Monday, November 4, 2013

A month of thanks - Day 4 (because I joined late) - Sunrises

Today I am grateful for the beautiful sunrise that greeted me as I was on my way to work. These were taken at the Park-n-Ride where I catch the bus heading downtown.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My September 11, 2001 story

I am from Colorado and have lived here all my life, but at one point in late summer of 2001, a couple of now non-friends of mine (married to each other) and I decided to move to Pennsylvania. The particulars of why aren't important, but I was promised housing with them and help finding a job. So in late August 2001 we got in our vehicles and began the long trek from Colorado out east.

We arrived on the 28th of August if I remember correctly, where I promptly started bawling after getting to my friend's grandparent's house. The realization of having no family out there, not knowing what my future held, and feeling so alone hit me hard. After some dinner, I started to feel better, but things quickly took a turn for the worse. I was accused of flirting with my friend's husband and although I wasn't and I apologized (the accuser was 4 months pregnant at the time and I understood she was hormonal), everyone stopped speaking to me. So not only did I no longer have a place to live and no job, I also lost the connection with anyone I knew and I had to leave where I was staying the very next day.

Determined to stick it out and make it work, I found temporary lodging at an extended stay hotel in Phoenixville. I found a storage place to put all my stuff and I started looking for jobs through temp agencies. I actually had a job for four hours answering the phone at a drug testing facility. Ironically, they forgot to UA me and so I was told I wasn't able to work for them without a UA.

While the timeline is a bit fuzzy, September 11th came within a day or two of my failed attempt at working again, so it's understandable that I wasn't ever called back to work with everything that was happening.

I remember waking up the morning of September 11th in the hotel room. The TV was already on (it was comforting to have the background noise of voices while I was in the room by myself) and what I saw was the first tower on fire. I had the station on NBC's Today show and was not quite comprehending what had happened as the information at the moment was slim. While I didn't see the second plane go into the tower, I heard the reactions of the Today show hosts. I was then glued to the television as more reports started coming in. As the morning wore on, I kept feeling as though I was in the middle of a "triangle of hell" as I called it at the time. I was two hours away from New York City, two hours away from Washington D.C., and two hours away from Shanksville. I've tried to show everything in relation to where I was in the map below. The "A" marker is Phoenixville, I've highlighted New York to the northeast, D.C. to the southwest, and Shanksville to the east is shown with a red dot.

I remember being scared. Scared of what was happening and not knowing what was going to happen next and scared because I didn't know if I was ever going to see my family again. And I was alone. The people who I had come with were no longer talking to me and I had made no friends or acquaintances in the short time I had been in Pennsylvania. While most people that day had someone to discuss the events with and could be with at least a friend or family member, I had strangers around me. It was the most alone I have ever felt in my entire life. Details of that time are difficult for me to recall. I was in shock, I think. I was trying to protect myself from all that was happening to me in such a short amount of time. I had moved away from the only place I had ever lived, away from my friends and family; the people who I was relying on to help me through the transition abandoned me, and then the horrific events of September 11th unfolded. I don't remember much that happened over the next few weeks. I seemed to be walking around in a fog.

There is someone who helped me tremendously during this time. I had a friend who I had met online in 1996 who lived in New Jersey and I reached out to him. We had never met in person, but only exchanged emails, talked via IM and exchanged a few snail mail letters. I am so very grateful to him. He immediately drove to come see me and he took me back to New Jersey with him for a couple of days and then we kicked around Pennsylvania and for a bit as well. I remember going to a marina in New Jersey where you could see the New York City skyline across the water and I saw the smoldering of the buildings even though it was about two weeks later. It was eerie. But I had my friend. He made me feel less alone and kept me going at a time when I just wanted to collapse in a puddle and give up. I wish I could tell him all of this, but we have since lost touch and I'm not sure intruding into his life at this point would be welcomed by him or not. So I err on the side of caution. Besides, I tried looking him up and can't seem to find him anywhere online.

So that's my story. My memories of that day 12 years ago. One of our country's most challenging times and my own personal most challenging time.

May we all try to recall how kind everyone was to each other shortly after that happened. May we all remember that and try to be those people again. I don't believe the lessons we learned from the tragedies of that day were about national safety and how to better protect ourselves. I think the biggest lessons were that we can treat people better if we want to. We can reach out to people who are hurting and who are in need and rise to the challenge of being our best selves.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My birthday weekend in Colorado Springs

For my birthday I decided to do a mini vacation by myself to Colorado Springs, Colorado, a city in central Colorado that is about an hour from Denver and full of beautiful things to see and fun things to do. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and had reservations to take a cog railway train ride to the top of Pikes Peak--elevation 14,115'.

This is what greeted us while we were waiting for the train.

Here is the train pulling up to the depot. 

My seat was right next to the controls. I so badly wanted to take over! :) 

This was our engineer that day. His name is Roy.

And away we go! I got to sit at the very front of the train! (On the way up.)

Some of the scenery on the way up.

Panoramic shot.

There were some really steep inclines. 25% grade in some places. Meaning for every 100 feet we went horizontally, we went up 25 feet vertically. Also at this point we were above the tree line at about 12,000'. See? No more trees! 

At this point, those of us at the front of the train were 2 stories higher than the people at the back of the train.

Here is the summit. And yes, it was C-C-COLD!

The next day I went to the Garden of the Gods

This is where I started my walk through the park.

I think this one is called Kissing Camels.

And there are these signs around the park.

TALL TALL TALL formations.

And just plain ol' gorgeous scenery.

Hope you enjoyed the pics! :) 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bothersome dreams

It's 3:30am. I've been awake since just before 3:00, woken up by one of the most disturbing dreams I've had in a while. I'm one of those who rarely remembers her dreams, so the fact that I remember this one is something of note.

My dad, as a father, was not a very nice man. He was physically abusive, more so to my older siblings than to me, I think. I remember one horrible beating he gave one of my brothers when we were little. Other than that, it was just spanking for me. And the beating he gave my brother was just for playing in my grandparents' car. I was given some pretty bad spankings by him, and his belt hanging from a hook (nail?) in the doorway between our kitchen and living room was our deterrent when we started acting up. (In other words, being kids.) The physical abuse did stop for us after we got older, but that just meant he switched to emotional abuse. I got it the worst for whatever reason. My mom says she can't explain it either.

