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…

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.

A Lesson In Gratitude (courtesy of a Starbuck’s barista)

After I spent a long weekend frantically searching for jobs and making a list of all the reasons why I wouldn’t have the means to do the things I want to do, a Starbuck’s barista comped my $3 drink (I suppose this is a bit extravagant for someone without a steady income, but even I have my vices), and gratitude became my goal of the day.  When I stop my insanely irrational thoughts from shouting obscenities at my usually rational mind I can see how I have been provided for in ways that far surpass another bank deposit or the cash needed to buy a new laptop. 

Over the weekend I was given a FREE photo shoot for my honey abroad through Operation Love Reunited.  This brilliant organization provides free photography sessions for families with a loved one serving overseas, and sends these pictures to them to serve as a reminder of what they have waiting for them back home.   After sobbing through their heart-wrenching online video I sent an email, not really expecting much in return and thinking that my non-married status would probably serve as some sort of red flag.  Instead I was contacted by the founder of the organization (Tonne Lawrence, a brilliant photographer and military wife) who offered to take my pictures the following day in her home.  And as we chatted over everything from which branch had the sexist uniforms (Marines, hands down) to why deployments just suck all around, I was reminded that the universe is filled with people who will go out of their way to make the world a little sweeter for those around them. 

Despite the pitfalls of military life and being attached to someone who must be more committed to the United States government then to your relationship, there is a community upholding these servicemen and women that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  I have been offered homes to stay in by girls that I have met only once or twice before and lent support by families that are going through the same separation pains as I am.  Last time I trekked out to the desert to say goodbye to my Afghanistan- bound honey, we all (platoon buddies and their wives/girlfriends) spent the last few days preparing together for what we were all about to go through.  We cooked dinners, made margaritas, and attempted to forget why we were together in the first place.  Being a 20 something with little money and friends that are equally as poor, I’m not used to anyone opening their home without requiring that those that enter pitch on a pizza or a keg- this experience was so far removed from what I had become accustomed to it was shocking.  Luckily, living this taxing sort of existence comes with a new family that genuinely cares.

I have always been blessed with friends that keep me stable and help to inspire me in everything that I do.  Most of them have seen me through every life stage since my awkward dark eyeliner and blue mascara phase and will continue to be there despite the physical distance between us.  Today I am deeply grateful for my seasoned make-shift family and for all those I have met through my honey’s service in the military.  And of course to the Starbuck’s barista that sparked my sense of gratitude today- you are pretty awesome too.  I am one lucky girl to have so many fantastically spectacular people in my life.

Money Conscious? No, Just Cheap.

I have money issues- severe stomach churning, panic inducing money issues.  No, I am not drowning in debt from an expensive shoe fetish nor am I making frequent secret trips to Check in to Cash. I am a hoarder.  (A professed hoarder at that, so you know it must be bad.)  I am the type of person that will buy the generic store brand of everything even if it means that the cereal tastes like saw dust and the make-up remover wipes are so abrasive they leave tiny scabs on my eyelids.

Besides the fact that this erratic and fear induced behavior probably just goes along with my rigid perfection obsessed personality type, my dad counsels people on how to get out of debt.  From the time that I was a pre-teen making a few bucks here and there off of odd jobs like scrubbing the filth off of the tennis courts in my complex, I was taught to save and spend my money wisely.  I guess I never heard the part about spending. 

When I moved my life to California a few years ago to be closer to my military honey, I had daily breakdowns usually always concerning my savings account that was dwindling before my eyes (driving 50 miles each way to a part time job that only paid a mere $10 an hour didn’t lend itself well to my preferred lifestyle).  This was all happening at a time when I was trying to be all Zen-like by reading the Dali Lama’s book on true happiness and looking up quotes from other Zen people about how to calm the fuck down.  But when the Dali Lama couldn’t get through the universe tried instead.  Driving to work one day I was talking to my mom about how pissed off I was that money was not flowing freely to me (go figure) when I ran over a massive boulder in the road and got a flat tire.  On the on-ramp to a California highway.  In my seething “I hate the universe” mentality I had just destroyed a $150+ tire. 

After screaming at the top of my lungs, (to myself since my cell phone battery was on its last leg and was threatening to die) I was able to call my new boss and after a horribly childish sob fest on my part, she told me she would come to my rescue.  She proceeded to ensure that I could drive on my spare tire (that was changed by an angelic truck driver) to somewhere where I could purchase a new one.  And then she bought the tire for me.  To me, this was the universe saying (in a way that was a bit too dramatic for my liking) “See, we told you you would be taken care of.”

I would love to say that this experience made me stop checking the contents of my bank account every couple of days to make sure that some freak computer malfunction hadn’t wiped out my entire life savings, but that is not the case.  I am still a money hoarder (perhaps a support group search is in order?) that is looking for that perfect rainy day or fantastically exotic trip to splurge on.  Until then I’ll just have to breathe through it and remind myself that spending is nothing more then an exercise in faith- and stating that there is always more where that came from.  Yes, I’ll just have to start there…