Tag Archives: meaning

Perspective

I know I’ve written about this before. Maybe several times. And I’m pretty sure I’ll write about it a million more times. Because it’s incredibly easy to get lost in my own life, my own problems, my own family, my own relationships, etc., etc., etc.

It’s too easy to lose perspective.

Maybe I need to constantly remind myself of this in order to keep my new-found clarity. Maybe this is how I allow myself to be happy.

By stepping outside of myself and becoming connected to the rest of the world.

By simply just appreciating what is.

By not getting caught up in everything else.

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Yes, it’s extremely easy to say. It’s extremely easy to even believe I’m doing it. But I’m usually not. And there are several moments today that have made that very clear to me how important it is for me to be here and not anywhere else…

This morning a friend of mine accidentally ran over his dog as he was leaving his driveway. They rushed the dog to the vet and were told that he has a broken femur. And that the cost of surgery (which would need to take place an hour+ away) would cost 3-4 thousand dollars. I immediately paused what I was doing and just… cried. I can’t imagine having my beloved pet in critical condition and dealing with what I’m sure are immense emotions knowing that I was the one who accidentally ran him over.

The dog is in surgery now. They are trying to raise money to pay for his surgery. But it’s not about the money. There will always be more money. And more money to owe. My heart breaks for them and I have hope that their precious dog will make a full recovery.

Just a few moments ago I looked at facebook and saw this blog post: I Decided to Give my Paycheck to a Facebook Friend with Breast Cancer.

This women lives in my area. Her daughter is a year older than my oldest daughter. Again, as I read this I just cried.

Then there is Humans of New York (HONY). If you haven’t seen any of this, it’s beautiful. Brandon, a photographer, walks around NYC and takes portraits of people he comes across. He also adds quotes and short stories from the people he meets. I honestly can’t even put into words the emotion and depth that these portraits and stories capture. I follow HONY on facebook as well, and daily I find myself crying when his posts come up in my feed.

I cry a lot actually.

I used to view it as weakness and I hated crying but now I embrace it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m sad.

If anything, it means that I’m alive. And that my capacity to feel empathy and compassion for others is not something I should stifle.

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I could spend every day for the rest of my life wishing my life was different, complaining about how unfair it is, being miserable. I know there are changes that I could make that might very well lead to happiness for me. I also know change is scary as hell.

I’m not ready to make those changes. But I don’t have to allow myself to wallow in things I’ve chosen not to do anything about.

I’ll continue to put myself out there emotionally. I’ll continue to have empathy and compassion for everyone – including myself. I’ll continue to do everything within my capabilities to help those around me. And to help myself as much as I am capable to.

Life is tough. For me. For everyone.

If I can stay outside of my own head and look around me, I can see that. And, in seeing that, I can gain some perspective and acceptance.

There are no guarantees. There are no promises. As much as we want them.

All we have is now.

And, if I really look, now is pretty great.

Everybody Thinks They’re Right

We watched this video in my philosophy class today and I very much enjoyed it. It’s a recording of Johnathan Haidt’s TED Talks from TED 2008.There’s a lot of good points here, a lot of good ideas. Haidt’s closing really grabbed me and I feel it’s important not only for me and the field I am in, but for all people:

“…everybody thinks they are right. A lot of the problems we have to solve are problems that require us to change other people. And if you want to change other people, a much better way to do it is to first understand who we are — understand our moral psychology, understand that we all think we’re right — and then step out, even if it’s just for a moment, step out… just try to see it as a struggle playing out, in which everybody does think they’re right, and everybody, at least, has some reasons — even if you disagree with them — everybody has some reasons for what they’re doing. Step out. And if you do that, that’s the essential move to cultivate moral humility, to get yourself out of this self-righteousness, which is the normal human condition.”

Hope

Hope.

Hope is the difference between despair and acceptance.

Without hope we cannot expect to move forward — we cannot even see that there is a place to move to.

If you believe that there is no possible (or impossible) way for progress, for improvement, for the ability to “get better,” there is little motivation to put forth effort in change, since change seems unrealistic.

It’s amazing how the tiniest spark of possibility ignites a fire of hope. It spreads to your perception, your beliefs, your motivation, your efforts.

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Hope shines a light in the dark corners of yourself. It, “invites the possibility.” It shifts, “NO,” “NEVER,” and “CAN’T” to “MAYBE.”

And “MAYBE,” though not as enthusiastic as “YES!” shifts your perception of the world around you enough to encourage the mightily important, “TRY.”

With hope we can try. We can see possibilities. We can move forward. We can change, learn, grow.

With hope there is a future, potentially better than the present. And we can choose to try the best we can.

Just Getting By

I have been struggling lately.

Actually, that sentence seems to be true about many moments in my life.

Like the strong stubborn person I am, I just keep doing what I do. I just keep plowing forward.

I keep myself overly busy.

