Even When You Can’t, You Can

Exercising is hard.

Your brain says, "what are you doing to me? My body is out of breath, my muscles are sore, and you just keep…going? Are you trying to kill us?"

And you would love to just stop. Because why torture yourself like this?

But you don't. You take another step. And another and another. And suddenly, you're at the finish line. Even when you thought you couldn't, you still can.

Repeat as necessary with any obstacle in your path or your life.

The brain is a difficult muscle. It's difficult to convince, but if you don't stop, you may just find that you'll succeed. As log as you ignore that little voice that says "not right now" or "I can't."

Even when you think you didn't have any more to give, you do. Wring out every last drop, and you'll do amazing things.

Fourth Wish

If a genie were rubbed out of one of my lamps at home tomorrow, and he materializes in smoke and grants me three wishes, I would wish for a lot of happiness, a lot of money, and a lot of puppies. (That is, if I couldn't wish for more wishes.)

But if I had a fourth wish, I would wish that I was someone else entirely. New hair. New face. New attitude.

Because most days, I'm frustrated by myself. I'm shy, I'm weird, and I'm self conscious. And it's not cute, like a misfit in a teen movie.

But I'm starting to realize that I should never waste a wish on being someone else. Because I was put on this earth to be me. It would be a crime of the universe to be anyone else. And it's time that I recognized that whatever I am, I have to love me.

So bring on the happiness, money, and puppies. I promise to be careful what I wish for.

Show Up

The message tonight is going to be a simple and clear one:

Half of adult life is just showing up. Making the effort. Being there. Especially at those times when you really, really, really don’t want to be. (See every after work cocktail party ever.) 

Which by the way, I didn’t do last night. I didn’t show up. 

Sometimes I’m afraid of this blog. Afraid of admitting that I have nothing new to say. Afraid that I don’t have anything to say at all. 

But here I am, showing up. And so are you. We should be proud of ourselves for that. Because there are some people that didn’t. (And they’re missed out on all of the fun we’re having!)

Out of the Deep End 

When I was in fourth grade, we took a swimming test. We were asked to swim freestyle from one side of the pool to the other. We were judged on our form and ability. We were then divided based on our skill level. (Yeah, I don’t get it either.)
As was always the case with my die or fail attitude, I wanted to be the best with all of the kids. I wanted to be in the most skilled group, no matter what. And after my second or third day in the pool, I got my wish. I went to the deep end with the other best kids. And what were they doing in that group? Treading water. That’s it. You couldn’t swim like the other groups. You just had to tread water. And I could feel myself going under and being unable to keep up. 

So, I asked to be knocked down a level. I asked to be placed lower than my ability. And they allowed me to be in another group. My teacher would ask me everyday if I wanted to try again in the deep end, but I refused. I liked where I was. It was easier. 

And I think that’s so important, even now. I wasn’t admitting defeat. I was recognizing the skills that I had and that I just wasn’t strong enough. I had to build up to it. It didn’t mean I wasn’t capable. It just meant that I was able to recognize when I was ready.

And you can too. Just don’t let other people define your limits OR your success. Only you can do that. 

Humble Brag

It happens to all of us. 

We’re talking to someone about something, and we’re having a really good conversation. And then all of a sudden, they feel it’s really important that you know that they climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro or that they met Britney Spears in a nightclub and she complimented them on their outfit, but no wait, this totally ties into the story you were telling me about how your lunch got misplaced in the community refrigerator. 

And for some reason, they always start that humble brag comment with what they’re not doing: not to brag or not to come off this way or that. But no matter how they preface it, they sort of end up sounding like a righteous jerk anyway. 

And if you’re anything like me, this even applies to even the smallest accomplishment or the tiniest brandishing of the ego. Any positive self talk at all seems to grate against my sensibilities. 

Even if someone is like I really had a great weekend and I got a lot of things done, I am somehow personally offended. Who do they think they are that they can be positive about themselves when I’m over here wallowing in self doubt like a pig in mud? 

But even though some people are really bragging to your face, this doesn’t mean that a little show of self confidence is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can really be the difference between getting ahead in life. When people see you believe in yourself, they believe you too. Their confidence in themselves does not take anything away from you. 

Now do you need to tell everyone you hiked Everest? No, because their opinion of your worth doesn’t really matter. But if you feel like you did something well, and someone asks you to elaborate on it, don’t be afraid to tell them. Humble brag or regular brags aside, you should be proud of your contribution to the world. 

Comparable

How did you read the title of this blog post?

Did you read it as “compare-able”? As in, oranges and apples are not “compare-able” because they are obviously two different fruits, you knucklehead?

