Leaving a Legacy

No one wants to leave anything behind.

We all want to drink the dregs, spend our money, and peace out in a painless way.

But I think there is a real pressure to make our mark in a tangible fashion in today’s world. To be someone who can directly point to something and say, “That, right there, is my contribution to the world. Bask in it and enjoy it.”

But how many of us really get to do that? How many of us get to leave a legacy that we can be truly proud of?

Actually, we all do.

I think the world needs reminding that no matter how small, we all make ripples in the stream. Whether you write a book, record an album, make a birdhouse, or inspire the people around you by being uniquely you, we all leave our lives at the end of our time a little bit better.

And, friendly note, you don’t have to do any of the above. You don’t have to write a book or an album or sell out a stadium or make millions of dollars just to make sure that you will be remembered. If you just live your life, enjoying the company of others and being positive wherever you go, you can inspire anyone and everyone around you.

Or you can be a crotchety old witch who yells at little kids and refuses to let anyone drive her anywhere. In either situation, you’ll be remembered by those around you. After all, who could ever forget how nice (or mean) you were? People recall the extremes of a person, but more than that, people recall the impression you made on them.

The point is you don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself. (Do not confuse this with “stop chasing after that dream of yours.” You should definitely keep dreaming.) Just accept that you are going to leave your story with someone as the person you are. And once you understand that, you are free to be the person you want to be.

Social Media Shut Up

Everyone is living a double life.

We all live the life we normally live (commuting to work, watching bad television, snoozing our alarm) and the one we live on social media (partying with our friends, taking beautiful pictures of scenic landscapes, living the quote unquote life.)

However, as the double life implies, we are rarely our true selves in one life or the other. We can’t be two people at once, after all. And to be extremely blunt, no one is perfect, with or without photoshop on their profile pictures.

So, why, pray tell, do I see post after post that goes something like this:

IF YOU BELIEVE __________, THEN I DON’T WANT TO KNOW YOU.

or

IF YOU LOVE THE (band, actor/actress, movie, album, etc.) THEN YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US OR BE FRIENDS WITH US.

Why? Why is this a thing?

First of all, not everyone has to have the same preference or opinion as you. Do you really want someone to think the exact same way as you all of the time?

But secondly, why wouldn’t you allow someone the opportunity to learn and educate themselves? If you are going to say that you will not associate with people who aren’t feminists for example, you’re limiting yourself and that person as well. What if he or she suddenly understands what it is to be a feminist after talking to you? Or, what if you are shown a different way of thinking because they have a different opinion about feminism in general? A conversation with this person doesn’t mean you have to change what you believe, it just means you are showing another person some respect (which we all need to give a little more of.)

In the end, you’re just making a reverse stereotype. Instead of applying a generality to a group of people, you are singling out one characteristic and avoiding anyone who has it. Why? Why can’t we look at a person as a whole, and say, well he likes Taylor Swift (which I don’t like) but we both love guacamole (which is great.) We all take the good with the bad in our daily life, so why not with people?

Now, granted, I can understand if you are struggling to reconcile deep differences with a person. It may be hard to see eye to eye with a neo-Nazi, for example. But you have something in common with everyone: you are both human. We all are.

And we need to start focusing on that more. We need to concentrate on the fact that we are all writing our own story and we are all just trying to get home. We all have likes and dislikes and loathings and lovings. So, tell me. Why do we go on social media and think, suddenly, that since our opinion has an audience, it is somehow valid and better than everyone else’s? (As I write on a blog emblazoned with my own name…)

The point is, can we step away from social media, with our fiery social (media) justice, and give people a chance to educate themselves before we completely denounce them as ignorant? We have the entire Internet, but it is up to us to seek out the answers and help each other along the way.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the holiday season.

I’m talking about hockey season.

It’s starts tonight, and I, for one, could not be happier. I will be frank (although my name is Bailey), and admit that I hate football. Every fall, I count down the Sundays watching play after play (in which they fruitlessly run it up the middle) just waiting for hockey to start. And now it has.

There is something so much cooler about hockey (although it has nothing to do with the fact that it is played on ice). For one, there’s more danger. I mean, they literally have knives strapped to their feet.  And you should try to avoid the bladeless scythes they carry around. But if you are not bludgeoned by these instruments of torture, then you can be sure that someone from the opposing team will make sure you get very intimate with the boards by checking you into them. That is, of course, if you don’t throw down with someone first. What other sport tolerates a few fisticuffs? You know, besides the obvious choices, like boxing.

