Sometimes, we need the reminder.
“Beauty surrounds us.”
Sometimes, we need the reminder.
“Beauty surrounds us.”
The term “thanksgiving” is defined in most dictionaries as ‘an expression of gratitude’.
Around this time of the year, I get really humbled. There’s this feeling that permeates my day-to-day as I take to heart the meaning of Thanksgiving, in a basic way. As an expression of gratitude.
Because I have a lot to be grateful for.
I have a lot of love, support, and kindness in my life now.
I’m so grateful for change.
The changes in my life that have brought me to the place I am in life. The changes I’ve decided to make on my own. The fact that I, as a human being, do not exist in a fixed or forced state and I can change.
My family. My friends. My job. And family includes my dog.
I think I take a lot of things for granted. Things the homeless people I see every week are suffering from lack of. A place to live. My own bed. Food. Heart and air conditioning. Running water. Electricity. And I have more than that. I have conveniences. A phone. Internet. Music. Cable. Books.
I am overwhelmingly grateful for the few true and unbelievably real friends I have who know what I’m going through and offer me understanding, honestly, love, patience, an ear to bend, and a shoulder to lean on (even through the internet).
My family is such a blessing. I have learned so much from them. I can never number the greatness of experience and support I have gained because of them.
Not to mention that my family and friends have always supported me through my writing endeavors. Even the past year as I haven’t written a single creative word. And I probably went a bit mad because of it.
I have learned so much.
I turned twenty-four recently and though I am a late bloomer in life and wish that I’d been published by now, gained a job sooner, and gathered my health enough to function sooner – I am finding that I’m actually glad what has happened has followed the path and timeline it has.
I cannot thank the kind people in my life enough. It’s a new experience for me, kindness.
I am so ever grateful for love. The impact it can have, if I allow it.
For the opportunities to grow and open my eyes.
For stories. For all the authors who helped me escape into another world.
The spark inside me (or, as Robin Williams put it, the spark of madness) that has always held me firm in the knowledge that I am a writer.
Also, the pain I’ve experienced. I’m not masochistic by any means, but suffering what I have allows the joy in my life now to really mean something beyond the capture of words.
Art in all its various forms. Beauty. Inspiration. Blogging. Chocolate (come on, you saw that one coming). Donuts! Hugs. Real emotion. Books, movies, music, and tv shows that create emotional resonance within me, spark something, ignite something raw. Quotes. Time. Life. Second chances. Earphones. Sweaters. Boots. Pillows. Notebooks.
Men who see women as equal human beings and not sex toys. Women who don’t consider ‘being a man’ to mean jerk behavior, size, lack of emotions, arrogance, coldness, being controlling, or the kind of car he has. I’m glad for equal rights for women.
Those who love their pets and fight for animal rights and against animal abuse.
Did I mention donuts? Thank you donuts, for being so cheap.
I am grateful for the chance to live in this crazy world and create a life of my own, one with meaning. There is so much in my life that I am grateful for. It is so much clearer, easier to see now that I feel I’m beginning to see through my own eyes and feel via my own heart.
I am thankful for hope.
What are you thankful for?
My friend recently asked me how I decided to become a writer.
I’ve had different answers for that at different times. All of which are true, still.
The first thing I thought of was this post, which I wrote two years ago:
It amazes me how much I’ve changed. That post was messy in so many ways. But the basis of the post – those three reasons – hold true. So if you want the answer (or for this post to make sense), go read it. Don’t worry, its short. And if you want to scroll down and just read the three reasons, that’s all you need.
But there’s more to it than that. It’s deeper. Even messier – just, in a different way. More complicated.
If there’s one thing therapy is showing me, it’s how I’ve hidden myself… from myself. It’s kind of like waking up. I’m finding out more about myself moment to moment.
One of the things I’ve learned is how I belittle and cheapen myself to keep truth from feeling so real. I laughed and used humor and made sure nothing really reached my heart – or anyone else’s.
Causes me to come off as air-headed and clueless. Basically, superficial and naive.
It’s a misrepresentation of who I am. For one, I’m a lot darker than I let on. Yes, I’m also the opposite – I watch Scooby-Doo reruns and get giddy over donuts. 😉
I’m happy but I struggle with depression. No one exists in singularity.
My tendency to gloss things over is fake. Happiness and strangeness is not. So that part’s not been fake, I assure you. I just don’t show the darkness or ugliness.
And let’s get something straight. Darkness and depression are two different things. I suppose I’ve been hiding both.
Darkness is balanced by light, and when I stop trying to suppress a certain part of myself, I remember that.
It’s strange to be around so many people and to feel unknown. Stranger yet to feel unknown by myself.
But I’m working on it. I’m finding the more I find, the more joy creeps into my life. Being whole tends to do that.
Any who – back to the question.
How did I decide to be a writer?
I don’t really have a precise answer. I remember being upset and watching the roof of the car, the stars of the early morning sky, and curling up on my side, wishing I was somewhere else. I’d detach and *poof* I’d imagine the most ridiculously amazing things. I was always in my head, somewhere existing beyond reason and rules.
I painted reality with my own overlay of life and vibrancy, beauty and thrills.
