Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflection... It Does A Body Good

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” - Katharine Hepburn 

I came across this quote the other day in my latest Shape magazine. However, I’ve seen it before... 

My birthday is this Saturday. Along with officially entering my thirties, I’ve already started the reflecting process on my blogging journey. As I stated in my last post, I have decided not to quit writing this blog. Part of me still wants to try and take my experiences and put them into some sort of book-type-thingie... but I just can’t seem to imagine what that would look like. 

You see, in the beginning, there was a bigger purpose to my writing adventure. For those of you that remember, I was going to live a “sin free” lifestyle for an entire year and then compile all of my experiences during the process and write about them. My great idea was to not drink any liquor, quit smoking cigarettes, limit my gambling, postpone my pot usage and live a life of celibacy. All for one year. 

As I approach my 31st birthday, I can’t help but wonder what my life would look like right now if I would’ve upheld these “Rules”. I wonder how different things would be. Would I feel more accomplished? Would I have an unbelievable book just waiting to be written and published? Would I have the friends or the boyfriend I have now? The job? The relationship with my family? Would I feel... satisfied? 

Obviously, these are questions that can’t be answered. I could easily drive myself insane trying to imagine that separate dimension in which I actually followed through with these declarations. 

I love being a non-smoker. That was one thing that I did follow through with and pat myself on the back every time I see someone light up around me. As far as weed, I definitely planned on celebrating my 31st birthday with the biggest joint I could find. After ten years of smoking pot regularly, I truly only planned on abstaining from the drug for 365 days. However, I can’t imagine going back to that lifestyle either. Discovering that life can be enjoyable even when I’m not “above it” was something I found to be quite nice. 

I also put these particular rules in place because I knew I wanted to write, but wasn’t sure what I was going to write about. In fact, after my first five posts outlining all of the rules for the next year, I didn’t know what else to say. So, I spent the next week or so writing about my 2009 trip to England. I was sort of just waiting for new experiences to start unfolding and I would write about them as they came. 

I have to say... having something to write about has certainly never been an issue since then. 

I had breakfast with my family yesterday. Tim came along... it was nice for him to finally meet my sister in law and nephew as well as have a chance to get familiar with my family and how we interact. Tim is very observant, like me, and likes to watch how people behave around each other. Plus, I want my family to start getting to know him. I am slower to enter that process lately because my last couple of relationships have been so short-lived and I get uncomfortable sometimes, pondering if my family smiles and acts friendly while thinking to themselves “I wonder how long this one will be around.” 

Then again, maybe it’s me that has this recurring thought... 

Last week, I thought I was watching the end of yet another relationship. It started out as a stupid disagreement about having compassion for others, even the assholes in our lives. Tim had made what I felt to be an inappropriate comment about Steven’s little arm and I became really defensive. In reality, he was just making a point about how having self image issues growing up - and not overcoming them - most likely contributes to being a jerk later on in life. I don’t disagree with this statement... I just didn’t agree with the way the information was presented. However, I honestly can’t even remember exactly the way he said it now - that’s how insignificant it was in the big picture. 

Unfortunately, the subject turned to me caring too much for my ex and then escalated from there. I explained that even though I know a few people in my life that I don’t care to be friends with or even associate with anymore, it doesn’t mean I don’t still have compassion for the shit that they’ve been through. I can dislike someone for the way they choose to handle things, but I can’t change why they believe they have to treat people poorly. That is completely related to their belief system and it makes me sad to know that some people are just generally mean to others because they don’t know any other way. 

Now, please understand... just because I have compassion for people doesn’t mean I find plastic bags flying around in the wind to be the most beautiful thing in the world. I believe it is absolutely up to each and every one of us to live our lives in responsibility. I don’t think it’s okay for Steven to send emails that attack and mock me, or for someone I only know through karaoke to make weekly jokes about what a slut I am, or for Justin to make fun of Tim’s teeth behind his back because they are less than perfect. I think these things are just mean and unnecessary. Eventually, it is up to us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves “am I being the best version of me that I can be?” 

Regardless of the answer, if you aren’t even willing to look, you and I will probably run into a disconnect down the road. But that doesn’t mean I will ever stop having compassion for humans. Being human is easy. Being humane is a little more challenging. 

