Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Low-Down on Living Life with Passion

Today is a rest day for me, so while my body woke me up at 5:02 a.m. to get my cardio in and I tried to tell it otherwise, I’m up and ready for the day with a few minutes to spare… and holy SHITTAKE MUSHROOMS that is a rarity these days!

Most of you can relate to the insane hustle and bustle of the race to simply survive these days. I work over 40 hour weeks, sometimes 13 hour days every day, have a two year old, am looking to move to the West Coast soon –  so applying for jobs and getting packed up – and am in school full time my senior year (at 26… hey, at least I’m finishing my degree!). I’m always burnt out. Add to this the stress and specificity of competition training for a national show next year, and you have one tired, decrepit, worn out, burnt out, dragging-my-ass-everywhere momma.

EVERYONE has stressors in their life and EVERYONE feels, at some point, “like butter scraped over too much bread” (thank you Jeeves and Wooster for that one).

Despite all of that, people constantly ask me “How do you live so passionately”?

Part of the reason, without a doubt, is that I spent almost a decade of my life chronically ill and fighting to simply function. Add moderate health and remission to that, and you certainly have a “joi de vivre”, because you know what life is like without normalcy.

HOWEVER, almost two years into remission now, that feeling is easy to forget. So what sustains my zest for life amidst the daily grind, the rat race, the draining hamster wheel of life?

A few, specific things keep me going. Check ’em out:

1. Keep Learning

I firmly believe you are never too old to find something new that interests you. Shop around! Try stumbleupon.com, or luminosity.com, or play a game of freerice.com and trip your brain cells into a little fresh action.

2. Stay Curious

My grandfather once told me “the moment you lose your curiosity for life, you stop living”. This man was learning new things in his seventies: he mastered cooking and french at an old age, because he had an insatiable curiosity for the unknown. Pique your curiosity in new ways, daily. Never stop asking “why?”.

3. Explore

The older we get, the more we risk living in a bubble. Hell, I did this at 18! Don’t get stuck. Find ways to get out of your comfort zone, off your cushion, and explore the world.

4. Make New Friends

This sounds the cheesiest, most gossip-girls-y point of them all, but the truth is, when we stagnate in relationships, we begin to lose our joy for life. Much of what you love and how you fuel passion is through relationships with people who are different from you. Find people you DON’T agree with, but can respect, and nurture those relationships.

5. Don’t Let Experience Rob you of Joy

The most important point of them all, in my opinion. I’ve long found that experience is the greatest teacher, but also the most embittering and disillusioning part of life if you let it be so. If, however, you take your experiences, and you recognize that true character and passion come from within, you will fight to stay strong in your uniqueness, learning, exploration, curiosity, friendships, and you will keep your passion. The more you fight to know yourself, and what you are capable of, the more you will fuel that fire.

“Do not let the world make you hard.

Do not let the pain make you hate.

Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.

Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,

You still believe it to be a beautiful place”.

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The Power of Experience

Day three  – in a row – of blogging. This has certainly never happened before, and it feels as good as my coffee tastes this morning. 

The older I get (as I approach the ripe age of 27, ripe being an apt adjective for this post), the more I realize that when people said “you won’t understand until you’re older”, what they’re really speaking of is experience. 

There are some things that you simply cannot learn without time and experience. 

This valued ingredient of maturity, experience, is also the reason why some people age and never mature. There are people so sheltered, who run and hide from the challenges, risks, successes and failures that life brings, and as a result fail to develop the depth of character that can come from experiencing more of the world. 

The majority of the unexperienced are narrow-minded, and lack empathy and respect. 

It is fairly impossible to be immature without being unexperienced. 

Here is the best illustration I have for you:

Growing up, I was quite sheltered, as has been previously discussed. This kept me from much pain, but also slowed my maturing, and kept me close-minded, arrogant, and self-righteous. 

I would hear about women who were married, unhappy, wanted a divorce, and I would be shocked, and make generalizations common to the church culture: “Well, she shouldn’t have gotten married if she didn’t realize marriage was work”. “Divorce is way too easy these days”. “They need counseling”. “She didn’t ever love him if she wants a divorce”. “If she prays more fervently and realizes her heart is deceitful, she will come around”. 

One woman left her husband, and weeks later was with another man. My brain processed: “Adulterer”. “Sinner”. “Slut”. 

My categories for right and wrong were limited simply to what I had heard was right. They were limited by my inexperience.

Years later, many years later, I left an abusive marriage. I was a shell of a human being. Destroyed emotionally, and terrified. I felt I had no value. I was lost and broken. If I had stayed in that marriage, I strongly believeI would have eventually killed myself (or been killed) from fear and depression. Very few people knew anything of that marriage but the happy exterior. The young me, the inexperienced me, looking in, would have been appalled that I left. Shocked that I wanted a divorce months after I left.

But it was right. 

Months after this, I was on the road to recovery in abuse counseling. I was dating. 

What. Dating? And still legally married. 

The young me, the inexperienced me, would have been stunned.

But it was right. 

Even more stunned when, after months of a few dates with various individuals, I met the love of my life, a gentle, amazing, kind, empathetic, patient, loving man, and he moved in with me, long after I left my ex-husband, but before the final processing date for the divorce. 

Technically, according to law, I was a married woman living with another man. Our separation paperwork agreement allowed for this, but my younger “conscience” would not have. Nor would the culture I grew up in, I’m sure. 

But it was right. 

Looking at every step of that journey, I regret none of it. I know exactly why every decision was made, and made in good conscience. Experience has taught me that many things which seem so very black and white are never so until you walk through them, alone, yourself; painfully, slowly, sincerely, with all of the emotional wrestling matches you will encounter on the way, and all of the incredible “AHA!” moments that experience brings with those painful struggles.

It is to my shame that I made so many harsh judgments of others growing up. The older I get, the more I learn to never judge what seems a certain way from the outside. Unless someone is hurting someone else or directly self-harming, no judgments are made. I cannot speak without walking in their shoes, and the likelihood is, because I haven’t had to, I wouldn’t be strong enough to understand the lessons they are learning, anyway.

Experience is the greatest teacher, and the most painful one. 

I note, painfully, the inexperience of people I know, as a reason for their judgment, arrogance, and self-righteous behavior. 

Purely and simply, people fear what they do not understand.

Put more clearly, they fear what they have not experienced. 

Fear drives people to judge, hate, and hurt.

Be slow to judge what you cannot understand, what you have not been called to experience. Respect the painful journeys of others, in their own uniqueness, with their own set of trials and understanding.

And pursue experience. Take risks, interact with people outside of your “experience circle”. Learn from them, learn to love and respect the differences, and release fears of the unknown. 

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