Archive for the ‘Observations’ Category

Worrying the worrier…

September 9th, 2013 | Josie

“Nerves provide me with energy.  They work for me.  It’s when I don’t have them, when I feel at ease, that I get worried.”  ~Mike Nichols

There is something wrong with me, I think, something totally, completely off with the way I think. I spend too much of my life worrying, planning and perseverating on the nuances of my worry. It’s become an actual lifestyle for me, this life of worry and doubt. I never think anything is good enough (especially not me), and I devote my energy and time trying to change the not-good-enough into enough. I think I realized a long time ago that this is probably an impossible task, and I think that very impossibility is what makes me continue to do it. This worry is a never-ending project, something to keep me busy even in my sleep.

The past few years have been marked by legitimate and illegitimate worries and doubts alike, but through all the uncertainty, I’ve also found the kind of happiness I never thought I would. That happiness comes most definitely in spite of my worries rather than because of them, so while I still find myself (often) slipping back into my old ways and tallying up my worries on some sort of perverse score card, I’m trying harder than ever to let the worries roll off, and to just take these amazing days ahead as they come… even though I’m worried I won’t be able to quell the worry!

 

Stick-to-it-iveness…

September 28th, 2011 | Josie

“Consider the postage stamp:  its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.”  ~Josh Billings

 

I’ll be the first to admit that my greatest fault (high atop the list of so many, for aren’t we all our own harshest critic?) is by far my inability to stick to one thing. In no place does this lack of “sticktoitiveness” make itself more apparent than in my crocheting: I see a project and fall madly in love with it, spending hours going over the pattern, plotting the yarn (buying more if/when my stash is deemed lacking in that elusive perfect yarn), and lovingly dedicating myself to the first stitches. I usually continue to adore the pattern until about half-way through a project, at which point I begin to get anxious. I grit my teeth and force myself through several more rows before I begin the search for another project, abandoning my half-done item in the back of the closet for a year or more, by which point I’ve either forgotten the pattern completely or pilfered the hook for use in another project and can’t remember the correct size. Sometimes I figure it out and finish it months and months later, and sometimes I scrap the whole thing as a lost cause (I’ve sacrilegiously thrown far more than my fair share of yarn in the garbage this way in the periodic purging of my castoffs). Regardless, I rarely complete what I set out to do.

My whole life is marked by this inability to finish what I’ve started. My writing, my health, my grand plans… all have suffered due to my seriously deficient persistence. If I can do one thing to better my life, it would be to exercise that particular muscle, strengthen it until, perhaps, I can make it through a whole week’s workout plan, or, *gasp* finish a blanket in less than three years! I have a nagging suspicion that if I could just master the art of finishing what I start, maybe other things would begin to fall in to place. Maybe not… but it’s a place to start!

 

 

Waking up from winter…

May 13th, 2011 | Josie

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  ~George Santayana

 

For me, there has always been a certain joy in the changing of the seasons; something is lost, but something else is gained. This is something that is especially true of spring. As the snow, become ubiquitious in the tedious and cold winter months, melts away to reveal the dead-but-awakening grass, I always feel this deep sense of anticipation. I have spent weeks (many of which involved uncharacteristic swings from snow to sweltering and back), waiting for my world to wake up.

 

Now that it has finally started to feel like spring, complete with torrential rains like today, I feel like things are starting to move again after months of winter hibernation. I feel as if my creativity, the part of myself that is most essentially me, is opening her eyes. She is stretching and yawning amidst a pile of rumpled bedclothes, hitting the snooze for just 10 more minutes. But really, I’m waking up.

Resolutions…

February 6th, 2011 | Josie

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity…”  ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Every single year I make resolutions for how this year is going to be “different,” how I am going to better myself in some fashion or another. Without fail, by the second week of January I’m already struggle to meet my own goals, and by the second week of February I’ve given up on them entirely. This year, as a gift to myself, my only resolution was to be happy (and healthy, but I’ll get into that more in a minute). I’m glad to say that so far, I’m succeeding in that endeavor. So, this year instead of giving up my resolve by February 10th, I’ve actually taken this long to find the  motivation to follow through with one of the things that makes me happiest… writing.Needless to say, I haven’t been doing nearly enough writing lately. As my birthday steadily approaches, I realized that it has been almost a whole year since I last bothered to write something in this supposed account of my days, not the apt-est of names for something that you write in only once a year. And what a year to fall behind! Writing has always been one of the best ways that I process information and happenings in my life, and as I just had one of the most eventful years of my life, it probably would have helped to hash it all out in words instead of muddling through it in the maze that are my own thoughts. So, in keeping with this theme of doing things that make me happy, I’m going to start off with a quick recap of everything that has happened in the last year:

