be friends (with his eye bloodshot and quickly turning a shade of black), he answered, “Yeah, why wouldn’t we be? We’re best friends. It’s just like two boys in a sand box fighting over the same Tonka truck. No big deal.”

I’m still trying to decide if girls could ever adopt this thought process.

3. Living for the weekends is no way to live.

When people have asked me over the past few months how I like living out here, my answer is always the same: the weekends are a blast. But the rest of the week? I’d rather rip out my toenails one by one then spend another hour simply wasting time here. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. The point, however, is that we get to leave on the weekends and venture out into civilization – exactly what makes living here bearable. Which also makes me realize that jumping between fleeting moments of bliss is simply no way to exist. Period.

4. Distance is all relative.

Just a quick snapshot: from the spot that I am currently sitting, Starbuck’s is a good 20 miles away, any quality restaurant is 60+ miles away, and a decent movie theater playing recent movies is around 65 miles away. Seriously. So now when I hear people complain about driving I’ll have a hard time resisting the urge to tell them to shove it. Which also brings me to my next point.

5. Heat is also all relative.

Now that the temperature is slowly dropping, I am beginning to realize how drastically our idea of “normal” can shift if need be. And of course, after sweating through 110+ degree temperatures with a swamp cooler that refused to work, 98 degrees seems like heaven. I don’t think I’ll ever say that Colorado summers are too hot again. Ever.

6. Good friends don’t count dollars and cents.

Before living the military lifestyle, I had never encountered a group that was so willing to give without keeping track of what they were owed in return. They care deeply about each other, but they care about each other’s families as well. That is what I’ll miss.

7. When all else fails, food can make any day exciting.

There is something about experiencing never ending boredom that makes meal time really fricken exciting. So those days when slaving away over my computer or watching an embarrassing amount of reality TV simply weren’t cutting it, having a really good meal could fill that void. Yes, I realize that’s what massively obese people say, but I’m being honest here. At least it’s not a drug addiction – although my neighbors could have helped me out with that.

8. Claiming your husbands accomplishments is not cool.

After spending a fair amount of time living in close proximity to a military base and a total of four years immersed in the politics of it all, I have met several types of military spouses. There is one in particular that I can’t stand – the one that will say matter of factly (and of course there are plenty of variations on this), “Yeah, we are supposed to be picking up rank soon,” or “I really can’t stand our chain of command right now.” Strange, but I don’t think that the military remembers employing you.

Yes, it’s a partnership. But I don’t think your marriage vows stated anything about losing your own identity and taking on that of your husband’s. Maybe that’s just me.

9. Not everyone thinks like me.

Perhaps this one sounds like something I should have learned around the age of 8, but let’s be honest- most of us operate on a daily basis spouting off our opinions like everyone feels exactly the same way. After being surrounded by people who grew up far differently than I did, I realize that not everyone agrees (or should agree) with me. And I’m pretty sure I’m ok with that.

10. Money should be spent (yes, I know this one’s a shocker).

From the time my dad walked me down to the bank and helped me open up my first savings account, I’ve been a money hoarder. There was a time when spending as little as $10 would create an ulcer in my stomach the size of Texas. After moving, however, I realized that we would have to spend money if we wanted to go anywhere or see anything worthwhile. So, out of necessity, I agreed.

I know that we wouldn’t have been able to have one tiny fraction of the amazing experiences we did if we didn’t spend some of our hard-earned dough. And that’s big for an anxiety-prone- money-hoarder like me.

Goodbye 29Palms. I’d like to say I’ll miss you, but then I’d be lying. And a quote from a few good guys I know, “It’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun.”

I haven’t disappeared, I’ve just been baking in the heat.

Blogging, like most other areas of my life, used to be something I scheduled. (Because even inspiration can be placed on a timeline for someone as by the book as myself.) Then, when things started to get a little crazy, I stopped cold turkey. But what used to be an issue of priorities has now become another bout of perfectionism gone haywire.

Let me just begin by saying this- when I was younger and writing in a diary seemed like something every little girl should do, I used to tear out entries if I didn’t like how they sounded. Granted, I had a placed a massive lock on the outside to prevent anyone from reading my innermost thoughts, but the point was that I wasn’t satisfied with anything short of perfection. Thus, it was only a matter of time before I began judging the writing I was putting up for all of the online world to see (or at least the meager audience that I had acquired).

