Never Losing Sight

Back in 2012, I underwent LASIK surgery. I did lots of research about the different types of procedures, what was involved, as well as the side effects. I knew many people had already walked this path before I did, but, for me, this was a huge deal. After all, you only have one pair of eyes. What if something happened? What if I ended up with double vision or halos at night? Even worse than that…what if I lost my sight?! I’m happy to report that the surgery went off without a hitch, and here I am seven years later still with great eyesight. It fascinates me every day that I wake up and can see across the room clearly without the aid of glasses or contacts. I mention all this because something crossed my mind recently, and it’s really got me thinking. If you had one last day of sight, what would you do? Where would you go? What would hold your gaze? What would you want the last image to be that you’d remember forever?

Would you take in a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Would you go watch one last baseball game? Would you stay in and watch every one of your favorite movies? Would you stare for hours at the faces of your loved ones, memorizing every line, every smile, every expression? How do you choose? How could you? Just the thought of this brings me to tears.

I know that most of the time, I take my vision for granted. Sure, I am still the type to always stop and smell the flowers. I marvel at the beauty around me. I appreciate the colors that seem to evolve into hues I’ve never imagined. The patterns and details of the world around me can be mind-boggling, but what, in the end, would I choose as the last thing I ever saw? It’s a question I hope I never have to answer for real.

Would my life be over if I lost my sight? No. Would it be an extremely difficult adjustment given I’ve been able to see my entire life? Absolutely! In the end, the point is to appreciate this amazing gift of being able to envision the world around me and to never lose sight of what’s truly important.

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Remembering So I Won’t Forget

I wasn’t running for my life; I was walking to get my lunch. There weren’t people around me in a panic; I was completely alone. There was no smoke…no fumes. The path was well lit, and I exited to a quiet corridor before making my way to the deli. Just as I did last year on this day, I took the long way down to the first floor so that I could, on some very, very small scale, get a glimpse into how those in the two towers felt as they fled the burning buildings. I only had to go down 11 flights. Eleven…in non-life-threatening conditions.

I thought about this as I walked, at a steady pace, down each step. I didn’t have to wonder if I’d make it out the door at the bottom. I didn’t have to worry about being trampled by others or suffocated by horrible smoke. I had the benefit of making the choice to take the stairs instead of knowing it was my only option. What a different experience so many people had 18 years ago.

The time seems to have passed so quickly. I think about what has happened to me personally since then. I have bought and sold a house. I’ve gone through the entire gamut of infertility treatments multiple times. I’ve gotten divorced. I’ve moved. I’ve moved again…and again…and finally again back home. I’ve started and left multiple jobs. I’ve bought a car. I’ve written and published a book. I’ve been parasailing, ziplining, and white water rafting. I’ve become a Zumba instructor. I’ve lost those very dear to me, including my last grandparent, many friends and other family members, as well as all three of my dogs who were like my children. When I look at it in these terms, it seems so incredibly significant.

These types of experiences, some extraordinary and others very trying, are what made me into the person I am today. How different my life would be without the last 18 years or even just one of the items listed above. Putting the events of my life into perspective makes the scope of what happened in 2001 that much more impactful. Multiply what transpired in my life during this time period by 2,977 – one for each life lost. Every person that number represents had countless friends and family members whose lives were also affected. When you think of the impact on that scale, it’s all the more important reason that we must never forget.

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You Can’t Plan Patience

I’m a planner. I consider every single detail when preparing for an event and do my best cover all aspects. I’ve always been the type to think several steps ahead, as I can usually anticipate what’s to come. What I’ve learned, especially over the last year, is that this only goes so far. At some point, despite all the prep work you do, there will always be factors out of your control. This has been on the forefront of my mind lately, and it got me thinking of Morgan Freeman.

