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Eight to Life

Funny how when life throws things at you, you do one of three things: run and hide, reflect, or change your path.

These past few years were filled with a mix of good, bad, challenges, changes, endings and a ton of retrospection.

I’ve written about five posts since my last one, but only two of them will see the light of day. This one and one that I’m not quite ready to share because it is a tough one to write without me falling apart halfway through.

I sat back and thought, with all the stuff going on in the world, the people that have crossed my path, and what the future holds, I would focus on what is essential in my life and how it impacts my journey. Here are eight things that keep me grounded. I hope some of you can relate, but if not, that’s fine too.

Family: Every family has its quirks, idiosyncrasies, maybe a black sheep here or there. I’ve heard the adage, “you can’t pick your family.” A wise friend recently told me, that although you and your siblings grew up in the same house, you might have completely different versions of your childhood. My parents did the best they could. My siblings and I come from traditional, Italian parents. My parent’s generation, and maybe it’s related to our Italian ethnicity, keep things very close to the vest. If it’s a health issue, they don’t want to be a burden so they may avoid talking about it or not share it at all until you force the issue. If they know their advice is unwarranted, they will deflect and talk about lighter subjects. They are wise, and they have incredible stories to share. I respect them tremendously and no one will ever take that away from me. Oh sure, they can be a pain in the tush at times but who isn’t’?  I’m fortunate I still have them, and I hope, god willing, for more years to come.

Love: I have a lot of love in my life, and I got a lot to give. I still believe romantic love is out there for me. It would be nice to be knocked off my feet, but I would settle for a flick on the shoulder. I’ve been misled and hurt countless times but I’m still here, relatively unbroken, and again, I still believe in love. I told a friend recently, “when one door slams shut; another one creeps open.” Just make sure there is no creep behind door number two.

Happiness: This one is relative, I know. I’m a relatively happy person. But push me too far, and I will either disappear, you’ll know it, or I’ll write about it. For your sake, I hope it’s the first option. Happy is a state of mind. I find if you are outwardly and inwardly happy, there will be some people who try to crap all over it. Let ‘em try. They don’t matter. Continue and when you fall, because you will, or when someone bursts your happy bubble, because they may try, hold on and remind yourself of what makes you happy. You can find happiness in smallest instances and also in big gestures. Ultimately, you are the only one responsible for your happiness. I have to remind myself of that every day. Sometimes it takes hold, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s worth the reminder.

Getting over disappointment: Everyone has been hurt once, twice, or a dozen plus times. When someone hurts you, it’s okay to walk away. It’s okay to stand up and say, “no more!.” You don’t have to forget or subject yourself to it any longer, but for your sake forgive and move on. If you keep falling back into a bad relationship, expecting different results, most likely you will be disappointed again and again. You deserve more in life. Be true to yourself and try not to let negative influences that may surround you affect or change you or your energy. People can only hurt you emotionally if you allow it. If they hurt you physically, that is an entirely different story. You need to get out, seek help and first and foremost protect yourself. The hard thing for me to understand when dealing with disappointment, because I tend to beat myself up every time, is that “it’s not me.” It’s just not the right situation for me and that my friends, is a blessing not a curse.

Truth: Being honest is such a vital part of any worthwhile relationship. Without it, you can’t build trust. When someone lies to you, no matter how badly you want to believe their story or make excuses for them, don’t blindly believe them because you want it to be true. Been there, done that. Sure, they may be dealing with some heavy stuff, they may want to paint themselves in a good light or fool you. A lie is a lie that potentially leads to more lies down the line. People will fool you now and then. It happens. However, you control whether or not you choose to believe them or ignore their behavior. You don’t have to accept it or stick around for the next lie. You should, however, forgive, move on and let it go.

Strength: Strong, independent, headstrong are sometimes considered negative attributes where women are concerned. I see that changing before my eyes. Yay us! Women are speaking up and out. What bothers me most is when other women criticize others for speaking out or coming forward. We need to stop that. Both my parents instilled hard work in us kids. To me, that is the core to my ability to focus and complete a task at hand. I don’t back down or give up too early when it comes to a challenge unless his name is (fill in the blank). In relationships, I don’t want to carry them. I want them to be mutually beneficial. I’m also an independent thinker. A man recently told me, “you think too much.” And thank God for that! I think my inner strength and attitude have saved me from some bad situations. In all honesty, I’m not Wonder Woman, but I could play her on TV.

Good health: I’ve had one or two health scares in my life. But I’m still here. To me, being healthy is not just about physical health, eating right and exercise, it’s also about emotional, social, environmental, spiritual and intellectual health.[1]Emotional health is being able to express your emotions positively. Social health is being able to relate to those around you at work, at home, in public, etc. Environment health, although some folks think the planet is just fine as is, is doing your part to keep our surroundings safe, the air we breathe clean, the water we drink drinkable, and choosing more reliable food sources. Spiritual health can vary from faith to faith and your culture. For me, spiritual health is being open to the idea that there is a higher power. I also do my best to be kind even if it’s a bad day, week, and year. I think it also involves following your moral compass and holding out to what you value most. Intellectual health is also a vital one to have the ability to recognize reality and cope with life.

Cleaning up finances: Money is usually the number one cause of stress.[2] Everyone wants to live a comfortable life and then some. Money is not everything, but to some people, it is what defines them. My sister once joked we are the smartest, poor people, we know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable and have done okay for myself, but I don’t have a huge disposable income to use on a whim or at my fancy. It’s tough to live off of one income these days, yes, but it is doable. If you saw my budget sheet, you would be in awe of my budgeting and planning skills. It’s very fancy. Okay, I’m boring myself. Money does make the world go around, and we all need it. We all have bills and responsibilities, but when money starts ruling your life and greed becomes a problem, maybe its time to reassess. I’m working to get a better handle on my monies so I can continue living this life and put aside some in case of emergency or a potential, out of left field life change. I try to follow the 50/30/20 way.[3] I do need to build up my fun money (or pocket money), but I’m getting there. I’ve learned nothing is forever, so it’s best not to spend what you don’t have, and never get too comfortable or complacent.

I guess when it comes down to it, be the best you can be, move on from the things that have hurt you. Learn from them and grow but don’t let anyone or anything hold you back from expressing yourself or acknowledging the people, places, and things that have impacted your life. Enjoy your life and be present and aware. Learn from the good and the bad. That’s what makes this journey so interesting.

Footnotes

1. The Six Components of Health
2. No. 1 cause of money stress: When expenses exceed income
3. The 50/30/20 Rule of Thumb for Budgeting

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