January 28, 2012

The Only Voice

Living with Cerebral Palsy, self-esteem and I weren't always the very best of friends. Around the time I was ten years old, I became somewhat aware of the fact that I was different. It mostly stemmed from being sent to talk to the social worker in elementary school, who explained that I needed to work on "liking myself" and my social skills. At that age I spent quite a bit of time partaking activities either somewhat or completely alone, and apparently that was considered not to be a good thing. It was at that time where I started to wonder if something was indefinitely wrong with me.

Junior high often made me feel trapped in a superficial bubble. Girls plastered on layers of make-up and made it look professional. Many wore Holister and Abercrombie like it was the school uniform. The common question or topic among friend was who was "going out" with whom. And none of it really mattered to me until the rumors about me started to fly and the comments on the internet got nastier by the day. According to whomever wrote those words, I was ugly and my legs needed to be fixed, among other things. 

And though I tried to act as if I didn't care, those words haunted me on a regular basis. I became extremely angry, and that anger would eventually manifest itself into a depressive state. I hated myself for not being strong enough to rise above all the bullshit that was going on. And I even hated God for creating me with a handicap; at the time I believed that if I didn't have it, none of this stuff would be happening. 

But that's not to say that there weren't any high moments; once I began attending church and youth group activities, my confidence rose ever so slightly. I was surrounded by people that genuinely cared for me, and I began to build a spiritual foundation that I had hoped would be the answer to what I was searching for. 

Yet, I was still fighting a battle on the inside; a battle to let go of my previous negative experiences and move forward. It continued into high school, where I frequently compared myself to my own friends because they appeared to have it all together while I was still a complete mess. There was also a bit of envy there because they either were in relationships or got a lot of attention from the guys. I, on the other hand, felt like a wallflower; watching, but never accomplishing anything. 

I did go to counseling several times, neither of which yielded positive results. I felt as though most of the adults in my life were telling me to completely change who I was, and that aggravated the crap out of me. I didn't get it at the time, but they weren't necessarily telling me that I needed to change; rather, it was my attitude that was the problem. 

Starting my freshman year of college, I decided that I no longer wanted to be that insecure girl that had taken over my life for almost a decade. I wanted to "get my head out of the sandbox" as I called it, and go explore what else was out there. However, I was extremely niave; I had been told that I would have to occasionally deal with bitchy girls and guys that only wanted to have sex;  but for the most part, I believed that people would be mature and more accepting. 

Unfortunately, I was in for a rude awakening. At first everything went smoothly; I was meeting people and socializing a lot. I didn't have to explain myself at all. But eventually, the differences started to show, both in me and those that I surrounded myself with. People made judgments against me based on pure speculation. Words meant one thing, while actions displayed something entirely different

It was all very much an emotional roller-coaster; I had to break down several times in order to stop being stubborn and actually get the right kind of help. And by "right", I mean someone that was willing to hear what I had to say instead of shoving advice down my throat.

From talking with a therapist, I now see many of the patterns that I had created over the years; among  them, I was very much dependent on someone or something to make it all better, and to ultimately heal; I often glossed over or completely swept my problems under the rug, as opposed to working through them.  How I saw myself was very much based not just on how others saw me, but from my personal experiences and mistakes that I had made. 

I've learned that the biggest issue with confidence in general isn't self-hatred, but not wanting to appear to be egotistical or arrogant. Nobody wants to be around a person who is negative all the time, nor do they want to be around those that think they're God's gift to whomever. 

It really isn't all that complicated or difficult; the way I see it, you don't always have to have a specific reason for thinking or feeling a certain way. And not just that, but you can't fully live out what you do for others unless you're willing to do the same for yourself. 

Like everyone else, I believe that I am worth taking the time to get to know, and that my story is worth telling. I am beautiful not just because of my skin, but because of what I hold in my heart. There are a lot of qualities that may set me apart from others, but are benefiting me in ways that I may not see or understand at the moment. I am strong and I know how to persevere. I have fallen, but have always will find a way to get back up. 

In terms of the voices one hears (commonly called an "inner critic") I don't think there is a way to completely get it to shut up. Whether it be your own internal voice or someone else's, you will always do and say things that will draw criticism. The key is how you hear that voice. 

For example, my brother often likes to tell me what I am and am not physically able to do. He didn't think I would get through my first semester at college, and that really bothered me. These days, regardless if he is intentionally trying to put me down or not, I see it as a way to motivate myself. Nine times out of ten, I always end up doing something that I never thought I could. 

