Category Archives: fear

Happiness

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I am not quite sure what shifted in my life over the past few months, but I can feel it.  I am happier than I have been in years.  It makes no sense on the surface.  This summer, quite frankly, I was miserable beyond words, and now, I am far from it.

Nothing major changed.  I am still single (more on that later), I am only slightly closer to starting the family I so desperately want, and my dad still hasn’t fully retired from the canoe livery.  My teaching career is not yet off the ground, and I am not yet a published author.  It just doesn’t matter that much anymore.  I am working toward the items I listed above, with one notable exception:  a relationship.

In fact, finally letting go of the idea that I should be in a relationship may be responsible for my new-found happiness – and my renewed focus.  After finally fully addressing my feelings for one man in particular and letting him know exactly how I feel (it wasn’t going to work), I just didn’t care anymore.

It isn’t that I am completely giving up on the idea of ever being in a relationship.  No, it is more than that.  Maybe I am finally learning that there is nothing stopping me from what I want out of life.  I know what it is like to be in an awful relationship, how destructive it can be, and how it can slowly erode over time without one even realizing it until it is far too late.  I also know what it is like to continually wonder if you should let your true feelings be known.  In this case, this person’s friendship meant so much to me that I did not want to jeopardize it.  That is what I feared most:  that he would no longer be a part of my life.

For the first time in 15 years – actually, most of my adult life – I am not in a relationship nor do I necessarily want to be in one.  There is no one in my life I would like to date, and I am fine with it.  Finally.

So far, my little “yes” experiment has been a success.  You can read more about it here.  There is so much to do and so little time.

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Book Review: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Girl

I recently read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis per my sister’s recommendation.  Actually, it all started with the meme above.  I then found out that my sister loved the book.  Of course, it immediately moved to the top of my to be read pile.  I love the fact that I belong to a family that shares and recommends books!

Here are a few gems from the book and my thoughts. There are many more I could share here, but I will leave you to discover them yourself.  I highly recommend the Kindle version of the book as it allows the reader to highlight important passages without defacing a physical book.

Sometimes choosing to walk away, even if it means breaking your own heart, can be the greatest act of self-love you have access to. – Page 53.

This just seems to sum up the process I put myself through this summer.  The sad part is that I should have definitively learned this lesson years ago.  I wish everyone, women and men, knew this before heading off to college – or shortly thereafter.  It ultimately would have saved me so much time and heartache.

I knew I was letting my fear control me, that the worry about giving my heart away again only to have it stomped on kept me from taking a next step.  In the midst of such heartache, it’s hard not to worry.  I cried so many tears, thinking, Lord, why would you put this desire on my heart if it wasn’t ever going to come true?  And, God, if we try again, you’re not actually sending my heart out to be slaughtered, right? – Page 108.

Oh, have I been there!  More than once.  There are times when I still wonder how I will ever be able to trust again.  It is not easy to pick ourselves up and try again.  Yet, we must.

I want you to see someone who kept showing up again and again, even when it was tearing her apart.  I want you to see someone who kept walking in faith because she understood that God’s plan for her life was magnificent – even if it was never easy.  And even if it wasn’t easy, she was bold and courageous and honest even when the truth was hard to share. – Page 173

I admit, lately I have struggled to have faith that God does indeed have a plan for my life.  I am currently slogging through it all to figure out exactly what that plan is.  If I am meant to have a family of my own, why haven’t I been able to make it work yet?  Why is that the big unnegotiable of my life if, indeed, it is impossible?  I ask myself questions similar to this all the time.  Ultimately, it is not my timing, but God’s.  It will eventually work out.  Until then, I just need to be patient and keep working.  It will never be easy.

As you can see, I loved the book.  It is a great example of a book that came into my life at the exact time I needed to read it.  I happened to read it just as I was struggling with these questions.  While I would recommend the book to every young woman I know, it doesn’t mean I think the book is perfect.

If fact, in one sense, the book left me feeling unsettled.  It is a feeling I get whenever I get too involved in anything related to religion.  What no one seems to address in organized religion – and Rachel seems to unintentionally fall into this – is that not all women will end up married and become mothers.  Singles in the church, particularly those no longer in their twenties, seem to get left behind.  Whether explicit or implicit, the focus always seems to be on marriage and family.

While I think Rachel was right to spend much of her book focused on marriage and motherhood – after all, this book shares her life experiences – she doesn’t address what happens if you do end up alone.  She doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the possibility even though she goes out of the way to address situations not her own.  This may not be true, but it appears she assumes everyone will end up married and a mother.  A simple acknowledgement would have served the book well.  Then again, maybe I am reading way too much into this and too sensitive.  It doesn’t matter.  The book itself is great, and I highly recommend it.

