Everything Means Something…

I was pushed recently about why I think everything needs to mean something.  Why can’t something just “be” what it is without having meaning.  I have explored this thought for many months now since it was originally asked of me.  I find that life with meaning is far more valuable, at least to me, and makes sense of the unfortunate things that happen to make them feel like there was fortune despite what seems random.

Better explained, giving value to all things, is simply my way of getting through this life.  I prefer optimism and in order to stay positive, I have to believe that things that happen, that would otherwise be defined as bad, have meaning.  I also like to believe that there is more to life than simple misfortunes.  My most recent application of meaning includes two thoughts I had this week.

  • Recent surgeries have left me with a literal cross on my abdomen.  While there are so many things that these scars represent the visual from my perspective is a cross.  I choose to believe that this cross on my abdomen is a reminder of how blessed I am to have gone through these surgeries and come out better on the other side.  I have healed remarkably and have only been left with these scars.

This is a perfect example of my perspective in finding meaning. It would be too easy to be distressed by the literal disaster that my abdomen has become however I have no control over it, never did and never will, and hence can do nothing about it. Would it be better to lament about the physical disfigurement or simply embrace it as the blessing that it is? I choose blessings over curses every single day.

Another example:

  • I have a cross that I wear daily that reminds me of my mom.  My husband gave it to me after her passing and I typically don’t take it off.  As this month is the month of her passing two years ago I always find August to be the most difficult month. While I try to stay busy I am triggered by many things that occur in the month.  This August has not been as difficult, yet I still find myself searching for that cross around my neck.  The other night when getting out of the shower, the necklace broke.  As I took it off it immediately occurred to me that this was God’s way of letting me know that I no longer need it because I am okay.  Anyone else might have just been upset that the necklace broke yet I refuse to allow such simple or unfortunate explanation and instead choose to believe it is a sign.  A sign that I am moving on stronger.

Again my thought about the cross could simply have been to be upset that this month when I need it most my most frequent reminder of her is broken. Not in my world, there is enough wrong in this world without me allowing my own journey to be a part of that sentiment. The sweetest part of this story is that my husband noticed that the necklace had broke and without me asking he took it to get it repaired for me. That is LOVE.

Everything means something to me. Everyone means something to me. I believe that this life is a journey and the stops along the way enrich the journey. We are taught by those people and experiences around us, if only we choose to see it that way. Ultimately like I have reminded so many times before “YOU decide” everything in your life. I decide to see things with meaning because a life without it is simply not worth living, in my opinion.

Live as define it – L.

P.s. To the person that made me ultimately think hard enough about this topic that I made it a blog post you should know that YOU have elicited “this” in me in knowing and loving you. Everything indeed means something as you have taught me there is more to life than what you see on the surface.

Contentment…a rare find

I can probably count on one hand how many times in my life I have uttered the word “content”. It is not part of my vocabulary to note that “I am content” with anything or anyone. As you can imagine this makes it hard for those people that are committed to me and I to them. I am always pushing and while that is a personal choice for me, many times it means that those around me are also pushed without choice. For example, my husband is content, I am not and that makes it hard for him to maintain his contentment.

To really dive-in the proper definition is required:

con·tent1/kənˈtent/adjective

  1. in a state of peaceful happiness.
  2. satisfy (someone).
  3. a state of satisfaction.

I certainly experience various states of happiness and satisfaction but I don’t relate those states or moments as “content”. To be content, in my opinion, is to be happy or satisfied with the end result. Rarely am I ever truly “finished” or “content” with anything as I believe there is always something more that can be gained.

I was watching an interview with Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, this morning and he noted a new term I had not heard before, “Relentless Perfection”. As he explained it is about making “it” great, not accepting mediocrity and not giving up. He made clear to note that it is not about perfection at all. I related with this theory as I do not believe in perfectionism nor do I consider myself competitive. I am about making my world “great” but “perfect” is not something I subscribe. I am always striving. Striving for the next phase, next lesson, next milestone; never expecting to stop or in this case “be content”.

I am grappling with this theory of contentment as my therapist recently noted that you cannot ever truly be grateful with yourself until you are content. He has said it more than once and the more I think on it the more I realize the importance of this theory. Let me break this down…(Don’t you love it when I break it down into tiny over-analyzed granular particles of truth – ha!)

