I have been unkind. Unkind to my parents. Wanting them to conform to some preset societal norm that they were never going to, and then in being disappointed when they didn't. I failed to see that the very same things that make me into an independent and capable person are the same things that made them who they are.
I worry too much, I think, about things they never think about. I know how retirement is supposed to work, know how much a good credit rating can help smooth your life. But didn't stop to consider that all these things I place so much stock in aren't the end of the world if you don't. I am 34 years old and headed down the road towards ten more years of school in the hopes that someday I won't dread getting out of bed in the morning to go to work.
Does that make me a rebel? That I refuse to go quietly into whatever future my liberal arts degree has ordained for me, refuse to punch a clock for some cube and make spreadsheets all day? That I dare to dream that my life can be exactly what I want it to be, in the grand scheme of all things? And if it does, then where does this strength come from... this unrelenting commitment and passion that flows from me, this ability to shun societal norms and expectations and seek a different path?
I spent my childhood canoeing, camping, scuba diving, cutting class, listening to my father disparage the institution. My only way to rebel was to become part of the institution, and accept the limitations placed upon me by the things I thought were important. It took a lot of work to get myself into a position where I could both chase my dream and pay my mortgage, but I did it. I go to class and I make notecards and I push people in a hospital on weekends and I murder millions of yeast when my peers are having babies, looking at bigger houses, and taking vacations to the shore.
I suppose in some ways, I'm a rebel just like my parents. Believing that I can make different choices and still make a life worth living. That there is no instruction manual for life, and anyone who tells you there is simply hasn't invested the time to consider the alternative. And furthermore, might be afraid of being different.
I didn't get your typical speeches of major life lessons. Can't recall ever being told, specifically, and without space for consideration, what to do. I remember making mistakes, big ones, that made my life very hard for many years. And I remember being angry with them for allowing me to make them. But here we are. In this space where I'm a bona fide super hero, able to come back from mistakes that would break most people, to deal with situations that are hard, and to know the difference between a problem and an inconvenience.
Things may not always go as planned when I include my parents. Holidays are sometimes a nightmare, because things can always change right down to the last minute. But these difficulties seem similar to ones I might impose, delaying holidays or having them early because one of my many commitments cannot wait. I had to work Christmas Day, so we had Christmas on December 23rd.
Much as I might rally to the opposite, I am not different from them. Sure, my implementation may vary from the paths they have chosen, but the motivation behind those choices comes from the same place. I believe in myself, not some prescribed formula for creating a life. And they didn't teach me those formulas because they recognized them as illusions, instead allowing me to forge my own path, make my own life, discover what mattered most to me.
And I should not fault them for doing the very same thing. I suppose if I want to worry, as is my right, then my worry should only focus on whether or not they enjoy the choices they've made. On whether or not they actually achieved a satisfying and happy life.
It's just hard sometimes, to stand by and not fix it for them. To "practice freedom" as my father is wont to say, and allow them to not only make, but to leave unfixed, these problems they create. The answer in the end is just to love them, and appreciate who they are, instead of being disappointed in who they are not. I may never wander from discount store to discount store with my mother, whiling away an afternoon to coffee and conversation. But my mother will absolutely listen to me go on and on about the excitement of my first cardiac arrest call, without interposing some random, yet normal concern, for the patient whose heart had stopped beating.
In the end, my marriage got better not because it magically became something I'd always dreamed of, but because I finally learned to appreciate it for what it was. I think the same can be said of this relationship with my parents. There are very few have to's and musts in my life, rebel that I am, but I have to stop being upset with them for all these things that might never happen; I have to instead learn to appreciate all the things that do.
My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I first heard this book when, just by chance, it was free on iTunes one day. I listened to it over the course of taking Anthony to summer camp. It was only four hours long, and was read by Jeremy Irons, so I figured, what could possibly be bad about that?
Anyways... reading it started me thinking. It started me wondering what my dream and my treasure were. It made me concerned that I didn't know, and because I didn't know, that I wasn't listening to my heart. And because of that, it made me worry I would never be truly happy.