School full time. A 15/week (unpaid) internship. Homework. Transporting kids to dance lessons, soccer, girl scouts, playdates, therapy appointments… Cooking. Cleaning. Shopping. Projects with the kids. Bathing. Pets. You know, all the day to day necessities.

When I do have a “down” moment, I fill it. With craft projects (my current project is making almost all of my holiday presents this year). With research articles and theories that expand my realm of knowledge. With television shows that provide me with escapism.

And, when everyone else goes to sleep, I stay awake. Writing poems. Organizing rooms. Folding laundry. Talking to my cats. Anything to prolong having to end the day. Because the start of a new day is exhausting.

I hold it together quite well. I get excellent grades. I’m a good mother. My house is clean.

By all standards, I’m doing well.

Only, I have no idea how I’m holding it all together.

I just keep getting by.

Maybe it’s the time of year (how I loathe snow and the cold). Maybe daylight savings time is messing with me (why is it SO dark now??) Maybe I need a break (and who doesn’t?)

Maybe, maybe I’m doing the best I can. And, after a while, the best I can just doesn’t seem quite as “best” as it used to.

Whatever the case, I’m still here (in both a literal and figurative sense). I’ve been quiet but I’m still working. On myself. On my family. On being able to help whomever I can (which I hope is many).

I won’t give up, even though I’m struggling. And you shouldn’t either.

Because some day we will do better than just getting by.

Fear, Success & Getting Out of Your Own Way

It’s very easy for me to lose motivation. To lose sight of my goals and aspirations. To over focus on others and false beliefs that I can change them, despite knowing only they can change themselves. To get caught up in negativity. To doubt myself and my abilities. To have many amazing ideas and, instead of focusing on one or two, half-completing or never starting any of them.

I don’t want to lose this moment and the clarity I have.

I’ve been working very hard on my education. Working to bring my GPA up so I can be eligible for Phi Theta Kappa and the potential scholarships it brings. Working to make sure the classes I take at my community college are the correct ones and will transfer to the private, four year college I want to attend after obtaining my (second) associates degree.

I’ve been planning ahead. Making appointments with advisors, program heads, financial aid counselors, transfer counselors and people at both the school I currently attend and the one I wish to transfer to. I’ve been making sure my “ducks are in a row”.

Last week I visited the private four year college I hope to attend. I had never been there before and it’s over an hours drive away. As I exited the freeway my car collided with the car in front of me. I instantly panicked. I instantly cried.

I felt that perhaps this was a “bad omen” that I shouldn’t attend this college. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion that I wanted to just turn around and go home. Thankfully, all parties were uninjured and there were minor damages to the vehicles. As many pointed out to me later, cars can be replaced. People cannot.

If I had let my emotions and fear control me in that moment, I would have gone home despite being five minutes away from the college. Instead, I was able to contain myself and keep my appointment.

I’m glad that I did. I very much liked the campus and the program I would enter. In talking with the program head, it appears that I can even complete my bachelors degree in three semesters instead of four, thanks to my ability to transfer in additional credits to the school.

Today I met with the transfer counselor at my community college and he told me I was well prepared. He stated that I had talked to all the correct people and taken the necessary steps to be set to transfer next fall. I left feeling amazing. Capable. Strong.

am capable and strong. I have been through so much in my life but when I focus I can accomplish so much.

Last night I had a dream. I somehow totaled my car and was unable to drive anywhere, leaving me housebound. This also meant I was unable to attend school. In my dream I did not try to find alternate ways to get to my school. I simply resigned myself to never being able to graduate and achieve my goals.

I woke anxious. As I analyzed my dream I realized what was most terrifying – I had let one obstacle (my car breaking) stand in my way of moving forward. I had lost momentum and became blinded to other possibilities because I only focused on the negative.

I will achieve my goals of education. I will not let anything stand in my way. Not even myself. I so often doubt myself and make myself believe that I am not smart enough or deserving enough or strong enough.

In the past I’ve put up road blocks subconsciously. Perhaps I was afraid to succeed. Perhaps it was easier to believe that I couldn’t do it instead of seeing it through and awaiting the outcome. I often wonder how much of our “failures” we have caused ourselves.

Let’s stop tearing ourselves down and instead build ourselves up. I can do it. And, if somehow I fail, I can view my failure as an opportunity to learn from it and try again. Isn’t that really what it’s all about? Making mistakes, learning and trying a different way instead of doing the same things over and over again (especially if it doesn’t work)?

I say, get out there and achieve your dreams, work towards your goals and live your life! You are, after all, the only one who can do any of these things for you.

The Illusion of Time & Perceived Guarantees

Simplicity.

It’s something I often lose sight of in the everyday chaos. It’s something I entirely forget in moments of added stress and chaos – in the moments when I need to remember it the most.

