The Ticking Clock

I’m sorry – they’re gone. The words feel like an avalanche of rocks, causing you to momentarily lose your breathe. The words cut and it feels like a sharply edged sword that leaves you feeling at the peak of vulnerability. It’s as though, at the snap of a finger, the world as you see it has slightly shifted its axis, and you have to find a way to exist in this new world.

Like many, I’ve had close relatives move into the next realm of life, and each time it has had made an impact on my life. I hold my memories of each passed loved one close to my heart, and once in a while I catch myself fondly thinking about the great memories we created together. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people, and I appreciate the impact they have made on my life. But, that doesn’t stop me from missing them every day, especially during milestones in my life. During my wedding, I remember missing my grandfather and wishing he was there to share in the great memories that were being created. He was the only one I wanted at my wedding that wasn’t on the guest list. While I know he lives in my heart, I wish I could physically touch him, talk to him, and interact with him, in some way. But, I know that’s not possible. So I hold on to memories of him sneaking me chocolate bars when my grandma wasn’t looking, or shopping for my very first bike. Memories that I’m latching on to with more strength as I grow older.

I also had a friend who commit suicide when I was 11 years old. This was my first real experience with death – he was my age – and at the time I didn’t understand why he chose to end his life. Growing up, I learned that he was bullied because he was gay and had a hard time accepting it, and in retrospect if he was, I wish he had told someone how he felt.  I would have been there to support and listen to him so that he didn’t feel isolated and lonely. It almost angers me to think, ‘if you had just fought for yourself – the world is a different place now. If you felt shamed – you shouldn’t have! The tiny bubble of high school isn’t a reflection of the real world’.

Sometimes, in life, I feel that we unintentionally get lost in the present clouds of sadness. We look around, search for something to grasp on to, and when we finally think we’ve found our footing, we start to feel the turbulence.  Grief is the same, we feel it in stages. After the initial shock has worn off, and we start to regain some stability, the second bout of grief hits us. That is when we truly start to feel the pain of loss.  However, we need to accept that life isn’t a constant. People come and go. Life’s circumstances change. The only thing that remains constant is how we grow as people. What was the purpose of us undergoing events in our lives? What did we learn about ourselves? How did the situation positively impact us? My grandfather gave me my sweet tooth for chocolate. In general I don’t like to eat sweets, but I love chocolate. My friend taught me compassion. He taught me to never judge people and let them exist the way they are. Everyone has a life journey, a purpose and when their time comes to move on, you have to accept it. Take the lessons that you learn from them and the happy memories you have created and cherish them.

Jumping Over Hurdles

At times, I feel that we are our worst enemy. We create a vision for our lives, and when we unexpectedly veer off course, or are pushed into unfamiliar territory, we start to see our lives through a shattered mirror. Our vision of ourselves becomes distorted. Thoughts like “this wasn’t meant to be my life”, “this put my life back 5 years” creep up on us and without realizing it, we’re left feeling vulnerable, helpless or both. It’s as though we mentally confine ourselves to the walls of a padded room in a physic ward. We become so entrapped in the current state of affairs that we fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking as someone who has been pushed off a bridge into unfamiliar waters time and time again, I thoroughly understand the pain you feel when they splash into the icy cold abyss. The sharp pains you feel when the realization of where you are kicks in, and your inability to breathe as you look in every direction to find something to hold on to. We all have events in our lives that cause us to feel this way. The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, learning that pregnancy may not be in the cards for you, not getting into the school of your choice, we all have events in our lives that seem shattering, but they make us stronger people. When you finally accept the changes in your life, and realize that you alone are the only person to pull yourself from the depths of sadness that have been created in your mind, you take a retrospective look at your life and realize that you may have underestimated yourself and tried to create a life that was inferior to what you deserve.

Growing up, I didn’t know what course my life was going to take. I became involved with a group of friends that I had no business associating with. I was in a relationship with someone who treated me slightly better than the dirt on the bottom of his shoes and silenced my voice. I can hide behind the excuse that I had an ill parent and that left me feeling confused and vulnerable. But the truth is, I had created this life for myself. I allowed my thoughts to control me and make me feel inferior. My life would have continued down that path if I didn’t fight for it. I had to fight for the life I thought I could create for myself. I set a list of goals for myself: Complete my master’s degree, find a life partner who will be respectful of the person I am (I wasn’t going to compromise who I was. I had already wasted 5 years and I wasn’t about to waste any more time), and be myself (whether people liked it or not). It was only when I decided to fight for myself that my life turned around, and I truly believe that this is the truth for many people. When we stop playing the victim in our lives and start taking control over what we want to accomplish, it puts us in a better state of mind. Yes, there are going to be events in our lives that push us off course, but it’s how we get back up that defines us. We can’t let the events in our lives define us. Similarly to a hurdle race in track in field, life is about jumping over hurdles. Sometimes our foot gets caught and we stumble, but we have to get back up and finish the race.

