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.

There’s Always Tomorrow

Today was rough. In about every way possible. 

So today was not my day. But that’s okay. There’s always tomorrow. 

But I know you’re saying, but Bailey what if tomorrow is no better? What if it’s just an endless string of bad days? What then? 

Well, you just have to have hope. Because wherever there’s hope, there is a tomorrow. 

I hope your tomorrow is great. And the day after that. And the day after that. And I hope it continues like that until you’ve had a great life. 

Never mind a bad day.  Just hope for a better tomorrow.

Be Curious! 

I had a HUGE revelation today. 

I’m all about pursuing your passions. All for it. 

Except when it comes to quitting your day job. 

I know, I know. Big risk, big reward. But there’s something keeping you back from starting all over and pursuing your passion isn’t there? (Yes, Bailey. It’s my crippling student debt.) Okay, fair. 

But ask yourself — is your passion something you LIKE to do? Or are you truly interested and curious about it?

Because that’s what keeps me back from writing full time. One, because I love my blog and I don’t want to hate it because I have to rely on it to give me money. But two, and more importantly, I’m not curious about writing. I don’t want to learn about it. I just want to do it. It comes natural to me. And like most writers, I’m an egotist and I think I’ve learned everything I possibly can about writing. I’ll learn as I go. 

But what am I truly curious about? Science. I am interested in science. I love listening to podcasts about any kind of science, but mostly anatomy. I get truly excited about listening to how the human body works. I hung on every word of a woman who described how she became allergic to meat. And it’s only taken me until recently to realize that I have a passion for science, but I have a love for writing. 

The difference is that I can keep one as my mistress, and the other one keeps me up at night. (I’ll let you decide which is which.)

But the point is that when I stopped to think about it, I realized I could love what I do and still not be passionate about it. Just because I love writing doesn’t mean that I need to exorcise my soul to produce it. Sometimes, quitting your day job still doesn’t mean you are fulfilled. 

MLK Day

“You cannot kill an idea.” – V for Vendetta

But a man? Yes, you can kill a man. Even a man who stood for something as important as what MLK Jr. stood for. Maybe that man does even more dying than any other man because of that. Because he’s remembered for the sacrifice he’s made in the name of an idea, every year, and very little for who he was. Because he’s quoted and photographed and photoshopped and read and reread. And suddenly he becomes synonymous with the idea that he once stood for and transcends humanity that way. 

And with all that said, it’s hard to live up to the idea, especially for the idea that MLK was/stood for. Equality. I mean, how do we do that? How do we start over? (And we still need to start over, even decades later). 

We take one step at a time. We start small and we do it today. We give kindness, in small acts, and in this way we move forward, and very slowly, we change things. 

It was just an idea at one point. And he was just a man at another. And you will perform just one act of kindness. And someday, we’ll all be really happy with the progress we’ve made. 

At least, I hope. But at least there’s still hope to be had. In large part thanks to MLK. So, don’t forget to thank him today. Always for the person he was and always for the idea he gave us. 

Chutes and Ladders

I may be dating myself, but does anyone remember the board game chutes and ladders? (Okay, now think hard. Try to remember. Board games are what you played before you used your cell phone for every form of entertainment.) 

But in case that doesn’t ring a bell specifically, chutes and ladders was a simple board game. You rolled a die and you got to move a number of spaces. This would either allow you to arrive at a ladder where you would go up, and up, and up. Or you’d get a chute, and you’d go all the way back down. Sometimes, you’d have to start back at the beginning, even. 

And now, you probably know what’s coming. This is the part where I say that this is life: a series of chutes and ladders. And you never really know what you’ll get next. Or how far you’ll go or fall. 

And you’d be right. I’d like to say that. But the question I’m left with is what’s to keep you from tumbling all the way down and never rolling the die again? What motivates you when you have to start all over? 

Well. I suppose it’s the same thing that got you to that chute in the first place. Because you didn’t start there. That what if? 

And that’s what it all comes down to: because you could be wrong about all this. 

I mean, personally, today made me want to stop and never start again. 

But I keep going because there’s a chance that I’ll be wrong about what is gonna happen next. 