My dad passed away years ago, but in my dream he was alive. And although the memory of the dream is getting foggier now the longer I'm awake, I think I remember knowing my dream was a dream because he was in it and I knew he was dead. There was just me, my mom, my dad, and my niece in the dream. We were all in the house we had through my entire childhood, the house where all my siblings and I grew up. My dad, niece, and I were in the living room and my dad was berating my niece about something (very much like he had done to me a few times). In the dream, my niece isn't the age she is now. She was younger...perhaps junior high school age. I knew my mom was in the house and I went looking for her and found her in one of the bedrooms at the back of the house. I remember a whispered conversation with her about how my dad was a bully and that it wasn't fair or right what he was doing to my niece. My dad then came down the hall to go into the bathroom and my mom and I stopped the conversation while he walked past, but continued it until he came out again. We followed him into the living room and by the time we got there, he was again yelling at my niece who was curled up onto a chair in the living room, trying to shrink herself, make herself small. She turned her back to my dad which apparently really made him angry. (Interesting, I'm remembering I never once heard any words coming from my dad during the dream--but I knew what he was saying. Sort of a telepathic thing, I guess.) Anyway, he raised his arm and his telepathic thought was: "Don't you turn your back on me when I'm talking to you! Look at me!" In the dream my mom went to grab his arm and said "Don't you dare hit her!" My dad didn't even acknowledge this, and when my niece turned toward him, he hit her. Hard. I heard the strike of his open hand fall across her face. And what I remember clearly in the dream was being afraid. Afraid like I had always been of my dad, but deciding to take action anyway. I remember thinking, "Fuck this. He's not getting away with this." And in the dream I headed toward the phone, the intent being to call the police. I was furious with my dad and by God I wasn't going to have my niece suffer through what my siblings and I did as kids. Then, in a rare moment of dream clarity, I remembered thinking: You know this is a dream. So wake up and end it.

At that moment, I did wake up. The dream clung to me for a while. And as I sit here doing my crude and non-professional analyzing of it, I haven't come up with any hidden meaning really. I am really proud that in the dream I was still afraid, but did something anyway. And while it's just a dream, it's a bit of a metaphor for my waking life. For years and years I had been living a fear-based life. Doing or not doing what I did because of fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being hurt, fear of doing the wrong thing, fear of upsetting someone, fear of losing affection and friendship...the list could go on and on. But I'm a stronger person now than I ever have been. I've faced quite a few fears in the past year and while not all of the "risks" of trying turned out well, I'm still here. I'm standing. I'm broken, but I've gotten up and am trying to put the pieces back together. I've proven to myself that I have grown and I have changed. And maybe me waking up and realizing it was a dream was me knowing that I do have power, even when it feels like I might not.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Wisdom of Mr. Fred Rogers #1

"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."
This really struck me after my recent breakup. It struck me because I believe it 100% and I practiced it 100%. Sadly, it was not reciprocated. I was told I wasn't loved anymore because of who I was. And that is a hurt that is not easily gotten over. I'm still struggling with the idea that there is something "wrong" with me that would make me unlovable. Because that's the gist of what I was told boils down to.

The truth is we as humans are multi-faceted beings. On most days I am happy, optimistic, caring, loving, kind, and patient. On other days I am moody, insecure, sad (yes, even depressed sometimes), and pessimistic. And I wallow in those until I snap myself out of it. As humans, we can't always just be one way all the time. It would be unfair to expect that from anyone. I'm a human. I have changing moods. I guess if people can't accept that, then there's not much I can do. I am who I am. I like who I am even when I'm in a "negative" mood, because I am being my authentic self.

I'm trying to learn the lesson in all this. I am working on seeing the reason this happened. The event itself had no meaning, but what I learn about myself through all this has meaning. I'm working on it. I still hurt over the loss. I still cry every day. However, if I can learn something about myself through this (and I already have) then I can eventually heal.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Restless stirrings

528 hours. That's how long I've made it after having the "rug of life" yanked out from under me. So far I'm hanging in there.

There's still that sadness running in the background all the time, tainting the day to day stuff. Sometimes I can shake it off completely for a while, and in those moments I am deeply and truly grateful. I'm also experiencing a restlessness, a need to do something or go somewhere. Everything in my life has been drastically touched by what happened, yet the day to day stuff is so very much the exact same. I feel a deep need to shake that up, to change that same-ness and do something different and be in a different space for a while.

So, question out to those who might be reading this: suggestions?


  • I think somewhere near water would be soothing
  • Nothing too hot--I dislike heat
  • Budget-minded (one of these days I'll win the lotto)
  • Relaxing
  • Someplace far enough and different enough from Denver to actually *feel* different
  • Interesting things to do and places to go while I'm there

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Verge of tears

That's me lately. Just moments away from breaking down and crying. I am, by nature, a cry-er anyway. I cry at sad movies, sob at the really, really sad ones. A touching story on the news or a Hallmark card commercial can also send me to tears. Lately, though, my tears have a distinct reason. My walking the fine edge between "getting by" and "weepy mess" is a very precarious indeed. Two weeks ago today I was dumped by the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And there has not been a day since that I have not cried. Some days there are deep, wracking sobs that shake my entire body and leave me exhausted and raw. Some days it's just quiet tears at a memory, at the stinging realization of a future lost, or at the kindness of someone who knows I am hurting and wants to make it better.

I'm not functioning very well. I almost feel as if I have a low-grade illness. Always in the background there is a sadness tainting everything I do. There are some brief, blessed moments where I can forget, but then reality always comes crashing back. And the pain starts anew. All I want to do is sleep. At least sleep is a bit of forgetting and time passes easier during sleep. My stomach is on the verge of nausea all the time as well. I have difficulty concentrating and completing tasks. Everything just feels off.