  • Let’s start with my marriage. (Oh boy, somewhere in the world Gary is sighing and saying “Here we go!”.) I have been married nearly 24 years. We have a great marriage, friendship and partnership but am I content? My instant reaction is “No” because I know we have to continue to work on it. We are in transition as our youngest is finishing up high school and has very little needs (outside of money) for us to do anything for him. What this means for us? We are soon-to-be-empty-nesters. Haven’t we waited 30 years of raising children to finally have an empty-nest? Gary would answer “YES!!!!” and I would say…”Well…our youngest is welcome to stay through college” to which Gary would say “NOOOOO!!”. Ha! My point here getting back to contentment is that my marriage is not in a state of contentment because we are in a state of transition. While everything around us is changing, so are we which leaves many couples at our age looking at each other and say “Who are you?”.
  • Let’s go to my career. This may be the one area I am closest to contentment. I have had to work on this state for a while now as it has been hard to get to “content”. The tough part of finding contentment has been in the “climb”. I spent YEARS getting “here” and once I realized that there was no more rungs on the ladder to climb; I had to get used to the idea of simply “being” here. I am still a bit restless and have to remind myself frequently that I have the title, the expertise, the company, the EVERYTHING I could want in this career and that is contentment.
  • Last, let me breakdown the area I spend the least time content and the most work on; ME. I am happy with myself and happier with my healthy-self yet I am always studying on how to be better. I think it is always important to invest in oneself but not to the point that everything is up for negotiation. While I love learning and revel in being a student of life I also recognize that there has to be a time when you relish being a master at something which allows you to appreciate where you are, knowing where you have been and the work you have done. Well look where we ended up…that my friends is GRATITUDE.

I am longing for more contentment in my life and less effort spent on making better things that are absolutely perfect in their current state.

  • I will continue to work on contentment in my career and simply enjoy the ride. It doesn’t mean that I won’t strive to make things great, it simply changes the state-of-mind that makes restless to “move on” to the next thing.
  • After my last few half marathons are complete this year I will stop training and start running based on how far I “feel” like going and not how far my training plan tells me I “have” to run. Running for pleasure is not something I have yet known.
  • I have already stopped tracking every single thing I eat understanding that I don’t have to “do the work” any more as my life of dieting is in the past. I am content with my weight, I am content with my health and I am GRATEFUL beyond words for this contentment.

In hindsight, I actually have contentment in various places in my life and am absolutely content with who I am admitting that I am not perfect but am also not afraid to fail. Most importantly I do have GRATITUDE l as I could be CONTENT in every part of my life TODAY without doing another thing.

Life as I see it – L.

Grief a year later…still sucks

This is the final five days of what was her last week. This year I am at work, working on budgets seemingly easy as compared to last year but gut-wrenching when I think about what makes it easier. I am living my life without her and while I have tricked myself into thinking I had this month under my thumb I wake up with a thickness that was stifling all day. As it gets closer I can feel the weight of what is coming. it is not about an anniversary it is a reminder of the worst days to come then and now.

My “plan” was to go to Virginia this weekend and spend the weekend with my stepdad so we are together but the closer it gets the more I am realizing it is simply not going to be possible. The tape keeps running through my mind over and over again; I drive up to her house, and she doesn’t come out on the porch excited to see me…and I fall apart. I walk up to the house and open the door and there is her chair without her in it…and I fall apart. I walk onto the porch, our very special place, and she is not there…and I fall apart. I cannot walk into her room, I cannot sleep there, I cannot eat there, I simply cannot be there. I am not ready.

It is a year later and the grief is different. It is devastating in quieter moments, it is less public, it is harder to explain than it was a year ago. A year ago everyone “gets it”; you have lost your Mom no one doubts the pain, the sadness, the grief. A year later…it still hurts, it is still devastating and it is still grief but it is different. Today it was like walking through a fog with an immense weight encompassing me. I was down all day and while not acknowledging it, it would not relent. This grief was isolating.

This is grief as I am living it right now and ultimately I am having to take my own advice and “meet myself where I am” and today where I am is not ready to face Saturday AT ALL but definitely not ready to face it in her home where I left abruptly a year ago. One year ago, I delivered her eulogy to her beloved community and I literally flew out of there like a bat out of hell. I was running then and I am still running today. I am running from the reality that she is not there because I can fool myself into believing that…well let’s just agree that I am not fooling myself but I am not facing it as aggressively as stepping into her home would require of me.

I am not going to be okay, not today and I will let that be okay. I don’t want to predict tomorrow or the next day or the next…today is enough. One day at a time. My mom and I shared the Serenity Prayer frequently as we would come up on things in our lives that we could not control. I cannot change this and I am not ready to accept it…but I am willing to continue working on it, and that is enough for today. – L.