Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's the Condition of Your Wrapping Paper?

We are told early on, either through school or family or church, that life is a gift.  A precious gift.  We are to treat it with care and be grateful.  I am in complete agreement with the concept.  However, I have decided this gift is not to be labeled:  "FRAGILE.  Handle with care."

My mother once gave me a Collector's Edition Wedding Barbie.  All of my friends would keep their Collector's Dolls on the top shelf and stare at them with pride.  Not me.  I decided right away that this Barbie was meant to be played with and I enjoyed it.  At the end of the day, my doll was the one with messed up hair and a less than bright white wedding dress...but I would guess that my mother felt that the memories were more valuable then the resale value of one with an impeccable package.

Okay, you might be wondering, what exactly is my point.  The other day a friend commented to me that she was in awe and wonder of how busy I am and how much effort I put into my social calendar.  I thought to myself, well, life is a gift but I want to make the most of it and take that gift out for a ride!

This week I have been tremendously affected by the number of people diagnosed with some form of cancer and battling for their lives -- and the tragedy of loss.  I spent Sunday morning with a dear friend celebrating the life that her mother lost to the fight against breast cancer while my other friend walked alongside her friend currently in the throws of this heart breaking battle. Additionally, to bring matters even closer to home, in the last month I have been made aware of two separate family friends diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer and now fighting for their lives.  Hearing the song on country radio "Live Like You Were Dying" suddenly has new meaning.

I seriously could write a book called "Adventures in Dating" ...don't stop reading here. This one I kid you not, on Tuesday night, while on a blind date (!), the guy requested to listen to a voice message his father had just left him and then solemnly told me a few moments later, "Yeah.  My uncle just passed of cancer."  Right now?!  While we are sitting here having coffee?!  "Yes.  Right now.  He died."  Of course, I immediately offered to let him take the rest of the night to talk with family and address this personal issue.  I must have really been spitting some good game because he declined and then offered to take me to dinner instead...but I digress.

I am blown away by the number of potential dangers that threaten our lives every day.  Life truly is a gift, but not one that is meant to sit in the closet on the top shelf and be protected so carefully that it isn't enjoyed.

I would like to think that the wrapping paper around my gift is sun bleached from trying to be outside and living life as often as possible.  It is frayed at the corners from burning the candle at both ends sometimes.  It definitely has tire tracks on it from how many miles I drive on our local highways. It might have some dents and dings from the times that I have fallen down in life.  Yes, I am pretty darn proud of my wrapping paper because each imperfection has a story behind it.

What is the condition of your wrapping paper?  Have you been too gentle with your gift?

This quote came to me last week in an edition of The Daily Love newsletter that I receive...I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."

- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Holmes was a physician by profession but achieved fame as a writer; he was one of the best regarded American fireside poets of the 19th century.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stalker-Net. Guilty.

Last Thursday was one of those great Southern California days in which the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and you can feel that fall is just around the corner.  I was feeling great having successfully tackled a few meetings in Los Angeles and was beginning to daydream about the weekend ahead and how much I was looking forward to spending time celebrating various friendships.  While en route back to Orange County a text came through from the Ex.  "If you're curious as to why I wasn't super keen to talk to you last night [note: day after business function run-in], it was because I realized only 45 minutes earlier that you had defriended me on FB.  Not sure why you did that."

My head immediately starts spinning and the hormone levels are rising.  Not sure why you did that?!  Well, for starters, we aren't friends anymore!  We met, you quickly became my boyfriend, and now you are simply my ex boyfriend.  Suffice it to say, I don't really feel like being your friend on Facebook when you aren't my friend in real life!  It then dawned on me that the only reason he would know I had 'de-friended' him is because he sought out my Facebook page and was essentially rejected.  Ha.  I took some satisfaction in that.  But then the overall question still lingered...has our use of Stalker-Net gone too far?  Is it detracting our lives as we experience the occasional emotional tail-spin from feeling inadequate when comparing our own life with those presented on the Facebook Newsfeed?