I am hoping that with time, all of this will ease. I am hoping that with time, I will start to feel more like myself again. I am hoping with time, I will be able to see the lesson in this. I am hoping with time, that I will heal and be whole again.

I pray a lot. I ask others to pray a lot for me. I try to distract myself. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. But I've made it two weeks and I just keep going one minute at a time, I guess. Keep breathing in and out. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Hoping that someday, it'll be better.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Further reflections on a long-distance relationship

I have been having a difficult time lately. Not that every day apart from the person you love isn't difficult. But since this past weekend I've been having a particularly difficult time staying positive. It's been almost eight months since I saw J. I never thought we'd have to wait so long to see each other again. The insecure part of me (the crazy girl who crawls up from the basement from time to time) tries to make me believe that he doesn't want to see me. And then I have people who, bless them, frequently ask "So when are you going to see each other again?" I know they just want to see me happy and that they want to see the rest of the love story that has started. But as soon as I tell them that no plans have been made, they give me that look. And then the "Why?" question follows. I tell them why, but they always follow up with "solutions" for me on how to make things happen sooner.

But here's the thing. This is MY story. Just because I'm not handling it the way they would, and just because I'm not doing the thing they think will get me and J together again, doesn't mean what I'm doing is wrong. It's my journey and if and when the time becomes right to take a step, then I will do it or take it. And just because things aren't happening as soon as they'd like or as soon as I'd like doesn't mean things aren't happening. And their "advice" isn't helping.

I don't know what the answer is. All I know is that the answer has to be the right one for me. For both of us. And I have to keep sticking to what I do know. That I love J very much. That I want to make a life with him. That when and if the time comes to make the next step, I will be ready.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Has Spring finally arrived?

Dare I hope so? Has it really and truly happened?

It seems as just a very short time ago I was lamenting the fact that winter was outstaying its welcome. April was cold and snowy and cold. Trees that usually begin to show signs of new life were still dormant at the beginning of May. My nephew calls the bare-branched trees "stick-y trees"--because the branches are sticks. It was depressing, I tell ya. Any flower that had hopefully peeked out from beneath the frozen soil was soon smooshed into oblivion by heavy snows or frozen to death by the plunging temps of late April and early May. I started to become crabby and irritable.
Then, before I could even register what was happening, I noticed trees had leaves and lawns were green and  my furnace was no longer kicking on in the morning. Had it happened? Had spring and its accompanying warmer temps really and truly arrived?

My friends, I think the answer might be "yes". But don't say it too loud or too often. Mother Nature likes to have her fun with us humans. So I will enjoy the warm days when I can, and pedicure my toes in hope of sandals and flip flop weather. :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A to Z April blogging challenge - Reflections

This was my second year doing the challenge and I think my posts this year were better than last year's posts overall. The challenge for me was subject matter. Coming up with subjects to blog about is difficult as it is, but trying to fit something you feel you can talk about for at least a few paragraphs that is letter-specific is definitely challenging. (See what I did there?) Then, when you start getting to the end of the alphabet and the not-so-commonly-used letters and trying to find subjects for those letters, the challenge intensifies. Or it did for me.

As I look back over the statistics of the posts in this year's challenge, it's interesting to me to see which ones got the most traffic. This one had the most views: K is for Kindness followed second by this one: P is for Perfect. I'm not sure if they resonated with people, or if those were just the quirks of having a blog and some days just getting more traffic than others regardless of topic.

I enjoyed the challenge, though. I realize that I express myself best when I write. I don't do too bad in person, but if I can take time to think about what I want to say, I find myself to be able to express my intent more clearly and be more eloquent for sure.

Will I do the A to Z challenge again? I most probably will. And I phrase it that way because you never quite know where life will lead you in a year's time. It's certainly my intention to do it again. I think the more I write, the better I become at it and it feels good to complete something like this. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride that I followed through with the whole month's worth of writing. I got behind a few days, but I did post for all the letters.

I can't wait to read the other reflection posts to see how others feel about it. There is such a vast array of  people who take a part in the challenge that I'm sure the experiences will cover a broad spectrum. This is one of the reasons I love the A to Z challenge so much--getting to see others' blogs I might not normally see and learn and grow through the reading of those different kinds of blogs.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Yesteryears (totally made that up) or, The Past

I often get stuck in my past. I drag it around with me everywhere I go and with every experience I have. Unfortunately, it's not just the good, fun memories I bring. What's at the forefront of all this I'm lugging around is the past hurts, the past disappointments, the past failures. They serve no purpose other than to make me worry about my today. The "what ifs" start playing over and over in my mind.

I've heard it said that as humans, we don't do anything unless there is a payoff for it. So I have to ask myself: What's the payoff for worrying? What's the payoff in seeing threats around every corner, trouble down every path? Because while it's happening I'm stressed, sad, fearful, and unfocused. And I hate it. I hate feeling those things. It's as if I'm on constant vigilance waiting for the other shoe to drop when in reality there may not be any shoe. What is it inside of me that is programmed to expect something bad rather than something good? Is it a bad habit? Is it something that was set in my neural pathways since I was little? Is it learned? Is there any reprogramming it?

I want to stop worrying. I want to feel more positive. I want to let go of my past and the fears about it repeating itself. My big question now is: How?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for eXes

My wonderful, beautiful Irishman has an ex. Ex-wife to be exact. And like a lot of "exes", there are some strong feelings there.

Then today, I came across this on a image-share website. It was captioned "My ex used to call me 'man-child'".
All I see is sheer joy on his face and why wouldn't someone want that for anyone they purport to love? And, as I tend to do, I started thinking (over-thinking?) about what their relationship may have been like and what the expectations of the relationship were going in.

Was this "man-child" quality part of the reason they broke up? The caption lends evidence that it played a part. And I started thinking of relationships in general and how we approach them. I think one of the bigger mistakes we make--especially when we're younger--is to assume that the other person will change for us. "If he loved me enough, he wouldn't be so childish." What about the reverse of that? "If I loved him enough, I would allow him to be who he is." And in the end that's what we need to do. Love the people we found for exactly who they are. AND for exactly who they are not.

