Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Arms And Legs Are A Little Tired... Can You Throw Me A Floatie?

Agitated. That's such a nice word… it's so much better than saying I want to throw something through a window. 

A recent Facebook status update I wrote talked about how much I dislike transitioning. This is not to say that I dislike change because I don't. In fact, I find change to be incredibly fun and refreshing. I think change is good and vital. I've never really been able to relate to those who want things to be the same all the time, with no ripples or movement of current. I feel like living this way would cause me to miss out on some of the most exciting opportunities that life has to offer. 

However, the process of change is what frustrates me the most. Getting from point A to point B can be aggravating, stressful and exhausting. Even more so when I feel like my next step is either sideways or backwards. There seems to be a lot less fun in that. 

I spent close to two hours today filling out an online application for a bartending position at a casino here in Las Vegas. I remember doing this when I first moved here six years ago. At that time, they asked for ten years of employment and residency history. I guess the current state of the economy has caused them to be more lenient as they are only asking for seven years this time. Wonderful. 

I sat there, with a pen and paper, straining my poor little brain to remember which job I had during which month… where I was living at the time… the addresses of these random places… and how long I was at each particular job/home. When I finished, I was looking at a pretty accurate reflection of my last seven years as a gypsy. I fought pretty hard to fight back tears. 

I wouldn't hire me. Are you kidding? If I was looking for a new employee and had a thousand different applicants to choose from, I would take one look at the information in front of me and put it quickly in the "hell no" pile. I look unstable, unreliable and clearly appear to have no direction in life whatsoever. My skimpy two year degree is in a field that I've never pursued as a career and my job history for the last seven years is easily comparable to a Dalmatian's coat. Even my references are sketchy as I've known the longest for seven years.. then five… then two. Ugh… even to me, it looks like a stretch. 

I suppose the most frustrating part about all of this is that I know what a great employee I am. I AM reliable. I AM stable and I do pretty good work wherever I'm at. The problem is… I hate working. 

I know, I know… we all hate working. But I hate it on a completely different level. I don't see the point in it. I see absolutely no purpose in getting dressed up in a suit every day, sitting at a desk for eight to ten hours for five to six days a week, begging for the weekend to show up so I can spend the whole time doing laundry and catching up on errands and sleep and then getting up on Monday morning to do it all over again. I don't understand the reward in this. Money? All the money in the world hardly seems worth all the time put it in doing something I could care less about. 

I lived this life. I tried to be a career woman. I had pantyhose, high heels, jewelry, a fake smile, the whole nine yards. I pretended I was someone important… I pretended like my job mattered and that what I was doing served some kind of real purpose. Inside, though… I knew that I wasn't doing anything substantial. I sold hotel rooms for a big chain. I ripped people off when the hotel was in a slow period and needed to make more money. I sat and listened to clients talk about themselves over drinks and food and laughed like I actually gave a shit about what they were saying. I wore a fancy suit and thought it meant that I WAS somebody. 

The truth was, I hated what I was doing. I would put a sign on my office door that said "Come back later. I am on sales calls", put my phone off the hook and lay my head on my desk for an hour. I would surf the internet, looking for something that might pass the time. I would watch the clock until it hit 5:00pm and race home so I could smoke a bowl and chill out before I had to get up the next day and do it all over again. 

And I still managed to meet and exceed my quota, receive honors for outstanding performance and even make Manager of the Quarter during my time. 

Is this a joke?? 

So I left all that behind and now I'm just trying to scrape up a job that will pay me enough to cover my bills and let me go out two or three times a week to sing karaoke. Maybe even leave me twenty bucks or so to put in a machine and try to hit a Royal Flush. Nice life, huh? And oh, the irony… now I'm competing with so many other people who don't have the education, desire or means for a "career-type job" and I am coming off as an undesirable hire. Awesome. 

The victim rears her head… I get mad that Jeremy came into my life and threw all that money at me. I get mad that I quit my piece of shit job at Chili's with the expectation that I was actually going to make something out of myself before the money was gone. I get mad that I didn't do anything except have fun, write whenever I wanted and spend money on things I didn't need. I get mad that I don't have the drive or ambition to do anything because I don't see the purpose in any of it. I get mad at everyone who is thinking "I told you so." 

Is this why so many women choose to have a family? So they can feel a sense of purpose? 

Agitated…. yep. That's me. 

Ever feel like you are trying to tread water just long enough to make it through life? Thankfully, my cardio is pretty solid right now. 

As always, I know there is a responsible side to all of this. I even know what it is… but even I get tired of being responsible sometimes. I am frustrated that I am not willing to do what it takes to make something out of myself. Going back to school seems pointless as I don't want to learn a new trade. Even when I get a job as a server or bartender, I'll dread having to deal with people again and their "12% is a good tip" mentality. 

I don't even want to find a job as a writer because I don't want people to tell me what to say or how to say it. I want to sit here in this coffee shop, drink my Caramel Macchiato, write this blog and have enough money in my bank account all the time to cover anything I need. Am I fucking naive or what? 

My options? Meditate? Pray? Tell myself I'm worthy? Create a powerful and prosperous life through positive thinking? 

Or just keep treading? 

On days like today, all my options seem to have a bit of a matte finish. 

