Chasing Bliss

About six years ago I worked with a guy who quit his job to “chase his bliss”. At the time my colleagues and I ridiculed him and made numerous jokes about “chasing bliss off cliffs” and other super supportive things I shouldn’t have said. On the upside we were all wrong and that guy is doing quite well chasing his bliss. I also, in time, learned a valuable lesson.

As you know from my other posts I have had some health issues over the years. Being sick all the time is not good for the body and it is even worse for a career in a sinking economy. Seven days before Christmas in 2008 I finally lost my high paying job due to excessive absences due to being sick all the time. It hit me hard.

Since then I have worked numerous contract jobs and have had numerous health problems. It seems as though it is physically impossible for me to hold onto a job because everything will be going fine and then BAM – I am sick for two months.

I AM a hard worker. Every employer I have ever had I gave them my all. I think a lot of people (such as my Grandfather) misconstrue my employment issues with laziness. If there is one thing I am not it is lazy. What I am is sick. I have spent roughly 20 – 30 % of my yearly income for the last five years on doctor appointments, prescriptions, and surgeries. Every doctor I go to gives me a different set of pills and a different answer. Every time I get hopeful that something is working and that I am FINALLY feeling better and FINALLY able to live my life then another hammer falls.

So no, I am not lazy. Matter of fact if any of them knew how hard I work on a daily basis just to get out of bed I would get a damn award. But they don’t know. They just see that I am not there or that I lost my job.

In retrospect however I have hated all of my jobs. I HATE sitting all day at a desk typing on a computer staring at rows of numbers and spending hours creating useless reports that no one ever looks at. I hated it and the idea of going back to it makes me want to jump off a bridge. So I am not going to. Being fired and getting sick removed my shackles and made me somewhat fearless.

Three months ago I went back to school. I am now studying to be a cosmetologist, something I always wanted to do but thought I was too good for. However the truth is there are so many more opportunities available in this field than I ever knew existed. There is also a high level of satisfaction that comes with doing something palpable. Doing a task with a definitive beginning and end. Something that hopefully makes someone happy. It brings me joy, and dare I say it – bliss.

It is all about Hope

To me the most important thing in life is hope. Hope is the reason we get out of bed, have children,go to work, and get educations. Hope is why we put on make up and wear high heels and shave our legs. Hope is the human equivalent to gasoline, it is our souls battery. Our hearts fuel. Our driving force. Hope is everything.

When I feel down, either mentally, physically, or spiritually it is my hope for a better tomorrow that gets me going again. When I want to give up and move back in with my parents and hide, it is hope that makes me keep trying.

To me, hope is the root system and trunk of my wishing tree. The stem from which all other dreams protrude.The hope for love, the hope for success, the hope for a stronger faith, the hope, the hope, the hope…….

We all know a dead eyed person who has given up. The people who look like zombies that we quietly walk past in grocery stores. We all know how easily we could be that person if we gave up. Then again we also know the people who glow with it, flames of hope burning behind their eyes despite the mountains of adversity and pain they have crawled through, despite the harrowing journey still ahead.

Never ever give up. Never ever quit hoping for the best.

Never.

Weighty Issues

About five years ago I got sick and I started gaining weight.
At first it was ten pounds.
Oh well, ten pounds, whatever.
Then it was twenty pounds.
Oh well, I still look good. Check out my boobs…..Whatever.
Then it was fifty pounds, Oh crap, I better lose this.
Then it was 80 pounds, and that is where I am today.
Uh oh.

Let me be clear, I have never been a tiny little delicate flower. I am more of a Calla Lily. Sturdy and tall. With nice stems and a full bloom. I was stacked. A brick house. Pardon me, a brick SHIT house. And the saddest thing is that I never realized how great looking I was. I let it go to waste following around losers when I could have been out getting winners. THEN all the people that were interested in me I I ignored because I really liked those losers. A lot. Because I was stupid.

I am making a promise to myself though. I just found out recently that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I guess it was the final straw. For some reason it scares me more than all the other things. I guess because I have spent the last month dealing with some degree of pain and having mental images of twisted hands and lumpy knees. It scares me – that pain – and to think it gets worse.

So back to my promise to myself, I have simply got to lose some weight. I don’t want to lose it fast. I don’t want to lose it stupid. I want to rebuild my life into a healthy life. I want to be that person I used to be who could hike up a mountain and not relish, but definitely not run from, physical challenges.

I love the outdoors. I want to start going on hikes and camping with my parents. I want to take the dogs to the mountains.