  • I don’t think that I ever mentioned before I started dreadfully neglecting my posting that Charlie proposed last December. I knew that it was coming (we’d talked about it quite a lot, and he’d even taken me to approve of the ring), so in a gallant attempt to make the proposal a surprise, he showed up at my work on a random afternoon and popped the question right there in the lobby of the studio… Linda started hooting and hollering her congratulations before I even got around to saying yes. Less than a week after we got engaged, Charlie was laid off from his teaching job… Let’s just say it was a prophetic way to start out our engagement.
  • The first half of my 2010 was wrapped up in planning… my wedding, my life with Charlie, my future, everything. I was promoted to Office Manager in April, bringing with it more responsibility and a welcome move to normal working hours. Nine to five meant that I had more time to see Charlie, and of course, more time to organize and plan our impending nuptials!
  • Even though its been relentlessly proven to me that life cannot be planned and plotted in a chart, I continue to plod along with my plotting. Life, despite all my best intentions, always continues to to move along at its own pace, whether I give my permission or not. In August, a huge wrench was thrown in the delicate workings of my plans: I went to the doctor for persistent chest pain, and wound up being admitted to the hospital with several large blood clots in my lungs. My first thought was obviously that I’m way too young for this. Realizing that my grandfather died in his 50′s from the same thing, it occurred to me to panic. Charlie rushed to Madison from Milwaukee to be by my side, and my mom raced back from vacation in Michigan. Without going into gory and graphic details, I have to admit that this was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. On the other hand, it really opened my eyes to the blessings that I’ve been given: I have a supportive and loving family, amazing friends, and a man who loves me beyond all understanding. From the first shock and all through the slow and often frustrating recovery, I’ve learned to relax a little about everything, to take each day as they come and take nothing for granted. Life is too precious, to amazing to dismiss even a moment as unimportant, and I plan on living life to the fullest.
  • After my sudden illness, we all took a step back and decided to simplify the wedding plans. There were naturally a couple of hitches along the way (including a huge mix up with my dress weeks before the wedding, an unexpectedly huge catering bill, and the misplacing of Charlie’s naturalization papers), but all in all, my wedding was everything I ever dreamed it to be and more. On September 17th I became the proud owner of a new surname; all that matters is the fact I am now married to the love of my life. I cannot even begin to express the magnitude of that feeling, so I won’t even try. Suffice it to say that I am happier than I ever imagined possible.

As you can imagine, after all that excitement, the last few months of 2010 flew by, Now we are solidly into the new year, and I’m a happy lady. I’ll be the first to admit that my life in no way resembles the one I had planned for myself. I may not have been given everything I hoped and dreamed of… but I was definitely given everything I needed……and so much more!

The path I’m on…

March 20th, 2010 | Josie

“Sometimes the path you’re on is not as important as the direction you’re heading.”  ~Kevin Smith

