New York Diaries Part 1

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You probably won’t know this about me, but I lived in New York for a bit. While my family lives there, I don’t call myself a New Yorker, I only lived there for 2 years. In contrast I’ve been in California for almost 15 years now, by all accounts I’m Californian. But there is something about New York that seems to draw you in, it’s a magnificent place of diverse night-life, people, cuisine, art and so much more, and we haven’t even talked about it’s history.

For those that haven’t been to New York it would probably be a bit overwhelming, so much to see and not enough time. I promised myself that I would take some time to write while I’m here, lets face it there’s a million things to inspire writing here. Before I tell you more about my Trip so far, I’d like to share something else with you. I took some time during my flight and lay-over to read a few chapters from “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown.

…A twenty-minute walk that I do  is better than a four-mile run that I don’t do. The imperfect book that gets published is better than the perfect book that never leaves my computer.

I’ve been in a bit of a mental funk lately, not feeling motivated to write, socialize, and be around others. When it comes to writing, sometimes I feel like a bit of a perfectionist. Instead of just writing, I tend to not write unless I think it’s perfect. I think it was great for me to learn this lesson from Brene Brown before my trip, in a way it got me out of my perfectionist state. What I got from Brene’s book was to not always strive for perfection, sure there are times when something should be perfect, but is perfection right for every aspect of life? In another lesson Brene points out that perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. If you look at Painters, sure there are some boundaries, but artists have the liberty to operate outside of borders.

So what does any of this have to do with my imageNew York trip? I think it was great for me to change my attitude before coming back to New York. There’s so much inspiration here, and I needed to be in the right mood to soak it all up. New York is an interesting place. As I started saying in the beginning there’s so much exciting things here, yet as I looked around, I noticed that everyone seemed to have a bleak and down trodden look. Perhaps it’s because I was on the Subway, or perhaps it’s because it was 30 degrees outside. By the way if you’ve never riden the New York city subway, you should try it at least once before you die, of course you might also die there too. As I rode the subway I couldn’t help but think that there was so much that the City had to offer, yet I was wondering how many of those people took time to appreciate the beauty that’s right outside. Even though we’re in a closed cramped space, everyone really seemed like they were in their own bubble. This all had me asking a similar question of my own life. What things am I missing out on in life that I could be enjoying? Am I going through my life not appreciating the beauty that’s right around the corner?

So what’s the lesson? Life can be inherently hard, sometimes work, life and responsibilities get us out of focus. While life is un-folding around us, beauty is also right there. If there’s one thing I want you to remember is this, take time to enjoy the beauty around you, and we’ll all be a little happier today.

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Ahh! If only I can do it all over again!

Hindsight

I think one of my best qualities is that I can be a bit of a Romantic, sorry but I don’t mean in the ‘give flowers’ or  ‘writing love ballads’ or even ‘saying sweet nothings into your ear’ kinda way. Well it’s not that I don’t like doing those things. I’m talking about the thing many of us do, we look to the future or back at the past, and we see things through those wonderful rose colored glasses. Where you said the right words, and got exactly the outcome you were looking for. You saw that cute girl/guy, came up with a witty comment, and now you have a date set for a few days. Of course reality looks a lot different, the witty thing got you blank stares, and worse yet, you don’t have a date set for next week. I’m talking about that kind of romanticizing. While it could be as a result of Movies, or Society, or my upbringing, or a whole range of things. I think it’s just another part of my personality, and it can me used for good or bad. Growing up back in Georgetown, and not the Brownstones of Washington DC, but in Guyana (please refrain from thinking I’m talking about Guinea in the continent of Africa). It was common for me to pass the day at the window at the front of our house looking out at the world beyond. This lead to not only my love of Airplanes, but my ability to look to the future, and imagine it in all it’s glory and potential. My imagination was my virtual playground, sometimes I wonder if I should have been an artist, but then again I was never good at using colors anyway. Today my life doesn’t look anything as I had imagined, I barely recognize myself. Sometimes I wonder if I’m watching a movie, and think that I’m going to wake up at any moment.

Would I really had done it differently!