I have made a lot of progress, but I still do struggle. Due to the mild nature of my physical condition, I do my best to live my life as though I don't have it. I push myself frequently, at times almost to the point of exhaustion. I have to remind myself that it isn't about picking a "side" but doing what is ultimately best for me, even if it makes me look weak. 

It is all very much a daily process; I know that I don't wake up every day, fully appreciating who I am and how I got here. It takes a lot of accountability, which is why I say that I am not proud, but humbled; I would not be where I currently am without love, support, and faith. When someone compliments me, I simply say thank you and try to compliment them in return. 

Each of us is responsible for what we put out into the world, and that energy will ultimately come back to us as some point. I can't predict what obstacles I will face in the future or what path I'll take, but I do know this: regardless of what anyone says, I am good enough and I am worth it. Maybe that won't always be true in the eyes of some, but that's OK. No matter what I do, people will see me how they choose to see me. The only person that I am in control of is myself. And the one voice I will chose to listen to is my own.

January 23, 2012

Beyond The Weight Of The Matter

I've just started to make a point of going to the campus rec center at least twice a week; my legs are aching, my arms are tired, and mentally all I keep thinking about are my other daily tasks that need tending to. Aside from generally learning how to become more independent, keeping a consistent fitness routine has been difficult in college, especially since my class schedule is always changing per semester.

But as I've gotten more into working out, I feel as though all I keep hearing from other people is "why do you do it at all? It's not like you're overweight or anything." And of course that leads me to wonder, why does it always have to be about weight? Perhaps the better question would be, why does it always have to involve a number?

I'm not going to speak for everyone here, because I realize that each of us is on a different journey regarding this kind of thing. There are those that are in serious danger of dying from obeisity and those that struggle with variouses sicknesses involving over-eating or not eating enough. Due to such, it's extremely important, if not vital to keep track of how many pounds are being lost or gained.

I am more or less talking about the obsession our culture has with specific numbers and sizes. It's incredibly sad how those things have come to determine what we do in life and whether or not we're good enough in the eyes of others.

Yet, one may point out that I am not one to talk; I have always grown up being somewhat naturally thin, as well as having a fast metabolism. I have never had to deal with being called nasty names because of my figure. I have never yearned to fit in a particular style of clothing, unless one wants to include shoes (my feet are small enough to still be considered a child's shoe size). So why the hell should I be writing about food, exercise, and everything in between?

Regardless of shape or body type, everybody should be able to live a healthy life. It doesn't have to be, nor should it be squarely about outward appearance.In my case, being physically active has helped me to build flexibility and get around much better. 

Personally, I choose to practice certain habits because of how they make me feel. I've said this before and I'll be saying it pretty frequently on here, but you have to do what feels right for you; it is especially true in terms of your own body.

For instance, I view a good exercise as something that kicks me in the ass, such as running a mile (or two), doing a variety of weight lifting machines as well as upper body techniques. And while yoga and zumba have become incredibly popular, I'd prefer to go at my own pace. If you want to get moving, the key thing is to find something where you're not completely focused on the fact that you're sweating and tired. It might be something as simple as walking around the block or throwing a dance party with a group of friends; that way, a work out is less of a chore and more of an enjoyable activity. 

Then comes the other aspect: food. I'll be honest, I'm not a food enthusiast, or a "foodie" as some call it. As a baby my parents had a hard time getting me to eat, and I was incredibly picky until I became a teenager. I'm not afraid to eat, but I'm not one to lay on the couch with a bag of chips in hand. When it comes to my eating habits, I like knowing that I'm consistently putting good things into my body as opposed to functioning on grease and salt (heavy amounts of both tend to make me feel like crap, literally). 

On the other hand, I'm not going to completely deprive myself of dark chocolate and ice cream, which are two of the only "junk" categories that I consume. One of the best health-related pieces of advice that I have ever been to given is to "focus on what you're putting adding in, not taking out." It's a broader term of everything in moderation; go ahead and have dessert every so often, but don't be quick to leave out the vitamins and protein too. 