I guess my only comfort is knowing that everything is going to be okay… because it always is. Story of my life… things are always okay and I always have enough to get by. While I know this is more than a lot of people have, I wish I was able to change my thinking to create something more substantial. I truly believe we have exactly what we feel like we deserve to have. Which causes me much frustration… I constantly feel like I'm just chasing my tail. 

How do we convince ourselves that we deserve more? That we are worthy of everything we have ever wanted? That we are so much better than what we settle for? 

As soon as you find out, can you let me know? Because right when I think I have it down, the Universe laughs at me. 

I'll be waiting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's Not So Bad Now That Cee Lo Made A Song Out Of It

"While I always enjoy reading these blogs, some vital details were left out here. In the interest of unbiased, full-disclosure, this omission could compromise the trust you've created between you and your reader. 

Not to mention the fact that I'm unbelievably curious and feel a little cheated ;)"

Was anyone else thinking this after the last blog I wrote? I know I was.. 

This was an email I had received from my friend, Whitney after my most recent post. Whitney will be helping me edit and prepare my writings for book form later this year. For that reason, and the quality of our friendship in general, I take feedback like this very seriously. 

I admit, I left out a very important part of the conversation between Steven and I that ultimately led to our blowout that last night in Hawaii. I did this not because I didn't think it would be important to share or because I thought it didn't matter… I left it out because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I knew that if I told everyone what he said, he would be embarrassed and feel like less than the amazing person that I know he is. I didn't want him to worry about his closest friends and family reading something that I know he wanted to take back the minute it left his mouth. I thought I was being considerate. 

And I was… however I was also jeopardizing the integrity of my beliefs and my writing. A lot of people have blogs… a lot of people write about a multitude of topics. I write about honesty. I write about being honest with myself and those around me, no matter what the cost. I write about taking responsibility for what I do and who I am. I also make sure to write when I find myself not doing all of these things. I write with the hope that someone else finds their voice through my own fully disclosed and fearless projection of my view on life and all of its intricacies. 

This is why I have a disclaimer. To be in a relationship with me, at this stage in my life, is to be put on display for all of those interested in what I have to say. At first, this doesn't sound too bad… especially for someone like Steven who isn't afraid to put himself out there and was so excited to be dating me that he was all about shouting it from the top of a mountain. However, relationships get messy sometimes, and no one wants their dirt spread all over some blogging site on the internet. 

I understand this completely. I also know that for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm doing something purposeful. I feel so connected to what I am writing about that it keeps me grounded and sane in ways I never knew. Every time I finish a post and hit that "publish" button, I feel like I've just achieved something. Kind of like the feeling you get after a really good workout… only better. I never want to write something that isn't completely authentic. I never want to cheat myself and anyone who has a real interest in what I'm up to. I don't write fiction nor do I have any interest in it. I want real relationships in my life, including one with myself. 

So, having said that, please allow me to fill in the gap… 

Fuck you. 

No, no… not YOU. That's what he said to me. We were spitting sarcasm back and forth at each other while standing in the parking lot that second night in Hawaii. Something he had said (which I honestly can't remember now) had set me off and I jabbed a patronizing remark at him in a half-assed effort to mellow him out. It backfired badly as he looked right at me and delivered the two words that stayed with me for the rest of the trip and spearheaded our second fight. 

Like I said, relationships can get messy. 

Steven and I have a lot of positive things in our corner that encourage the possibility of a wonderfully working relationship. We also have a few things that we haven't been able to work out yet. Some of it it easy to explain… for example, our age difference. I am five years older than he is. It's not a huge difference, but it is big enough to have created an experiential gap. I think back to five years ago and the person that I was and it really puts things into perspective for me. A lot has happened since then and I have almost an entirely different belief system now. I can't say everyone has gone through the amount of personal change that I have, but since I am all I have to go off of, it makes it easy for me to see why Steven and I find ourselves butting heads a little. 

Some of it is not so easy to explain… like why he and I can't seem to go out and "get our drink on" without it ending in hostility. I've always considered myself to be a pretty fun drunk, however there have been occasions in the past where a particular person and I become oil and water once we start a tab. Not often… and not for a while… but it has been a problem for me and Steven. I'm still trying to work that out. It could be that the Universe is telling me to stop drinking… or it could be telling me or Steven (or both of us), that it's time to deal with the demons that come up when we've been a little heavy on the sauce. 

So, now that a couple of the new-relationship-butterflies have flown and we are starting to deal with real-life couple issues, he isn't as comfortable with me writing about things. I can't say I blame him, but... 

I spend so much of this blog talking about the things I mess up or do wrong and the lessons that I learn because of it. I talk about my past and all of its mistakes. I talk about the negative things I've said and done to people and how the results of my actions have encouraged me to take a different path. I still stumble, I still falter, but I'm determined to use all of this in a way that can, hopefully, encourage others to realize that this is what life is about. The white picket fence is an illusion. Families aren't perfect and the happiest of couples have spent nights with one on the couch and the other crying in bed. 

Even Lassie peed in the house when he was a puppy. 

I'm not sure if I can ever get people to understand how liberating it is to speak from a place of honesty and vulnerability all the time. All I know is how cheated I feel when I don't. 