Naturally, that’s the obvious thing that comes to mind. 😉

Years ago, I watched the movie Evan Almighty with Steve Carell. It was one of those movies where you can just sit back and enjoy it for its pure entertainment factor. You see, Steve Carell plays Evan Baxter, a freshman Congressman. He is visited by G-d, and is commanded to build an ark because a great flood is coming. I won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but there is one scene where Evan’s wife, Joan, is talking with G-d, played by Morgan Freeman (now you see the connection). In this scene, Joan is very concerned with how Evan is acting and isn’t sure what to do. Part of what G-d tells her is this:

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think G-d gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?”

This one line has been stuck in my head since the first time I saw this movie. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a religious person, so I’m not necessarily looking at this from a religious aspect. What struck me about it is the fact that I get very frustrated when things don’t follow my timeline. I tend to move quickly and mark things off my to-do list as soon as possible. After all, it only goes as slowly as I do, and I don’t move slowly. The part that bugs me is when I’m in the “hurry up and wait” stage of something where I’m waiting on someone else to complete their tasks so I can move on to the next step/phase of my plan. This is when things are out of my control and ultimately slow down my momentum. Every time this happens though, that Evan Almighty quote pops into my head. It’s my constant reminder that this is not mean to irritate me, but is rather an opportunity to learn patience.

Being able to flip the situation like this has saved my sanity countless times, including now. When I look back on my life and think about all the times I was in a similar situation, I wasn’t able to see that things just have a way of working themselves out. I would spend so much time and energy worrying and focusing on what wasn’t done and what I couldn’t control that I would forget the opportunity for patience set before me. Fortunately, this is something I’m getting better at recognizing. I may still have my initial reaction, which usually includes some swearing and maybe a snack or two, but when I take that step back, the end result comes into focus and the rest of the noise fades.

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Pausing Fast Forward

When we’re little we want so much to be grown up. As a little girl, you try on your mom’s shoes. You put on makeup. You can’t wait for the day when you can finally drive. What’s interesting is that when you finally become an adult, with adult responsibilities, you wish for nothing more than to be able to go back to when you didn’t have any worries greater than choosing the right bowl for your Cookie Crisp cereal so you could finally sit down to watch Superfriends on Saturday morning cartoons.

This whole scenario got me thinking about how I’m always wanting to fast forward to when things are different or settled. I wish my future self could somehow send me a message to tell me to just enjoy how things are now because the future comes with even more complications. Now, part of me knows that will probably be the case, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to fast forward like I did when I was a kid.

What is it within us that causes this desire in the first place? Is it the uncertainty of our present lives? Is it the “grass is always greener” approach when thinking about the future? How do I turn this off? Would knowing the complications of my future life cause me to make different choices or is it already mapped out? It’s almost as if it’s an unconscious occurrence that I am powerless to prevent from happening.

The present me thinks back to the me of the recent past with a different perspective. I reminisce about enjoying a morning jog in the quiet neighborhood near my apartment. I cherish knowing that at the time in my past I had financial security along with a steady job. The problem then was that I wanted something more. Maybe it’s those wants that causes the future fast forward phenomenon to jump into action. Part of me now can already recognize that with change comes a lot of unknowns. My goal then needs to be to learn to find that pause button so I don’t miss something my future self looks back on as a fond memory.

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I Will Become A Reader

At the first of the year, many of us set forth with yet another New Year’s resolution in the effort to better ourselves. Many times this comes in the form of starting a new diet or fitness regimen. I too have made these pledges to myself only to see them fade out after about six weeks.

Last year, I finally checked something HUGE off my bucket list when I published my book, We’re All Rubber Bands: Finding happiness with who you are. What many people don’t know is that I had the book pretty much finished a year and a half earlier, but I just couldn’t figure out what to call it. I obviously got that problem solved, and now, here I sit, over six months later, a published author.

So…what’s next? Well, I’m glad you asked.

I got to thinking that I really enjoy the creativity of writing. It allows me to express myself and get those weird, random thoughts out of my head, but I haven’t done much of it since I moved back home to Arlington, TX. I do write, actually, it’s just in my personal journal. There’s something about putting a pen to paper that helps me get out of my head what is bothering me. It’s just that I still have so many other things I want to write about, so I’m definitely going to commit to writing and publishing blogs more often. Of course there’s a good reason for this. You see, I have a goal for the year!

