On Owning It

Life is like riding a bike.

Sometimes you have to pedal with all of the might you can muster, making your way inch by terrible inch up that long hill. And other times you can coast down with no resistance beneath your tires and the wind whipping gloriously through your hair.

If I picture life as a person, I see it as a jokester. You know the type; one of those people who thinks that super inappropriate things are really funny and who laughs at funerals. Life never takes itself too seriously. It likes to present a wide variety of situations in many unexpected forms just to make sure you really are on your toes at all times. It has an affinity for showing up in ways you could have never anticipated, will pound its fists on your front door at three in the morning just for a laugh, and it loves to pitch you curve balls to test your willingness and ability to knock them out of the park. Life has a grand ole time making sure that the only thing you can expect for certain is that things will turn out differently than you planned.

Recently, I was asked a pointed question that has kept me thinking.

How do think you react to adversity?

Great question.

I like to think that I take adversity in stride. I’d like to say that I handle all things with as much grace as I can possibly mobilize on short notice. I like to think that I do the best that I can while I keep a smile on my face and my heart full of compassion. I like to think that my experiences have taught me to be a strong and resilient person, capable of triumphing over anything that comes my way. I have overcome a lot, just like each and every one of you, and I intend to keep on doing just that.

But let me tell you that when life throws everything its got at me, one curve ball after another pummeling straight at me without pause, my reaction to adversity isn’t as pretty as I would like it to be. I’ve found that I move into silence rather than speaking my truth and that I falter in my faith rather than being able to turn it all over and trust in His plan for me. My positivitiy tanks.

I doubt myself. I wonder what I am doing wrong. I struggle with feeling wrong-sized and get angry when none of it seems to be working. Am I too sensitive? Am I unapproachable?

I switch tactics. Read more books. Reach out to others for help. I milk my support system for all its worth. Believe me, keeping me strong and centered and sane takes a village.

I am consistently revamping my strategy to figure out what the best fit is. I am constantly re-energizing in order to gain momentum for the next movement, looking to level-up and press forward. This doesn’t work, so let’s change it. That didn’t work, again, so let’s try this instead. Fail. Fail. Try again.

Do you know what all of the negative, uncomfortable and challenging feelings and experiences mean?

They mean that I am human. In progress. Developing. Learning. Achieving. Reaching. Trying.

I’m dealing with people, places and things that are not on my terms and that do not conform to my comfort zone. I’m like Silly Putty in the softening process; the part where you throw it around in your hands to make it pliable enough to mold into something entirely new.

I don’t like to think that I need molding. I don’t like to admit that I have areas I should work on. Who loves to pick themselves apart and acknowledge their faults? No person I know. But the sooner I get over with the pummeling, the faster I become ready to change my form. When I am warmed up and ready for a new shape, it means I am completely willing. It means both my mind and my heart are open to new ideas and new opportunities.

Let’s face it. Sometimes life beats the crap out of us.

We can either let it shatter us, or take it as a not-so-subtle hint from the universe that things are changing. Discomfort and pain are two of the greatest motivators for change, and change is always good.

I repeat. Change is always good.

Change forces us into action. Change improves us. Change intimidates us, seems impossible and then it teaches us that everything will be okay in the end. Always. Change shows us that the unexpected can lead to glorious results. Change terrifies us and then it chides us, whispering that we should have trusted the process the entire time.

So however you react to adversity, own it. Own it in its glorious imperfection and simultaneous badassery. You’re getting your tail licked and still asking for more. You’re waking up each day and focusing on the good. You’re giving it your best shot. Embrace everything and don’t get too caught up in the details. After all, it will work out just as it’s meant to in whatever amount of time it takes.

Own your abilities, inabilities, sensitivities, strengths, shortcomings, and greatness. Own your life.

Here’s to writing your legacy. 

xoxo

Sarah

Giving Up the Security Blanket

Have you ever experienced a time when you have hit a goal or achieved a significant milestone, and all the feelings you are feeling are just so anticlimactic?

You don’t feel elated. You don’t feel triumphant. You just feel kind of, meh.

Tonight I have my last shift at the restaurant, and as happy as I am to finally have every Friday and Saturday evening off, there is something else I am feeling. Something less than happy, excited, or even just meh.

Fear.

I am scared to not have the extra income anymore. I am scared that without it, the debt that I have worked so hard to get myself out of will creep back. What is more, I have practically always worked in a restaurant. It is fun. It has introduced me to amazing people, and given me lifelong friends. It is a part of my identity that I have so say goodbye to, even though I may not be completely ready.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? That I consider working in a restaurant part of my identity. Hear me out.

