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Just a Boy & His Subaru

On a Journey to Find Themselves

Tag Archives: life lessons

The simple action of sitting down to write this piece makes me feel exhausted. It makes me feel crazy, out of it; I’m nothing like myself anymore. But it has to be done, it has to come out or I’ll implode like every other member of my bloodline.

I’m tired.

As long as I’ve avoided admitting that to myself or anyone else, the reality is that life has me beat down right now. And to be even more correct, it has me beat down further than it ever has before. Even though I know deep down that life is a series of peaks and valleys, I’ve also never seen a valley so low and so never-ending.

But you know that a king is only a man
With flesh and bones, he bleeds just like you do

Four months ago things were better. And worse. There were things I didn’t know, but also things I did, each balancing the other to maintain a sense of normal. For instance, I didn’t exactly love my job, and I knew that, but I was becoming content in the fact that it paid the bills without much worry. On the other hand, it’s not like I was wishing stage four metastatic lung cancer on my mother.

After leaving to be with my mother and almost immediately losing my job at a company that cared about function over family, I thought our blood family was stepping up to the plate. My mother’s brother elected to step up to the plate and get her back and forth to appointments; to make sure she didn’t want while I went back to Denver to figure out what to do with my belongings, my cat, etc. It didn’t take long until the ‘burden’ of that was passed along to his wife, and her discontentment was obnoxiously clear right out of the gate.

In the short time that I was back, I found a job as a server with some amazing coworkers who quickly became the support system (and distraction) I so desperately needed. I was working as much as possible to make enough money to allow for my extended absences as I anticipated traveling back and forth to help mom. Being 14 hours away makes it difficult to drop everything and rush back, and it goes without saying that there is some planning involved.

When the time came, my mom’s brother and his wife (I’d call them my uncle and aunt, but then again it’s clear we’re not family) insisted I return right away. Someone needed to be with my mother 24/7, she was slipping away before their eyes, and they, “couldn’t do this alone.” Once I arrived I realized that they had stretched the truth, lied, filled in the blanks, whatever it took for them to be done and not feel guilt that they decided they were too burdened; if they couldn’t do it alone, apparently I could, because I’m the golden the child; everything hinges on me, and it is all my responsibility.

So here we are today. Many mornings I wake up feeling bitter, then immediately following comes the feeling of guilt for feeling bitter. I suppose I’d have liked if everyone was a bit more upfront about things. I’m happy I can be with my mother and help ease her mind, but I’m also pissed off that it wasn’t her choice or my choice for it to happen right now. It hurts that grown men and women (reference to age, not maturity) feel the need to lie instead of just laying it all out. It’s frustrating to me to that ‘family’ lives in the same town as my mother (a town of 400 people, 30 minutes away from the nearest gas station and 14 hours away from my home), but simply cannot be bothered. Even if I use the excuse for them that it’s the only way they know how to process, I still can’t come to peace with it.

I find myself with an outlook on life that feels like there is no way it’s coming from inside of me, as if I’ve been possessed. This, the process of writing, as I knew it would, has helped me to feel a little less crazy as I align my thoughts and feelings, but I know my work is cut out for me if I’m to shake these feelings of anger.

At the end of the day, my mother is dying, and that’s the real root here. She’s too weak to start chemotherapy, too stubborn to ask for more help throughout the day, and too proud to tell people that she’s feeling as terrible as her face and body language tell me she is. But to say it’s not all about perception would be a lie; this situation is ultimately as I choose to see it.

Be weary of the ways of the world.

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What a difference a year can make. Unforeseen loss, unforeseen gain and bountiful adventures.

It has been a little over a year since I started this blog as a mode of expression and reflection, and Thanksgiving seems like the perfect time to stop and jot down a few takeaways.

Not often enough do we stop to reflect on a year passed and the growth that has taken place. If someone would have mentioned to me that I would lose two of the closest people in my life a year ago, I would have actually taken it into consideration; I would have never guessed it would be the two people it was.

Everything is different, everything is the same, and everything is better. It’s a feeling I would equate to losing massive amounts of weight; what I lost has no value going forward, it has already depreciated, and what I found underneath was the original core I had distanced myself from.

