Tag Archives: trust

To those who hold a paddle

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One of the hardest parts about living on a different continent is the relational trauma it causes. For some, time and distance define the construct of how much another person is capable of mattering. For others, it’s as if we all live in a bizarre 1959 episode of Twilight Zone where time and distance don’t seem to exist…. another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind.

Or maybe they just know how to use the internet.

While I don’t like the feeling that I’m growing out of certain relationships and growing into others, I’m not sure why that feeling makes me so uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem realistic that through all of life’s changing tides, the person whom we chose to be our soulmate when we were in grade school would be our soulmate after life has thrashed us both about a bit. But, sometimes they still are. And sometimes, a great friend in one context turns out to be a black hole, sucking all joy out of your life, in another. (Cue Twilight Zone theme song). We grow and we change. People we once trusted break our trust and sometimes break our hearts, perhaps even forcing us into waters so rough that forgiveness cannot tread.

So, the question I’m struggling with is when is the right time to let go, to give up, to give in, to throw in the towel. I’m exhausted from trying to keep relationships afloat that would otherwise sink. How long can you be the only one paddling the boat before your arms give out?

Home is where my feet are. I realize that there’s an extra effort involved in being my friend because of that. I can’t just grab a quick cup of coffee or attend barbecues and ugly sweater parties because I’m not usually around for them. The only way people know what’s going on in my life is if they ignore the thousands of miles and several time zones dividing us, find time to not be “busy,” and embrace the technology and time differences required to stay involved. I’m constantly surprised by the people who find the effort worth it and the ones who don’t.

I have friends that I’ve had my whole life, many of whom I’ll know until death takes whichever of us first. But some of my strongest, most cherished relationships are those that are newer, but based on love and respect, and yes, a lot of effort. If that commitment doesn’t exude from both sides, no matter how long ago the foundation was set, no new growth, and only deterioration can occur.

And sometimes, I know, the best answer is to do nothing. Let those who want to walk away (or swim, for the sake of analogy) go. I’m fortunate to have so many people in my life who are committed to loving me and who will row along beside me. I should express it to them more often because I cherish my them so damn much. As for the others, well, the inescapable end that haunts us all is too close to worry about anyone unwilling to pick up a a paddle.

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140 Days to Prague

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Somewhere between our situation and our outlook resides our character.

I get that life is complicated. I get that things won’t always go your way. But, sometimes I feel like the universe has a pillow over my face.

This year has been wild. I’ve had a surgery, two car accidents, bought a one-way ticket to Europe and have had more friends get married than I can count. Those are just the big things. In between, I’m dodging calls from boys I want to forget, listening to my mother warn me about “ending up alone”  – including a recent article about how people who live alone die younger – and working behind a desk at a job that I’ve mentally checked out of. And then a million more things like it.

All the stress has been making me a little nuts. Has me seeing a glass half-empty, brown grass sort of world. But yesterday, I was going to get ice-cream with a friend and I put on a pair of jeans that have until recently, been too tight to wear. And I took a good look at my butt and all the rest melted away. I know we are a “big picture” world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these little moments of bliss.

Thus, 140 days to Prague is born. A countdown until I leave and start my new life. 140 things in the interim that I find to be thankful for. Just one good thing a day. Suffocated or not, I can find one magical moment every day to be thankful for.

Day 1: The way your bum looks in the perfect-fitting pair of jeans. Hug my legs and cup my cheeks, wash is dark, pockets deep. Thanks, good-ass-jeans.

Soulkin – What Love Means to Me

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I don’t believe in a whole lot anymore. The only time I say the words God or Jesus, it is in a fit of profanity. If I had to fill in a bubble on a survey, I’d be some Zen Buddhist, agnostic, atheist, existentialist.  I know that is an offensive contradiction, but I change my mind all the time, and I’m not quite ready to commit to my spiritual status yet. But, despite my lack of spiritual certainty, I’ve become so much more present in my life lately.

