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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about how people who boast about confidence tend to have the least amount of it because they have confused confidence with acting like a brat.  You know these people - those who always have to talk about what they're spending their (or someone else's) money on by throwing it all over social media.  Who am I kidding though?  Just today I put up a Facebook post about paying a $201 speeding ticket that I received in Texas a few weeks ago.
Yeah, who needs to show off a $200 steak entree when you have a moving violation?  I broke the law!
It's all a little silly if I'm honest, but whatever makes you feel better about yourself, right?
But that's just the problem... 
Too many of us still walk away feeling empty inside.

I think the quality of our relationships has sort of fallen off and made many of us so insecure that the only way to feel important or relevant is with the most disconnected encouragement possible.  That's why some of us post crap like:
"Well, that didn't go like I wanted it to."
"I don't even want to talk about it."
Fishing for contact and sympathy of things unknown to our "audience" makes us feel like we're accomplishing something instead of actually asking someone we trust to listen to us vent or talk through whatever the issue is.  We want to feel loved and encouraged by the masses of our following instead of having a core of people who invest equally in our lives as we do into their's.
"Oh my god, that sounds SOOOO boring."
But it works and you don't look like a dramatic pre-teen trapped in a twenty-five year old body.  Well, maybe you do.  In which case I would suggest warm cookies and a nap.

Maybe it's because I don't take social media seriously anymore.  Sure, if I think of something off the wall and potentially encouraging, I'll throw it on up there, or if I buy a squirrel mug...
But, for the most part, my social media life is a reflection of me and the weird things I do.  A stark contrast to reaching out for digital comfort because it took the guy thirty minutes instead of fifteen for an oil change, followed by Starbucks running out of pumpkin flavored corn juice to go into my latte.
"Ugh.  Bad day, don't ask.  Don't eveeeeen!"
Don't worry, I never will.

Sometimes Gawker picks up the stuff I write, so I end up reading Jezebel from time to time (yeah, I know).  A few days ago, they had an interesting article about how people who make regular posts online about their happiness in relationships are usually the most unsure of their stability. 
 Sometimes I think men and women temporarily change their names to "My Fiancee" a few months before their wedding because I rarely see their future spouse calling them by their birth name.  
I'm not against marriage, I actually love the idea, but I think people get caught up in the game of throwing titles around so much that they lose scope of their relationship.  It's that growth thing I talk about so often.
I can't say for certain, but I would like to think the whole "social media reach-out" idea with relationships also applies to whatever else we talk or complain most about in that outlet as well, right?

We land right back at our relationships though, and living in the digital age makes faux-friends more accessible than tangible friends.  I'm not saying you can't have friends you don't see physically who won't back you up and aren't important, but I'm saying having a solid group of tangible friends is equally as important.  It comes back to confidence and not feeling it necessary to be needy online.  Because when you act like a spoiled, entitled brat on the internet, more people talk about you than if you acted that way in front of a friend who would then tell you that you're acting like a complete idiot...
At the very least, they would act like they don't know you when you are kicking and screaming on the floor, saying something about Chick-fil-a not having a gluten free menu...

That's the real world translation.
You're welcome.

Grace and Peace,

The title of this blog came from the lyrics in this song:

Monday, September 29, 2014

You face those hard moments of reality sometimes when something you've tried so hard to maintain just doesn't work out anymore.
My grandfather had this old Ford truck that he sort of pieced together from a junk yard because that was all he could afford at the time.  Someone had used that truck,  appreciated it for a relevant and meaningful amount of years, and moved on.  Then my grandfather found it ideal for himself and also used it for some time before he was unable to maintain it anymore due to his age.  Now it belongs to someone else even though he has been gone nearly two decades, but it still exists, and last I heard, it looks brand new.

Taking the concept to a personal level, there are different reasons as to why we become distant to the people who were formerly so important to us.  Sometimes we just grow so differently and rapidly but still try to hold on to what once was flourishing, even though the act of maintaining it holds us back.   I think we all continually grow as long as we allow ourselves to do so. With this personal growth we also  have a tendency to outgrow some people whom we held as incredibly important in the past.  Sometimes it is clinging onto that one little piece of the past that keeps us from thriving or moving forward in other things we are seeking.  In our desperation to not lose what was once so valuable, so perfect, and so beautiful, we make life more complicated because letting go seems harder.  We would rather have our emotions and heart shatter into a million pieces over time than go through one hard and devastating break.  "I'll just hang on for a little while longer." is the common excuse and the most logical way to avoid the issue in our own minds. Only because ignoring reality is often easier than accepting it.

The thing is, sometimes people just grow apart and there is nothing we can do about that without hindering our own progress in life - without taking a step back and dwelling there.
But it's hard.
It's really hard.
When you go through so much only to figure out that one day it would have to start fading away into that horrible moment where maintaining the clash is just too damaging to continue.