This year I am going to become a READER!

I know many of you may think this is silly, but let me explain. I have a good number of books. I even have a tradition, for the most part, that when I buy a new book, I also buy a new bookmark. You’d think that because of this, I have a bunch of random bookmarks lying about. NOPE! That’s the problem. I have a ton of bookmarks, but they’re IN the books…usually about 30-50 pages in. Yeah, I start reading and then “SQUIRREL!!” I get distracted or lose interest, and then the sad bookmark just sits there begging to be moved to a page it hasn’t read over and over for years.

So…my goal this year is to read a minimum of two books every month. I will admit that I mostly read nonfiction, since that is what I enjoy writing, but I’m going to branch out and see what else is out there as well. I’m happy to report that as of today, I have completed my goal for January and half of my goal for February. I plan to start my next book tomorrow and have chosen a fiction novel to read.

One thing that I have discovered since starting this last month was that I am enjoying the quiet time. I’ve always been a podcast kinda gal, but it’s difficult to quiet your mind when someone is yapping at you about some topic you stopped listening to several minutes ago. Now, I look forward to the stillness that comes with reading.

I’m also excited to build a really great collection of books that I’ve read. I’m picturing a cool bookcase with all of my literary conquests displayed. I’ll even be sure to put my OWN book on one of the shelves as a tribute to all my hard work. Who knows…maybe one day I’ll need TWO bookcases!

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Scary dreams aren’t always nightmares

I have been very blessed over the last few months to be part of group that has changed me in ways I never expected. They have caused me to take an honest look at myself, and I have discovered strength I never knew I had. They have lit a fire in me that had yet to be ignited. Most importantly, they have helped me clear a path that’s allowing me to dream bigger than I ever thought possible. The truth is, my dreams are terrifying me, but just because a dream is scary doesn’t make it a nightmare.

I keep hearing the quote repeated, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” Many times we limit ourselves because we think that there is no way we could take it to the next level. That would require too much change or too much work. This limited thinking is what keeps us in a rut. It prevents us from achieving our true potential. It tells us that the status quo is all we can hope for and switches off the light shining on what we truly want in life. This fire I mentioned has been like a torch that is illuminating a new path…a different path than I’ve been on for most of my adult life.

For a while, I’ve felt the need to shake things up. I’ve gotten too comfortable with where I am and what I’m doing. I needed that nudge and the permission to dream big. Is there a risk of failing or losing something in the process? Sure! That’s a risk I’m willing to take. The difference is, I refuse to “what if” my life anymore. I would rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t.

I’ve had moments of second guessing myself. I bounce between being extremely excited and fighting back tears. Honestly, it’s a bit exhausting! I guess you could say I’m on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but I keep reminding myself that I’m the one laying down the track. I’m pushing myself way outside my comfort zone. As I make it back to the station after a few loops and drops, I’m able to refocus and trust that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

I know I’m not the first person to do this, and I definitely won’t be the last, but I’m not going to let fear hold me back this time. The unknown can be scary, but imagine what you could accomplish if you removed the fear factor. Imagine what dreams you could chase if you simply removed the tether holding you in place. Don’t let your mind convince you a scary dream is a nightmare in disguise. Your life is an occasion. Rise to it!

 

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Flights of Fancy

Today, while I was walking down the 13 flights of stairs to check the mail in my office building, my mind started wandering. About a flight down, I saw the same empty paper cup sitting on the railing. The two previous days I made the same trek, I walked by it figuring that someone from the maintenance crew would make a sweep of the staircase in order to remove any trash. I was wrong. Instead of walking by again, I stopped and picked it up to dispose of it once I reached the first floor. This got me thinking about sayings I’ve heard over the years that I do my best to try to live by. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Always leave a place in better shape than you found it.
(This applies to staircases, jobs, and even Girl Scout campsites.)

You give what you get.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them!

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

Do or do not. There is no try.
(Yoda was one smart Jedi!)

Criticize in private. Compliment in public.

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

I’m always on the lookout for my next mantra. I would love to hear your favorites as well.

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