extraordinary sameness.

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“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” –William James

We like to think that our experience is special, that our story is singularly unique. That our experience is beautiful or horrible in a way no other story is, that it is exceptionally poignant in the scheme of the universe.

We say to each other “LOOK. THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME” via Facebook and Instagram. We throw our experiences out into the world, hoping that by sharing them we can hold onto them, creating a backup copy just to make sure our memory doesn’t let us down.

Look, world- I have accomplished this goal. Look, friends- I have hit this milestone.

Look, everyone- I have suffered this loss, I have felt this heartbreak. It is far too much to bear alone.

And in every instance we search for others to validate the hope that our lives are worth noting, that our actions deserve a second glance, a thumbs up, a double tap. We hope that we are doing something extraordinary.

It is hard, I think, to realize that our stories are not all that special. That the tales of a broken heart, of lost love, of joy, of happily ever after- these are told time and again, in different places, with different names, including various obstacles. We are not writing new stories, we are retelling the same ones.

What a revelation, to some of us, that our experience is not new, that it is shared with countless others. That the lessons you have learned, the conclusions you have drawn, the simple truths of life that you have been forced to discover for yourself have been there, all along.

That all of the LOOK, THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE posts online are all the same, in varying forms, with different filters on photos, in different parts of the world.

But does that make them any less important, or special, or sacred?

It is humbling and mystifying to discover that someone else out there, in fact many people out there, have felt what you are feeling, have struggled and triumphed so very much like you have. It is beautiful and wonderful to know that, no, our experience is not all that unique- and because of that there is a whole world of people with which to say, ‘yes, me too.’

That is the reason we stare at paintings and cry at movies. It is the thing that whispers to us that dancing is beautiful, the invisible force that makes a crowd sway to music.

We each experience joy, love, and loss ourselves, and the feelings are special because they are our own, they are unique in the very action of feeling them.

But in our reaction to them, in the way they shape our lives, our minds, our world- they are shared. They are beautiful, special. They are what make us human, what makes this ‘the human experience.’

They are what make us the same. And that is what makes them so very important.

mommying

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“The only love that I really believe in is a mother’s love for her children.” ―Karl Lagerfeld

I never really thought about being a mom too much. I also never thought I’d be a young-ish mom; it wasn’t something I saw for myself for a while.

I definitely never thought I’d be a single mom, but life had other plans for me in that area too. (Hey, next potential boyfriend: I come with an adorable bundle of joy sporting some serious baby blues and an ex that I will never be able to totally ex out of my life… you’ve been warned.)

Although I never thought about these things, here I am – so much for five-year plans, huh? But my daughter has made my life so much fuller and more amazing than I thought it would be at 23.

This happy little girl has taught me more in 6 months than I thought possible. You know when your parents used to say “someday when you’re a mom/dad, you’ll understand”? To a certain extent they just wanted you to stop whining; to an even larger extent, they were totally justified.

Being a parent is kind of weird. You have this little person totally dependent on you, expecting you to know what to do in every situation when in reality, you’re learning just as much about the world as they are.

For your entire life, you’re someone’s daughter. You’re someone’s granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin. These are the relationships that define you as you learn and grow. And then, suddenly, you’re something else entirely. You’re mommy.

You’re suddenly pulled in a million different directions, and you’re conflicted in so many different ways. You want to spend the most time possible with your little one, but you also want to have just a minute to yourself. You want to go to work and have a career but you don’t want to leave the house because you just want to watch them grow. You can’t wait to watch her walk and talk but want her to stay exactly this little forever.

The humbling and sometimes overwhelming part is, just when you get ‘the hang of it’ they’ll hit a new milestone and everything will change. With a new ability comes new dangers, new fears. And although there are a lot of wonderful things to share with them, there will be so many things you can’t protect them from.

All of those concepts made sense to me before but they have a whole new meaning now. It’s equal parts terrifying and exhilarating, and I think most people muddle through by ignoring the terrifying feeling as much as possible.

I’m only 30% sure I know what I’m doing and 100% lucky to have tons of guidance and help. Despite the uncertainties that arise daily, I am so full of joy and love that I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without her.

I never really thought about being a mom, and now it’s one of the few things I think about. I think about diapers and formula and mashed carrots and cute little princess outfits- but much more often, I think about how I was incredibly and amazingly blessed with something I never thought about before.

Sometimes, when life throws you for a loop, it’s the best thing that ever happens to you. My ‘loop’ turned into the love of my life.

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forgive (don’t forget)

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“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
–Mark Twain

 
How do you forgive someone who has hurt you so badly that the mere sight of them actually causes you physical pain?

People hurt each other every day, but for some reason every time we get hurt it stings just as much as that first time. Sometimes it stings worse than the first time. Sometimes the word “sting” comes nowhere close to doing the feeling justice. So when it comes time to forgive the people who hurt you and move forward with your life, where do you even begin?

In my experience the first step is always forgiving yourself for letting them hurt you. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Maybe that’s true, but I don’t know if that same idea applies to love and friendship. Sometimes your feelings don’t listen to your better judgment and you let people in without realizing it. Before you know it, your heart is in pieces and you’re pretty sure you didn’t consent to that. Forgive yourself anyway.

Remember all of the people who are still by your side, the ones that never wavered. Those are the people who deserve your time and energy, and that’s where you should direct your attention now. Those who hurt you don’t deserve your tears or your thoughts, your regrets and your sleepless nights. Be sad if you have to, and then surround yourself with the people who deserve your attention.

