January 22, 2011

Post #7: Week One: No Self-examination

"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his greatest surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't."

- Henry Ford

A few weeks ago, I happened upon an interesting blog about making the most of every aspect of your life. As I browsed this site, I found that its author, Sam Davidson, not only runs this inspirational blog but has also started two companies (Cool People Care and Proof) and written two books (New Day Revolution and 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need). Way to make us feel lazy, right?

Anyway, as I was browsing, I found a tiny typo in Sam's "About Me" section. I figured I would want to know that I had a typo on my website if I were him, so I shot him an e-mail to let him know. (I was worried he might think I was crazy because that seems like the kind of thing one would only do if she had nothing better with which to occupy her time.) To my great relief, he didn't think I was crazy. Or, at least, he didn't say that. These days, it's quite shocking to ever get a response from an e-mail, so I was pleasantly surprised when Sam wrote back. He thanked me for pointing out the typo and asked me for my address...to send me a complimentary copy of 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need.

WOW. Now this, THIS, is how you do business, I thought. So I sent him my address (and even got a reply explaining that he would be traveling that weekend but would send out the book when he got back). WOW again.

Last Friday, January 14, 2011, I came home after a long day at work to find that the book had arrived. I hate to sound jaded, but I have to admit that, even after the follow-through with his correspondence, I wasn't sure that Sam would still remember to send me the book. In my 23 years on this earth, I've gotten my hopes up enough times to know what it feels like to be let down when someone forgets a promise, a plan that was made, etc., so I had prepared myself for the fact that the book might not ever make its way to my house. But it did.

I had company that night and couldn't look through the book like I was hoping to, but I finally got to sit down the next morning to begin reading. All I can say is that I was inspired by Sam's passion, insight, and excitement about life. In the last year, I graduated from college, landed my first full-time job, and got married to a man who is about to go through fire academy. With so much going on in my life, I've been trying to find a bit of clarity and peace. I've been trying to simplify things. Because I've been searching for my passion for a long time now (like all of us, I'm sure), I wrote Sam a thank-you e-mail and told him the book couldn't have come at a better time for me.

But, seriously, it couldn't have come at a better time. January 14, 2011, marked the end of the second week of 2011 and the beginning of the remaining 50 weeks of the year. From that day, I decided that I would have 50 weeks to gradually rid my life of 50 unnecessary things. This past week has been Week One of this journey, and I must admit that I've barely had time to focus on this task (hence my post that should have been written the day I received the book). So what is the first thing that my life doesn't need? No Self-examination.

Sam says that it's very important to check in with yourself on a regular basis to determine what makes you feel successful, disappointed, happy, or incomplete. Staying in touch with your emotions and how the world around you affects them helps you to get closer and closer to your ultimate goal of finding your passion in life.

As I said, I haven't had much time this week for focusing on self-examination; however, I believe writing this blog is the first step to resolving that problem. Seeing as how it took me all week to finally get this thing started, I would venture to say that I've already begun to successfully rid my life of No Self-examination.

This week, I will be focusing on Small Dreams and how to replace them with bigger and bigger hopes and goals for the future. I'll expand on that more later, and I promise that future posts will be a bit deeper and, hopefully, more insightful. But we all know that introductions like these tend to be lengthy and heavy with facts, so I'll let you rest up for now and start thinking about your dreams both great and small.

P.S. Yes, I have already neglected my New Year's resolution. I think trying to focus on other people all year was a good goal, but I've come to the conclusion that I just need to take care of clearing the clutter from my life first so I can be better at giving of myself. These days, it barely feels like there's enough of me to go around in a quality way. I plan on cutting down on the quantities of things in my life to enrich its quality. Let's see how this goes.

January 2, 2011

Post #6: Self-reflection. Literally.

“Maturity is that time when the mirrors in our mind turn to windows and instead of seeing the reflection of ourselves we see others.”

-Author Unknown

I think that's my favorite picture of me from our wedding. I just thought I'd share it because it kind of captures how I wish I would be seen at all times and how I hope I'm seen most of the time. I'm thinking about this because I just had a weird moment. Have you ever looked yourself in the eyes in your reflection long enough to feel like you have an entirely new perspective on yourself? Like there's this paradigm shift where you suddenly have this strange intimate moment with yourself and realize that you've had yourself all wrong? I just had one of those moments. As weird as it sounds, it made me cry.

I feel like all this stress and worry just came to a head, and I realized that if I were anyone else looking at me then I would give myself a huge hug and say, "Relax. Seriously. It's okay."

I faced this struggle I've had for a long time between seeing myself as a polished woman versus a carefree child. I'm always afraid being the former will make me boring, but then being the latter always makes me wonder if I'm just avoiding growing up. I mean, I fully intend on always staying a kid at heart, but it's hard to find your place in a professional setting and as a married woman, etc., when you aren't quite ready to be an adult just yet. I want so badly to feel prepared, but this playful child inside of me keeps tugging at me to not forget her.

There are a lot of things that, no matter how "grown up" I will ever be, I just don't have control over. I don't have control over what other people will think of me (though I can take actions to shed a better light on myself), I can't control who likes me or wants to be friends with me, I can't control car accidents, natural disasters, or almost anything in the outside world really. However, I have control over my own actions. I think for way too long I have felt subject to my personality. Why do we think it's okay to blame things on our personalities? I say this because we all do it. "That's just who I am."

Yes, to a certain extent, that's a healthy attitude to have. It's good to have self-confidence and be able to weed out your typical nay-sayers from people who have something legitimate to tell you. But the key is to listen to those people who really have something to say. In this particular case, that someone is me. I have a lot of things to say to myself, and I'm going to do it. Hopefully I listen.

I apologize for the confusing nature of this post. It's almost 4am. The point I was eventually going to get at is that I want to fix myself so I can stop being so focused on myself. It's like getting a car tuned up so you don't have to worry about it for another 3,000 miles. I must tell you, my soul is way past it's check-up date, and it causes me to worry about it on an almost daily basis. I would like to fix my internal world so I can focus on everything that's outside of it. I'm going to start by cleaning out my closet and getting rid of clothes I don't need.

Please don't ask how that's going to help my soul because, if you don't understand that, then you could never possibly understand me.

Did I mention it's 4am?

Edit: (February 17,2011) I just saw this poem on a friend's blog and couldn't believe how well it goes with my post above:

Love After Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.