A few of my early posts were very difficult for my family to read. I shared a lot of my feelings and frustrations about growing up and the struggles we went through. Some of the things I shared hurt their feelings and the wedge that had already existed before I started writing only became more prominent. And while I admit that sometimes I wrote things without knowing the whole story or out of a sheer need to get out toxic thoughts that had clouded up my head for so long... I can’t say I regret anything that I did. In my mind, I took the path less traveled. It was dark and long with tumultuous terrain and many twists and turns. But now, we know more about each other, our interactions seem so much more genuine and mean-spirited phrases are no longer part of how we communicate. 

It’s hard to imagine having the kind of relationship with my brother that Cory has with his, or hold the sibling bond that my friends Dan and Erin have with each other... but at the same time, I don’t see us going backward either. It seems like after all these years of just not “getting” each other, we have finally agreed that understanding each other means very little and that loving each other is really all that matters. 

My mom and I weren’t communicating very well when I started writing this blog. In fact, I don’t think we were communicating at all. We had an ugly fight when I was living with them (for the third time) and I moved out very soon afterwards into the apartment that I am currently living in. It was the longest period of time I can remember where we didn’t speak. My dad was forced to act as the liaison between us whenever something came up that needed to be discussed. 

When Dad asked me to stop writing such personal things about the family in my blog, I became very hurt and defensive. I know it looked like it at the time... but I really wasn’t out to hurt anyone. I just needed to be able to express myself and it didn’t seem like anyone close to me wanted to hear what I had to say. I didn’t filter myself, though, and I know that my whole family felt a little bitch-slapped in my early blogs. 

My mom pointed out recently that you can pretty much always count on me doing things differently than most... 

Tim and I were able to talk our way out of breaking up with each other last week. We are both really passionate and can be a little hot-headed. Especially when we both feel the need to be right about something. I waited for him to leave... and he did. But then he came back. We sat on the floor in my closet and worded our way to the understanding that loving each other should always be more important than needing to be right about something. 

I also discovered a few new things about myself that night. For example, feeling like someone doesn’t understand what I’m saying or looks at me like I’m crazy is actually enough to send me flying into an illogical fit of rage. This is something I shall work on... 

Additionally, I realized that I really ask a lot of people. Saying “I’m sorry, let’s just forget about this and move on” doesn’t work for me. I want to get to the bottom of everything... I want to find the source of the fight. It’s not about him insulting Steven and me sticking up for him... there’s something deeper for both of us and I want THAT to come to the surface. I don’t mind getting in debates or even arguments, but I don’t want to have the same disagreement twice. I want to know why you feel the way you do and I want you to give me time to explain why I feel the way I do. This is not about being right at all - it’s about understanding where certain beliefs come from so that we can be mindful of future interactions.  

It’s not enough to say that you expect more out of people. I want to know why you feel that way. And we will sit here until that answer comes to light. Or... you can leave. 

I never said being with me was easy. 

I don’t mean to make things difficult, I just have a desire to understand why people do the things they do. If I had the motivation, I’d probably go back to school to be a psychologist. I guess drilling my boyfriends to tears will have to suffice... 

We never learn everything there is to about life. Even knowing this, it doesn’t make any sense to me to stop trying. 

Mom and I eventually worked through that difficult time last year. One thing that she has always done, as long as I can remember, is communicate through greeting cards. When she has difficulty finding the words, she’ll send a card that says what she is thinking. 

Last year, as I was trying to find my footing as a blogger, figuring out how to handle my new “rules”, struggling with resistance from the family and having no idea what my next step was, I got a card in the mail from Mom. It hung on my refrigerator for a long time. Inside was a quick note about how much she loved me. On the outside was this quote: 

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” 

From that moment on, the words in this blog have flowed effortlessly from my mind to my keyboard. 

This year has been quite a ride, to say the least... and the reflection has been cathartic. I’m looking forward to my trip to the bay area this weekend. I’m not sure what the next year has in store for me, but one thing I know for sure is that I won’t be putting together a list of rules to follow in the hopes of creating a better life for myself. 

I think I’ll just keep doing the things that interest me...


  1. Awww Tina name-dropped us!! I feel all so important and famous..LoL Also, nothing constructive this time just this: "I guess drilling my boyfriends to tears will have to suffice... " Giggidy giggidy Heh Heh Alllllllright.

  2. Love your uncanny way of making light out of things that I take WAAAAY too seriously. It's why I adore you. :)