Inspiration, it turns out, is also a problem when leaving my house has ceased to be an everyday occurrence. No, it’s not depression, it’s an absolute hatred of the god awful heat. Heat meaning 100 degrees IN THE SHADE. Seriously. I’ve never before felt as if my skin was cooking two minutes after stepping outside.

I can blame my writing hiatus partly on the fact that I’m in the midst of a series of processes. Learning to live with my honey, for one, is a PROCESS (capitals seemed necessary for that one). How could it not be when I’m used to being comfortable and he’s used to a lifestyle of survival? My challenge this week: getting him to agree to a rendezvous at the farmers market this weekend. For some reason, he’s completely against fresh produce. Go figure.

Another process: accepting and recognizing the perfection in everyday life. After the homecoming was over, and I settled into a “routine,” I began to forget what both of our lives were like when he was away. I’m reminding myself to feel a little gratitude for the shopping trips, the movie dates, and even the arguments that we couldn’t have had if the deployment would have ended differently.

Most of all, I’m learning to redefine the individual me while still staying connected to this relationship I’ve waited so long to fully experience.

I’ve missed you blogger world. Here’s to checking in more regularly.

Cashier or Stripper: It’s All a Matter of Perspective

I woke up in a drag yourself out of bed and curse at the world kind of mood. I’m not entirely sure where all this bad energy sprouted from considering I drifted off to sleep repeating the mantra “everything is right in the world and good things are coming my way.” Maybe my brain just went into overdrive with all the fantastic things I was creating and it blew a fuse. Just a thought.

Today I allowed myself to be sucked into that “let me turn on everything with the ferociousness of a rabid dog” mentality. I picked out a few choice situations that were nagging reminders of how my life wasn’t playing out exactly how I had intended and ran with them. The result? An hour-long reprieve from the work that I should have been doing in order to look up secluded retreats in odd corners of the world with the intention of escaping it all. Bad choice for someone who already feels a festering pool of lack in the financial department.

The thing is, what was nagging me was nothing of significance. Worry makes me do ridiculous things- like not looking at what I already have and paying attention to the plethora of signs that say everything will work out just fine. And despite all the amazingly progressive things I was taught growing up in a family that embraced spirituality with open arms, I tend to be archaic in how I label things. Yes, I am a label whore- but not in the Louis Vuitton and Coach kind of way. I am the queen of deeming things bad, horrific or even life-ending. To top it off I am brilliant at going into crying frenzies that make even me feel sorry for me.

Often times, once the storm has passed, what I was so quick to label as “bad” unravels itself into something that was probably even better than what I had hoped for in the first place. I have gotten into knock down drag out fights with friends that were only a smidgen away from turning into full-out brawls only to notice that our friendship blossomed from it. I have fretted over job hunting that made me feel as if I would end up living in a box down by the river only to realize that the perfect situation just wasn’t available at that very moment I was looking.

So in keeping with this idea that all of life’s situations are a matter of perspective I thought I’d share this email that my dad sent me. Hilarious yet appropriate..

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for a homework assignment:

After it was graded and the child brought it home, she returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis,

I want to be very clear on my child’s illustration.  It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint.  I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a shovel.

Finding Balance (via a hazmat suit)

The potential of earning a paycheck and lessening the intensity of my money-induced panic attacks causes me to grossly overestimate what my mind and body can handle. So last week when I was offered a three-day stint in a hazmat suit for a little extra cash, I quickly accepted without much thought as to how it would fit in to my already busy bee of a work life. (And somehow the outfit didn’t serve as a deterrent either. God I would look good as a meth dealer.)

Being a card-carrying member of the promotional job market I often times agree to promote products or other such things I know nothing about. This time I was pushing the 3rd season of the television show Breaking Bad (involving a meth dealer thus the appropriate outfits)- one that I had never heard of before but will now most likely be hooked to like a multitude of other shows I DVR.

The cherry on top of this little adventure was that it took place outside the RV, Boat and Travel Show. Two of said days were on a Thursday and Friday- both prime days for the 60+ crowd to peruse the fantastic display of trailers and sign up for RV clubs. The problem? We were handing out free iTunes download cards to a massive group that either didn’t have computers or were blissfully unaware of what constituted a download in the first place. Oh the joy.

While the event served its purpose of paying off my debt to the IRS (yes, I blame taxes for the hazmat suit), my tendency to fill my plate with unnecessary obligations needs to stop. ASAP. My week was already filled to capacity with writing assignments and SLEEP when I said, “what’s one more thing?” Balance, I am learning, does not mean juggling twenty projects at once but only accepting the projects that I can complete without pulling out large chunks of my hair.

