The Mystery of Life, Music and Love


As a person with a journalism degree and an inquisitive mind, I can ask questions to the point of annoying people. However, with age comes wisdom and the simple factor of not giving a shit.

Sometimes I wonder about something and then sit back and say, does it really matter? Many times, the answer is no. Just let it be. Don’t over analyze it. Don’t ‘what if’ it to death. Just exist and experience it. Unless it sucks of course, then learn to move out of the way and into a better experience.

I have found, enjoying the moment is so much better than picking something apart. I don’t need to know every detail on the who, what, where and why. I can let the mystery of something remain just that – a mystery. Unless I am writing an article, there is no reason for me to ruin the experience with a million questions. Nope. I can just cherish the time I have left on this earth.

Time. That is a mystery in itself. One of my music idols, Prince, died this week, which you probably heard unless you are living in a cave without WIFI. Well, and if you are, you are probably are not reading this post though. But if you are, then I wonder how long you travel to get to internet… Or if you have WIFI in your cave, how much does that cost? (See, there goes that wandering mind again.)

Anyway, I adored Prince for his insane talent, but also his mystery. He was elusive to the press generally, and that appealed to me. His quiet demeanor was attractive. And of course, as a young teen girl, he was just utterly sexy and glamorous, and I had the biggest crush on him.

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His music is the first I really remember and so many memories involve it. I would dance around my room to Little Red Corvette. I would attempt to roller skate gracefully to Raspberry Beret. I kissed a boy to Purple Rain. [Insert a dramatic sigh here.] Oh Prince, you WERE music to me, mysterious and sexy music. I think you may be why purple was and still is my favorite color.

I didn’t know every Prince song or a lot of details about his personal life, and that was ok. It didn’t mean I adored him any less. He just maintained a level of mystery to me. And now, dying at the age of 57, I guess he always will.

His death has made me think though…57 is not really old. Of course when I was a teen dancing to his music, I thought 57 was ancient. But now, not so much. Heck, I’m 44, so I am just around the corner, and who knows when my time will be up. Today, next week, 40 years from now? Perhaps it is best not to know that answer, but to live to our fullest each day.

Each day is a gift to experience, not solve, just like Frank Herbert said. So put aside your anger, regret and ‘what ifs’ and just BE, FEEL and EXPERIENCE life while you have it. There is no need to solve every mystery, but simply relish what it can offer you in the time you have left.

And with that, I will leave you with one of my favorite Prince songs, that says exactly how I felt about him as an artist: Nothing Compares to You. May you rest in peace.

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I Think I Can, I Think I Can…


“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” –Nikos Kazantzakis

As a young girl, I was not confident at all. I was rather insecure actually, probably not much different than other girls though. We think we are not as pretty, thin or smart as the popular girls. We believe we couldn’t possibly do this or that. So we stay sheltered and safe and don’t try new things. In that reluctance, we don’t find ourselves nor true joy.

Here is the thing with that. Those insecurities carry over into your adulthood if you fail to conquer them when your young. Time generally does not make you more beautiful or fit (without effort). So you age, and if you are not actively engaged in your dreams and goals, you coast through life. You become reactionary and a victim to circumstances. If some of those circumstances were painful, you risk becoming bitter and even more afraid to try.

This is a vicious cycle because the more you don’t believe in yourself, the more you don’t try. And the more you avoid trying, the further away you stay from your true purpose in life.

I know this life. I lived this life. For years, I coasted through life as a zombie, a somewhat successful zombie though. I had a job, kids, a marriage – all the blocks were checked for the great American dream. But I was losing myself. I had no confidence, and I would never have fought for my dreams, let alone even risk trying them.

Fortunately though, I am evolving in my age, like a fine wine. Finally I am realizing, that if I want things to happen, I need to work at them. And there is really no darn good reason why I cannot succeed. Of course, I have had to refit my dreams to adult reality.

The childhood dream of being a gymnast is not really realistic in your 40s. But I can tweak that dream into my goals of fitness. I do yoga, pilates and piyo. I may not be doing back flips, but I can still do a fancy cartwheel or roundoff. And when I am really feeling good, I can even throw in a lovely back bend or the splits. I will not be getting a phone call from the Olympic Gymnastic team any time too soon mind you, but my flexibility allows me versatility in obstacle course races and protects me from injury. I am happy with those benefits!

The childhood dream of writing books was put on hold for so many years, it became a fantasy. It was right up there winning the lottery. But now, I am at least writing and feeling more confident as I test my abilities at short stories, poems and commentary. I even have an outline for a book. I am working as an editor in my civilian job and learning tiny details I never considered. All of these steps are building upon each other and at least heading into the direction of my writing dream. So no longer is my writing dream comparable to a lottery win…it is more like playing skeeball. I’ll keep trying and working on winning, and get some prize tickets along the way. And if I work hard enough, all those tickets might turn into a huge wonderful prize. If not? I can still enjoy the game and little prizes along the way, right?

I suppose my biggest achievement was learning to believe in myself. Without that, no amount of talent can take me anywhere. On the flip side, I have to have the wisdom to gauge my talent and abilities honestly. Sure, if I work really hard, I could publish a book, some poems and some short stories eventually. However, no matter how hard I work now, you will never see my gymnastic floor routine representing the United States. Well, not unless they open a middle-age-woman cartwheel only category. I don’t think many would tune in for that though. 🙂

 

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The Instinct of Love


“Love has its own instinct, finding the way to the heart, as the feeblest insect finds the way to its flower, with a will which nothing can dismay nor turn aside.”

