Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lessons I've Learned So Far (26 to be exact)

Last year for the April A to Z Blogging Challenge I wrote about my favorite songs, ones that have been significant in my life. I spent six months working on those posts and was proud of what I produced. I received positive feedback from friends and readers who related to my feelings about music, and that was my goal!

Life distracted me from thinking much about this year's challenge until recently. I wanted to do a theme again  because I enjoyed writing last year's posts so much and a theme helps me come up with topic ideas. I wanted to do something along the lines of writing about my favorite things, or what brings me joy but I basically did that the first time I did this challenge, in 2013 (books, candy, Dave Matthews Band, elephants - yep, that pretty much covers it!) I have a friend who also does this challenge each year and she is going with the theme of her favorite things so check out her blog if you get time!

 I brainstormed on variations on that theme and finally stumbled upon the idea I'm going with this year. The past few months of my life have been a whirlwind of change and emotions. Through it all, I learned A LOT about myself and the people closest to me, and about my life in general. I traveled to places I'd never been and had a lot of fun new experiences but also a lot of heartache. I did some serious soul searching and returned home a changed woman, with a sense of clarity about my life that I couldn't have achieved any other way.

I know my recent adventures will eventually give way to a series of colorful, witty essays but now is not the time for that.

As I've reflected on my recent experiences, and my life in general,  I've decided to share what I believe are the most valuable lessons I've learned so far in my journey. Each lesson has it's own story (or stories) and while they may not all apply to everyone, I believe they are worth sharing and worth reading! So please stay tuned for the month of April, as I share what I've learned!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Life Is Like...Nothing Else


I like roller coasters. It's an interesting fact about me because I don't really like heights and I hate to fly. When I ride a roller coaster, I'm almost always in fear for my life and I have huge issues with fearing death. But I ride roller coasters anyway. It's probably one of the most thrilling, dangerous things I do by choice (except driving a car, of course!) I like the anticipation and the stomach dropping feeling. I'm usually terrified for the majority of the ride, thinking WHY DID I DO THIS?! but once it's over I'm like Oh that wasn't so bad, I'm excited yet relieved and generally glad I did it.

Lately I've found myself likening my life to a roller coaster ride. There have certainly been a lots of ups and downs, but I've started to give that more serious thought. There is much choice involved in a roller coaster ride. You get on and stay on, follow the track, then get off at the end. Most roller coasters don't have many blissful parts. During the calmer parts I'm thinking Oh shit, what's going to happen next? and while the uphill part is exciting, typically my body has been slammed back against my seat and I'm gritting my teeth.

Maybe that is like life?

During a recent chat with a close friend, I stumbled upon a solution to some of the anxieties I've been feeling in regard to all the change I've experienced. I said something along the lines of "I need to sit down into my choice and go with it, enjoy it." Now, that is like a roller coaster, isn't it?

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Forrest Gump "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." Being a candy connoisseur, I can appreciate that on many levels. There are few things worse than biting into a delicious looking piece of chocolate, expecting sweet gooey caramel, only to get a burst of  something gross like liquid hazelnut (or your own version of that! Many people don't like the fruit/jelly filled ones but those are my favorites!)

You can compare life to many different things, but the truth is all of those things are a part of life. There are ups and downs, there is joy, sadness, peaceful moments and terrifying ones. Sometimes you take a bite of something and it's delicious, but sometimes it's bitter or what you eat makes you puke! It all happens. It's all part of this glorious thing called being human.

To say my life has been full of change recently is the understatement of the year. Some of it has been brutally painful and some of it has been blissful. But it's all been the consequences of choices I made. Were those the "right" choices? I think so. I've been continuously motivated by following my heart and doing what was best for me at each moment.

It's funny how much that can change, isn't it? For me, what was best in January was a complete turnaround from what I needed two months later. But I never would have known that if I hadn't leapt, if I hadn't made some bold, scary choices and tried some new things. I could have sat around thinking I wonder what would have happened if I'd gone on that adventure? but now I know. I went, I did a lot of cool stuff and learned a ton about myself. You can't fake that or bring it about through any other circumstance than when it's actually happening.

Life is life. We only get one so we should give it all we've got. I know that's cliche but it's truth! So whatever it is you're going to do with yours, do it with gusto! Strap yourself into that roller coaster or reach blindly for a piece of chocolate. Don't second guess yourself and don't apologize for your choices!