This afternoon, I went outside and noticed that even though it was 90 degrees and humid (pretty much the status quo around here from late May-early October),it was raining, one of my favourite types of weather. In fact, it was so beautiful, it made me burst into tears. I’m not sure why, other than it reminded me of a few rare times in my life where I was just perfectly happy, and it seemed like the world was this exciting adventure in which anything was possible. It reminded me of being young and healthy and free and not yet discovering that the world holds a lot of “No”, a lot of disappointment.

I miss that person. I miss those moments. I miss that freedom I used to rely on all the time, to constantly rewrite my own story. Somewhere along the way, I lost that. It’s kind of sad that something as simple and beautiful as rain leaves me mourning for that brief time of possibility that exists in everyone’s life, before we start choosing, and choices have consequences and obligations, and those things shrink the size of your world immensely.

I don’t dream the way I used to. I think I’m afraid that if I did, I’d always want my dreams to become part of my reality, and my reality would be less of a comfort to me.

Image Courtesy Of DangerDame.Com
I have been very ill lately. I don’t know what’s wrong, despite a trip to the ER and the hassle of trying to get in touch with a specialist. There’s a random problem with my heart, which is beyond scary, and the entire month of July has been spent with me barely having the energy to keep up with anything. My world has gotten so small I’m almost the only person in it, and I spend a lot of time feeling scared and alone.

The thing is, too many of my friends have had to leave this world far before they should have. I can’t stand the thought of being one of those people. There are too many things I haven’t done yet, and I’d give anything for a do-over, back to those summers of rainy days when anything was possible and every adventure the most exciting thing in the world.

So, it seems rather appropriate that in the midst of all these worries, and loneliness, and fear that it’s a time in my life to prepare for endings rather than beginnings, I should read about the passing of Amy Winehouse. All of the talent, beauty, charisma, and vivaciousness in the world doesn’t prepare a person for how to live in the world, and how to be content in that world, and in herself. I can only imagine that she would have been thrilled to have departed in the company of so many others with the same struggle; the “27 Club” is full of geniuses, eccentrics, and those that couldn’t reach out and connect in any other way than through the beauty of art.

People have been on the television all weekend, telling tasteless jokes and putting nails in the coffin of a beautiful person they all gave up on a long time ago. But I feel it’s a huge loss, the crashing of a magnificent plumed bird into the sea. RIP, Amy Jade.

Amy Winehouse, A Memorial, by O-Lie

I’m the kind of person that naturally gets bored and feels uninspired if I stay put for too long. I’m not sure why; it isn’t that I don’t have the capacity to be happy or content. Sometimes, I even value the feeling of safety and security that “home” offers me, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than hide out there for awhile. Those phases are often short-lived, however, and then I find myself plagued by restlessness and ready to chase adventure again.

Day #2:

Escape To Your Happy Place

At least for me, half the fun of going somewhere different is looking forward to getting there. Everyone has their own “happy place”, the place they’d much rather be, if there were no boring meetings, dull assignments, crying children, or endless obligations to attend to in life. For most people, it’s the first place you’d be likely to run off and hide out if you won the lottery tomorrow, quit your job, and had the personal freedom to go anywhere you wished.

My happy place is the beach, which is why I try to go at least once a year. Atlanta, being hopelessly landlocked and short on bodies of water, has the misfortune of having beach-worthy weather for at least 7 months out of every year, without any actual beaches nearby. The closest beach getaways are 5 hours away by car, too far for a day trip, and too inconvenient for non-drivers like myself.

It isn’t so bad, if you live in a nice complex with a pool—which, incidentally, I do not. My complex finally re-opened the pool, and it is now filled with screaming kids and angry, angsty teenagers all day long. It’s a far cry from some of the previous places I’ve lived in Atlanta, where I managed to spend an hour each day lying in the sun and shedding my vampire-like complexion for a few months. So, the result is that once March hits, I start looking forward to a trip to the beach.

