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?

We Come Running

Not to try to ratchet up my cool quotient, but I’d heard of Youngblood Hawke long before the American Idol commercials from this most recent season.

First, it’s a very irreverent song. You can’t help to bop to the beat. But, it truly were the lyrics that struck me when I first heard this song. Lyrics like, “Headed for the open door, Tell me what you’re waiting for, Look across the great divide, Soon they’re gunna hear, The sound, the sound, the sound, When we come running.”

When I hear these lyrics I think of someone running free. Being completely unencumbered in their experience. I picture a person sprinting with their arms stretched to the sky, with a huge smile plastered on their face, thinking of nothing but release and possibility.

Pre-living wide, I used to hang on to a lot of things with an unflinchingly tight grip. Things that I should have released to God, the universe, just in general. I never felt free to completely let go. To be carefree. What I love about this song is that it reminds me to be irreverent. Why should we feel laced up or tied down by expectations? Why shouldn’t we shatter through these things at a full-tilt run, like football players busting through a paper banner just before game time?

Take that visual with you when an obstacle seems a little to hard.

Sounds Good

Apologies, Living Wide faithful.  I know I’ve been absent these past few weeks, which reminds me, I need to update my bio because the reasons for my truancy are both very good.  First, I’m writing again!!  YAY!!  I have been trucking along on the manuscript for my second book, tentatively titled “Perfect.”

Wait, second book?  Where’s your first book?  I’m glad you asked about that.  See, my first book was a project I started in 2002, one year post-college.  It was a tale I returned to several times over the course of the years, and I was pretty happy with it until 2008 when I decided to rewrite all the parts that I had finished from a completely different point of view.  Why?  I don’t remember really, but it definitely set me back and led to four more years of starting and stopping.  I also can’t tell you why I couldn’t just get it together and finish the first draft, but after a while, I had to admit to myself that things weren’t working.  It had been nearly 10 years and still no book.  Late last year, I made the conscious decision to admit that I’d failed.  That my first book wasn’t the story I needed to write in this moment.

Accompanying that decision was a batch of my soul searching over the past couple of months, during which I realized something pretty important… I want to follow my dreams.  I know that’s something everyone says, but few actually do.  Well, I think you’ve realized by now, if I am anything, I am the follow-through-girl.  I’m also a little bit crazy and daring (hello, quitting my job).  So I decided to do the ultimate wakadoo thing and have faith in myself.  Faith that whether I would be published or not, whether people liked the story I had to tell or not, I was going to write a book.

I picked up one of the ideas I had filed away and started to play with it around October of last year.  And bam, I was writing again.  I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and then I stopped for grad school finals, and then I wrote again.  Oh, did I mention that’s the other reason?  Grad school?  Like I said I’m a little nutty… new job, grad school and writing my first/second novel all at the same time.  But I digress….  I finally found my story, and I promised myself, even if it kills me, I will finish it and someone, I don’t know who or how many, will get to read it.

Now that you know the why, let’s get to the fun part.  I’ve decided to challenge myself even more.  Again, what is she thinking?!?  I know, but roll with it would you?  So every day in the month of April I am going to post an inspirational song that is Living Wide-themed, and hopefully will encourage you all to follow your dreams too.  I’m calling it the Soundtrack for Successful Failure.  I will also accept submissions for songs that make you want to stop living small, break out of your box, and chase the horizon.  I can’t wait take this journey with you all!  Who’s bringing the snacks?

Love,
Me

Reboot

When I was pondering this post, I realized that up until 30 or so years ago, the term “reboot” did not exist. Or at least it didn’t exist in popular vernacular. Can you imagine, what did people say when they needed to convey the idea of restart/renew/reinvention? Well, they likely used one of those, but reboot means so much more than that.

By definition, a reboot is the reloading of an operating system following the restart of an electronic device. For some reason, your computer is “having a day,” and needs to refresh its electronic synapses. Now, I’m no IT expert, but I do know anytime I have a computer issue, my first step is always to reboot. Primarily because I know that if I call an actual IT guy (or gal), that’s the first thing they’re going to tell me to do, but also because I’ve worked with computers long enough to know that this is generally the chicken soup for almost all ills of the digital age. As I’ve marinated on this idea of living wide over the past few days, I realized that there’s a certain amount of foundational work that has to be done for someone like me who is somewhat predisposed to live small. More specifically, there needs to be some introspection and self reflection. Questions need to be asked and honestly answered. And ultimately, there needs to be a large scale reboot.

As it stands, I know my current operating system will have difficulty recognizing the idea of living wide. It would be like trying to run Apple’s Lion on an average, everyday PC.* Neither is designed to be easily compatible with the other. Each has a different approach or philosophy to operating. It stands to reason that if one is going to “talk” to the other, they need help speaking the same language. Basically, I could reboot until the cows come home—change my job, learn a new skill, go on a dream vacation—but it’s not going to fix the base problem. Invariably I’ll realize, these were goals I achieved, and yes, they gave me hints at living wide, but they were only hints. When my primary issue is my mindset and the limitations that exist there, my new software has nothing to effectively adhere to. If I am to successfully live wide, I need to identify what it is at the DNA level that keeps me cycling back to living small. Then, I’ll know this upgrade to living wide will actually work.

Earlier, I identified one of the primary traits of someone who lives wide – the automatic response/reaction of, “Why not?” What keeps me from saying this and meaning it every time? All good questions, to which my answer is… more questions:

  • Why do I fear failure? If an idea or goal doesn’t work out, why do I internalize this as the “end of the world?”
  • How much security would be enough? Is there truly a number in a bank account or collection of things that will make me feel 100% safe?
  • Why do I push against asking for help so ferociously?
  • Why do I make God small? Why am I convinced His abilities have a limit? He created the universe for goodness sake!
  • Why do I feel unworthy of love, companionship, aid, accolades, compliments, etc.?
  • Why am I not more selfish with my time, energy, heart, etc.?
  • Why am I so selfish with my time, energy, heart, etc.?

If I’m truly going to make a go at this idea of living wide, these are all questions I need to answer. Thoughts on other questions I should consider?

 

*Calm down techno nerds, I know this is actually possible with the right “tools.” Just go with the illustration please.