I was asked a few months back why I wanted to start a blog. At first, the question was annoying to me. Well, for starters everyone has one for sales, their stories, or pictures. It’s what has made social media so remarkably popular. We all crave connection. We want to learn from, be informed, and be entertained. So, why should I bother starting a blog when there is already millions upon millions of them out there? No one knows my work and if I don’t show it off (the good, the bad, and the terrible) it’s a disservice to myself and anyone who very well may read it. I wanted an outlet. At seven, I learned to write short stories. At nine, I wrote poetry to release my feelings after a really lousy day on the playground (sand is not good for the eyes). The pen and paper could not yell at me. I felt constricted and frustrated until the words were out. As I grew up, the poetry advanced to reflective thoughts and then humor. Who knows what time it was or how much time had passed. I just wanted to use my imagination. I got photo books and put my poetry in them after re-writing a few lines and making it neat to showcase. (I still have two full books in my closet, though they haven’t been read since I was little.) The other day, standing in my kitchen, I was pondering the “Why do I write?” question again. I felt after so many years that the Universe decided to help me fully process the answer. I write for people who don’t know how to say the words they want to say themselves. I write for myself words I want to say but for whatever reason, cannot say out loud. In my family, you don’t always hear I love you. Someone’s actions are the words. A cute Hallmark card-check. A lunch out-check. A few dollars to spend-check. I write to help remind myself that I matter. My work is written for those people who also need to know from their friends or loved ones that they matter. Maybe my personal flaw is that I can do feelings. Not everyone is or wants to be overly sentimental. For as long as I can remember, I’ve read books, watched the Hallmark movies, and written the poetry because it’s what I need. My humorous poetry has been a tribute to those in my life and their situations. It’s my way of sharing my feelings simply. I write my blog to relate to others and share what matters.
One of my favorite things about being a mom are the things that my kids (both middle schoolers) say. While they can most certainly get on my last nerve sometimes (moms have 24 individual ones according to a friend’s son), the way a tween or teenager’s mind works can definitely provide some comic relief.
Last week, my kids were out of school for Spring Break. I was sitting at the computer trying to do some more research for the blog. My 12 year old daughter was watching some of her favorite Magcon boys on YouTube (if you don’t what Magcon is, please Google this. Tween girls everywhere will thank you). Out of the blue, my daughter looked at me with a straight face and said “Maryland is in Pennsylvania, right?” I couldn’t help but smile. My mini-me is a very smart kid, but when the kids have time off from school everything shuts down like Chic Fil A on Sunday. Kids can have their moments too, right? My husband and I try to teach them everything we can through the questions they ask or the situations they are pondering. So, we used this moment for a geography lesson of the Northeast states. Followed by whether or not Virginia was a northern state or southern one (I’m from Virginia and consider it northern myself). One of my other favorite conversations with my daughter was when we were discussing the 80’s and 90’s. I fully admit to being an 80’s child. We “did” the big hair (although mine was permed) and wore the brightly colored jewelry. I was damn proud of my red Reebok high-top sneakers too. They were all that. My daughter insisted that she was a 90’s child. I asked what she knew about the decade. She mentioned the show Full House and named off a couple of musical artists like MC Hammer and 3 Doors Down and said “The 1990’s ended in 2004.” Okay, dear.
Most years, we try to plan a summer vacation as a family. It started out as a bit of a tradition in 2005 when we took the kids on their first trip to the Smoky Mountains. Ever since then, we try new places to encourage them to see or try something new (my son has quite the food palate now thanks to our Louisiana trips). One of their favorite places is Destin, Florida. We had booked a trip to Destin last year, as it had been awhile since we visited. The beach town had a mini golf and go-kart track near our hotel. Huge plus here as my kids love to race their dad. They have both said to me after their turn was up “See, Mom! I don’t need a bicycle. I know how to drive!”
A day in a parent’s life is never dull 🙂
Most of us are familiar with the classic Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s a story about a princess who is searching for her true love and the obstacles she encounters at the hands of the antagonist, the Evil Queen. The Evil Queen expects to hold the title of the “fairest in the land” by tricking Snow White into eating a poisonous apple. Truthfully, we all hope to be Snow White and have our expectations met. However, even fairytales have shown us how hard that can be.
Sometimes, it is easy to have our expectations met because we are trying to accomplish something. We can set ourselves up to achieve the goal by writing it down, working on it a little at a time, and succeeding (or failing) based on how much we value the goal. But what happens when the Universe just says no? Just yesterday, I had some goals I wanted to accomplish. I had planned on running some errands, maybe doing some grocery shopping and getting some housework done. Unfortunately for me, life didn’t see the day as I did. I had hoped to get the errands done early but instead, my expectations disintegrated when I ran into quite an annoying snag on a phone call. The phone call took a lot more time and brain power than was needed. I wanted to get out of the house by a certain time, but that wasn’t happening. I let the phone call ruin my day.
Why do we have expectations in the first place? Is it because we want to experience what we believe or hope for? The law of detachment says to allow things to be as they are. But how often do we do this? I know I don’t do it as much as I should. I ended up feeling disappointed because the Universe wasn’t in agreement with the plan in my head. Perhaps the older we get, the more we need to understand why it’s so important not to have expectations. Not everyone has the same plan that you do. Often at the end of the waiting game, if we choose to just “go with the flow” we don’t end up feeling negative at all. Yes, those feelings of disappointment are a fact of life sometimes. But they don’t need to be how we feel permanently. Simply, the less we expect disappointment the easier life is.
