Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up

Journal of a journey through life, true love and lessons learned along the way.

I am a lover of music unlike anyone else I know. That is not to say that others do not love music or are not fanatics but it seems that my connection is more personal, more bloodline than energy. I hear songs and they immediately take me right back to the place I was when I first heard them. In true technicolor, vivid, all senses come to life. I get this honest as both of my parents were also music lovers and music has/had always been a part of our/my life. Today I am reminded of this as I am sitting this morning enjoying my favorite place these days, my back porch, and listening to my favorite morning station on Apple Music. The song that inspires this blog today is “Sober” by Demi Lovato. Listen first and then maybe come along on my morning writing journey…

I love music written in tragedy. This is not to be confused with me loving tragedy, I am not that sadistic. I love music as an art form, as an outlet, for the artist that is willing to pour it all out in song. Demi has gone through the fight of her life, again, and in pure vulnerability pours it out. I feel it, in my heart, my soul, my bones. I get it on a very raw level. Sober is a condition of healing, righting wrongs regardless of the substance. I get it. I am not Sober, either. Being sober means that your imperfections are not noticed externally and ultimate sobriety is full internal resolve. How many of us are really sober? In these terms…hmmm…hard to admit.

For my mother’s eulogy I weaved the music of our lifetime into the words spoken from my soul and it gave the context, it gave the sentiment I could not have otherwise expressed with words alone. It wasn’t about creating a false presence of emotion but allowing those in my world with me at that moment in time to be brought back to the place, the very place I longed to be in that moment…a place where she still existed. A place she still lived, loved and laughed. It worked. It worked for me…it was all that mattered. In that moment on that day, I was talking for her and music was as much my voice as the words coming from my mouth.

I use music like a heartbeat, a rhythm to inspire the action before me. When I run the music matches the tempo I need to keep, when I walk the music is resolved in the journey without fight for breath, when I work the music creates the background noise to keep me focused. It is how I relate to this world. It is nutrients and as needed as water, food, and breath. A life without music is not a world I wish to know; empty, quiet, meaningless.

Music is culture, it unites us, all races, languages and classes. One song has the power to move a nation. Another can be so private and only known to the listener absorbed in the secret only known between the lyrics and the soul.

Music is my language and those that know me best speak to me in my native tongue. This week alone I received songs from those that know me best and love me most. Those songs were genuine communication from them to me with nothing more needed to be said except, “I heard this song and it made me think of you.” How perfect. I conclude by sharing those songs with you as my Thank You to those that sent them to me and my want to pay it forward to my reader that may not have the fortune to know music in this form, may this be your entree into something more, a new language of love, friendship and vulnerability.

  • Tones and I – Never Seen the Rain – Link https://youtu.be/UdRJY-jlEhQ
    • Lyrics “…and it gets you down But that’s ok You’ve been pushed round You feel the pain And when you fall Just lean on me Cause you’ve never known Never seen Never smelt Never felt The rain Rain, never felt the rain, rain rain”
  • Lauren Alaina – Getting Good – Link https://youtu.be/AkNc0-7ierw
    • Lyrics “.Once I get a house that I can hang my hat on, I bet I’ll want to build a bigger one if I could, yeah, I’m thinking, once I learn to grow right where I’m planted, Maybe that’s when life starts getting good…”
  • Joshua Radin – Beautiful Day – Link https://youtu.be/G70dtJRr6nc
    • Lyrics “…Gonna drive my car to the sea, Swim out far cause I believe, That waves will wash the grey away, I’m making a beautiful day…”

May you find your energy, your universe, what makes your world go ’round. Music is my everything and those in my life are personified through those rhythms. Blessed to hear the love in those messages.

Life as I hear it – L.

This theme has been with me for weeks now and so here I go to give life to the theme. It is plaguing me with something pressing to say, to communicate, to shout from the rooftops…maybe.

It is too obvious to suggest that what we, as a world, have gone through in the last three months will leave a lasting impression that will be defined far greater than “leaving a mark”. What we have gone through in pandemic, protests and riots and politics will go down in history. We can only hope that all of the strife will change the future to allow recount of “how it used to be” versus “why it is this way”. This will all remain to be seen.