There is a deep feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the partner that taught me so much, and the best friend that played the role of my sister when it was needed most. It is as if I struck gold, and as I kept digging, I only felt richer; now the mine is dry and the time to dig elsewhere has come. To say I would live out my life never thinking of these people again would be false, immature and nothing more than a destructive lie I’m ultimately telling myself.

There is only so much deviation one can impose on a script when he succumbs to the understanding that life truly is a stage. Each person coming into your life has a role to play. For some, the role is recurring and purposeful. For others, it’s a short lived flash in the pan, and they must move on to play another role. No matter the length of stay, their role is no less important. And, while you may think the leads in this production are here to stay, respect the fact that the script may have been written for another, more fitting player.

This last year was a much needed reality check, and while I didn’t write about it as much as I should have, I’m so grateful I wrote what I did. My pieces serve as a reminder of where I’ve been, what I’ve done and where I’m going.

I keep telling myself that it’ll be fine, you can’t make everybody happy all of the time.

Frequently I remind myself that everything I did was exactly what I wanted to do (with some exceptions, of course). Essentially, no regrets; there aren’t enough hours in the day to waste your time dwelling over decisions you made in the past. Each decision, in some tiny, maybe indirect way, has lead me to where I am today, and that makes me happy.

But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

In the last year, I relearned what it means to, “live for yourself.” Each day I try to focus solely on myself and what will make me happy. Selfish? Certainly. Healthy? Without a doubt.

You’re the only person in your entire life who will be there beginning to end, so make sure you’re checking in on you.

Oh, and as for your role in this production, don’t take it too seriously. The director, life, has a funny way of making sure you don’t get out alive.

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I’ve been in this situation before; the one where someone has to choose my friendship over another relationship, typically a romantic one. It’s not a great place to be, and there’s nothing enjoyable about it, but I’ve been here before.

That’s the easy part: I know it gets better and eventually the pain becomes less immediate. It’s still there, it’s just resting in the back of my mind and allowing me the necessity of getting back to everyday life.

There’s that silver lining you’ll always find if you look for it.

You have to be careful with people, you can never be absolutely sure of who someone is. (Read: people can never be absolutely sure of who they are.) The real problem with that clause is knowing that there will be instances where you never fully understand what’s happening, why or how–and neither does the other person.

People, even the most important people in your life, change unexpectedly. They throw a wrench in life and chuck deuces to the wind. Personally, I’ve been the person throwing the wrench, so I know how rewarding it can feel, but that doesn’t mean I’ve overlooked any toes I might have been stepping on or hearts I might have been breaking. I was fully aware of the damage I was doing.

When that happens, when you’re on the receiving end of someone’s wrench, you have to be ready to catch that shit and use it to your advantage. And let’s be honest: you’re going to need the wrench for some major emotional repairs a little later down the road.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that more often than not the person never really meant to hurt someone with the wrench, they just thought it was the best possible choice at the time. At no point did that person stop to think about how you might feel and how this might change your life, not because they don’t care about you in some capacity`, but because their focus has shifted so intensely to something that holds a higher emotional value to them.

By the way, there’s a touch of blanketing in this post as I’m speaking directly from experience and not from sustained research (although honestly you might say that my experiences equate to a sort-of ongoing experiment).

Again with the silver lining though, this is the ultimate chance to grow as an individual and make the other relationships in your life stronger. Like grieving a death, there’s never a great time to do it, so when someone pushes you away, work to harness that energy into growth.

Sometimes you’ve gotta work and you’ve gotta grow and it’s gotta hurt.

Losing a close relationship, romantic or platonic, is never easy. It makes you question so much about who you are as a person and how you’re valued as a friend. Your mind is stuck in this rut wondering why it had to play out the way that it did, and if it will ever feel as real as it seems. Don’t fall victim to this pitiful mindset. Remember that it’s always going to be their loss (this can only be used as a means to remove yourself from the rut if you have, in fact, tried to be a good half of a relationship).

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on.

People will knock you down when you get in their way, and sometimes stepping out of their path to let them pass is easier than tending to the wounds of a nasty fall.

Let go, and let flow. Cheesy, but amazingly efficient.