I am sick of being sick.
I am sick of being tired.
I am sick of being me trapped in a fat suit.
I am sick of looking at a closet full of tiny clothes that I can no longer wear.

As of today I am taking it back.

Realitys Fist

For about a month I have been miserable in some form or fashion. About two weeks ago the pain started and hasn’t stopped other than a brief respite for three days when the steroids were at their highest dose.

How do I feel? I feel as though every joint in my body is enclosed with crushed glass and throbbing. I feel like iron rods are being forced through the marrow of my arms and legs. That my spine is in a vice. That the bones in my face are rusted together. I am burning hot.

I am scared. My blood work is a wreck and now I have to see a specialist. I have no way of paying for a specialist. I don’t know what I am going to do. Everything has gone haywire again.  How wonderful it must be to count on your body. I vaguely remember the confidence of invincibility.

I had just started what I thought was (and still hope will be) going to be a new beginning. I am in school for something I enjoy, with people I adore, at a school I think is great. It is a community of people with big hearts and boundless creativity and I feel at home there and that I have a talent and a passion for and yet I feel the threat of watching it, like so many other things in the last five years, go away.

I know that it will be as it will be.

I think it will all be fine.

Like all bumpy patches this one too will end.

I hope well.

Courage Under Fire

Of all the traits in people I admire most courage.

I love hearing peoples stories. I always find it incredible that when you drive through a neighborhood at night that all those illuminated portals hold dear the various skeletons that hide in suburban closets. I love stories. I love hearing people tell me their stories. However what I love most is redemption. Courage to burst forth like a Phoenix from the flames of personal hells.

The funny thing is that even as I mature I can clearly remember my fears as a child and I still have many of them. I suppose I could say that I am no longer afraid but that would be a lie. Mostly I do what I did as a child, take a deep breath, summon my nerve and put on my stage face. I still hesitate to walk into darkness. I still hesitate to talk to strangers. I still hesitate to love or trust.

For some reason I always recall the story of James Earl Jones when thinking of courage. James Earl Jones was a stutterer. To overcome his stutter he discovered acting. When he acted as though he was someone who didn’t stutter, the stutter went away.  I read this as a child and it changed the way I look at fear. To a degree we all have handicaps that we manage this way. We have a whole collection of masques that we wear to various events in our lives.

Human resilience and courage is an amazing thing and  if I have learned anything it is to never underestimate yourself.

What is courage to me?

There are limitless ways to be courageous. There are the obviously heroic ways such as running into burning buildings to save kittens and walking old ladies across busy intersections. But to me the simple courage of reality is the most incredible. Brushing the dust off our pants and moving on towards the hope for a better tomorrow.

To walk into a room of strangers.
To speak our mind.
To be kind to those deemed unworthy.
To respect difference.
To stand up for someone.
To step away from the crowd.
To dance by yourself.
To stand up after failing.
To jump when the distance is unsure.
To admit you’re wrong.
To make the first move.
To try something new.
To start a new school.
To start a new job.
To laugh at yourself.
To hope.
To love.

In closing, a favorite quote:
“Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow” – Mary Anne Radmacher

La Dolce Vita : Contemplation of Happiness

I often contemplate happiness.

I am pretty happy right now. I am pretty low stress. Not to say I don’t worry, but after my last five years you learn what is stress worthy and what isn’t.

I used to think that happiness was my bank account and the amount of expensive impressive things I had. Then I realized it made me happy more that people admired those things than they actually ever made me happy. Then I lost all that and realized that I was happier when it was all gone. It wasn’t an immediate realization. First I was pretty bummed. It was a slow growing awareness that came after six months of anguish and then I realized an  albatross had vacated my life. The things you own, own you.

Then I thought perhaps happiness would be being in love. To find a soul mate that would make me laugh and take me on adventures, be smart enough to understand my invention ideas and discuss history specials we gladly watch together on television. To be different enough to make life interesting but same enough to make life comfortable. But then I realize happiness can’t be contained in a mate. Happiness has to exist already and the relationship is just fertilizer to bring it to full bloom.

Then I thought perhaps happiness is the perfect career. A career that is less a job than a calling. But the fact is that no matter what you do there are going to be times when you are sick of it.  When you hate it. There are going to be days when you just can’t bring yourself to do another days worth of whatever it is you are doing. Happiness isn’t your job, but it helps to enjoy your work.

Then I thought it could be your physical location. Sometimes I think I would like to live in Charleston because I like all the history and old buildings. Sometimes I think I would be happy living back in Pennsylvania, or North Carolina, with the woods surrounding me. Other times I think I would like to live in a city where I could soak up the vitality – but I know a city wouldn’t keep me happy. I need calm. Quiet. Little breaks in the woods where a blanket can be thrown on the ground, a sandwich eaten, a nap taken. Escape routes. Sheds. Dogs roaming and laying around in the yard.