Go back to your life, to the things that make you really happy. Find joy in the little moments that make up your day. Take every excuse to smile, every excuse to laugh. Say yes more often than you say no. Get up and get out. Soon enough, those happy moments will turn into happy days, and happy weeks and happy months. Give yourself permission to be happy.

 Finally, realize that holding on to pain and anger will hurt you much more than they hurt anyone else. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. Hating the people that hurt you takes just as much time and energy as loving them. Letting go of as much as possible, of a new little piece of pain every day, is the only way to heal. It’s the only way to forgive the people that have hurt you, and the only way to deprive them from ruling your life from afar. Let go, and keep the past from controlling your future.

 Every time we get hurt, the process of healing is the same. And so is the final conclusion, the lesson we learn time and time again: life is too short to spend it with the people who treat you badly.

So forgive. Don’t forget, because then you won’t have learned anything, and your pain will have been in vain. But as difficult as it is, as much as it hurts- forgive the people who have wronged you, especially the ones who don’t deserve it. Because they’re the people that need it the most.

patience is (not) my virtue

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“And sure enough even waiting will end… if you can just wait long enough.” –William Faulkner

They say good things come to those who wait. Too bad I’ve never been a patient person. Exhibit A: I was born 5 weeks early. (Life sounded fun, okay?)

All my life I’ve heard it: Slow down, hang on. Wait a second. Let’s save that for tomorrow. Maybe next time.

Being stuck in traffic by myself makes me completely crazy. Long lines are torture. Slow walkers are my pet peeve. The world is big, there’s a lot to see, and technology has made instant gratification that much more accessible.

Long story short, patience has never been my virtue. The thing is, it’s going to have to become one of my virtues, and quickly.

My due date is in four days, and my daughter does not seem to share my sense of urgency. She’s still hanging out and kicking me in the lungs where I would’ve been wearing those onesies weeks ago. (She already has a nicer wardrobe than me, you would think she’d want to hurry up and wear it. People really like buying baby clothes, by the way.)

Every day she has yet to arrive is a new lesson- in patience, in humility, in love- and I’m assuming that will only continue, most likely for the rest of my life.

I can only hope that patience skips a generation and that I by some miracle acquire some more along the way.

I keep reminding myself to stop wishing the time away. To enjoy what’s right in front of me, every single second of every single day. I tell myself things happen when they’re meant to.

Tomorrow, someone else will be here and someone else might be gone. Tomorrow could be your big break or your rock bottom. Tomorrow could be a first or a last. All there really is, is today.

I should’ve learned this lesson by now, considering all of the goodbyes I’ve had to say and all of the unexpected bits of life that have fallen into my lap. It surprises me that I have to keep learning it, yet here we are. (Did I mention I’m also stubborn?)

“All we have is today” should be my new mantra. I can’t tell if that sounds morbid or hopeful. Maybe it’s a little of both, but I think it is, at the very least, true.

All I have is today, so here goes my attempt to slow down a tad, to be a little more patient and a little more appreciative of the quiet moments, and of the waiting game. There’s nothing wrong with excitement, anticipation, and spontaneity; but there’s a lot wrong with neglecting to enjoy right now.

As our friend Ferris taught us, life moves pretty fast (I never thought I’d be a mom at 23). I’ve got to stop and look around, because I don’t intend on missing anything.

I do believe that good things come to those who wait. Exhibit A: I’ve been waiting for this little lady, and she’s going to be extraordinary.

words, words, words

IMG_3209 “Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.” -Rumi

I haven’t written anything for myself in a long time. I could just say “life got in the way” but that would be a lie. More truthfully, life gave me much more than I was able to put into words.

For a writer, the writing of something is what makes it real. Life manifests when we’re forced to take our hectic and hazy mess of thought and turn it into something concrete, into words.

And lately I found that I couldn’t land on the right words. Maybe I didn’t want to face turning my thoughts into something real.

And then, the longer I waited, the more I perused the Internet these past couple of months, the more I started to feel that words were empty. Maybe it’s all the listicles.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written them too. But why do we need to package things in lists and make the human experience fit neatly into categories? Life isn’t like that. It’s not organized into nice little lists, as much as we would like it to be- and as much as those listicles would like to make it seem.

You can Google 5 Steps to Get Your Dream Job or 10 Songs to Get You Through a Breakup, but all you’ll find is words. Nailing the interview or moving past the pain? There are no steps for that. It’s all just you, living.

You can make a new year’s resolution, but until you turn it into action, it’s empty. You can apologize for your mistakes, but until you change your ways, it’s just words. You can say you learned a lesson, but unless you apply it to the way you’re living, you haven’t really learned much of anything at all.

Resolutions made, mistakes, lessons learned- it’s all just life. It’s messy and it’s complicated. Sometimes it can be put into words, but it’s never, ever simple. That’s why the words we choose ARE important, and why we shouldn’t take them lightly.

I’m determined to put meaning back into my words, to turn my hazy thoughts into something concrete, into real actions. So where should I start?

My goals, and my words, are simple.

I want to embrace the changes in my life.

I want to choose the things that will bring happiness, regardless of the opinions and approval of others, the difficulty of the task ahead or the level of uncertainty that will accompany new things.

I want to take the inconvenient route if that one will bring the most joy, but I don’t overlook life’s simple pleasures.

I want to make sure I never take the good times for granted.

And I want to take every chance I get to say ‘I love you.’

Here’s to hoping this is more than just words, and that I can get my words to mean something again- even if just to me.