My J loves, loves, LOVES guns and watching gun programs on TV. Me? Not so much. But I wouldn't ever expect him to give that up because I don't share that passion with him. He loves video games in which you shoot people and blow stuff up. I've never played one of those types of games in my life. But I don't ever want him to stop doing what brings him happiness.

I don't claim to have figured it all out and that if my advice were heeded the divorce rate would drop to all-time lows. What I do know is that there isn't one thing I ever want to change about J. I'm not saying he's perfect. No one is. But he's exactly who he's meant to be. And if he does want to change something about himself FOR himself, I will be there by his side every step of the way.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Workplace

I start my day by logging into my computer--which is a laptop in a docking station. The laptop thrust upon me by my manager who insisted I'd need it when I went traveling to the field offices. And while it is somewhat handy to basically take your setup with you, sometimes it's far more trouble than it's worth. At my work station here in Denver, I have a full keyboard, my mouse and dual screens

After firing up the computer and logging in, I check my email. My inbox is a mess (and the pic below is just the beginning. 
Although I TRY to keep things organized with folders.

As bad as this all looks (and maybe to you it doesn't look too bad), it's far better than it used to be, but still far short of where I'd like it to be. I used to have such a pristine inbox. Maybe there would be 10 to 15 emails in it, instead of the hundreds there today. Something to aspire to I guess. HA!

For whatever reason, my office is insanely cold--and that's something coming from me. I rarely get cold and am usually the first to ask others around me, "Is it hot in here?"  So in order to keep things comfortable and avoid hypothermia, I have had to employ this:

A space heater that sits on my windowsill pointed directly at me. On the bright side, at least I'm not falling into a heat-induced stupor because it's so comfortable and snuggly warm in my office. 

To keep me sane, it helps to have Gary (my betta) around. Although with my new office setup, he's not as front and center as he used to be in my old office. I get a peek at him between my monitors.

He seems pretty happy and gets excited when he sees me. I know he knows he's going to get fed, but part of me likes to believe he's happy to see me. :)

At the end of the day I head for the elevators, very eager to get in and get the first leg of my journey home behind me. A few years ago they installed what I can only describe as mini-TVs in the elevators that scroll news, weather, stock prices, and various advertisements. Apparently a 15 second elevator ride is too boring and we must be stimulated at all times, don'tcha know?

The ridiculously shiny elevator and mini-TV:

And once I make it down to the first floor, here is the lobby of our building. 
Looking at this picture I realize the lobby is also really shiny. Then again, they employ a full staff of help to make sure it stays purty. 

So there you have it, my day in a nutshell.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Voyage

If you've read one of my posts from last year, I have a fear of flying. It's nothing debilitating (thank goodness), but I probably wouldn't ever want to get a blood pressure reading on any day I have to fly. That being said, I love going to different places and meeting different people and seeing things that are so different than what I know here in Colorado.

My biggest challenge thus far in my voyages has been the trip I took last October to Ireland to see my Sweetie. I had flown internationally once. I consider it dipping my toe in the water of "international" travel. I went to the Bahamas in 2011 and considering it's only a 25-minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale, I don't know that it really counts. I had never before in my 43 years flown across an entire ocean to get to a completely different continent. The crossing-the-ocean part is what was intimidating for me. Then I met J and I knew that meeting him was a foregone conclusion. The tricky part was getting to him. Things all came together in late August. Between his schedule and mine, it was decided that early October would be best. So I went online and looked at flights and found one that was good for both of us time-wise and booked and bought my tickets. It was the easiest, most sure decision I've ever made in my life. I'm one who hesitates hitting the "Complete Purchase" button on most shopping websites, but with this trip, there was zero  hesitation in me at all. My fear of flying didn't enter my mind. My fear of rejection didn't enter my mind. My fear of what others would think didn't enter my mind. All I knew was that being with J was something I was meant to do.

I get emotional now thinking of it. Thinking of how many of my fears I faced in one fell swoop. And I get emotional thinking of the absolute joy I got from the trip itself.

If there's one piece of advice I could give about your own voyages is just to take them. To the next town, the next state, the next country...stretch your comfort zone a bit. Meet people and take the chance. And if you can't take a physical trip, reach out to people online who live in different areas than you. Ask questions. Start an electronic pen pal-ship. Pictures can be posted, stories can be shared. And be willing to help someone understand your little part of the world. How beautiful of a community could we create if we all shared a little?

A picture I took while in Ireland

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Unworthy

I have in my life an amazing man who for whatever reason is deeply in love with me. He is everything I have ever wanted and I love him so much it feels like I might just burst with it some days.

I have never ever believed I would have something like this--this love--in my life. I believed it for everyone around me. I believed that everyone was destined to be with someone they loved who truly loved them if that's what they wanted. But not me. I could never believe it for me. I never believed myself deserving. I never believed myself worthy of it. I could rattle off 10 "flaws" I think I have without so much as pausing to think about it, but if you asked me to name 10 things that might make me worthy of love and affection from someone (and I'm not just talking romantic love either), I struggle with it. I hem and haw and when I do think of something positive I qualify it or my "bad wolf" automatically starts telling me how full of myself and vain I am.

As a result, it's difficult for me to believe deep down that this man loves me. I have fears and insecurities that I allow to take over until I start believing them. When I'm having good days, I can easily talk myself back from the ledge by acknowledging that feelings aren't facts and all evidence (REAL evidence) points to nothing like my mind has awful-ized. Then there are my "I'm unworthy" days when I feel almost paranoid about everything. As if I'm waiting for something horrible to come pouncing out of nowhere and the bad wolf will be able to say "See? I told you it wasn't real and you weren't ever going to be happy."

I think I have found some ways to help push the negative thoughts aside. Not ignore them. Not fight them--for doing that gives them power and makes them stronger. But replacing them with affirmations and positive thoughts. Even if I don't believe them, it's important to say them or write them. Because if I'm concentrating on one, I'm not concentrating on the other, and vice versa. And I'm told that eventually, with enough time and repetition, I WILL start to believe the affirmations.

