Posts tagged quotes
Posts tagged quotes
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” - Carl Sandburg
This week marks my 13th Anniversary living in Los Angeles. I recall spending Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas with my road trip buddy, then life jumps immediately to 9/11 which happened days after I arrived in the City of Angels. Never intending to stay here more than the length of my final semester of college I somehow never left. Many times I considered it but the people I met and the opportunities to do interesting, challenging things with my life kept me on the Left Coast. At the rate things are progressing I’ll soon be an Angeleno as much, and then more, than I am a Chicagoan. Not yet, but it is around the corner and by then I expect I’ll be okay with it.
I check in with myself at the beginning of every September to see if I’m comfortable where I am, with how I’ve spent my coin, confirming I’m honoring my self, the hopes and dreams of a 21-year old who moved across the country. That girl has learned a lot - much the hard way. I never stopped giving this city (which I was so skeptical of) many chances to let me fall in love with it again and again. Earning the years I’ve given it, the city is consistently offering up new adventures within its realm. So a Thank You to Los Angeles for exceeding my low expectations and letting me push beyond my own for myself.
Now we will begin our teenage years together. Here’s hoping they aren’t as complicated as my real ones were, but they probably will be considering what is on the horizon for the next five years. One thing is for sure - I plan to spend my coin well on the people I love and the best of this fine city.
I have an ongoing battle with myself.
I love to be busy, working on projects with purpose that require attention to detail, focus and pushing beyond what you’ve done into something new. Challenges are essential to my happiness since striving for better and more seems ingrained in my DNA. It is a default setting where status quo is not satisfactory and striving for better is obvious. The people around me at work and most of my friends are the same way - Type A through and through.
And yet, the high school stoner in me just wants to chill out, take it easy, let things be as they are and accept life as it comes. Take a minute, or a few hours, and let life wash over you as you sit on a couch watching Mad Men, drinking cocktails and conversing with friends. I love doing that too, and often wish life was an endless string of days with nothing on the agenda that I’m required to do, that the world is my oyster with nothing but time to read and write and explore at my own pace.
When that time and space does present itself it doesn’t take long for me to return to Type A mode, requiring me to align my self worth with a project which has structure and a goal. As soon as that takes hold of me again, I wish for the other side of the fence, where I just was, where the grass was greener.
The grass is green on both sides of my fence. Is that a problem? It seems to be, at least right now. If I can’t know how tall I am, so to speak, until I’m in over my head, in the weeds on one side of the fence, how will I ever be happy in the wide open meadows on the other side?
I’m pretty much the only person in the world facing this conundrum, to feel this contradictory push and pull from life. Or maybe (definitely) not…. I realize others share this internal battle, that I’m not alone in feeling torn, not able to thoroughly enjoy and immerse myself in the journey, instead often only seeing the destination. I know I need to improve in this area, and it is not easy. I need people around me to help with that, encourage that in me, show me how it’s done and support me when I attempt balance which I know will feel off-balance to me. But most people are consumed with their own journey and similar balancing acts, with even more things pulling on them. And yet, I feel I can’t do this on my own, that I do need support to make my way through the discomfort of the work it will take to balance the elements of my life.
I’ve been aware of this issue for a while - at least since high school meltdowns when I wanted to do it ALL and could not, just could not, try as I might. The stakes felt crushing then, and now that I’m a responsible adult they haven’t lessened, only increased. And I want to add more to my plate, but need to get better at making room for it all and enjoying everything as I do it, in the moment, and give myself permission to be where I am. I do know how tall I am. I check that all the time, but I don’t need to every single day and I need to understand there is more than one way to know how tall I am, there are many ways to measure one’s self.
Our upcoming trip to Europe will be a good palate cleanser, allowing me to reset and refresh. I need to be dedicated to making a life change, a conscious shift, in how I approach things when we return. I need to stop talking about this problem I have, asking other for advice and allowing myself to feel a victim of my own plethora of wonderful options in life. I need to know how tall I am because I KNOW, not because I’m measuring myself against something. It won’t be easy, but let’s see if I can prove this T.S. Eliot quote wrong and be my own measure of myself as a woman. And who better to learn that from than Europeans with their afternoon siestas, eating baguettes by the Seine and lingering in cafes watching the world go by. I am ready to be taught, and to teach myself, learning as I go.