And if that doesn’t get you excited, well then. I’m not really sure what would get you excited. Blood, sweat, and ice makes for an interesting show, any day. But if you really need some convincing, you should know that hockey also does not stop for anything. Sure, if someone gets swiped in the throat by the knives on another player’s foot… they get out a band-aid, slap it on, and keep going. None of that ridiculous tomfoolery we saw in every game during the World Cup this year. (Wahhh, he stepped on my shoelace, and I stumbled a bit.) They play hard, and they play through the pain. I have literally seen guys pulled off the ice because they were bleeding but did not show any signs of going to the bench.

And if you really, really aren’t convinced, you should know that hockey jerseys are about the warmest gear in all of sports, which means you can wear them all winter. That’s great for little people like me who shiver like Chihuahuas during this season.

In the end, hockey is not for the faint of heart (nor for anyone who wants to keep all of their teeth), but it is certainly for anyone who wants to be entertained. Whether you are rooting for the players or for the next fight, there is something for everyone. Well, anyone who enjoys a little violence with their athletics, I suppose. Just cuddle up in your jersey, and boo anyone who has to go to the penalty box on your team. You’ll fit right in.

Do Me A Favor and Look at the Moon

As a self-proclaimed astronomy nerd, I have every reason to love the moon.

The way it shines through my bedroom window in bright slats comforts me in a way that the sun could not hold a fiery candle to (even if the candle was lit by its own rays). If I go to bed early enough, the moon lights my face and provides me with the most natural, silvery night light (emphasis on the night.)

Today (or rather tonight) we have a full moon. And actually, we will have a blood moon visible early tomorrow. Of course, this isn’t the “technical” term, but a blood moon happens when sunlight scatters through the atmosphere and casts an eerie red glow on the moon’s craters (or cheesy flesh?)

What’s more is we will even have a lunar eclipse at the same time. Think double rainbow, but bigger and better. And also with the moon.  What more could you ask for from the night sky?

Still not convinced that the moon is totally awesome? Here are some five fun facts about our little celestial buddy:

1. There is no dark side of the moon. 

-Granted, we only see one side of the moon from Earth, but both sides receive the same amount of sunlight. Sorry, Pink Floyd, the album is still great although it is based on a lie.

2. The moon is drifting away from the Earth little by little.

-Every year, the moon moves 3.8 cm away from the Earth and will continue to do so for about 50 billion years. Hey moon, is it something we said? Maybe we smell…Or maybe it can’t stand the heat…

3. The moon has quakes.

-No, the moon isn’t nervous for any job interviews or anything. It just has Ear–er–quakes. Unfortunately, this is caused by us and our gravitational pull. Scientists believe that the moon has a molten core, like us, too.

4. The moon has mountains.

-Mons Huygens is the tallest mountain on the moon. But before you get your climbing gear (and your space suit), you should know that the moon’s tallest mountain is only half the size of Mt. Everest. And plus, I think you’d get some horrible equivalent of altitude sickness if you tried (or would you because there is no air? BaileyDailey is asking the real questions tonight…)

5. The moon is not a planet.

-First, Pluto and now this! When will the planet torturing stop! Alas, the moon, by the scientists’ definition of a celestial body, is not one. It is only a natural satellite. Don’t worry moon, we still love you! (Maybe that’s the reason it is slowly pulling away from us…)

And that’s it! I hope I have helped you to see the “light,” and you now love the moon as much as I do! If not, at least check out the blood moon. It should be pretty cool.

Blood Pressure on an Elevator

So, after two weeks of dieting, I have another food allergy!

You wouldn’t think that I would be excited about that. But it can really give you a new outlook on life when you realize how much stuff you can’t eat anymore. It makes you appreciate the stuff you can eat. (Okay, when I’m not poring over nutrition labels, praying I don’t see the one ingredient I am looking for and weeping over empty pizza boxes without being allowed to taste their contents.) Then, I am pretty excited about my new food allergy.