I spent years lying, withholding, exaggerating the truth and flat out making shit up. I did it to make myself look smarter, cooler, older and more bad-ass. But when I went home and laid in bed, I felt dumb, lonely, immature and pathetic. Mostly, however, I simply found that I just didn't know who I was. 

Not everyone likes me (hard to believe, I know), and many people don't agree with me putting everything out there for the world to see. I have offended my family and my friends on a number of occasions with some of the things I've said. Hurting those that I love was never my intention… but I would rather someone not like me when I am being 100% Tina than like me for some false facade I've created. 

I don't get much feedback on a regular basis other than "I really enjoy reading your blogs" (which I LOVE to hear!). However, every once in a while, I will get an email from someone that I didn't even know read my blogs and it will say something like this: 

"Wow Tina...reading what you write.. its like you're in my head! You look at things the same way I do... and think of yourself the same way! And I am going through the same thing… I love reading what you write! And knowing that I'm not the only one with questions always running in my head... 

Thank you for speaking your mind... I wish I could! And you are a strong person!!! Much more then you think! :)"

And this is why I do what I do… even when it sucks. 

Thanks to everyone who reads… and whether you give feedback or not, just the fact that you keep tuning in is what keeps me going. 

Ultimately, this is not about a book, or being 30 years old, or the law of attraction. It's about being real. 

And this is really me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And Here I Thought "Trapped In Paradise" Was Just Another Silly Nicolas Cage Movie

I'm writing this from the back seat of an A330 aircraft. For those that aren't sure what this is, it's a big friggin' plane. When I say I'm in the back seat, I mean that actual last set of seats on the plane. Right next to the bathroom and in front of the service area. 

I have this really neat book that my mom got be for Christmas that has all these cool random facts and "how to's" and there is a page on how to pick the best seat on an airplane. According to my book, being in these seats gives us the best possible chance for survival if the plane were to crash. Other than that sparkle of optimism, I'm pretty annoyed. Because according to my book, they are also the loudest seats on the plane, I get the company of everyone who wants to wait in line for the bathroom, we get to be served last for drinks and food and, of course, we will be the final people off the plane once we arrive in Las Vegas. 

Hello, Debbie Downer… thanks for stopping by. 

Jeremy was trying to do something nice by surprising us and getting all of our seats close together while we grabbed some food in the airport. So my carefully chosen seat in the front of the plane with the best view, quiet location and a little extra leg room for Steven was given to some other lucky bastard while we are stuck here dealing with bright lights to prevent any kind of sound sleeping, listening to silly conversations from the service staff and hearing constant flushing of the airplane toilet for the next six hours. I'm trying to find the humor in the situation… after all, it does seem to be an appropriate end to a vacation that was less than stellar. 

I have always said that no matter how great a relationship is going, before doing anything crazy like moving in together or opening a joint bank account, you need to travel with that person. Traveling brings out almost all aspects of a person's personality. Excitement, stress, happiness, frustration and, of course, patience. Or sometimes the lack thereof. The way I see it, if you can get through a five day vacation with a person, you should feel pretty comfortable when you decide to adopt that puppy together. 

Now, I definitely think Steven and I made a bad choice in choosing a group vacation for our first trip together. I'm actually quite a good trip planner. I like to do lots of research and find great values in regards to accommodations, I map out places to see, things to do and people to visit. When I went to school, I wanted to be an special event coordinator because I like taking all the different pieces of an EVENT and putting them together. I'm pretty sure my wedding will be super awesome one day… 

Anyhow, this trip was very different for me because while we certainly had the freedom to do what we wanted, we had to be considerate to everyone else who was on the trip. Not everyone likes a 6am to midnight day of different activities. I like to have an agenda. I love to travel and see as much as I can in the place I'm at. Because of this, a group trip to a sleepy beach town in Kauai was a little rough on my nerves. Sitting on the beach all day every day may sound like the absolute perfect vacation to someone. I am not that someone. 

We did see some pretty cool shit. Waimea Canyon was pretty spectacular, we had a great day trip on a boat where we snorkeled, saw sea turtles, dolphins and lots of whales, we did a massive, no joke hike up to Hanakapi'ai Falls and made friends with a few local bartenders who made our Happy Hour Mai Tais worth the $7.00 we paid for them. However, as we reflect on the last five days, we both agree that it would have been nice to have been able to spend more time together without having to be at the mercy of what everyone else was up to. 

This sounds so bad… I don't mean it to. The last thing I want to do is sound ungrateful. After all, we wouldn't even be in Hawaii if it weren't for Jeremy. Plus, everyone we met on the trip was super nice and welcoming. And the friends that stayed in the beach house with us were very fun and cool. But because no one really knew each other all that well, it can be a little difficult to just let your hair down and be yourself. Plus, to a certain extent, I felt very obligated to keep my schedule open for whatever Jeremy might have had planned for us while we were there. This isn't a comfortable position for a person with control issues such as myself. 

As a result, the stress, frustration and lack of patience parts of our personalities came out a little stronger than our excited and happy parts did. As I eluded to in my previous post, on our second night in Kauai, Steven and I had a bit of a blowout after some cocktails in town. I was pretty unhappy with how things went down and some things that were said. Normally, in an effort to clear any negative energy, I would have brought up my concerns and discussed them until they no longer bothered me. However, I didn't want to create any kind of bad energy for the rest of the trip so I just figured I would deal with everything when we got back to Las Vegas. 

