Thoughtful Thursday

It’s been a challenging week for sure. I came down with a bad cold that sort of knocked me off my feet. Except, when you’re an adult and have children, you don’t have the option to be down very long. But after as much rest as I could possibly manage, I’m beginning to feel like my normal spunky self again…so I thought I’d jump on here quickly before the NyQuil kicks in (lol).

One thing that has increasingly been on my mind lately is CONTENTMENT.

Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.

I used to primarily associate the idea of being content with material things. If a person is content, they’re less inclined to fill their lives with endless material things. That statement certainly carries some weight. However, I’ve come to realize contentment in more than a few areas of my life and it has brought me a great deal of peace. I no longer feel the need to be surrounded by people to fill any sort of void or uncomfortableness with being “alone”. I’m content with what I have to offer myself in the way of self love and encouragement; no longer yearning for affirmation in one way or another from others. I’m content with just trying my best each day and having faith in what my life has in store without constantly living for the next moment.

Our society thrives off of flaunting their accomplishments, and with the help of social media, provides many outlets on which to do so.  While that may serve as motivation to some, I’m learning the beauty in doing things a little quieter in life and how much satisfaction comes from recognizing areas of personal growth (even if those thoughts never leave my mind or heart).

And on that note, here’s a picture of me and my two biggest sources of contentment (and happiness) in life:

Letting Go 


I slowly placed the lid over the top of the candle on the nightstand. As I sat back on the bed with tears streaming down my face, I watched as the flame flickered out. It felt oddly symbolic. Just five days before my 31st birthday, I was once again reminded of the weight of being an adult. Having to make decisions that hurt so bad in the moment, but the mature you knowing deep down it was right; right for future you, right for your children. So I took a deep breath and I let go. Physically, I let the tears go. Mentally and emotionally I freed myself of what was, what could’ve been, and I remembered this: there is never a better time to start anew than the present. So I closed my eyes and awaited the sunrise. The first sunrise of the rest of my life.

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow” ~ Caroline Moss

January Fog 

It’s another blurry winter morning in January. As I begin my climb up that all-too-familiar hill, I watch as a low layer of fog rolls through; steadily blanketing the atmosphere in between the mountains that encompass the heavily congested highways leading in and out of the Central Valley. Most days, the sun takes the place of the dreariness here, intensifying the colors of the rolling green slopes, freckled with yellow wildflowers. But as much as I love that view, the fog brings with it a curious calmness, as does the stillness of the wind turbines whose rotations never failed to hold my gaze as a child. Occasionally, when traffic is especially unbearable, I sneak through the back of the hills and catch a closer glimpse of the massive, well-known structures.


That time of year has come yet again, where most people have a very clear and concise idea of how they want to spend the next 12 months and what they want to have accomplished by the end of it. Not me. Just as I have come to love the fog as much as the sunshine in a physical sense, so I have come to embrace the periods of fogginess in my life. Realizing that although the lack of clarity may hinder my view of what’s ahead, the unknown is more magical than it is scary. Having more trust in the universe and my place in it then ever before.

With a new year ahead, I know that just as the texture and color on those hills and the air surrounding will continue to change with the season, so will I. Each phase being beautiful in it’s own way and somehow necessary to the next.

“Don’t stress so much about settling on a path for 2017. The division of time into years is a human invention, and fact is every moment of every day is another opportunity for resolution and growth. So when the fireworks fly, relax and enjoy the moment. The rest will come to you.” ~ Beau Taplin

Transition

“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” – Anonymous

I’m not sure those words could reflect more accurately how I’ve been feeling as I approach my 30th birthday. Time has evaded me. Almost three decades on this intricate planet of ours and I still have an overwhelming amount of self-awareness to achieve. I would file the past three years in particular under “lessons learned” and “harsh realities”. Life changing for both the good and the bad. In that time, I have managed to experience some of the most exhilarating moments of my life; hit rock bottom (or what I certainly hope is my rock bottom), both emotionally and financially; seen some of the ugliest sides of life, as well as people (myself included); rebuilt some relationships and abandoned others completely; and struggled with a mountain of guilt, regret, and loss (not all in that order).

There have been times I didn’t think I could possibly feel more alone…imprisoned in my own whirling thoughts. Times I didn’t think I could feel more alive and enlightened. And times I truly didn’t know how or what to feel, so I sort of just stopped feeling. But that, I’ve come to understand and embrace, is life. The only thing predictable about it is it’s unwavering ability to be unpredictable.

This period of transition I find myself on the brink of is pivotal to my evolution. No, the earth won’t stop turning the day I turn 30; nor will life suddenly change in some sort of drastic or abrupt way. However, the opportunity presents itself to exhale the negative from the past decade of my life (a decade full of self doubt and self scrutiny, more rash decisions than I’d like to recall, and more hard losses than I was able to cope with) and to instead breathe in a new decade. One of potential, one where I focus on self love, personal growth, and strengthening my ability to be more patient and understanding of others, and most importantly, MYSELF.