Or did you read it as “comprable”? As in, these M. Night Shyamalan movies are “comprable” because they both have terribly obvious “twist” endings.

I know, I know. The second pronunciation is correct, but for whatever reason, I say these words in different ways depending on my meaning. To me, “comprable” is something lesser. If something is “comprable,” you are compromising by choosing it. It’s like saying,
“I’ll have both if it makes you happy, but I’d really like the first one.” Whereas “compare-able” means something like, “Those two things are the same, and it doesn’t matter to me which one you pick.”

And quite literally, this is semantics…that I’ve made up in my head. There is some perceived distinction in wordplay within this word for me that isn’t there at all.

And yet, this word has completely ruled my life in an imaginary way. Until today.

Okay, here it is, plain and simple: I am a human, and so I compare myself to other humans. Not in a “why is she so rich and perfect and I’m not,” way. More like, “why am I so awkward, I just said “I’m good” when she didn’t say “how are you?” way. And so, I’m constantly wondering if people find me “compare-able,” as in someone similar to a person they have met before, but generally a dime a dozen, or if I am “comprable,” meaning that they could be hanging out with someone much cooler, but they’ve lost interest in their own life and they might as well compromise their best interests before they come to their senses.

But I realized something today: when you are truly yourself, when you are really who you are inside and out, you can’t be comparable or comparable. Because there is no one that will ever be exactly like you and you’re not compromising anything when you can be yourself.

And suddenly, the pressure was off. I didn’t have to think about being too this or too that. I could just be me, and there were no words to describe me, whether they had multiple pronunciations or not.

Because when you defy the boxes and labels that people try to put you in or on you, some members of the outside world become frightened or confused. But most people? They’re just dazzled that you have the confidence to be yourself. And they haven’t got any notion of what you were once or what you should be. You’re just you. And they’re speechless.

Seems Fake

Have you ever seen a person when you are out and about and they just have it all going on? Their hair is slicked back, their style is on point, and they just have that swagger? Do you know that person I’m talking about?

Well, do you want to know a secret? That person is faking it. All of it.

And I don’t mean that his or her suit is fake or that his or her hair is fake. As in inauthentic. I’m saying that his or her persona is fake. As in an impersonation.

No, really. Here’s something you should always keep in mind: The entire world is engaged in one big, long poker tournament. The people who are really successful believe that they have great cards and (make others believe it too), even when they don’t. As for the rest of us? We think our cards are okay. And in both cases, we’re right.

And when you’re faking it, the only person you have to “fool” is yourself. I mean, think about it. The people on the street don’t know you. They people in the grocery store have never seen you (but they are making judgments about you when they see your grocery cart.) Even your co-workers don’t really know the real “you,” living day to day in close cubicle quarters like you are. To them, you’re just you, whatever that means. And do you know what that actually means? You can believe that you are anyone at all, and people will have to believe you. They have no reason to think you are faking being as smart, talented, or funny as you seem to be.

I mean, really, does anyone know how to be an “adult”? Do you think that you just get a briefcase and a pinstripe suit on your thirtieth birthday, and your vocabulary expands to include words like “ROI” and “401K”? No! We’re all just children playing dress up to impress people we don’t even like. And we’re succeeding at it because we’re faking it.

So, don’t even give it a second thought. Don’t worry that people may be able to see that you are faking it. Because what you’ll really find is that the more you fake it, the more you are acting exactly like the person you are and the person you’ve been all along.

Like No One is Watching; Like Everyone is Watching

Here’s a paradox for you: We feel the most secluded from the world when we’re in our cars, and yet we are surrounded by windows. Maybe you’ve gotten into your car and tried balancing your checkbook or have taken a selfie…with the whole world watching. (At least the entire parking lot.) You’ll notice pretty quickly that there’s always an audience.

And then, we’ve all had a time where we’ve stepped into our car, turned the key in the ignition, and blasted our favorite song from the radio. We’re feeling good, and most importantly, we’re alone. So, it feels like the perfect time to transform into the best karaoke-singing, high-note hitting, grooving and moving, actor or actress in a music video.

And I have to agree it does feel good.

I truly don’t know what comes over me on my ride home, but I find myself uncontrollably belting out my favorite songs. And you know what? I try to make sure the windows are rolled down to get the full effect of it all. (You know, so my hair can whip around and go in my mouth, and I can choke a little bit on the chorus).

But there’s something else that I’ve been doing rather subconsciously on my rides home besides singing along to my favorite tunes: I’ve been turning down the music when I pull up to a stop light. Actually, I shut it down altogether. And for what? So that the person in the car next to me doesn’t confuse my singing with a cat dying? So that the person in the car next to me doesn’t find out that I have no shame when it comes to Shakira? So that the person in the car next to me isn’t annoyed while we’re both waiting for the light to change?