Ultimately, the crash down is still gonna come and it’s gonna hurt. But we’re all hoping to go higher than ever before. And if you think it hard enough, you just might do it. 

Sylvester and Tweety Bird

WARNING: If you are sensitive to animal on animal violence (otherwise known as predation), please do not read further. Instead, go to this link. It’s little penguins chasing a butterfly. You’re welcome.

If you are reading this, I am assuming you have ignored the warning above. Which is great. I love rebels. Continue.

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I wish I was making this story up. (Here goes nothing…)

There is a stray cat that lives outside of my workplace. It’s sort of like having a pet at work because I look for him or her throughout the day only to find him or her sleeping in the sun, or climbing trees, or just being generally adorable.

Today was not one of those days.

I came into my office, dropped my things, and looked out the window. There was my friend, all black except for his or her chest and little paws. He or she was waiting by the door to the next office over, whose workers often leave a bowl of kibble out.

Apparently, he or she couldn’t wait for the bowl today, though. Because the next time I looked out, the cat is in a primal crouch, stalking something. When I look, I see it is a small bird, perhaps a teenager robin, sitting in the tall grass.

Now, I’ve seen this exchange dozens of times with my own dog and the rabbits in my backyard. My dog crouches down, pursues them, and wags her tail when they outrun her in about 10 seconds. She’s never caught them, not one.

Except, the bird wasn’t flying away now, like the script in my head said it should. It hadn’t even noticed the cat. And it kept on being oblivious…until the cat pounced. The bird tried to fly away, but it couldn’t get high enough. The cat batted it down like a shuttlecock, despite its attempts to escape. I thought, well, this is a no-brainer. This bird will just fly away and everything will be cool. 

But it didn’t. The cat seemed to have injured it because when I had the courage to look out again, it was fluttering its wing helplessly, and the cat was simply sitting a few feet away, close enough to grab it if it tried anything stupid. The cat and I watched the bird die in the grass, suddenly going still. I turned away from the grisly scene. When I looked again, both cat and bird were gone.

Now, if you are familiar with my blog posts, this is the part where I introduce the lesson. What I learned from the bird murder I witnessed today is…

Well, I tried, anyway. I was all well, the circle of life… and then I was like, sometimes you’re the bird, and sometimes you’re the cat…and then maybe, cats are evil. That’s the lesson…or even, a bird in the hand…no, that’s not right at all…and so on.

And after trying to retrofit some kind of inspirational message, I realized that there wasn’t one. This was what cats and birds do; this is the part they play. This is the real life Sylvester and Tweety moment. But instead of dreaming up a clever hi jinx to escape, this bird died. And that’s really important to acknowledge.

Because sometimes life is ugly. It’s gruesome, bloody, and nauseating, and maybe it is time that we recognized that for what it is. I mean, I’m not saying you should try to expose yourself to the most terrible thing every day to feel as if you’ve understood life. But I think that maybe, in small doses, we’ll come to terms with our humanity, which inevitably includes our mortality, if we start to actually face it. And then, maybe we’ll stop sugarcoating animal instinct with Sylvester and Tweety. And then, maybe we’ll embrace the fact that there are going to be times where the bird doesn’t get away (no matter how much the Discovery channel wants us to think the opposite.) And maybe, we’ll start to glean some truth and meaning out of life.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t root that little bird on, just on the outside chance it gets away. Because without that hope, we have nothing.

Rest in peace, little bird. You died fighting an old fight, but a good one.

(If you are totally bummed after reading this, go to the top of the page and watch the penguins. I swear it’ll make you feel better. You’re welcome.)

Blame it on the Weatherman

Everyone knows that the media tends to control our lives and what we see in the world. But I think there’s a new threat: the weatherman or weatherwoman.

I mean, we already sort of plan our days around the weather. Oh, it’s lashing rain? I’ll stay inside and read a book. Oh, it’s sunny and warm? I think I should spend a lot of time outside today, and so on. And now that it is getting even easier to check the weather from our devices with updates and alerts (you know, instead of like, stepping outside), we’re seeing even more influence from it.