Ever notice when you consciously try to avoid doing something, you just end up attracting it even more? Never underestimate the power of your thoughts… 

As yesterday was our last day on the island, we wanted to have a really fun night. We did our hike in the morning and were a little beat up in the afternoon. So, after a quick rest and a shower to feel refreshed, we got dressed and headed into town to do our souvenir shopping. Afterwards, we went to the bar where we had made friends with the bartender and had a few drinks. We were meeting Jeremy and our house mates for dinner and had managed to find a hole in the wall joint that was doing some karaoke that evening. Sounds fun, right? 

The problem was, I was still holding that energy on Steven. I hadn't forgiven him for what he had said to me that second night and was completely using it against him all day. I was finding reasons to get annoyed and frustrated with him. In an effort to forget about it, I just kept ordering those damn Mai Tais. By the time we wrapped up at the world's worst karaoke and headed back to the house for the night, I was pretty lit up. 

I don't know where the original poking of the bear began, but our conversation quickly went from drunken chatter to a finger pointing session on whose fault it was that things between us felt so messed up. I was angry. He was angry. It wasn't pleasant. After some rough words, he went out to smoke a cigarette and I went into the bedroom to chill out. Thankfully, I didn't just chill out, I passed out.  

When I woke this morning, things felt bad. Icky bad. Without saying much, the two of us got dressed, walked down to a little coffee shop next to the beach house, grabbed a couple of chairs and headed to the beach. I sat there in silence for a very long time and he tried to make light conversation. Then, I told him I felt sad. Then I cried. I thought it was over. I couldn't believe we were going to sit there on this beautiful, serene beach with twenty foot waves crashing before us and break up. 

Where did it all go wrong? Last week, I couldn't stop smiling and expressing my gratitude to the universe for bringing me such an amazing man. All I ever wanted was for someone to treat me the way he did. He made me feel so special and loved. Being with him had made me realize how much I deserved to be happy. We had spent the last month getting all wrapped up in each other's lives and loving every second of it. What happened? 

We talked for a long time. It was during this conversation that I realized I hadn't let go of what had happened earlier in the week and I had let it consume me. I hadn't followed one of my biggest rules - to keep from withholding. I just kept ignoring how I felt until I had found a hundred more reasons to be upset. Not to mention, alcohol mixed with negative energy is definitely the worst kind of cocktail. It was much better to be having this conversation with him sober and with a clear mind. 

I've been surrounded by "know it alls" lately. Being the way I am, this makes me look at where I am being a "know it all" in my own life. Like attracts like, after all. Sometimes, my confidence about certain things crosses over into cockiness and I can't look past what I think is right long enough to see that someone else's opinion may be the more valid one. I also get very condescending when I allow my arrogance to take the front seat. I don't like that part of myself. I probably should've seen this coming sooner than I did but even for me, living in a constant place of responsibility can get exhausting. That's why so many people choose to be victims. It is easier. However, by allowing myself to drift away from what I know to be my True North, I created the icky. 

Luckily, Steven is so devoted to this relationship. For longer than I can remember, I haven't been with someone who was willing to chase me down the street if I left. While I don't ever want to test him, I am very confident that Steven would only allow me a brief head start only while he laced up his running shoes. And I think he's scared about what all of this has become in such a short period of time. I think there might be part of him that doesn't realize how deserving and worthy he is to be with a woman who loves him unconditionally and without any kind of expectations other than getting that love back. I think sometimes he might sneak in moments of self-sabotage into our relationship. I see this because I've done it many times in the past. What he might not realize is that I'm a pretty good runner too, and I'm willing to take off after him as well. 

Hmmm… I just realized that I haven't been with anyone I've wanted to chase after in so long, it's no wonder I haven't attracted this quality in someone else until now. See how that works? Ah, universe… with your never-ending lessons. 

So, we didn't break up on the beach. Instead, we did what we needed to from the very beginning of this mess. We communicated. We took responsibility for the roles each of played and made a commitment to continue doing what we do best: loving each other. 

This seat sucks, this flight has been uncomfortable and this week was drama. And I attracted it all. For this, I am grateful. I like that something is looking out for me, reminding me that only when I am being the best form of myself will I truly know what living life to its fullest feels like. 

My souvenir t-shirt says it all: Listen to your heart, follow its path, live the life only you were meant to live. 

Mahalo, Universe.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Think I'll Have To Pass On The "Tsunami Roll", Thanks

Despite this beautiful photo, I have to admit that this trip to Hawaii is feeling less like vacation than I thought it would. 

It might have been the emergency evacuation that occurred our first night due to the tsunami threat from the earthquake in Japan. Thirteen of us were torn away from our evening of drinking and eating when we saw the news flash come across the television. Watching those waves sweep over Japan was something just short of surreal. When they zoomed out and showed Hawaii, my breath caught quickly in my throat for just a moment. We looked so small and helpless. Granted, we were thousands of miles away, but if there is one thing I know for sure, it's that you don't fuck with Mommy Nature. 

