In Transition

There are moments in your life in which you’ll feel lost, unfocused, unmotivated, unambitious. It will seem like everything you want and dream of is always just out of reach. You will be filled with indescribable pain – pain that doesn’t radiate from a clear point, but is felt intensely just the same. Your appetite will begin to fail you, and every sunny day will have a permanent cloud floating within it, directly above your head. And in those moments, there will be nothing easier than for you to feel as if you have failed, and in effect, allow yourself to stop living. Not necessarily physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

Laundry

Every single disappointment that is felt – every failed career move, every failed relationship, every failed diet and health endeavor – every supposed failure will begin to take its toll on your soul. The heaviness will feel immovable, and you will feel immobile and stuck. Almost as if your feet are covered in cement blocks, and you’ve been thrown into a vat of quicksand. When you’re in quicksand, you’re told to refrain from fighting, because you’ll make it worse, and that’s true. But some fights don’t require physical strength. It seems counterintuitive, but in those moments, your focus should turn inward, and you should seek wisdom to help calm you. These are the moments that are most crucial, because those moments are called transition. 

Which Door

So many of us hate the thought and feeling of transition. It is uncomfortable, because it is stretching us, pushing us towards a life that is unfamiliar to the one we currently have. We want desperately to hold on to what we have now, even if it is not serving us well, because the thought of the unknown is far worse. As humans, we are creatures of habit, because habitual behaviors enable us to multitask and get through our everyday life rather seamlessly. Our habits are a gift and a curse, and they can pin us down into situations and experiences that should be changed. We settle for less than what we deserve and what we want, because we put in our minds that something is better than nothing, and something familiar is better than something new. If we continue to hold on to that mindset, we will never experience growth, and lack of growth is akin to death. Would you rather be dead inside than to try, just a little bit?

Strength

Our cycles of growth are cyclical, and we are given the opportunity to evolve every few months or so. If I want to keep it one hundred, I would even argue that those opportunities are provided to us every day, the moment we open our eyes. When you’re going through those transitional growth periods, your biggest tool is to be present, to pay attention to what is occurring within as well as around you. It is when we’re at our lowest points that our biggest seasons of change are revving up. I’m personally experiencing my own growth cycle, and damn, it doesn’t feel good at all. And I’ll be honest; I don’t want it – I don’t want to deal with this battle. But I know that I need it. Some of us walk into the storm, but others hunker down deep in the basement of their minds. If you’re feeling paralyzed, be introspective and figure out why it may be happening. Cut down on the distractions and begin the process of internal de-cluttering, but most importantly, don’t be complacent. There is something so much greater for you, but you have to be willing to go through the changes to get there.

(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com

 

 

 

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Control Freak

I have an issue with control – I like having it. Wayyyy too much. Or maybe I should say, I had an issue. I needed to have complete and utter ownership and a say in everything that happened in my life, whether it was my decision or not. And when something happened that was ultimately out of my control, I tried to do everything in my power to take back the reins. I’ve discovered though, life doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes, bad things (and good things!) happen, and no amount of willpower and determination will give you the opportunity to bring yourself back to a time when you COULD have changed things. That’s called time travel, and we haven’t been able to master the technology to make that a possibility.

Clock

In my efforts to psycho-analyze myself, I sat down one day and really tried to figure out why I was so hell-bent on controlling all of my life situations. Like most things in our lives, we can track it back to our childhoods. Childhood is such an important belief-shaping time period for us. Our minds are malleable and formative, and if we’re not careful, we can absorb habits that will become a hindrance to us as adults. I can recall moving a lot as a child. By the time I was 18, we had lived in about 13 different apartments. It was all in the same town, but a few times, I had to change schools, depending on what side of town I lived on. There was a lot of lost friendships, as well as cherished items that were left behind because of all of the moving. I can remember feeling so lost and helpless as a little girl, forced to live a life based on the decisions of others. As a result, I started focusing on all of the things I was able to control – my schoolwork, my public image, my talents. I was a great student, and I made sure that everyone knew I was one. I put on the personality of a responsible, conscientious young person, and found myself having to live up to that ideal on a daily basis. Exhausting, really. But at least I could control it.

