LOFB - JenFor most of my life, I’ve been afraid to fly.

I had no trouble clambering aboard airplanes and soaring off to exotic destinations, and it was never a question of heights as I am the first to scale a rock wall or dangle precariously from the tallest tree limbs, but I was always terrified of letting myself fly.

For most of my life, I did what I was supposed to do.*

 

*Although my parents may beg to differ.

I stayed out of trouble, got respectable grades, went to college, got married, and had 2 beautiful children. I furthered my education, was never fired from a job, and I made sure that, like footprints in the sand, I did everything in my power to live a life that wouldn’t inconvenience anyone, and was easily washed away and forgotten.

I still live that way.

Sure, I have the periodic shenanigans, and odd run-ins with random hilarity, but by and large I live a life of little significance. My children. . .I am significant to them. My family and a few choice loved ones. . .sure. But I am one in a million other divorced single mothers; interchangeable, and easily replaced. And that’s not who I want to be.

Life is filled with responsibilities and expectations. But life is also like a Jersey tollbooth. . .it demands change. And I am ready for change. My life cries out for change.

We are all born with a wild spirit, and over the years that spirit gets. . .tamed. Our dreams shrink and our desire to shine is dulled. For years, I dulled my shine with self-loathing and alcohol. Them eventually, I threw myself into sobriety with as much zeal as I did drinking, and it wasn’t long until my desire to stay astride the proverbial wagon was as much an obsession as my previous urge to dive headlong off of it like a Mardi Gras Bacchus King with an inner ear infection. ‘Half measures’ are not a part of my vernacular, and the mere concept of ‘moderation’ has my tilting my head in confusion like a beagle during an air raid. So, rather than seek moderation in life, it was far more expedient to just put my head down and follow the common roads of life.

Not any more.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of being safe.

I’m tired of doubting myself.

I’m tired of always placing other people’s happiness before my own.

I’m tired of hanging my head and quieting my voice to avoid upsetting others.

We spend most of our lives like Mormon girls, crossing our arms over our chests and telling Life: “Pull the car over, Mister. I’m walking!” rather than throwing caution to the wind and going all ‘Girls Gone Wild’ on the freeway.

We are constantly in a desperate scramble toward the next purchase, the next diversion, the next bauble; spitting vitriol about the shackles of our jobs while clinging to them with a blind devotion that can only be described as Stockholm Syndrome.

We are constantly trying to make everyone else happy to the point of our own misery.

We are so busy living for other things, other pursuits, other people, that we don’t even recognize the sound of Death banging on the door like a Jehovah’s Witness on crystal meth until it’s too late.

I don’t want that life any more. Because that life isn’t really. . .living.

I want to jump on the back of a Harley and ride off where the day takes me.

I want to stroll, laughing, on a nude beach.

I want to eat ice cream for breakfast and make nachos at 3:00am.

I want to make love in the middle of the day, then lie in bed laughing so hard that my stomach hurts.

I want to take my heart out of its gilded cage and place it, trusting, into someone’s hands.

I want to fly.

I met someone a few months ago that encourages me to unfurl my wings. He makes no false promises, speaks with unflinching honesty, and loves me with a purity and intelligence that I never dreamed possible. We know that nothing is 100% sure in life, but we also know that this life is the only one we have, and we are living every second of it with an intensity that would eclipse the brightest star.

Together, he and I are veering off the common road and soaring headlong into the unknown.

Sometimes, I get scared. I still hold back and second-guess myself, and see every quiet moment or tense disagreement as ‘goodbye’, but I’m learning. . .I’m understanding. . .I’m flying. And I’m trusting that every time I take that leap of faith and soar, my wings are growing stronger and stronger.

Fly.

Do it now. Try it now. Live NOW! Because before you know it, you’re going to be sitting in a pair of Depends, gumming your 4:00 Early Bird supper, tapping your toe to a Musak version of Mr. Mister’s ‘Broken Wings’, and wondering what the fuck happened to your life.

Your dreams were not meant to be stifled, and your heart was not meant to be cloistered.

Fly.

Just. . .fly.

{ 0 comments }

LOFB - NoaI don’t have a lot of regrets, really.

I’m able to look back at my life (short as it may be thus far) and realize that the things I fucked up I fucked up for a reason, even if it was my fault. I realize that I made dumb choices sometimes. I realize that I am more foolish than I pretend to be. I realize that I rush things.

I’ve also learned to forgive myself these mistakes because fuck, I’m a person and I am not perfect.

How did that happen, though? My past is the same, nothing has changed but my mindset.

I started to focus on my life as it was at the moment instead of what it could have been, which is some hippie bullshit that helped me more than I like to acknowledge.

When I get down, I start to think about what my life could have been. If I had only worked harder, not laid around watching Venture Brothers (which is currently on in the background right now as we speak). If only I hadn’t wasted my time on school. If only I had not pushed down my desire to write in my teens and early 20′s I could be published by now.

If only.

If only.

If only.

I realized that the answer was that my life could always have been better in some way. I’m fortunate in that I love who I married, I love my job, so at least I have that, but I had my regrets about not being further in my career than I wanted.

If only.

I lived angry at myself for all my stupid failures.

Until I got sick of it and realized that I was wasting my goddamn time regretting instead of just getting. I could spend all my time working instead of being sad. I could look at the life I wanted and do shit to get there instead of moping the fuck around my house and being sad that I wasn’t there already.

I started being more functional. I started working smarter. I started being happy in my daily life instead of filled with anger at every little failing. I started forgiving myself for wanting a day off and procrastinating some. I was easier on myself, and as a result, I got better.

Hippie bullshit.