So I keep working at it. Keep trying and sticking with the things that work for me to help me feel better, feel WORTHY of the good in my life.

T is for Try

This touches on a lot of the subjects I've talked about in this year's A to Z Challenge. Trying. Trying our best. Trying to be better today then yesterday. Trying to be a good person. Trying to fight the demons of doubt and insecurity.

I always think I'm going to get to some point of attainment of these goals. Like I'll reach a day when I won't have to try, but then...that's not the point  is it? The day we stop trying is the day life is over. I think it will always be about doing and trying. The things I want aren't like destinations I'll reach and then go no further. I think there is always something new to tackle, some new challenge to overcome.

I beat myself up for not being "there" yet. If only I had done my affirmations and meditations more consistently, I would be at that place over there--that place where I'm confident and bold and courageous. Instead of giving myself credit for TRYING, I look at it as a failure I'm not "there". Instead of seeing the trying as worthy in and of itself, I feel bad for not achieving.

Perhaps it's as simple as re-framing things. There is no destination I need to get to by a certain time table. There is just the journey of doing. Of being. Of trying to be the best me I can every day and knowing that the effort of doing my best, of trying my hardest, is all I ever need to worry about.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

S is for Snow

Snow has been so prevalent in Denver this April, I couldn't NOT talk about it at some point. As a matter of fact, here was the scene outside my house this morning:'s pretty crappy weather-wise and has been for most of the month. Now, I understand that April is Colorado's second snowiest month (preceded by March), but I'm used to spring snows where it dumps 8-10 inches and then it's 50 degrees and melted the next day. This April's weather has felt unrelentingly cold, windy, and snowy. I keep thinking of that line from Groundhog Day:
I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.
I know that's not true; it' just feels true today. I'm trying to remain positive and keep a good attitude, but if I don't get to wear my cute spring dresses and open-toed shoes soon, Mother Nature and I are going to have words and it will not be pretty.

Wishing you all better weather than here and pretty spring days with trees budding, birds signing, and flowers peeking through the soil in your gardens. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

R is for Rogers (Fred Rogers)

I loved watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood when I was little. My favorite bits were when Mr. Rogers would go to a factory or outside the neighborhood and show how things were made or how things were done. I wasn't a huge fan of the puppets in the Kingdom--their faces kind of creeped me out, but I always felt soothed by Mr. Rogers' gentle demeanor and calmness.

A few years ago after his death, many things were posted about Fred Rogers and his personality. And as kind and wonderful as he was on his show, it seems that he was even better than that in person. There are countless stories of his kindness and patience with people and his genuine curiosity about everyone he met. One of my favorite stories is of him going to a dinner party and being picked up by a limo service. As was typical for Fred Rogers, he got to know the driver, asking about him and his life. After Mr. Rogers found out that the driver was going to wait outside for two hours, Mr. Rogers brought the driver into the dinner party with him.

I aspire to be like Fred Rogers. To be as tolerant of others as he was. To be as curious about everyone I meet just as he was. To be patient and kind to everyone. I am brought to tears thinking about his gentle soul and his genuine love for his fellow man. And I hope to someday be the person Mr. Rogers thought I could be.

Q is for Quality

I don't like to generalize, but for my purposes here and this post, I will make a generalization and say that it seems as though as a society, we have come to devalue quality. In everything. There seems to be a lack of quality in our entertainment (television, movies, books, music), our relationships (brief, fleeting connections via text messages and social media), our food (when was the last time you ate solely real food that your great grandparents would have recognized as food?), our durable goods (cars, clothing, furniture, etc.).

Neil deGrasse Tyson (a favorite of mine) had a quote the other day regarding quality:
The economic battle cry of "buy American" should instead be "Buy the Best", thereby compelling Americans to make the best.

I think we get to better quality by demanding better quality. Not in a loud, "GIVE IT TO ME" sort of way, but by refusing to purchase/watch/involve ourselves in anything that is less than what we want. It takes time. It takes effort. It costs more money most of the time. But we also have to stop focusing on cost (monetary and otherwise) and focus instead on VALUE. If I buy a $100 dollar item that I can get years of use out of, then the value far outweighs the cost. If I invest 30 minutes a day in self care (meditation, prayer, working out), and recoup peace of mind and health, then that 30 minutes that I might have spent doing something else is more valuable.

I want to start living a quality life rather than a life filled with third rate items that fill the physical space, but don't fill my mind and soul.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Perfect

Perfection. I think we all think about it. I think we all put undue pressure on ourselves to achieve it. In all honesty, I don't think perfection is possible. So why do I (and others) hold ourselves to such an unattainable ideal? Why do we feel it's okay for others to not be perfect, but bring out the torture devices when we fall short? 

I do think it's important to do your absolute best every single day. I don't think we give up and say "Oh well. I guess if I can't achieve perfection I'll stop trying." We can look at our days and think "What could I have done better? Because I wasn't perfect today, but I can sure as heck be better tomorrow." I think we can do this in little things and big things. I didn't get my underarm turns and butterflies perfect at my dance lesson, but I can practice and do better next time. I wasn't perfect in being judgement-free and kind to everyone yesterday, but I can definitely try and do better today. 

How freeing would it be for all of us to let go of trying to be "perfect"? How much less stress would we have in our lives if we forgave ourselves for those times we fall short of how we would like to be and concentrate instead on how we can make today better? 

We do the best we know how at the time with the tools we have. When we know better, we do better. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

N & O are for Nodding Off

So it's Division Review day here in my office. The bigwigs from corporate are in to see the presentations from the various teams regarding how well we're doing, what we have planned, why we think we have good areas to explore, etc. While I find these presentations mostly interesting, sometimes things get technical enough from the engineers and geologists and geophysicists and chemists that things just start sounding like the adults in a Charlie Brown animated special. And when that happens, I start Nodding Off.