I’m sure that this isn’t an isolated problem in my wild imagination, but something that most people recognize in themselves. I find myself thinking those famous words, “if only I had a chance to do it all again!” I found myself thinking about where I am today, and as if on que, I asked “what would I had done differently?” But that’s the joke isn’t it, that’s the fallacy we often find ourselves believing don’t we? The truth is that at the time, whether it turned out to be a good or a bad decision; I made the decision that was best at that time. Meaning that with all the information I had in front of me at the time, I made a calculated decision, and I went with it. So to say that if I could go back in time I would do it any differently, well that’s just a lie I’m telling myself. Even if I was to wake up tomorrow and be 10 years younger, would I know then what I knew today?

It’s idiotic to think that I some how decided to make a bad decision in the past, which led me here. When in reality I made a decision at the time based on all the facts. Now that I’m in the future, I can look back and see the product of my decision.

Am I doomed to repeat past mistakes!

My active imagination also works overtime, I find that I compare myself to other’s all the time. Sometimes it’s not even an active thought, but something that seems to have a mind of it’s own. I’ve mentioned in many posts that I’m not where I’d like to be. Meaning that @ 34 yrs old/young, I didn’t imagine I’d still be un-married, no children, no career to speak of. Then again I always did things at a different pace. With each day I’m growing and learning, while I do look back, experience is showing me that I’m making the best decisions I can. Looking back now I can say that I felt strong emotions about not taking the step I took. So I can say with certainty that I made the right decision, the truth is today I’m older and wiser. Given the same choices today, I know that I would do things differently, but that’s today. No use romanticizing about the past or the future, in the future I’ll know more than I did today, so those decisions will be different too. I can say that my life today is different than it was 1 year ago. I’m learning to forgive myself for past mistakes. While they serve as a reminder, and a testament to by growth, my past is just that. I’m thankful that I have the gumption to learn from my mistakes, and that I can stop myself from romanticizing too much about the past, to learn to be grateful for these moments I have.

Asking WHY isn’t the right question

I was not planning on including this section, but after reading a few posts, and reflecting from the Church sermon from this weekend. This section seems to add a few more layers. Thank you SingleStrides for your post that also coincided with what I was writing, and is a good segue to a conclusion. Tragedy, pain, and heartbreak are not isolated to some people, but it’s a shared experience we ALL have. Sometimes things happen and we ask WHY? I think it’s interesting that even though we as humans have a limited understanding, we try to explain away everything to just one finite answer. The problem is that sometimes there are so many treads and outcomes that results in something bad happening. I’ve learnt from my personal experience and those around me, that sometimes when we experience pain, it’s not always a direct result of our actions. What I have come to understand in my moments of reflection is that although I experienced pain, what came out of it made me stronger. In cases where I experienced personal pain or heartbreak, I was able to either connect better to my faith and core values, or I was put on the right path if I was off. Of course I recognize that this simplified explanation is exactly what I was talking about earlier, trying to make simple the complicated. Now what I’m not saying is “EVERYTHING happens for a reason.” Sometimes terrible thing happen and there is no explanation, why did someone have to die, why is there so much violence, hunger, etc in the world. Instead of focusing on the why, I’ve learnt through my experiences that focusing on whether a particular event is an opportunity for growth, is a better focus for my attention. An opportunity to increase in my faith, live closer to my Ethical Compass, or become a better version of myself. In some of those instances my prayers were answered, it’s just that I didn’t like the answer. I’ve also learnt that despite my own desires, I’m Exactly where I need to be. Of course there could have been so many other versions to my story, but today I’m here, and so are you. If you’re reading this and it resonates with you, then we’re both in the right place. It’s not really beneficial for me to question whether I’m where I should be. If I’m too busy asking questions, I’m not living, I’m not experiencing my full potential.

We only have this life to life right now, all we can do is our Best. If you approach each day giving it ALL that you’re capable of that day, no one can hold that against you. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to share the same space with people who are out there living their lives. To those who don’t take no for an answer and let others define you. To my fellow bloggers, you’re an inspiration to me each day. To my friend S. yes you do inspire me, and I’m writing this because you kept nagging, pushing me to keep writing.

If you’re willing to Listen, Life is willing to Teach you

Last week a friend of mine wasn’t feeling so chipper, so I wanted to do something nice for her. We agreed to meet up at the end of the week, when both our schedules seemed to align. So the day came, and I wasn’t sure of exactly when we’ were meeting. You know how it is, you text someone, then when they respond it’s about something else. Before you know it you’re chatting, and important details get forgotten. Eventually I didn’t end up meeting my friend, we were definitely not on the same page about the timing. At first I was upset, because lately it seems our timing is always off, someone is always unclear about when we’re supposed to meet.

