Life Isn’t Fair So Your Choices Better Be Good


Today’s blog post might rub some people the wrong way but I hope you’ll understand as you read it that this comes from a place of compassion & concern for my fellow man.  (Yes, I consider myself a feminist but I truly don’t see anything wrong with using masculine pronouns when referring to all of humanity because frankly it just sounds better.)  Something I’ve been thinking about a lot this year is the impact of choices on our lives.  A lot has changed in my life in the past two years.  For example, I’ve graduated from college, become a nurse, gotten married, and moved to a new state, and in just the past nine months I’ve bought a house, a puppy, and a very nice used car and started serving as a preceptor and a charge nurse at work.  These are, in my mind, all good changes but change is inevitably difficult at times and, at least for me, leads to a lot of introspection and general analysis of life.  In the past year such introspection and analysis have continually landed me on the same theme: the importance of making good choices in life and the consequences that arise when we fail to make good choices.

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Let me first say that I am fully aware that what I consider to be good choices and what someone else considers to be good choices may be completely different.  And with very few exceptions I am totally okay with that.  But if there is one thing I can safely say I know to be true in life, it is that we are each responsible for our own lives and the choices we make, and said choices are the greatest determinant of our own happiness and success.  I know that I have accomplished a lot for someone my age and I am very much aware of the fact that I have a lot of people to thank for helping me along the way to where I am now.  But I also realize that all the help in the world would have been useless if I hadn’t also made my own good choices (getting good grades in high school which allowed me to apply for and obtain a scholarship to college, seeking out internships and jobs in college that helped me obtain a good job after graduation, etc, etc, you get the point).  Please understand that I am not trying to brag or say that I am more successful or better than anyone else.  I am well aware that my own idea of success and happiness does not apply to everyone and vice versa.  I am just saying that when I think about the miserable situations I see so many people in, including many my own age, I can’t help but notice that all (or at least most) of these people have made a series of bad choices throughout their lives.  Let me further explain so I hopefully don’t sound like one of those god-awful judgmental pricks that annoy me so much.

I’m talking about the people who are working dead-end jobs with no hope of advancement who can barely pay their bills (or can’t pay them), who are in miserable relationships with people who treat them like trash, etc, etc; I think you catch my drift.  These people are usually the ones who dropped out of high school (and not because they had to take care of a dying relative or something like that), got pregnant in high school or maybe shortly thereafter and often with someone they did not exactly have a solid relationship with, or perhaps graduated from high school but with such poor grades that college or even technical school was never an option.  These folks probably did not think about the future beyond tomorrow and never exactly planned out a career or any sort of goals for their lives.  The homeless are another good example.  I have always had a special place in my heart for the homeless for some reason but when I look at most of the homeless people I’ve met or known about (I did a clinical rotation with the homeless in nursing school and actually got the privilege of talking to a lot of homeless folks) I’ve noticed again the same pattern: bad choices.  For some it was drugs, for some it was gambling, for some it was having too many children whom they couldn’t afford to support, and the list goes on and on.  Even many of my patients at work whose lives are miserable due to disease are often in the positions they’re in largely because of poor choices they’ve made: failing to control diseases that could be controlled or even eradicated through proper diet & exercise, etc, etc.  It’s hard to watch because you know that these people could have had better outcomes if they’d made better choices.  It’s a very complicated subject, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

Let me be clear here: BY NO MEANS do I think we should not be compassionate or helpful to those who have made poor choices.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  My point is that the greatest lesson I hope to teach my future children is that they better have their act together from day one because life is not fair.  For example, lots of people have unprotected sex in high school.  But not everyone ends up with some disgusting STI or gets pregnant.  But some do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  Lots of people drive drunk and never hurt anyone.  But others do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  Lots of people smoke cigarettes their whole lives and never get lung cancer or COPD.  But many do.  AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE YOU WILL BE.  I think you can see my point.  If there’s anything I know about life it’s that it isn’t fair.  Some people make one or two bad choices and their whole lives crumble around them.  Others make a lot of bad choices and don’t seem to suffer as much.  But in my limited experience those I’ve seen consistently make good choices have ALWAYS been better off because of it.