I grew up this way. I got upset, felt uncomfortable, got bored, wanted more – I went somewhere else in my head. As a result, I don’t ever remember actually being bored.
I think it simply grew within me as I grew. I remember wanting to be a writer in kindergarten. I don’t really remember much before then at all, except for times I’d imagine myself away.
So it makes the most sense to me, for me to say, I decided to become a writer before I even knew I’d decided. I was really young. That’s all I know. There wasn’t a precise day where I said, “I want to be a writer” and the decision was made and my life was forever changed. No one person or situation inspired me. Nothing suddenly triggered it.
Instead, it just always was. I don’t think I ever really stopped and went, ‘huh, I want to be a writer’.
I just knew I did and I wrote.
When did you become aware of who you were and what you wanted to become?
Do you hide parts of who you are from yourself or others?
Suffering is kinda helpful.
Okay, scratch that.
Suffering is EXTREMELY helpful.
I don’t mean, “someone kidnapped and tortured you” suffering (though I’m sure anyone who goes through that has the chance at gaining these things, albeit that way of learning is unneedful and horrible).
I’m talking about suffering. Everyone suffers. Horrible things happen. Loved ones die. Loved ones hurt you. Loved ones take ill. Vice versa. You’re given two horrid choices. You’re left without choices. You’re left without purpose or love. You could lose your house. You could lose your limbs. Let’s not even get started on what strangers could do to you. The list can go on and on.
The point is, suffering can help us, if we allow it to. Instead of grumbling and cursing the whole time and deciding the whole world is out to get us and everyone should burn. Only do that some of the time. 😉
Oh, oh! And I suppose I’ll point out that suffering *can* help us. It all depends on whether or not we let it.
This opens you up compassion, empathy, and the ability to connect with others. In other words, it helps you to learn to be human, to feel, and not only for yourself but for others as well.
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” – Rumi
Realizing you still have positive things in your life allows you to be AWARE of them, be present in the moment with them, and really enjoy them.
How often do we have to have something stripped from us before we realize how badly we took advantage of it? How much we really enjoyed it – or rather, would have, had we given it the time of day instead of automatically skipping through it on autopilot, consumed with our ‘to-do list’ and rushing through the days?
You’re building muscle. Only, this muscle goes towards your character, not the beach body. You need both in life, trust me, if you’re to enjoy it.
I think this is so true. Everyone has something negative in their life. Daily issues, tests, and trials. But everyone also has things they can count as positive, as blessings, as goodness in their life, even when their suffering outweighs their joy. When all you do is focus on the sludge of life, it’s all you think about, it’s all you begin to notice. When you try to find the good in your life, you notice there’s more than you thought.
Getting perspective from suffering helps you learn how to enjoy the little things before they’re gone or neglect brushes them aside.
It also helps us to learn that trials can be endured joyfully, or at least less miserably, if we focus on the positive too.
I cannot sum up all the ways or reasons you change. But suffering changes you. It opens you up. Sometimes it gives you the wisdom to remain closed to someone or something you know will only harm you. Suffering brings a different way of seeing your world. Once you see it differently – no matter how it is that you perceive it now – you will change to live in accordance with it. Even if you’re in denial, you still change.
I think some suffering is good for you. You learn from it, you change, you grow. But then there’s a time where the suffering isn’t helping you any longer and it needs to go FAR… FAR… AWAY!!!!!!
Sometimes we are forced to endure trials longer than we find needful or longer than we think we can handle. We often ask, “what am I missing?”, “why is this still happening?”, when will this end?”, “how am I supposed to keep enduring this”?
To this, let me assure you, if you’re missing something, you’ll eventually figure it out, so don’t sweat it – be mindful, be aware, be open-minded. It is still happening because it is still happening. Trees grow, the sun rises, puppies are born, and rain falls. It will stop when it will stop. You can handle it, regardless. If you couldn’t handle it, it would have stopped already. Life doesn’t want to break you. It wants to give you the opportunity to burst into flames and truly live. Whether you break or bend is absolutely up to you (regardless of how cheesy you find this).
I’ll also note that some suffering we wouldn’t have to go through if we’d make better choices in life. But the great thing is, suffering can allow us to learn from that too. So we don’t mess up in this way again, for the right reasons.
If it’s the point of your day to simply get through it, you’re not going to enjoy the things, people, and situations you could enjoy. Your weeks and months become a jumble of things to get through.
What is the point of living that way?
If you can learn to find joy in every day, even if you’re suffering, your life will get measurably better. You’ll change and you’ll see those changes in yourself and your life.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to be chipper and bubbly and smiley all day. NOT going to happen. No one is going to be happy or find joy in every moment of every day. And we need to be honest with ourselves with what we’re feeling. If we’re feeling crumby, we must allow ourselves to feel that way. We simply don’t need to take it out on anyone else, and when it’s time to let it go? Let. It. Go.
All I’m saying is, be open to the good things. Look for them, watch for them, instead of expressly waking up ready to find the negative in your life and survive it.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. But given time, you’ll learn to live for the joy in your life instead of trying to survive the negative.
Four of my favorite quotes on suffering:
“All experience is great providing you live through it. If it kills you, you’ve gone too far.” – Alice Neel
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran
“We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” – Ernest Hemingway