Joy in the little things

“There are more things to life than fearing what might happen” – my loving boyfriend

So true. I’m not even sure he grasped the profundity of what he had said until moments later. We both sat in awe for a minute realizing the beauty in everyday things. Something as simple as the sun on my skin, a cool breeze in the air or a smile from a passerby.

 Yesterday I met someone from Sudan and another from Ethiopia. I reveled in their stories, rich culture and family traditions. Not because I find those countries of particular interest but because it was so different to me that I felt as if I took a trip across the world for fifteen minutes. When I say goodbye to my office in the evening it’s customary for everyone to say goodbye at once. In the morning and in the evening my kitties greet me as though they haven’t seen me in a year (sometimes they’re just trying to trick me into food). My boyfriend always gives me a kiss when I get home and most often makes me breakfast before work. 

We forget, at times, that it’s easier to worry than be consciously happy. I’m guilty of it and so is everyone else who will read this – a whole 2 humans! Most of us are worried that something “might” happen a certain way. Whether it’s fear of not getting noticed at work, fear that a partner will leave us or fear that we won’t be who we want to be. Fear is a natural emotion but we don’t have to let it control us. Remaining present, practicing gratitude and being courageously happy is the antithesis to the fearful thoughts that ultimately lead to our chronic unhappiness.

I’m so very appreciative and grateful for the life I live everyday. I’ve worked hard for it.  😉 XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Sending love to the universe

Remembrance 

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I flew back to my family in New York on January 29th, 2015. This was the second time my papa had a large malignant tumor behind his ear and was battling cancer for a 7th time. He always made it through but I knew this one was aggressive and he had already beaten it in the same spot the year prior. When I spoke to him on the phone in the weeks leading up to my trip I could hear him deteriorating. My grandfather was a talker, we could talk on the phone for hours. But the week before my flight he was having trouble with finding words for things and couldn’t hold a conversation for more than 15 minutes. It was difficult to hear the drastic change so quickly in someone I was so very close to. We spoke on the phone every couple of weeks. I would tell him about a new job or things about the family on the west coast and he would share his research on his glucose project. He was a brilliant physicist that loved a good conversation. He was one my best friends an we never lacked topics in our witty conversations.

By the time I arrived in New York he had become bedridden and was only able to get up in order to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, our closeness allowed me to usually understand him even without words. Since the cancer had now gone into his brain he spoke more like a stroke victim than my chatty papa. This is a point where many people prefer to stay away from their loved one and I certainly don’t blame them. You become acutely aware of every single emotion you have as a human being. Some days I was beaming simply because he ate, or seemed like he was content and in less-than-normal pain. Another day he professed how much loved me (my grandfather showed it in his actions and RARELY said it) and enjoyed a piece of black licorice like it was orgasmic. Then there were the dark days that were in stark contrast to the others. The ones where he didn’t want to see anyone, wouldn’t eat or didn’t even know who I was. I wanted to appreciate my last moments with him but it was a grim reminder of what was to come. 

It made me practice daily gratitude, humility and vulnerability because depression, anxiety, fear and anger can’t seem to coexist for long with those attributes. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t sad. I was sad almost every day. But I embraced it without letting it consume me. I knew that time would heal that loss eventually and my memories of Papa, healthy, would always stay with me. Even writing this brings pain to my heart and tears to my eyes but I am so very blessed to have been able to care for him in his final weeks. I felt like I was able to give back a small amount that he had given to me. 

Here are 10 things I learned from my Papa, simply by how he lived. 

1. ALWAYS do what you love. Never do it for the money because that will follow when are passionate about something.

2. Work hard and always do your best. Not perfection, just your personal best.

3. Don’t be lazy, it’s a waste of time (and so are video games).

4. Family is everything. But live in your own house because they’re all crazy.

5. Wine, good food, dark beer, exercise and early mornings are necessary for optimum health. So is a tended garden.

6. Never take yourself too seriously, that’s just boring. Shock value makes great stories.

7. Everyone’s a critic. Just do what suits you without hurting anyone because you’re going to be judged anyway.

8. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind or your opinion. Other people can walk away, that’s their choice. 

9. Never stop learning.

10. Life changes and so will you. Learn to roll with it, don’t fight it. Learn from things and move on. Don’t dwell.

Gratefulness

I’m sitting at a small restaurant in Sonoma wine country, reflective. I truly love my life. As frustrating as the Bay Area can be I really love that I have the opportunity to drive a couple hours and have a completely different experience. The air is cleaner, the food is farm-to-table and the people are relaxed. The overall vibe is simply “ahhhh”. I’m grateful for just everything 😉

Patience is a virtue 

Certain things test you regularly and on some days I find my inner dialogue becoming quite repetitive: “it’s ok, it’s just life”, ” you’re a patient person”. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work. Yesterday, I don’t think one person knew how to choose with their mouth closed at my office, my clients were people with ungodly amounts of money to spend on all sorts of frivolous things and my boyfriend became miraculously too sick to go with me to visit my grandparents. I was being tested, I’m sure of it.