I didn’t get to Savannah yet, although I’m determined to spend a weekend there at some point this summer. However, I’ll be visiting the Jersey Shore at the end of June, spending a lot of time lying on the beach and tuning out the entire world. In order to accomplish this, I needed a new bathing suit, and this one seemed to say “me”…at least today.

Sometimes, part of appreciating life is reminding yourself that you have freedoms, choices, options. While you might not always have the time, money, or energy to step away from your life and escape to your happy place, remembering that someday you will is motivating and invigorating. And, sometimes, your happy place might turn out to be exactly right where you are.

As discussed yesterday, I’ve made a commitment to myself to make this summer an interesting one—or at least one that I won’t fondly look back upon as a time I spent working and doing the same old stuff. While work, life obligations, and the daily routine are all an important part of life, too often, they become the thing that defines your life, leaving little room to experiment, grow, and celebrate life.

So, every day, I’m making it a point to do one thing that’s just for me. Every day, I’m going to remember to do something that’s new, different, self-indulgent, or just plain designed to make me happy and appreciate the wonderful things in my life a little bit more. Who knows? Maybe someone out there will read this, and decide to join me.

Day #1:

Listen To An Album By A Band Or Artist You’ve Never Heard Of Before

Too often, most of us stop discovering new things because we’re comfortable with the the things we do like, and don’t want to miss out on experiencing those. You know how it goes: you’ll order the same dish at a restaurant every time you eat there because it’s your favourite, watch the same movie every time it comes on TV, hang out with friends you don’t really like but you’ve known for ages, and keep the same set of sheets on your bed you used in college. It’s important to keep a sentimental attachment to your favourite things, but at the same time, to be able to identify the difference between personal attachment, and simple habit.

I have a habit of listening to the same songs on my iPod, over and over again. I’ve had the same favourite bands for well over a decade, and although once in a great while I’ll discover something new to add to my list of most-loved music, I still have sentimental attachments to music I love, and to the things that remind me of all the good memories in my past. Unfortunately, this can be a little inhibiting when it comes to branching out, discovering new things, and making new memories.

That’s why I decided to start my project by listening to some new music, from artists and bands I’m either not familiar with, or don’t think I’ll like. I started off by listening to Lights by Ellie Goulding. This was a little bit of a cheat, since I had heard of her; in fact, I saw her perform on SNL a few weeks back. But, everyone needs to start somewhere, and listening to Ellie Goulding’s well-acclaimed album led me to discover British breakout artist Clare Maguire, whose Light After Dark is all the rage across the pond, but hasn’t made it to the U.S. as of yet.


Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

Ellie Goulding, courtesy of Beat Crave

 In fairness, neither album rocked my world, but both were more than worth giving a listen. Each album had two or three songs on I liked enough to give permanent space in my collection, and I discovered two new unique and talented voices that haven’t yet hit the mainstream. Ellie Goulding’s cover of Elton John’s Your Song is a gem that’s going to stay with me for days, and I’ll probably end up mentioning to friends (well, the ones that don’t read this blog) somewhere along the line.

Since exploring new things quickly becomes a habit, I also picked up some albums from artists I do like, including James Blunt’s Some Kind Of Trouble and Lungs by Florence And The Machine, both of which I’ll listen to if I ever manage to get caught up on my out-of-control workload. (Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person that can listen to music or put TV on in the background, and still concentrate on a thought. I think it’s a mild adult ADD symptom, one I’ve always had.)

What new bands/artists/songs have you discovered lately?

One thing I’ve come to notice about life is that it’s very easy for it to become routine. In fact, most of what a majority of us spend our days doing are the things with which we’re the most comfortable, often to the point that if we’re not paying careful attention, our lives end up on some version of auto-pilot.