Working for the restaurant has taught me how to do many things. It has taught me to keep calm under pressure. It has taught me to think on my feet. It has taught me to keep my temper when dealing with a difficult guest, or an employee I don’t agree with. It has taught me to multitask, to problem-solve, to function as part of a team, and how to talk to anybody and everybody. It was there for me when I got laid off. It has been my motivator, my escape, enabled me to reach my financial goals, and it has been an invaluable source of networking and opportunity.

That is a lot to say goodbye to.

As hard as it is, it is time to let go. I have to look the fear in the face and have faith that I am opening myself up to new opportunities by doing this. I want need to focus on my career and my writing, and to actually experience what it is like to have weekends off. I am burnt out. I am tired of working exhausting shifts throughout the holiday season. I am tired of having to say no to so many things because I have said yes to making money, for so long.

The restaurant went from being something I needed, to something I was holding onto like a security blanket. Letting go feels strong and weak at the same time. Something inside of me is nudging me forward, away from the person I have been comfortable being and into who I am becoming.

Maybe it feels anticlimactic because it has taken me longer than it should to finally let go of that security blanket. Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me to relax; to go with it, trust in it, and that every little thing is going to be okay.

Here goes nothing.

Have you ever said goodbye to something that you felt was a part of you? I want to hear about it!

xoxo

Sarah

*Top photo via Pinterest.

Somewhere In-between

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” -Woody Allen

As a twenty-something, I often feel that I am trying to find a comfortable middle ground between making things happen and letting go. I firmly believe that the universe is working with me to help me achieve my biggest dreams, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder, exasperated, why the universe has to be so slow about it.

I am not a patient person. I want everything done on my schedule, in just the way I envision it, and I want it to happen nowI like things to be done quickly, efficiently, and I like the results to be sparkly, polished, and tied up with a pretty ribbon.

The hard and beautiful truth is that whatever I have planned is most likely not going to pan out the way I think it should. Life does not unfold on my terms, in my time, or in the way I dictate. Life happens on life’s terms, and I am working on accepting that that is exactly as it is supposed to be.

The truth is…sometimes my heart aches. It aches with longing for desired results, the sting of past mistakes, and the desire to know where my life will end up. My heart aches for the things I have not yet accomplished, the milestones I have not yet hit, and for the dreams I have not yet realized.

I watch as some of my closest friends are beginning to get married, with many more in long-term relationships, and I am still single. Please don’t confuse this comparison with some pitiful whining about how I’ll probably die alone- I don’t believe that to be true and I am incredibly happy at this point in my life. I love being single, appreciate my alone time, and it’s nice having only my own feelings to worry about. Most of the time. But, but, a very large part of me is not-so-patiently awaiting the moment I meet the man I will someday marry. Right now, however, I am content with the in-between.

I watch as friends advance in their careers; receiving promotions, celebrating significant work anniversaries, and earning their graduate degrees. I, conversely, am just entering mine. I have my foot in the door, and am focused on working my rear off to see progress and advancement in the coming years. However, my entry-level position rubs my own ego the wrong way. That is the honest truth. I am working diligently to get over this, and to get over myself. I love my job and the company I am working for, regardless of my position on the totem pole. I also would love, more than anything, to be able to go back to school to get my graduate degree. Unfortunately, I cannot fathom putting myself in that much debt from student loans when I am almost, almost, just above water. I am this close, and I am not willing to give that up right now. I have to remind myself that, in the end, the only person I have to prove I am better than is the person I was yesterday. It is not an easy task. That control freak in me wants to go faster. To be bigger. To be better.

This impatient characteristic of mine, it isn’t a positive one. It isn’t helpful, it isn’t encouraging, and it certainly isn’t helping me grow. This is where the letting go comes in. Letting go means turning it over to the universe, to faith in a God of my understanding, and relinquishing control with the belief that everything is going to turn out as it should. 

In the past, praying wasn’t something that I did. The only time I turned to prayer was to save my own skin; during moments when I was drowning in fear, hopelessness, and desperation. In making an effort to let go, and have faith in the universe during my difficulties, I began practicing prayer more often. Today, I am trying to let go rather than to control. Today, prayer is something I do throughout the day, but especially before I fall asleep at night. At the end of every day I stop and think about my life. I think about what I have been praying for, and how each step I take reveals more to me about the meaning, and significance, of my journey.