It’s my birthday; I’m 23 today (though I’ve been telling everyone who asked that I’m 23 for about 2 months already…I hate that weird in between time when you are not yet older, but you don’t still feel younger). 23 is hardly old, in fact in a lot of ways I feel like I’ve barely begun to be an adult, that I’m still hovering in this weird place between grown-up woman and little girl. That’s probably normal, but it does make me think about how odd the idea of “growing up” is.Three and a half  years ago, when I started writing this account of days (or months, as the case has gotten lately), I thought that I was all grown up, that I knew what I wanted out of life, and that things would fall into place just so to lead me to the life of my dreams. Unfortunately, as most people can attest to once they are old and wise enough to realize that they don’t know everything, life isn’t a color-by-number or connect-the-dots type game, and it rarely goes the way we plan and scheme. My life, for one, has gone in a very, very different direction than I thought it would  at the age of 19. I was just shot of my first year in college, and I had such big plans…I was going to travel the world, spreading awe in my wake, and the people that I met would remember me as a mover and shaker of the highest order.What just a few years can do to plans. My dreams have been shattered and built back up almost too many times to count, and for the longest time I thought that they were broken beyond repair, beyond recognition. But I am starting to realize that maybe the cracks and tears in what has become of the hopes and dreams of my younger self have, in fact, revealed the truest hopes of all. These small glimmers that shine so bright through the cracks of my tattered plans are the naked, gut-wrenchingly honest dreams of my heart of hearts, the ones that can’t be damaged by heart-break or disappointment, the small hope in my heart that sings even in the rain.In a lot of ways, the things that I thought had broken me beyond breaking, the things that I thought would destroy my very essence, are the things that have allowed me to become who I am and to truly appreciate all that is so very good in my life. If I had never had a heart break in the past, I wouldn’t be able to see the love in my life now for the wonderful thing it is. If I had never spent time wandering, apparently lost in my own head, I wouldn’t understand now just how right it is for me to be where I am. If I had never cried my heart out, I wouldn’t know how good it is to smile. And if I’d never been sad, I wouldn’t know just how happy I am.Life is funny in the way it moves you in directions you never thought imaginable. When I left for Germany in September of 2007, I never on my life planned to be back in Wisconsin, to “settle down.” Now, here I am, happily engaged to the most incredible man in the world (even when I know he’s not perfect, he’s totally perfect for me), at a job I never would have dreamed would make me happy, with co-workers I adore and bosses that I am happy to call friends. Not many people are as lucky, and all I can do is marvel at the wonder of a life that in no way resembles the plans I designed for myself. None of this is what I thought that I wanted, but it is exactly what I needed!

Waiting for the questions to my answers…

October 27th, 2009 | Josie

“My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers. “ ~Tom Stoppard

 

I once heard a theory somewhere, I can’t remember quite where, that all the thoughts and ideas that people have exist, have always existed, outside the thinker. They are tangible beings in and of themselves, though perhaps not in the corporeal sense. They just float around the universe, biding their time until someone thinks them up. I don’t really believe this oddball idea, but I will admit that it has a certain amount of appeal to me right now, when most of the “thinking” that I do is sitting around, staring into blank space, waiting for something brilliant to strike me.  I try to look forward, to the next big idea or grand adventure, but instead I am stuck in bygones and might-have beens.

 

I’ve spent my entire rational life, as long as I can remember, trying to plan and plot my way to the life of my dreams. My plans have gone awry; they have crashed down on top of me time and time again. None of my big dreams have gone the way I planned, and I find my life at a stalemate. I am confused by my own wants and desires, because many of the grand things that I have always dreamed of and desired have fallen to the wayside. I’m left with only the bare skeleton of many bygone dreams, and rather than devastation, I only feel a pang of nostalgia for what could have, might have. I am surprised to feel little remorse for the passing of dreams I held so dear for so long. I have spent so many years cultivating meticulous answers to the questions I thought life would ask; I find myself at a loss for words, as my life asks questions I never prepared myself for.  I suppose in a way that these unexpected questions are next step I am looking for. If only I could force my feet to understand that and move!

Letting the moments slip by…

September 29th, 2009 | Josie

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.” ~Vita Sackville-West
For me, there is just the small matter of finding the time and the inspiration to brandish my net.  These days life is so full of everything and nothing, and I cannot seem to begin to get my mind wrapped around my own thoughts.

Refusing to stand in line…

July 21st, 2009 | Josie

It’s not easy taking my problems one at a time when they refuse to get in line.”  ~Ashleigh Brilliant