Some people just don’t want you in their life any more. If you’re like me, you’ll begin to understand that your booming personality and unmistakable drive for success intimidates people. Don’t ever lose those qualities for a relationship, romantic or platonic. The pain of losing yourself far outweighs the pain of letting go and moving on. Trust me on this one.

The world is full of snakes that think they look smashing in jealousy.. and they should be smashed. Shine your light as bright as you can. I’ll never suggest avoiding the process of dealing with your emotions and processing situations, but I will suggest speeding it up as quickly as possible so you can continue to do you the best way you know how.

Remember your self-worth and all of the things you deserve in life: happiness, sunshine, love and laughter (and good sex).

And that silver lining..I’ve been meaning to get back to writing and life is only facilitating that process.

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It becomes increasingly more difficult to sit down and write regularly.

Or such is my excuse.

Realistically, there’s no one reason I’ve not taken my time to sit down and write. Actually, so much has happened in the past month that I’ve wanted to write about, it’s a little embarrassing I haven’t already.

To touch on a previous post, sometimes life just gets away from you like that.

Here’s the really big stuff: a very close friend of mine came out to Colorado to find a place in Denver and ended up taking shelter with me. It’s been reaffirming. Then, as if she was a good luck charm (disregarding my persistence), I was offered a position with an amazing nonprofit organization granting me the opportunity to use my education and acquired skill set to give back to the community.

To touch on a previous post, seize opportunities that allow you to give back to your community, paid or unpaid. Put energy out into the universe that you want to come back to you; it always will. It won’t always be when you expect it or when you want it, but it will come.

Work hard to spend your time making a difference.

Aside:

Many times I find that these posts get a bit bossy in a sense. “Do this,” I say, “do that,” I say. Mainly it’s because I want to remind myself of what I need to do. It’s positive affirmation, if you will. So don’t take it as bossy, unless you want to (clearly I know what’s best).

Since starting this job, and it’s only been one month, I’ve felt more fulfilled than I think I’ve ever felt. I’m so satisfied at the end of my day, that I’ve been able to really dive into and explore things that excite me. I’m running more and am training for an obstacle course in August, I’m reading again and I’m spending time with myself that is (for the most part) stress free.

Here’s possibly the best thing about my recent life developments: my job inspires me, it makes me want to do better things and be a better person, especially for my community.

Stay tuned to upcoming posts for a bit of a shift in this blog. Not a fundamental shift, but a trial shift. I began this blog as a way to express my thoughts and emotions, and to have something to reflect back upon as a measurement of growth. As I continue to grow, so to will this blog.

If you hate something, lets talk.

If you love something, lets talk.

Lets talk.

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In the last month, I’ve started doing some volunteer work for a local nonprofit. It’s mainly community outreach, resource development and organizing fundraisers. It keeps me busy and keeps my skills sharp, plus it’s for a great cause.

If you’ve not donated your time, one of the most valuable things any of us has, I highly suggest it. The return on investment is phenomenal and nearly unmatched by any other activity.

While I love what I’m doing, it is volunteer based. I’m thankful to still be receiving unemployment, which is allowing me to take my time searching for a position more in line with my career goals. However, it has been a struggle not having a job, and I’m getting to that point where I start to worry that I’m not going to find one in time and I’ve even gone as far as to say I’m scared.

My unemployment runs out in six weeks. Unless Congress gets their act together and passes a bill that will extend unemployment benefits, which doesn’t look likely given the current state of political affairs, it’s sink or swim in no time at all.

The frustration comes mainly from the fact that I’ve applied to, on average, five jobs a week for the past four and a half months. That’s 90 jobs if your math is rusty. I’ve reached that point where I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve run out of options. I’m questioning what I’ve done wrong. I mean, I have an extremely flexible, yet focused degree, I have extensive experience in higher education and customer service, and yet I’m either under-qualified or over-qualified.

 

Such was the case with my most recent rejection letter today.

My 25th birthday is on Tuesday. I’m trying so hard to hold it together and not have a small break down, but I’m looking around and wondering what I have to show for 25.

Then again, who says I have to have anything to show for 25 other than me? Who says I’m not successful other than me?

We can sometimes be our own most-intimidating worst enemy.