I'm not one for diets, to say the least; they've always somewhat confused. Sure, you can go on a particular program, and it may yield positive results. But, what happens after you reach your goal? If it involves a specific kind of food, do you eat that for the rest of your life? I would say that if anyone feels it necessary, make an appointment with a doctor or nutritionist to see what plan suits you best. I'm not judging, because I understand that some need a bit more structure and not just "make sure you eat the right stuff." I just don't believe in the idea of picking a particular map to follow and expecting it to automatically lead somewhere.

Then comes perhaps what is the most fundamental, yet frustrating question of physical health: what about people who currently, or have battled eating disorders? On one side there are those who live to eat, and on the other are those that are terrified of eating the smallest of morsels. Is there a balance between the two?

I had a hard time coming up with an answer, initially. Even now, I don't consider it expert or absolute. But from my experiences and observations, hitting them gym and/or wanting to eat healthy doesn't mean that one does or has to hate their body. In fact, doing so should be that he or she loves and accepts their body so that they want to give it the best care possible. 

I won't pretend that I don't have my own insecurities; for most of my life, I have feared, and still occasionally become weary of hitting a particular weight number. I choose to avoid the scale as much as possible because I don't want those worries taking over my existence. It will eventually happen someday, but I'm not going to zero in on it. 

Every single one of us was each created to be physically different. Acceptance and tolerance is not always easy, considering that we have a so-called society shoving photo-shopped models in our faces and demanding perfection. 

However, perfection is just short of impossible. Instead of trying to live up to these so called standards, don't be afraid to create your own. As long as you're healthy and happy, then that is what counts.

January 19, 2012

My Story, Through Another's Eyes

We all have our own personal story; a story that both shows an explains who we are at the very core of our souls. I have frequently told my core story in bits and pieces on this blog. But I have to wonder, what would my story sound like if it were being told from a different perspective? In the spirit of fictional magic and fantasy, I've wondered would it would be like if that particular story was told in the words of my own fairy godmother?

No, I'm not saying that I actually have one. But being that I am a writer, I thought it would be fun to tap into the spirit of fictional magic and fantasy.

My core story, or at least the one that I have thus far, began when I first came to college....

She was a fairly young beauty, only the tender age of eighteen. Her eyes held a small twinkle with the promises of new dreams set to be fulfilled along this path that she had taken. She felt overjoyed that she was now in a place where maybe, just maybe people might understand and accept her, as opposed to casting her out with the oddballs. She eagerly anticipated leaving behind the memories of loneliness, depression and overall difference that she felt among the people in her hometown. For a long time, it was as if she was suffocating in a setting that she had long outgrown

But now here she stood in this new place, this new city; a city painted in black and gold.

She called herself Rose most of the time, but every once in a while, someone would call out "Belle!" when she had her nose stuck in a book. Rose preferred to walk to class every single day to take in the scenery, and enjoyed going out dancing on the weekends. She especially loved the small joys that came with this new adventure in life, and wanted to soak up every minute of it.

Yet, not every day was full of fairy dust and magic. There came a period of time when some of her new friends began to stop talking to her and spending time with her. Not every one liked Rose, much to her confusion and dismay. Rose believed it was due to the fact that she walked with a slight limp, though I will tell you that is not the entire truth.

On two separate instances, Rose did have to deal with heartbreak, specifically with boys. She tried to keep it all under wraps and pretend that none of it hurt, but it wasn't lost on those that genuinely knew her. Rose cared for both of those boys deeply enough to spark the possibility of romance, but to no avail. When it all came down to it, they simply did not care. They needed to know her heart in order to love her, but didn't want to try. 

The most taxing part was attempting to hide her struggles from her family. Rose only spoke to them when she was in a positive mood; she preferred not to let on that this new journey was definitely more difficult than she had anticipated. Likewise, they got it out of her eventually. 

And so the hills and valleys continued through the heated months of summer and into the first couple of weeks into the second portion of her journey. Rose had known in her gut that troubled times were ahead, but wanted to stay as far away from them as possible, 

Unfortunately, the darkness found her anyway. On one particular night, it overwhelmed her so much that all she could do was sit on the floor and cry, her mother's sentiments of "What happened to that happy, outgoing little girl that I used to know?" echoing in the back of her mind. 

And that is when she came to me, broken and scared. She felt as though she had lost sense of who she was; almost as though she had forgotten how to live. Listening to her, I understood what she was saying. She wasn't completely messed up, but had become enraptured in so many superficial things that her true self had been buried underneath all that dirt. She's not Rose, or even Belle, for that matter. She is Alyx. She is strong, loves deeply, and believes in the power of kindness. 

