We look for patterns in life. We do it to make sense out of things. To predict. To reassure ourselves that what’s happened, is happening or will happen fits with who we are. Every big decision to every simple daily choice. It’s as if we spend our lives mapping ourselves, stitching patterns in time.
When to say “when” is a recurring decision in life, isn’t it? How long do you give something before giving in, giving up…or giving it your all? I feel like I’ve just settled in here and, in a week, it’ll be time to head home unless the stars align and allow me to stay. I’ve done a little leg work to make that happen but didn’t want to make things too difficult. If it clicks, it clicks. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be. That’s what I tell myself anyway.
We hear that often in life. Que sera, sera. All we can do is try. How hard and for how long is up to you… Continue reading
My older sister was in town visiting me this weekend and apart from driving endlessly around windy back roads, we filled the miles with chit chat about anything and everything.
She and I couldn’t be more different. She married her high school sweetheart (the last of the dying breed she used to say.) Had two kids. And recently got divorced. She’s had three or four jobs in her life to my ten or eleven. She’s four years older. She’d be the first to say she’s risk averse. But, like me, she’s a do-it-yourselfer, independent and holds her own in anything she does.
I, on the other hand, am still single at 41. No kids. Decompressing from my date-a-thon gone wrong. And taking my third career break. I’ll take as many risks as I can that won’t require me to talk to a lawyer. I’ll go for broke in the name of love, passion or a really good chocolate chip cookie. We’re both strong, confident and a wee bit feisty, but she is definitely ruled by reason where I follow all those sticky, gooey feelings.
So I appreciate her different perspective, I do. I also find myself defensive and unable to answer her questions without a rise in my you-don’t-get-me tone. As emotional as I can be when it comes to decision making, I also have a fairly decent head on my shoulders. I consider the pitfalls, the worse case scenarios and practical things like how long my savings will support my me-time time out. I’m both thinking and feeling. Take that, Myers-Briggs.
We have only two choices, and each one ends in yes or no.
That’s it. Sounds awfully simplistic, I know. But all of that back and forth reasoning, listing pros and cons, polling all your friends–in the end, amounts to a yes or no. Like Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” You go for it. Or you don’t. All that gray in between is a dance, a flirtation with the yes or no. I’m not saying it’s easy to think in black and white space. But cutting to the chase moves you to new and better places faster. And if it’s not the right place; you simply move again.
Because think about it. Isn’t it equally difficult to spin in circles as you carefully think through every possible outcome? What is all that thinking for? I’ve read business articles on decision making, like how top CEOs at the world’s largest companies call the shots. Believe it or not–they go with their gut…then reverse engineer the support for this direction. The sign of a good leader is not one who is always right. It’s one who can swiftly and adamantly decide. Continue reading
I am a day late in writing–if I were to adhere to my blog a day promise to myself.
My morning thoughts? Change takes time and is iterative. There is no single moment that marks the transition in a person’s life when suddenly things are different. Everything is always in process. We evolve, we meld, we vacillate. Nothing is ever as clean as a day marked on a calendar. Your emotions can’t be delineated inside of a set of dates. If only it were possible, I would schedule my moments of change in my iCal…
Yesterday, was the first day this week that I had nothing pressing to attend to. No work deadline, no subletter drama, no necessity to even leave the house. I dressed to do yoga, but instead, I vegged, napped, watched TV and chilled. I listened to myself–that I didn’t need to do anything productive. It’s like when your body has a food craving–and you know it’s probably because you need that nutrient. I feel like the same applies to emotional and mental well-being. And exercise, at that moment, was a should-do not a want-to-do.
My practical self says get up and get busy. Find a job, find a boyfriend, figure out where I want to be. (No small tasks.) There is always a list of to-dos. Always. But I know I will survive if I sit still and my world will forgive me for ignoring it for a little while. It will even thank me for getting my bearings before taking off. I’m learning that with most things that work for me, mulling over decisions is moot. You know when you know. Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s when you get tired of the in-between. Or maybe it really is as random as your gut says so. Without rhyme or reason, le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.
The nice thing about practicing daily writing is that I can hear myself better. I lose focus quite easily and conjuring up the words to wrap the day makes me dial in a little closer. Listening for the right language is hard. Crafting it so that it speaks to the moment or the day or the thoughts, still swirling but trying to gel, forces me to get closer to my inner self. And over time, I’ll come to know what keeps floating back to the surface. That through this ebb and flow of thoughts and feelings, the true things that matter to me will sustain in any current.
So let yourself be in flux. Eventually a tide takes you somewhere.
I just got off the phone with a friend I’ve known for 16 years. She’s getting married in two months, and we talked about her process of getting to this decision and facing the fear of making the wrong one.
She said she could’ve focused on all the little holes in the fabric or look at the swath and its beautiful design. And she just decided that the bigger picture was the better one. Less stressful, more workable, more attractive even. It was a practical approach. I didn’t hear any passion in her voice. But I could understand why it worked for her.
We talked about how her analogy could apply to so many things. This idea of focusing on the fine detail versus appreciating the whole of something. To see the good qualities and let the imperfections go. Not in an “I’ve settled” way but in a “to know is to love” way.
What do I make of this in my own life? I’ve lived in my neighborhood for nearly 18 years and I still have a hard time thinking it’s home. Not because anything is wrong but because of all the little what ifs. For more than 20 years, I’ve pushed myself to what I thought was the next rung in my career. My MO has been to keep going–wherever there’s room to go, to explore, to become. And as I kept moving, I never put a solid professional stake in the ground. I abandoned three long-term relationships, for many complicated reasons, or maybe a simple one–that I only saw all the holes.
Tonight I question… would my life be better, would I feel more settled, if I just decided to sit with the bigger picture. To look at the fabric as a finished blanket, not a mesh of woven threads. To feel fine knowing there’s a different design, a different texture, a different fit, perhaps. But decide that fixating on those things is just that–different, not better.
I realize it’s not a perfect analogy. And that it might apply to some things, not all. But it gives me pause and comes back to what I’m doing with this time off. Understanding that perspective matters. And that changing yours can sometimes be the only thing you need to do to find what you’re looking for.