Finding Your Truth

“It’s going to be about an hour and a half before we take off.”

Those are the last words anyone wants to hear while seated in a cramped plane cabin.  Correction, those are the second to last words you want to hear… only behind “The plane is going down.”

There was a collective groan as my fellow passengers and I came to grips with the reality of the situation.  As a seasoned traveler, I knew an hour and a half could easily turn into three.  We’ve all seen the Thirty Rock episode.

In the case of this morning, it turned into four and a half hours.

In the midst of it all, they made us change planes, which only prolonged our experience but probably was a good thing because it got us moving around.  The surprising part of it all was that, for the most part, everyone handled it civilly.

I’ve written before about how I don’t sweat this stuff.  It often leads to interesting experiences you would have otherwise missed, so in a way I kind of enjoy it.  Today was no exception.

After schlepping our bags back and forth to two different gates on opposite ends of the airport’s longest concourse while the airline figured out what plane they wanted to put us on, I got to know a few of the people on my flight.  As we settled into our new gate to wait for our new plane, I started chatting with a young man from New Zealand.

I was completely fascinated by his story and, admittedly, a little jealous.  He’s a chef who is making his way around North America, working in different restaurants and learning his craft.

“You’ll never regret traveling,” he told me in his thick accent after I mentioned how I’ve wanted to visit Australia and New Zealand.  “Seriously, you gotta do it.”

We engaged in a fun conversation from there about everything from music to foodd to photography.  It made the time fly, even if our plane didn’t.  Talking to this young chef, I was inspired.

storyThe photo to the left showed up in my Facebook feed this morning.  It’s a philosophy I’ve been thinking a lot about lately that I really connected with when I saw it in writing.  In so many things in life, it seems like there’s always some kind of end goal you are “supposed” to reach and no one is really paying attention to the path takes to get there.  Go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, the end.

I’ve never been motivated to fulfill that goal in that way and I’ve often been frustrated because I could never put my finger on why.  Then, today, it clicked.  I’m genuinely more interested in the story… and not overly concerned about reaching that mythical end goal. Am I saying I don’t want to get married or have kids?  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  But I have no desire to settle into that traditional model.   Perhaps that’s why I could never make myself settle into something that was just “okay.”

So, what does that mean?  Does it mean I’m going to up and go spend two months in a foreign country on the other end of the world.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I don’t think it needs to be that drastic (but it could be).  What I do know is that up until recently, I’ve been an observer…  fascinated by other people’s stories and not really adding anything of substance to my own.

This experience of finally coming into my own over the past couple of years is exciting and scary.   I’m more motivated than ever to make my story worth writing about.

The things you learn while delayed at an airport on a cold February day….

 

 

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Positively Anger

The sun was shining bright and there was an extra spring in my step after a killer workout this past weekend.  The red cart with the famous bulls-eye on either side was filled with household essentials as I walked to my little black hatchback in the parking lot.  There was a woman about my age parked next to me, strategically placing her purchases in the back of her own car.  Her cart seemed to have a mind of its own and kept rolling away from her.  It was cold and I could tell she was frustrated.  I smiled to myself because I’ve totally been there.  A man with his face in his phone dodged around her rouge cart without even a second glance as she went to grab it again.

As I stopped behind my car and quickly tossed my stuff in the back, she put the last of her stuff in her trunk and her cart was off on its own again.  I laughed a little as I grabbed it for her.

“Why don’t I just get rid of this thing for you?” I said with a smile as I took her cart and mine to the nearest cart corral, without stopping to wait for her answer.

“Thank you,” she said to me with a laugh as we both climbed into our respective cars.

“That thing was pissing me off!”

I laughed and we both went on our way.

Such an uneventful moment, yet it got me thinking about how many ways we interact with people every single day – both intentionally and unintentionally.  It’s so easy to get annoyed or irritated and project that on the people around us.  Sometimes just a small act of kindness can completely change the trajectory of someone else’s day… and more importantly your own.

Today was a particularly challenging day for me at work.  The specific events don’t matter, how I handled them did.  I kept catching myself getting really frustrated and upset… but then stopping to take a step back and assess the bigger picture.  How could I handle the situation in a way that would have a positive impact rather than continue the negative?  What was the root cause of the original source of frustration?

It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves whenever we feel anger or frustration coming to a boil.  It’s okay to feel those things, I would be worried if you didn’t.  What’s not okay is to perpetuate that anger in a way that fans the flames of negativity.  Flames spread.  Quickly.

Instead, really think about the other people involved.  Take a moment to wonder what else could be going on that you can’t see, causing the chain reaction.

How can you approach the situation with a positive motive, rather than a reactionary one in haste.

It’s something I have to constantly practice.  Sometimes I let frustration get the best of me, but I learn from it and handle it better the next time around.  It’s interesting to observe the difference in results.  Try it in your own life the next time you start feeling anger.  How does it change your relationships with those around you?  I’d be interested to hear your experiences…

Finding Awesome

The night air was thick with moisture as I walked down to the cute little wine bar in my neighborhood. The cold stayed outside as the wood door closed behind me and I scanned the bar looking for someone who I knew would be there looking for me.

He was sitting next to the only empty chair in the place, sipping on a local brew. I knew that chair was for me, so I walked towards him. He turned and smiled as I sat down and ordered a glass of wine. Hello tall, dark and handsome. Quite literally.