And somehow, she always finds her way.

January 16, 2012

Stream of Consciousness: Better

When you know better, you do better
-Dr. Maya Angelou 

I've heard this quote many times, especially since I've really gotten into watching The Oprah Winfrey Network  on TV. It seems incredibly true, but can be difficult to follow; there are those that make mistakes and recognize that they make those mistakes, but they may or may not change right away. In order to really live it out, you have to take the time to look back and understand not only what you did, but why you did it. 

I won't rehash anything on here because I've already discussed a good portion in my previous entries (see Reverb11) but I feel like that's what a lot of winter break was for me; it was extremely reflective and calming. 

Yet, starting this next semester has made me a little anxious scared, and I found myself pretty emotional over it. It's pretty easy to convince yourself that you have everything figured out and that you what you want, especially when you're away from every day life. It's not that I didn't want to come back to campus, because I did. But upon heading back, I kept asking myself "Can I really follow through with all these resolutions and changes that I want to make?" Can I 'do better' as the quote above mentions?

When it all comes down to it, you can only prepare yourself to such an extent; like it or not, unexpected things happen. Sometimes the best way is to choose to be in the present and wait and see what each day brings. 

It's not that I don't know what I want; rather, I don't want to get totally wrapped up in the future. That was my biggest problem; "tunnel vision", as I'd like to call it. You become so focused on one thing that you literally don't notice a whole lot else. I'd like to move beyond that and invest my energy in other things that are more lasting and beneficial. 

I would also like to continue building relationships that flourished a lot last semester, particularly with my family and friends that I didn't quite get to know the year before. It has been a blessing having each of them be a part of this journey, and a part of my life, and I can only hope those blessings continue. 

Moreover, I want to experience peace, especially within my living situation. I feel like I'm on my way to better caring for myself physically, but I also plan on focusing on taking care of myself emotionally and spiritually. 

Here's to my second semester of my sophomore year in college, and the beautiful memories that come with it!

January 11, 2012

Calling On Focus And Tradition

What do you want to call into your life?

All right, I have a bit of a confession to make. For nearly two decades, I have tended to feel as though I were on the outside looking inward; always wanting something, always wishing that things were different, or that I might able to have what everyone else seemed to have. 

And in recent months, I have felt stuck in the ruts of circumstances that I simply can't do anything about, yet have felt a yearning to somehow change or make better. 

But throughout these last couple of days I've been wondering, just how much energy am I wasting by wanting and pondering and getting frustrated over situations that should not have any power over what I choose to do? A lot, actually. When I chose to give my brain and rest and allow myself to stop thinking about it, I discovered the following truth:

I may not have grown up doing things in the most conventional way, especially in junior high and high school. Heck, I may not be doing things exactly as one would expect them to be done in college. At the same time, I've also had a lot of experiences and met a variety of people that I wouldn't trade for the world. It all has played a role in shaping who I am, and I am proud of it. 

I am attending a University that I have wanted to go to since I was sixteen years old, and it is one of the greatest schools I could be at in terms of a career. And I am already into the second semester of my sophomore year.

With that being said, I want to call a sense of focus into my life. Not only do I want to focus on reaching the goals that I've set for myself and making things happen, but I also want to focus on living in the present moment and taking things for what they are, as opposed to analyzing something that all things considered, shouldn't affect me in the long run. 

Which leads me to say that I have built a lot of wonderful friendships, especially over these last three or four months. I hope to continue doing that, especially in the midst of the craziness that is getting a college education. 

I've always said that I like to do different things with different people. Without realizing it, last semester was the beginning of some traditions that I'd like to continue with throughout the rest of the school year. Some of them involved having breakfast together a couple of mornings a week, or getting coffee or ice cream. Some of them involved watching movies or certain TV shows that a bunch of us were into. I would like to start having friends over for dinner and hopefully going out more on the weekends. 

As busy as life can get, it's not just a matter of having time to do something. It's a matter of setting the time aside and actually making a point to do it. 

That doesn't mean that I'm not open to change or allowing new people into my life. But I don't, nor will I allow these potential precious moments to slip through my fingers just because of the small stresses that I'm dealing with. 

There comes a point where the only reason you're not happy is because you're not letting yourself be happy. And sometimes you just have to do what you can and let the rest take care of itself.

January 09, 2012

An Eighty Year-Old Woman Once Told Me....