It reminds me of sitting through Sunday mass when I was younger, fighting my heavy eyelids, trying to keep my head from bobbing. I took a break and came down to my office and posted on Facebook for some suggestions at staying awake. My niece, true to form, had an immediate and hilarious comeback. What did she suggest? "Every three minutes yell out 'In the name of The Lord, Amen!" Followed by a suggestion from her friend that I play "Division Review Bingo", followed by another suggestion from my niece building on the "bingo" concept of making a gesture every time someone sniffles or coughs.

Thank goodness for smartass nieces and friends to keep me smiling through my day and hopefully keep me from Nodding Off in front of the head of the company. :)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to slam an energy drink and head back upstairs...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

M is for Mourning

I'm behind on posts. I was going to post Monday afternoon and then the world went crazy again. So I will try to catch up as best as I can.

It's a sad topic: mourning. But I believe that's what we're all doing lately. It hurts to think that someone has so much hate and discontent inside themselves that the only way they can release it is by hurting innocent people. I think it goes without saying that someone who could do this is sick.

Oh, he's a sick man. Frustrated and sick. Sick in his mind, sick in his soul, if he has one. Hates everybody that has anything that he can't have. Hates us mostly, I guess. -- Peter Bailey, It's A Wonderful Life
I keep thinking of that line. But more than concentrate on the perpetrator of this horrific act, I choose to concentrate on the goodness. There are truly good people in this world. And the good people far outnumber the evil-doers.

Patton Oswalt put it beautifully here.

Hold your loved ones close. Tell people how much you love them. We were all given another day. Let's not waste it.

Blessings to you all.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Love (Long-distance style)

Last year's "L" post was about Love, and while I didn't want to repeat topics, I figured this one was big enough to handle it. :)

I have always enjoyed hearing people's love stories. I think it's mostly my natural curiosity about people, but also I never had one of my own to tell. Ever. Then last year that changed in a way I couldn't ever have imagined. Oh, I had thought about meeting someone and falling in love, but the way mine happened wasn't exactly how I thought it would.

I met my beloved on a website that wasn't technically a dating site. The members had profiles and the ability to message each other and I had talked to other members from time to time. It got to the point where I thought this might be a better alternative to traditional dating sites, and I figured "what the hell?" Then one day my sweetie's first message to me popped up. I always looked at the person who messaged me's profile for curiosity's sake and to be sure that we had enough in common or that our interests meshed enough. I noticed J's (I will identify him by his initial) profile said he was from Ireland. And I thought to myself, "Well, that's cool and he'll be interesting to chat to for a bit, but like THIS will go anywhere." So we started chatting and he was funny and charming and interesting and we talked for quite a while. Then we talked again the next day and the next and the next and soon we were both going on the website to "look" for each other. I had no expectations of anything as I was still in the mindset of "We're just chatting and being friendly." After a few weeks of the website chat we started emailing back and forth throughout the day and then texting via phone. and then he called me for the first time a few weeks after that. And with the exception of a few days here and there we have spoken on the phone every single day since.

I still get overwhelmed thinking how this wonderful, beautiful (inside and out) man loves me. We have gotten to meet once in person when I went to Ireland for 10 days to see him. They were some of the most wonderful days I've ever had. Things were comfortable between us. Relaxed. And paradoxically exciting at the same time. Just looking at him gave me butterflies (still does).

This distance isn't easy, but every time I despair about not being with him I tell myself that this is worth it. This connection we have made and the love we share is worth waiting for however long it takes to be together again.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kindness

Kindness. It seems a fairly simple word. And it seems a fairly easy concept. I think it can be, but we often allow our filter of the world and our view of how things "should" be interfere, that we don't often leave room for kindness. The thing is, kindness is so desperately needed and so very lacking in today's world.

There's an interesting phenomena that's taken place with the increase in our use of computers and the internet. One can say just about anything and remain anonymous, which seems to give some people license to be especially cruel and hateful with what they say. Take this for example. What was a wonderful, fun moment for this couple turned into people thinking it was okay to spew meanness. Over 1) people they didn't know and 2) over something that is inconsequential and 3) is none of their business.

Or you hear more and more stories of bullying. Of people being cruel to others because of their sexual orientation, physical limitations, looks, developmental ability...the list could go on and on. It reminds me of this:

So where did it all go wrong? When did we stop imparting basic human kindness to others? When did we decide it was okay to say horrible things to another person either online or in person?

With the anniversary of Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers or Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood) birthday recently, there were a lot of articles about him and his limitless (or so it seemed) kindness for every single person he met. I think about that a lot and one of the things I aspire to is to not just be like Fred Rogers, but to be the person Mr. Rogers thought I could be. And that starts with being kind as much and as deeply as I possibly can with everyone. It's not easy some days as some people are less than lovable, but that doesn't give me permission to be mean either.

Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jumping (to conclusions)

I tend to do that a lot. Jump to conclusions, or what a therapist called "awful-izing". In the absence of answers (and I'm one who needs to know ALL THE THINGS), I tend to jump to the worst conclusion from the facts at hand.

Example: My boyfriend is having a bad day. Like many men who have bad days he retreats and withdraws. My first instinct is to jump to the conclusion that because he's not being talkative that it is because of something I've said. Or not said. Or done. Or not done. And from there it spirals and the next thing you know, in my mind he's ready to call it quits. (I know, I know...but sometimes my "crazygirl" takes over.)

There are MANY things that are "wrong" with my approach. 1) I have no evidence it was anything I said or did. 2) He hasn't told me it was anything I said or did. 3) NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT ME. 4) I'm being quite selfish. Instead of concentrating on him and his needs, it sounds like a rehearsal for the flippin' opera over on my end. "ME ME ME ME ME ME ME!!! Let's talk some more about ME! Enough about YOU how 'bout ME?"

Thankfully I have good support and friends around me who can whap me upside the head with the truth about how I'm acting (or over-reacting). And on my good days I can talk myself through it and know that instead of relaxing about things, I'm letting my insecurities win.

So today, I choose to believe all is well, and I have no reason to NOT believe this. Instead of making up stories in the absence of answers, I choose to accept and know that all is well, and all is well and all manner of thing shall be well.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Imagination

Everything that has ever been created was imagined first.

