My Sandpaper Year

Photo from  Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr.

Photo from Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr.

Reflecting on 2014, I imagine any number of the thoughts that have crossed my mind are likely the same ones that have occurred to other people about the last 12 months of life. I could have done a little more of this and a little less of that. I could have been a better friend/sister/daughter [fill in your superlative here]. Nostalgia always tends to abound this time of year.

As I reviewed the chronicle of my own experience, however, I realized something pretty profound. This was one of my sandpaper years.

My what now?

I know it’s an odd term, but let me explain. Everyone, whether they realize it or not, has years that shape them more than most. Years where some things about who you are as a person are buffed smooth, and other rougher spots you didn’t even realize existed, get exposed. It’s a year where not a lot seems easy, and you feel mostly like Sisyphus, continuously rolling a boulder uphill just to watch it slide down the other side and have to do it all over again. In short, a sandpaper year.

Photo from  Beth Scupham via Flickr.

Photo from Beth Scupham
via Flickr.

If I’m being honest, I’ve actually had a couple of back-to-back sandpaper years. Self-inflicted, unfortunately. Without getting too detailed, let’s just say I made an awful lot of big decisions that should have been better thought and prayed through, and I didn’t do much of either. I panicked when faced with my future and thought I knew what was best for myself, but lack of counsel proved otherwise, and, well, there you go.

And for the sake of continued honesty, I didn’t do a whole lot of living wide during that time either. Sure there were glimmers here and there, but mostly I defaulted. I cocooned in and braced myself for the hard knocks as much as I could, much like a boxer backed into a corner, just trying to survive the round.

But, here’s what’s important; I learned something.

I realized I am far stronger than I ever thought possible. More often than not, I was the only support system propping me up and that made me push forward. I also realized, being a strong individual isn’t nearly as strong as the supportive bond of connection and friendship. A person is never truly an island, and those that believe so are fooling themselves. And, I came to the conclusion that truly knowing what you want, in life, in your career, in love, in general, should never be denied. Why? Because you will always seek it. Conscious, unconscious, you will always seek it, and be dissatisfied and completely and utterly restless until you finally chase after it.

So here I am, crossing over the threshold of another new year and wondering what to do. One thing’s for sure, my priority list is much different than it ever has been, and that is going to make for an interesting 12-month adventure.

Happy 2015, everyone! After a few lost years, I have resolved to get back to living wide. How about you?

The Sun Will Rise

I warned you all. Kelly Clarkson is up next for the Soundtrack for Successful Failure. Again a case of right life space, right song. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say “The Sun Will Rise,” from Clarkson’s album “Stronger,” came along at a time when I needed the reminder that, inevitably, the sun will, in fact, rise.

Every new day has a dawn. At some point, we’ve all lost our light, but, eventually, it will be alright.

Let’s not mistake, my life isn’t filled with unending trials. In fact, at the moment, it’s pretty good. But, we all go through dark periods. Those moments where we don’t feel like the veil will ever lift. That we’re in a desolate winter in desperate need of a little sunshine.

That’s what “The Sun Will Rise” means to me. Another day, another chance, another moment. To what? To prove you’ve got this. Whatever it is, you’ve got this because you’re shining light when others want to be a dark cloud.

For the First Time

Matt Wertz crossed my path a few years ago. I knew that a friend was attending his concert, and always eager to learn more about new music, I looked him up. I liked his style. He was good, I had to admit, but it wasn’t until his most recent album “Weights & Wings” that I truly appreciated his songwriting.

His song, “For the First Time” is very special to me.

I first hear this song when I was contemplating starting a blog. I’d been thinking about the vision I had regarding my life for a long time, and then the turning point happened.

His lyric, “For the first time, I finally realized, I’m what’s in the way,” really struck me. I came to the hard conclusion that I was what was in my own way. In terms of being happy, of moving on, of living wide, I was what was in my way.

I think in a lot of ways, we all get in our own way. We let obstacles seem too big. We let dreams seem to unattainable. We believe there are limits. But really, aren’t those limits all in our own heads? Aren’t we really what is in the way?

So, riddle me this, how can you get out of your own way in terms of living wide?

Flesh and Bone

I’m a bit late with today’s post because I was actually at a concert. Appropriate, right? So, here we are, day 3-ish of Living Wide’s Soundtrack for Successful Failure. How’s everyone feeling so far? I have to admit I am loving the challenge I’ve laid out for myself. Mostly because it has encouraged me to scour the thousands of songs that I personally own and the millions that I simply love to form the perfect playlist of encouragement.

As I said to friends, recently, music has really been speaking into my life of late. Not that it doesn’t always have a place, what I mean to say is I’ve been stumbling across some really great songs/albums/artists that are truly putting my life to beat and my heart to a melody.

One such band is The Killers, whose song “Flesh and Bone” kind of speaks for itself.

When I first heard The Killers many years ago, I thought they were good, but that was about it. Truthfully, I hadn’t given them much thought until I stumbled across them again a few weeks ago while building a playlist for my novel. Yes, I’m that nerdy. Anyway, I listened to their newest album “Battle Born” based on a recommendation, and I fell in love. Not just with a specific song—you’ll be introduced to three throughout the month—but with the whole album. It’s filled with songs of being challenged, tested, defeated and triumphant.

In the chorus, you’ll hear, “What are you afraid of, and what are you made of, flesh and bone.” A great reminder that we are all vulnerable AND strong, which can fortify us as much as it terrifies us. Gotta love the dichotomy.

Still looking for suggestions. Anyone have a Soundtrack suggestion? Make sure to leave a comment.

Anything Could Happen

Woohoo! Here we are at day two of Living Wide’s Soundtrack for Successful Failure. How’s it going so far for everyone?

Today’s song came to me when I was at a really low moment a few months ago. As you all know, at about that time, I made a pretty bold decision to walk away from something that was safe on paper, for something that could have completely blown up in my face. I needed to do something radical, and it terrified me.

Now, I am a firm believer that songs have a habit of coming to us just as we need them, and that’s what Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Could Happen” was for me; a right place, right time kind of song.

I’m not sure if it was the instrumentation, the melody or the lyrics really, but it was infectious, and it made me start thinking things could get better. Even when at my lowest, there was always hope.

Sometimes that hope is bright, and sometimes that hope is single grain of sand that is irritating enough to eventually produce a pearl. Regardless, it’s hope.

“Anything Could Happen” reminds me that there are no limits other than what we put on ourselves. Anything, truly anything can happen in this life, it’s just a matter of being open to it.

Remember, I’m open to commentary and your suggestions as well. Be sure to bring them on.