Don’t Force It

The message tonight is really simple.

Don’t force it.

I think it’s easy in life to want something so much that it hurts. That you try and try and try and try to make it fit in any way you can. It could be a relationship, a friendship, a career path, or just more food in the freezer.

But I’m here to tell you that nothing is being helped by you forcing it. Let it take its time. And most importantly, if it doesn’t work out, don’t make it fit. Some things were meant to run their course and be done. (Like that old chicken in the back of the freezer. Take it out, throw it away, be done with it.)

And by the way, you can totally be sad that it’s over. You don’t need to be happy go lucky as soon as it’s done. Don’t force that either. Just let yourself feel every emotion without judging yourself for feeling that emotion. You’ll be happier (in time).

So don’t force it. If it’s not working, there’s probably a good reason for it. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed — if you aren’t enjoying it, you’re forcing something.

The Night-Blooming Cereus

night blooming cereus

 

And now, for a late night lesson in botany (my second love, directly after the written word.)

My favorite professor from college gifted me with a beautiful potted plant after we shared a farewell meal at his gorgeous house.”Her name is Stella, and we grew her from a seedling,” he told me as he plopped the green giant in my lap. Her leaves and branches sprawled and waved. I was fairly nervous that she was going to wrap one of her long “stabilizers,”AKA tentacles of death, around my pale neck and emit a foreboding “FEED ME” from deep within.

But she didn’t. Although her long arms grabbed at the headrest in the backseat of my car, and I wondered briefly if I should put a seatbelt around her, she was surprisingly tame. I presented her as a gift to my mother, who has a greener thumb than someone crushing grasshoppers under their fingers, and she happily found Stella a place to grow, despite much pondering and scratching-of-chin about where she would fit another flower.

My professor had impressed upon me the gloriousness of the out-of-this-world smell that would soon waft from the blossom of our night-blooming cereus. What he failed to mention, or perhaps I failed to hear, is that the night-blooming cereus blooms on one night only. What night, you ask? Oh, just one night a year. That’s right. Just like birthdays and holidays, the night-blooming cereus blooms annually. My mother and I awaited Stella’s first blossom with as much anticipation. Our vigilance was only outmatched by the guards posted at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Because once a night-blooming cereus grows a blossom, you better hope you don’t miss it. As my mother and I had to find out the hard way, the cereus’s blossom will close and wilt the next morning. She’s the Cinderella of the flower world.

And so, we thought we were truly blessed last year. Stella brought us one blossom, and we took turns kneeling beside it to sniff its truly awesome scent. We pulled a similar stunt with some particularly fragrant moonflowers before that…

But you can imagine our delight when this year, after a rather risky “hack back,” we saw that Stella produced 4 blossoms. We are now patiently waiting for them to bloom. And when I say patiently waiting, I mean checking anxiously a few times every day, even though we know she only blooms at night.

So, why am I telling you about my weird, lazy flower that only blooms once a year?

Well, it’s rather simple. Rarely will life plop a metaphor so squarely in your lap. I’m sure you’ve already figured it out yourself: if you are going to do something, do it right, and do not worry about how long it takes. I don’t care what it is: a new job, a new relationship, an old friendship, a dream, a single day. If we could all be like the night-blooming cereus, if we could direct all of our energy towards doing something, even if it takes a year (or several), simply to create one glorious product, then we could be fulfilled. But that kind of dedication is rare.

So, how about another philosophical lesson from our cactus cousin? The night-blooming cereus blooms at night. I knew that one would knock you back on your heels. I’ll wait for you to get back up. Okay, ready? Here’s why that’s important: the night-blooming cereus does not bloom in the daytime. Thus, it does not get any recognition for its beauty by the shining sun, or the bees, or the green thumbs of the world. It does not compete with the other flowers. It opens at night, when no one is around to see it. It is a gift only to the light of the moon, who adorns an altar unto herself. And so, in its resplendent beauty, it blooms without distraction or inhibition. It does not try to be anything, it just is.

Now, there are a few metaphors inherent in that. Be more deliberate in your actions, and do not openly seek acclaim and fame are the two big ones that come to mind. But you can read in between the lines as much as you want. That’s the beauty of the night-blooming cereus: it’s full of potential.

And here’s another kicker: so are you.

Let It Be

So, I guess it’s song lyric week on baileydailey. But here we go …

If you’ve been a long-time baileydailey reader, you know that I commute on the train. And I see people doing everything:

Listening to music/podcasts, putting on make up, perusing magazines, reading books, talking to their neighbors, playing games on their phones, typing up reports, writing posts on social media, shopping online.

But do you know what I don’t see? At all? Anyone doing nothing at all. Just being. Just being human beings.

Actually, I see it so infrequently that people get weirded out if I’m not doing something. If I’m just sitting, looking out the window, people don’t sit next to me. Like I might just strike up a conversation, goodness forbid. Like I’m a leper for not staring at my phone. Like a normal human being should.

So, here’s your friendly reminder to just be. Be a human. And don’t worry about doing something every moment of every day. You have my permission to just be alive.

Get What You Need

I forgot my breakfast and my lunch at home today.

I also forgot my wallet so buying food was out of the question.

And instead of heaving a deep sigh and cursing my forgetfulness, I thought, “the universe is abundant. It will share its wealth with me.” And then I sprouted wings and flew directly into the sun.