We didn't wait too long before going back to our respective beach houses and gathering our things, repacking quickly and without any kind of concern for who's stuff was going in which bag. I think it was probably that process that frightened me more than the sirens wailing in the sky or seeing our neighbors pack up their vehicles in a race to higher ground. This sounds a little dramatic… there was no line of cars or people running desperately. Just a quick, calm evacuation process that somehow still managed to scare the shit out of me. 

Once everyone was accounted for, we made our way inland with our five car caravan where the property manager of the beach houses we were staying in set us up in a six-bedroom house that was probably only a few square feet short of actually being considered a mansion. We all quickly gathered in the living room and watched the events unfold on television. We weren't going to know for a few hours how badly Hawaii, and specifically our island (Kauai), was going to be affected. Steven and I spent this time connecting with friends and family via text and Facebook to keep them posted on what was happening. It was a strange feeling to be a part of the natural disaster, not just watching with concern from the comfort of my desert-locked apartment. 

Lucky for us, the damage to our island was minimal. There was definitely some flooding and the groundskeepers at our beach houses worked all the next day clearing sand that had been washed up all the way to the front door. But, comparatively, we didn't have any problems at all. Some of the other islands found themselves with trouble in that they lost a few homes and vehicles. However, it was nothing like that wave that charged over Japan, destroying everything in its path. Like I said… Mommy Nature…. certainly a force to be reckoned with. 

The next morning - yesterday - we left our stellar accommodations on the mountain to head back to the beach. We spent all day frolicking about, playing in the waves and laying out in the sun. This is what vacation feels like, right? Two other friends had just come into town, happy to have missed the drama from the night before, and the four of us along with Jeremy and his girlfriend decided to head into town and enjoy some mai tais and sushi. Definitely a vacation-y kind of thing. 

We sat at the bar, joked with the bartender and enjoyed some delicious food (I almost said amazing but have to admit, the sushi was not as exceptional as I had hoped… perhaps my standards are higher since we are on the beach). Steven insisted on umbrella flags for all our drinks and took pictures of everything he could. We were laughing, joking and planning activities for the remainder of our trip. In short, things were going along quite swimmingly. 

And… then they weren't. 

I don't know exactly what went wrong… it's probably safe to say the combination of very little food, quite a few drinks and my overall apprehension regarding thoughts going on in my head contributed to the u-turn. Perhaps an elaboration on item three is in order… 

I've decided to go back to work. As in… one of those job things. I'm not thrilled with this idea, but making the decision to do so has actually brought me some relief. Over the past month, I've been stressing out quite a bit about the dwindling of my funds and the idea of job searching again. Not to mention the overall disappointment that I haven't managed to create a source of income with my writing. Agonizing thoughts about this subject have consumed me. Therefore, deciding to at least make a move has broken me of my analysis paralysis about the whole writing thing. 

What has tortured me the most is being completely stagnant in my search for a writing gig. I've done very little to market myself as a writer. I have sent my blogs out to some publications, but seeing as these blogs are small pieces of a big puzzle that I'm putting together, I don't think I know how to market them. Plus, this is the only kind of writing I've ever done. Me. Me, me, me, me. Even after I turn this into a book, what would I do next? Write more about... me? 

I've said this before… but the whole reason I started writing was to find an outlet for my consuming thoughts. I hadn't planned on doing anything with it as a way to create financial security. Jeremy's enthusiasm about what it could become convinced me that I was on to something big and that somehow, magically, I would just become "a writer". But I am discouraged. Maybe I would feel more confident in sending out resumes or completing applications for writing gigs if I had an education in the field. My degree is in visual communications which basically means "I make things look pretty." I'm not sure if I'm allowed to call myself a writer just because I tap out my thoughts once or twice a week and hit publish. 

Steven says I'm being negative. I can understand where he is coming from… I see it more as being a realist but perhaps he is right. Maybe I just don't have the same faith in myself and my abilities as other people do. I've received some great feedback on my writing - how it's been inspirational, motivating, relatable and touching. These are the exact emotions I had hoped to evoke when I started publishing my thoughts so publicly. And I'm not convinced that all of this might not become something big one day… but sitting and stressing out about when it's going to happen or why it isn't or who I need to be and what I need to do… it's killing me. 

I think this is the main reason why this trip has felt less like vacation for me than I had hoped… I've been on vacation since the beginning of October. I've spent the last six months doing the things I've always wanted to do. And it has been great - but not, I think, what Jeremy had in mind when he gave me that money and told me to "focus completely on my writing." I don't know… maybe I would've felt differently if my relationship with Jeremy had been successful. Now, I just feel like I'm in debt to him and everything I do to "pursue my writing" - other than simply blogging - seems obligatory. 

So, back to work I go. The more I say it, the more I am okay with it. Tina with too much time on her hands isn't necessarily a good idea anyway. And now that I can pass a drug test, maybe I can get a job somewhere that is actually enjoyable. I thought that by NOT working, I would be inspired to do whatever I could to keep that lifestyle going. I think maybe I need to work in order to be reminded of what it is I'm working for. 