But really, we’re just making excuses. For example, it’s truly difficult for me to wake up in the morning when it is cloudy or raining. It feels like all of the blood in my body has been replaced with lead. And sure, there is a scientific reason for that. Blue light in sunshine (and electronic devices) tells us to wake up. The absence of it does the opposite. But can I rely on science to explain this? Can I honestly tell myself that my body would prefer to sleep in on a rainy day just because the sun isn’t out? Should I be blaming my troubles on the weatherman and Mother Nature?

The short answer is no. The fact of the matter is that I am absolutely able to wake up on my own (with the help of a couple of alarms). And the fact of the matter is, we are all able to get up on a rainy day or a sunny day or a cloudy day or a snowy day or a blustery day to do the things we need to do. And like it or not, weather warning or not, we must do them.

And most certainly, this is a greater metaphor for life, as most of my blog posts are. You see, the universe is going to present you with several different types of obstacles. Sometimes, they arrive all in one day. And as with the weather, you have the choice of deciding whether you want to make up an excuse or make it happen. And yes, I know. It’s really easy to step to the window and watch the rain fall down and stay inside with warm tea all day. But there is something else in deciding that you will get things done in spite of the conditions and circumstances around you that speaks more volumes of your character.

But if it helps, no one said that you couldn’t jump in the puddles along the way.

A Need to Believe

I must admit that I read into things. Maybe that’s why I became an English major, to read between the lines of Hemingway and to be beaten over the head with symbolism when I read Hawthorne. Or maybe that was already in my DNA before, what makes me still buy a book that tells you what a certain animal signifies when you see it (ooh, look a bedbug! I guess that means I need more sleep!)

But I don’t think I had to look too far to see the meaning in one event today.

I was exhausted. I’d been burning two ends of the midnight oil the night before. I was the kind of tired that if I closed my eyes, I got a little dizzy with how fast my brain was losing consciousness. And from there, it wasn’t hard to realize that I was feeling a bit down. I’m currently at a crossroads in my life (but who isn’t really, when they’re in their twenties?), and I’m trying to figure it all out. Today, I was simply tired in more ways than one. I would have liked nothing better than to crawl into a deep, dark hole to rest my head and my thoughts.

And so I was debating my choices (give up or give in) when I heard it. It was a song on the radio. But it wasn’t just any song, if you will excuse my dramatics. It was a song that I had never, ever heard on the radio before. Yet, it was a song that I had desperately wanted to have played on the radio. You see, it wasn’t exactly made for the popular stations. Not what you would call a toe-tapper or the next summer hit.

It was performed by Loreena McKennitt. She’s a new age-y artist who sings about the solstice and the wind that shakes the barley. Think of her as a less mainstream Enya, I guess. She also happens to be my absolute, all-time, favorite musician.

Now, I can’t really impress on you how strange it was to hear her own the radio, but I will try. Let’s just say that the odds of playing Loreena McKennitt are about as good as the odds of playing “It’s Friday” by Rebecca Black on that same station. In all seriousness.

But here she was. My favorite artist was belting out notes in the middle of my crummy day. I was every shade of dumbfounded.

Of course, I could dismiss this as a funny coincidence. I could slap my knee and utter something like, “Well, I’ll be.”

But I didn’t. I took it as a sign. I took it as one might grab a rope to pull oneself out of a very deep and very dark cell. Why? Because that is what I needed to believe. I needed a benevolent message, and I got one.

Yes, our own perspective and understanding colors things. Indeed, it was a well-timed occurrence. But then, why couldn’t that mean that it was also a sign, a personal reassurance? The answer is that it can be both.

I believe that we’re giving footholds like this all the time, to ensure that we keep holding on. But it is up to you to reach out and grab them, see where they are, even in the darkness. If you are open enough, if you are alert enough, and if you need it badly enough, you may just find what you’re looking for. That is, if you have the courage to recognize it for what it is.

Hope is Not a Luxury

Hope is many things. It is fickle, it is bright and shiny, it is a “thing with feathers.” But it is not a luxury. Rather, it is affordable in every situation. There is always room for hope.