I read a short book by Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Breath, which helps you think about being present in your present. Focusing on what you are doing as you are doing it – centering your mind, narrowing your focus. It’s liberating avoiding multi-tasking. And trust me, I’m a serial multi-tasker. I’ll do squats while blow drying my hair and brushing my teeth and reading a book. That’s no exaggeration. I’m crazy.

So it was a challenge just to read – and only read. To breathe and only breathe, to step and only step. This book, combined with the knowledge of my moving soon makes me appreciate everything I do immensely because I know I won’t be able to see and do and feel these things for much longer. My stimulus is about to change dramatically. So I’ve noticed the world again. The way you imagine a small child sees the world, when everything is new and full of mystery and won’t hurt you. I have been exponentially more happy, far less worried and even more positive towards myself and those around me. Just by being where I am – by doing less – thinking less.

I feel good energy all around me lately, and I’ve noticed it for the first time in a long time.

Again, I’m not sure about some greater power in the universe – we might be functioning off coincidence or self-fulfilling prophecy alone, but every once in a while, the stars line up. I have people in my life who have completely changed the outcome of my life. When I feared a bad relationship would never stop haunting me, it literally packed its bags and moved away. When I was bottoming out in my life, I met a dear friend who challenged me to start a new one. And there are so many of these little happy coincidences to be grateful for. It astonishes me that just when we feel we are at our breaking point, someone comes along to carry some of our burden, and walk beside us. Perhaps someone we never expected to be there in the first place.

I don’t know a whole lot about the Nicholas Sparks, Jane Austen versions of love.  My Pride and Prejudice fantasy ended up being the satirical version with the zombies. But I have so much love for the people in my life – I know people give me those sad expressions when they see my single status, but I just can’t seem to find the feeling that I’m missing out on anything. I’ve had friends sit through sniveling and crying and who have seen my most unshowered, unattractive version of myself, who have stripped me down butt naked and thrown me in a cold shower after a night of binge drinking, who have put up with panic attacks and tantrums and the most irrational and inappropriate behavior you can imagine. The ones who really matter – who have always been there- I know they aren’t going anywhere. The ones that do get away, well, it’s probably the very best thing that they did.

Some people will come and go – some will matter, some won’t. We don’t have time to open our hearts up to everyone, and even if we did, who would want to? The most precious gift you can give someone are your secrets, your time, your trust.  So when you find one of those people – your soulkin – hold on to them as long as they let you. If they want out, be thankful for the time you had together, but let them go. Know that there comes a time when you have to take the gloves off, and have a little trust in whatever it is that you trust. Don’t ever let anyone drag you down on their way out. No matter who it is, they are not worth it. Ever.

Above all, be open to being open. Let in all of the love that you possibly can, and then let in a little more. Accept people who want to be in your life – they see something in you that you may not even see in yourself. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and who will fight beside you. Then be that for someone who needs you. It may make their day, it may give them hope, and it could change you both forever.

Laws of good love and friendship.

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This has been one of the most exciting months of my life. I moved back home, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and had my first surgery.

This made me realize a few really important things about love that I’ve always thought about but spent little time contemplating. Not sappy, Nicholas Sparks love, but real-life, down and dirty way-you-love-your-best-friends-love.

First: moving home.

Not an easy task when you’re 24 years old. I was mostly embarrassed at first, but my friends helped conjure up some good excuses, and then reminded me of them after the first week of my Dad texting me when I wasn’t home by midnight. Bigger picture excuses. This brings me to thing I’ve learned about love and friendship NUMBER 1: Be a public defender.

Moving home was the right decision for me, as difficult as it was to swallow the giant lump of pride I kept gagging on the first few weeks. Moving home allowed me Prague. If I would have continued my lease, not only would I not have the money to go, but I wouldn’t have realized that my family will survive without me. I needed the support of my friends to make it okay. Even though I was trying to convince myself that it was okay to be 24 and living at home, and it was okay to make a leap and be scared to death, I needed the people around me who know me the best to tell me the same thing. I needed the people around me to believe in me.

Which led to the next step in my journey: Committing to Prague.

