Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Series of Un(fortunate) Events

So, its definitely been a while...

The past handful of weeks has felt like somewhat of an eternal downward spiral. Just as soon as I’d cross one hurdle another immediately jutted up directly in front of me. These new challenges coupled with the ones I knew were lingering in the distance for me to overcome eventually really got to be more than I could wrap my head around. Just for kicks and grins, here’s the running list of said ‘series of unfortunate events’.
6 weeks ago, I found out I was going to lose a couple close friends to a job relocation across the country… this wouldn’t have packed as harsh a sting had it not been completely out of the blue and had it not been people who had somehow gone from complete strangers to family in less than a year.
5 weeks ago, my grandmother died: She is probably the most influential person I’ve ever had the pleasure and honor of sharing time on this earth with, and to have to say goodbye to her just about shut me down.
4 weeks ago, someone ripped off my check card number and drained my bank account. This also, wouldn’t have been quite as catastrophic had it not been 48 hours before the end of one month and beginning of another.  Despite having numerous rounds with BB&T, they refused to refund any of my money until they had investigated everything.
3 ½ weeks ago, I got into a blowout with the family I’ve considered my own for years, and came way too close to burning a bridge I’m not quite sure I’ve even finished crossing yet. We don’t need to go there. You know that feeling when you’ve let frustration get the best of you, and you explode, not caring who you catch in the cros fire, and you feel better for about 30 seconds… until your stomach falls out your ass because you know you just did some serious damage? That was me… and that’s all I have to say about that.
3 weeks ago I worked 52 hours in less than three days, not sleeping from Tuesday until 2:30am Friday morning. I was complete and total zombie status by the end of that week, but was so excited to have put in so many hours because it would have just put me over the top to pay for all the major anticipated expenses for the summer. What a huge sigh of relief.
2 weeks ago, I was leaving after dropping off my favorite 3 year old from one of our last “Adventure Days” before he moved to TX and in my haste to get everything in my car, I put my $1,600 MacBook Pro on top of my car. My passenger side door was locked, which is where I placed my computer... So I guess I walked around to get my keys, put the things in my arms on the driver’s side, put the rest in my trunk, and drove away. No, you didn’t miss the part where I walked back to the passenger side to put my laptop safely in the car. Bon voyage, $1,600 and 2+ irreplaceable years of my life. Despite walking the 5 miles from their house to mine, filing a police report, and going door to door; no sign of it since. Now that’s an EPIC fail.
1 week ago, I had to say goodbye to said friends and their little boy. To say that that ripped my heart out would be somewhat of a massive understatement. In the absence of a “text book normal” family, it has become somewhat second nature for me to consider others as my own. So to lose people I consider as such, felt twice the loss. If there is one thing I’ve learned this summer, it’s that heartache really and truly is a physical pain.
All in that week, the dogs I were pet sitting absolutely destroyed the deck furniture while I was gone and I had to let the people know… looking like an idiot. I locked my keys in my car… twice. I got bit by a brown recluse spider, which obviously didn’t kill me, but didn’t hurt anything shy of ‘like hell’… My checks stopped working, so I had no access to my bank account in any way, shape, or form… which ultimately ended in me having to call friends a couple times to bail me out for dinner. That was embarrassing. I made yet ANOTHER trip back to the dentist (6th visit for the same problem) to try AGAIN to get my teeth fixed, so far to no avail. But after all this… you wanna know the straw that broke the camel’s back?
It was a fortune cookie.
After all the crap, the ups and downs, the frustration, the anger, everything… it was a freaking fortune cookie. I was eating $5.00 Chinese food for dinner, which was all the change I could find, and more relevantly, all I had time for, and after a craptastically difficult and nothing shy of awful couple of weeks, I was really looking forward to the fortune cookie. So, like a little kid, I open the wrapper with excitement, cracked it open, unrolled the paper, and read “Bad luck and misfortune are sure to follow you.” And I lost it.
That was enough. I decided that there was a flipside to all of this. There is a flipside to everything… you just have to be willing to look for it. Up until that point, I wasn’t, but I was desperate for something to hold onto. So I did some soul searching… and what I found brought me straight back to “everything happens for a reason.” I don’t think I could do a better job of summing it up that with this Marilyn Monroe quote, so here it is: "I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."
Out of all that crap that happened, things WILL come together. Yes, my grandmother is gone, but at least she isn’t suffering anymore. Yes, it sucks that someone made off with a bunch of my money, but it could definitely be worse. Yes, I play with fire when I’m exhausted, frustrated, and at my breaking point, but don’t we all? Yes, even I, who makes it a point to say exactly what I mean, sometimes go a step further into the land of things I wish I could take back. You can’t take back the words after they’re said… so you just have to learn to say ‘I’m sorry’, which is most often, the bigger pill to swallow. Yes, the stupid spider bite sucks.. but I'm not dead... yet. Yes, losing my MacBook BLOWS. Not only because its $1,600 down the drain, but because of the pictures, important documents, music, etc. that I lost as well. But at least I was able to make those memories in the first place. I’ve had about 3345980398450938987 of those “oh, shit. That was on my computer…” moments, but the best advice I got in that regard was the following: “Okay, so in essence part of your house burned down. You’re able to start cleaner than most people can imagine. Don’t let the smoke from the old home follow you into the new one.”