When I was younger, the world seemed like this huge place full of adventures and possibilities and things I just couldn’t wait to get out and explore. When I look back, the most memorable of my experiences, the happiest times in my life have always been the ones that were the most unexpected—the ones that, if I’d just been content to sit back and let life happen to me, rather than flinging myself at it in a most undignified manner, I’d have missed out on.

As time has passed, I’ve seen more places, done more things, met more people, and life has started to feel like less of an adventure. After awhile, you start to feel as if one city is really much the same as another, and even though the world is full of people, 95% of those you’re meeting simply aren’t all that interesting. So much more of life begins to be filled with sameness, until you realise you’re not really inspired by your life anymore, not really growing, not really learning or experiencing.

For the past few years, I’ve felt that way. Don’t get me wrong, I have some pretty awesome things in my life. I make a living in a way that allows me freedom and independence, to a certain extent, that not everyone out there has. I have a circle of friends that care about me, and a wider circle of acquaintances I can call upon when I want to go out and have fun. I’ve been in a long-term relationship with someone who loves me, even though it isn’t easy, and even though I’m not sure our futures are in sync. I’ve abandoned a number of self-destructive habits and aspects of my personality that have always stood in the way of me being happy. If I just look at it from the surface perspective, I have most of the things I need in my life. It isn’t a fancy life—I’m not rich, or famous, or accomplished, or glamourous—but it’s one that’s filled with reasons to be happy.

Yet, I often miss that feeling I’d have when I was younger, and about to embark upon a new adventure. I miss that reminder that the world is big, and full of possibility, and there’s always something to be excited about. I miss that random connection with a kindred spirit that’s unexpected and absolutely enthralling, and the sense of empowerment and freedom that comes with going somewhere completely new and different, completely on your own. I miss wondering what’s next, and what’s going to be hiding behind the next door. I don’t necessarily want to give up the security and stability I have in my life now, things that weren’t there then—it’s just that I want to rekindle that sense of wonder, and adventure, and the feeling that the next day might hold something wonderful in store for me.

In order to try to make new things a part of my daily life, and to constantly remind myself that “comfortable” should not be the end-all, be-all of existence, I’m going to spend my summer inviting something new into my life every day. Most will likely be small things, but just the act of reminding myself to always broaden my horizons and let the world in much more frequently is a good way to keep life from becoming routine, while still enjoying many of the “comfortable” pieces of my life that I love, and look forward to each week.

After all, it’s a big world out there, and you’re never too old to stop exploring, taking chances, and choosing to do something different. It’s just that most of us become so busy and distracted and consumed by the obligations of every day life, we save that spirit of exploration, adventure, romance, relaxation, and discovery for weekends, vacations, and holidays…if we’re not too tired.

Life is too short to forget that spirit of freedom, and that belief in ourselves and in possibility we all have in our younger years. Perhaps adults just have to work a little harder to maintain that free-spiritedness that used to come more easily, when there were less obligations, and fewer experiences with heartbreak.

This summer, I think I’m going to go out of my way to try and reconnect with that part of myself. It may fail, but it also may become a new, lifelong way of looking at the world. :)

There hasn’t been much posting here lately because, to be honest, I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately. I can’t blame it on the weather, because it’s been unusually sunny for February in Atlanta. In fact, last weekend, it was in the 70′s, and felt more like May than February. However, it hasn’t been enough to overcome this feeling of frustration and discontentment with nearly everything and everyone. I feel a little like I’ve had month-long PMS.

It doesn’t help that last week was one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a long time. In the course of 48 hours, I broke a front tooth, got pulled over by the cops (and my roommate and I were both very lucky we didn’t end up in jail), and found out I got fired from a writing job I’d been working on for six months. I’m going to need a root canal and crown for the tooth, which is a $1700 bill, because I don’t have dental insurance. The job is replaceable, but I’m already financially struggling this month due to a huge amount of expenses ever since December, and this week, the primary place I work for isn’t sending any clients my way. It’s really a terrible, awful month here.