What do I pray for? Today, I pray for healing. I pray for past hurt to be removed from my heart so that I can be willing, and able, to receive love when it does come into my life. I pray for forgiveness, towards those who have wronged me, towards those that nearly destroyed me, and also towards towards myself. I pray that I continue to learn to love myself, because I am just beginning to believe how awesome I truly am. I need to be able to fully embrace this belief, that I am freaking awesome, in order to accept that kind of love from another. I give thanks, a million thanks, for the amazing friendships that life has blessed me with; and for my family that I would not be able to live without. I pray for patience, for guidance, and for grace.

I used to have a life plan. I used to have it all figured out. But then, in a million tiny ways and a few huge ones, the rug was ripped out from under me. I had to learn to change direction, to improvise, and to rebuild. In the most difficult of times, I had to hang on for dear life while the world spun around me. I had to learn to believe that I can become the woman I want to be. I had to learn that life won’t happen on any time, or on any terms, but life’s own. I learned that I have to work, work tirelessly, and in return the universe will work with me. 

I still make plans. I still get lost in daydreams. I still envision my life turning out a certain way. I also know that whatever I have planned usually won’t happen the way I think it should. I know that in the end, it will turn out better than I ever could have hoped for. I have complete faith in this. The key is to keep going, to embrace each day as it comes, and to laugh when things get turned upside down.

I hope that you enjoyed my thoughts on my faith, prayer, and letting go. I would love for you to share about how you navigate this thing we call life! 

xoxo

Sarah

The Big Plunge

It really is astounding how quickly the universe will work to make something happen once you decide you want it badly enough.  

After weeks of interviewing, sleepless nights, hoping, wishing, and praying- everything changed. I have accepted a position in the field I am passionate about, actually using my degree, working for a company I am already so in love with I could pinch myself. Had you told me five years ago that I would be tickled pink at being presented with health coverage, paid vacation time, and a 401K incentive- I would have told you that you were absolutely nuts. But now here I am, twenty six and couldn’t possibly be happier that I no longer have to fly under the radar without health insurance. Oh how times change!

I’m sure that not everyone is as easily thrilled as me. I’ll take my wins where I can get them. One piece of advice that I was given awhile back and try to follow religiously: always be in a state of gratitude. The universe is far more likely to help you accomplish the goals you set if you are constantly giving thanks.

Despite my attitude of gratitude, I have to admit that I never thought it would take me this long to get started. I never thought I would have to fail so many times, in so many different ways. I never knew I could fail so many times; then get right up, brush myself off and try again. Oftentimes, over the past few years, it has felt as though I have had two hands tied behind my back while the world pummels my front. Trust the process, I told myself. What is meant to be will happen. 

And it did. 

In an instant my world was turned on its axis. Gone will be my schedule of days free and working evenings with a twenty-something hour work week; replaced with rising early to work a full and productive eight hour day. Something I have never, NEVER, done. My whole adult life I have been working in restaurants, or in school AND working at a restaurant, or (for a brief stint) working in a medical office AND a restaurant. Until the new job offer came in, and faced with having to let go of my old way of life, I hadn’t even realized a certain truth that resonated within me.

The truth is…I love my restaurant job. I know that serving food to hungry people isn’t brain surgery, and sometimes us servers joke that we could train a monkey to do our job, but really it’s a tad bit ridiculous how much money people throw at me for the joke amount of hours I work. And the best part? It’s fun. I’m not kidding, like really really fun. I work with an absolutely amazing group of people. My coworkers are some of the kindest, most supportive, most dedicated individuals I have ever been blessed to meet. It is literally impossible to walk into that place at the beginning of the shift and not have a roaring good time while I am there. Those beautiful people, my coworkers, are constantly cheering one another on, making the work hours go by quickly and turning any crummy mood around. We are each others’ cheerleaders, lending a hand or an ear whenever it is called for. And also when it isn’t. My mangers are just as awesome. When I think of my place of work, that huge feeling of gratitude takes over. I am just so blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know all of these amazing people, to work side-by-side with them, and feel so lucky to call them my friends.

When I think about the change that is about to happen this coming Monday, fear threatens to take over. After a moment, I allow the fighter within to speak up loudly, telling my inner self that living in fear is for the weak.  Doubt is for those with no faith in their future or confidence in their journey. I will never gain anything if I allow myself to shrivel up into a fear-based ball. I believe in myself, in my story, and in my potential. I don’t have any time to waste on on being fearful, I have wasted enough already by not pursuing my dreams. I take comfort in the belief, and faith, that there is a plan set for me. I just don’t get to know what it is.