Maybe, as circumstantially stupid as it may seem, this is all part of a master plan to make me move forward. I think I was stuck in a rut of treading water in many different aspects of my life. Now I have no choice but to move on, because there’s nothing to hang on to anymore. Yeah all the other little stupid things that have gone wrong pissed me off and have been quite the annoyance, but such is life. Yes, saying goodbye to such good friends broke my heart, but it wasn’t goodbye anyways… I’ll see them soon enough.  I know that wearing my heart on my sleeve makes me an incredibly vulnerable person and easily susceptible to heartbreak, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t stand the thought of going through this life not loving unconditionally only because I was afraid of being hurt. I know several miserable people who have wasted their lives doing so, and I have no desire to be one.  
My apologies for the lengthy post, but I needed to spend some time decompressing… I guess all this to say, the series of unfortunate events really, in hindsight, made me focus on how lucky I am, instead of how lucky I’m not. So take that fortune cookie, I rebuke you.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Don't get too excited:

I'm not putting myself on some high horse and issuing out words of wisdom or free advice by any means... In fact, I'm doing quite the opposite: I'm taking it. I've mentioned before that I am someone who firmly believes in interconnection and that no one that crosses your path crosses it by accident. I have been extraordinarily lucky to have crossed paths with some of these people, but luckier to have noticed it... It saddens me to think about the opportunities that I've witnessed people miss because of egotistical nonsense, pure arrogance, stubbornness, animosity, and otherwise... but what saddens me even more is, I've done so myself.

 I am issuing myself a voluntary attitude adjustment that I feel has become somewhat rather mandatory... I don't want to miss what's right in front of me... not anymore. I try to be an open-minded person, but I can be incredibly closed minded about things once my mind is made up. I hold more grudges than I realize and I'd like to make a conscious effort not to do that anymore. I'd like to find some good in every situation before acknowledging the bad... I've found that if I first acknowledge the bad, I never get around to finding the good because its simply too easy to be negative. I don't want to be like that.

I have been spending a significant amount of time with people I was fortunate enough to not let slip by unnoticed, talking endlessly about things that actually matter. For the record, those really are the most invaluable conversations... I really try hard to pay close attention to those... because thats where said "Words of Wisdom" come into play.

I have spent the better half of my life trying to figure it out. I want all the answers. I want them now. I want a step-by-step plan as to how things are going to happen, when they're going to take place, where my next step is going to be, etc. But I think that some of the best advice I've ever been given came from a recent conversation among a few good friends of mine... In talking about past, present, and future events the notion came up that "there is no prescribed path." That statement blindsided me in a way I didn't really expect. It became so apparent to me in that moment just how much I tried to micromanage every aspect of my life. Sure, some things I have no control over, but when I do, buddy, back off.

I have changed a lot of things in my life intentionally, and several things have changed unintentionally because of it, but more often then not, things change that I have absolutely no control over... and instantly I go into damage control mode, trying to control the uncontrollable. That's a lot of control... or rather, lack thereof. What I got most from that conversation was that I didn't need to have a plan, a map, a blow-by-blow of the rest of my life. Its okay to not have control of everything and to relinquish a little bit of your fate to the powers that be... I really do believe things happen for a reason, and now I know why. I was also told "If you can figure out the 'why', then the 'how', the 'where', the 'when', etc. will all fall into place." And I believe it will. It has thus far... which up until now, I was too nearsighted to see.

There really is no prescribed path... But I do know I'm headed down the right one... and that's all I need. I've figured out the 'why'. So, until the rest of the things fall into place I'm going to make a conscious effort to be less critical, more open; less judgmental, more accepting; less focused on the things that are insignificant, with my eyes wide open to the bigger picture... and all the while making sure that I'm not letting the people who have been put in place to change my life slip by without knowing it.