So if/when I have kids someday, these are the things I’m going to teach them:

Stay in school.  Get good grades.  Work hard at everything you do.  When you get a job, be the best because otherwise you will just be a drone like everyone else.  Make yourself stand out.  Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars.  Go to college or vocational school and plan a career where you can both support yourself and be happy.  Never have unprotected sex with anyone unless you are 100% ready to be a parent RIGHT NOW.  Be kind to everyone because you never know what battles others are fighting that you know nothing about.  Karma is real and whatever choices you make, good or bad, they WILL catch up with you sooner or later, and you better be prepared for the outcomes of your decisions.  I will teach them all these things because I will love them and want the best for them, just as my parents did for me.

Perhaps I will never become a parent (who knows), but nonetheless I will strive to teach these things to my nieces and nephews, my patients, and anyone else who is willing to listen.  Because I care.  As much as the world sometimes makes me feel cynical and cold, I do love people.  Life is crazy.  People are crazy.  But I love this life that I’ve made for myself (with the help of some great friends and family) and I want others to be able to share in the kind of happiness I’ve found.  I don’t mean that everyone needs to have my exact lifestyle, education, or career.  I just wish for everyone to find that passion for life and learning that I’ve found.  I like to think it’s contagious, and I hope that I can spread it around just through this blog post if nothing else.

I hope this post hasn’t come across as arrogant or rude.  That’s not how I meant it at all.  I just wanted to share the idea that choices really are important in our lives, and especially with a new year just around the corner it’s something I think we all need to take to heart.  I know that many people are great testaments to the fact that sometimes a bad decision can actually end up being a good thing (lots of teen moms would agree with this).  And there is a lot of truth in that too.  And not every person who makes all good decisions is necessarily going to be completely happy.  Again, everyone’s idea of happiness and success is different.  And that’s ok.  We each must find our own barometer for happiness and success, and then make good choices that align with that.  Otherwise we are just drifting along in life with no paddle to steer us toward any goals, hopes, or dreams.  And I can’t think of much sadder than that.

Novel Aspirations: My Greatest Dream in Life


Those of you reading this who are writers will know what I mean when I say that I am having one of those days when I want to write about so many things but my mind can’t seem to slow down long enough to settle on any of them.  I love nursing, I really do, but my greatest career aspiration is to be a writer.  I don’t even really think of writing as a career because writing a novel has always been my greatest dream, going all the way back to childhood.  I’ve always been fascinated with books and stories and the older I get the more my love for reading (and writing) grows.  I want desperately to write the kind of novel that really makes people think, that makes readers really examine their own lives and beliefs.  But I have no idea where to start, and at twenty-four (almost twenty-five) years old, I figure I haven’t experienced enough of life to be able to write such a thing anyway.  There’s a part of my brain that tells me I’m crazy for thinking I could ever influence people with my words, whether written or spoken.  I try not to listen to that voice but there are days, like today, when that voice is louder than the other voices in my head.  I’m not schizophrenic or anything but we all have voices in our heads, you know the positive ones that say “You can do it,” usually followed quite swiftly by the negative ones that say “You’re crazy for dreaming such things.”

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I was talking to a dear friend of mine recently about the struggle we all face to feel normal in a world that sometimes seems to do nothing but scream “You’re weird!” every time you walk out the door.  Her response was “No one ever changed the world by being normal.”  I love that so much and I fully believe it’s true.  I used to think I couldn’t be happy in life if I didn’t become famous somehow.  Now I realize how foolish that was, but there is still a part of me that feels like I won’t be fully satisfied with my life if I don’t really make a difference in this world (the poem I wrote that is the title of this blog was about this exact struggle; see my post “Inspiration Behind the Blog”).  I’m old enough now to realize that you don’t have to be the next Mother Teresa or Gandhi to make a positive difference in the world; actually we can all do that just by being good decent people every day that we live.  By reaching out to those in need, by showing mercy when it would be easier not to, by baring our souls about the struggles we all face so that our friends and acquaintances realize that deep down we’re really all the same.  And yet I keep coming back to writing.  As much as I love nursing and realize that my career offers me a multitude of opportunities to help others every day (or night) that I work, I can’t help but feel that no matter what I accomplish as a nurse, or even as a mom someday, I’ll still want more.  I still want to write a book.  I still feel like that’s the best way in which I can touch this world.