But where I used to BEG for new opportunities to float my way, I now feel as if I am firmly rooted in a stream of opportunity abundance. I am grateful that I have plenty of money-making jobs to choose from- now I just need to learn to say no. Or at least learn to only take the jobs with the attractive outfits.

My Name is Kayla and I’m an Addict…

The email pings that conveniently came with my fully equipped iPhone are running my life.  Literally.  When I first gave in and accepted this crack-infused device from my honey (who wouldn’t convert with a FREE phone?) I thought that reading and responding to emails throughout the day would simply increase my income.  You know, because the hour to two hours it would normally take me to respond was actually keeping me from earning millions.  Or so I thought.

In reality, it has increased my anxiety and awakened some deep seeded belief that I need to keep my foot in the proverbial door THE ENTIRE DAY in order to not miss that little kernel of opportunity that might pass me by- even if it means interrupting a deep conversation or responding sans clothing while getting ready.  Even worse?  I have begun sleep-checking emails when some inconsiderate SOB decides I need some vital information at 3:30 am.  Seriously people- this is a whole new breed of addiction not yet addressed by the “anonymous” clan.

While the first step would probably be to shelve my precious phone and stick with one not so intent on connecting me to the rest of world ALL THE TIME, I know that an alcoholic can’t be cured by pouring the booze down the drain (besides, I wouldn’t  give my child up that easily).  In truth, my need to always feel like I am receiving information as it comes in is a symptom of having the inability to trust the process.  It’s as if I am telling the universe, “I know you aren’t really paying attention to what I need, so I’ll just take it from here.”  And that is fucking exhausting.

I have been blessed to know from experience that things always work out. Always.  No exceptions.  Even if opportunities don’t fall into place as I had imagined or a door closes that I had thought would be open a little bit longer- everything is exactly as it should be.  Besides, putting life on the back burner in order to micro manage little tasks or check uninformative emails that mean squat in the long run is no way to live.  Period.

Besides, as much as I hate to admit it, I am setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of my career by being the employee that won’t throw a hissy fit if an employer attempts to chat about a project on Christmas morning or talk numbers late Sunday night.  So next time I have one foot in the shower or I’m dreaming about getting some multi-million dollar book deal, I will try my hardest to ignore that little email ping.  My sanity depends on it.

Putting Jealousy In Her Place

Back in middle school, when lunch time was everything and blue mascara was rad, jealousy was as normal as brushing your teeth.  I’m not entirely sure how it was for the boys, seeing as they were too busy guessing bra sizes, but for us girls we seemed to just eat, sleep, and breathe the desire to be something or someone else.  Primping with the precision of runways models, we would strive daily to be prettier, funnier, just down right better than our peers.  And of course new seasons meant new trends and god save our poor parents who received the brunt of the financial strain that this kind of longing creates.

With the horrors of middle school rooted firmly in my past, I would love to stand on my soap box and declare that I am so far removed from this juvenile emotion that I don’t even remember what it feels like.  Truth is, I have yet to figure out a way to permanently stop jealously from peaking her bitchy little head out and throwing temper tantrums that a three year old could only hope to one day emulate.  At least now my spastic hormones have leveled out enough to ensure that my reaction to someone’s achievements and fantastic life happenings won’t include me crying pathetically in the bathroom over what I wish I had.  And of course it generally no longer is set off by cuter shoes, bigger boobs, or longer hair.

Somewhere along the way I was told by my new age parents that feeling jealousy towards someone else, no matter how high they are on the totem pole, actually keeps you from achieving the success you are looking for.  While all I probably took in at the time was “blah, blah, blah, jealousy is bad, blah,” I am now starting to believe this statement with a clarity that only comes with a little bit of age and a small slice of life experience. 

From my own obsession with self-help books in every shape, size, and color, I have learned that the universe listens acutely to every feeling I let off and every statement I think or express.  If my reaction to someone else’s success leaves me ultimately hoping for them to fall flat on their face (and knock out a tooth or two), then I have just expressed my thoughts towards success as a whole.  I have also inadvertently blocked any chances I have in achieving MY OWN success.  And of course paying attention to the awesomeness of the lives around me only broadens my horizons and plants a precious little seed of possibility.

So today I am going to send a little nod of congratulations to all those people who are living the life that I want, typing on the computer that I wish to buy, and swimming in that endless stream of financial abundance that I just can’t wait to dip my feet into.   Make room for me- I’ll be there soon.