You Are Unique Just Like Everyone Else

Deep in my heart I believe that each person has greatness in them. Call me naïve, many people do, but I think one of the most beautiful things in the world is to see people being themselves. Sadly, growing up in a judgmental society where you are taught to have a certain color hair, be of an ‘attractive weight’ or dress a certain way, people become enclosed and refrain from expressing themselves. This is very disheartening to see.

I think Facebook and other social media sites further reinforce a person’s need to conform to societal standards of what is acceptable and what isn’t. Many of us use Facebook to reconnect with old friends and family, which is great, but I think many of us subliminally start to use other people’s success stories as benchmarks for the types of lives we should lead. Somewhere along the line, instead of leading a life that makes us happy, we start to unintentionally train ourselves to think that our lives are inadequate and we start to shift our priorities. We feed into an individual’s online persona which probably represents 30% of a person’s life, however in our minds we genuinely start to believe that we are seeing an individual’s entire life. When in fact, this isn’t true. We all have our ups and downs. In our own way, we’re struggling to find our way through life. While we naturally share our peeks, we also refrain from sharing our low points.

Being the rebel that I have always been, I want to share the pitfalls of my life. I have been told that through my blog I am too transparent with my thoughts and opinions, and that I need to stop being so open. But, my thoughts aren’t any different from what another person is thinking or feeling. I’m human, and I prefer to connect with people on an emotional level. I think that our thoughts can sometimes be our worst enemy and if we don’t discuss or express them, we allow our internal voices to control us. When we visit social media sites, we need to understand that a person’s profile isn’t an accurate depiction of their lives. They are simply looking for an outlet to express the happy moments in their lives. However, deep down, we all have the same fears and insecurities. We’re all the same, on our own unique path through life.

Express Yourself Don’t Repress Me

Looking at our world today, I worry that pop culture is trying to homogenize our tastes, liked and dislikes. Walking through the mall, it’s as though each store is selling a variation of the same article of clothing. Crop tops, short shorts, belts, and huge heels; they’re the same thing everywhere we look. Even when we want to wear longer shorts or tank tops, they are almost impossible to find. I feel like we are invariably becoming a cult-like society.

Last week we had a birthday party for one of my relatives, and to my amazement, all of my cousins (including myself) showed up to the party wearing all black. Being the conspiracy theorist that I am, it led me to believe that our fashion sense is being influenced more than we realize. I was further surprised later in the evening while playing a family game called the ‘5 second rule’. I know I shouldn’t be, but I was shocked to see how much information we knew about the Kardashians. For those of you who haven’t played the ‘5 second rule’ it’s a game where you have 5 seconds to list 3 things from the subject on the card. So for example: Name 3 famous ex’s, our answer was, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, and Lamar Odom. Yup you guessed it, those are ex’s of the Kardashian sisters. Then we were asked to Name 3 famous babies. Can you guess which ones were listed? Penelope, Mason and North – Kardashian babies. It amazes me just how much we know about the Kardashians, yet when we were asked to ‘Name 3 fouls in basketball’, or to ‘Name 3 Hit Songs from the 70s’, many of us were stumped.  In recent months, the Kardashians have been wearing a lot of all black outfits and I can’t help but worry that they are too much influence on the clothes we select from our closets to wear.

It’s not only our clothing that is becoming homogeneous, it’s also the music that we listen to. Switching through the local radio stations, we hear the same songs on repeat. How many times can you listen to Drake’s Started From the Bottom or Rihanna’s Umbrella without wanting to scream. I get it Rihanna, I can stand under your umbrella, thanks for the offer but I’m not interested. I miss the days where I could switch through various radio stations and listen to a variety of music. Music is so important for the soul.  We listen to it while driving, cooking or cleaning – it wouldn’t hurt to get some variety. The majority of the local radio stations are constantly playing the same genre of music, rap. Don’t get me wrong, rap is my favorite genre of music, and listening to this music has caused a drastic increase in the number of local rappers. But it makes me wonder how many people would choose to pick up a musical instrument to express themselves instead of rapping if they heard the likes of Nirvana or Tool on the radio. In my opinion, music is the greatest form of self-expression and it is a shame that great music isn’t being played on the radio.

Life is too short for people to conform to a homogeneous culture. I wish there was more variety available for us. I would like to go to a store and find shorts that reach my knees and to listen to a of mash up country, alternative and rap – I’m sure that there is an artist or group out there that already does this that I haven’t heard of. The world is meant to be a smaller place, and we should be able to listen to a larger variety of music, yet we live in a world where the music charts around the world have the same artists listed as the top 3.