At the rate I’m going now, I don’t know if my book will ever happen.  At this point in my life I’m still much too worried about what others would think about some of the things I want to write.  I know I have to move past such trivialities if I want to ever write something truly great, but that isn’t going to happen overnight.  I also realize that even if I do actually write a novel, it might never get published.  And even if it did get published, that’s no guarantee anyone would actually read it.  But I still feel like I have to try, because as I told a friend yesterday, I write principally for myself, to bring peace to my own soul.  Of course if my writing can somehow inspire others, then that is a wonderful bonus.

I have no idea where I’m going with this post but I just knew that I wouldn’t get anything accomplished today and most importantly I wouldn’t be at peace with myself until I wrote about something.  Even if it was something as ironic as writing about writing, as the case may be.  In any case, I like to think that this blog is a small step in the right direction toward accomplishing my dream.

For those of you reading who would like to share what your greatest dream(s) is in life, I’d love to hear from you.

10 Reasons Why Growing Up Doesn’t Actually Suck


It doesn’t take a genius to realize that our modern society values youth very highly.  Turn on the TV or flip through any magazine & you will be greeted with a veritable host of ads showcasing products that proclaim they can “erase wrinkles,” “cover up greys,” or “give you the energy of youth,” etc, etc.  In the media we are constantly assaulted with pictures of young hot celebrities & on a more day-to-day level we inevitably hear people making comments about how much getting old & growing up sucks.  Since graduating from college I have even noticed a difference in the things I see on Facebook.  I now see a lot of statuses about how much “real life” sucks & there seems to be a ridiculous amount of nostalgia going around for the innocence & simplicity of childhood.  Now I for one spent a great deal of my childhood & adolescence pining for adulthood & the freedoms it would bring.  Perhaps in some ways it’s sad that I didn’t just enjoy my life to the fullest at those stages as I suppose most kids/teens do.  But I have to say that even though being an adult is hard, I for one am not disappointed at all.  I am happier now than I’ve ever been.  One of my greatest goals in life is to always retain the energy & vibrancy of youth while balancing this with the wisdom & serenity of getting older.  So today I thought I’d compile a list of reasons why growing up doesn’t actually suck.  In truth there are a lot of things I LOVE about getting older & I think our society could certainly use a reminder of these things from time to time, so here we go:

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  1. Growing up means no longer having to obsess over every facet of your appearance.  I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but when I was a teenager I spent entirely too much time worrying about every tiny bit of my appearance.  If even one hair was out of line, I was sure I looked horrible & that everyone was secretly laughing at me.  Though I’ve never been the type to really follow fashion trends, I still felt the need to be as “in style” as possible.  Well, one of the great things about getting older is the ability to just not give a crap about such things.  And to know that you are better off because of it.  I don’t mean that I don’t care about looking my best; I certainly do.  But if I have a “bad hair day” or a day when my acne is acting up & making my face look like a teenager’s all over again, I have the maturity to know that this too shall pass.  I also know that if anyone thinks less of me for not wearing the trendiest clothes or not having perfect skin or anything superficial like that, then those people aren’t worth worrying about anyway.  I’m far from the confident person I hope to be someday but I’ve also come a long way from the girl I used to be, & I’m proud of that.
  2. Growing up means realizing that your mom was right when she said it was more important to be respected than to be liked.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m a born people-pleaser.  It just comes naturally to me to want to make others happy & to be well-liked by everyone.  But I have learned to temper that when necessary because I have discovered that it truly is impossible to please everyone all the time.  And that’s ok.  It’s just life.
  3. Stemming from the last point, getting older means having the courage to say no to people who are just trying to use you to their own advantage.  It means having enough self-respect to not waste your valuable time on people who don’t actually care about you.  Getting older means realizing that your worth is not diminished by those who do not recognize or appreciate you.  This gives you the confidence to say no to those who do not actually have your best interests at heart.
  4. Getting older means not having to panic every time something doesn’t go “your way.”  It means realizing that just because you’ve had a bad day or even a bad week, month, or year, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to have a bad life.  And getting older means realizing that your attitude is the greatest determinant in your own happiness.  (This is both scary & enlightening.  I could write a whole blog post on this subject & I probably will soon.)
  5. Getting older means learning how to agree to disagree.  It means building friendships with people who are vastly different from you & instead of trying to “convert” them you are content to learn from each other & use your differences to build a stronger relationship.
  6. Getting older means independence.  Ah, what a glorious word!  This is what I longed for so much as a child.  I know most people end up regretting such longings because they say the price of freedom is too great.  But I disagree.  I think if you make good decisions in life, you will set yourself up for success & you’ll be able to reap the rewards of independence to the fullest.  I love that as an adult I can choose my career, my spouse, where I live, what house to buy, what to wear, who to be friends with, where to go to school, what to eat, basically everything!
  7. Growing up means realizing that there is no one right way for everyone in life.  There’s nothing more freeing than understanding that there is no exact prescription for success that every person must follow.  Growing up means having the freedom to make mistakes & learn from them.
  8. Growing up means realizing that sometimes life sucks.  It means looking evil in the face & realizing that this world is a cold & scary place.  (That wasn’t supposed to rhyme…)  I know this must seem like a bad thing.  And it’s this loss of innocence that so many people mourn so greatly.  But I’ve never understood why people celebrate innocence so much.  It’s nothing more than an illusion.  For of what value is happiness if it’s based on something that is fake?  To me that’s what “innocence” is.  It’s the happiness that comes from not realizing how bad the world can really be.  I think the happiness we can experience as adults is all the greater because we have had to see so many of the dark sides of life too.  Which is of greater value: the happiness of a child who does not yet understand the world or the happiness of an adult who has looked into the pit of hell, faced the monsters of the world, & come out alive?  Maybe I was a weird child (ok, who am I kidding, I was DEFINITELY a weird child for a number of reasons), but I don’t ever remember feeling the type of blissfully ignorant happiness that people always talk about children experiencing.  In any case, I believe the happiness & love we can experience as adults is all the greater because it’s a real choice.  We have chosen to seek joy even though we have seen that life is often cruel & unfair.  We have chosen to seek peace even though we know that life can be violent to even the meekest of us.  This thought process requires a bit of mental gymnastics at times but I truly believe I am happier now than I’ve ever been.  Yes, I have days when I look at the world & feel like there’s no hope.  But those days aren’t the norm & when they do happen I have the wisdom to know those feelings will pass.  Whew, that was a deep one.
  9. Growing up means realizing that the journey is as important as the destination.  It means understanding that life is short & we truly must live every day like it’s our last, as cliché as that may be.
  10. Getting older means realizing that just because your life isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t great.  It’s so easy to look in the mirror & think “I’d be so much prettier if my nose were just a little straighter” or “I’d be so much happier if I could afford that fancy car I’ve always wanted” or any number of such things.  It’s so easy to compare yourself to your friends, coworkers, or even celebrities & feel like your life just doesn’t measure up.  But growing up means realizing that everyone’s life isn’t measured against the same yardstick.  We all have our own meter for success & happiness & that’s the only one that really matters.

 As an addendum, if anyone wants to help me create better titles for my blog posts, that would be awesome.  I like to think I’m a pretty decent writer but when it comes to creating titles for papers, essays, poems, or blog posts, I’m always at a loss, as you can clearly see by the super clever title of this post.  😉

The Hardest Person to Forgive


Today’s blog post explores an idea that is certainly not original by any stretch of the imagination but it’s something I believe is very much worth exploring nonetheless.  Regardless of what, if any, religious affiliation you associate with (or associated with in the past), we hear a lot of talk about the importance of forgiving others & not holding grudges or allowing ourselves to become bitter toward those who have hurt us.  These ideas are of course very important because we cannot have peace in our own minds when we are not at peace with others, at least as much as is possible.  As hard as it can be to forgive others, when given some thought I believe most people would agree that oftentimes the hardest person in life to forgive is yourself.  Today I would like to explore why that might be and why it’s so important to learn to forgive ourselves no matter how difficult it can be at times.

