Moving through

If you knew how hard it would be and how long it would take in the beginning then you might not try in the first place. You can’t guarantee success, but you can guarantee failure: never try. ~David Cain

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs personally and professionally in the last few weeks. Great days at work followed by those that make me question what the heck I am doing. Great conversations and get togethers with people… only to be followed by long periods of silence during which I fret about what I did or said to turn the other person away.

I’m trying to remember that patience will pay off. I need to persist to succeed. But sometimes it’s tiring. Sometimes I want to step off the treadmill – of grant submission after grant submission, meeting after meeting, constant worry about my relationships and how others perceive me. Sometimes, I’d give almost anything to just get away from it all, go way up north where no one knows me, and no one knows how to find me, and just… be.

And then I remember that for right now, I have to be in the trenches. I need to persist, see these things through…and that the time for rest will come. Sometimes the only way out, is through.

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Like and unlike

I need something more lighthearted today.
Heavy work and thinking weekend. Lots of pondering about what to do next in a certain situation, worrying about something going on in my family this week, and just general (normal-for-me) anxiety.

So, something a bit lighter.

I have officially turned into my mother. The tipping point was yesterday, when I found myself rinsing out Ziploc bags to reuse. I have a goal to not buy them anymore – to change to reusable ones. But the issue is that I still wash and reuse them all the time. And I said I would never do that! mostly because my mother did. And I thought it was absurd and ridiculous. Now, of course, I realize that she was absolutely doing the right thing, if she wasn’t going to (or wasn’t able to) switch to reusables (they didn’t exist when she started doing this…)

I put water in the dish detergent to get every last bit out of the bottle.

I squeeze the toothpaste tube from the bottom up.

I haven’t started telling the same stories over and over (and over) again, but I anticipate that will start soon.

I want to chop off all my hair, a move she made when she was just a bit younger than me.

We like the same books.

We like the same food.

We both laugh at my father and his overreaction to things like a man-cold.

If you saw us together, you’d know we’re related

And yet, I differ so much from her in other ways – important (to me) ways.

Politically, spiritually, socially. She’s an extrovert with a loud voice who likes to dominate conversation and doesn’t know what to do with a weekend without plans.

I am… not an extrovert with a loud voice, and there is nothing I like more than a quiet weekend without plans.

I shop at thrift shops, nearly exclusively. She shops at Talbots.

She wears makeup to go to the gym sometimes, and always, always, wears jewelry.

Um, yeah. My 1-minute makeup “routine” is the essence of minimalism.

And yet. There are still these hints of her in my actions, in what I do unconsciously on a daily basis.

It’s reassuring and comforting, in a way, to know that some of what I do is not new to me, but instead rooted in years of observation and absorbing her way of doing things, even if I once ridiculed it. I haven’t changed everything about who I was before, where I came from. I’ve changed a lot, yes, but there are still vestiges of who I was that persist.

And I’m okay with that.

Comfortable and familiar

Sometimes, I just want a break from evolving and changing. 
Sometimes it’s the comfortable, the familiar, that is what I need more. 
I think our constant focus these days on growth, self-awareness, challenging ourselves…sometimes, we just need a break. And that’s okay. It’s okay to turn to the familiar and comforting when change gets scary, when it all becomes too overwhelming, too much. 
Sometimes there are too many changes in too many facets of our lives. And you know what? Stepping away – just for a bit, not forever – can be the best way to move forward. 
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking that may wind up changing my life substantially. 
And that means that I have been seeking comfort – in old, favorite foods. In comfy clothes. In being around people who make comfortable, situations I prefer. 
I’ll keep growing, keep changing… but I’m still going to turn to the familiar to help nourish that growth. 

Horizons of Expectations

This is totally not life-related, but in a reading for one of my classes that I teach, the phrase “horizons of expectations” appears. And I read it, and was completely taken aback.

It made me think… do I have horizons for my expectations? Horizons are boundaries, limits… but I suppose they could also be seen as a line of infinite possibilities. Horizons are what we see when we gaze out from where we are now. What happens if we move towards those horizons, and new ones open up? The thing with horizons is that they are ever-changing, depending on where you are. Move towards them, and… they move farther away.

But if I don’t move towards those horizons… if I limit my movements to the current view, the current horizon? Am I not giving myself the chance to achieve more? Have I built walls around my dreams?

And what could I do if I expanded those horizons… if I knocked down those walls?


And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.
— Wendell Berry
I had dinner with an old friend and her husband on Saturday. 
It was wonderful to see them. I had, well, stepped away from this particular friendship after the election, and I let that distance grow too big, and last too long.
At the same time, there were reasons for my distance, and I wasn’t ready to bridge that gap until recently. So we took advantage of briefly being in the same time zone to meet up.
It was so good to catch up, to find out how they have been and what they have been up to.
It was also an eye opening experience for me. 
I’ve been on a journey of self-evolution and change the last few years. It’s affected my relationships, my jobs, and above all my sense of who I am. 
I know there are threads that remain consistent, yet I also know that I am not who I was 10 years ago, let alone 40 (this is a very long friendship… :>). 
As I sat there watching them across the booth in the restaurant, I realized a couple of things… first, they both remember what she ate on their second date. That was … well, goodness. I think that was 1995. (Wow I am old) So 24 years? I honestly barely remember where I even went on my second date with my husband – it all blurs together as the years pass and the individual events become less important in the grand scheme of things. 
The other thing I realized is that they both still have the same  haircuts and glasses as they did when they got married. 20 years ago. 
I am all for consistency and recognize that certain things never change about people. (I’m also for frugality, and yes, glasses are not cheap, but… 20 years?) But. Part of me wondered whether this pointed to an overall tendency in them to, well, cling to the past. To the way things were. And whether that might not also be contributing to the space between us – that I was changing, and that is hard for others to fathom, to understand, and to accept. 
I love when there are things in my life that I know won’t change. My parents, for example, are very, very consistent people. And yet. They change and evolve, too. They adapt, and grow, and have shifted their beliefs and their approach to life as the world around them has changed. 
I wonder if this might be driving some of my challenges with my husband, too. But that’s a topic for another day – and probably more for my private journal than for airing here. 
I know my evolution is continuing…and I know that will be hard for some people to accept. But we’ll get there. 
Embracing the shifts, the changes, who I am now, vs. who I was…