I guess the hardest part is knowing that it wasn't either person's fault.  That's just how life goes and how perspectives change.  Romance is actually easier because you can get hurt and walk away, but invested friendships which have fallen apart can make you feel like you're being eaten alive from the inside out in a way you can't really prevent.
You assumed it would always be the same for the rest of your life.

None of this hard reality means you love someone any less and it doesn't mean you wouldn't move mountains for them in a time of dire need.  What it means is that sometimes the attempt at maintaining each other for the sake of each other will never be mutual anymore.
We're told to bend and not break and that it's better to compromise instead.
Sometimes you have to break...
Sometimes you have to leave the past where it was to preserve the memories.
It doesn't mean you don't care.
It just means you're growing up...

No drama, no baggage, just growth.
We all go through it, some more gracefully than others.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

About a dozen years ago, someone told me that if you spend most of your time talking, you won't ever know anything, but if you spend most of your time listening, you will notice things that most others never will.  Hearing that made more of an impact on me than it probably should have and for the longest time, people seemed to think the shyness I had as a child had followed me into adulthood.  The reality was that I had trained myself to pay attention to everything around me and only spoke or interjected when I actually needed to instead of when I just wanted to hear myself talk.  I guess you could say I observe people, but not in a weird way (chew on this blog if you think that's weird).
To sum up that little tidbit, I pay attention to practically everything around me and can identify character traits or mannerisms better than most people I know.

Everyone goes through issues in life where they feel as if they are being eaten alive, not making any progress, or have fallen into an incessant whirlwind of no escape from their own, earthly hell.  The common reaction from our friends and family is to "focus on the positives" in our lives as a means of escaping it.  When we were in high school, the school stress meant we went out with our friends on weekends.  When we were in college, it meant we (most) partied, did drugs, or drank ourselves stupid on the weekends - pretty much every weekend.  
So, we get stressed in high school, escape on the weekends.
Graduate, go to college, escape on the weekends.
Graduate from college, get into the workforce...

Do you see where I am headed with this?
Escaping high school was fine because we were looking forward to college and escaping from college was fine because we were looking forward to our career.  Then our career starts going, we make a few career transitions (the migratory nature of our job market is insane, by the way) and we use the weekends and holidays to escape from that. The difference between doing that now and doing that when we were teenagers and college students is that most of us aren't escaping to anything other than a routine.  We'll complain about the job we have or the path we are taking, use those two days off each week to do anything but what we had just been doing over the past five days, wake up on Monday and do it all over again.  We're not looking forward to anything other than the work week ending again.

But hey, that's fine, your weekends aren't always the same, right?  I mean, last week you went to a different bar and instead of having mimosas on Sunday morning, you stayed at home and cooked breakfast with some friends.  Maybe you were nursing a hangover or maybe you weren't.  Maybe you were looking for a new love interest or maybe you weren't.  There is a good chance, however, that you were trying to escape from your situation because those two days or holiday weekend are "all you have".  Actually, what you have is a majority time consumption situation you aren't happy with that also isn't your ideal.

I'm not saying everyone in our generation is unhappy, but something I really have noticed over the years is the increasing amount of people my age who aren't happy in what they are doing with life.  I see loads of young people who would rather opt for a temporary solution to their unhappiness than to spend that free time investing in the future of their own happiness.  You know, so they aren't miserable those other five days of the week?

Hey, she was cute, so you had to take her out because you can just focus on bettering your life next weekend or after work one day next week.
They have every football game playing at once down the street...
The mimosas are only three dollars today...
That sale is only once a year...
I just want to watch movies today...
I don't really know him, but he's having a birthday party, so...

Filling up our free time with anything, and I mean anything to distract us from our own reality is incredibly easy.  Finding the time to spend with ourselves and better our situations is where things become difficult, because we make it that way.

I lived that life of following the herd because that's what everyone does on the weekends and that is how everyone escapes.  Being one who pays attention, I see the majority of people I know doing the same thing, the difference now being that I escaped the boring routine.  When I started spending time with myself and thinking for myself, I started feeling more fulfilled and more motivated.  The ideas and the drive came to me like I hadn't experienced since the days I spent performing my music in front of crowds.  I'm not making myself an example to you, but I'm saying if I can lay all of the other routine elements of life to the side and figure out who I really am and what I am capable of, finding your own method to discover yourself and pursue can't be that far fetched.

Sometimes life isn't about balance.
Juggling is only entertaining when you're watching a street performer.
Life is meant to be lived.
Passions are meant to be explored.
Push it hard enough, focus long enough, and you may find a way to make a living while truly living for what you love.
If not, your quality of life will surely increase at the very least.
Instead of focusing on the good or easiest things in life, focus on trying to fix the places that keep you from happiness.

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is it that you're trying to get out of life exactly and what steps should you take to get there?

Everything seems to follow a process with us as a generation, even if that same system has failed to work and carries a much proven track record.  Certain aspects of our lives and the way we live them evolved, but so many of those other attributes have only managed to follow in the steps of those who walked before us.  Laying the groundwork for our future is a great thing, but following the example of the previous generation has a tendency to result in the same failures as happened the first time around.