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If you have ever taken any kind of basic psychology course you probably discussed the well-recognized phenomenon in which victims of child, physical, or other types of abuse very often blame themselves for the abuse which they have suffered.  At first glance this may seem extraordinary & impossible to believe.  But delve a little deeper & one can reason that perhaps it is easier to believe that you made a mistake or somehow provoked the abuser to hurt you than to believe that someone, particularly a family member, romantic partner, or friend (indeed someone who should have been protecting you, not hurting you) actually CHOSE to hurt you & is thus truly a very screwed up individual.  Rape victims often are also perfect examples of this phenomenon.  Indeed society does a great deal of blaming the victim as well because frankly it is easier to believe that a woman (or man) provoked such a horrible thing to happen than to believe that there are such evil, disgusting people in this world.  This of course only serves to perpetuate the cycle of victims blaming themselves & being unable to forgive themselves for something which in reality is not even their fault.

However, we certainly don’t have to be abuse or rape victims (actually, I don’t like that term; let’s say survivors) to struggle with self-forgiveness.  How many times a day do most of us berate ourselves for not eating healthily enough, weighing too much, not saving enough money, or countless other things?  I’m not saying these aren’t worthy goals, they surely are, but sometimes I think in our haste to berate ourselves for our poor decisions we actually hinder our own progress.  Sometimes in our quest for perfection we miss the beauty of life that is right before our very eyes.  Indeed, we focus so much on our mistakes that we have no energy left over for actual self-improvement.

One of the greatest lessons I think we all have to learn in life is that there are going to be days when we just don’t like ourselves because we simply aren’t as “perfect” we want to be.  For example, as a nurse I know I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am not going to feel 100% compassion for every patient every time.  Naturally I want to, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen because I am just as human as everyone else.  And I have had to learn to forgive myself for this & to know that as long as it doesn’t prevent me from providing excellent care it’s ok.  Learning to forgive myself for not being the perfect “angel of compassion” at all times actually helps me to more quickly recognize my own prejudices & then set them aside & provide the best care possible at all times.  For example, when I have a particularly trying patient who is rude & dissatisfied with her care no matter how many times I bend over backwards to try to meet her needs, I have to remind myself that it’s ok to be annoyed with her.  It’s ok to mentally roll my eyes at these things.  I just have to possess the self-control to not allow these feelings to come across to the patient & to not allow those feelings to so overwhelm me that I become bitter & angry toward that patient or anyone else.  I have to see beyond the annoying behaviors to the hurting person inside.  Having come to these realizations has actually helped me to have greater satisfaction in my nursing career &, though I have no scientific way of validating it, I truly believe it has made me overall a more effective nurse.

I believe this idea is also very important for parents.  Though I am not a parent yet I hope to be one someday, & I know when that day comes there will be times when I look at my children & wonder “What the hell was I thinking?!”  And I will have to learn to forgive myself for those thoughts, to remember that every parent feels that way at times.  AND IT’S OK.  Similarly, in marriage or any serious relationship there are times when you look at your partner & wonder what you are doing with this person.  AND THAT’S OK TOO.  Being frustrated or upset with your partner or your child doesn’t make you a bad person.  It just makes you a PERSON.  The important thing is to be able to recognize these thoughts when they occur, handle them as objectively as possible (by that I mean not beating yourself up over them, just recognizing them for what they are: a sign of your own beautiful humanity), & moving on in the knowledge that as long as these thoughts don’t become the overall theme of your life, they’re not a big deal.

Another situation in which I believe we struggle with self-forgiveness is with regret.  I feel fortunate to say I truly do not have a lot of regrets in my life, but I do struggle with forgiving myself for those few I do have.  However, what I am slowly learning is that self-forgiveness is an absolutely vital step in preventing myself from repeating the same old mistakes.

I guess my point with this post is that I truly believe that we cannot move forward in life without self-forgiveness.  As long as we wallow in guilt & self-hate we are stuck in a self-perpetuating negative cycle.  Life would be a lot easier if we could just magically forgive ourselves (& others), but that’s just not the way life works.  As with almost everything in life, self-forgiveness is a process.  It’s an everyday event that requires conscious awareness & effort.  I hope that as you’re reading this you don’t think I’m making excuses for bad behavior or encouraging you to not feel guilty for things that you know in your heart are wrong.  Of course not.  What I am saying is that we cannot truly improve ourselves without self-forgiveness.  We hear so much in society about the importance of showing compassion to others & there’s no doubt that this is indeed most vital.  But just as vital is showing compassion to yourself.  There’s a fine line for sure between being compassionate toward yourself & making excuses for yourself.  But the line is there & it’s our job as human beings to stay on the former side of it.