I tried several different things. I tried, in the car, when no one was watching (and now since I'm sharing this with all of you, I guess that makes that whole thing moot) actually asking "what is it that you want, heart?"
The answers I received were not very helpful, as you can imagine. Probably because I wasn't in touch with the thing to begin with, but probably also because I wasn't open to what it may have actually been saying.
In the book, there are several quotes that have become poignant to me as of late: "When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream."
"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You've got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense."
I feel like I finally know where my treasure is. And honestly, when I look back over my life and the things that have happened to me, I should have seen it all along. There were signs. Things that made me happy. Really happy. That I should have noticed and paid attention to, but for whatever reason, did not.
Additionally, now that I've made the decision to go in this direction, the universe is conspiring to bring me closer to achieving my dream.
I have to remember, however: "It's called the principle of favourability, beginner's luck. Because life wants you to achieve your destiny."
"The closer you get to your personal legend, the harder it will become to continue."
But mostly, “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer”, said the boy.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse that the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams”, replied the Alchemist."
"It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can GET HIT and keep moving forward." -Rocky Balboa in Rocky
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you have some spare moments... please read the Alchemist. It will make you happy. Maybe not at first, but eventually, and that happiness will be a true, lasting happiness.
This has been brought to you by several things happening in the last several days that have not only assured me that medical school IS the way to go, but have made it even easier to pursue that path. I'm coming Fatima...Maktub.
I am not a religious person and have a certain wariness about me when it comes to organized religion. But I feel like I'm coming to some fairly significant realizations in my life and it's time I stopped trying to hold everything inside like some kind of strange secret.
I need help being a better human. I try really hard to make good decisions and then something comes along and knocks me over. When the dust finally settles and I look around, I feel like a fool for making the decisions I did, for doing the things that I did. I can't just say that I'm powerless and need to "give it up to god" or whatever, because I'm still a person inside of all of that, making decisions.
So, I'm going to stop trying so hard to pretend like everything is perfect and fine. Everything is not perfect and fine. I've done a good job of messing things up and making mistakes. I hurt people and I acted selfishly for a good long time now.
I'm going to work on forgiving me. I'm going to work on being a better human. Not perfect. Just better.
I am bad at the updating. Mostly because I am addicted to facebook and don't generally have anything to say that's all posty mcposterson...
But anyways... here are some things that I am doing:
1. Avoiding my taxes. Really. Haven't done them yet. Will probably be getting a refund too. It's like laziness with a dial that *goes to 11*.
2. Studying as much as I can be arsed. Term ends April 25th and I have a final on April 21st and another one whenever I bother to do it.
3. Working out like 5 days a week and lifting twice a week. I have been doing this for like SIX WEEKS and think that I might have actually started to notice that maybe my pants are a smidge looser. Maybe. Grumbles.
4. Working a lot. Had a big client (the biggest, really) go live March 2nd, have another one going April 6th, and then the last two from the legacy system sometime in may. So. That's...coming along. EMAILS!
5. Sewing stuff for the upcoming quest event.
6. Errr... watching tv? Yeah. And fooling around on Facebook. Yup. That's me. I'm horribly interesting, I swear...
So, you'll have to pardon me. I'm watching the Obama Inaugural Celebration on hbo.com and getting all weepy. But it occurs to me at this particular moment in time that it's easier for me to explain why I'm majoring in public service...
I feel like our election of the best man for the job, regardless of his skin color, is the beginning of the delivery on the promise of America. I have always believed in my country, have always been proud of the ideals that we strive for, even when I am disappointed in our ability to achieve those ideals.
And I wanted to help. I wanted to be a part of the solution, and I wanted to lend my arms, my head, and above all, my heart, to that ideal. I wanted to know, at the end of my career, that I did something worthy with my time - something which helped more than me, more than my child, more than my heirs.
I want to believe that there are answers to our problems - poverty, inequality, racism, and the whole host of other seemingly intractable problems we face together. I know there may not be total solutions, and that I might have to accept partial solutions, or even barely adequate solutions... but I want to do something hard. I want to do something worth it, and I want to do something worthy.