Think about that. Everything starts out as a thought, an imagining, if you will. Someone at some point looked at a situation or problem and thought about a way to make it better or solve the problem. Then they imagined the solution and from that imagining, it became a reality.

Imagination is Powerful (yup, capital P powerful). Imagining the things we want helps us solidify the steps we need to take to make them reality. There's the rub. It can't stop at imagining. The imagining has to lead us to the steps. But before we can take the steps, we need to think of what it is we want. Life doesn't just happen to us. We participate in it. So why not let your imagination run wild? Allow yourself to be immersed in your wildest fantasy. And for heaven's sake please don't put limits on your imaginings. Don't qualify it. Don't second-guess it. Don't you let me hear you utter one single "Yeah, but..." This is yours alone. No one else needs to know about it. You don't have to be embarrassed by it. Give yourself the luxury of imagining your future as perfect as you can make it.

Now you can take some concrete steps toward it. Will it turn out exactly as you imagined? Perhaps. Perhaps not. No matter. It's the journey that matters. It's the doing that will end our stasis. And as long as you're pointing in the right direction, all you have to do is keep going. The imagining will point you in the right direction.

If you feel comfortable, I would love to hear some of your imaginings about what you want.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Hugs

I love hugs. I love giving hugs and I love receiving hugs. To me, hugs are wonderfully comforting and uplifting at the same time. I have never gone away from a hug feeling worse than before the hug.

I've always believed in the power of touch to help people feel better. Studies have shown stress and blood pressure can be lowered with a soothing touch. My boyfriend and I were discussing this the other day. During my highest times of stress is when I benefit the most from a hug. However, I've never been good at asking for a hug. I can ask for help in other ways, but for some reason it seems awkward to me to ask for a hug.

Unfortunately, the person I know I would never have to worry about asking for a hug because he's so willing to give them to me is 4400 miles away. :( So maybe that can be one of my challenges this year. Asking for hugs from people I know are willing to give them who are around me.

So hug a friend or loved one today. Both parties will benefit and it just feels darn good!

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Gratitude

My life took a drastic turn when I first heard of the idea of a Gratitude Journal and then put the idea into practice. A Gratitude Journal is simply that: a journal one writes in daily listing (usually) at least five things one is grateful for that day.

The things you list can be profound (health, love, family) or trivial (great parking spot at the store, an uncrowded bus on your commute to work, no bruises on the apple you brought for a snack). The point is that there are truly many things to be grateful for even in your worst of days. For example, every one of you reading this woke up this morning. Many people around the world didn't. You are able to read this post. Many people around the world can't read the most basic of words.

Once I started counting my blessings by keeping a Gratitude Journal, I realized how very fortunate I really am. It's humbling and uplifting all at the same time to come to that realization. I may not be rich. I may not be known by a lot of people. I don't have a glamorous career. But I have my health. I have a body that works and moves it as I will it to. I can see the beauty of nature. I can hear my loved one's voices. I can speak with kind words of love to those around me. And I am here. I have been given another day and the chance to make a difference in my life and hopefully in other's lives as well.

Give gratitude journaling a try for a week. I think you might find it just as moving and impactful as I have.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Father

"Father" is pretty formal. I used to call my dad "dad", but for my purposes here, the subject matter is important, not the name.

I debated on talking about this on my blog, and in the end I think it will be okay. My dad and I were never what you would call close. There were times I was pretty sure he didn't like me or was singling me out in a way he never did any of my other siblings. That may be due to the tunnel vision one has when one is younger and one's limited view of the big wide world. I seemed to get in trouble with him a lot and get lectured and yelled at while my brothers and sisters were told they could go. I tried to win his approval and always fell short. "You could have done that instead," or "If you had done this it would have looked better," comments stung and I internalized them. It still hurts to think of the hour-long yell/lecture I got because I didn't like what we were having for dinner one night.

I went away as an adult with the thought "If I'm not even good enough for my own dad, then how is anyone else ever going to love and accept me?" I've been trying since I was little to win and keep people's affection. Terrified that if I'm not always doing better and being "perfect", then that affection will be taken away.

My dad passed away 13 years ago and by the time he had gone I had made peace with things. I knew he wasn't being deliberately cruel. As messed up as his parenting style was, he did the best he knew how. It just turns out what he knew about good parenting was very little. I have forgiven him, but I don't think I miss him the same way everyone else in the family does. I think about him occasionally and I get sad about him being gone sometimes. I'm sad he doesn't know his two youngest grandkids. I'm sad he'll never meet my significant other. But there isn't a deep sadness or a "I miss him every day" kind of thought that ever goes through my head.

So if you have a good relationship with your dad, be grateful. If you have a bad relationship with your dad and you want to make it better for you--not anyone else--then do what you can. The truth is, we can't all have what I call the "Oreo Cookie Commercial" type of relationships with our dads. Sometimes dads aren't very nice people and it's perfectly okay to not want a relationship with them. Just make peace with it however you can. Forgive as soon as you can. And go forward knowing that you are okay. You are complete. You are whole. You are worthy. You are PERFECT.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Evolve

Evolve: To develop or achieve gradually

I guess one could argue that the journey I have been on since birth is one of evolution. We all evolve into different versions of ourselves throughout our entire lives. There are obvious changes, such as physical changes, but then there are those changes that happen internally and what feels like at a glacial pace. 

I'm not even the same person I was yesterday. I have made subtle changes to my thinking and to the way I handle situations. I did different things yesterday than I did the day before and today I will do still different things than I did yesterday. All of that adds up to my evolution as a human. A lot of the changes I'm making now toward my growth/evolution are conscious. There is a way of being I want to attain, a kind of person I want to be. I'm not quite there, but closer than I was a year ago, even closer than I was yesterday because of the choices I made and will continue to make. 

What kind of evolution do you want to make in your own life? What choices can you make today to bring you closer to where you want to be? Close your eyes and imagine what it would look like and feel like. Is there one defining moment when you will know you are there or will it be a series of smaller moments until the realization hits you? Really get that feeling and picture in your head until it's real for you. Then, slowly come back to the now. Having that feeling inside, knowing what it would be like, your subconscious will now do whatever it takes to get the feeling back and guide your choices. Revisit the scene every so often. It may evolve and change as well. Know that it may not look exactly like the picture in your head when the time comes, but the end result will be the same.