It has recently been suggested that I should work on the way I present myself. I come across as, well, negative. Because one rarely gets constructive criticism presented directly to their face, especially the kind you know is being imparted from a well-meaning source, it is important to seriously consider.
As the wise words on the paperweight above suggest, you should always be yourself. One should really focus on finding success as themselves because, as the Oscar Wilde saying goes, everyone else is taken. But is there a place between being your authentic self and presenting that self in a way which is palatable to others, as a means to an end?
In thinking about my alleged negativity, I returned to my childhood dinner table where in order to stand out you needed to share one heck of a story. I recall crafting my news of the day as the tale of an underdog success. After a challenging time studying for a Spanish test, tons of other work (who assigns three chapters of Moby Dick in one night?!) and spending hours at an away basketball game we didn’t even win, I still achieved a C+ on that evil Spanish test: my best grade yet that semester. My C+ news would never compete with the achievements of my siblings sharing the table, so I spun a truth highlighting my triumph against adversity. This was hardly necessary all the time (I had my own successes), but wasn’t good news that much better when it came after an explanation of obstacles overcome?!
I wonder if it was then that I got in the bad habit of making my actions look better by contrasting them against the potential disaster that might have been. Over time maybe I felt my successes, which did not come as a result of pulling off a feat as amazing as leaping tall buildings while being chased by Godzilla, but rather genuine skills I acquired from hard work and practice, still could not stand on it’s own. I wanted the situation to almost fall apart only to rise again from the ashes to great success - giving chapters of my life the arc of a movie. It makes sense that someone as obsessed with movies as I am would unconsciously link her own life to a typical film structure.
Or maybe I’m over thinking it all. Maybe I just need to learn to read the room better and not be so jibber-jabbery (as my husband accurately describes me sometimes). Maybe there’s a way to focus on the positive and let the negative go, releasing the qualifiers. Maybe in doing that I will reveal a more authentic me.
I want to get this and frame it for our bedroom so we can always remember that the love we share with one another makes us who we are.
I am concerned about many of the political issues being examined in this, and every, presidential campaign. While not a very political person, I do want to be informed and aware of what’s happening in the government that leads the country I live in. I accept that I will disagree with many choices our president, congress and justices will make. That’s all part of the system; you can’t win every argument and other points of view are valid.
If I were to vote on one issue, it would be a woman’s right to choose. That issue is the line in the sand for me. I do not want the government to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body. I don’t want them to dictate what my sisters or the high school student I mentor or my niece can do with their bodies. Period.
The issues goes well beyond the women’s right to choose. It is an example of how our health and medical matters are managed in this country. Reform is needed and women’s health is one item on a long list of issues to be addressed. It also directly relates to education. Anyone who chooses to have a child should be able to have the opportunity to educate them, well. Let’s start with these and other reforms to take care of the people who exist and who need their government to support not merely their existence in this country, but support their right to a successful, healthy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Feel free to disagree with me. That’s fine. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, but merely want to share my personal opinion. It comes from my knowledge and experience of the real world around me. Thankfully many people have said what I am thinking better than I ever could and today I share their words with me.
If I ever choose to have a child I hope she or he will have the full rights any American, any human, deserves to have. This is a two way street - all people are created equal. I will vote for choice and equality on November 6, 2012.
"As I reached the crest of the hill, a rap-rock band was playing. The justification for rap rock seems to be that if you take really bad rock and put really bad rock over it, the result is somehow good, provided the raps are being barked by an overweight white guy with cropped hair and forearm tattoos. The women from those few little farmhouses had gathered at their fence; they leaned and mumbled and dangled their canes. One of them was one of the oldest-looking old people I have ever seen, with stiff white hair and that face, like the inside of a walnut shell, that only truly ancient women get. She and her friends were actually listening to the rap rock, and part of me wanted to run over to them and assure them that after they died, there would still be people left in the world who knew how horrifying this music was, and that these people would transmit their knowledge to carefully chosen members of future generations, but the ladies did not appear worried. They were even laughing. I’m sure they remembered traveling circuses in the field in eighteen ninety something, and what was the difference, really?"