So here I am, about to take the biggest plunge in my career as a twenty-something woman trying to figure it all out. Maybe it will be perfect, maybe I’ll hate every minute. But my gut tells me that everything is going to work out just as it should and that I am in for one beautiful ride.

xoxo

Sarah

Seconds and Inches

Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.” -E.H. Erikson 

Seconds and inches. That’s all that separates our paths from each other, from our fates. One step to the left, one step behind, one second later, one second sooner. Timing is everything. The funny thing about timing is that we have absolutely no control over it. Our lives are shaped by the decisions we make. Our lives are shaped by who we surround ourself with, who we date, where we choose to work, and where we choose to spend our free time. Life is fluid, ever changing. 

I read recently, in a book called To Heaven and Back, that life is like a tapestry. This book is a lovely account of one woman’s journey through death, heaven, angels, and back to life again. I highly recommend it to anyone who is exploring their spirituality, faith, and relationship with a higher power. 

Life is like a tapestry. A million different threads make up the tapestry of life, yours and mine alike, and your individual thread helps shape the unique design that is created by all of our different threads. Your life, your decisions, the moments that define you, determine how the thread is weaved into the pattern. One step to the left, or right, and you shift the pattern. Each step is neither right or wrong, for without your thread which is weaved by these steps, the tapestry will be incomplete. The point is that every single individual, every person you meet in your daily activities, has meaning. This got me thinking. What is the meaning for my life right now? What does my thread mean to the tapestry? What is my purpose

Recently, life threw me yet another curve ball. I watched a man have  a seizure right in front of me. The whole day leading up to then had been off. Weird. Odd. I was not even supposed to be where I was. A last minute decision, someone else’s last minute decision incidentally, freed up my evening so I could end up there. I was sitting, completely immersed in my own thoughts. My own worries. My own crap. Sitting. thinking. Thinking of how unclear my current path is. How not okay I am with how unclear my path is. And then, the man started to tense. I watched as his body became rigid and he started to shake, and I knew immediately it was a seizure. My mind went on autopilot. Was he epileptic? Was he overdosing? “Get him on his side!” I thought to myself. There were people around. Hundreds. About ten of us in immediate proximity. I always want to help people. I want to be the fixer. I want to be the hero. But I was blocked. I was blocked by chairs and the three people already surrounding him, doing their best to help. Everyone was terrified of the situation. Not only was I blocked by physical objects, I was blocked by my own fear. My own self-doubt. I knew to get him on his side. “God please don’t let him bite his tongue off”, I thought. “I should go over there. I NEED TO HELP.” But instead I stood there, less than five feet away, and I called 911. I stood to the side rather than putting my hands on his body to steady him, to help, as I really truly wanted to do. I thought for a moment, deep inside of me, that I was going to watch this man die. He was going to die and I would have done nothing to stop it.

The horrific event continued on for two minutes or more. It seemed like hours. Then his movement began to calm down. His breathing became more regular. The paramedics came in heroic splendor. Within twenty minutes the man was responsive, his color returning to normal, able to answer questions. He was going to be okay. He was alive. I was flooded with relief. Flooded with gratitude that he was . That he would recover. 

It hit me. The reality of my situation. Where I was sitting, unable to provide that man with the medical care or knowledge that I thought by now I would posses. Remember that seven year old self that I referred to in the last post? The one that was positive that by this age I would be well on my way to being a doctor? Well, reality is I am not. Reality is I have no idea what I want to do. And reality is that while I appreciate my life as it is now, and have immense gratitude for the blessings I have been given, I am not where I want to be. I am aware, however, that there is a plan for me and I do not get to know what it is. Being the control freak that I am, it does not sit well with me to not know that plan that is my destiny. It seems more often than not I am dealing with what life throws at me defensively, rather than being able to play offensively. I seem to be fixing the problems that are constantly thrown at me rather than attacking those of my choosing. I know, deep inside of my heart, that I will flourish. I will be great. I will kick life’s ass. Someday. 

We carry on. Progress, not perfection. Maybe it is our mistakes that make our fate, our greatest miscalculations that mold us into the people we are destined to become. Remember, we are only separated by seconds and inches. Seconds and inches separate me from who I might have been, and from the woman I am becoming. Because becoming that doctor, or becoming that dedicated military wife to the man who turned out to be the person that hurt me more than I imagined was possible, or becoming any other person than who I am at this moment, isn’t my fate. My seconds and inches that comprise my history, the same seconds and inches that brought me in front of the man having the seizure, are weaving my tapestry into something completely unique, beautiful, and meant for me. And at my weak moments, when I feel like everything is falling apart, I have to hope that holds true. When I cannot BELIEVE unfalteringly in the tapestry, I have to HOPE for it. After all, I am only seconds and inches away from who I will become and realizing the beauty of my dreams. 

What do you believe in?  What gives you hope?

Sarah