What is not obvious is the “mark” that is being left on you, on me, on each one of us mentally, transforming us physically. We are taking in images subconsciously that we are not used to processing. We attempt to create context around these images but we realize the internal struggle when we feel the anxiety, insomnia and otherwise unrest internally. We try to put a name on it, we try to diagnose it and yet we are left with discord and diagnosis undefined. We as a nation are not used to seeing violence in the form of protests in our streets, body bags being loaded into semi-trucks from the fallout of a pandemic that has not found its end and the lack of a leader to guide us out of chaos and into peace. Those images go in and then bounce around like the ricochet of a bullet leaving in its wake, damage. Minor damage for those that have the tools or resolve to digest it and flush it out and catastrophe for those that cannot imagine what they are experiencing.

I have had the benefit of talking to groups of friends and colleagues that all share their experience. The same experience that I am party to however my experience being different based on my resolve. It is your internal resolve that will drive you to act or retreat. It is that resolve that will show resource or surrender. Anxiety is the theme, regardless of the individual. Why do I feel emotional? Why am I angry? Why do I want to retreat or rebel? These are the questions we are ALL asking. It is now that we are forced to come to terms with the inside voice that has its own monologue, those thoughts that show up in neon lights that dare you to act…before you think. But don’t! Stop. Stop everything. Take it in. Allow it to show itself. STOP. Then decide…what’s next. Yes, it always comes back to this one fact, you decide. Even in today’s world; you decide what risk you are willing to take, what opinion you will have and who you will follow. YOU DECIDE.

It is indeed fair to say that this will leave a “mark”. Yes it will, it has to, as nothing this extreme will depart quietly. Whatever is eating you today, you must meet yourself where you are and find a way to digest it. Decide what is right for you. Be careful of what you are taking in as not everything is fortifying. Let the mark that is left be partnered with a time you can look back and be proud of how you handled yourself, always meeting yourself where you are and not defining yourself by the moment. Anxious yes, it is impossible not to be, but taking that moment to stop and realize that the resources that I have can reduce it all and make sure that the mark left is not a scar but a battle wound!

Life as I live it – L.

And just like that it occurs to me. That I have indeed manifested this, the life I always dreamed of without realizing I was heading right for it. It just occurred to me this morning as I was finishing a 12-week program via the “The Artist’s Way”, that everything that I have done for the last 49 years has prepared me for the next chapter. I always said that when I turned 50-years old that I wanted to teach, I wanted to transition into a new chapter; and while I struggled to see the forest for the trees along the route today I have walked out of that forest, at the end of that path and turned around and there it is…every single tree, every sapling, every seed that was ever planted is now the forest. It is a wealth of experiences, paths and journeys; thorns, bites and equal amounts of sun shining through that will catapult me into my dream. Wow, I am in awe as I write this and the realization shows itself clear as the day that is beginning.

The irony is that I realize now, in this moment, that all of the work in raising my children, cultivating a partnership and friendship that has served as my marriage to the very best partner for me and building a career that can sustain it all has brought me to this place that I can realize the next chapter that lies in front of me. All along I thought my dream would not come to pass because of my lack of realization that the additional education I thought i needed was being attained all along. I dreamed of being a Professor and yet I am. I thought it would be teaching hospitality however I have just realized that it is that and so much more. I thought it would require another degree and yet I realize that there is no more that I can be taught in a structured environment that I have not learned through experience. It is taking what I have learned on these paths that will now be my next chapter. I have learned how to share, I have learned from the masters and I am not afraid. For the reality is that I have earned a doctorate in life studies, learned in a classroom that has been my last 49 years of life.

The epiphany is so profound, the realization that it, all of it, that I have worked for has lifted me to the place that I dreamed of, the place I wished to be, and now it is my only task to take the next steps. So now I walk back through the paths that I have beaten and worn and now reminiscing those walks with eyes wide open, I am able to see in hindsight those things that were beneath the surface. I will feel those things all over again with renewed senses and the benefit of maturity. The only task left “to do” is to simply to release the constraints that I have allowed to weigh me down through my own imprisonment and realize that I am free to go, to soar, to realize this new life, reality and existence without obstacle.

This is real, this is how it occurred to me on this morning as I was doing my “Morning Pages” and had this immense realization and thought enough to capture the moment in my writing. There are so many themes in this realization that are worth pointing out to avoid anything going missed.

