Monthly Archives: September 2012

Shoes.

Ever stopped to think how important shoes are? We make fun of those with closets full of shoes, but do we ever really stop to think that, maybe, these people with all the shoes, are actually very fortunate people? Think about what it fees like to wear a bad pair of shoes, and by bad I mean uncomfortable. I’m making the assumption, that people with large collections of shoes actually keep and wear these shoes because they are comfortable. Otherwise, why have them?

It has been nearly two years since I have been able to find a decent pair of shoes. Let’s define decent: the shoes must look attractive and feel comfortable when worn for longer than ten minutes. I’m not taIking about stilettos either. I can’t wear sneakers to work, at least not every day, and those are comfy shoes. I’m talking about work shoes. The last pair of shoes I purchased, felt great, while I was in the store. An hour after wearing them to work one day and I could feel the blisters start. I have other shoes, but none that are comfortable for working an 8-hour day mostly on my feet. They all feel great when I’m trying them on, but they don’t continue to feel that way after I get them home. By the end my work day most days my legs and feet are killing me.

I envy people with closets full of shoes, especially if they have a closet full of comfortable shoes.

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The Value of Losing Hope

I read an article about the futility of hope a while back. I can’t remember where or what publication it was in. It may have been some random waiting room magazine I happened to be leafing through in the radiation center. Who knows? I just remember that the thesis of the article struck me as strange. The article suggested that there are times when hope is counterproductive. For example, in the case of a terminally ill person, holding out hope for a late-in-the-game cure actually prevents the person from doing the work ( emotionally, relationally, etc.) that they need to do to face their illness and prepare to exit this life. This was just one of several examples. I wish I could remember the article or even the magazine so I could provide you with it, but I just can’t. My explanation of it is weak.

I’m not so sure that I agree with the premise of this article. Hope keeps us going. The Bible says that without hope, the people perish. If we don’t have hope, then why don’t we just all drink the magical elixir and end it all right now? Hope keeps us moving forward, pushing onward, taking that next step even though we’ve been brutally beaten in life’s most recent battle.

On the other hand…I think I’m beginning to understand the value of giving up hope.

Sometimes, when we face our problems, troubles, or situation without hoping it will change, we end up finally arriving at a place where we can do what we couldn’t do before while we were hoping for different outcomes. I guess, in a way, hope can masquerade as denial. When this occurs, or at least lately,for me, when this occurs, I spend my time and energy on futile endeavors rather than facing facts and moving on with a different plan. My hope was in the wrong thing. My hope led me to deny the truth that was staring me in the face. Had I given up hope, I could have faced the truth and avoided a great deal of pain and confusion and, quite possibly, even some financial loss.

As I look back on the events of this year, especially of the losses this last month, and as I look toward the future, I have to admit that in certain areas of life there are certain goals and hopes I am beginning to give up on. I think of what this means for me, and quite honestly, there are aspects of this that trouble me greatly. It isn’t exactly the destination I wanted to arrive at, but I’m here, and at least for now I see no exit door. Admittedly, I’m not looking that hard, because I’ve given up the hope that if I found an exit, the room on the other side would be any better than the one I just left. I’ve given up hope that there are any rooms at all worth exploring. Just opening the door is distasteful idea to me. So, for now, I’m in this room in my life alone. I’ve given up hope that there will be any of a certain kind of companionship. Or, at least, I’m beginning to.

The more I ponder this, the more I think, this might not be such a bad thing. After all, now I can focus without distraction, on the things in my life that need my attention and energy. I can, at last, focus on doing some things I’ve always wanted to do. I haven’t given up on hope altogether. I believe there are better days ahead. However, I’m enjoying some pretty good moments and days now, and I don’t want to miss the joy in them by spending my energy hoping my situation in certain ways will change.

It’s an interesting thing. While I would never have chosen this for myself, I’m finding that in spite of the sadness and loneliness I do feel at times, I am happier, more content, and more at peace than I’ve been in a long time. This is not to say I feel great all the time. I don’t. But I think, no matter what, I’m going to be okay.

I wonder, have you ever felt like abandoning hope in something, and found that when you did, you were pleasantly surprised?

What’s Holding You Back? Could It Be…Reality?

Lately, I’ve read a great deal of people writing and exhorting things like this: You can be whatever you want to be.  You can do whatever you want to do.  You decide.  If you don’t like  your life the way it is now, make the necessary changes and create the life you desire.

Okay, seriously?  This is 20-year-old thinking.

I mean, when I hear someone say that I am in complete control of my destiny and that any minute I can just unilaterally shelve everything and make a change (that works for me and me alone) then, well, I’m thinking this person is young, and so very optimistic (I do applaud this) and they do not have children.

So, let me dial it back about three decades for you.