I am currently into week two of the blogging and writing challenge a year with myself. One of the topics for this week is "If an eighty year-old wrote you wrote the current you a letter, what would they say?"

I've done similar exercises like this beforehand, but never to this extent. I've written letters to my thirteen year old self, and my current self five years ahead of time. So, it will be interesting to see where this takes me. 

Dear Alyx, 

I am sitting here right now, back at you, my nearly twenty year-old self. You're at the threshold of becoming a woman; a woman with big dreams, glorious determination and ambition, and a mighty heart. In a few days, you'll be going back to school to begin the second semester of your sophomore year in college. You have a vision of what you want for these next three months; a vision that involves gaining more independence, but at the same time deepening the current relationships that you have in your life. You want to start achieving what you've set out to do on your bucket list for the year. And you're perfectly capable of going after exactly what you want. What you do get will be worth it, and what you don't get, you'll learn from it. 

But I also sense that you're scared; you're scared because making that vision a reality involves letting go of a particular friendship, a friendship that you so much idealized, but has done nothing more than prove to be toxic and full of stress. You've tried your best to be there for this person, and you can't come down on yourself because it didn't work out. 

You're also afraid to leave your family, especially during a time where you have brought them so much joy and vice versa. You want to be there for them as well, especially your little sister. 

Here's the thing, sweetheart: You're at a time in your life where for the most part, you're now in charge. You're not really living at home, surrounded by your parents struggles. You should no longer feel obligated to put your life on the backburner to take care of anybody else. You have a chance to pave your own way and to make your own decisions. For crying out loud, stop doing things because you think it's what you're supposed to do, and start doing things because it's what the small voice in your heart-the small voice of God, is telling you to do. 

And don't think for one minute that you know all that there is to know. You have come a long way, but you still have a lot to learn. Seize opportunities when you see them, but don't rush to get to a particular place. Soak up and appreciate as much as you can. 

I'm not going to tell you what will happen over the next six or so decades. That is one of the most joyful things about living; that is, being present in the moment and not worrying about the future until it gets here. 

With love, 

Your wise and beautiful eighty year old self

January 07, 2012

Role Models...Should We Have Them?

I've been meaning to write this for a long time, but had trouble with finding the right words to say. I wanted to discuss it on the heels of a topic that I wrote about last year in the midst of a sports scandal at my school; that is the power behind making a choice and the positive or negative impact that could follow. Yet, I couldn't come up with a clear answer in regards to the concept of role models. Even today, I still go back and forth about it, but I have somewhat of an idea. And while some may disagree with it, it is just an opinion. 

The common consensus is that my generation, and every generation following suit is morally going downhill.  There are political leaders vowing to make changes that will supposedly "save" America, and make claims that they're the right person for the job. Soon after, somebody cries foul for one reason or another. Athletes, movie stars, and musicians are hailed as royalty, but then they get themselves into a jam and fall just as quickly as they rose.

And so the elders cry out, "where are the leaders? Who can give a sense of direction? Who can be a light?" Or my favorite, "what happened to the old days?"

That made me wonder, are some people really all that great as they're proclaimed to be? That's not to say that nobody screws up and that they shouldn't take any responsibility for their actions. Yet, I'm beginning to believe that a lot of it has to do with the media; they harp on celebrities who supposedly have this saintly image, but one wrong move and they go straight to tearing them down.

Of course, then we're told that it is more realistic to look up to people in our communities, such as teachers, parents, or those in service jobs. But don't they too, have their share of stumbles? Don't get me wrong, I love my family; but there are definitely mistakes of theirs that I certainly don't want to repeat anytime in the future.

It's not simply a matter of who you look up to, but how and why you look up to them. 

A couple of years ago, I had to watch a friend go through an extremely rough patch in his life. It affected me very deeply because of how close we were, and there were moments where I did take it personally. At first, I blamed myself for what he was going through. 

I looked up to him very much, especially when we were first getting to know each other. And now that I look back on it, I realize that most of the pain and anger that I had against him wasn't due to what he was doing to me. It was because he would no longer be this person of example, this person that I held so much in high regard. In my eyes, he was perfect; but that image of perfection would vanish in the midst of what was happening at the time.