Selfish People Live Longer?

Sometimes I wish I could unlearn a lot of what I learned growing up. Okay if I am being completely honest, there may be some falsity in that statement, but I do wish I could change my environment, and the only way I know to do that is to ignore some of the teachings of my parents.

Growing up, my parents taught me to always help others and keep my ego in check. These teachings were reiterated to me while I completed my degree with a minor in religion studies. I spent many of my adolescent and adult years trying to implement these teachings, but the truth is, it’s exhausting! I often find myself being time poor and struggling to keep my own life balanced. I wish I could say “no” to people and take some time for myself, but I feel that would contradict what my parents and religion have taught me, selfless service.

I recently watched a movie, and in it, one of the secondary characters said that “Selfish People Live Longer” and I couldn’t help but think that she might be on to something. Sometimes, I wish I possessed the ability to express how I felt and thought without offending those around me. I find that I try to help people so much that I end up neglecting myself, and that it is my downfall. People have come to expect that I will help them, and if I don’t, I am perceived in a negative light.

Perhaps I have taken the teachings of my parents too literally and need to learn to be a bit more selfish. But, I don’t know how to do that without offending those that are close to me. I guess this is something that I will learn overtime, I’m not too sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Taking A U-Turn… Sort Of

Being forced to face your fears can be a very scary thing.  The feeling of venturing into the unknown and challenging yourself to grow and become great can be very intimidating. Recently, I’ve forced myself to slowly tread outside my comfort zone, and if I am being completely transparent, existing in unfamiliar territory has been a very scary experience. While I know that I am growing for the better, I feel that my thoughts are bleary.

Late at night, when I am forced to be alone with my thoughts, I find that I am overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity, sadness and calm at the same the time. To accurately describe my emotions, I feel as though I’ve sprinted through a 10k marathon and am finally able to catch my breath.

I’ve been working extremely hard at forgiving people in my life and to accept them for who they are, but it has been very difficult. I know that whether I forgive them or not is irrelevant in their lives. These individuals will continue to flourish in their lives and these negative feelings I hold are entrapping me in an endless cycle of negativity.

I think a key point of weakness for me is that while I am strong, I internalize every interaction I have with anyone and I possess an inability to let go. I have very high expectations for myself and I expect the people in my life to also live up to the standards I’ve placed on myself, which isn’t fair. I take life too seriously, and somewhere along the road, I feel as though I forgot how to whole heartedly laugh and truly enjoy the company around me.  I don’t remember the last time I laughed till my stomach hurt. Somewhere along the road of confronting my weaknesses, I left behind some of my strengths. Perhaps this is why I have been feeling vulnerable. I’ve changed so quickly that I left behind some of the things that made me great. I think I need to take a few steps back and find my sense of humour. 

I am truly grateful for my in laws. At family gatherings, I usually take a seat back and admire how free they are. I’m sure that life throws challenges at them, but whenever I attend a family gathering, there is so much laughter in the air. They are genuinely happy people who laugh till they feel laughter pains, and have an indescribable bond. It is truly remarkable. My hope for myself is that I find my way back to the person who was once carefree and enjoyed the simplicities of life, while growing into an awesome person. Maybe then I won’t feel defeated when I am alone with my thoughts J  

To Bury Or Not to Bury the Hatchet

Life. Just when I thought I had it figured it out, it throws me another curveball, leaving me confused and isolated.  In my earlier blogs I had talked about a tongue lashing I received from a ‘friend of mine’. After that incident I had vowed to remove toxic people from my life. However, a few days ago I received a text message apology, which has left me frazzled. Does a text message apology even count?

I’ve been pondering over this text message for the past few days and the truth is, I don’t know how to respond. On the one hand, this person and I were friends for a very long time prior to the incident that took place last summer. But, on the other hand what was said is unforgivable. And more importantly, given the types of vile statements that were said to me, does a text message apology even count?

Personally, I think an apology received by text message shouldn’t be considered an apology. If one is genuinely sorry for the things that were said, wouldn’t one pick up the phone, or have a face to face meeting to express their remorse? Perhaps I am not as tech savvy as others, or perhaps I value human interaction, but I think there needs to be sincerity in an apology.

Granted that what was said was extremely mean (to say the least) and perhaps he was afraid to approach me, but I think that if someone is courageous enough to say those mean things, they should be brave enough to apology in the same way those initial vile words were spewed.  I don’t think that it is an unreal expectation to have of someone.

