Day 365: Turn 30.

Happy Birthday to me!  And happy Thanksgiving to all.

Last night I had a nice long talk with the Husbandit about a revelation I had.  I know that I have only one real regret about my twenties; I wish I had had more fun.  This particular regret has dogged me for the past couple of years and I’ve felt ashamed of it, I worried that there was something wrong with me.  Then, as I was driving home last night I realized two things:  1)  Absolutely everyone has regrets  2) It isn’t my fault.  I realized that my fear and depression and anxiety that kept me from enjoying my life is simply part of my wiring and circumstance that I had to work through.  I spent my twenties working through it, and  now I feel more happy, calm, and mindful–which means I experience more joy.  For me, part of growing up meant learning how to cultivate joy, and there is no shame in growing. It’s what we do.

I also realized that everyone else has something they wish they had done differently–that’s also part of growing up and I’m grateful that my particular regret didn’t involve hurting myself or others too badly.

The Husbandit listened to all this, agreed with me and added, “I think you should think of this as a fresh beginning also.  A decade is behind you and you learned a lot.  A new decade is in front of you.  You get to live that decade how ever you want.”  Like the folklorist he is, the Husbandit added, “You spent your twenties devoted to Athena–now you can focus a bit more on Pan.”  I liked that, it felt lik my like was a tarot spread and now I’m turning over a new card and figuring out what it means to me.

Today, in celebration of starting new era I have spent my time, riding my bike, watching British comedies, writing, making cookies and cranberry sauce, and smooching on my love.  This evening I will have the chocolate-iest chocolate cake east of the Mississippi, drink Prosecco, eat an incredible meal with friends and take a taxi home to collapse in bed.  It’s going to be a good life.

I would write more, but I need to go have fun.

 

Day 362: Reflect On All The Things!

Last week, I got a new job.

This is an exciting, wonderful thing for several reasons:

1)  I have been searching for a new job for about eight months, which has including writing an average of  one full job application(including a resume, cover letter, and occasionally a portfolio) per week.  Additionally, I have been doing informational interviews, formal and informal networking events and actual job interviews. This takes up lots of time and energy–now I can devote that time and energy elsewhere.

2) I have been interviewing for this particular job for 3 months and have been living in a state of uncomfortable limbo. That also takes lots of time and energy.

3) It pays better than my current position.  This job is going to help the Husbandit and I improve the immediate quality of our lives and will allow us to start making some long term plans.

4)  I want this job because it works for me and my interests and priorities and needs–not because I hope that it will sound impressive or because it is what I feel I “should” be doing or because I just need a job.  The position seems like it will genuinely fit me and my life.

5)  In order to get to #4, I had to figure out who I am and what I actually want in my life.  Pushing myself to try new things has helped me discern who I am and what I want and I’m excited to reap some benefits of that work.

When I started this blog project I had two of the lurking goals in the back of my mind:  get published and  get a new job. However, I also had a lurking feeling that I wanted more than to change jobs and see something I wrote in print.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, so trying new things seemed like a good path.  As I started purposefully engaging in new actions the same question kept emerging: “Does this make me suffer less or more?”

It sounds rather bleak to talk about suffering, but it is a very practical question. We all suffer at some point and we all want to suffer less.  Previously, I always asked myself, “Is this what I should be doing?”  Interestingly, that question had not helped me be happier, it just led me to flail about in fear and anxiety. Simply asking myself  “Does this make you suffer less or more?”  was much more useful.  Asking that question then letting the answer inform my actions  nudged me to make choices that were more likely to make happy.  It opened me up to building the structure of my life around happiness, not fear.  Fear is certainly still there, but it is less of the foundation and more the weird staircase to nowhere accidentally left in by the architect.

Approaching my life this way is what led me to do the informational interviews, the writing classes, the job applications, the informal networking; to make the choice to write between appointments, to start going to a support group, to send the manuscript to a publisher; to give myself the permission to try new things, to accept myself, to step into the unknown.  And all of these small and large decisions contributed to me being able to tick off my two secret goals.

Funny note:  When I found out that I got the job I had an overwhelming urge to dye my hair–which was another lurking goal.  Hair dyeing has always been this attractive but scary thing for me–it’s bound up with all these feelings about image and interaction and permanence.  I kept saying I would do it, then I would chicken out.  I read this article a few months ago and I have decided to take the plunge.  It will have to happen after my birthday and the end of this blog because my hair-dyeing buddy is out of the country, but it’s going to happen!  It feels wonderfully superficial and symbolic.

 

 

Day 342: Did (Almost) All the Halloween, Told Scary Things to People, Considered Accepting Reality

Happy Halloween!

I am really into Halloween, like super obnoxiously into Halloween.  I dream of the day I can be an old lady in a cool old house that I decorate with lots of bats and gravestones and spiders and I will give out really good candy and play scary music in the front room.

Unfortunately, for the past few years the Husbandit and I have been experiencing cash-flow issues and there is rarely money to spare for costumes, party-throwing, and decorations.  Also there has been a time-flow issue and there has rarely been time to make lots of Halloween cookies from scratch, or peruse thrift stores for costume parts, or any of the other things you can do to make Halloween magic on a budget.  Last year this culminated in me attempting and failing to sew a costume last minute and getting really weepy and runny-nosed and explaining to the Husbandit that I Just. Wanted. To. Have. Fun.  For A Change.

This incident was part of what inspired me to do this blog because I realized that if I’m saving up all my fun and joy for one night, I’m probably doing it wrong.

This year I made a little more room for fun costumes and clothing in my life, such as wearing a a huge fascinator or bright red shoes simply because I decided that was my DamaskRose costume for the day.  And even though money and time has continued to be tight, I made the effort to enjoy the hell out of Halloween anyway.  I volunteered to decorate our office for my workplace’s annual trick-or-treating, I watched silent horror films on YouTube, and tonight I am going to go out to a Halloween ball with the Husbandit, even if we can’t stay out all night because we have to work the next day.

In the spirit of the month, many of my new acts have been doing things that scare me.  I started another writing class that focuses on revision, an area that scares the heck out of me.  The Husbandit and I decided that for the sake of his health and stress level we needed to not travel for the holidays this year…and we told our families (they ended up being pretty understanding).  I’ve been going to lots of networking events in which I don’t know anyone.  And I’ve been having more honest conversations with friends.  During several different conversations, the same theme kept coming up–the idea of giving up hope as an act of courage.

The idea is that when we stop putting our life on hold while we strive towards some mythical ideal, be it money, career, physical change, whatever, we end up neither enjoying out life, nor reaching that ideal.  Actual happiness is found in being mindful of each moment as it is, rather than perpetually dreaming of a perfect moment in the past or future.,

When people say stuff like this to me, my usual response it, “Yeah, well–what about people in awful situations like floods and and slavery and famine?  Are they supposed to give up hope?  Accept the shitty present?  How’s your theory now, huh? Huh?  That’s right, you better walk away” (In my mind, I’m saying this to a kindly Buddhist monk and he looks very sad).

However, a friend gave a slightly different spin that made me less skeptical.  She explained that the idea of mindfulness isn’t about making you a mindless smiley doormat to reality; rather, it is about accept reality wholeheartedly so that you can either be really happy or really sad or really angry instead of drifting through your existence.  I like that idea better, though the thought of practicing that kind of acceptance is pretty scary.

All right, enough navel-gazing.  Time to apply some glittery eyelashes and drink some dubious green cocktails and dance until…well, closer to dawn that it is now.

Happy Halloween!