Our parents looked for their soul mates and married that person.
Then half of them divorced.
"They were caught up in the moment, that person wasn't their soul mate."
Considering nearly half of the people I knew growing up who have married their soul mates are also divorced tells me that nearly everyone is still getting it wrong.

We were told to work for someone, get a good retirement plan, house, kids, white picket fence.
Then the bubble burst and many of our parents forfeited that life they had built.
"Go to school!  You'll have a guaranteed opportunity when you get out."
The lucky ones found those jobs, but most aren't even using their degrees and the idea of a "career" is all but non existent.  Some of the hardest working and most motivated people I know are creeping up on thirty years old and still haven't found where they would like to be in their careers.  Others have given up and settled in or have become the corporate monsters that make people from other countries think Americans are terrible, gluttonous, excessive beings.

We were told to be ourselves and find out who we really are, but they took away our art programs or filled them with teachers who weren't passionate about what they were doing.  
They encouraged us to sit in a classroom and take tests.
They taught us that using your hands and thinking for yourself was for the meek and uneducated.
I believed this until I was in my mid-twenties, unfortunately.
I believed that I was nothing without a corner office, a formal client base, and a BMW.
I missed too many good years of not having a clue who I really am.

The media showed me that I needed to pay attention to what everyone else was doing and that reality television was real.  When you're in your twenties, you are supposed to get drunk on the weekends and party all the time.  You're supposed to make mistakes and allow yourself to be used by other people (and use them in return).  
That mindset and expectation made me realize I am an alcoholic.
When you can drink a fifth of whiskey in one sitting, wake up, function, and do it over again day-in, day-out, you are owned by that poison.  
Yeah, it almost killed me.
But that's what I was supposed to be doing, so it was okay.
Brushes with death at the mercy of a bottle is considered normal because some people still don't believe me.  They did it on TV, they did it in the movies, everyone around me did it, but I wasn't built for it.
I see many others just like me who are still stuck in the fog and have no idea.

What does this have to do with anything?
I think our beliefs need some restoration.
We were told what to do and shown the example to live by in many ways by everyone before us who had managed to either succeed or screw it all up.  A generation of creators and those who pave the way for those who come after us is what we were supposed to be, but most of us decided to live in a false sense of happiness and fall in line instead of being innovative, original, or creative.  
We would rather be influenced than be influential.
We would rather be told what to do than go in blindly and take a chance on life.  

Everything we do is defined for some reason and I don't understand it because the more you define something, the more complicated life tends to become.  
"I'll be happy when I'm married and have kids."
"I'll be happy when I find my significant other."
"I'll be happy when I make more money and don't have to work as much."
"I'll be happy when I can buy a new car every year."
Pay close attention though, and think about how this applies in your own circle:
The people I know who define their own happiness are the most unhappy people I have ever met.
You don't put your ultimate happiness on one set of terms, bank it off one situation, one person, nor a group of people.  Happiness comes with fulfillment and should be a continual process of growth, not a definition tied to a set moment in time.

Someone once told me that everything I see related to life is one or the other - black or white.
I've heard that's a character flaw, but I don't see it that way.
I would rather make a decision or come to a conclusion on one side of the fence or the other.  The middle ground, the politically correct, and the murky mess in between any discussion or opinion is where life gets complicated and stressful without justification.  It's how I write people out of my life and also how I welcome them in.  I don't consider it a flaw, I consider it a strength and an honesty to myself.

The confidence I have now came when I realized that angels aren't people.
(Stick with me, the following isn't religious, but it's making a point.)
I spent most of my life thinking that when you died, you became an angel.  Christians I knew told me this, posts on social media in times of tragedy did the same, but it wasn't until I actually looked into the idea for myself that I realized the truth.  Nowhere does it say in any ancient, religious text that people become angels when they die, but all of these scriptures are very clear in stating that angels and humans are entirely separate beings.  This is a phenomena and fabricated idea which emerged over the past thirty years or so through fictional books, movies, and television.  The thing is, this belief has been repeated so many times that people started believing it as the truth, even though it isn't written down in any of the books which found these religions.  It makes a convincing, yet fictional story though.
When I realized all of this, I realized how easy it is to make people believe anything.

It's because we're influenced instead of being influential.  
Anyone can make money, anyone can have a false sense of fulfillment, and anyone can fall in line.
We can change the machine, the method, the stereotype, and stop being typical.
We can leave the expectations behind and live life for what it is while bringing down the antiquated system of big business and a cookie cutter life.

We can do it.
We're running out of time.
We can keep bragging about what we can't take with us when we die, or we can leave behind more than some suits, debt, and empty bottles.

I went on a trip to see a friend recently and he told me something that his wife had said about her grandfather:
"She told me that after her grandfather died, she never heard about anything he was going to do, but what she did hear about was all of the incredible things he had accomplished."

Make life meaningful.
Live for you.

Grace and Peace,