Sometimes it’s not always about ME!

While a communication faux-pas would be a great topic to write about, it’s not the focal point of what I learnt from that experience. I started by saying I wanted to do something nice for my friend, but at some point I made it about me. In my mind I was going into it with my own agenda. It had been some time since I’d seen her, and there were questions I had, and wanted to ask. So when we weren’t able to meet, I was upset, because I was feeling “why does this keep happening to ME?” While the timing was off, my friend no longer felt like being social, so this worked in her favor. So that brings me back to my central question. If it was supposed to be about her, about how to help improve her mood, how did it become about me? You see Life had a way of interjecting here, and I’m thankful for that. Had I met with my friend, the evening would have been about getting my questions answered, instead of listening to what she had to say. Of course men this is a critical lesson for you, sometimes a Woman just needs you to listen, sometimes it’s not about solving a problem. Sometimes she needs to FEEL like she’s been heard, and that you care about what she’s experiencing.

Your light shines through no matter what

As luck would have it, life wasn’t done giving me lessons this weekend. I’ve shared from time to time about my faith, it’s a central part of who I am, my guiding light. I’ve never liked those people who stand on their soap boxes and preach about what a sinner you are, it always seemed so judgmental and boastful. So when it comes to my faith, I take a different approach, if you ask me why I have certain views, I’ll tell you about how my faith has molded that view. I’m not comfortable in pointing out all of your flaws, because the reality is that I’m struggling to live my life a certain way everyday, and I do have my flaws and secrets. I mentioned in a few previous posts that I constantly doubt myself, I doubt my purpose and my influence on others to live a positive life. My roommate came to me last night because he felt that he needed to share something with me. Generally I’m the one sharing positive things, and inspiring others, so it’s a bit weird receiving it. What he had to say was that he can feel that I’m a positive person who has the ability to lead others in living a similar life. He wanted me to know that I’ve been a good influence, and that he can see my light shining through. I thought this was interesting, because as I said earlier, I haven’t been feeling so confident about myself lately. What this showed me though is that my values and beliefs that are at my core are strong. Despite how I may feel on the inside, on the outside I can can still influence and encourage others to live a positive life. As I think about that, it’s important to glean this key out from everything I’ve said:

“when you embrace who you are, others will see THAT, despite how you may feel about yourself.”

So what you ask? What’s the WIFM (what’s in it for me).

  1. If you’re doing something for someone else, make sure it’s about them. Sure you’ll feel good and get a benefit from helping your friend. However if it becomes too much about your needs, then you’re not serving your friend well. Try to be more about ‘what your friend would like have done to them’ (platinum rule) rather than ‘what would I like have done to me’ (golden rule).
  2. Despite how you may feel on the outside, what’s in your heart is what others actually see. So the good news is that others will see the real you, the bad news is that others will see the real you. Your light will always shine through especially when it’s dark.

I’d love to get some feedback, no seriously I’m asking for it! How will what I said change the way you interact with others. Are there any strategies you’d like to share on how you overcome this obstacle?

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Doubt, Fear, and Shame. The enemy of Happiness!!

“God’s promises are not contingent on my feelings or my failures” – Renee Swope

Aside from feeling a bit under the weather, I’ve been feeling a wave of doubt clouding my thoughts. Doubts about my future, whether I’ll accomplish the things I desire. Will I remain single longer, but then again I’m not exactly looking for a relationship either. I’ve been focusing my time on discovering what traits are important to me, so that when I do search for a life-partner I’ll already know what traits are most important to me. While I’m generally a positive person, there are moments when I don’t feel so optimistic about the future, but I suppose everyone has those moments.

What’s the source of my turmoil!

It’s interesting that when I started to feel doubtful, it wasn’t prompted by someone telling me I wasn’t going to succeed. My doubt came from within, I was my own critic. As I thought of that, I remember telling a friend earlier this week, “surround yourself with people that will lift you up.” I believe I also commented in someone else’s post telling them “when you’re hearing doubt, it’s more than likely that it’s coming from YOU” Then here I was a few days later falling into the same trap. It’s interesting to me though where my answers come from. Just as my doubt started internally, with prayer and reflection, the answer usually comes from within also. I’m not saying that I alone can solve my own problems, but I do believe that God/the Universe (depending on your beliefs) gives you the answers to your questions. By being plugged into yourself and your spirit, you will often hear the answers from within, and if you’re not plugged in someone will tell you that message.