This morning, per usual, the cats try to kill me on my way to the bathroom and I find that one of them has stepped in their own feces. Awesome. So I clean it up and do my best to not open the front door and let them run away.

Patience is a CULTIVATED virtue. While I truly wish it was there naturally, it’s something I must make a conscious choice about every day. Most days, it has become second nature. Yesterday and today, well those, are taking more focus. 😉

Time heals all wounds

      Whenever I was upset about a boy as a teenager my mom would say “time heals all wounds”. Among other cliche’s like “there are other fish in the sea”, yada, yada. Back then, it seemed ridiculous that something as nebulous as time could “heal” anything. She mostly used it to apply to things that seemed emotionally unbearable, which to a teenager is just daily life in general, so I heard this statement fairly often. Over time I felt like Nostradamus, I could predict every time she was going to break out the saying.

      Now, at 31, when I don’t see my mom everyday, I’ve noticed I apply the statement to the simplest of stressors. In fact, I find more comfort in using it to combat mild stress more than anything severe. A friend of mine uses “this too shall pass” but my inner dialogue is always the voice of my mom saying “time heals all wounds”. I can be the most bubbly person you will ever meet but if I’m upset I can be totally passive aggressive. It’s striking even to me how different my demeanor can be. Friends in my circle have never, and will never, experience it but my partner is a different story. That’s when these words work their magic. It triggers a whole thought process. The next is usually … Why on earth do you feel “wounded”? Then “it’s ok that you do, but WHY are you CHOOSING to feel wounded”? It’s a quick reminder that my feelings are my choice and they can last as long or short as I want.

So many times when we are upset in a relationship we instantly snap back, giving a knee jerk reaction before thinking it through. I created these string of thoughts when I was married to combat my own reactionary communication style. I was very adept at making my feelings and emotions the fault of my partner. By reminding myself of a coping mechanism more fitted for extreme events it triggers that not everything has to be a big deal. Time really does heal all wounds, big and small. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, sometimes it’s 50 years, but eventually, it WILL heal. 

Conflict

What do you picture when you hear the word?  Yelling, fist fights, anger? The word itself has a negative connotation but that’s because of our perception. I have, of late, come to really appreciate the value of conflict because I have changed my perception of the word. To me, it’s not fighting. It’s being brave enough to weigh in on something (be it work or a personal relationship) when it may be against the grain. It’s about standing up for things that are important to you in a way that’s strong and conscientious of others. When I say conscientious of others, you keep certain standards. You maintain respectfulness and dignity for others while expressing what you need to say. People will listen more and you will feel lighter by expressing your truest self.

My goal for this blog

My goal for this blog is to share my journey through personal emotion every day. Many of us live in an electronic chaotic society, filled with potential stress and triggers for meltdowns. It can be difficult at times to find gratitude and positivity in the world around us. Granted, it depends on your personality, how you were raised, and whether or not you battle depression. However, we can choose every day the mood we want to be in! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy. This path is a daily practice and as much as I am writing this to speak to readers, it’s also to remind me of my own personal power. I don’t have to be angry because someone cut me off on the freeway. I can choose to believe they are simply in a ridiculous hurry or maybe rushing to a loved one. I don’t have to be upset because someone else is. It’s OKAY to be upset but I don’t have to LIVE there. This concept is revolutionary for me.

At times I will choose to be frustrated and share why I want to be in that space. Others, I may be more profound. Most of the time I will be somewhere in the middle, peppered with sarcasm and comedy. Laughter is essential! That’s another post though. So, in closing, welcome!! I really truly hope this can be a space to unwind and remember: This is your life! You should live it to it’s fullest potential while maintaining compassion and love for yourself and others. 🙂

Papa

Sometimes I will over complicate a simple task beyond recognition of it’s former condition. I told myself “my first blog post will be chock full of relevant articles, interesting stories and factual research”. Alas, I almost didnt write this at all. Especially since it’s 1:30 in the morning and I have work in the morning.
As I washed my face and got ready for bed I thought of my grandfather who recently passed away. My lotion smells like licorice, “good n’ plenty’s” specifically. He loved both. Death of a loved one makes you reflect on their life, your life and the meaning of life as a whole. I won’t delve into that here, tonight, but I will say I love you Papa. The memories I have with you and the knowledge you bestowed upon me will be with me always.