Friday afternoon had finally arrived and it came to my attention, through a mutual 'friend', that the Ex had gone to San Francisco and was out on the town with his guy friends -- who then took the liberty to post these social outings on their FB pages and ultimately in my Newsfeed.  I will admit that the sight of these pictures still made my heart feel a pang of sadness and longing.

Now here I was on Friday night with plans to spend time with great girlfriends all weekend via dinners, baby showers, double dates (a story for another day), and hikes...and my mind kept wandering to someone's wall post on Facebook?!  I was no longer 100% focused on the blessings appearing right in front of me, but instead my mind was lingering in places that were full of 'updates and activities' and a truly ambiguous state of mind for people participating as this form of media strips all emotion from the equation.

I look back on this past weekend realizing that I have so much to be thankful for in my life and any thoughts of distress or sadness are a direct result of the airbrush effect presented by things like Facebook that initially came about by some digital artist working for Vogue magazine who was once told by the photographed star "I'd like you to make me look flawless".

Today I am taking a stance to focus on my own life's activities and opportunities rather than be entertained by the posts of others.  I am allowing myself to remain on Facebook, but only to respond to the communication sent my way.  Until my Emotional Bank Account reaches that $42,000 mark, I am no longer going to 'browse' pictures or news-feeds.  I will instead spend that time writing a thoughtful note to a friend, practicing yoga, or maybe even being more productive at work.  I am not saying that everyone should boycott Facebook, but perhaps we should take the time every now and then to thoughtfully process the influence that it has on our lives and if we are comfortable with it or if change is in order.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It!

Sometimes there is no better way to spend an evening than losing yourself in a "Chick Flick".  Last night was one of those nights -- and I immediately gravitated towards Sarah Jessica Parker's latest project. To be honest, I expected more out of a film with such a compelling title and note worthy cast.  However, regardless of the lack of witty writing and the choppy scene changes, I left the theater feeling ruminative. 

The story follows the life of an ambitious mother of two with a loving marriage and burgeoning career.  I think the most illustrative word for her life would be "hectic".  She never slowed down long enough to enjoy any of it -- 'It' being the operative word and referring to her career success, her two children, and her doting husband.

I couldn't help but look inward and think about my own life's ambitions -- career, family, love -- and then wonder if I am simply asking the universe for a life filled with chaos.  There is certainly a sexy appeal in being 'Wonder Woman', but then we have to ask "How do I want to see my story play out?".  I don't recall any Wonder Woman story lines involving attending Back to School Night for her kids, a celebrated promotion in the workplace, or a minute of slow dancing in the kitchen with her husband while they do the dishes and Stevie Wonder plays in the background. 

I am going to need more time to process all of the questions that circled my mind as I lay down last night trying to turn it all off and ease into sleep.  Can I have a successful career and balance it with giving time and energy towards a loving home life?  Is it kind of like that glossy four inch Louboutin staring at me through the picture window?  Appealing and provocative, but eventually very painful?  

Lists are sorta my thing (show me a female that doesn't make lists and I will show you a New Jersey resident that doesn't spray tan), but what good are these lists if they have no order or priority to them?  If these are the lists that define my life and they are simply spastic tasks all strung together then does that mean I am destined to a life of chaos?

A biblical verse continues to come to mind even as I write this and the concluding line in it is "Faith, Hope, and Love.  And the greatest of these is Love."  I will continue to make love, the act of receiving and also giving, a top priority.  In fact, I think I am going to put it on the top of my To-Do list -- each and every day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's Your Bank Account Balance??

Don't worry, I'm not actually going to write about appropriate spending habits and how they relate to your checking account.  Perhaps that will be a topic for another day after some major retail therapy that will most likely be driven by some sort of emotional turmoil...but I digress.