Young Shonnie

As I got older, some of those controlling habits started to trickle into my interpersonal relationships with others. When I didn’t get my way, I would shut down, or feel hurt, have an “attitude”, or work my magic to manipulate the situation to my advantage. But guess what happened when I did that? I still didn’t get my way. And the end result was a lot of mis-communication, hurt and pain, and the eradication of my relationships/friendships. I was starting to be seen as someone who always needed to have her way, no matter what. That type of mindset erodes trust, and if there is no trust in any relationship, then there is no true relationship at all. I learned that I had to stop blaming my past for my future, and start working on ME. I stopped putting my impossible expectations on others – instead of expecting, I started accepting.

Robot Duck

This isn’t to say that you stop having control of yourself or the decisions you make. That is still important, and you need to do that for your own growth. What I am saying though, is that at some point, you need to evolve and become more emotionally mature. You can only control your actions – people aren’t dolls to play with, or robots to program to do your bidding. You may not control the ultimate outcome, but who cares? As long as you know that you’ve done everything you could to be authentic, and that you didn’t manipulate someone to get your way, then you’re on the right path. Because in reality, “It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control.” (Epictetus). Focus on your attitude.

Sometimes You Have to Lose, to Win

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything…since I’ve felt any inspiration to write. Oftentimes, real life and all of its issues come at you like a tsunami, crashing through everything you love and care about, until it feels as if you can’t swim and won’t ever make your way to the surface. All of the world’s problems because a cacophony of minutiae, and your tunnel vision can only focus on all of the things that aren’t going well in your tiny life, how you feel, and how it seems as if you’ll never survive. If you’re a writer, or someone who likes to create, instead of your craft becoming an outlet for all of the pain, it feels as if it’s stuck on the other side of a double-paned painted-shut window, unable to come inside. You see it fighting to come out from the cold, you know you need to let it in so you can let it all out, but you feel almost frozen in your pain, and nothing will allow you to chip away the paint and open that window. So, your best option? You pray and hope for some sort of breakthrough, that something will burst through the glass and let you release. And finally, finally, you get that epiphany that you’ve been waiting for, and the thoughts you’ve been holding on to burst through that dam of despair and onto pen and paper (or in this case, keyboard and screen!).

Rollercoaster

Ok, I know I made that seem extremely dramatic, but when you are stuck in a moment of pain, doesn’t it feel dramatic to you? Doesn’t it feel that no one could ever understand the shattering of your soul, because they all seem happy and unbothered? I’ll be transparent with you all for a moment – that’s how I was beginning to feel. And for the past month or so (or, if I’m really real, the past couple of years), it felt like no one had ever gone through the things I was going through, and that there was no way in hell that they could ever convince me things would get better. I’d like to chalk some of that feeling up to our social media addiction. We all do an excellent job of creating a highlight reel of our lives. We catch ourselves in the best light, at the right angle, in the perfect moment. No one ever gets to see us fall, or see our ugly days, or the mornings when the only viable option in our lives is to put the blanket back over our heads and call out of life for a day. The modern obsession with perfection has become stifling, at best. We want everyone to think we’ve all got it together, even when we’re falling apart.

Gum

I visited a friend’s church on Mother’s Day weekend…one of those mega churches with the overflow seating deal. Now, I have a deep belief in God, in Spirit, in a higher power, but I’ve never been very religious. I personally think religion can be very unforgiving and unrealistic. However, the message that day hit very close to home for me. One thought in particular woke me up out of my funk, and helped push me all the way back into real life. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, the message was, “Some of life’s greatest invitations appear as if they are life’s greatest interruptions. Instead of feeling frustrated when your situation is interrupted, feel anticipation for the way God will change your life”. If you’re not into religion, think of it as chance, or the Universe, or what have you. In any case, it was in that instance that my frame of thought was flipped. It’s so simple to go the “woe is me” route when your life is upended, but what if you started thinking of your challenges as opportunities? What if you took that negative event and learned the lesson, and used it to make you stronger?

Lost Cat

Oftentimes, we engage in behavior or situations that we think are the best things for us, but are slowly killing our spirit. It may be a job that gives us status, and we work hard, but it leaves us feeling empty and exhausted. It can be a relationship that feeds us financially, but leaves our minds and our souls wanting for more. Sometimes, we just can’t let go of things, because we’ve had them for years and years, and the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t. But guess what? I don’t want any “devils” or negative energy up in my space, blocking what I could truly be accomplishing in life. If we waste time watering dead plants, or dying plants with shallow roots, we’ll end up thirsty from giving away our best water supply. Losing whatever it is that you felt you needed can seem like the end of the world, but start focusing on all of what you’ve gained in the process – experience, wisdom, knowledge, freedom in a part of your life that was once inhibited. The next time you go through a loss in your life, don’t believe it’s the end. Realize it’s just the beginning of becoming an even greater version of yourself.

