Sunday, September 27, 2020

42

Freshly 42.

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Self-help books have always gotten a bad reputation, at least in my television and cinematic experience. I saw Bridget Jones toss all her advice books in the trash along with her cigarettes and empty vodka bottles as a sign that she was "getting herself together." In an episode of Sex and the City, a newly separated Charlotte approaches the Self-Help aisle at Barnes and Noble (or as Carrie says in her witty narration, "the self-HELL aisle") only to see heavy-handed portrayals of depressed people reading and sobbing in the middle of the store. 

So yeah, my perception of reading a self-help book was anything but positive a couple of years ago when one was recommended to me by a friend. This friend, who I consider an incredibly bad-ass lady hero of mine, sent me a book called, "You are a Badass." We were texting about a very problematic professional relationship I was in the middle of dissolving and she suggested I read it. Since I trusted this person so much, I decided to download the book.

Since then, I've read a few self-help books and while none of them personally live up to the pull-quotes on the back covers, I have gotten at least a handful of helpful tips from each... all of which have elevated my life experience in different ways.   

Most recently, I listened to the book, "Buy Yourself the F*cking Lillies" by Tara Schuster. Of all the books I've read in the self-help/advice genre, this one was probably the most enjoyable for me personally. Tara is a huge proponent of journaling. She often cites how her bevy of journals helped her figure out a lot of the destructive patterns in her life. One of the first pieces of advice she gives early in the book is to start a practice called, "Morning Pages." This entails writing 3 pages of thoughts, word-vomit style, first thing in the morning. Keep the journal at your bedside table, she says. Wake up, get journal and write 3 single-spaced pages of whatever is on your mind. 

I could do that, I thought. That very day I picked up a cute journal from Target, put a reminder on my phone and waited until the next morning to start my journaling adventure. It's been fantastic so far and I really enjoy the freedom to get my thoughts out in any way, shape or form every single morning. It takes about 20 minutes out of my morning routine, so I get up 20 minutes earlier. Totally doable and totally worth it. 

10 days into my morning pages adventure, I celebrated my 42nd birthday. And well... I had a lot of thoughts about turning 42 that morning. I've decided to share that entry on my blog because it turned out pretty decent. Considering most of my pages have so far consisted of complaining about making school lunches, which Hamilton song is stuck in my head and a list of what I need to get done that day, I was rather pleased to have my best entry fall on my birthday. So, here it is in all its word-vomit glory... 

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9-26-2020

Ha! I almost wrote '1978' in the date. 42. I feel so lucky. My life has taken some twists and turns but I'm sure I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. It's funny, you grow up thinking the younger you are, the better life must be and yes... youth has it's benefits. But while physically you are perhaps more tolerant of indulgence whether it be with food, drinks or a more sleep-deprived way of life, emotionally you are most likely a mess. At least I was. As I wake up today having completed 42 years on this Earth, I sort of feel like I've just begun. After turning 40 a couple of years ago, a major mind shift occurred almost instantly. The theme of that mind shift being that I am the one who controls the trajectory of my life. No longer do I default to the stereotypical wife and mom narrative of "my life revolves around my family." That was the story I was sliding into, like being pulled by a tractor-beam into a large spaceship in the shape of a mini-van covered in stick figure family decals. Nope. I still had dreams and goals of my own that only I had the control to propel towards. No more fucking excuses. And I had so many excuses. In fact, I believe I had inherited the excuses trait from my dad. I love him so much, but Daddy sure could think of every excuse NOT to do something and it infuriated me as a kid. I'm sure he had his reasons, but as a kid, all I knew or saw was that my dad never wanted to take a risk or go through any inconvenience for the sake of fun or a better life. That's a short-sighted take, I know that now at the wise age of 42, but even then I knew I did not want to be like that. And what happened? I began to do just that. Finding every possible reason why my dreams were unattainable. Especially in my mid to late 30s it was so easy to say, "Well, I'm way too old now, I blew it." Even though I was doing improv and exhilarated by performing, there was an element of feeling sort of pathetic. "Am I just the older lady that everyone humors?" I really don't think I was, but it didn't stop me from letting those thoughts enter my headspace. Today, I know and more importantly, I believe what I'm capable of. There wasn't one thing that changed my mind either. Like, I didn't have a conversation or read some life-changing book. It was all me and I'm fucking proud of that. My body, mind and soul finally decided I could create the life I would be at peace with whenever I'm taking my final breath. There were small moments of clarity that would wash over me and they were inspired by other moments - hearing an interview with accomplished writers or actors, finally allowing myself to listen to people who believed in me rather than those life-doubters to whom I gave years and years of power. And most of all... I was plain exhausted. It's fucking exhausting making excuses all the time. There's some statistic that says it takes 4x more muscle power to frown than to smile. I'm not sure the actual numbers, but you get the gist. Well, it takes so much more out of you to knock yourself down under the surface of your potential than it does to bounce up and do the work. And yeah, it's fucking work and hustle and figuring out very new paths with almost no information... but the "figuring out" itself is the joy, at least for me. I'm working everyday to give my life some real meaning. Today, as a 42 year old woman, I have never felt more like myself, more sure of what I'm doing and more proud of who I am.

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OMG, Sheevani... brag much? I guess I do. I'm never going to apologize for figuring out that I'm worth something and neither should you! Just a little advice for ya... 

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