Don’t believe me? Let’s try something out:

When you live your life without hope…

Well, let’s stop right there. You can’t live your life without hope. It is impossible to be alive without it. Because let’s just say that you didn’t have hope. Then you would be consumed by the idea that you will die tomorrow or the day after. Really, hope keeps us alive by telling us that we have another day to try again, even when we eventually don’t.

So, okay. Now, you may think that hope is a liar. Which, I think, is how many people perceive hope. We’re uncomfortable, awkward ex-lovers with hope. We say, well, I don’t want my feelings to get hurt. So, I might as well believe the opposite is going to happen so that I don’t have to be upset when the thing I want doesn’t happen. I’d prefer to be “realistic.”

Except, that is akin to telling the ice cream store employee that you have never been to his or her store before and that you love chocolate ice cream, but you should probably just order vanilla because you’re not really sure if the store offers chocolate. Ridiculous, right? Why don’t you just ask? If they don’t have chocolate, you can get vanilla. And if they do, well, you see where this is going. But it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have chocolate. And it doesn’t hurt to hope for this outcome, either. Hope is a lot like asking for chocolate ice cream because it is your favorite, even if you don’t know if you will get it or not.

Because, essentially, hope keeps us happy (like ice cream). Hope is something that we can hang our hats on, so to speak, at the end of a long day. It’s the little voice inside our head that says, let’s try again tomorrow, shall we? Even when we’re really tired of our situation, we have hope that our circumstances will change, or we will find the courage to change them ourselves. We keep going because of hope.

Now, back to my biggest problem with people and hope. Hope, some seem to think, is only for the very rich in life. That is, the people who have reason to hope. They believe they have a good shot at something because they are smart, talented, strong, etc. But hope isn’t picky. Hope likes a long shot, an underdog, or a bad set of odds.

The reason? There is nothing to be lost or gained by hope. It simply exists. It is the string tugging the wakeboard forward after a speeding boat. It is pulled by the momentum of something else, and it pulls you farther along by how tight you can hold on. It does not care whether you are still on the board or in the water. It will keep going as long as it can. But will you?

Three Wishes

You know, genies are a little stingy.

In return for letting them out of a cage, basically, they give you three wishes–with a ton of stipulations. You can’t wish for more wishes. You can’t wish that the dead become undead. And usually, if the fairy tales are to be believed, you accidentally wish away your wishes before you’ve even got started.

I’ve sworn off genies. I’ll stick with dandelion seeds.

With one small puff of air, a cluster of seeds are afloat and away. And with it are attached all of your hopes and dreams. It’s simple and much less stressful than rubbing a lamp with some elbow grease.

That is, unless the seeds get stuck in your throat. I was sitting in my car today in rush hour traffic when an entire cloud of dandelion seeds floated through the air. And a few lucky specimens slipped right into my mouth. Upon choking and sputtering, I got to thinking: what is the point in wishing? And a better question: who released such an army of wishes on so many unsuspecting commuters like myself?

In this vein, I sometimes feel like wishing is like winning the lottery. No matter how much you desire something, you’re not likely to get what you wish for without working for it. Or maybe it’s more synonymous with luck: you need to make your own.

Or maybe it isn’t any of that. Maybe it’s similar to exercising in the sense that you feel good just because you’re doing it. And maybe it doesn’t carry a heavier meaning than that. (It can’t. Most wishes have to float through the air.)

But despite all of my metaphors, there is nothing in this world that is more of an expression of hope than a wish. It’s a tiny admission to the world that you want to give your desires their own voice. You might do it on candles, at 11:11 on the clock, or on a shooting star. But the sentiment is always the same: please, someone, listen.

I sometimes lose faith in wishing. But then again, I also lose faith in hope. I feel like it is so fragile, and that if I’m not looking where I sit, I’ll squash and shatter it.

But unlike hope, wishes are not fragile. Even when sliding down an unsuspecting person’s throat. Wishes keep hope intact because they act as the vessel. They give us something tangible to hold onto when everything seems so abstract. They were built to last and withstand all the negative forces in the world. Specifically doubt.

So, the next time you are hoping for something to happen, capture it in a wish. Oh, but don’t tell anyone what you wished for. Much like hope, you have to keep a wish close to your heart and your chest.