Monday, September 15, 2014

It's a Lifestyle Change: Part One

So. I went to the doctor because, well, you're supposed to and stuff.

Results were varied.

I mean, on one hand, my blood-pressure is textbook perfect. This makes my nerdy soul very happy, as though I got the correct answer on a test.

On the other hand, everything else? SHOT TO HELL, kids.

But I got 100% on the blood pressure thing! WHEEEEEEEEEE!

And I ALSO got a lecture and more appointments and a handout on lifestyle changes.

Which. Well. I don't know what the opposite of "WHEEEEEEEEE!" is, but that was my response.

*****

I've gotten the lifestyle change (as in, "It's not a diet! It's a lifestyle change!") lecture before. Based on the fact that I'm still getting said lecture, it seems fairly obvious that I am paying no attention at all.

Well, that's not true. I DO pay attention. I pay attention and I feel bad about myself for a few days and then I eat a box of cheezits and decided "Whatever, with your medical degrees and stuff Mrs Doctor Lady," and go right back to what I was doing before. And then I would have to go back to the doctor and have the lecture again -- omnomnom, weigh, repeat.

THIS time, though, it was different, because I noticed how happy it made me to ace the blood pressure test. I felt good. I felt like I was doing something right.

I felt like I maybe would want to do MORE things right.

I felt like maybe I would want, you know, not to get The Lecture again.

*****

I decided that I would embrace said Lifestyle Change ... once I did some research. In typical Yellie fashion, I decided that until my research was complete I would do the OPPOSITE of changing my lifestyle. In fact, I would eat all of the things. All of them. All of the delicious noms would go into my face.

I'm fairly certain that medical professionals do not suggest this approach.

I'm also fairly certain that this approach will give you heartburn. A LOT.

*****

Lifestyle changes, by the way, require that you CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE.

*****

(You probably already realized that. I was a little slower to clue in.)

*****


So, research completed? I jumped in headfirst.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

This Above All

I'm a writer. 

The thing about being a writer is this: it's always tempting to make the story better. You look back at the way events unfolded and think about describing them. You realize that the real story, the true story, doesn't work despite the fact that "it happened that way" so you, you know, fix it -- because the narrative is more important than the facts. The story. That's what is important. The rest is just nitpicking. 

Having said that? I try not to do that here.

But I'm a writer, so I know I'm prone to what I like to call "editorial enhancement." Which is to say, sometimes things didn't happen exactly the way I tell them? But the story is so much more interesting the way I told it. 

I'm saying this because sometimes, I write things here in an attempt to convince myself that they're true. When I say that everything happens for a reason and that the journey is the point and that scars are places of strength? I am trying to reconcile my belief that those things are true. And, for the record, I believe that they are. 

But sometimes? We all need convincing. Even the storytellers.

Last year -- more than any other year, I think -- I felt challenged. If you follow this blog, you saw me go from posting daily to posting ... well ... the kindest thing you could say is "irregularly" ... as I adjusted to a new job and a new living situation and then homelessness and then life without Bean and then another new living situation. 

I could post ... I always had access ... but I couldn't figure out my own narrative. To be blunt? The story sucked. Despite the fact that I did -- and do -- believe that things happen so you can get from point A to point B? I couldn't figure out where point B was or, in all honesty, why the hell I'd want to be there.

I was thinking about this today as I realized that in the last year: I got promoted. I found Lizzie B. I'm becoming financially solvent. I re-discovered the love of my life. I know who my friends are. I am supported and supporting and HAPPY and NONE of those things -- I repeat, none of them -- would have happened if I hadn't followed the path that last year? Nearly ruined me. 

As a storyteller? It's an implausible narrative. It needs work and adjustment. 

As a human being? It reminds me that following your heart is the base of every great story. 

All the rest is details.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rearview Mirror

Sometimes, she said, you turn a corner and when you do, you realize that the people who were by your side just a moment before are gone. They're not with you anymore. And while that's okay? It still hurts. But baby, she said, you have to learn to let it go.