My final conclusion about happiness is that the only place it can truly be found is in your heart. To be able to smile, to laugh, after pain and sorrow. To move forward courageously with the knowledge that it will be good days in the future. To be able to find joy in the little things – as trite and cliché as that may sound. Because to only appreciate big things is a recipe for malcontent.

I believe the ABILITY to be happy is an internal thing and all the others are just gravy.

So to me happiness isn’t money. It isn’t an island retreat. It isn’t in another person. It isn’t in a thing.

It is me, waking up, smiling and finding humor in everything. Having courage and optimism and strength and laughter.

Not to say that you never have pain, but realizing that like any wound the pain will eventually end and a scar will form, a lesson learned.

That life is constantly changing and evolving and that for the most part is a beautiful, glorious, breath taking delicious adventure.

La Dolce Vita, my friends.

Beauty School Behavioral Issues

I have come to realize that no matter how varied the ages, how educated the women, how wonderful they each are individually, if you get a group of vagina’s together there are going to be problems. I don’t know why but it is almost like when there is too much estrogen it heats to a combustible level. I have no clue what kind of dumb ass man would want to be a polygamist.

It may be the same with men. I know women get a bad rap in the gossip arena because some of the most notorious gossips I have ever met had penises. But as for the intimate group dynamics of a group of men – I don’t know – I am not a man.

But I can tell that there is a volcano of underground drama brewing in Beauty School. Between dragging around the bookbag, getting yelled at by teachers and gossip in the lunchroom it is almost like High School (only at Beauty School have a hobo camp behind the school).

There is not one single person I have met there that I haven’t liked. There are some I didn’t like to begin with but eventually every single person has grew on me. It is a good group. I don’t even dislike the dreaded Ms.S. I wish she would be nice to me but I guess I am just going to have to play “Kill Her with Kindness” and smile at her every time I see her. So far I have never had that not work.

But that aside, my point is that you can’t control what others do or say. If they laugh with or laugh at you. The most you can do is be in control of, and be proud of, your own actions. Often I believe that people think I am stupid because I make stupid jokes. That they confuse kindness with weakness.

But I know I could kick their ass in Trivial Pursuit any day of the week and that  I am harder than most people  would guess.

And honestly, I just don’t care anymore. To whom other than God do I need to prove myself?

There was a time in my life when I worried every second of every day about everything. I had to take Xanex for anxiety and I always thought people were talking about me. But sweet Jesus, if people talked about me as much as I used to think they talked about me no one would ever talk about anything other than me and honey I am just not that interesting.

I wake up in the morning. I take my shower and spend 30 minutes putting my hair in a ponytail. I drive to school and I try to enjoy my day. And damnit, I usually do. I may laugh at my own jokes. I may have an odd sense of humor, but if I were to be stranded on a desert island for the rest of my life I know one thing for sure – even by myself I would have a good time : )

 

Facing Demons

For most of my life I have spent countless hours loving the wrong type of man. It isn’t because I am unlovable. It isn’t because I am slutty. It isn’t even because I have a particular type of man other than just wrong.

It is because for most of my life I was under the incorrect and hidden assumption that somehow I was worth less than I am. On the walls of my heart I had written that I wasn’t good enough to be loved. Ironically it was that notion that made it impossible to be loved. I say that notion was deeply hidden but it was only deeply hidden from me. I had it all over me, the letters pointy and jagged, cloaking me in barbed wire.

In every persons mind is a  closet in which lives our boogie men. The things that go through our mind and handicap us. There is nothing wrong with realizing our limits. But there is something wrong with limiting oneself.

Reality is that  I will never be a runway model. I will never be a mathematician. I will never be a surgeon. I will never be in a triathlon. I will not be the next American Idol. I will never live on a boat. I will never be good at anything that requires coordination. I am not good at traveling.  I am not good at board games.

But there are a thousand things I am good at.

Though I am far from old it makes me sad that I wasted so much of my youth. That I spent so much time worrying about what the wrong people thought about the wrong things.

I gave my heart stupidly to stupid people. Not just stupid men but stupid friends and stupid causes and stupid ideals.

Now that I am a little older, and a little wiser and have a little more perspective I realize what is worth the effort. To usually know when to quit trying and most importantly when to not even try.