Why? Because we’re all supposed to “dance like no one’s watching,” right? It’s been beaten into our brains that we need to act “normal” when other people are around. We can’t let anyone else see how we act when we’re really alone. Essentially, we can never be ourselves because it’s “embarrassing.” Even when we’re in the relative privacy of our cars. And sometimes, even when we’re in the relative privacy of our own lives.

Because that’s the point. No matter where you are, you’re waiting for someone to watch you or judge you, consciously or subconsciously. Even if you don’t realize it, you may be turning down the dial on yourself only to accommodate someone else.

And do you know what I say to that? Act like no one is watching, so you can be truly you. And act like everyone is watching because it doesn’t matter if they are.

You can have it both ways. And at the end of the day, you’ll wonder why you ever thought you couldn’t.

I Almost Saw Laura Marling In Concert

Tickets: $20

Bottle of water at concert venue: Also $20

Missing the entire concert because you were at the hospital: priceless

So, as the title suggests, I almost saw Laura Marling in concert. I had bought my tickets about 6 months ago, and I was ready to go last weekend. It was going to be a great concert at a small, intimate venue. Of course, my body wanted to hang back, so I ended up in the hospital and missed the entire thing.

And really, that’s the entire story. I was completely bummed and generally disappointed with the situation and with myself.  Actually, I still am. I’ve wanted to see Marling since I first listened to “Alas I Cannot Swim,” her first album. As is customary when you fall in love with a musician and her music, you have to see if what you’ve envisioned matches up. You have to hear what they do with your favorite song.

I was thinking that this was seriously going to be a huge moment in my concert history, and it just didn’t happen.

So, I did my best to look on the bright side of things: I got some rest that weekend, I made some new friends in the form of nurses and doctors, and I could always buy myself a concert t-shirt later (which is really my favorite part). And then I added the fact that I had seen one of my favorite artists the weekend before with my favorite person (my sister).

And so without sounding like a complete spoiled brat by being able to go to two concerts in as many weekends, I had to admit that I was still lucky, even though I hadn’t been able to go to the second concert on the bill. Even though the only souvenir I had was a couple of bruises from having blood taken all weekend.

Now, when I face any other disappointment, I’ve learned that I need to realize that you shouldn’t begrudge life. It always gives you exactly what you need when you need it. And even though you may be frustrated because you want something to happen and it doesn’t, you need to bring yourself over it. Being stuck on what could have been makes you miss out on what is.

Basically, this is all a really elaborate metaphor for looking at the glass half full. Even from inside a hospital room.

In the end, I say buy the ticket. Whether you make it there or not. 

Give a Mile, Get an Inch

Stuck on how you are going to be the best person you can be? Confused about how to reach your fullest potential? Fortunately, there’s a lot of advice about how to achieve success out there. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of advice about how to achieve success out there. It’s hard to know what is right or what will work for you.

But I’ve heard one piece of advice from several sources recently that I love and respect. And the basic gist of it all is quite simply this: the universe hates it when you play your cards close to your chest.

Think of the universe as that nosy neighbor across the street that watches at the window for you to come home, and when you see a telescope lens poking out between his or her curtains you aren’t at all surprised. So, instead of making that little granny or grandpa work so hard to find out what you are doing, you need to reveal your life and your intent.

How do you do that? You work really hard. And then you work really hard. And then you work really hard some more. In whatever capacity that may be. If you want to be the best ballet dancer, you need to wake up and practice before anyone is even dreaming about practicing. If you want to be a great salesperson, you need to hit the pavement and not take no for an answer. If you want to be the best blogger, you have to pick a format and remember to blog daily (even when you’re in the hospital).

And then. And only then does the universe acknowledge you. Because the universe is getting requests like the stock market. It has all of these pleas and requests being thrust into its face. But it can only respond to the one that is most serious, the one that is going to have the most ROI, the most profitable.

So, when the universe finally takes your ticket after you’ve woken up at 5 am for three years in a row to crank out a masterpiece, when you’ve spilled hot coffee in your lap for the bajillionth time on your way to the gym, when your computer has crashed without you saving your work for the absolute last time (you swear), the universe sends down some heavenly host in whatever form you subscribe to (angels? goddesses? Chris Pratt and his raptors?) and provides you with a little bit of oomph. The strength to go on, or the last chapter of your book, or just some confidence in yourself.

But that’s only after you’ve given the universe everything you got. In essence, you need to give an entire mile to even get an inch. But that inch will give you the rest of the fuel to give and go another mile. And then life goes on…and so do you.