The Positivity Plan

It is soooo absolutely easy to give out great advice. You listen to the other person so thoughtfully, you run the situation through in your head, you try to be objective and look at both sides of the story, and then you dole out equally thoughtful, objective guidance. You know what’s even easier though? To give out that advice, knowing full well you should be taking it yourself. We like to pretend we don’t have viable solutions to the issues that plague us on a daily basis, but when you give out that awesome advice to your close friends in similar dilemmas, it’s usually your subconscious telling you that you already know the answers to your problems. To kick it up another level, when you blog about your observations about other people, or instances in your life, there’s usually a grain of guidance lurking in between your words.

The Joker

So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love when I can write about something, and someone will comment, or message me, or text me, and tell me that they needed to read what I wrote – that my words somehow resonated deeply with them. But at the end of the day, I write more for me than anyone else. I honestly don’t ever know if anyone is going to take the time to read my rants, to appreciate my thoughts. So in essence, it is pretty much therapeutic and cleansing for me. I’d even argue that it’s NECESSARY. So much so, that when I go a few weeks without writing or posting (I’m sorry!), the little negative cynic that hides in the recesses of my psyche starts to rear its ugly head. It throws temper tantrums, demanding I set it free so I can shift energy and add more negativity to the vibe. And when that starts to happen, I know I have to sit down and take time to talk to you all, so I can stuff him back where he belongs.

The Tragedies

We all have that negative cynic hiding within us. For some people, the company they keep makes it more apparent. Others stay in unhappy situations, relationships, jobs, and absorb all of the negative energy from others, and then pass it on to those who are trying to remain positive and have a hopeful outlook on life. I’m not saying you need to stay away from those people (although, if you’re a HSP like me, you’ll let people’s energy, whether bad or good, screw with your spirit, so I do try to steer clear). Rather, if you can handle it, you have to be the positive ball of energy so they can feed into you. What they really need more than ever is not someone who will add misery, but someone who can be a beacon, and perhaps urge them to think of creative ways to stifle their cynic. For me, it’s writing. Others may sing, or paint, or be physically active. The key though, is to do something that will cause an imbalance of energy, with the abundance tipping on the positive side of the scale. Who wouldn’t want an abundance of positivity? I know for me, after writing this soliloquy, I can already feel Cynic Sam (I literally just made a name up for him) retreating back into his cave. Find a way to make your inner cynic do the same.

The Beach

 

And Then, There Was One

Losing “couple” status is quite an interesting experience. In my new-found singledom, I’ve been finding out some things about myself, about the people interact with, and just life in general. I’ve been focused on rebuilding my public persona – well, maybe rebuilding isn’t the appropriate word, we’ll use “redefining” – and I have started to notice that being single in a group of couples is akin to fitting a square peg in a round hole (sorry for the oft-used cliche). It can be awkward, and not just because you’re constantly alone, but because when it’s still so fresh, you just feel like you’re floating around in the group. Your brain is telling you that you and your friends are the same people, with the same outlook on life, and the same goals, but the reality of the situation is that it has all changed, and drastically. You feel like you’re “one of them”; however, you’ve been unintentionally and unwillingly ousted from the club. And your friends, they try so hard to make you not feel like a weirdo. Sometimes, they can’t help it, and the result is that you just want to tuck yourself into a little ball and become invisible. If you are a coupled friend of a newly single one, there are some things that you can do to aid this life-changing, life-altering transition.

Break Up

Stop assuming that your friend will not want to join in your reindeer games.

So a breakup can be traumatizing, and if it is a difficult one, your friend will probably want support and some sense of normalcy. You, as a coupled friend, may be thinking, oh, he/she doesn’t want to hang out with us, since it’ll be, I don’t know, two couples and single person. And single friend may have thought, or even uttered the words, “I don’t want to be the third wheel!” The thing is, if you plan things and leave them out because you don’t want them to feel weird, chances are, they may just feel hurt. If you really think they’ll have fun with the activity, just invite them. Let them decide if they want to do it or not. And obviously, use discretion too. If it’s like, seven couples and your single friend, you can probably let them know, but understand that they will more than likely say nahhh.

Third Wheel

Stop trying to replace their former partner.