By the way, I love how she addresses adoption in this book.  I am so glad I read this book before I started the adoption process.  Her family’s story related to foster care and adoption is not an easy one, but it does have a wonderful outcome.  In the end, that is all that matters.

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Regrets

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This post is not about politics.  Instead, it is about what is important in life.  In the wake of Barbara Bush’s death, I keep coming across this quote.  It sticks with me, and I can’t help but realize this is how I have tried to live my life thus far.  I hope one day it will pay off.

This quote is the reason why I moved back to Michigan after falling in love with Austin, Texas and even beginning my career in Houston.  It is why I moved back to Omer, Michigan to help take care of my grandmother.  It is also the reason why I can’t imagine living far from family, even if it would greatly benefit my career (and social life) to do so.

That is only the beginning.  This quote also contains the reason why a ten-year relationship dissolved.  It helps to explain decades of worry regarding how I will ever create a family of my own, as well as my struggle to do just that.  In short, it is why I get up every morning.  It is my why.  If someone ever wanted to understand the craziness that is my life at times, all he or she would have to do is think of the implications of this quote.  I choose to try and avoid such regrets.  I still have them, but I imagine not quite so many as others.

When I think of the elder Bushes, I think of their marriage of 73 years.  Frankly, I can’t imagine being that in love.  Unfortunately, I have no frame of reference.  I also can’t imagine facing that large of a loss in life.  It saddens me.  My maternal grandparents were married 56 years.  At this point, my parents have already been married 40 years.  At 37, I am beginning to wonder if I will ever meet the right man.  If I don’t, I won’t be the only one missing out.

On a lighter note …

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Book Review: Marlena: A Novel by Julie Buntin

I enjoyed reading Marlena.  While it contains components of a YA (young adult) novel, I would classify it as emerging adult.  Fair warning:  Lots of drugs and sex involved.  The good news is that the drugs, and to a lesser extent, sex, drive the plot.  They are necessary to the plot, and fortunately, do not glamorize the consequences of either.  By the way, when I mention drugs here, I am including alcohol.

I didn’t read Marlena with a set purpose in mind.  It wasn’t a book club pick or anything.  In fact, I discovered it by browsing a selection of online books available through my library’s website.  It just sounded good.  It is ultimately a tale of two best friends growing up in a dull northern Michigan town.  It took a while for me to get into the book.  The protagonist, Cat, isn’t the easiest person to get to know.  Also, in the beginning, I didn’t get the fixation on drugs.  She clearly understands right from wrong, but she is fixated on her new best friend Marlena and making the worst possible choices for her life.  By approximately a quarter of the way through the book, I was hooked and found it difficult to put down.

Cat, at least the older, wiser version in the novel, nails what it is like to grow up, to love and lose.  There are so many powerful lines I found myself highlighting them in my Kindle copy, forgetting that it is a library book.  Below are a few of what I consider to be the most powerful lines in the novel.

Close enough to being a writer, isn’t it, working at a library? – Page 45

As an aspiring writer, I loved this quote.  Ultimately, Cat is a writer, but it took her a while to find her voice.  Her empathy for other young women is clearly demonstrated later in the novel in her approach to difficult young library patrons.

For so many women, the process of becoming requires two.  It’s not hard to make out the marks the other one left. – Page 96

This passage really made me think.  I thought of the friends, male and female, in both high school and college, who helped to shape the woman I became.  It made me think of what I wrote about W.M here in particular.  There is something to be said for reconnecting with old friends after years apart and seemingly nothing (and everything) has changed.

I think it’s pretty common for teenagers to fantasize about dying young.  We knew that time would force us into sacrifices – we wanted to flame out before making the choices that would determine who we became.  When you were an adult, all the promise of your life was foreclosed upon, every day just a series of compromises mitigated by little pleasures that distracted you from your former wildness, from your truth. – Pages 129-130

This struck a nerve with me as well.  First, I vividly remember being terrified of dying young as a teenager.  Both of my parents lost close relatives as teenagers, and those stories stayed with me.  Second, the fact that “time would force us into sacrifices” continues to be at the forefront of my mind.  I have always tried to find a way to leave as many doors open as possible.  There is just too much I want to do in life.

I was always aware, in some buried place, that girls my age had just entered their peak prettiness, and that once my pretty years were spent my value would begin leaking away.  I saw it on TV and in magazines, in the faces of my teachers and women in the grocery store, women who were no longer looked at … – Page 143

I so desperately want this not to be true, but it is true.  I loathe this fact about our culture.  Hopefully I will live long enough to see it change, permanently.