Loving yourself first is the first step!

It’s not easy to admit, but sometimes being single can be awfully lonely. Of course with your single status you have the freedom to carve out your own path. This weekend I went out on one of my usual Sunday/Funday Hikes in the Mountains. It’s always fascinating how beautiful nature is, and it gave me time to reflect and be in my own thoughts. Being ok with the silence is definitely a good indicator of your level of self-love. In those moments what’s the message you hear? If it’s positive and hopeful, chances are you’re doing good on the self-love continuum. Of course the opposite is true, if you’re playing out thoughts such as “you’re not enough” “beautiful enough” “smart enough” etc. Chances are you need to work on loving yourself better. I read recently in a post “it’s ok to give yourself a break” sometimes we’re our worse critic, and we have to remember that sometimes we’re the only one talking bad to our-self.

Enjoy the stage you’re in!

As a closet planner and goal-oriented person, I feel as though I always have to be working towards something. I’m taking a bit of a different approach now. My faith teaches me that I’m “Right where I’m needed”, I believe that my life is divinely planned, and while it’s important for me to make some plans, I also have to follow where my spirit leads me. It’s hard for me to relinquish control and to not have EVERYTHING planned out. A friend sent me 2 quotes that I’d like to share:

Stay single until someone actually compliments your life in a way that it makes it better to not be single. If not, it’s not worth it.

Being single doesn’t mean no one wants you; it means God is still busy writing your love story.

Both these things ring true, I’ve written in length in previous posts that relationships should be mutually beneficial. Meaning that both people should be helping the other be their best self. I heard on the radio today “a marriage should be two people dutifully sacrificing everything for the other person, that is the meaning of a marriage.” Being single doesn’t’ have to be a stigma, after-all aren’t relationships about being happy, why be in a relationship if it means you’ll be unhappy. So while you have time to learn, grow, and love yourself, enjoy it. Learning to love yourself first is practice for loving someone else unconditionally.

As I write this, I feel my mood improving. I guess it’s true, writing is therapeutic! This get’s me back to my first quote, while I may not be feeling optimistic about myself, the world continues to revolve. Other’s still love me the same, even though I may doubt myself. You see regardless of how I feel about myself, others don’t necessarily feel the same way. The caveat is that could have both positive and negative effects, for the purpose of this though we’ll just speak about the positives.

Have you been feeling doubt and fear about the future? Where is it coming from, is someone else doubting you, or are you doubting yourself. In most cases we can’t control others, they’ll do what they want. You however have some control over your own thoughts. Remember that your words have weight for you also. So speak love, kindness and grace to yourself. Treat yourself with Love.

Taking it one Step at a Time!!

One Step

The past few weeks have been interesting, I’ve decided to move out of the way, and surprisingly many great things have occurred. I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, and for the first time I feel as though I’m definitely on the right path; more importantly my heart and mind are aligned. The journey has just began, I know that there will be times of doubt, but my Faith is strong; I trust that God will see me through. While I’ve been on a hiatus from writing, I’ve been moving forward. I started a class on Relational Care recently. What is relational care? I feel as though I’m called to encourage others, to help those who are in pain navigate this thing we call life. I see myself becoming a Life Coach, not quite sure where this journey will take me, but I’m willing to follow it.

I sometimes refrain from writing much about my personal struggles here, but it’s been amazing hearing from everyone and listening to your stories. Even though I don’t know specifically who reads what I write, it’s good to know that my words could encourage others in those dark times. As I mentioned in my New Years post, I’m going to continue doing things that worked well for me last year. Two of my biggest tenants is living more Authentically, that means telling the truth, and showing people the real ME. Secondly I want to live with Intention, meaning that I will do things with purpose; well the things I can control anyway. I think I’ll add another to that list, I want to LIVE life, meaning that I want to enjoy what I do, I want to be happy. There seem to be two common treads of life that are universal, Happiness and Love. Despite the various languages all people understand what it means to be happy and what it feels like to be loved. How will you live your life, will you allow others to dictate how you live? Aren’t you the one living YOUR life, you also have to live with the consequences right, so why are we so afraid to live? Fear is helpful in getting us out of danger, but it can also limit us from being happy. As I think about how I’m going to live a more authentic life, I’m reminded by this song from For King and Country, there’s a monologue at the end. After reading it, you should as yourself, what kind of love am I living, am I being authentic in my love?

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
 
 
Love