Peace, love, happy thoughts, and everything you desire coming to you my readers and fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

D is for Dancing

I've just come from one of my ballroom dance lessons. As usual, I learned more than just dance steps and technique.

I've always loved to dance. Put some music on and if I wasn't out on the dance floor, I was be-bopping in my chair. The dancing I've always done before the ballroom dance lessons was I guess what you would term "club" dancing. Just getting out there and moving to the music. No steps (unless it was a line dance), just movement. Interestingly, dancing is where I've always felt the least self conscious. As a consequence, I've often been told I'm a really good dancer.

I became interested in ballroom dancing when I was in middle school, perhaps earlier. I would watch ballroom dance competitions on PBS more often than not hosted by Juliet Prowse. I loved the smooth elegance of the waltzes and foxtrots and the fiery stalking moves of the tango and the romanticism of the rumba. As I got older and they stopped airing the competitions on PBS, I gobbled up every dancing movie I could.  I had always thought about taking ballroom lessons but had always left it as a "someday" idea. Last year, I realized I could wait around forever for the exact right time to take lessons, so I bit the bullet and signed up for some introductory lessons at a studio close to my house. I was immediately hooked.

My instructor is the right mix of demanding and gentle for me. I am challenged by what he asks of me and I don't always get the steps perfectly, but he never allows me to feel bad about it or beat myself up about it. I have learned dance steps, yes. I have refined my technique within the different dances most assuredly. But I have also learned patience with myself. I have learned that I can do something difficult and be good at it. I have learned that I can be elegant and graceful--two words I would never have used to describe myself a year ago.

Ballroom dance lessons are the best gift I have ever given myself.

C is for Confidence

I'm trying to figure out where my confidence started to erode and how it got to the point where it seemed like I didn't have any. In trying to stretch my memory back as far as I can go, I truly don't remember ever feeling confident. At least not the sort of confidence and boldness most kids seem to have. That fearlessness that everything is going to be fine. Even as a kid I was always worried (convinced) something horrible was going to happen.

I knew growing up that I was smart. I got good grades without much effort, but oftentimes kids like that falter as they get older. As I did. When learning and getting good grades comes easy, one never really learns how to try and how to work past blocks or stumbles. Now, as an adult, when something doesn't come easily to me I struggle to work past it. I used to tell myself "Aha! I KNEW it! The easy grades and smartness when I was young was just a fluke." Now I know that I can't possibly know everything nor can I possibly be good at everything the first time I attempt it. It's taken me a while to learn that however. My first inclination when I don't "get" something right away is to play the "See? I knew you would suck at this" tape. But with the help of wonderful people around me, I've begun to learn to beat up on myself less. It still happens, but I can usually catch it right away and re-frame it.

I still wish for a magic wand to magically "fix" things and make me the bold, confident, brave, fearless person I want to be. I think it's me still expecting things to come to me easily, which is not really what this journey through life is about is it?

I found this Ted Talk a few weeks ago and have been implementing the strategies outlined in it. It's a longer video, but well worth the watch. Click. Bookmark. Watch at your leisure. Enjoy.

Fake it until you BECOME it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Better

Today is a better day. It's cloudy and gloomy right now, but talking things over with my patience-of-a-saint boyfriend has brought some sunshine nonetheless.

There are some aspects about myself I appreciate and like. There are others, however, that I hate. The worst of these is my extreme lack of self-confidence. When I'm in severe self-doubt mode, I act irrationally. It almost feels as though my emotional maturity got stunted somewhere and I don't have tools to know how to talk things out and make my feelings known in an open, honest way.

Others say they see progress from where I was a year ago. I just don't see it myself--especially when I have bad days like Monday. I'm not sure where to go from here. I know I can't rely on anyone else for my confidence. I know the need for constant reassurance can get tedious for even the most patient of people. I don't know where to go from here. I'm looking for tools to help me feel better about myself. I know where I want to go, I just don't have the map yet.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Alone

Alone is how I'm feeling right now. That could be because I've spent most of the day by myself in my house. I ventured outside briefly for a walk to try to clear my head.

I'm in a committed relationship with a man I love so much, it doesn't seem possible. I never knew I could love someone this much who wasn't related to me by blood.

So why this feeling of alone? I'm sure part of it is the distance between us. He in Ireland and I in Colorado. There is a seven-hour time difference between us which makes timing an issue in our communication. Acutely so. We don't get to share those small moments in our lives that some couples take for granted--perhaps even find boring. We can't sit across the dinner table and discuss our days. We have snippets of conversation.

The distance is difficult. Some days are worse than others. Today was a bad day. Coming on the heels of yet another holiday spent apart. I took things personally that were not meant as such. And I lashed out in my hurt.

What I do know is that I love this man more than anything. I want to be the best person I can be because of him. I know I fall short of that mark sometimes. And I pray that I don't scare him away when I have days like today.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A to Z April challenge

I'm excited and intimidated by this year's challenge. I haven't been blogging as regularly as I would like and the A to Z challenge forces me to be a more consistent blogger. On the other hand, I worry about running out of things to say or somehow coming up short on being interesting or read-worthy.

I'm not sure I've yet found my blogger's "voice". My blogs tend to be fairly personal about what is going on within my world and I wonder if that has enough of a universal appeal to keep readers wanting to come back. Do I need a "hook"? A gimmick? I always want to be authentic. I don't want to hide anything--even the unsavory aspects of what I do and why I do them. That's the thing about becoming a more self aware human: one often finds out one's motives for things aren't always altruistic and are sometimes downright selfish and self-serving.

Nevertheless I will leap with both feet into next month's blogging challenge and know that I will enjoy it and stress about it and maybe even pull at my hair sometimes due to coming up blank on topics. I will also learn more about myself and others through reading their blogs and will come out in May better for it.

Happy blogging!