What I’m upset about is my blood pressure is still high. Like really high. And this can come from a variety of influences, obviously. Stress being one of the largest. So, I’ve been trying yoga, sniffing lavender, and counting breaths, but to no avail. It is still rather elevated, which is making me feel rather down in the dumps. I can’t seem to find a way to calm down enough to see some low numbers. Even talking about it now, I’m stressed.

And don’t get me started on that blood pressure cuff. Really, who invented that? Oh, I know, let’s make people really uncomfortable so that we can tell if they have a healthy stress level! I can’t stand that tightening feeling, or the sudden rush of all my blood through my arm so loud I can almost hear it as well as feel it. The act of taking my blood pressure makes me stressed out, which, as you might have guessed, does not give me good results.

So, why does this matter to you (other than documenting a case of some severe TMI from me)? It’s because there is a really important lesson wrapped up in this, coursing through the veins of the matter, if you will.

It’s the simple idea that if you over think something, it becomes harder to attain. I mean, have you ever tried to “calm yourself” down while sitting in that doctor’s office? What about trying to “slow your heart rate” when the nurse is squeezing that little torture device that makes the cuff constrict on your arm? It’s really hard, isn’t it? Actually, it’s damn near impossible. There is a reason for that (and maybe even an app for it, too).

It’s because you are focusing on what makes you stressed, when you should be letting everything go. Simple, right? So, you just have to think about something else…except that’s hard, too. Really, it’s the moment that we ask “What? Me? Angry?” when there is a vein throbbing in our forehead. These are the moments we all need to pay attention to more. The times when our emotions don’t really match our thoughts.

In the end, we need to stop forcing it (whatever “it” may be in your life) and start letting some things come naturally.

So, if you want to relax, if you want to calm down, if you want to be at peace, then put down the lavender and listen. But don’t listen to me. Listen to yourself and your own needs. After all, unlike your age, your blood pressure isn’t just a number. It’s a greater expression of the number of breaths you may be able to take in this life, so every single. one. counts.

Thursday Night Lights

My dad took me back to my alma mater to watch some of the football game tonight.

Let me explain why this is significant.

I live in a small town. (Don’t we all?) But I live in a “you will see everyone you know at a football game because everyone goes to every game” small town. (I didn’t see anyone I knew tonight, per se, which I can thank my lucky stars for.)

But it feels like every time I return to see a football game, I am a little bit further along in my life. And, thankfully, that means I’m always a little bit further removed from my high school experience. Which means I can walk through the gates without wrinkling my nose like I’ve smelled something horrible. Well, sort of.

I still have some sort of visceral reaction to the whole scene. The tiny munchkins that are supposed to be high school students (I don’t believe it.), the cheerleaders that only seem to multiply while the football players dwindle, and the cold iciness of the unforgiving bleachers. Let me tell you, it wasn’t my seat that was making me shudder.

As you can probably imagine, I wasn’t the football game watching type in high school. The only reason I would go to a football game was because my boyfriend played (for five seconds, maybe) and because I volunteered at the snack bar. What can I say? I like to help, and I like food. And I can’t stand football. I actually can’t stand the whole small town, Friday night lights culture.

But going back there tonight…

Nope. I felt the exact, same way. I felt like I was in high school again. No nostalgic reunion, no uplifting remembrance of the golden years. I was even recognized by the lady taking tickets as an alumni. And doesn’t that make you feel small? Like you haven’t gone anywhere. Sure, I haven’t left the town, but it suddenly felt like I had never left school, either.

So, I don’t want to relive my high school career ever again. Like, ever again. And it’s not that my high school experience was especially difficult. But it’s so nice to have all of those hormones and homework in the rearview mirror of my life. And that’s really the takeaway from all of this: even when you think one thing is going be your entire life, one person, one event, one environment, it can change. Actually, it probably will change. And like I said last night, that can be a great thing. But also revisiting a place where you once called home can make you eternally grateful for what you have, even if you don’t have a lot.

I hear you either love or hate your high school experience. Personally, I don’t feel that strongly about it. But the older I get, the more I can look on it with a certain fondness. Sort of.

There’s A Little Fall in All of Us

Something really strange starts to happen around the fall. The sweaters come out of hiding, pumpkin seems to infect every flavor profile, and instead of confetti, we have leaves falling all around us. This change seems to not only affect our surroundings (ya know, those of us with deciduous trees around us) but also ourselves. (Except, of course, department stores. Somehow, they go from August to Christmas…I don’t know who is making that decision.)

