Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Changing Your Stars

I've been doing a bit of thinking lately. Mainly about who I am, where I've come from, what it took to get me to this point, that sort of thing.

It was never expected that I would go to college. Financially, it just wasn't possible. My grades were never good enough and, to be honest, I don't think anyone ever expected me to dream bigger. My cousin went to a tech college to get a degree, but he never did anything with it because he made better money at a job that didn't require a degree. 

I remember being in high school and my guidance counselor asked what I wanted to do after high school. I remember saying I wanted to be a nanny. I wasn't thinking too far ahead. I knew I always wanted to be a wife and mother. I never dreamed too far beyond that. I didn't have the traditional 5-year plan, let alone 10-year plan.

When I stepped onto the campus of the 4-year college I currently attend, this is exactly how I felt.

I didn't fit! I felt as if I were being judged by all these people who didn't have a clue about me. And I certainly thought they could tell how old I was by merely looking at me. I felt like I was too old to be in these classes. I felt too stupid! After all, why shouldn't I be able to work 40 hours a week, go to classes full-time, study, AND pass with amazing grades? I set myself up for complete and utter failure! And I felt completely alone in this world, which certainly didn't help me.
The worse I did in my classes, the more depressed I became. And the cycle was vicious! I had to work to pay my bills, but I needed to study to pass my classes. I didn't know how to balance it all! I lost my way and wandered along my Life's path, disoriented, depressed, and failing at everything.
I knew I was meant for more. My heart told me I was meant for more. And my mind needed more stimulation than I was getting at my job. That meant I HAD to stay in school. But I HAD to follow my heart, my passion, and tune out those who had no stake in my future.
"A Knight's Tale" is one of my favorite movies (if you can't tell) and this line has been my mantra for a long time. I just didn't realize it's significance until recently.
If you know anything about sailors, they always used the stars to direct them on their journeys. Stars showed them directions and the constellations, depending on the seasons. Stars showed them where they were and if they were headed in the right direction.

I was set on the road to being a wife and mother, but I was unhappy! I longed for more. I craved more. I needed to change my stars. I had stopped looking up to find my spot on my journey. When I finally stopped for a moment and took a glance at the sky, I realized I had lost my guiding star. So, I had to take a step back and study the stars and their alignments. It took me some time, but I trust my ship is moving in the right direction, following the northern-most star, and heading to the most fabulous destination I can imagine.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

I Am Where I Am Meant to Be...

For years, I have carried this quote with me. It has been my mantra whenever I've found myself questioning my life.

Looking at my life, I had plans. By this age, I had intended to have children who I would be seeing off to college, attending weddings, big family holidays. I was going to be married and planning our retirement. I would be half owner of a house, driving a better vehicle than I am, and life would have come together.

Instead, I am renting my home. I'm the one in college working on my bachelor's, not my children. No weddings are being planned. Holidays are a bit more subdued than I imagined they would be.

It is as if I have just beginning to find myself at this age. I'm learning new ways to cook and enjoying new foods. I'm elevating my heat levels in my cooking and loving every bit of it. I'm dipping my toes back into the waters of literature that I have always loved. I am falling back in love with Chaucer and Hemingway. I walk across campus and sit in classes with kids. I'm learning from them and forming friendships with them. I won't go bar hopping or partying with them, but to sit and share ideas, I am all for that.

At this age, I expected I would be settled and content with my life. Instead, I am loving my life! Hell, I'm living my life!

I had these big plans for where I was going and how I would get there and who would be on this journey with me. However, as I have been told by my mother recently, God has other plans.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Moved to Question...

This whole "not having an out of the house" job thing has freed up a lot of my time. I've baked bread, cookies, brownies, and cooked bourbon chicken with rice, meatloaf with potatoes, the most succulent venison roast with veggies (which became hash the next morning), and Dak Kang Jeung with Japchae. (I think I've put on 20 lbs.) I've cleaned my house, actually disposed of boxes (and if you know me, this is a HUGE step), and smudged my house. I've sat and written. Not on the series which I'm not ready to delve back into, but I've used writing prompts and written about 2000 words on something that just cried to be written.

I'm not one to turn movies on while I write because I think they are distracting. However, the other day, I needed something...I can't explain it, but I needed. I began the Netflix surf. I went through my list and found nothing that cried out to me. So, I began to simply browse. That is when I found this movie. It's called "Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding." It called out to me, so I thought "What the hell?" I turned it on and I got lost in this movie. Enough so that I started it over when it ended. I cried so hard. Not sure why, but it spoke to my gypsy soul. Of course, this made me begin to question the universe. It's a movie about a conservative daughter who was raised by a hippie mother, moves away, then returns home to find herself.

