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?

Turn the Page

So long 2012. Can’t say I’m sorry to see you go. To be honest, you weren’t all that bad, but nonetheless, don’t let the door hit ya and all. Buh bye.

Normally, I’m a little sentimental about a new year. I usually try to be positive and think about all the good things that have happened over the course of the previous 12 months. And don’t get me wrong… good things have happened. I was able to leave a job that was not the right fit for me anymore, and walk into a new position that seems much better. I also got accepted into a pretty great grad school program and started taking classes. Not to mention, my friends all hit major milestones, of which I was able to be a part of.

But ultimately, 2012 was the cap of a trying set of years that I am very ready to leave behind. In frankness, Living Wide came along directly in the middle of that season. We’ll call it the brush fire season. Why, you ask. Well, the brush fire is an interesting phenomenon. Pretty much every year, the air gets a little too dry, and the sun a little too hot, which results in a brush fire. It generally rips through everything that is old and decaying, scorching the earth until it’s barren and unrecognizable. In the end, it is so damaged, that most believe, there is no way it could ever recover. But then, something miraculous happens… things start to grow. The land pushes back against the devastation and trauma it endured to become fruitful again. In fact, new things emerge that simply couldn’t have grown unless they were exposed to fire.

It wasn’t until recently that I started to feel that way… fruitful again.

I’ve taken the time to look at who I’ve become over the past few years, and frankly, for a time, I haven’t liked her. She was complacent, afraid, trapped, easily convinced, misguided, weak. She wasn’t brave… not in the slightest. She lacked many things, most of which, was a spine. Harsh words to speak about one’s self, but that doesn’t make them any less true.

If you’ve been following along on this journey, Living Wide started with a death. A very unexpected death of a man who should have had many more years left to live, but didn’t. Who managed to live more life in his time on Earth than most people I know and seemed to have a blast doing it. As I watched those who cared about him say goodbye, I knew that the woman I saw reflected back at me in the mirror every day was a degradation of who I used to be, and it was time to reclaim her.

In 2013, that journey continues. This year, I turn the page.  I’ve decided I will be braver. That I will push out of my comfort zone and stop worrying so much about what is the “right thing to do.” The times I’ve rejected that “right thing” and flung myself blindly into my faith in the Lord, I’ve been rewarded more richly than I ever thought possible. So, in 2013, there is no “right thing,” there’s only the horizon.

Tell me who you hope to be in 2013? Leave a comment.

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.