It's hard to do, though.

I know. 

I guess I just don't get it.

Remember when someone told you that your biggest problem is that you think people will act like you?

Yeah.

Still true. You love unconditionally. You have a big heart. You support and don't judge. You think everyone will do that.

I think the people who love me should do that.

Sweetie, people don't always do what they should. 

I feel ... Awful.

I know. Oh, buddy, don't cry. Don't cry! One kind of journey ends here. An entirely different one starts. New faces. New adventures. And that's the point. That's what life is FOR! You need to wave goodbye -- and do it with freaking JOY for what your companions once brought you. Wish them well. And then hug the one you're with and keep going.

We had some good times.

You had the best times. 

I can hold on to that.

We all can, buddy. We all can.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fair

"All this life and work and choice took far too long" -- Remy Zero

We all learn at a pretty early age that the world is an unfair place. Some of the things that are not fair are things I find myself able to live with, such as the fact that there will never really be a way to slice a pizza into perfectly equal triangles of deliciousness.* I'm okay with that. 

As you, Dear Reader, have probably noticed, social injustice keeps me awake at night. 

But this isn't really about either of those things, as trivial (pizza) or important (equal rights for all people) as they are.

It's about the moment that you, as a person, look at your life and realize that the person causing the imbalance, the person who isn't being fair to you? Is you.

This realization struck me one morning as I sat in my robe, drinking coffee and listening to the waterfall outside. The Fella was sleeping. Lizzie B was nestled in my lap, purring, and I thought, "I am so content right now. I should have more of these mornings. I hate that I don't."

Then I thought, "Wait. Why don't I?"

The answer? 

Because I run around like mad, getting this done and that finished and those things managed. 

Because I prioritize a zillion other things first. 

Because I listen to the voices of other  people instead of my own voice. 

Because I'm not fair to myself. 

Because I don't honour my own choices or needs.

My immediate reaction to these thoughts was shame and embarrassment, as though the desire to take more time for morning quiet was terribly selfish when I could be working or doing something more productive; it didn't seem okay to take time just to be. 

(Guilt. I have it.)

But that's not a fair way to live. It's not fair to put work and chores and everyone else first all of the time. It's not fair to deny yourself small pleasures that feed your soul because you're so busy trying to make everyone around you happy that you can barely remember what makes you happy.

You have to be fair to yourself. Take the time to find the balance. Don't deny yourself what brings you joy. 

The world is an unfair place, but you don't have to add to it.


*pssst you. With the math and equations. Just... Yes, I know it's theoretically possible, but ... No.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What It Is

There are always going to be people in your life who will tell you what certain things mean: what it means to be successful. What it means to be happy.

Feel free to listen to them and their definitions.

And then, if you want, feel free to disregard them.

The truest thing I know is this: how you define success is a highly personal thing. Some people are motivated by money. If your bank account makes you feel secure, successful, and proud? I am happy for you if you are happy.

See what I did there, by the way? I didn't suggest that someone who is financially motivated is wrong or ridiculous or in need of redefining the rules that he uses to guide the choices he makes. I'm not suggesting such a thing for a simple reason -- I don't live his life. The ways he defines success for himself do not belong to me because, in fact, there are many ways by which one can define success. The important thing, I think, is to make sure that you own your definition, and that you not let anyone talk you out of chasing what inspires you.

I won't be told what it means for my life to have success and meaning.

I'm through being instructed as to what I need in order to be happy.

What works for me -- what makes me feel successful, what I need in order to be happy -- will likely not look like someone else's definition. That's okay. That's actually great. If we all wanted and needed exactly the same thing, the world would be a very dull place indeed. Fortunately for us all, there are people who want to serve in missions and there are people who want to write blogs and there are people who want to be corporate masterminds. There are people who want large, fancy homes and there are people who want very simple ones. There is room for everyone here. There is room for all different kinds of success and happiness.