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Note to My Dad

Last night I picked up your guitar for the first time in years. The acoustic one you used to play us. I dug it out of the back closet, dusted it off, and strummed the strings slowly. Maybe I thought if I did I could hear your singing voice more vividly in my head. I’m scared. Three years and I feel like I’m losing grasp of some of my memories of you. Yesterday I actually sat through the entire song I had picked out for your funeral without crying. Why does that make me feel a tinge of guilt? Time heals….healing is good right?

You’d be so proud of me; that I know with certainty. My boys, your Grandson’s, are growing up to be such sweet, respectable individuals. They would make you smile and laugh every day. I have a great career I know you’d love to hear about. You and Mom raised a strong, independent woman. And the man that has blessed my life, boy would you love him. He’s musically gifted like you and works well with his hands.

Life is good now, even though I wish I could show you.

When you were in the hospital bed, I held your hand and I sang to you. I think you heard me, because I saw a tear roll down your cheek. The song we sang growing up:

 

I remember daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer
And reachin’ out to hold me, when I had a nightmare
You could read quite a story in the callous’ and lines
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind

 

I remember daddy’s hands how they held my mama tight
And patted my back for something done right
There are things that I’d forgotten that I loved about the man
But I’ll always remember the love in daddy’s hands

 

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’
Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand
There was always love in daddy’s hands

 

I remember daddy’s hands workin’ ’til they bled
Sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed
If I could do things over, I’d live my life again
And never take for granted the love in daddy’s hands

 

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’
Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand
There was always love in daddy’s hands

 

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I have plenty more to tell you. Until next time, Dad.

 

 

Friday

It’s Friday morning. The only weekday morning I don’t have my children. This usually means I can wake up to the sunlight peeking through the shades, rather than the sound of fighting over whose bowl of cereal is more full or the nails on chalkboard sound of cartoon characters blaring through the TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love those little monsters with every fiber in my body. But the silence and ease of Friday mornings remains idyllic.

As I listen to music and get ready for my day, I look to the coming weekend with anticipation. I have a few things planned, but for the most part, I’m free (which doesn’t happen often enough). I decide to head to my favorite coffee shop in town. It’s downtown and completely out of my way to work, but I love the place. The inside is too small for the amount of patrons they see on a daily basis; especially on Saturday mornings when people are out enjoying the farmer’s market. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in charm. The establishment is a reminder of the small town that this rapidly growing commuter location once was. The young employees are always eager and cheery and dare I say, actually seem to enjoy their job. Their Chai lattes (my drink of choice) taste earthy and robust, unlike the over processed/syrupy concoction Starbucks has to offer. Their bagels are always so fresh and toasted to perfection. It’s just one of those things in life that make me happy, albeit small and seemingly insignificant.

Upon walking in, I see familiar faces. A group of old retired men that sit there every morning chatting about sports and politics. I wonder how many of them consider that the highlight of their day. I’m reminded that no matter our age, we never lose that need to belong, to be in the company of peers. I also see a Grandma sitting with her little Granddaughter, enjoying a drink and something sweet. The smile on both of their faces is so bright that I can’t help but smile myself. They are unsuccessfully taking a “selfie”, so I offer to take their picture for them. The Grandma gladly relinquishes the phone to me and tells me they are having a special “Grandma/Granddaughter Day”. Growing up, I never had Grandparents I was close to and in that quick moment, I was happy to have captured the memory they were making together. How beautiful that life offers us so many different types of relationships to nourish and enjoy.

As I wait for my order, I sit at an empty table next to a middle aged woman. She was probably in her mid to late forties, sitting in yoga pants, reading the newspaper and sipping her perfectly foamed cappuccino. I envied her for a second, sitting there enjoying her morning, with no apparent rush. Suddenly she looks over at me with an endearing smile and says: “I love your outfit; your skirt with those cute sandals….very pretty. I saw you walk in and wanted to tell you.” Those are the best compliments, the random ones….with no ulterior motive, no hesitations. I thanked her and headed off to work.

On my drive I thought about those few minutes in the coffee shop. How many people we come across on a daily basis and how we have the power to impact one another with a smile, a kind word, or gesture. How we are all in different stages of our lives and yet we are all in pursuit of the same basic things. I wondered, too, where I’d be when I was that woman’s age, the one that offered the compliment. Approaching my 30th birthday now, feeling the pressure of having life more “together” than I do at this moment, although not really knowing what that entails. Wondering how I will let the events in my life shape me in the next 15-20 years. Will I let them make me bitter or better?  Will I continue to look for the good in people and in the situations that I am faced with?

On this particular Friday morning, however, I am a young, single, working Mother of two. Like the loving Grandma, the relaxed middle aged woman, and the retired comrade’s, I have something to offer to those around me. With drink in hand and head held high, I’m ready to take on the day; and the world for that matter.

coffee

“Wake up early. Drink coffee. Be ambitious, keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It is time to start living.” ~ Anonymous