Often times I find myself moving through chaos. Through stress from school. Through trying to be a good parent. Through keeping up a household. Through dealing with physical and emotional and financial issues.

I lose sight of the “little things”. I lose focus of what’s really important. What really matters.

And then there are the curveballs that, by all accounts, there is no possibility of preparation for.

The sudden death of a loved one. The realization that your child has a disability. The breakdown of communication and relationships. A life-altering accident.

In the past month or so, my close friend’s (now) fiance was in a near-death accident. He thankfully survived and is currently at a rehab facility with a spinal injury that has left him partially paralyzed.

Weeks after this happened, my brother’s friend who grew up in the same town as me, was also in an accident. He also thankfully survived and is currently at the same rehab facility as my first friend. He too has a similar spinal injury.

It’s not an easy task to make sense of two healthy, active young men from adjacent towns being in similar accidents, with similar injuries, in such a short span of time.

It’s easy to get lost in the flood of emotions, to be gripped with such sadness and the feeling of helplessness. To focus only on the negatives.

However, they both survived. From all accounts, they are in good spirits. Friends, family and the entire community have come together in support. There is an overwhelming amount of people coming together to be there for these people.

It also brings me back to my original point.

It’s so easy to get lost in the stress and chaos, in all the negatives. It’s easy to ignore the amazing things that exist everyday around us. To pinpoint what is important and to savor and place focus on those things.

Thinking about situations like the accidents mentioned above makes me wonder how we can possibly waste so much of our lives not really even living them. We focus on material items. We worry about money. We get upset and dwell on things we have no control over or ability to change. We live in the past and the future, without taking the time to live in the present – the only place in time we can actually live. We don’t take the time to tell the people who mean the most to us what they really mean to us. We don’t say I love you. We don’t say what we mean.

We take forgranted the very nature of life – that life is a finite thing. We act like we have all the answers but fail to acknowledge that often times much of what happens is unpredictable, unfathomable and not “according to plan.”

We live our lives as if we are immortal, as if we are immune from death and will live forever.

We need to live in the present and appreciate all that we have right now.  Time is an illusion in that we assume forever, when nothing is ever guaranteed. Life is fragile. So much more so than we like to admit.

Even in the Pain There is Beauty

There are times, so many times, when it seems like there couldn’t possibly be another thing you could handle. No possible way you could deal with anything else.

And then life hands you another lemon (or whatever vague analogy you’d prefer to use) and you’re faced with the requirement of dealing with that too.

There are people who will tell you stories about how when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or that when one door closes, another opens.

These are cute inspirational sayings but I won’t insult you with such simplicities. Sure, sayings such as these can sometimes help to uplift us.

But sometimes, life just sucks. And there isn’t necessarily any good reason why. Or any reason at all.

I can’t tell you why some people seem to constantly have bad things happen to them. Really I can’t tell you anything.

Because I don’t know.

I think a lot… about everything. One concept I inevitably come back to is that of reality.

What is real? How do you define real? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasyyyyy? (Sorry, sometimes I can’t help but fall into lyrics).

Reality is constructed, by those around us and ourselves. And what you believe, externally and internally, to be true is what’s real for you.

As someone who helps construct reality (and so MANY things in this world), you do have some say in how you construct your beliefs and perspective.

Bad shit isn’t going to stop happening because you have this knowledge, but this knowledge can allow you to alter your perceptive of said bad shit in the context of your life.

We can’t predict the future and we can’t control it. Neither can we control the past. Whatever you focus on is what life is for you at any given moment. Focus on the negatives in your life and that’s what your life is for you. Focus on worries, that’s what your life is. Focus on gratitude and positives and, yep, that’s what your life is for you.

It’s so difficult to not solely focus on the negatives when there are so many presented to you.

Like when your kid is sick and you have to miss school to stay home with them and your car breaks down so you can’t even make the doctor’s appointment you were lucky to get — this is when life seems overwhelmingly horrible.

Or like when your relationship with someone is stressed and you’ve been trying to deal with their addiction while remaining detached enough not to get hurt, but also attached enough to still care and you just can’t save them. Because you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved and slowly you watch them change from the person you loved the most into the saddest stranger you’ve ever seen.

You start stacking all of these negative things, overlapping one another, and you’re stretching yourself out to continue at the same, or higher, level of productivity for an endless period of time. It’s difficult to see life as anything but negative.

But if you looked back at your horrible day or week or year, really look, you’ll see that there is likely positive things as well. The day your car broke down and your child was sick allowed you moments with your child that you both enjoyed and may seldom get to have. Even in the really painful moments there are spaces of positivity. If anything, there is growth and beauty in pain if we allow there to be.

So yes, shit sucks. But you do the best you can with what you have in this moment and you continue to work on improving yourself. People aren’t perfect. Life sure as hell isn’t perfect. You just keep moving forward, getting through each day. And as the Monty Python song goes, “Always look on the bright side of life…”