  • The epiphany is simply as defined, “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.” I have been doing the work and through the work it suddenly appeared, my future, my dream in realization, in full color, right in front of me.
  • The power of manifestation as defined, “being able to harness your true destinies and desires in life, subconsciously put into vision, and then into reality. Everything you want of the universe is already yours the clearer your thoughts and thinking on the matter, the more timely and precise the delivery will come.” Put whatever it is out there, a goal, a FINISH LINE, a dream; whatever you want to call it simply put it out there and return to it often, doing the work along the way that you believe will bring you to that place…and it will be yours.
  • The faith as defined, “complete trust or confidence in something or someone.” If you believe in yourself and trust that what you want will be yours as long as you are willing to do the work, walk the path and have “faith” despite a guarantee that it will be, it will come, if you only believe.

I give this to you as my gift. A glimpse into my soul, my beliefs, my heart. I give back to myself the gift of documenting this moment to allow myself the privilege of revisiting this moment in all of its power. I look forward to the hindsight it will provide in ten years when I will be grateful that I took a chance on myself and willingness to share with YOU.

Life as I manifest it – L.

As I write this I am 72 hours from my 49th birthday or maybe better said, 72 hours from the completion of my 48th year on this earth. I am still searching for a lot of things but most ominous is the search for contentment.

There is something about the “9”s that get our attention as we recognize that it is the last year of a decade. It makes us think back about our 20’s, 30’s, or in my case my 40’s. What did you do? Who did you become? What changed? It also forces us to consider what is coming next. I am going to be 50 in exactly 368 days…what? 50! I am not even sure that I know what to feel, only that it is yet another place to start. Start what…well that is still to be determined because I first have to finish up the last three days of 48 and conquer 49. It is in these words that I find my greatest challenge. When will I stop conquering? When will I worry less about finishing and starting? In my mind this is likely where contentment lies; in the being and less in the doing.

I am reading “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss and in his concluding chapter he offers a passage from the “Zen in the Art of Archery”. It is wise so I offer it here…

I must only warn you of one thing. You have become a different person in the course of these years. For this is what the art of archery means: a profound and far-reaching contest of the archer with himself. Perhaps you have hardly noticed it yet, but you will feel it very strongly when you meet your friends and acquaintances again in your own country: things will no longer harmonize as before. You will see with other eyes and measure with other measures.

Tim Ferriss

I too have changed, but who doesn’t in 49 years. Some of those changes have been easy and adaptable and some I am still struggling with, but again who isn’t? This is likely where contentment lies. It lies in the release of the struggle, releasing the need to change and truly being content. Content with what you do, what you think, how you act and ultimately who you are…content because the only measure that you consider is your own.

I will always “seek to understand” as I am curious by nature. I will always study as I am hungry for knowledge. However to resolve what I know allows for the rest to be enjoyed and not labored. Reading, writing, running and all other things I do are not tasks that require deadlines and tracking. Instead understanding that they are what I do, when I want to do it, how I choose to do it. This applies to everything I do. This is what “49” will be about…releasing the “must do” discipline and replacing it with a more forgivable understanding of what I do because it is right, because it is me, because it fits. Wiser and content that is my goal for this year. Let’s do this thing!

Life as I have lived it for 49 years – L.

Silence. The word elicits a response regardless of the emotion. When said out loud in exclamation it will quiet a room. When said in a whisper it will quiet the brain. It is something we long for and in other times something we run from. It is a word, a state of being, an emotion, it is powerful.

I have been longing for silence in its many forms for years. I long for it in my brain that is overactive and relentless at times. I long for it in my day to simply get away from the chatter of life. I long for it in my demeanor to provide restraint in my personality and sometimes I long for it after too much has been said.

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.

Paulo Coelho

The quote from Paulo Coelho sums it up. Be what you want the world to see. Don’t state it, don’t talk about it, just be. If you want to be a runner, run. If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be successful, succeed. Stop talking about it, do it. In my case, I aim to stop talking. Not in the literal sense but I find that my conversations tend to be on repeat. I say the same things I said before, I state the same goals, themes, opinions…yes opinions…but why? Am I convincing myself or others? I feel confined in these conversations that are on repeat and offer little in the drive to move forward, or even sit still, they hold me back and keep me in a place that is meant to be left behind.

By practicing silence we can resolve those things that nag at us, define us, and create angst. By practicing silence we get the gift of taking in more around us; hearing, listening, and simply being. It is when we stop announcing what we will do that we actually become.

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.