But it is such a curious thing that we notice the leaves and the weather changing. We feel the crispness, and we crunch the leaves. Yet, we are loath to see the changes in ourselves. We can’t acknowledge how far we have come in our own lives. Because we do change. We’re changing every day. We’re making progress all the time, even when it feels like we are slipping backwards. But because we don’t feel our change, don’t display it in a vibrant display of colors, it somehow goes unnoticed to us. I, for one, think it is time that we recognize it.

Let’s start small:

Did you know, on average, skin cells live about 2-3 weeks?

2-3 weeks?

That birthmark or freckle you’ve had since you were born, it’s been through a couple of lifetimes since you’ve lived one. And yet, we’re so afraid of change. We’re so afraid of ruining a routine or a lifestyle. We get up everyday, and we try to do things exactly the same, so we don’t get stressed. We don’t like surprises. A step out of place means an entire mind out of align.

But really, we’re living in a constant state of flux, and it doesn’t matter how close we play our cards to our chest. More things change in our lives than stay the same. Many more things. In fact, those leaves changing colors on that tree take more time changing than you do.

So, why don’t we like change? Because it doesn’t taste like pumpkins and it doesn’t wrap us in warmth like our favorite sweaters?

Maybe. But maybe we don’t like it because we can’t predict it like the seasons. Our changes are on some sort of cycle, but one that is unknown to us. We can’t tell when it’s going to happen. But that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for it. The paradox is that we can prepare for it by understanding that change is constant. That the world will not stop moving, spinning on and on. And that we should never try to struggle against it.

So, whether you are seeking change but not finding it or warding against it even when it is there, I simply hope that when you see a new leaf, you’ll celebrate turning one, too.

Also, lay off winter. Just because we don’t hibernate during it, doesn’t mean we should give it the cold shoulder.

Giving Up is A Lot Harder Than Trying

I know, I know. I missed ya’ll last night. But I was entering a writing competition, so I had to focus. Which already brings me to tonight’s topic.

I’ve been thinking of giving up on writing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do with my life, and I’ve been able to do some amazing things with my writing so far. But lately, I’ve had trouble finding a (or the) reason to continue. It’s a huge world, and I feel like I have been swallowed up into it, no longer the big writer in the pond but no longer much of anything at all. How long can you keep talking when you realize that only a few people are listening? Won’t you lose your voice that way?

But before you get too drunk on all this whine, I am happy to tell you that I will not be giving up on writing any time soon. But probably not for the reason you think.

It’s not because I am finding the writing world full of encouragement and open doors. But because giving up is so much harder than trying. Yeah, you read that right. Stopping is much harder than starting. Do you know why? I’m not a gambler myself, but I’ve pulled the lever of a slot machine before. I’ve found that when you don’t win, you tell yourself that you don’t care, and that you are going to stop. And how long does that work for you? It’s like reverse psychology for your own brain: as soon as you tell yourself that you are officially, definitely giving up, it makes you push a little harder. Makes you think, maybe if I do it one more time…

This is because when you care, and you are passionate about something, you can’t get away from it. (Let’s be honest, we’re all passionate about getting rich instantaneously from a weekend in Vegas.)

Believe me, I don’t want to be a writer. Seriously. (Don’t you think I want to make tons of money so that my family doesn’t worry about me burning my poems for heat?) But it’s because I love language (and why I feel infinitely bad about burning poems) that I keep writing. I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve even tried to ignore my writing. And it works, for a while. But in the end, it is a part of me; a painful and really needy part of me, but one nonetheless.

And words are everywhere, you know. They will get inside your brain, and you’ll turn them over and over like a hard caramel in your mouth. And you’ll be enjoying that candy so much that you end up biting your tongue accidentally. And the pain and the sweetness are just two aspects of writing.

Anyway, my favorite singer, Loreena McKennitt once said, “I didn’t choose to be a singer. It chose me. I wanted to be a veterinarian.” And I’ve experienced the same thing in life. It’s hard to forge a path in your field. But it is even harder to turn away from it all. And believe me when I say that you should never rob the world of your talent. So, go forth and shine.