See, if you've read my posts or know me personally, you know my father was a Vietnam veteran. He despised Jane Fonda and, even more so, the hippie movement. How on earth did he end up with a daughter who, while I may not necessarily agree with Jane's politics, thinks Jane is an amazing actress? Nevermind, the gypsy soul that resides in my body. He and I had several interesting conversations throughout my life. We didn't always agree politically, but he listened. I mean, really listened to my beliefs and feelings. I like to think I made him a little more liberal, but let's be honest, that was never going to happen. He did learn to love incense but hated the patchouli oil I would wear. He laughed at my "rocks" (crystals) and my use of herbs and oils to heal. But he never put me down for them. "I fought a war so you could believe however you need to believe," he'd say.

Loving a hard-headed veteran is my destiny. It just is the way the universe leads me. And being on a liberal arts campus...well, I find I'm not as liberal as some. I'm one of those people who are enlightened but needs to have two feet on the ground. I trust the universe to send me what I need, but I need to take care of me, too. I can't depend on the universe to do all the work, ya know? My gypsy soul gets so misunderstood and confused sometimes. However, I'm too much my father's daughter. I need that balance of conservative and liberal. But if we're not moved to question things, then why are we here? 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Begin as You Mean to Go On"

I remember hearing those words a lot as I grew up. "Begin as you mean to go on." It took me a long time to understand the meaning of these words, but I've carried them with me for a lifetime. However, I don't always put them to use. This week, I did.

I started this new year, making myself promises. Promises to cut out the bad. Promises to love myself more. Promises to allow the good to flood my life. Promises to move with love, confidence, and respect in my daily life. Promises to allow myself to be free of the toxic behaviors of others. Promises to let love move me.
See, I've been working for the last two and a half years doing a job that I actually had liked. It wasn't going to be my career, but I didn't abhor it. It had become an abusive relationship and I finally had enough. After leaving work early due to some abusive behaviors and crying after I got home, I decided that enough was enough. I needed to begin as I mean to go on and that meant cutting the toxicity from my life. So, I quit. I walked out. I quit the job that guaranteed my independence and allowed me to rely on no one. With spring semester starting soon, I took a deep breath and leaped with faith.
A very charismatic man once told me "You and me are in this together. I'll hold your hand and we'll make it through." I asked him "What happens if we get to the edge of the cliff? Then what?" He just smiled and said "Then, we jump, but we jump together." It's all about taking a leap of faith!
Two years ago, I took a leap of faith when I quit the job I had in order to take this job. This job promised to be more, pay more, and would easily work around my schedule. Then, it stopped working. So, I took that leap the other day. I'm believing that something better is waiting for me. I'm praying that the universe and all that it holds will provide for me the things I need in order to live the life that I have.
I'm trying to actually follow the advice given to me as a kid. I'm beginning this year as I mean to go on...with peace, love, self-respect, self-confidence, and by cutting out the toxic people who drain me of any of those things.
So, I have made myself some comfort food, made new covers for the re-release of the books, and I've actually been writing. I'm practicing a bit of self-care and focusing on what matters. My intention is to live this life by my rules and doing things my way. After all, my mom told me that the day I was born, she was pretty sure that I had intended to live this life by no one else's rules. I began as I meant to go on...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

We are two days out from the new year and I'm sitting at my laptop in sheer disbelief. This year has flown by. I've been doing a bit of looking back over the last year and counting my blessings. 
I've learned a lot about myself this year. I've learned that I've got ambition and courage. I've stood up for myself and found the drive for success that I wondered if it ever existed. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made friends. I made myself a priority in my own life. And you know what? It made a huge difference. I focused on healthier eating, taking my vitamins on a regular basis, drinking more water, studied my ass off, and took the time to make a difference in my own life. I tried some different recipes and am pretty proud of myself. I eat a lot more veggies. (Pinterest has decided that I'm Asian because of the Asian recipes I have pinned.) I have made an effort to purchase clothing that flatters me and my body.