Agnes De Mille

When I think back to the most impactful times of my life they were decisions that were made internally. They needed no external support. When I think about it, it rings so true, it is only those things that you are not resolved in that you put out for the world to weigh-in on. Those things that you KNOW and do not question you DO without applause, accolades, or validation. When I made the decision to change my life or better said every time I have made the decision to change my life, I did not ask, I did not state it, I just did it. I did it because I did not want anyone to thwart my efforts or convince me otherwise. There is not one of those life-changing decisions that I regret. This is to say there is great resolve in silence.

A close friend of mine once told me that she learned the most about silence from a mentor who when in the Boardroom would say very little, however when he spoke, the room would hush and all ears would be on him. Everyone knew that when he chose to speak, he would bring value, he would bring wisdom, and that power in his silence spoke volumes in his contemplation that was as loud as his voice. I long to be this man.

As I fall silent on this blog, I think about how to put this into practice as it is not as simple as just not speaking, that is not silence, that is something else entirely. The silence I hope to explore is what I believe it is to be wise. To allow others to share their experiences without you adding on. To allow others to try it their way if you know it will create the same result or better yet if it will cause no harm and instead stands to serve as a lesson.

The silence I hope to create for myself is to find my own resolve that will lead to contentment. The silence I hope to create will make me MORE not less; allowing me to shut down one “sense” to peak the others. The silence I hope to create will allow me to accept more, resist less, and resolve.

Silence…nothing left to say – L.

Previous post on “Silence” almost a year ago https://alwaysstarting.com/2019/07/25/silence/

Day 29 prompt:

Iyanla Vinzant states, “There is no greater battle in life than the battle between the parts of your that want to be healed and the parts of you that are comfortable and content remaining broken.”

What emotions does this statement evoke? What feels normal to you?

My answer:

This is a very fair question as we all know people that need to stay “in it”. Those people do not want a solution, they do not want to be saved they want to be the victim of whatever holds them down as that also defines their lives. We all know someone that despite being given solutions decides to stay in a bad situation. Hopefully we are not that person but upon further thought I guess we all are in some regard. I think of the things that I tolerate in my world that others would not and how my life could be better if I would only require change in those areas.

What feels normal is always finding solutions for others and then becoming resentful when they won’t accept that solution. This does not make those people right or wrong it simply explains the angst that I cause myself and the realization that I need to solve for myself, for my life and leave the rest behind. This is always easier to state than to do. It means I have to get uncomfortable with the things that require my effort or push those around me. Instead I find myself making excuses for myself and those around me to explain why we don’t do better or expect more.

Well there is the truth. Straight from my thoughts on to paper, unedited. It is not a “realization” for me as I have always known it. I know what I do, I know what my excuses are, I know what I need to do and I do still make a choice on what I will and won’t direct in my own life. What are those things that do not serve you well that you don’t change? Why?

Life as I live it – L.

Day 28 prompt:

Normal is defined by cultures, religions, experiences, and demographics.

What part of your normal is defined by these outside sources?

My answer:

My normal is defined by my experiences mostly. I belong to a mixed culture that I admire and attempt to own however as I was not raised fully “in it” I am not sure I will ever be able to truly “own it”. I was not raised with religion although I always had a strong curiosity about it. My normal in my early years was likely based on demographics as I was born to two young parents, with little money.

I have built a life around what I admire, what I have experienced and who and how I want it to be. This might explain why I have so much angst and have a hard time finding contentment. I am always wanting more because that is what built this life that never existed before me. To be content is a practice I am having to work at which seems like an oxymoron. How does one “work” on being content?? I am not sure I have the answer but I am searching for the solve.

As we are coming back from being sheltered at home and opening up our country the real lessons learned will be put to the test. Do we simply run back out and do what we were doing before all of this started? I don’t think that is possible so it is fair to believe the we are changed regardless of our own intention to do so. For me, I have always enjoyed being home so this has not been a hardship. I do miss the beach, I miss the movies and I miss my cousins. I think I can solve two out of those three misses this weekend with one invite. I think I will. 🙂

Living life as I know it – L.

Hall and Oates 2017

Mom’s…everyone has one. I had the best one. She was exactly what I needed and I like to think that I was exactly what she needed; it was symbiotic. She taught me more in living her life than she could teach me in parenting mine. She was my everything. …and then one day she was gone.