I want to be a stone that causes ripples in the pond, affecting things beyond myself, perhaps without ever knowing that it was done, but above all, happy to be doing what I'm doing, even when I feel like I'm failing to achieve my goals.
A good friend once told me that the path of progress may not be easy to walk, and it may seem as if you are not making headway up the mountain... but you should instead notice that you have not yielded backwards even one single inch...
I have been a bad livejournaler because ...well... a variety of reasons I guess. Posting has fallen out of my normal daily routine, I've had more things to do, I feel like I can't talk about whatever is going on, etc... anyways.
I decided to do a 2008 retrospective. I'm fairly certain I do one every year, although I may have missed last year because I had the death virus.
I have this theory that whatever you do on NYE you will end up doing all year, and I have to say that it's pretty much worked out like that for the last couple of years. Last year on this day I was deathly ill and went to the doctors, went to bed a bit early, etc. This year I was sick twice more and spent a lot of time going to doctors for random illness, pains, and other hypochondriac fascinations. Heh.
It was a pretty fabulous year. I earned 19 more credits towards my degree, putting me firmly in the midst of my junior year at college. I went to my first honor's convocation, and accepted awards and ate really expensive appetizers. Mmmmelitism. I was then awarded the Chancellor's Evening Scholarship, along with two other people, and spent almost the entire first check on trying to get out of debt. It didn't go well, because I quickly charged it almost all the way back up again, but I had a hell of a good time getting there. I also attended a scholar's retreat in August and talked about educational things, hung out with younger people, ate camp food, and saw the creepy carp of pymatuning. It was a good nerd year.
I learned a lot about love and marriage. I learned that some of the things I thought were my flaws were actually my features. I tried to see myself through other's eyes and learned that I am rather harsh on myself and should be more gentle. I fell in love all over again, maybe for the first time ever since it feels so different from all the other times I thought I fell. I told people things that I thought they should know, which opened the door for them to say things they thought I should know, and it brought me closer to friends, family, and others.
I learned to stick up for myself when it matters, and how to determine if it matters or not. I broke a board with my hand and became a regular combatant. *chuckles* I was firm with people instead of shrinking from conflict. I was polite, and diplomatic, even if I sometimes had to slip into other characters to get the job done. Those characters are still a part of me, even if they have different names and clothes.
I didn't get out of debt nearly as much as I would have liked. I spent too much money on going out to eat and iTunes and didn't spend nearly as much as I thought on coffee. I didn't lose any pounds, actually gained some, but I learned that I have to watch it, even if I am teh hottness of awesomeness. I fell out of my fitness routine because each time I devoted myself back to it, I got sick. I learned the importance of getting my rest.
I had to deal with car stuff twice - but both times someone else hit me, so I'd like to pretend that maybe this year, no one will hit me, their fault or not.
I said yes to too many projects, and consequently have learned important lessons about saying no. I threw myself a birthday party which was one of the best birthday parties I can recall having, and fell in love with cooking by myself on fridays.
I spent a lot of time on the computer, some of it well spent, and some of it just spent. I bought a lot of cool toys, thus probably why I didn't get out of debt like I would have hoped, but my toys distract me from the possibility that I might not get out of debt ever.
I made a lot of progress at work, felt like I was getting somewhere, and still had to suffer the painful realization of defeat a couple of times. I was kind of a "can't be arsed" employee at times, and at others, I worked overtime on Saturdays and the night before holidays. I tried to be productive, even if I got distracted by my unlimited texting plan one too many times.
I went to a lot of new cities and visited a lot of people who I've always said "oh we should come and visit" but then we never did. We put a lot of miles on the new car, too many for the lease actually, so I have to try and put less miles on in 2009.
I bought shirts that cost more than it takes to feed a child for a year according to the UN's world food programme. They were a reward tho, and they feel fabulous against my skin, so I want to say that it was worth it.
I didn't spend nearly enough time with Anthony, but I don't think I'll ever think I spend "enough" time with that boy. I tried to make our time together count, and I feel like we connected on a deeper level this year, sharing music and movies and our secrets together.