The best way in overcoming the anticipation of always expecting your goals to be met is to just accomplish what you can. It’s not to say others don’t (and won’t) help with the accountability. Just be on the same page when you ask for their help. Don’t let your best friend drag you down because she didn’t want to help with the cookie project you wanted done. On a Friday night. At 6:00 p.m. Agree on how you want to accomplish your goals and stick to it. If by making a plan, you meet your goal, great! But expectations can feel like it’s the end of the world when they aren’t met. It’s not. The prince did not give up on Snow White when he found his true love. He fought for her by defeating the Evil Queen. How would the Disney story be today had he not? Expectations are poisonous to our health, but only if we let them be.
Have you struggled with your expectations of how something should be?
In the summer of 2009, my husband and I took a trip to San Diego, California. Other than a layover in Los Angeles, I’d never been to the West Coast before. (This trip was partially so I could see what my husband was up to during his Marine Corps days). I hopped off the plane and automatically loved seeing palm trees and sunshine. The scenery was a lot different than what I was used to in the airports from my East Coast trips.
For months leading up to our visit, my husband swore he wanted me to try his favorite Mexican chain, Alberto’s. They had the best carne asada burritos according to him. I was never a burrito fan, but wanted to indulge him. Unfortunately, after driving around one night from Temecula’s wine country, we never did find one. So we went back to our temporary apartment in the Gaslamp. (The Gaslamp is the place to eat and do things). Being that is was near 10 pm on a Sunday, we walked around trying to find a Mexican restaurant that just happened to be open. The nightlife was in full swing, if people screaming on the sidewalk and loud music from nearby venues was any indication. The restaurant, of which I can’t recall the name, changed my life. Not surprisingly, we were the only ones in the dimly-lit space. The radio was on as we quickly ordered carne asada burritos and margaritas. The order came out lightning-fast and the first bite of the carne asada burrito was..eh. I couldn’t tell under the red lights of our table if my husband was pleased or just curiously awaiting my reaction. As I continued eating, the sensation hit me. The “this is nothing to write home about” moments led to the “What in the hell just happened?” moment. Somewhere along the way, my taste buds changed my mind about carne asada burritos. They were phenomenal with a capital P.
Life is the same way. When you feel stuck in your life, what makes you feel good? What moments like my new love for carne asada burritos have you just stopping in your tracks and thinking “Why haven’t I taken up surfing/crocheting/ parasailing/ drama class sooner? One of the first clues in life about taking on something new is that it often unexpected. These are the “go” moments that tell your heart when to begin. A lot of people (myself included) often claim we don’t know where to begin. I had been eating Mexican food since I was a child and never recalled tasting Mexican this yummy. In addition, I found something wonderful in something so simple. We never know when we get up in the morning when something or someone will change our lives. The crazy thing is sometimes, the new event even happens in weird Stay open to the odd, funny, or even embarrassing ways that the universe will say “Yes!”
I’m not sure how we missed Alberto’s as they appear to be all over the San Diego area. However, I’m kind of glad we went to the Gaslamp restaurant instead. 🙂
I have a few confessions to make.
I’m a Reese Witherspoon fan. I have also seen her movie Legally Blonde close to twenty times. If you have never seen the movie, Witherspoon plays Elle Woods, a rich sorority girl who studies fashion merchandising in California; until her equally rich law school-bound boyfriend breaks up with her. Elle decides to attend law school herself, after reading about her ex’s brother in a magazine. Elle takes the LSAT (the law school admission test) and gets into Harvard Law School. She moves across the country with what seems her entire bedroom and her Pomeranian, Bruiser. While the story is a little extreme, the point of the story is not.
We all suffer through many learning curves in our lives. As with anything new, it can be difficult, especially at the rate in which we learn a concept (Elle went through this A LOT). While not exactly a slow learner, I have always been a bit of an underdog. Did I learn to tie my shoes by the time I was 3? No. Ride a bicycle by the time I was 5? No, again. Don’t get me started on math (I did summer school at the end of 9th grade because Algebra just wasn’t my thing and still isn’t). This blog has even been a bit of a learning curve. My point is that there is no level anyone can achieve in life that takes learning away. We can be a prominent businessperson and still struggle with our business at times, be a college graduate learning how to navigate the world that no longer has strict rules, or the little kid still learning how to ride that bicycle. In my own experience with learning curves, I’ve had to remember a few things:
-Accept where you are at in life and start there: As the saying goes, the only way out is through. Please don’t misunderstand this as sitting still. Absolutely not. I’ve had to take stock of how I learn to be okay with moving forward. I’m not going to understand someone telling me how to operate a Mac computer the first time (could be because I’m a visual learner). However, learning comes from doing. Wouldn’t you rather learn it and make mistakes than to guess how it works later?
The second part of this stage is what comedian Steve Harvey refers to as the “when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired” stage. Raise your hand if you have been here. I started this blog after getting tired of hearing myself say “I want to start a blog.” Sure, the learning curve is steeper than those steps I climbed on a 5th grade field trip, but can’t we all look back and think “If I didn’t go through that situation, I wouldn’t be smarter/wiser/more aware today?” Give yourself points for that.
Your journey is the only one that matters: In other words, don’t compare your journey in life to others’. We all go through this with our inner mean person and wish we had the nicer car, smoother hair or the cutest dog at the Westminster Dog Show. But ask yourself how much energy you really want to spend thinking about how awesome someone else’s life is. We are always learning where we can improve. It’s why we are here on Earth in the first place. That is our purpose.
By the end of Legally Blonde, Elle Woods learned that despite some tough situations and a rough beginning to law school, all she ever needed was a little faith in herself. Make peace with the fact you may not always get something right the first time, but you owe it to yourself to keep going. You never know where a road could lead!