Mine might not look like what you think it should look like because it doesn't match yours, but that doesn't make it less real or valid.

Look around you. See the people in your life -- really see them. Know that their happiness and success for what it is: personal. Beautiful.

And rejoice in it the way you would want them to rejoice in yours.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Try

I don't care who you are or where you're from: some days are just going to be hard to the point that your brain shivers a little in your head and refuses to cope with any other incoming information. It's the mental version of overeating at Thanksgiving but because your mind is not able to put on your stretchy pants to accomodate the emotional and psychological equivalent of  far too many mashed potatoes, you make room in other ways. Maybe you shut off. Maybe you start a fight with someone you're pretty sure will forgive you later when you're not so overwhelmed. Or maybe you just cry and go home where there are warm hugs and cuddles and tea.

I was there yesterday.

Because of course, despite the fact that I am the happiest in my life that I have ever been? I am balancing that out in my career with a difficult situation. I mean, why not? Of COURSE. Mostly I just go with the flow -- lalalalaaaaaa, I'm going to make this all woooooorrrkk -- but sometimes?

I need yoga pants and a blankie for my stressed out, anxious brain.

Sometimes we all do, actually. As much as I believe in hard work -- and I worship at the church of hard work, it's how I roll -- I also know that it's equally important to take the time to unwind and relax. My problem (perhaps the problem of many people I know) is that the relaxing bit doesn't come as naturally to me as the work myself into a sobbing mess part.

It's a problem.

It's a problem to the point that yesterday? I didn't think I could do it anymore. I wanted to walk away. I NEEDED to walk away. My manager (who is wonderful, I might add, and not the source of the difficulties I am encountering) encouraged me to take a break, stressing how much I've earned one.

I walked to my desk thinking, "I'll just go home early. It'll be great. I'll take a nap and regroup and be fresh tomorrow."

I sat down to set my out of office message. Stray tears escaped here and there. Not because of the stress and the crazy, necessarily, but because I'd begun to believe that I couldn't cope with them.

And I thought: you just have to try. Can you keep trying, Yellie? Can you try for five more minutes? If you can try for five more minutes, and then you still feel like you're done, you can go. But maybe -- maybe you could try.

I gave it five minutes. Five minutes spent breathing -- in. out. in. -- and thinking about how much I love my coworkers, how kind they are. I looked at the flowers that The Fella sent me earlier this week. I touched their petals. They were silky and cool.

Five minutes of trying.

I felt better.

So I gave it five more.

The crisis passed.

That, I think, is the beauty of difficult situations: they do pass. You just have to give them time. You have to give yourself the time. You have to understand that it's okay. You're okay. You will move through this.

You also need to understand that the other side could look like a variety of different things. Yesterday, it might have looked like going home. That would not have been a failure. Staying? Wasn't necessarily a success in and of itself. The important part -- the healing part -- was saying: try. Sit with how you feel. Think. And then give yourself permission to reassess how you feel and what you need.

No matter where you are.

It doesn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Waiting for It

"Things happen," she said, "when you don't expect them."

"I know."

She sipped her tea. "This is true of good things and bad things, I think. We say it about good things, but it has to be true of bad things too. I mean, you can't walk around expecting bad shit to happen all of the time. That would be terrible. But you also can't wander the earth expecting unicorns and rainbows every day. That would just be weird."

"What should you expect?"

"You shouldn't spend your time expecting," she said. "Spend your time doing. And living! And being. And if you're doing and living and being your best? Things will happen. Some of them will be magical. Some of them will not. But they'll be real and they'll be yours."

"Even if I don't expect them."

"Look. The only person who should always meet your expectations is YOU. Everyone else? Gets to do their thing. Sometimes that will hurt you. Other times it will surprise and amaze you. It will be so wonderful that it will make you cry with happiness and awe.

"The trick? Is knowing that it all will come. All of it. The good stuff and the bad stuff and the in-between stuff. It all comes.

"You just have to wait. Be patient. And while you're being patient?

"Be amazing. Because you are."