Before that year I was nothing but a soft, formless girl, waiting for someone to come along and tell me who to be. – Page 250

Thinking back to what I was like at ages 15-16, I like to think I was somehow stronger than Cat.  Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case; I could closely identify with Cat in the novel.  It makes the novel much darker.  There is a fine line between the successful teenage Cat and the degenerate.

I would recommend the book, especially if you love to write or like reading about love and loss (or even friendship in general).  Is the story sad?  Yes, but it is also full of hope.  It does seem that Cat is at least trying to deal with her loss, with varying degrees of success.

I know I have talked about this before, but I am convinced the right books find me at exactly the right time.  While I certainly wouldn’t call Marlena great literature, it addresses certain topics I would like to cover in my own writing.  I will be rereading this novel.

Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Perseverance

The Heavy Link – Perfectionism and Procrastination

The Most Important Thing a Writer Needs

As much as I don’t want to admit it, I am a perfectionist to a fault.  There is a link to perfectionism and procrastination, and frankly, I am not sure what to do about it.  Several years ago, my boss, who through a strange set of circumstances has known me most of my life, once labeled me as a perfectionist.  I bristled.  I didn’t want to admit it.  I would admit that I was a perfectionist at one time.  At the time, I did not believe the label still applied to me.  Well, it does.  It always will.  I may have let a few things go, but I still strive for perfection in everything I do.

Procrastination is what’s wrong with perfectionism.  Procrastination keeps me from doing what I need to do, especially when it comes to my writing and my personal life.  Trying not to procrastinate led me to make one of the biggest mistakes of my life:  my ex.  I should have listened to my intuition and realized that it wasn’t going to work from the beginning, but I committed myself to making it work.  Unfortunately, it was one sided, and I was too stubborn to realize it.  Procrastination is behind my most egregious mistakes.  When will I learn not to question myself too much and just do what I need to do?

Fortunately, perseverance is part of the equation as well.  I will succeed.  It isn’t too late to go back to do what I need to do.  I am thankful that I am stubborn enough to stick with it until the end.  It may take me decades, but I will persevere as a writer.  I must stop comparing myself to anyone else.  How many times do I tell myself that before I begin to believe it?

The List

While the road ahead is straightforward professionally, that couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to my personal life.  Maybe that is why it has been on my mind so much lately.  It has even taken over my dreams.  Last night, as I cleaned out my blogroll and searched for new blogs, I came across quite possibly the most definitive list of qualities to look for in a man.  I was actually toying with the idea of writing one myself (not here, but someplace way more private), but Ali over at Gimme Some Oven beat me to it.  Here it is in all its glory:  The list.  There are only two things I would add:  It would be nice not to have to cook alone, and he would have to like to read to some extent.  I don’t mind cooking, but I can’t stand cooking alone.  At the very least keep me company!  Also, I love books and reading – anything to do with language.  I don’t care as much about what he reads as long as we can intelligently talk about books.

Bottom line:  There isn’t much to disagree with on her list.  I completely understand when she talks about being too willing to compromise.  There are some things that should remain non-negotiable.  I learned this the hard way, and I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy if I hadn’t tried so hard to make things work.  Sometimes things are meant to fail.  I am much happier single than I ever was in a relationship.  That is what scares me and keeps me up at night.  Am I meant to be alone – or have I just not been in the right relationship yet?

What If?

Fear

All of the things I fear the most have been on my mind lately. What gets me the most is the realization that in most cases, at least some version of what I would consider the worst life has to offer has already happened in my life. I have lost so many wonderful people close to me. I’ve been forced to start over so many times I’ve lost count. I thought that I would marry only to have that relationship end after 10 years in the most painful way imaginable. I’ve dealt with infertility for decades now. I’ve faced so much rejection in all areas of my that it shouldn’t faze me when it comes to writing. Oh, but it does.

Actually, that’s my point: Why do I continue to let fear dictate what I do when I’ve faced most, if not all, of my worst fears head on? A friend of mine made me realize that I am perfectly content to work on things up to a point as long as it is well within my comfort zone (going back to school, for example), but I then hesitate to take the next step when things become too real, when the stakes are the highest. I am at a point in my life where I need to act:

1. Life is way too short.

2. I am as prepared as I will ever be.

It is frightening and liberating at the same time. I am out of excuses.

Would it be so terrible if for once we didn’t give into our deepest fears, especially when it represents the difference between pursuing our dreams or settling for the status quo? It makes me wonder what life would be like if women actually supported one another and stopped tearing down one another constantly. It still happens all too often. What if honesty ruled?

Beauty

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