I've always been one to put others first. As a lifetime caregiver, I'm so used to putting others health and wellbeing above my own. But I found myself worn out and run down. I was mentally destroyed, emotionally broken, and physically torn apart at the seams. I had been so focused on everyone else in my life...their needs, their wants, their desires...that I neglected myself for far too long. 
2018 is my year! It will be the year I continue my journey toward self-care and making myself a priority. It means focusing on my education and my health. It means making changes that some people may not like, but they will have to get over it. I've spent too long listening to people who didn't have my best interests at heart. If you're going to be part of my life, you've got to understand my need to make my decisions for my own life and happiness. I'm trying to be the best possible me I can be...more me!

To those who have cheated on me, to those who have left me, to those who have hurt me, to those who didn't believe in me, to those who broke my heart, I say "Thank you!" Because of you, I've learned who I am, found my independence, took back my voice, and discovered my self-worth.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve! May 2018 bring you more blessings than your life can hold!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Silent Night

In the still of a very silent night, the only sound is coming from the great beast at my feet whose rumbles of snoring quake my bed. My holiday candles are lit and the flames are flickering softly, making shadows on my walls. I have music playing quietly. Not the holiday music most would think, but music to soothe my soul. It is Christmas Eve eve.

It won't be long now before sounds of "Santa can't come if you're still awake" will be heard as children are tucked in. Followed by the sounds of laughter as the gifts under the tree are unwrapped in the earliest of morning hours. Food will be cooking away and families will descend upon loved ones to enjoy some time together.

But I ask you for a favor: As you sit with your family and friends, eating meals that have been lovingly prepared in your homes, please remember those who are unable to be around their family's tables this holiday season.

I wanted to share this story with you, in case you have never heard it. It's one I heard a long time ago, but it touched my heart in such a big way. It's the tale of how the Christmas song "Silent Night" stopped a war. "On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 15 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 — and did they really play soccer on the battlefield?
Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own — which means that it’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce." (You can read the full story here.)

How amazing to think that, even in the midst of war, people on the opposing sides can find the magic of the holiday! So, while we should remember them all year through, can I ask you to pause a moment in your family celebrations and whisper a prayer, blessing, or thought for our military men and women? We often take them for granted. They have the tough jobs, the thankless jobs, and are putting their lives on the line every single day!

I want to take a moment to wish you a happy holiday season! From my home to yours, "Merry Christmas" and may 2018 find you happy, healthy, and grateful!

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Grown-Up Letter...

Dear Santa,
     There are people in the world who would say that I'm too old to be writing a letter to you, however, Grandma always told me I was never too old to believe. (My grandma was a smart woman :)) And I just don't give a shit about the world's opinion.
     I'm usually pretty snarky about these "Dear Santa" things. But here I am, being sincere and all. I have quite a list for you and all it comes from the deepest depths of my heart.
       I have a few things I want for myself, but first, I want to get the big stuff out of the way.
     Santa, I know most of this is big stuff and for most people it would be impossible, but I believe that if anyone can do it, you can.
     1) I want all of our soldiers to come home, safe and sound. So, I guess what I'm asking for is Peace on Earth. Our men and women in the military deserve so much more than we, as a nation, give them.
     2) I want every child of the world to know what it is to feel safe, secure, and loved. No child asks to be brought into this world and so often, we forget that.
     3) I also would like every animal to know they are loved and cherished members of the family. We tend to forget that their care, too, was given to us by their Creator.
     4) I would love to have every homeless veteran to have a home, the medical attention they deserve, and the financial help owed to them from an often ungrateful nation.
     I could be selfish and ask for so many things that only money can buy for myself, but, in all truthfulness, Santa, I've gotten older and maybe a bit wiser. I've learned Christmas isn't about stuff or things. Christmas is about love, laughter, friends and family, and joy. So for myself I ask for the following things:
     1) May my friends and family know how dearly loved they are and may the new year bring them all the happiness their hearts will allow. May they be blessed this holiday and all year through!
     2) I've worked hard this year. I've studied until I can study no more. I've typed, added, edited, divided, read, learned, and tested until my eyes and brain hurt. Please, Santa, let me get passing grades in all of my classes!
     3) The next two I will not give words to, however, I was always told that you know what's in my heart. I don't ask for perfection, Santa, but you know my sincerest desires and what lies in the cold black depths of my heart.
     I know this is short notice and some of these things are next to impossible, but it weighed on my heart and mind tonight. 
     I still believe in you, Santa, and I hope you still believe in me, too!
     With love,
P.S. Diesel would like to add Nudges and squeaky toys to the list.