Not long ago, I wrote about people that inspired me throughout 2011. I have never discussed this before, but there were times where I was slightly intimidated by being around them. It wasn't related to anything they did, but I had this notion that they were all put together, while I was the complete opposite. I can recall several times where I would have breakfast with a friend and in the back of my mind think, how do you do it? I struggled very much with not telling specific people about what exactly was going on in my life; A part of me wondered if they would genuinely understand, because neither of us had ever talked about that kind of stuff. 

It has taken me awhile to fully realize that while some may appear to have it all figured out, or have a lot going for them, deep down they're still ordinary people. They have fears, needs, struggles, and pain just like the rest of us. And while that does not excuse those who know damn well that they're doing something stupid, yet do it anyway, or those who preach one thing but live another...no one will ever be completely and utterly perfect. 

That is why I have always done my best to be both honest and authentic. While I ultimately cannot control how other people see me, I really don't want to be put on some kind of pedestal or become the postergirl of any particular matter. 

So when it comes to influences, I've learned not to look at people as the epitome of anything. Rather, I look to different people for different reasons. There are those that I admire because of their work ethic, determination, and strength. For others, it's their morals, attitude, personality, and/or overall outlook on life. 

With that being said, the lines can and often do become blurred: you cannot expect a young kid to immediately stop adoring their football hero because he got busted for drugs. On the other hand, while it is perfectly justifiable to be angry when a person royally screws up due to a bad decision, is it fair to expect them to constantly try to live out this golden image? I'd like to think that first a foremost, a person would want to live a healthy lifestyle when they have so much going for them, or they have potential to do great things. It seems like living a certain way for another's sake would only be a way of trying to please them.

Like it or not, each and every one of us is a role model of some kind; there are those of us that live as examples of what to do, and there are those of us who live as examples of what not to do. It doesn't matter if someone goes on live television and proclaims whether or not they're worth emulating; people will see what they want to see. 

I know that I am recognized and admired for a variety of things; I've been approached by various teachers, friends, and strangers over the years who tell me what an inspiration I am. I can only hope that I emulate a positive message; perhaps not solely on morals or beliefs, but on how to work hard and never give up on what you really want in life. 

But the main reason I see myself as a role model is not because of what I do, but because I have younger siblings and cousins. While I always try to communicate with them that I'm not perfect, I want them to know that there are risks worth taking, along with risks that are definitely not worth taking. 

As much as we all want to have others that have gone before us, someone that can teach us and guide us, I do not believe that the lack of positive influences in our society means that we're all doomed. Personally, I believe that it is a chance to learn how to become leaders in our own right, as opposed to carbon copies. 

In hindsight, the path that one person takes should not determine the path that others will take. No one forces you to do anything, whether it be good or bad. Just like a person who was raised in a church has the capability of falling, a person who was raised on drugs and alcohol has the capability of getting back up. It is about having the will to do something, regardless of how hard it may be. 

Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody screws up. But, everybody also has a choice. 

And regardless of where you come from, how you were raised, or what you've been through, the choice is yours.

January 04, 2012

Stream of Consciousness: The Lull And The Freak Out

The Holidays are officially over; the Christmas decorations have been taken down, and the house looks a little bare. Normally this would set me off into a mildly depressive mood; this time last year, I was itching to get back to school and wondering what in the world I was going to do for the next two weeks. I kept lamenting about how much I hated January. Overall, I was driving myself nuts. 

This time around, I have found myself viewing things a lot differently. While I still don't like the weather and am still not a fan of suburbia, I have treasured the precious time I have spent with my loved ones. Christmas was absolutely wonderful; it was full of the usual humor and chaos, but without the over consumption of liquor or food. New Years Eve might not have gone quite as I expected, but it was still a night to be enjoyed, where I was more excited about celebrating the countdown to midnight and writing about my goals and aspirations for 2012. 

Although I do feel refreshed at the prospect of starting over and having a clear understanding about what I want, there are still moments where I become overwhelmed by all of it. Knowing that I have the ability to actually make stuff happen is a little scary; not because I wasn't aware of it before, but because I didn't try and thus am not used to it. 

For example, one of my goals is to cultivate my current relationships. A couple of weeks before finals, I had written a letter to someone that I hold very dear to my heart. It was basically about how I felt that we hadn't been very close for a very long time, and how much I wanted that to change for the better. I came home and that person didn't immediately indicate that they wanted to talk about it. After a week or two went by, I figured that it was one of those circumstances where one has to allow the passage of time to smooth things over. 

At least until recently. 