It is quite beautiful here… my sense of smell is in heaven and everywhere I look, it's as if I'm seeing a beautifully planned out photograph. Today, we are traveling to the other side of the island to check out Waimea Canyon, known to many as the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. Today, I plan on capturing the beauty that awaits and using it as gratitude fuel. I am grateful for the opportunity I was given, grateful for the people I have attracted and for all those that do read what I write and enjoy doing so. I am grateful for my relationship with Steven and while there are some repairs that need to be done after last night's mess, I know the effort is worth it. Love can be challenging… especially when all you want for the one you love is for them to be happy. 

We come home Tuesday. That gives me three full days to get over myself, appreciate the gifts I've been given and express my gratitude for what is. 

Reality waits at home… a reality filled with a man I love who loves me back, a new adventure in the world of working and the next round of surprising turns in this unpredictable game of life. When I say it like that, it almost sounds better than being in Hawaii. 

Then again… maybe not.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"What Did I Tell You About Thinking Negative Thoughts?" "To Not To..."

Exactly one week later, Steven and I experienced a completely different kind of day… The Day of Epic Wins. 

We enjoyed great company all day, helped out a friend, supported other friends in their charitable endeavors (St. Baldrick's Day), hit every green light in Vegas and finished off with a nice, mellow and drama-free evening at karaoke. Good food, good drinks and good conversations were the salt and pepper of that wonderful day. 

Life is amazing that way. The winds change so often and without notice… it makes it hard to get too down when things don't seem to be going along desirably. 

Although I am struggling with quite a few things internally, it's not difficult to stay positive these days. A solid relationship is a pretty powerful thing, as I always imagined it would be. How can I be too upset about certain aspects of my life when I know I get to see him and be accepted as I am, no matter what is going on in my head or what I think of myself in any given moment? 

I have a friend that I worked with at Chili's. He is an exceptionally solid person… very attractive,  wonderful sense of humor, quite flirtatious but also extremely particular about the kind of girl he wants to be in a relationship with. He has a son who means everything to him and, like a good father should, puts his child's needs way before his when considering dating someone. In fact, the whole time I knew him, I never saw him in a serious relationship with anyone. I knew that he wasn't willing to put any physical desires before his son's emotional needs and, therefore, never lost his integrity, no matter how many girls brushed up against his six-pack at work. 

His birthday was a couple of weeks ago. I sent him a text message to wish him a happy one and he responded back with a thanks… then asked if I had heard that he was fired from Chili's after four years of employment. I had not heard this and asked him to explain… he called me and gave me the details. 

As many of the terminations at Chili's seem to be, his was filled with strange accusations and what I would consider to be wrongful. He was a good employee, but disagreed with a lot of things management did and didn't do to ensure a positive work environment. Of course, I only heard his side of the story, but in my time at Chili's, I saw a lot of things go down that I am not comfortable with, therefore I couldn't help but empathize with what he was going through. 

I asked him if he had found another job yet and he said he hadn't. He is the sole provider for his son and I know that he worries about being able to support him. He is in the process of trying to get someone at the corporate office at Chili's to hear his side of the story and get involved so that other employees don't have to suffer at the hands of a poorly managed working environment. He is the kind of person that believes in standing up for what he believes is right and I know that it is taking a lot of his time and energy. I hope he is able to make some headway on this. I quit my job there and ran… I applaud him for sticking with it and trying to make things right for others. 

At the end of our conversation, I asked if he was doing okay. I could actually hear him smile through the phone as he replied, "Are you kidding? Things are great." 

A few months after I quit, I heard that he had started dating someone at work… something that he was always adamant about NOT doing. However, when I found out who it was, I couldn't help but smile myself. He literally chose the sweetest, happiest and most beautiful girl in the restaurant to start dating. 

She had just gone through a bit of a messy divorce and had been making me sad on a daily basis with her out-of-character Facebook posts about being miserable and feeling like the worst person in the world. She has a daughter who means the world to her as well and was having a hard time dealing with the fact that she simply wasn't in love with her husband anymore. 

So, when I heard that these two beautiful people with so much love for their children and their faith and so much integrity in their belief systems went and fell for each other, I was thrilled. Like I said, a solid relationship is a pretty powerful thing. 

I'm having difficulty finding balance in my life at the moment. I'm a little wrapped up in all the fun I'm having, but not marrying it very well with my responsibilities and commitment to myself. I continue to make time for writing my blog simply because I love it, but haven't spent much time marketing it or getting it noticed outside my circle of friends. I have started to think about how I want it to look when I begin putting it into book form, but when I discuss it with Whitney, I tend to get overwhelmed by things that perhaps I should be doing that I'm not. 

When I started this blog, I was committed to a year long process, documenting all the things that come up for me as I live my thirtieth year. I still love this idea, but it means that I won't start wrapping things up and begin the editing process until July… my bank account will not make it until then. 

I can ask for more money… I know I have the support from Jeremy to do so… but there is a part of me that tells me that I'm not working hard enough to deserve anything extra. When he gave me the money the first time around, his exact words were that I could accept it given I quit my job and focus completely on my writing. I've definitely focused on this blog, but in addition, I've focused very much on my social life. I've spent a lot more money on frivolous things than I should have. I've adopted a mentality that while I have this opportunity, I should take it to do the things I've always wanted to do but couldn't afford to. It's not like I went and bought a new car or anything… but I do find myself going out whenever I want and buying that really cute shirt that I definitely don't need just because I can. 