I have never been one to deal well with a loss of control, with the imperfection that being human inevitabley signifies. From the time I was a small girl, barely big enough to talk, I would script my play. It became such a problem that my own mother refused to play dolls with me, because there was no room for any rule but my own. This problem I have with control, my inability to be a dissapointment to my own ideas of what life should be like, has led to an almost constant scripting of my life. I plot my life out on paper, connecting all the dots until they make a picture that is acceptable to my grander schemes.Subsequently, I don’t handdle it well when that perfectly planned life begins to fall down around my ears.It’s not that I feel like I am always barely one step ahead of my finances. It’s not that I can’t seem to have a civil conversation with half the people in my life right now. Its not even that I lost my first job barely four months in, or that I allowed that job to make me question my goals, my outlook on life, and my faith in people. Even those things, one at a time, might be overcome.Its that all of these things are happening at one horrible moment, drowning me in what is clearly the evidence of my own falibility.  The fact that I can’t tell you where my life is going, or even where I want it to go, frustrates me to no end. I’m not supposed to still be figuring out what I’m going to do when I grow up, I’m supposed to be there already!I’m torn between grasping at the shreds that life is making of my plans, desperately attempting to piece them back together, or simply throwing everything out the window.  I’m not sure if I’m really brave enough to live my life without that plan, but I am sure that if I don’t learn to ease up on my need to control everything (and everyone) in my life, I’m going to push all of the people that I love away. I should have learned 20 years ago that if I refuse to play by any rules but my own, I’m going to constantly be playing alone.

Waiting to live…

March 26th, 2009 | Josie

“Waiting for the fish to biteor waiting for wind to fly a kite.Or waiting around for Friday nightor waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jakeor a pot to boilor a better breakor a string of pearlsor a pair of pantsor a wig with curlsor another chance.Everyone is just waiting.”~Dr. Seuss
I’m a bit worried that I am forever waiting for my life to begin, and am subsequently never happy with the life I am living…When I was a child, I always yearned to be older, always thinking that once I was an adult, people would take me seriously, I would do great things, and I would be happy. By the end of high school, it was all I could do not to jump out of my own skin. I’d been popular enough in high school, and busy, but it always seemed that once I got to college, that was when my life would really start. Then I went to college, and it was…not all that I expected. Again, I had friends, I was busy, but things just weren’t…perfect enough. So I moved to Germany, thought that everything would make sense then, and I’d be happy. Wrong again, all I did with my time was drink and make a fool of myself. In Hungary, I got my life back on track. I was heading in a direction that made sense, had found a man that I loved with all my heart and soul, who I was willing to change my whole world for. I thought that maybe for once in my life I was done waiting.When Leo and I broke up, my life derailed, worse than ever. I dug myself into a hole so deep I didn’t think I’d ever claw my way back out. But I did, bit by bit, over the summer. I was almost back to my self when I moved to London, ready for yet another fresh start. It went well, and at the same time, I still felt like I was waiting. When time came for me to move back the the States, I felt no wiser, and more lost. What good is a university diploma if you have no idea what to do with it? Getting this job was a godsend, the perfect answer to my prayers.  Now, finally, I was going to be able to be an adult, live the life I wanted, the world was finally going to fall in to place.Do I even need to say the inevitable? I’m worried that I’m not ever going to be happy, not really happy. I’m terrified that someday I’m going to wake up dead and realize that I never bothered to live at all, trapped in this forever waiting game.
“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”~Thomas La Mance

Crashing on uncertainty…

January 19th, 2009 | Josie

“Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.”  ~Charles Simic

Somedays, I feel as though I am in the middle of the ocean when I suddenly realize that I never knew how to swim. Everyone talks about it as “the beginning of the rest of your life.” What if I didn’t want a new beginning, because I wasn’t looking for an old end? The past has been far from perfect. In fact, the word “perfect” doesn’t even enter the equation when it comes to adding up the sum of all the parts of my life that I am slowly piecing back together. This conglomeration of broken bits and worn out tatters of the things that I once called my dreams is awkward, its strange and confusing. I often find myself standing with this thing that I call life in my hands, simply staring at it and trying to figure out what exactly it’s supposed to be. It’s broken and I have resigned myself to the fact that I don’t know how to fix it. Nor can I rely on anyone else to come along and construct something beautiful out of these lumps of lackluster life. There is nothing remotely beautiful about them as they are, therefore why would anyone bother? I may not know how to do it alone, but my best efforts, half-assed and inadequate as they may be, will have to be enough.I look at all the pieces, recognizing the beauty that once existed in a bit of shattered hope, a tear of ruined dreams. Can that beauty be, if not whole or same, somehow reshaped, made interesting in all its brokenness? Each time I begin to scratch away the marring and the dust, to reveal the shining possiblities for what they could be, I breathe wrong and the whole thing begins to crumble through my fingers again. I am lost without a map and no one from whom to ask direction. I need a lighthouse of my own before I crash on rocks in this choppy sea of uncertainty with only an empty bottle in my hands.