To be perfectly honest this post feels quite like word vomit to me at this point.  There’s so much I want to say & the words just aren’t coming to me tonight.  Though I have fumbled through the words, I hope the passion I feel for this matter has somehow come through & that at least one person who reads this will be encouraged to begin the process of self-forgiveness & moving toward a brighter tomorrow.

I’d love to hear what you think on this matter.  Am I speaking to the wind or does any of this make sense?

Love is Blind . . . Or Is It?


I just finished reading an intriguing book (which I found at a local thrift store) called The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.  It’s really quite an improbable story (but a touching one nonetheless) about a young girl from Eastern Kentucky who escapes her backwoods hometown to travel out West & in the process adopts a young Indian child from Oklahoma.  Like I said it’s an improbable story but a powerful one just the same.  The central theme of the novel appears to be that life is difficult, unfair, & sometimes downright heart-breaking but nonetheless it is beautiful, joyful, & very much worth living.  The second apparent theme, which stems from the first, is that the best we can hope for in this world is to give & receive love & to enjoy life as much as we can for as long as we can.

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The book also focuses on how parents feel the need to protect their children from the world & all the dangers & sorrows it contains, but in the end such a task is futile & in fact impossible.  I found this last theme particularly powerful because it’s something I’ve thought about a lot lately.  As I have mentioned in some of my previous blog posts, I have started thinking a lot more about having kids over the past six months or so.  Just a year ago I was still very much unsure if I wanted to have kids at all.  Ever.  Now I’m suddenly very sure that I do & I’m even thinking that I might want them a lot sooner than I’d originally thought possible (I’m talking two to three years from now).  I’m not sure exactly what caused this change in me & I suppose it really doesn’t matter.  But one thing I think about a lot in relation to having children is that I don’t want my children to grow up over-protected and naïve because that can really be quite dangerous.  But at the same time I feel like no one escapes childhood unscathed; indeed, as adults we are all somewhat scarred from our childhood & adolescence no matter how wonderful our parents were.  So part of me feels like parenthood would be this incredible burden because I’d constantly feel the need to make sure I don’t “scar” my children in any way while at the same time knowing that there’s no way around it because no one is perfect.  What a conundrum, especially for a perfectionist like me!  I guess what I have to realize is exactly what a friend was telling me today: as parents, as in all aspects of life, we have to remember that we cannot control everything so we just have to do the best we can & know that that is enough.

Sometimes I feel a bit cynical for my age because it’s impossible for me to ignore the unfairness of life.  My career in healthcare only enhances this sometimes as I’m constantly presented with situations in which bad things happen to good people, often beyond their control.  As a consequence I often feel older than I am & in fact basically everyone who doesn’t already know my age seems shocked when they find out how young I really am.  But I don’t really mind this because I think perhaps the greatest thing in life is to keep going even when you realize how bleak things can be.  Perhaps it is the same with parenthood.  What I mean is, as children we can’t imagine that our parents don’t always love us with every fiber of their being.  We can’t imagine that they have moments in which they question everything they’ve ever done as a parent even to the point of wondering whether they should even be a parent at all.  But as adults we realize this is very much the reality of life.  And perhaps as adults we can appreciate how much greater is the love of a parent for a child when they persist in raising & loving their child in spite of these fears.  The same goes for loving our spouses, romantic partners, friends, & families.  Real love doesn’t exist because of a lack of fears, uncertainties, or difficulties.  Real love exists in spite of all these things.  Real love persists even when the road of life is rocky & challenging, indeed even when there appears to be no path at all.

I’ve often heard it said that love is blind & that lovers are often so enveloped in their own romance that they are blinded to not only each other’s faults but the faults of the world around them.  But I beg to differ.  I believe true love (whether romantic or otherwise, for honestly I don’t think there’s too much difference but that’s a whole other blog post right there) rather than blinding us opens our eyes to see the world more clearly.  I do believe this means we will “stop to smell the roses” a bit more & learn to appreciate the everyday joys in life, but I also believe it means that we won’t be blinded to the injustices in the world or to each other’s faults.  Rather I believe we will be encouraged & empowered to better ourselves & the world around us & to tackle the injustices of life with as much passion as we can muster.  Indeed real love gives us the courage to face an uncertain world & to know that even if our lives aren’t perfect they can still be beautiful & meaningful.

