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.

Youthful Thoughts

 In my most recent post, Aha!, you’ll remember, my 22-year-old self woke-up from a very long nap. Given the vibrant, driven young lady I was more than a decade ago, I wondered, what would she say to me now? Following is one side of an imagined conversation with this newly graduated woman who was once/still is me.

Dear 33-year-old Me,

First, thanks for finally waking me up. Not that I don’t appreciate the Rip VanWinkle-style snooze after 17 straight years of school, but it’s good to be back. So, what’s life like in… 2012? Gosh, that’s so weird to say! Are you an editor at some fancy magazine? Are you married with kids? Gotta admit, I’m kinda curious.

Wow, okay, advice for the future. Before I hit the hay, I remember fielding a lot of questions about what I was going to do, where I was going to go. Truthfully, I have, or had, no idea how to answer them. All I ever really wanted to do was write… well, and travel… and fall madly in love. But I digress.

Because you’re, well, me 11 years in the future, I’m going to shoot it to you straight. No frills, no fuss, no sugar coating. So, here goes.

Travel light – I love the fact that a majority of my possessions fit into the back of my Honda hatchback. There’s something to be said for not having a lot of baggage. So if you’re feeling at all weighed down, cast something off and make sure you only have what you need.

Travel – And for that matter, travel. We were bitten by the bug early, don’t ever let the excitement of being someplace new fade away. Whether you have the money or not, go!

Move towns/cities/states – Are you seeing a theme? Don’t stick. If you stick, you’re stuck. Changing your scene changes your whole attitude. It keeps you from getting set in your ways.

Laugh until you snort – If you’re laughing, laughing hard, then the trying stuff doesn’t seem all that bad. Find a way to laugh so uncontrollably that you actually embarrass yourself.

You’re strong and strong-willed, that’s a very good thing – There’s a reason your friends lean on you when times get tough. It may not look like it, but inside, you’re made of granite and you have a will of steel. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different.

When you don’t know how to say it for yourself, let someone else – You’re a natural-born student. You’re curious and love learning from those who’ve gone before you. If you ever find yourself speechless, let someone else who has lived it, articulated it and say it for you.

Stuff isn’t important, people are – Remember where to invest your time and resources. Friendships can last forever, clothes/jewelry/things won’t.

Honor a good story, no matter how it’s told – Everyone’s got their opinions about format, word choice, tense, you name it. But if it’s a good story, honor it, no matter how the author deems to present it.

Go with your gut – You know your gut has never steered you wrong. That little twinge or prickle that tells you something’s not right or take a leap, listen to it. Regardless of the outcome, it will be an adventure.

Change is a good thing – Many fear change. They don’t want to step out of their comfort zone, but that’s never been you. Change has been a part of your life since you can remember. Stepping out in faith is part of who you are. Rest assured that it will all work out in the end.

And remember, you’ve got this. If you don’t know what to do, you’ll figure it out. You’re resourceful, you always have been. Add stubborn to that and you’ve got a lethal combination.

Oh Joy

Several years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to stop making New Year’s resolutions. Like most, I never kept mine for long, and I started to hate the idea of making a promise to myself that I never intended to keep. So, I gave up the practice and opted instead to resolve that I would follow through and accomplish goals as they became necessary in my life.

This year, I’m making an exception. This year, I resolve to open myself up to joy. To live wide, I’ve realized you have to be as open as you are aware. Sure, you can be aware of a “Why not?” opportunity, but you won’t fully learn from it unless you are open to what it has to teach you.

I think the reason a regular occurrence of joy has eluded me is because truly experiencing joy requires a willingness to abandon all restraint. Restraint is the polar opposite of joy, and leaning toward restraint has always been my comfort zone. But, it is a new year, and it is two months after I decided to pursue the idea of living wide. Now is not the time to gravitate toward what makes me feel safe. Now is the time to ask the question, “What do I want out of my life?”

In this moment it is joy. I want to do things that bring me joy. I want to be a joy to others. And I want to feel the effervescence of joy as much as possible in 2012. I’m not sure exactly what this will look like, but as I open up to joy and pursue a life of living wide, I’ll make sure to chronicle my encounters here.

Day One of 2012: I am open to the joy of new beginnings, and I gifted myself the joy of perfectly purple fingernails.