Yep. I was on a date.

Wait, wait, wait… didn’t you swear off dating?

You’re right, I did. To be more accurate, I really just took a much-needed break from it.

After an experiment of sorts, where I pretty much said “yes” to anyone who asked me out, I went to the complete other end of the spectrum somewhere around summertime last year. I started turning down pretty much anyone who asked me. I turned off my online profile. As far as I was concerned, I was done with it all. I didn’t know what I wanted and was tired of looking for it with blurry vision.

That break is exactly what I needed. I’ve gone through a pretty significant life change over the past few years and I really needed to get to know who I’ve become. (That may sound weird, and maybe we’ll explore that concept in another post…)

I quietly turned my profile back on a couple of weeks ago, just to see what would happen. (Dating in the digital age is kind of like fishing in a lot of ways, when you really think about it.)

If we were to go back and look at my dating history (which we won’t), I’ve essentially gone out with the same type of guy over and over. For the most part, they were all really great guys and I wanted to be attracted to them. But something clearly wasn’t clicking for me.

This time around in the dating game feels different because, well, I am different.

I don’t think I ever would have said yes to the guy I went out with tonight before. He was pretty assertive, which used to put me out of my comfort zone. To be clear – he wasn’t assertive in a creepy-I-should-worry kind of way. Rather in a way where he just took charge of things and was extremely confident. I liked that.

Now, I’m not sure I’ll ever see this guy again. It was just a first date. Those are a dime a dozen. We did have a fun evening chatting and flirting, but I’m not sure there’s enough there for it to be anything more than that. Even still, it was a great night because it taught me so much about myself. It showed me more about what I was doing so wrong before and pushed me closer towards what I’m really searching for in another person.

I’m always preaching change and allowing yourself to evolve into the person you want to become. Yet, I never applied that in my approach to dating. Therefore I stayed stuck in that cycle of going out with all these wrong-for-me people to the point where I just quit.

I found success in my career because I took risks and evolved based on what I learned were my strengths. I lost 120 pounds because I made significant changes to my lifestyle and really took the time to learn about why I had failed in the past. So why not apply that attitude towards dating?

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to settle into a comfortable relationship that would have been “okay.” But, as I haven’t in anything else I’ve ever done, I don’t settle for just okay. I’m going for awesome in this life.

Always go for awesome, friends.

Screens

Sweat rolled down my neck as music filled my ears.  The silver pendent that always hangs around my neck with the word “Fearlessness” etched into it bounced off my chest with every pump of my legs on the elliptical. My muscles were burning and I was cursing under my breath.   My philosophy is that if you don’t want to quit during a workout, then you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.

I looked around the gym as I powered on.  Screens were everywhere.  Each cardio machine had a TV screen attached to it.  Flat-screen televisions hung from the walls.  Everyone had their own personal handheld screen parked on the cardio machine’s shelf or strapped to their arm.  Everywhere, screens.

Screens are good at the gym.  Anything that distracts you from the burning muscles or motivates you to push it is good in that setting.

But screens don’t only abound at the gym.

Earlier this week I stopped off at the one and only “fast food” joint I will eat at anymore, Chipotle.  (Veggie bol to go, please!)  As I stood in line, I flicked my thumb on my iPhone screen and read the latest in my Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Did I have any new email?  I had better check.

I looked up and nearly every single person in line was doing the same thing.  Then I looked around and saw people scrolling on their phones while eating, even with other people at the table with them.

Now I’m not judging, because I do it too.  More than I’d care to admit.  When did we become this culture that buries our heads in screens while the world is happening around us?  We’re totally missing it.

I’ve become much more conscious of this lately in my own daily life.  The number of screens I encounter on a day-to-day basis is pretty absurd.  I sit at a desk all day long at a computer screen.  My co-workers are all over the globe and I interact with them virtually through screens.   I take notes and maintain my planner on my iPad screen.  Hang on, my BlackBerry screen is flashing at me.   Out and about?  No biggie, my iPhone is always tucked inside my right coat pocket in case I need to confer with a screen about something.

Screens, screens, screens.  Even right now, I’m typing on a screen.  You’re reading on a screen.

Remember the movie Wall-E?  That film had a profound impact on me.  I mean, just watch this short clip…

Now, I’m not saying the fine folks at Pixar are predictors of the future, but it’s a tad eerie, don’t you think? This is the world we live in NOW.

Technology isn’t a bad thing.  It keeps us connected when we otherwise might not be… and brings you random rambles from an Awkward Dancer… so I’m not swearing off screens.  But when virtual relationships start replacing actual relationships… that’s when it gets scary.

So how do we maintain a healthy balance between life on our screens and life in the actual world?

Here’s what I’m doing to start…

  1. My TV is only on when there’s something I want to watch on and I have time to watch it.  I used to just have it on all the time as background noise.  The majority of the time I wasn’t really watching it, so why have it on?
  2. If I AM watching something on TV, I put away all my other screens.  No phone, iPad or laptop.  Do you know how many shows I’ve wanted to see but essentially missed because I was distracted by some other screen – texting, surfing, etc?
  3. When I’m out with friends or family, the phone stays in my purse or pocket.  This one is will be a tough one to break, but it has to be overcome.

How about you?  Any tips?  Have you noticed an overuse of screens in your own life?