This one is hard, especially since the single person may feel like they’re missing out on all the fun couple things, and the coupled friends want their “old friend” back, who used to enjoy doing said couple things. So they start deciding to host events and strategically invite single people, and then talk them up to the single friend, in hopes that a love connection will blossom. Six months into a breakup, sure, that’s reasonable. Six days? Probably not a good idea. When you’ve got a bunch of couples, and two single people who don’t know each other, the stress of interacting with each other is at an all time high. For someone who hasn’t experienced what the single life is all about, this can be a little daunting. Have some patience with them. Understand that they want a replacement, but it will probably be on their own terms (Disclaimer: if there is a hot doctor, lawyer, construction worker, Michael B. Jordan, this rule does not apply).

Feel free to replace with him

Learn to be their friend again.

I’m not saying you guys suddenly stopped being real friends when you were all in couples. But sometimes, it’s difficult to understand your newly single friend outside of their couple personality. If it’s a friendship you value, make it a point to spend some alone time with them, and understand that they’re probably going to go on and on about the demise of their relationship, or their single escapades, or both. This is especially crucial in the months after their breakup. They may be confused, hurt, and just want someone to support and empathize with them. A friendship (or a relationship, for that matter) isn’t just about the fun times, the easy times. It’s when someone goes through a major life event that tests the true strength of those relationships.

Friends

A lot of things happen because your coupled friends just want everything to be back to normal, and they don’t want to feel uncomfortable. I’ve been majorly lucky with the couple friends I have, and it’s probably because a lot of them were already my good friends before we were all wifed up. They are great, and although they don’t truly understand what I’m going through (and I pray they never will), they do what they can to be supportive.

When in Rome…

As many of you know (or previously read, hopefully!), I recently moved out of the state that I was born in, raised in, and pretty much where I thought I would retire in. I haven’t had time to post, because of my type-A personality to make sure everything in our new home was situated in, I don’t know, a week. Needless to say, it’s been a pretty stressful time. I woke up yesterday morning, trying to determine if it’s all been worth it. I’m kind of a results-now type of person, you know? So far, the negatives have far outweighed the positives, but I always try to turn every negative into a learning opportunity, regardless of how much I seem to complain about it. Verbalizing how I feel is just my way of trying to figure out how to deal with whatever issue I’m stressing over. Of course, I love to share all of my learning with you, and I’ve narrowed my teaching moment to just five things I’ve experienced and am learning about myself and life.

1. Every DMV sucks, no matter what state it’s in.

Atilla the DMV Employee

No like, seriously. When you get there, and take a number, and they call in in about ten minutes, you think you’re all set. You get excited. You can’t wait to brag to people how quickly you got in and out of the DMV. That is, until you get to the counter, and they tell you they just called you up to tell you that you have to wait. Or you need something additional. Or they just hate you.

2. Basements are actually more useful than you realize. 

Basement

In the northeast, everyone has a basement. Even apartment buildings have basements. You move down south, into a house or apartment that’s bigger than your current home, and you’re like, yeah, I got it made. Look at all this space, and all this money I’m saving! And then you get there, and realize that your basement back home, which was the size of your entire living space back home, had stuff in it. And now you have nowhere to put said stuff.

3. If you need it, it’s probably still packed away in a mis-marked box. Under several other boxes. In storage. 

Moving Boxes

I’ve only been here about a month, and I’m already sick of not being able to find stuff I need. We had the privilege of having our things packed by “professional” movers. They packed stuff, labeled it, and then sealed it up. Problem was, they labeled everything in my house as “kitchen/pots and pans”. Guess what 85% of the stuff in those boxes AREN’T? Yeah.

4. Don’t depend on your phone’s GPS feature. 

Droid GPS

It’s a new place, you’ve never driven in it before, and you probably don’t have a mount for your GPS. If you’re like me, you’re holding the wheel with one hand while you’re holding your phone with the other (because someone is too cheap to get a dashboard mount). Hey, did you know that was dangerous? And did you know that your phone can frequently lose the GPS signal, and send you turning into something that’s not even an exit? Go get a Tom-Tom. 

5. You’re not the only non-native out here. 

The New Kid

I’m your typical New Englander that doesn’t like to make small talk with strangers, for the most part. However, since I’ve moved here, I’ve become a regular old Chatty Cathy. I talk to the man at the small bakery, the cashier at the Publix, and the barista at the local cafe about how new I am here (hopefully all of this over sharing won’t cause someone to follow me home). What I’ve learned though is that practically no one that lives here is actually from here, so don’t be so nervous. Kind of gives it that “we’re all in this together” feeling. Until you cut me off on the highway.

Multi-Racial Misfit

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