Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Writing

Glennon Doyle Melton is one of my favorite bloggers ( and general all around motivational humans. On the subject of writing, she says "When you write your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone."

That line stuck with me like crazy glue from the second I read it. It struck me as so utterly true because it sums up the feelings I've had for years about why I write and also why I read avidly. The potential for connection with others when I share my writing is endless. I get comments and messages regularly from people who relate to what I write about or simply enjoy reading what I write. Either way, it's incredible! 

Last summer, I was being treated for food poisoning at our nearest urgent care facility (Avoid meat on a stick at outdoor festivals, folks.) My other half was in the waiting area and heard an elderly lady start telling her husband positive things about a magazine article she'd read that day about an animal rescue group in a neighboring state. I wrote that article! I wish I hadn't been suffering miserably in the next room, but I still think it's super cool that was overheard!

I've kept a journal almost daily since I was eighteen. Writing is a part of who I am. I shelf recently filled journals on my desk but I have a big box of old ones that have stored in a closet. Every time I move, I lug them along. For the most part, they just stay in the closet but I've consulted them occasionally for a piece I was working on and once for a legal matter! Sometimes it's nice to be able to verify dates and events as I recorded them.

Kermit sits above my filled journals

It was only in the past couple of years that I began to say "I am a writer" with confidence,  instead of "I want to be a writer." I've been one all my life, always able to BS my way through a book report or essay question! I frequently encounter people who say "I've always wanted to be a writer," or "People tell me I should write a book." I've even taken writing classes with folks who want to write regularly but for whatever reason aren't able to make it a regular practice in their lives. To all of those people, I say: Just write!

What I've learned in my life is that it's so important to just write it down, whatever it is. Regardless of what you feel you need to get down on paper, whether it's your life story or your To Do List! 
Writing by hand is a completely different process than typing. I write everything by hand before I transfer it to my blog or a Word document. I like a specific brand of pencil and notebook to write and  I need to be sitting upright at a flat surface. This is how I work best!

The experience of writing is different for everyone and I recommend to anyone. Treat yourself to a brand new notebook and start by keeping a journal or even just a gratitude list. Allow yourself to write whatever you feel the urge to put onto the paper. I promise you will surprise yourself!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vegetables

I know you're probably wondering how in the heck I'm going to come up with a life lesson about vegetables! Well, as I've mentioned before, food is an extremely important part of my life and vegetables are food! In my opinion, they're the most critical, yet underrated part of the food pyramid. (Wait, I don't know if that's even a thing anymore, but you catch my drift...)

I was a vegetarian for seven years, through most of my twenties. I started eating meat again shortly after I moved to Montana, when I began having health issues. It just so happens that my return to being an omnivore coincided with dating an honest to goodness cowboy who would grill me steak kabobs that also held giant chunks of shiny red peppers, purple onions and fat white mushrooms. 

I dabbled in vegetarianism through my later childhood/early teen years but was never catered to by my parents and eventually gave in to eating what was served at meal time. I officially became a vegetarian in college and still own my very first cookbook I bought myself when I began living on my own!

I didn't stop eating meat because I dislike it. I love it, to be honest. Especially any and all things pork related! My passion for animals and my desire to make a living caring for them drove my decision to stop eating meat. Even now, I find veganism a lovely concept but it's not one that I could embrace full heartedly. 

My other half and I have been gardening for the past five years. It turns out that growing your own food in Montana is painfully challenging but it can be done! Eating vegetables we've grown ourselves is grounding for me. There's something to be said for connecting to the warm earth with my bare hands and feet. To come inside after a few slow, hot hours in the garden with a basket of veggies for dinner is rewarding and provides a positive energy boost!

Harvesting turnips

Every once in a while I encounter a person who says he/she doesn't like vegetables and I can't help but be fascinated! How can one so broadly eliminate so many amazing foods? If you are one of these folks, I wonder if maybe you just think you don't like vegetables because you haven't discovered the right ones yet or the best way to cook them! If you've only ever had canned green beans and frozen broccoli, you haven't given them a fair shot. What about a spicy okra creole or mashed roots with butter and garlic? Don't they sound delicious?!

So, my life lesson when it comes to vegetables is simple: eat them. Roast them, grill them, boil them, fry them, blend them in a smoothie, anything to get them into your body! And try growing some. Even if it's just one tomato plant in a pot on your patio, I promise there's great value there!

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Universe

I'm a spiritual being, although I don't follow any particular religious doctorine. I suppose my personal beliefs are closest to that of Buddhism but I'm not educated enough to consider myself a Buddhist. 

What I do believe whole heartedly is that there is a power at work who is much greater than myself. I call this power The Universe. 

The Universe is wise and powerful. It is kind and forgiving. The Universe is not a cruel teacher who "tests" us or sets us up for failure. 

The Universe hears us. Even when we aren't clear on the message we're sending out, it is received. Then, we are provided with options. The choice is ours to make. 

Sometimes there is a lesson we must learn. If we don't get it the first time around, The Universe will present that situation again and again until we achieve what we need to. 

All living beings in this world are connected; people, animals, plants. It's all energy. Whether you pay attention to those connections and honor them is up to you, but they're always there.

Each day, I thank The Universe for all it has given me and I ask for continued guidance as I navigate  my path in this life. 

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned is: Trust The Universe. Have faith. Remember that everything happens for a reason. Everything will work out exactly as it is supposed to, because The Universe knows the truth. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Try

Chocolate bacon sundae

If there's one phrase I utter more often than any other, it's probably "Try it!" This is often followed by "You'll like it!"