There were mixed reactions. A little sadness, some excitement, but one really bad reaction that came from some of the people I’m closest to:

The selfish reaction. A ‘that’s not fair of you to leave‘ reaction that I got from some people – some with whom I’m closest. It was disappointing. I realize that I’m going to be really far away and that’s scary. I realize our dreams were different when we were younger.  We won’t get married like we joked about; I may not be around for the things I thought I would; you may die while I’m gone; I may die while I’m gone.

So this led to thing I’ve learned about love and friendship NUMBER 2: Listen to all testimony before delivering your verdict.

I’ve sooo been this friend before: “OMG you’re engaged… are you sure that’s a good idea?” WRONG. “Have you thought this through?” WRONG. “You’re kidding, right?” WRONG!

By this time, the person telling you does think it’s a good idea, they have thought it through and they are not kidding. A lot of times, your initial reaction has your best interest at heart, even if you might not realize it. The life you have been picturing is shattered and you are hurt. I know that a lot of the bad reactions I got about Prague were because my friends were scared and felt betrayed that all of the plans we had been making for so long went up in a puff of Eastern European smoke.

But here’s the thing: even if you know – without a doubt – that your friend is ruining their life, now isn’t the time to bring it up. Hear. Listen. Absorb. Our little brains are swimming with endorphins and nerves are firing like missiles in WWII at the point. Shooting down someone’s dreams won’t talk them out of it. They just won’t talk to you about it. If someone you care about is really making a bad decision, bring it up another time when the anxiety of their big news is no longer around and you’re both able to breach the subject with a cool head.

Chances are, even if they are making a mistake in your eyes, you are going to have to learn to live with it, because as much as they love you, they probably won’t be changing their mind. Which brings us to things I’ve learned about love and friendship NUMBER 3: The judge sits alone.  In other words, if you decide to be judgmental, you run the risk that no one will care what your ruling is.

Next came the surgery.

So, with the excitement of Prague still fresh on my mind and my Facebook wall, I started feeling bad. Eventually, my stomach ache led to a surgery (This isn’t a pity post – I’m fine). But, this was my first of anything like this before. I only told a few people because it wasn’t a big deal at the time and I didn’t want people to worry.

But, it made me realize who did worry, which made me see things differently. I got flowers from work and at first, thought how caring that was. But then I realized, no one from work asked how I was doing but one person (my boss) and no one even responded to the email I sent updating everyone. The disheartening truth is that the flowers are probably a box on a list to check when someone is out of work for more than a week. A corporate facade of concern. And that wasn’t the only facade. The one person who I confided in  completely couldn’t even remember to remember. He pretended to be concerned, like he thought he was supposed to, but didn’t follow through in the end (and trust me, that wasn’t the first time he wasn’t able to follow through.) There’s another lesson here: Eventually, you run out of appeals. And, when that day comes, you don’t get to be a thing that matters anymore. People will stop answering your calls.

The check-list flowers did make me realize, one thing, however: There are people who genuinely care about me. That is a good feeling to have. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not measuring the value of my friendships on who showed the most concern about me during this one week of my life; I only told a few people anyway. I did grow to re-appreciate a few people a lot more though. Dominic, who I forced into being my best friend in the seventh grade, has been texting me relentlessly. Having him prove that he was worried to death made me love him even more. Kaylyn came over just to spend a few hours doing nothing with me on a Friday night because I couldn’t go anywhere. There are others, of course too. This leads me to thought on love and friendship Number 5: When you love someone, never stop proving it to them. 

I’ve received more love in the form of calls, texts, skypes, cards, flowers, milkshakes (thanks mom), kind words and favors
than I remember ever having received at any one time in my life. Or, maybe I’ve just noticed it more.

And, it’s not that we need these things to validate our love, but I’ll tell you this: it is good to be reminded. So thank you
to everyone in my life who continues to be my public defenders, my jury, my peers and my constant support.
You make me better and make me strive for better.

So my closing thought is this: Notice the love around you, and return it in droves.