What's the balance of your Emotional Bank Account?  My Life Coach presented this concept to me the other day as I fell apart in her office mumbling through tears that I felt broken all over again and that I was tired of feeling emotionally drained from the pain of a broken heart.  Last time I had a breakup it was much more traumatic and required a great deal of self reflection and effort in re-establishing my center of gravity.  But this breakup was different.  We didn't want the same things in life (much to my surprise and shock, hence the heartbreak).  I don't need to retreat to Promises in Malibu to figure out how to get my life back on track after this most recent affair, but I did need some time to recover.

I posed a very poignant and reasonable question to my Life Coach:  "When am I going to feel okay again?!?".  Now my Life Coach knows my AAA type personality well enough to anticipate me asking for a neat little schedule and checklist to document my recovery process and have an end date in mind.  More specifically, the exact day, hour, and minute when I will be completely healed and happy again.  Is this really too much to ask of the person that I pay more per minute than you pay for your latte??

She asked me, "When would you like to feel better?"  I responded with "Halloween".   Why Halloween?  I'm not too sure.  It was a specific landmark and Thanksgiving sounded too far away.  She then explained to me that my Emotional Bank Account has been drained.  Let's just say it, I felt robbed!  So now here I am at 28 years old and feeling completely broke.  But the good news is that each days provides new deposit opportunities.

She told me, "Each day you will get to make a deposit.  How much do you think you can deposit per day?"  Naturally, as I like to consider myself a player in the Big Leagues, I told her that I can deposit $1,000 a day.  "Ok, so to get to Halloween would give me a bank account balance of $42,000."  Perfect!  My starting salary out of college when I didn't have a care in the world and was blissfully happy.  It was destiny.  My new goal is to reach a bank account balance of $42,000.  This sensible and structured solution was just what I needed and a sense of relief came over me.

Each day we are given new chances to enjoy life and make the most of the opportunities at hand.  Some days are better than others and each emotional journey is filled with peaks and valleys.  The first day after our session was great so I deposited $1,000 that night.  Yesterday I had a run-in with the most recent Ex at a business function.  Total nightmare.  A couple glasses of red wine helped ease the pain, but they day was less than perfect none-the-less.  I only deposited $750.

My Emotional Bank Account balance today is $1,750.  Only $40,250 to go!  I'm actually quite excited about this challenge and am holding on to each deposit slip as I am confident they will tell me a story when I am able to look back.

What is your bank account balance?  I encourage you to track your deposits to remind yourself that some days are better then others, but more often then not, none of us are impoverished and we are all pretty well off in life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Single Twenty-Something Female

Today is the first day of the rest of your life...  Cliche?  Yes.  True statement?  Yes.

Today I have decided to start documenting my experience of navigating life as I seek out success, happiness, and love.  For those of us that are a single (and by single I simply mean unmarried) twenty-something female, we know that this road is full of twists and turns with the unexpected sometimes being delightful and other times torturous.  I recently experienced my fourth break-up in a serious relationship in three years and they really run the gambit.  More on that to come in future posts.

I feel like a walking poster-child for the Gen-Y female that wants to do it all and have it all...but then wonders if there is a man in this universe that can handle it all.

In this week's visit with my Life Coach (we will call her that since pshycho-therapist seems to be a tainted phrase these days) I was told that my perception is correct...for those women that are well educated, opinionated, attractive, and successful (God forbid) we will find it challenging to find a man that respects and even adores all of those qualities in us.  But like many incredible and rare species, they can be hard to find and yet we are told that they do exist!

I searched "Beautiful Rare Species" and the first one listed was the Snow Leopard so perhaps we will go with that...Be patient, dear friend, as you search for the creature that is you Snow Leopard...and in the meantime, let's enjoy this adventure together.

I will do my best to provide encouragement, pass on advice from those I pay a lot of money to tell me insightful things,  and include the occasional witty remark or story to remind us that life is what we make of it and we are all better off if we laugh at least once a day.