Now, don't get me wrong… there is a part of this thinking that has a positive and Universal twist to it… in addition to doing the things I have always wanted to do, I am working on adopting a new mental process that includes feeling like I do deserve these good things… and also getting used to the idea that I have plenty and will always have prosperity coming my way. This is part of creating tangible realities with our thoughts. Not an easy concept to grasp and execute, but something I believe very strongly exists. But… I have lived with negative thoughts about money and prosperity for so long that I'm afraid I won't be able to "figure" it out before I reach a zero balance. 

And now I'm going to Hawaii for five days? St. Patrick's Day and a Karaoke Black Belt Ceremony as soon as we get back? Requests for me to plan a girl's get together and the desire to put together social activities like writing sessions and hikes with friends? Bowling tournaments with the family, weekly practices with my bowling coach, belting up at Karate Karaoke and spending as much time with Steven as possible? Finding the time and making the commitment to slow and then reverse my weight gain as I only have two pairs of jeans left that I can fit into? 

Rent? Car? Insurance? Utilities? Groceries? Phone? My cat? My spinning head??? 

Balance… why must you elude me… 

Okay, that's a bit of a victim statement - the truth is, I'm in love. And everything I have ever wanted in my life has taken a backseat to wanting to feel the way I feel right now. He is my priority. Our relationship is what means the most to me right now and I'm letting it jump ahead of everything else that I also want to be working on. And when he reads this, I know he'll feel bad, as if he is the reason I'm not feeling productive at the moment… although I tell him all the time, I really hope he understands that I live 100% in responsibility. No one causes me to do - or not to do - anything. I call the shots and the final score is not me against the world… it's me against myself. 

We leave for Hawaii Wednesday night. I plan on writing every morning from the porch that overlooks the ocean. I will enjoy every minute I am out there and remind myself again and again that I deserve the happiness and opportunities I've been given. I will also be searching for ways to achieve balance in my life and am anxious to come back, full force, and follow through on commitments I have made to myself. 

I will think of my friends from Chili's… who know that life does get difficult, but when you roll over in the morning and look into the eyes of the one you love and know the difference you are making in the lives of others (especially your children!) it's worth it to step up, take the wheel and create the life you deserve… to create that Day of Epic Wins again and again. As human beings, we all deserve this kind of happiness. 

Knowing this is the first step. Teaching them is the next. 

Out of the night that covers me, 
Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll. 
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul. 

"Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I Am SO Ready To Take A Ride In The Cash Cab

"So, tell me about yourself." 
"What do you want to know? 
"Just start talking and I'll tell you when I'm interested." 

"It's not always rainbows and butterflies." 

"So, how does it taste?" 
"Just good? I'm used to getting a better reaction than that." 

"I can't even begin to understand how any American would not want to own and know how to fire a gun. That belief is completely foreign to me." 

"I don't care what he thinks of me" 
"Well that's the difference between you and me - I care what your friends and family think of me." 

"You know he has a girlfriend, right?" 
"Like that's ever stopped me before." 

"I need to know that you aren't just dating him because you feel sorry for him." 

"While you were singing, he literally stuck his ass in my face. It touched my face. Next time that happens, I'm not just walking away." 

(Fitch vs. Penn:) "And the winner is… A draw??" 

All in all, it was a very strange weekend. 

The sound bites listed above were all parts of conversations that were held in or around my vicinity late Friday night into all day and night Saturday. Steven and I had planned to have a weekend full of meeting new friends, singing tons of karaoke, hanging out with family and in general, just having a merry old time. However, no matter where we went, it seemed the Universe had something different in store for us. Instead of stress-free fun times, we were led from challenging conversation to challenging conversation until the end of the night left us exhausted, frustrated and ready to crawl under a couple of rocks. 

Today marks one month since Steven and I started dating. It definitely seems like we've been together longer than that. In the last month, we've met each other's families, most of each other's friends, spent up to one whole week together without a break, shared countless meals, compiled about a hundred inside jokes, planned a trip to Hawaii and even dropped the "L" word. With so many milestones being packed into a 30 day period, it's no wonder we ran into all these conversational riptides at the end of the month. 

It's as if the Universe is asking us in a thousand different ways: "Are you in or what?" 

A mutual friend of ours broke up with his girlfriend (another mutual friend), after two months of dating. She was heartbroken. She spent weeks in a negative funk, posting sad and depressing updates on her Facebook, crying publicly whenever we were out socially and giving off an overall energy of uselessness long after most people thought she should have. After all, it was only two months, right? 

However, as I sit here, reflecting on the last month of being with Steven and thinking about everything we've already gone through as well as picturing all the other things that we haven't even begun to face, I can't help but empathize with this girl and her broken heart. I would be devastated if Steven decided that he didn't want to continue pursuing a relationship with me. I would've been devastated after the first week. 

It's hard not to get excited about this relationship. I'm not an amateur to this whole dating thing… as many of you know, this is not my first rodeo. I write a whole other series of blogs about dating, for Pete's sake. However, with all the relationships I've been in, I've never been married or even close to marriage - except once - and even if things are mostly good, I don't accept it as the perfect relationship. Too many people have told me that when I have found "The One", I'll know it. I want them to be right. 