[I included the picture of cards that spell out love because I like the implications of love being somewhat like a card game.  We’re all dealt a different hand in life but we have to make the most of what cards we have, knowing that in the end our lives come down somewhat to luck but more so to skill & attitude in handling whatever comes our way.]

I’m a Cheap Date


I wrote this post last night & have been waffling back & forth about posting it because I am afraid it will sound too provocative when that isn’t how I mean it at all.  But at the encouragement of a friend I am posting it anyway.  I’ll admit I gave it a provocative title to attract more readers, & also because I frankly couldn’t think of a better title.  I think I’m a decent writer but creating titles is a talent I seriously don’t have.  Anyway, cheers!

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I watched a movie tonight that made me realize something about myself: I’m a cheap date. Now let me expound on that a bit in case you think I mean this in the typical sense of the phrase. The movie was called Nice Guys Sleep Alone & focused on two 30ish adults in Louisville, KY who attempt to start dating each other but quickly realize that they are not interested in dating in the traditional sense of the word. In other words they want to be so much more than just friends & yet they want to be able to spend time together in ways that feel natural & not forced, much the way that friends do. As you might guess from the title of the film, the main male character has always been a “nice guy” & it’s often landed him in the infamous “friend zone.” (For the life of me I’ll never understand why so many girls go after bad guys & ignore nice ones, but that is a whole other blog post right there.) Because he is truly interested in a serious relationship with this woman he decides to take a friend’s advice & not be such a “nice guy” this time, thinking this will actually make her more attracted to him. So he shows up late for their first date, doesn’t bring flowers, & takes her to a local burger joint instead of a fancy restaurant. Not too surprisingly this sends the wrong message to the woman but because this is a movie naturally they eventually work things out.

What this movie made me realize is that I actually LIKE the idea of more “casual” dates in which you go out to “cheap” restaurants (if you know me, you know I’d much prefer a good burger to an expensive steak, sushi, or anything “fancy” ANY day of the week), wear regular clothes, & generally hang out the way friends do. These are the kind of dates my husband & I always had. (I suppose part of the reason for this is that we started dating when we were much too young to be able to go to expensive/fancy restaurants but that’s beside the point.) These are still the kind of “dates” we have if you can call them that when you’re married. And I love it. I hate going to fancy restaurants where you have to dress up (it’s not that I hate dressing up; it’s that I hate feeling like I HAVE to dress up just to gain admission somewhere). It just feels so forced, & I can never really relax when I have to wonder which fork I’m supposed to be using or if I’m even going to know what half the stuff on the menu actually is.  (If that makes me unsophisticated, I’ll be the first to admit it.)  I’d rather check out local hole-in-the-wall restaurants where I can wear jeans & a t-shirt & no make-up & not feel underdressed at all. I think the reason for this is that I crave intimacy in my relationships. Intimacy requires comfort & who can be comfortable in a black-tie setting? And I don’t just mean intimacy in the physical sense but in the emotional sense. Even in my friendships I don’t want to just talk about fashion, food, or other “superficial” things. I want to have deep conversations about the meaning of life, philosophy, religion, etc. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind less serious conversations but I crave the deeper kind most of all. This is why I will ALWAYS be more comfortable in one-on-one or small group settings than in large groups or big parties. I’ve strayed from the point a bit but what I’m trying to say is that I feel people are the most honest, genuine, & natural versions of themselves in casual settings. Additionally it implies a greater level of trust & comfort if you don’t feel the need to go on all the fancy traditional dates just to get to know someone.

[*Disclaimer: I’m not saying it’s wrong to go to expensive/fancy restaurants or to dress up for dates. I’m just saying this shouldn’t have to be the expectation for everyone & doing something “less” shouldn’t be immediately deemed suspect.]

I think part of the reason modern society is so confused about relationships is that we focus so much on dating when really we should be focusing on building relationships based on friendship & companionship. It’s only natural to me that romance can blossom from such relationships. I really can’t imagine it any other way. I’ve always said any man with $20 can buy me flowers. And any man with a couple hundred dollars can buy me nice jewelry. Those things really take very little thought or effort at all. The most valuable gift any of us can give another is time because it’s the one thing we can never get back.