Of course I didn’t do that! What, am I some sort of deity who is immune to self-blame? I was livid with myself. A full day of work ahead of me and I couldn’t even remember to pack a few crackers? What’s wrong with me?

But I was really blessed by the universe. Maybe it’s all the millennials that work with me, but there’s always free food at my office. And I was provided with enough sustenance to make it through the day just on free food alone.

And I can’t speak for you, but sometimes you get what you want. And other, more rarer times, you get what you need. And I know, I know, it’s corny and on such a small scale that it’s almost silly. But I got what I needed on a day that nothing seemed to be going right. And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

What are you grateful for today?

End of the World

You know? It’s not the end of the world.

Even though it seems that way. Floods. Hurricanes. Donald Trump as President. Donald Trump being listened to. Donald Trump existing.

But it isn’t the end of the world. And you should remember that. Because in your darkest times, it’s important to remember that even though a problem seems big, as long as you’re breathing, you can get through it.

It’s not the end. It’s just a really hard part. You’ll get through it. Just keep going.

Oh, and don’t worry. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.

The Greatest Irony

If you’re like me, there are just some days you feel like a cosmic joke. Take this, for example: I was a double major in English/Communications. During my college career, I did nothing but write and talk and explain and yup, you guessed it, communicate.

But there’s this great irony to me. Because I don’t like to talk. About myself, about the weather, about anything. I love a good conversation, as long as I can be the listening piece.

So, I have this weird dilemma that I’ve studied and practiced and worked on communicating with other people, but I never really got good at it. (At least to my own ears.)

Ordering off a menu makes me sweat into a puddle. Getting a phone call I wasn’t expecting is pure torture. Small talk makes me cringe all over.

But I think that’s a good lesson. Even if something is very hard for you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. It just takes extra practice, extra concentration. And one day, it’ll come naturally.

So, let’s practice. How are you?

I Write

Do you ever wish you had a superpower? Invisibility? Ability to fly? Telepathy?

So, maybe you don’t have a superpower. But what about something you’re good at? A passion. Maybe you sing. Maybe you draw. Maybe you dance.

Me? I write. Which is basically what was in Pandora’s box when they let all the demons: its hope.

Like: I hope I get a career in writing. I hope I can write a book someday. I hope someone is reading this.

Yeah, it’s not the best superpower or the best passion. You can’t go on a competition show and write your way to fame and fortune. (You can write a mean birthday card for your friend, though.)

But it’s mine. And most days, I love writing. It’s when I’m not writing that I hate it.

So, write on. Dance on. Sing on. Draw on.

Live and love your passion.

Even a Smile

I pass a lot of the homeless on my way to work. And you’d have to have a heart of stone to not at least feel bad, even if you do just walk by them.

But today, one lady was making it really hard to walk by her. She was rattling a can of change and calling out to people on the street, imploring them, “every little bit helps! Every little bit helps!”

And as I walked by she said it again: “every little bit helps! Even just a smile!”

And that stopped me in my tracks. Because I wish I could tell you that I walked back and gave her some change.

I didn’t. I kept walking. But a smile did creep onto my face, one that only I could see, and as is the case with smiles, it did make me honestly feel better. It was so much preferable to the sour expression I was displaying originally.

And like the woman said, even a smile helps. It helps you, and it helps the people around you.

So go ahead and smile. I can guarantee that you have at least one thing to smile about.

Fill Your Cup

I saw this awesome quote this weekend: “you can’t fill someone else up if your cup is empty.” And while this isn’t a new theme that I’m bringing to baileydailey, I think it bears repeating (and repeating and repeating.)

You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself. So take time out at least one day a week to do absolutely nothing or something for yourself.

And if you really have a hard time rationalizing that “selfish” action, think of the cup. Tell yourself that it’s your duty — to everyone else. (Sometimes that’s the only way I can do it.)

So, fill your cup. If only to drain it again.

Out of Love

Have you ever tried to start a new habit or routine? To get healthier? Did it sound like this?

Okay, Debra, this is your last donut for awhile. You’re getting mighty pudgy and you could go for a walk every night instead of eating donuts in the middle of the afternoon. So, this is it. This is where we draw the line.

And how’d it go? Did you stick with that habit? Did you stop eating donuts? Did you go for more walks?

Probably not. Do you know why?

Because when you do something out of hate, it doesn’t work as well. If you’re trying to punish yourself by not eating donuts, you’re going to eventually rebel and give yourself a “treat.” (Which, folks, you won’t be surprised to know, is another donut.)

So, what should you do? You should start doing something out of a place of love. Like this:

Okay, Debra, you feel so much better when you don’t eat donuts in the afternoon. You’ve been looking great too so let’s keep it up. I just want you to feel good.

And I bet you won’t eat as many donuts, Debra. Because you’ll feel like you’re being kind to yourself. I promise – you’ll be so much more successful when what you do is out of love for yourself, not hate.

Time

Don’t you think it’s weird how we measure time? How we kill time? How we make it fly?

Don’t worry; I won’t break out into 525,600 minutes. (Unless you want me to.)

But I just think it’s strange that when I’m bored a single minute seems like an hour. But when I’m engaged, time is an object.

So, here are some other ways to tell time (and how slow or fast time goes):

Put on old clothes. (Fast)

Go out with one of your best friends. (Fast)

Take a shower. (Slow)

Being at work on a Friday. (Slow)

The point is that however we measure time, we have to be grateful for every minute. Because one day, we’ll wish for more time, slow or fast.