It wasn't an incredibly long conversation. I think it will take more than one for the both of us to be on the same page. However, I wasn't expecting it to take place and I felt slightly caught off guard by the whole thing. It was especially difficult answering questions without my voice cracking or breaking down completely. 

I did, however, allow the tears to flow once I was tucked away in bed. I wasn't upset or mad at what had taken place, but I felt vulnerable, if that makes any sense at all. Now that I think about it, they could have been tears of relief. 

Which once again brings up a bit of truth: confrontation, facing reality, etc. still tends to want to make me shrink into a corner, because there are times when it can be so much to handle. In the grand scheme of things, I know that I have a sometimes make it harder than it needs to be. I get myself worked up when it isn't necessary. Like when my Mother had to check my grades for this semester because I was too damn scared to do it myself; I didn't want to bawl my eyes out during the holidays. It turns out that I got all the marks I wanted (and needed). 

So for anyone else that is experiencing that "oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?" emotion: take a deep breath and cut yourself a little slack. It's perfectly normal to feel a little bit freaked out by personal change, especially if it's drastic. Let other people know what your plans are so they can support you and hold you accountable. And don't feel bad about not getting stuff done right away. In some cases, it's very much a matter of easing yourself into it, or just taking a leap without over thinking it. 

On that note, I'm going to go make my 2012 bucket list. There are a few ideas that might seem a little bit unrealistic, but that's another problem of mine: refusing to set a goal because it might not happen right away. Everyone needs to stretch themselves a bit. 

When you're willing to put all that you have into something, you never know what could result.

January 02, 2012

Bridging: One Side To Another

Day 31-New Beginnings

As 2012 begins, what bridges do you see yourself crossing? What will you do differently?

I didn't get the chance write this a couple of days ago because I was so busy with my New Years plans. I had a small window of time, but I decide that I would rather write something well thought out and give myself enough time time to do it, as opposed to trying to write in a rush before 2011 came to an end.

As I enter this brand new year, I am envisioning myself crossing a bridge: one side is a representation of things that have ultimately held me down, at times for many years beforehand. The other side represents who and what I want to become, and what I would like to accomplish.

For far too long, I have made decisions for the sake of others, when deep down I felt that something wasn't good or healthy about those decisions. I've said "yes" to what wasn't right for me, and "no" to what was. And I did that because I wanted to be selfless; I wanted to give more rather than take more. 

Over time, I've come to no longer seeing it as selflessness, but rather allowing myself to get walked all over and pushed around by others. I know now that I cannot take care of anyone else if I cannot take care of myself as well. In order to say "yes" to something, I have to feel comfortable with it as well as confident. It might come off as harsh to those that are not used to me having this particular kind of attitude. There's a chance that friends and family will view me a little differently. But one can't win at both being liked and doing what's best for themselves.

Another thing I would like to do is put more effort into my writing career. I can't and I don't want to wait until after I become part of the "real world" to start seriously writing. In fact, that's how a lot of writers fall into a hole; they wait until the "right time" when truthfully the best time is now. I have a habit of creating a ton of material in my head, yet I allow it to sit for months. It has come from a long-standing fear of being vulnerable in that way, to both my family and my friends. 

Yet, I feel as if now I am ready to share this gift, as well as many of the gifts that I have somewhat kept hidden from the rest of the world. I don't want to be published just to say that I've been published. I want to get my work out there so that people can actually read it, darn it all. 

The third and final element is to focus on cultivating my current relationships, instead of longing for my past ones or trying to find new ones. Don't get me wrong, if somebody wants to come in to my life for genuine reasons, there's no sense in trying to keep them out. However, I've been taking a lot of incredibly special people for granted. I want to be present for them, and to be willing to accept what they're willing to give. 

I won't call these resolutions, because resolutions seem to have a definition of something that one will only do for the particular year. What I've mentioned above is not what I want to do for the year, but what I want to get into the practice of doing for the rest of my life. This year is only a stepping stone. 

There is a strong, intuitive feeling inside of me that says 2012 is going to be good and filled with change. It's not because I'm relying on such to come to me, but to go to it and make it happen. It's why one of my two words for the year is "accomplish." What I accomplish this year will help me to become the kind of person that I want to grow to be. 

While I'm crossing one bridge, there's no telling what other little ones I will encounter in this particular journey. It will be beautiful and it will be strengthening. Care to join me?