I was one of those who believed exactly that:  I was in charge of my future.  I was in charge of my life.  If I didn’t like something, then I could make decisions and change it on a moment’s notice.  It could be the 7:30 am class I’d signed up for which I hated so I figured I’d change it, (I’m so not a morning person) or it could be the fact that I’d rather be living in the San Francisco Bay Area instead of the Pacific Northwest, or the Southwest, or the East Coast, take your pick.  It could be any number of things.  When I was younger (24+)  and had no real obligations, there really was nothing holding me back. Nothing.  I’m not kidding.  I made great money as a 25-year-old.  I was making bank and had no obligations.  The few credit cards I had, I could pay off in full each month (gross amounts of money I wish I now had). In addition, I had time.  I had time to regroup my losses.  I had time to correct my errors and regain my losses (if there were any).  I simply had time…or so I thought.  But…we don’t ever really know how much time we have…and we are never an island unto ourselves.

The reality is, you can’t always make the decisions you’d like, because you aren’t always completely in control of your life, unless you are an island.

I know.  That sounds blasphemous to many.  Sorry, but it’s true.  As much as I’d like to send it out to the universe that I am this or that…the reality is…what the reality is.

Think of it this way, if you are your own person and you have no obligations or commitments to others then, maybe, you can just up and do whatever you like whenever you want and, possibly, there really is nothing or no one holding you back. This is, at once, the best argument for remaining single forever and, at the same time, for leaving the single state as quickly as you can.   I feel for you if you are in this place.

The reality is, that as life goes on, life becomes less and less about us and more and more about those we love and what is best for them.

For the average 25-year-old, there aren’t many people you have to consult to make decisions about your life.  If you are lucky, your parents will support you in whatever adventure you take on.  You also, if you are lucky (meaning you did what you needed to do to make sure you were employable at a better-than-minimum-wage rate) have an income that provides for your basic needs and allows you the ability to make some choices with your life. In addition, you have the golden opportunity  that I call “TIME”.  At 25, you have an entire lifetime ahead of you.  If you make a bad choice, you have time to regroup and mitigate the losses.  It’s a very different story when you are say, 50 or 60.

So, let’s consider the mantra of “What’s Holding You Back”  (clearly a 20+-year-old perspective) from a more seasoned stance.

As a person well over 40, let me tell you “What’s Holding Me Back”:

  • I would love to consider another career field.  While it isn’t entirely impossible that I make the switch, the reality is that I am currently in a field where I am required to have at least a graduate degree.  The cost of this for me: $46,000. I have about 15 years to pay this off while I try to feed and clothe my children on a salary that is a fraction of what most other professional people make. I can’t possibly consider taking out more loans for a career field switch, especially when the likelihood is that I cannot have these loans paid off before I retire in my current profession.  It is wishful thinking to believe that I can completely jump ship on the professional field I’ve been in since 1985, and think I’m A.) going to be able to fund this life change, and B.) be able to pay off the debt in the time I have left to work.  This is just not going to happen.  The reality of economics and time hold me back here.
  • I would love to sell everything I own, find a job in a BIG CITY (read San Francisco Bay Area or something really decadent back on the East Coast), but the reality is this:  I have children.  My children have friends and lives that I have to consider in every decision I make.  I can’t just quit my job and move.  I have to consider how that’s going to roll with the kids that the respective ex’s.  (Yeah, I hate that part.)

The  reality is, no one is completely in charge of their destiny.  At 20, I might have had more freedom to make more choices.  At a much older age, this is not the case.  I now have children, ex’s, significant others, and employers to consider…and if you think considering the employer isn’t important consider this:  I work in a career field where, if I move, I take a significant pay cut and I lose the security of knowing I have a job in years to come. I’m sorry, but I have children to feed, clothe, and hopefully prepare and send to college.  Me, as a single mother of four,  taking a pay cut, or even risking it, is so not an option.

So…what’s holding me back?

Really?  You’re kidding me, right?

Because that’s the question a 20-something would pose.

What’s holding me back is my obligation to the other people in my life that I am responsible for and the reality is, I can’t just ditch that for something that works for me, but fails them. So, I remain in a place, that I like, but I don’t “LOVE” and I do a job that I love in a place that is, at times, troublesome and which makes me wonder if there isn’t something  better elsewhere…yet…I endure it, not because I have no desire to change, but because it is best for those who depend upon me.   All of this is holding me back from what I would personally love to be doing…if I had my druthers.

The reality is, I am responsible to others and for others, and it is no longer just about me. I cannot make these  decisions in a vacuum, excluding their input or perspectives.

So, here’s what’s holding me back:  It’s my decision to recognize that it isn’t always just about me and that sometimes, I must think of others before I think of myself, even if those choices aren’t ones I would choose in isolation.

What’s holding me back is my love for the other  important people in my life versus me choosing to make life all about me and what works for just me.

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