So, ladies & gentleman, if you want to show someone you care, spend time with them. Invest in their life. Get to know them. If a person is worth knowing they won’t insist you spend $100 on dinner every time you want to hang out. At least that’s what I believe. And if that makes me a cheap date, so be it.

**If you’re wondering why I included a picture of Nick & Jess from New Girl it’s because they are my favorite TV/movie couple ever, the reason being that they are so natural together.  They were friends first who in the process of becoming friends also fell in love.  I strongly believe this is how the best, most lasting relationships start & it’s so rare to see that portrayed so well in popular media.  Hence my obsession with this show.  (The fact that they’re both super cute doesn’t hurt either, ha!)

The Inspiration Behind the Blog


I’ve been meaning to share this for a while & honestly just keep forgetting. I figured some of you might like to know the inspiration behind the title of this blog. If you’ve read the “About” page you know it’s from a poem I wrote a while ago but I’ve never shared the poem on here. I wrote the poem about 3:00 am one night last year when I couldn’t sleep because my mind was just wandering & doing its usual bit of simply THINKING too darn much. I wanted desperately to write about how I was feeling but the words just wouldn’t come. So I wrote a poem about not being able to write . . . and it worked! I don’t always get that lucky but I remember feeling so relieved after writing this poem because it restored my faith in myself as a writer & in general my faith that life, though difficult at times, is well worth the struggle.

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I’ve written quite a few poems in my life & plan to share more of them on here in the future. I must say this one is one of my favorites because it really was a moment of catharsis for me when I wrote it, I suppose because to me it so perfectly describes how my mind feels so much of the time: lost in a thicket of musings, or in other words pondering entirely too many ideas at once so that it’s difficult for me to ever truly relax. And quite often when I try to verbalize all of these “musings,” whether in spoken conversation or in writing, I’m suddenly left quite speechless & unable to describe them at all. I also love that I was able to touch on several other important themes in my life including the desire to be a writer above all else, the desire to change or leave some important mark on the world, & the feeling that maybe I am really a bit crazy after all.

I started this blog mostly as a way for me to “vent” all of my ideas & feelings about life & in doing so to hopefully reduce my own stress & anxiety levels while also perhaps inspiring or encouraging others to do the same or to ponder the same questions I have about life. That is why I thought the title A Thicket of Musings was so fitting for this blog. To a certain extent I think my mind will always be caught in a thicket of musings because it’s just a part of my very nature to think, think, think about everything all the time. But I find that in writing I feel less lost in this proverbial thicket of musings & more capable of enjoying the process. Some days I feel certain I’d trade just about anything to just not THINK so much about everything but in my heart I know I belong in a thicket of musings & I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

What about you? Do you ever feel like you just can’t stop thinking about things? Like there are so many ideas swarming around in your head but you can’t actually pin down any of them? Do you ever wonder if you’re the only person to ponder certain things (even though logically you know with six billion or more people in the world that’s nigh impossible)? If so, join me in A Thicket of Musings today & let me know your strategies for dealing with these thoughts.

Ok, enough talk about it.  Here’s the poem:

I used to be able to write poems

Nothing great or fancy

Just short little ditties

That somehow healed the wounds in my soul

Which life inevitably brings

But now words never seem to come to me

I’m lost in a thicket of musings

That I can never quite define

If could be anything in the world

I’d be a writer

When I was in fifth grade that’s all I wanted

I wrote about it in my autobiography that year

But all the great ideas that are in my head

Never seem to make it onto paper

(Or since this is the digital age

Perhaps I should say the computer screen)

It’s 3:00 a.m. and I can’t sleep

My body is exhausted but my mind is wide awake

When I was a child I thought I’d be a failure in life

If I didn’t somehow become famous someday

But now I don’t envy celebrities of anything

I think their lives are mostly miserable

Nonetheless I won’t be satisfied

If I don’t leave a mark on this world somehow

Is it normal to wonder about such things at 3:00 a.m.?

Or even at all?

Or am I just as strange and crazy as I’ve always feared?

Ah, you see what I just did there?

I wrote a poem about not being able to write a poem

Maybe there is still hope after all

Good night . . .

Or is it good morning?