On the brighter side of things, last weekend, one of my best friends in Atlanta (and my former roommate for two years), got married. The wedding has been in the making for a few months, but in terms of wedding planning, all came together in a relatively short amount of time and ended up being beautiful. It certainly helped that the order for 72 degrees and sunny was filled. *laughs*

The bride and groom have been living together for some time, and have a beautiful little girl, so in some ways, the wedding seemed a little like a formality. To most everyone who knows them, it’s as if they’re already married. However, during and after the ceremony, both of them looked so happy with each other….so I guess getting married is definitely something more significant than cementing a relationship with a piece of paper, particularly if you’re the church-going type (which these two are.)

However, planning a wedding is stressful for everyone involved, and the weekend of fun wedding events (bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, nails, hair, and makeup) leading up to the ceremony ended up being an experiment in drama. In addition to having three bridesmaids from Atlanta, two of her good friends flew down from NYC, which I thought would make for an awesome weekend. However, somewhere along the line, the girls started bickering, which led to fighting, crying, silent treatment, gossiping, confrontation, and a year’s worth of resentments, annoyances, and who said what about who becoming an issue in the midst of all the things that needed to happen.

I’ve known, and been friends with, two of these girls for over four years. I’m not certain why, all of the sudden, I find out that Person X has a problem with me, and Person Y supposedly agrees, but Person Y says she never talks about me and she doesn’t trust Person X because she supposedly talks about everyone. The more I talk to both of them, the more I realise their stories don’t line up, both in terms of things that involve me, and other things that happened when I wasn’t there. To a certain extent, Person X must be telling the truth, because she told me about things she couldn’t have known about unless Person Y told her. However, on the same side of the coin, there are instances where I just intuitively know Person Y’s account of an event is the more accurate one.

What it’s led me to believe is that, among this circle of friends (and their close friends and significant others), everyone talks about each other. ALOT. Most of it is done behind backs and closed doors, and is more in the form of “venting” and dealing with the minor issues in a passive-aggressive way, so they don’t become major blow-ups. Most of the things said are things that are never meant to be repeated, and when they are repeated, are typically repeated out of context, causing resentment. This has characterised my friendship with these two girls for years, and for the most part, it works, because major blow-ups are rare. But now, somehow, it’s become the case that people are feeling as if they can’t trust each other, accusing each other of being fake or self-centred, and wondering if their friends are really their friends.

I care about both of these girls, and like them both, although they’re both quite different from me, and I don’t always relate. I think it’s largely true that we all talk about each other too much, and gossip, and repeat things we shouldn’t. I think it’s largely true that we all make rude, insensitive, and obnoxious remarks to/about each other, rather than addressing problems or insecurities. But I also know that these girls have been supportive of me through some really tough times, have been the ones to help me through life’s dramatic moments, and have kept the big secrets I’ve trusted them with. I hope that everyone can take a step back and take a look at what really matters, and as a result, work on ditching the high school drama BS.

I personally am going to work on remembering that snarky remarks are not a way to vent your frustration with another person, and even when someone makes them to you first, saying obnoxious things just makes you look like a bitch. I know this is one of my less likeable personality attributes, and it’s gotten me in trouble along the way in life, so it’s something worth working on in terms of growing as a person.

Anyhow, despite the drama, the wedding itself worked out beautifully, and I think that everyone had a great time. It occurred to me that putting on a wedding is almost exactly like putting on a show. There are all these details to take care of, numerous things go wrong, everyone has to remember exactly what they need to do, and there’s always a ton of short-temperedness, stress, ego, and inter-personal conflict involved. But, in the end, it looks like it all happens effortlessly.

As much as I don’t want to be a director, I also don’t want to be a wedding planner. *laughs*

This week hasn’t involved anything of the negative variety, really, other than not having enough work and concern over paying my bills. However, I can’t seem to shake the sad, blah feeling that’s taken over my week. I don’t even know where it’s coming from. But I hope it will leave when February does, if not before.