 It's easy to fall into patterns and hold onto comfortable things in life. Going out to eat and ordering the same thing every time is safe, right? You know you're going to like it. I get that. Sometimes I want familiarity too. But when we cling too it too tightly, we miss out on new experiences.

I can't tell you how many women I've encountered who say some version of "I've thought about playing roller derby but I'd never be able to do it because  ________________." Fill in the blank with any excuse you can imagine. My response always is "You never know. You should try it." There's always a rebuttal. The truth is, you really don't know what it'll be like and if roller derby is something you think you'd like, you should try it.

Suiting up in my derby gear for the first time
I'm a pretty adventurous eater but there are a few things I was sure I didn't like: avocados, eggplant and onions come to mind. Last year, a friend suggested I try avocados in a smoothie. I was skeptical but I gave it a try and lo and behold, that has become one of my favorite quick breakfasts! 

I do not like white water rafting. I've only gone once and I was terrified the entire time. I'm generally not a fan of being on water in any way, shape or form. My other half, however, loves white water rafting and asked me to go with him at least once. I did and I doubt I'll ever go again but he appreciated that I was willing to face my fear and get in that raft! Now I do something on my own while he goes rafting with his siblings but at least I know what I'm missing!

Suited up for white water rafting

My life lesson here is simple: Try it. Whatever it is, give it a go. Take one bite of something, try on an outfit that isn't your usual style, take a class or lessons for a new hobby.

I believe that we, as human beings, are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. This goes back to my first post of the month, that you can do anything!

So, what is it you'd like to try that you never have?

That's me in green!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Sex

I vacillated between whether or not I should go with this topic for my S post. I don't want to offend any A to Z participants, or break any of the rules. I had other ideas for S subjects: self care, social media, stress, solitude. I certainly could write about those things, but when I looked at my list of S words, I kept coming back to sex. (If you know me well, I'm sure that line mad you chuckle!) When I think about all those other words, I don't see one that holds as many life lessons for me as the subject of sex.

If I have to sum it all up into one, my life lesson when it comes to sex is this: It is totally okay to be a woman who likes sex. It's nothing to be ashamed of and there are healthy, positive ways to go about it!

My mother discovered I had lost my virginity by doing some snooping. I was a senior in high school at the time, less than a month away from graduation. She got mad at me,  I was grounded. There was never an explanation other than I was young and shouldn't have done it. Maybe this is why I developed a sense of shame around sex that lasted through my marriage. It wasn't until I was divorced and approaching thirty that my attitude changed.

I've taken a lot of slack for being a gal who admits she's looking to get laid on occasion. I've been called names and judged by others. I'll admit I've made some poor choices in this arena, but not only do all my experiences make me who I am, I also know that my sexual confidence contributes to me being an honest, loving partner in my current relationship.

I am not advocating promiscuity here. Not at all. I just think there is a double standard in our society when it comes to attitudes about sex and gender. A guy who has a lot of sexual partners is a stud but a girl who does is a slut. It isn't fair! I believe there are ways to talk and teach about sex that advocate healthy relationships and sexual behaviors without shaming.

I also think it's extremely important for women to talk to each other about sex. Keeping all your secrets to yourself perpetuates that air of shame. If I didn't have friends who I could vent to and ask personal questions, I wouldn't be writing this post!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Return

When I left my home in January, I didn't expect I would ever return. But then, we all know what I've learned about expectations this year!

My decision to return home was one made from a place of love and learning but it wasn't exactly easy. When I left, I was confident I wouldn't return and I couldn't help but think of how I would appear to others for coming back. And of course, I struggled with the question of why the heck did I leave in the first place?

I had been home for about a week when I received this beautiful image via text from a friend. My eyes filled with tears as I read the words. It was exactly what I needed at that moment.

I left because I had to. That's clear to me now. Things would not be exactly as they are now if I hadn't gone. Returning was exactly what I needed to do as well. Mr. Pratchett's words couldn't be more fitting for my situation. Sure I could have stayed but I would have spent the rest of my life wondering What if? 

So the lesson here is borrowed from that wise quote: Returning to where you started isn't the same as never having left.

Do you agree?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quitting

I'm going to cut right to the chase for today's lesson: If you hate your job, you should quit it.

I've experienced this lesson first hand. I've seen what happens when I stay too long at a job (The Universe forces a change) and I've also seen what it's like to finally quit a job that's been crushing my soul for years.

Now, I know all the reasons you say you can't quit your job. I even know that some of the reasons you stay at a job you hate are legit. But this is where Saturday's post about priorities comes in handy. You can get another job. You might not make as much money or have the same schedule but contrary to popular belief, there are other jobs out there.

I've been told that some of my life lessons are "easier said that done." I'll agree this is another one that falls into that category. But guess what? Life is hard.

I think quitting gets a bad rap. I'm not just talking about jobs. When I retired from roller derby last year, I struggled with the fact that I was quitting. We're conditioned to think that quitting means we're a loser, weak, scared, that it's always a bad thing. The truth is sometimes it's time to quit.

I've done my fair share of quitting. I've quit jobs, hobbies, relationships. It can be difficult to stand up and say "Okay, I'm all done here," but it almost always comes with a rush of relief. Getting that proverbial weight off my chest in knowing that I'm doing the right thing.

I'm not saying quit anything at the first inkling of discomfort. I played derby for over two years and I can't even count how many times I thought of quitting before I finally did. The same with my soul sucking job. The older I get, the shorter that time frame gets where I'll tolerate feeling bad. But it's still exists. I'll wait it out to make sure quitting definitely feels right.

Our society floods us with motivational posters telling us to never give up, never quit, keep going, etc. And yes, there's a time and place for pushing yourself and persevering. Maybe at the gym but not in a work place.