I've tried to force this feeling many times. Whenever I start dating someone, I so desperately want them to be "The One" that I look past the things that would normally be deal-breakers for me and focus instead on the things that could work out. Romantic, isn't it? As I've gotten older and my patience has, incredibly, gotten stronger, I've become a lot more honest with who I am and what I want. Therefore, I am able to end relationships with people that I know aren't "The One" for me and still keep a friendship with them. We are adults, after all. And I am convinced that as long as the communication is open from the start, a break up is never really a surprise. 

These days, however... a break up is the furthest thing from my mind. (insert variety of smiley faces here) 

There is something else that is pretty significant about this date for me - it's been eight months since I turned 30 and began my blogging adventure. The journey I embarked on began so differently than the one I am currently on. Remember The Rules? I really thought I was going to spend a whole year living my life in what I considered to be "sacrifice." I often wonder what would have been different if I would've stuck to this regimen. No liquor, no cigarettes, no gambling, no marijuana and no sex. Where would I be now? What would be different in my world? Would things be better? Worse? 

To clarify, there are two rules that I have stuck to: no cigarettes and no marijuana. 

When I quit smoking cigarettes last June, I knew I was done with it for good. I spent my entire 20s telling myself I would never smoke again once I turned 30. I actually remember a conversation I had with myself in late May where I was still smoking between five to ten cigarettes a day and realizing that I was, in fact, going to be a smoker when I turned 30. I simply wasn't ready to quit. However, sitting at that bar that afternoon after my sister-in-law's baby shower, when I realized I wanted to be a better example for my nephew, something in my brain switched over, like a railroad track pointing the train in a completely different direction. I put out that cigarette and have never looked back. In retrospect, quitting smoking was the easiest thing I've ever done. 

On July 2nd, the night of my 30th birthday, I sat on the rocks outside my hotel in San Diego, listened to the waves crash against the reef and gazed out at the lights of the sleepy beach town I was in as I puffed the last few hits of my joint. At the time, I knew that I was only going to be saying goodbye to Mary Jane for a year. I mean, please… I had been smoking weed for close to ten years. I loved it. We were BFFs - she never did anything to hurt me and was always there when I needed her. It was the most committed relationship I had ever been in. I figured a year without her would be good for my head and packed my paraphernalia away in a bag and put it in my closet. I certainly wasn't going to throw it away. I was already thinking about how awesome my 31st birthday was going to be when I brought that bag back down again and partook all over again. 

I think weed is a hell of a drug. Pass me a petition to get it legalized and I'll sign it. I think it's safer and healthier than alcohol and cigarettes and I love its medicinal qualities. I believe in it's pain-relieving elements more than I do Tylenol and think that money-hungry politicians are insane not to legalize it for tax purposes alone. There is nothing anyone can say or do that will make me think that this drug is the horrifying, brain-cell killing, gateway drug that conservatives and the ignorant public make it out to be. The people in my life who are the most outspoken about the negative aspects of this drug are also the heaviest drinkers I know. Strange… 

With all of this said, I have still decided to officially bid my farewell to marijuana today. I've known for months now that I wasn't going to return to smoking after this year was over. However, something in me wouldn't bring that bag down out of my closet and dispose of it. Today, I am going to do that. 

I used to think my friends who smoked pot but quit and didn't have to (like, for drug test purposes for example) were crazy. Take a break, sure… but quit? Why? Well, now I know why… because even believing everything positive I wrote about the drug, I also know that, like anything else, the purpose behind it's use is the most important thing to consider. I used it to hide… to cover up emotions… to stay out of my heart and in my head… I put it first so that everything else had to be second. It wasn't something I did socially with my friends at a party or to liven up a good time. I smoked all day by myself - at home, in my car, before going to the gym, before grocery shopping, before any activity, actually… and before going to bed. I was looking to be high all day, so I never really had to focus completely on any one thing at a time. 

And that is what I discovered I had when I removed weed from my life: focus. I've been able to focus on building the relationships in my life that are important to me, I've been able to focus on the big dreams I've had for a long time that I never thought were attainable, I've been able to focus on my driving (I always drove high... tsk, tsk…), and more important than anything else, I've been able to focus on myself and how awesome I really am when I don't have to hide behind something. I can be and have a good time even when I'm sober. The real me? Pretty cool after all. 

Not to mention, I'm saving over $200 a month. Closer to $250 if you factor in the cigarettes as well. 

It has been a crazy eight months. It's amazing to look at all of the people and opportunities I've attracted since I started this trek. Everything from the money that gave me all this time to pursue my writing to the man that I have spent the last month falling completely in love with. As my 30th year - and my bank account - begin to wind down, I wonder what my next step is. I have a rough idea in my head of where I want to take this blog, what I want to work on next and what I want my future to look like… but if there is one thing I've learned over the last eight months, it's not to get attached to how things look. One thing I do know for sure is that as long as I remain true to myself and my beliefs and maintain the highest level of excellence I can in every moment, the Universe will provide for me. 

I don't expect things to always be easy. Last weekend proved that… but without constantly being challenged, we can never know what our true potential actually is. Steven and I made it through that "Day of Epic Fails" as we refer to it in laughter, and we came out the other side as a stronger, more committed couple. One month down, and a lifetime to go.  

So what do you say… are you in?