The Pain

Lately I haven’t been good when it comes to my diet. I have had a thousand things going on and have been eating a lot of crud. My diet is more important than just weight control or whatnot. I have to eat well or I get sick. And right now I am feeling the effects of my badness. My body hurts. Bad.

When I eat gluten it causes inflammation in my body. That inflammation makes me feel like someone took a ball bat and hammered away at all my joints. Particularly bad are my wrists and hands which isn’t good since I have to use them all day at school. I found it difficult today to try to do a blow out. I couldn’t twist the brush.

I remember the first time I described this I said I felt like I was being crucified. At times my hands just curl into themselves. I had forgotten how bad it hurts and I am thankful that normally it is not something I have to worry too much about anymore.

It is a constellation of pain going from my face to my neck to my shoulders, elbows, wrists, thumbs, hands, spine, lower back, rib cage, pelvis, hip joints, knees, shins, ankles – even my toes. It is hard to describe to someone who has never experienced it but it is like you worked out the hardest you ever have and it is the day after.

Something a lot of us need to remember is that we are what we eat. I know it costs money to eat gluten free, organic or healthier in whatever form, but for people with chronic health problems please try it. If you do it for only two weeks you may be amazed at what you find out. The one thing is that you will start feeling better within just a couple of days. Frankly it is amazing. You may find out that your magic pill is just what you put on your plate.

Personally, I have to start behaving better. I have gotten slack and am now paying the price. I am heavier than I ever have been in my life. I know is mainly because I have a non existent metabolism due to a dead thyroid, but still I need to get that under control. I know I will probably never be thin but I don’t want to be fat either.

I am nearly 100 pounds heavier than I was 15 years ago. That is hard for me to stomach because to be honest I was always pretty vain even though I wasn’t very confident. Ironically now that I am chubby I am more confident but not vain. I suppose that may just be maturity. It takes a lot to stress me out anymore. Perhaps that is because I have been to hell and back. When you look the reaper in the face it is hard to get stressed over much.

So I am going to try to go back to sleep tonight since I have taken one of my prescription inflammation pills and tomorrow I will sit down and come up with a healthy food plan for the next week. I may even ask my Mom to help me. She has lost I think about 50 pounds in the last year or so. I know she can give some advice. One of the problems I will have is that I can’t really partake of  Fat-Free or Low Fat items because they include additives that make me sick. So I have some thinking to do.

However it is time to get this party started. If I can be even just 30 pounds lighter by the end of the year I will be A LITTLE satisfied. Just to see the numbers on the scale go down instead of up would probably send me into doing a dance around the house : )

Much love and remember to treat yourself well!!!!

Time Capsule

I found a small dusty container in the back of the spare bedroom closet. Turns out that it was full of mementos from the dawn of my adulthood. Old foreign coins, letters from friends, pictures from past adventures.

Inside this box was a copy of a poem by Susan Ludvigson, whose poetry I fell in love with my freshman year at Coker. I remember the first time I picked her book up in the campus bookstore and I bought it before I even knew I had to.  I forgot about this poem, titled What If.

This poem has been through a lot. There are quite a few  thumbtack holes, the paper is yellowed, the left edge is softer where I used to grab it off the wall, working the edge with my fingernails as I read it. I can tell that at some point in my life it meant a lot to me. I have a vague recollection of it being posted on the wall beside my desk in college.

After reading it again – all these years later – I realize why I liked it so much. I feel sad that I forgot about it for so long. So I am sharing it with you.

What If….

By : Susan Ludvigson

….when you entered your mind
with purpose, you found not the field
you’d told yourself to imagine, the wild
strawberries of childhood strewn
among the tall grass where you lay
under apple trees, but a land flatter
and wider than sight can take in.
What if you forgot how to bring inside
the music that used to begin
in your gradual wakings, and in the space
before sleep, when the rain began softly,
and all your sweet longings loosened.
What if traffic and telephones
continued their commerce, so loud
you couldn’t remember how your skin felt,
floating. There is this fear
stalking the hours. One day
it might disappear, that place
you could go at will, where your own
voice hummed like a mother,
a crooning that let your blood
slow, the poem of the body
riding the blue murmuring crests, naming
its love, loving its life.

Time Capsule Contents: various foreign currency, high school graduation tassels, a dirty playing card, a baseball card, a ticket stub from a soccer match in Mexico, a poem, a postcard from England, a postcard from Virginia, a hospital bracelet, my old eyebrow ring, a slide from my AP art portfolio, a poster from a friend in Turkey, my Mapletown HS pin, 2 unknown Best Friend charms, a unicorn necklace, and a picture of Erika and I on our epic roadtrip.