Nevertheless, I am doing my best to give my ‘friend’ the benefit of the doubt and like a broken record, I’ve been posing the question ‘Do I forgive my ‘friend’ and look past this incident, or is it too late?’ The truth is, I’m not sure. While I would like to say, ‘yes, I forgive you’, I am stumped at my own personal obstacle of my inability to forgive. I understand that there is strength in accepting an apology and forgiving someone, however I’m not sure on how to overcome my own ego. In Demi Lovato’s book ‘Staying Strong’ she writes, “when you are wronged, it’s better to confront it with tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance”. If I am truly putting myself first in my life, I have to forgive my friend. It doesn’t mean that we will become the best of friends. It just means that I allowed myself to forgive the sadness that was caused and let go of any negative feelings.

 

Shaking Things Up

Sometimes I feel that the only person that truly understands me is me, and I am grateful for my self awareness. For the first time in my life, I’m starting to see through the fog. I understand the person I am and the person I want to be. Yet, while I am grateful for my new found self-awareness, I question my surroundings and whether they positively foster my growth.

If I am being completely transparent, I do have points of sadness that are seeping into areas of my life, where they don’t belong. I’m fighting a never-ending battle to stop them, and as of right now, I’m losing this battle. My weakest personality trait is that I don’t forgive people. If I feel that trust has been broken, I have a hard time looking past it. I’ve tried for years to combat this problem, but I find that instead of forgiving people, I mask the pain. I pretend that everything is okay when its not, and it eats me up inside. I know that this isn’t healthy for me, and I think it’s time that I start putting myself first.

I think its time that I start re-evaluating the relationships in my life and putting myself first. I need to see who truly makes me happy and who just needs me around to leach off of. I need to start making my feelings a priority and to start treating myself with the respect I should be giving myself. I waste too many of my thoughts on things that make me sad and devalue my life. It’s my responsibility to make sure that I am taken care of. While it has always being my life goal to help as many people as I possibly can, I can’t do this successfully if I devalue myself in the process. I need to surround myself with people who uplift me and help me become the person I want to be. I only have one life, and I don’t want to waste it on things that don’t add value to my life.

 

Stones Along The Way

Opinions. They don’t mean anything until we assign value to them. Yet, we allow them to control us.  They shape our perception of ourselves, and we let them.  One of the greatest things about being human is that we’re not meant to be homogeneous in nature. We’re meant to be individuals, who grow gradually with our life experiences.  Yet we allow people’s opinions of us to create an infinite cycle of thoughts that cause us to become stagnant. We can tend to become so fixated on the opinions of others, that our priority in life can shift from being the people we want to be, to being the people others want us to be.

In recent months, a friend of mine had something posted about her on a social media site. Out of respect for my friend’s privacy, I’ve decided not to elaborate on the situation. However, it left her extremely upset. Constant thoughts looped around her mind: What will my friends think of me? What will my family think? This irked me. Taking a step back from the situation, her concerns should have been, how does this make me feel? Am I okay? What do I need to do to accept that this issue has taken place?

Why do we give other people’s opinions so much weight in our lives? I believe a situation or a problem is placed in front of you to help you grow as a person, not hinder you. We only become weak when value others opinions over our own. One of the greatest gifts of life is that we have the cognitive ability to learn and grow, yet we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons by becoming tangled in this vortex of judgments .

If I’m being completely transparent, I think people’s opinions are irrelevant. Opinions are often based on the internal struggles people have with themselves, and most of the time they don’t have anything to do with the person they are being opinionated about. Yet, we place so much emphasis on them that we allow them to define us, and somewhere throughout this process we lose ourselves.

We need to stay true to what we think and know about ourselves. If we allow other people’s opinions to define us, we sacrifice the ability to grow into our  full potential and lose the opportunity to be the people we could be.

Ray of Light

Every once in a while I find myself overcome with sadness. I’m not sure what causes me to feel such negative feelings, but there they are – trying to make me feel defeated. Perhaps it’s my overly analytical mind causing me to overthink situations and see things that aren’t there. Or, maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me; reinforcing the fear that I won’t be able to accomplish the goals that i’ve set  forth for myself? Whatever the reason, here are these feelings, pushing their way into my positive aura.

Thankfully, I know that these feelings won’t be present for much longer. I can feel positive energy rising inside me, and I know it’s only a matter of time until these unwelcome visitors called fear and insecurity are silenced. I remember a time in my life when I would succumb to the negative feelings inside me and allow them to consume me. Ultimately causing me to feel deep level of sadness that forced me to lose grip with reality. I learned a valuable lesson during these times. I learned to fight for myself. Something in me told me that I needed to understand my value and fight for myself. To understand that the feelings I allow my body to indulge in are a choice, and that I can control how I react and perceive the world.

This has caused me to develop an internal strength I never knew existed, and in times of sadness, I am reminded that my strength and positive energy aren’t something that can easily be defeated.  I understand my worth and fight for my happiness. Being defeated isn’t an option – and this moment of sadness will pass.