Deep down I know I’m successful. I know that I’m a survivor. I’ve been through far too many tests and passed with flying colors not to be. Do you know how many people thought I’d never finish my undergraduate simply because I was working so hard outside of class? My own father had my failure mapped out. This entire blog was started to document one of the hardest tests I’d ever taken. Impossible is nothing.

The reality that is so easy to forget is that it’s not always what you do, but who is there for you, that counts. Those people that stand behind you, always have your back, always remind you of the person you are no matter what, those are the people that determine your success.

As I began to write this post, I was sitting here a bit down in the dumps, almost unable to type; I was just so frustrated. Unexpectedly, and almost eerily, one of my closest, dearest friends text me. We don’t have censors with each other, so I naturally used this as a chance to express my frustration, dumping my stress and worry upon her.

In one single text, all my worries disappeared:

You saved me during my worst hour…I’ll always have your back!

It was a reminder of who I am, what I stand for and where my priorities have been and should be. It didn’t give me a job, it didn’t fix any of the “problems” surrounding my unemployment, but it did clear my outlook on life. Knowing that someone had my back, no matter what, was the boost I needed to hold my head back up.

There have always been hard times, there will always be struggles. There isn’t anything I can do about the uncertainty of life except to keep a positive attitude, march forward and remember that I have amazing people that love me unconditionally.

There is no better way to staple it together than with trust and love.

And to the angel in my life that sent that text, if you should read this, listen to this and remember:

You deal with the humps. Take the jumps. I feel like you’re an island of reality in an ocean of diarrhea. And I love you.

Hold your own, know your name, go your own way.

Note to self: read after every job rejection and again after you find the perfect position.

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When you’re not careful, life gets away from you.

The things that you enjoy doing, the things that make you happy, take a back seat to stress, worry and other very similar unproductive attitudes. You fall into bad habits and your mind travels to deep corners of obsession.

In this sense, I’m accident prone.

It’s not that I don’t know what makes me happy, I know exactly what gives me a sense of balance and accomplishment. That’s not to say I can efficiently tune out the world at all times to refocus, and, to be honest, with the way the last seven months of my life have gone, the world sometimes gets pretty damn loud.

This last month has been rough. Not the kind of rough where you sigh in relief that it has ended, the kind of rough where you’re scraping your knees to get to the end, wondering how it will ever end.

When I first got to Colorado, I was riding a massive life high. There had been so many changes and developments that I never once had to truly think about what was actually happening in my life. Everything felt so normal and natural that a large part of me naively thought the worst was over. I mean, I had already cried over leaving my partner, I penciled in time to not leave the bed and sulk over the things in life I no longer had control over, so surely the worst was behind me. Hell, I had even successfully moved more than half way across the continent, so as far as I was concerned it was all smooth sailing from here.

Then there was this one Wednesday when I was washing the dishes, windows open and feeling great after a much-needed yoga session and protein shake, that I broke.

If there were any better way to describe that day, it would be through audio. (Maybe I should consider podcasts)

There was no rhyme or reason, no obvious precursor for the events that were about to take place, just a little itch in the back of my throat right before the dam burst open. When I use that metaphor I intend for it represent the (very literally) hours of crying that ensued that Wednesday. Nothing could hold it back. At one point, in a state of desperation, I ran a bath with “stress-fix” salts, only to find myself sobbing after the first deep breath. It was a dam.

Continue reading this article ›

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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve done quite a bit of hand-shaking.

I love meeting new people.

That’s honestly one of the best parts of moving to a new place, every person you see is someone to meet. And everyone has a different story, which makes meeting new people the chance to tell your story.

That leads me to what I’ve been thinking about endlessly: you have to have a story.

Maybe I’m full of myself and I’m crazy for thinking my life should be remembered, but should it not be? Everyone’s life is worth remembering. When I’m old and gray, I want to look back and feel filled to the brim with stories.

In the process of jotting down ideas on what essays I would draft, I started thinking about why I’ve made some of the decisions I’ve made in life. After some serious consideration, I  noticed that most times I made a decision based solely around the story it would produce. There are exceptions, of course, but is there a better reason to live life?

The idea of story telling is becoming a lost art, and I still consider myself an artist. It’s something people avoid at all costs. It’s as if no one cares what their great grandfather says because, well, what would he know?