{ 0 comments }

It’s easy to think that when you fail, you’ve come to the end of a road for yourself. We equate failure with the end, mistakes with never being able to look back. We feel deep shame in failure, despite knowing that life goes on after mistakes are made.

There is no shame in failure because failure is not always a stop sign.

Sometimes failure is a detour sign. Sometimes failure is just letting you know that hey, this thing you love and are good at is great, but not for here/rightnow/thesepeople/inthisformat.

Persistence in what you love and are good at and the wherewithal to realize when failure didn’t mean the end is what gave us Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and Jon Stewart and the incredible pop culture vehicles they drive and are going down in history for.

Splitsider has an excellent piece on their early (and huge, public) failures that led them down the path they should have always been on. Check it out:

Carson, Letterman, and Stewart: Three Early Failures and the Lessons Learned From Them

“In 1995 David Letterman was the king of late night. Johnny Carson had retired three years earlier, and while Jay Leno had higher ratings, Letterman won the Emmys and the respect of critics and viewers. Wearing a blazer and holding a lit cigar, Letterman sat next to Jon Stewart on the final episode of his cancelled MTV program: The Jon Stewart Show. They discussed Letterman’s career, Stewart’s future, and cancellation. Letterman told Stewart, “Cancellation should not be confused with failure.”

In the last 50 years, three of the most popular talk show hosts have had shows that were cancelled before they hit their stride. Carson, Letterman, and Stewart were given their own shows by networks who hoped viewers would see the talent these entertainers contained. But all three of them did not realize success until their first shows were taken off the air.”

{ 0 comments }

There’s a lot of guilt and obligation floating around both online and off. And while you don’t have to believe a word that I say—trust me, I don’t always believe these myself—just for today, try.

youdonthaveto

You don’t have to hide your quirks. They make you unique.

You don’t have to drink coffee, and if you do, it doesn’t have to be designer Arabica beans or a $6 latte from Starbucks.

You don’t have to love a certain food because everyone else seems to love it. You can if you want, but do it for you. Not for any other reasons.

You don’t have to check your phone right this minute. Remember how life was a decade ago? Whatever it is can wait.

You don’t have to be the best parent, spouse or friend, but you do have to be there when those people need you.

You don’t have to love yoga or CrossFit or running. Try to be healthy, but be healthy for you. We all need to find out what works.

You don’t have to like everyone and everyone doesn’t have to like you.

You don’t have to cook complicated meals with a lot of ingredients. Microwaves were made for a reason.

LOFB - AbbyYou don’t have to make Pinterest-worthy desserts. Bakeries are there for a reason, as are Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines mixes.

You don’t have to pin a damn thing.

You don’t have to hide your successes, but it’s far more impressive when others discover your charm without you having to tell them.

You don’t have to tweet a damn thing.

You don’t have to be mean to be funny. In fact, you don’t have to be mean at all.

You don’t have to love your job. You don’t have to hate your job. But you should do a good job when your name and your rep are attached.

You don’t have to tell everything you know because you have a spare minute.

You don’t have to undervalue your strengths or overvalue your mistakes.

You don’t have to hide your scars. They show that you have survived.

You don’t have to take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

You don’t have to write a book. You don’t have to read a book, but if you don’t, you’re missing out.

You do not have to complain each time you’re annoyed, but silent gratitude feels rather wasted.

You don’t have to love being a parent all the time. You don’t have to feel guilty for that.

You don’t have to complain about being a parent all the time. Nobody likes a martyr.

You don’t have to write if you really don’t want to, and when you do, write for yourself.

You don’t have to compare yourself to others. You are you. That is enough.

You don’t have to be inspirational—life isn’t unicorns and glitter—but everyone has their own junk. Try and provide some relief.

You don’t have to click on the link and read through. In fact, you can log off.

You don’t have to make the bed, fold the laundry or clean every day. A house is meant to be lived in.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. Nobody does, and you don’t have to believe them if they tell you they do.

You don’t have to take the road others have taken. Just make sure the path is your own.

And most of all, you don’t have to be the exception.

You are worthy of happiness in your life.

You are worthy of laughter, good food and good friends.

You are worthy of love and support.

You don’t have to do it alone.

{ 4 comments }

LOFB - NoaI do things fast.

I want my stuff done now. I want to know everything now. I want to drive fast and be there already. I will park in any parking spot available because it’s a waste of time to drive around for 400 years. I want to be done with my book now.

I don’t like to fuck around.

I don’t like to wait.

Especially on myself.

One of the hardest parts of becoming an adult for me was the transition from school-life to real-life. I was great in school–GREAT. I memorize things lightning fast and can repeat them without practice. I have a semi-eidetic memory, which serves you well for everything in school.

It does not at all serve you well in life.

School world is memorization and regurgitation. Real world is long days, weeks, months, and years spent slogging away bit by bit until you get better and better until you’re great. I was confronted with this in a harsh way–I can memorize the steps to anything quickly, I can logically understand them, but yet for anything worth doing it takes a very very long time to repeat those steps with any proficiency and expertise.

It suuuuuuuuuuuccckkkks.

I had to learn how to be a real person. How to fail. How to make huge mistakes and recognize that they were opportunities for growth (and for memorization!) How to grunt through minute progress with the knowledge that your brain is always on and eventually you will succeed.

Still, it suuuuuuccckkkkss.

Part of growing is learning that there are a lot of roads you want to go down. Desperately. A lot of roads you want to take today right now oh my god wouldn’t that be great it’s my dream–but you aren’t yet ready. You haven’t yet learned what you need to learn, failed what you need to fail, lived what you need to live to travel down them. If you were to take them now, you might be scared off of them forever for the tremendous failures that foolhardiness brings.

Patience, I suppose. Patience with yourself. Patience with the process.

Still.

Suuuuuuuuuccckkkkks.

{ 2 comments }