My 2008 was interesting, fabulous, busy, fun-filled, and mostly drama free. I learned a lot, did a lot, gained a lot, didn't lose very much, and moved my goals forward. I couldn't hope for too much more in 2009, I mostly hope that things continue, friends stay close, I keep learning and growing and moving forward, and that things stay interesting, busy, and happy.
And I hope for love, laughter, good food, good music, good times, and the gentle feeling of center to pervade the whole big shebang.
And I hope for all of these things and more for all of you. ;)
Term is over! Term is over! its over its over its over!
I took an astronomy exam and then the astronomy final tonight - and if I did the math correctly, I got an "A" in the class. Woot! And hopefully I will get A's in the other two. I know I did as much in the HR class, just not sure about Tae Kwon Do. I mean. You know. I got A's on the exams and did the tournament, but I got a B+ for forms on the midterm. So if she doesn't like my forms on the final, then I guess... oh, I dunno. It would be nice to keep the 4.0 so I wouldn't have to stress about that when it comes time to apply to law school.
But! So! Happy! Its! Over! Seriously. It could not go on for one more day. I literally would have died or something. Ok, I'm being dramatic, but whatever.
Work is insane. Two major clients want to "go live" on the new system on the same day. January 2nd. All of my vacations have been sort of cancelled until I can get the system into the ready state. And of course both clients require significant modifications to the underlying architecture to make sure they are getting what they want - HALF of which are not even finished in the programming stage. So, waiting on the vendor on that one. But... I may have actually gotten the first one pretty close to the demo stage today, and I should receive a lot of modifications tomorrow, so they say. We'll see. I may have to work briefly this weekend.
Oh, and I got sick on Saturday night, and I've been toying with it since then. So of course the asthma is kicking up and keeping me up at night with the hacking cough. So yes, when I say that term is over and it literally almost killed me - IT DID.
but it's over! so now I can play video games and drink and watch tv and read books and take bubble baths and do all those things that normal people do when they aren't going insane from school. WOOT!
This semester is a bit rough for me. I'm taking three classes at once, even though it's only 7 credits. I didn't think the third one would be that bad, since it's only one credit, but that one credit happens to be full of tae-kwon-do-goodness.
So, between using up another of my evenings in the week, making me do those horrible stomach exercises (which I think are actually becoming easier, woot) and making me realize that I had to go get the knee finally checked out (I have tendonitis and have to do PT for four weeks), I have also become much better at conflict resolution. It has made me realize that people 'front' on you all the time and try and intimidate you into giving them what they want.
yesterday, I broke a board with my hand. With my hand! It was the most amazing thing I think I've ever done. Seriously. Mostly because I didn't think it was going to happen. I'm standing there, next to my instructor, and she's telling me the how-to's and the what-for's and while I wanted to believe I could do it, the rest of me was pretty convinced that this was a solid object and wouldn't be breaking anytime soon.
The look of elation on my face when I did it. I must have said four times "I broke a board with my hand!" with this insane tone to my voice. I made the Grandmaster laugh. I made the audience laugh. I made my instructor very very proud.
I amazed myself.
And now that's become the mantra for me, when I start to think that something is too hard, or will take too much effort, or that I can't do it. I broke a board with my hand.
That's the good word for today - do something that scares you - something you aren't sure you can do - and then enjoy amazing yourself.
I share my country with all sorts of Americans. People who believe in lots of different things, and have diverse views, and that's all ok. In fact, its more than ok - it's expected, and regarded as the highest form of democracy.
A country's liberties are judged not by how it treats its supporters, but by how it treats its dissidents. And of course... Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
Tonight, however, tonight I share my country with people who believed in a dream. People who made a difference, who voted for change, and voted for a man with a vision. And some of us did it because he was black, some of us did it even in spite of this, and some of us, me included, just did it because we agreed with what he had to say, and we believed in him, and in us, and in what we can do when we work together, instead of against each other.
Tonight is a wonderful night to be a public service student. A woman. An American.
And while lots of people will say - YES WE DID - I believe that now is when our real work begins. So, I raise my glass to everyone, I extend my hand to all of you, no matter who you voted for - and I ask you to continue to believe that now, more than ever...