I never had one moment of regret after she passed because I know that everything that needed to be said and every memory I ever wanted to make with her was made despite her early departure. While I revel in all of the things she taught me it does not suggest that I emulated all of those lessons. Many of the things she modeled I did the opposite. I am very outspoken while she was tight-lipped. I am very affectionate while she was reserved. Nothing stands in my way while she treaded lightly. It was those things that made us different than served us both well. I was able to tell her all of things I would ever want to say never expecting anything in return. I was able to do things with her that she never would have considered doing because I was far more spontaneous, and she was always willing to go with my flow. It was all of our differences that made the impact. She would always laugh at my crazy life and I would stand in wonder to the beauty she created around her.

Today, I am not sad but grateful that I had a relationship with my mom that was so fulfilling. Despite the years of life I feel she was cheated, I can honestly say that she and I did not miss a thing. I will think back on the hours of laughter because this one thing is true, she and I laughed endlessly!!! I will think back on the many hours of advice, despite her knowing I would always do what I was going to do, she never stopped offering. I will think back on my favorite memories, surprising her in Nashville for her birthday and she never realizing we had both been on the same plane!!! I will think back on the many concerts we attended together, music will forever be our language. I will think back on her final year on this earth and am most blessed to have had the fortune of spending time together where our laughter would be medicinal for both of us.

Our favorite band and song – Hall and Oates – Sara Smile

I leave you with this…our favorite song. I can still remember us singing this song together; years of singing, years of laughter, years and years of memories.

Mom, I love you and I miss you more than anyone will ever know. I feel you with me, I live my life every single day to honor you. …and yea, I guess I am sad as I type these final words with tears rolling down my face, it is all in honor of you, my mom, my hero, my everything.

Life as I remember it – L.

Day 27 prompt:

Brene Brown says, “Today I will choose courage over comfort.”

What courageous thing are you doing in your own life?

My answer:

This is a great prompt today because courage can be found in the things we do that take effort. Things that go against “easy”, things that we have to “force”, but are the right thing to do despite it all. Reading it again, yes, “courage over comfort”. Wow! When I think more on this I think first about all of the things that I could do that represent “comfort” and as I think through that list they do not serve me well.

Today I will choose courage over comfort and get back to the life I know I should live despite the efforts and self-discipline. I will do it because it is right, I will do it because I want a better life and that requires courage, that requires effort. The most obvious for me is my diet and exercise as this is a matter of life and death for me and that takes courage in both doing and not doing the right thing. When I am not doing the right thing I know I am risking all that I have fought to accomplish in the last 5 years and in doing the wrong thing it is disrespectful to all of those efforts made. When I choose courage it means I choose to eat the right foods, despite my wants, I exercise every day, despite not wanting to, I choose these things because they will create the life I want; healthy and long.

What is your most obvious “courage over comfort” moment? Why does it take courage to accomplish or realize? Are you willing to be uncomfortably? Why or Why not?

Great prompt from a great thought-leader.

Life as I live it – L.

Day 26 prompt:

How do you change your normal? Experiences? Role Models? Do you want to change it? Do you need to?

How can you know these will change your normal for the better?

Was there a time you sought or made a change that you realized was NOT for the better?

My answer:

I change my normal by researching or observing a normal that I admire and want to replicate. I search out those experiences that I can immerse myself in to go as deep as I choose to dive-in. I attempt to replicate those role models that I identify in my life as inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration is something I choose to hold high and admire rather than replicate and knowing the difference is only mine to decide.

Asking if I want to change and if I need to is about exploring if it makes a change for the better that is worth the effort. I have struggled with this most with my diet and exercise programs where I am always likely to go too deep. When I am longing for results and discipline I set rules and expectations of myself that are stringent however when I have to live by those rules I realize that that this is not the normal that I envisioned.

I think we have proven through this pandemic that enforcing a new normal is a much greater effort mentally than physically. We have been forced to change our ways physically; do not touch, stay away from each other, stay home, don’t go to work…all physical limitations however the effect of the physical has been a mental toll that is challenging.

While we will not change for the future those things that did not offer value we will be challenged to embrace those that did. I am reminded of the times during the hurricanes when without electricity our family came together to play games and read together. While we appreciated the togetherness when the lights came back on, we went back to our individual corners of life.

What will you change? Why will you change it? More importantly what part of “normal” that was will you be happy to return to in the future??

Life as I know it – L.