Continue reading this article ›

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When something is right, it feels right.

You don’t have to question it.

It’s as if the universe is continually giving you blatant signs that it’s right.

In the last two weeks I’ve been happier than I can remember being in at least the last year and a half.

And I can’t exactly explain it, there’s just this feeling in my gut that I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. In every aspect, it’s the exact opposite feeling I had about being in Pittsburgh. At no time in while living there did I feel like it was where I was supposed to be. Of course I appreciate my time spent there and the life lessons that I learned, but I knew from day one that it wasn’t home.

So I apologize for not updating more, but I’ve been busy enjoying this new life I’m making for myself. I’m not sure I’ve stopped smiling since the first morning I walked out to the bluest, sunny sky I’ve seen. No joke, I started laughing as soon as I took a deep breath. Everything felt right.

People are friendly here, they talk to you and make you feel welcome. It’s an amazing thing to meet all of your neighbors without having to go out of your way to know who you’re living next to. Better yet, to have them offer to move your couch in. Better still is having people help you connect with those in a position to hire.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m beginning to feel like myself again. I’ve laughed, hard, everyday. I’ve danced even harder. Life just feels right. And I don’t want to seem like I’m gloating, but I suppose I am. Why not? Everyone deserves to find happiness. Am I fully pieced back together? Unlikely. But I can say that I most certainly feel it happening.

Last night I got on Facebook to see pictures of my ex with his new guy. Initially my heart sank, and for approximately 45 seconds after, I was a bit a sad. Then I remembered how much I love my life and the decision I made for myself, and it seemed insane to even feel a shred of sadness. So I smiled. I even began to chuckle a bit.

I’m not broken. I’m far from it. And I realize it’s going to take a lot more to actually break me.

Over the holiday my mother and I had a chat about the last couple of months and my decision to leave my ex and move to Fort Collins. It started with her asking about what restaurants were out here and how I liked them (she always wants to know the oddest things), and led to my realization that in one week of living here, I’ve fallen in love; I’m happy.

Now, if I’ve not mentioned it before, my mother is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for two years. When she decided to get better for herself, I stepped in and helped her get her life back in order. There’s never been a day in my life that I doubted my mother’s pride for me; she is most definitely my biggest fan. What I doubted, naïvely, was her ability to see how unhappy I had been. So when she smiled at me and told me how good it made her feel to see me happy, yeah, I started to tear up a little.

I’ve opened myself to the universe. And as a wise friend of mine helped me realize, when you open yourself to the universe and the idea that everything will work just the way it’s supposed to, you will find peace and happiness and your true self.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

So far, all of the signs have let me know I’m heading the right way.

 

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When I was a young boy, about the age of seven, my family and I were visiting my grandmother for her birthday. Typically the youngest in the group, I could be found outside playing with her beagle, Jake. On this particular day, when adult banter became too much for my tiny brain to tolerate, I went to run around with Jake and found him dead in his dog house.

In my memory, this was my first encounter with death.

The last thing I wanted to do was run inside and tell my grandmother that her dog had died on her birthday. It’s what I did though.

My grandmother was devastated. They had been inseparable for as I’d been on this earth, and since she lived alone, he gave her a sense of a purpose (something we all need). I’d not seen so many people in one room cry, and at such an intensity; Jake was a good dog that we all had fallen in love with. No one was taking it as hard as my grandmother.

My mother made arrangements to stay a few extra days in case my grandmother needed the company.

There’s never a good time for life to happen, it just happens. When it does, you can look the other way or you can handle the situation.

Continue reading this article ›

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Well guys, keeping up with this blog while trying to escape life has been more difficult than I anticipated!

I’m going to pull it together, I promise. I’ve been hiding in Chicago since Saturday enjoying the moment as best I can. Each day has been a bit better, but I can’t say my heart doesn’t still hurt.

Driving into the sunset was the highlight of my departure. Until that point, the weather was as gray and gloomy as my mood. There was something about seeing the sun force its way through the clouds that resonated with me. No matter how hard someone tries to steal your sunshine, it’s still there.

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Next stop: Mom’s house.

Once I’m there I’ll add some pictures that I’ve taken along the way documenting the journey. I’m trying to remember to catch everything.

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