Love and insects – not a normal association. However, Honore de Balzac’s quote makes a perfect point. Most humans seek and crave love. Though we may have been beaten up, broken down and lost in love before, many of us keep trying to find it. We can’t fight it. It is instinctual.

My concern with this connection though is that some insects destroy the flowers they seek out. This is also the case for some attempts at love. They drain us, steal our spirit and make us wilt.
On the other hand, there are beneficial insects as well. These bugs pollinate, making the flower bloom. This insect makes the flower more than it was. It completes it in the cycle of life.
THAT is the kind of love people seek. THAT is the kind of love in music, books and movies. THAT is the kind of love in legends.
Unfortunately though, it is hard for our hearts to tell the difference in the beginning. Everything seems so pretty and cute and colorful when it starts…then you realize, it was destroying you.
However, like resilient flowers, we can bloom again with the right care and attention. And it is when all those little nuisances come together, we find magic.
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Differing Opinions~Agree to Disagree?


Politics, religion and toilet paper. What do these things have in common? If you immediately thought, people full of…close, but no. They are all connected on differences, the varying differences of opinions that people can have about them that is.

There are donkeys and elephants that seemingly argue about every topic considered, and probably even when considering the topics to consider…or so it seems to this apolitical girl. Then comes religion. This is when you think peace, love and joy would unite people through the disparities. No, it seems to do the opposite. It causes people to divide, fight, and in some cases, even kill. Then a much simple issue, toilet paper, has been known to cause great debate in some homes. Some prefer two-ply and for the roll to spin out from the bottom while others prefer quilted and the roll to dispense from the top.

I admit, life would be a heck of a lot easier if we would all agree and get along. Apparently, this has been impossible since the creation of humans though.

As a child, I quickly learned to avoid confrontation. As an adult, I became skilled at choosing my battles. There were just so many things not worth arguing over. Then, on the other side, there really are.

Critical issues surround life and there are a variety of viewpoints to nearly all of them I am sure. Some people are so set in their views that they cannot even consider another though. And THAT is where the problem lies. Well, at least according to Aristotle.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

I take that statement to mean that to respectfully disagree, you need to be listen to both sides. You need to consider all the angles. You need to weigh the options. Once you have all the facts, and only then, should you consider what viewpoint you prefer. And that’s just the thing, it’s a preference.

I may prefer one candidate over another. I may personally choose to practice one religion over another. However, I still listen to other sides and opinions. Learning about other options helps me widen my knowledge not only about the subject in general but my own viewpoint as well.

For example, in learning about the Jewish faith (from my boyfriend), I researched my own Christian beliefs. I compared some of the differences and read more to see how and why there were different views. In trying to figure out who to vote for, I listened to candidates speak and read on topics. I’ve never chosen a candidate because of a political party. Some years I have selected one party while the next, the other. Frankly, some years that I have voted, I didn’t even pay attention to who was in what party. I just knew that I liked their arguments, stances on issues and appeared the least corrupt option. Never in any of these choices though, do I feel that I am always in the right. I will listen to other arguments and respect them. Why not? I mean, isn’t there always more to learn in the areas of religion and politics? I think so.

Now, as for that toilet paper issue. I can respectfully listen to your debate on quilted versus two-ply. However, if you try to explain the benefits of dispensing your toilet paper from the top of the roll, I will close my ears. I’ve done my research on that topic already and there is nothing really more to discuss. Case closed. Toilet paper that dispenses from the bottom is clearly the superior option. Conversation closed.

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Go Ahead, Astound Yourself


“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”
~ Thomas Edison ~

Most people have something they struggle with. For many of us, it is weight, and I am no different. Being in the Army, weight is not just something this girl fusses about. Yes, of course I want to look all cute in a bikini or a pair of jeans just like every other girl. However, my weight stress goes past that, way past that.

Being overweight in the Army can have severe consequences. If you are over the weight limit for your height, you are “taped” to determine your body fat. Every age and height and sex has predetermined range that is allowed.

For 15 years, I have struggled with this line and been dangerously close, and once was even two percent over the limit. This fact led to me being “flagged” and having a bad mark put on my permanent evaluation. Of note, it was right after I re-deployed and was dealing with a divorce and adjusting to a new job and place to live. It resulted in stress/depression eating that I thought was a better coping mechanism than other options like violence, drugs or alcohol. In hindsight, maybe I should have differently…

Anyway, It is a constant stress that I would love to get rid of. Yet, every year is the same story-too close for comfort, but I tend to pass, but barely.

Most people think I am just whining when I talk about weight though since I am pretty fit, appear to eat healthy and am not grossly obese. I run occasional half marathons and mud races. I swim laps periodically with my boyfriend. I play paintball with my son in the fall and go to paddle board yoga classes in the summer. I regularly eat salads with flax seeds and drink coffee with coconut oil. I even own several pairs of yoga pants! Come on! What else does a girl need to do here?

Nonetheless, I am always worrying about this. I am not talking like tons and tons of weight. It is usually 5-15 pounds or 1-2% body fat. Most people roll their eyes and say, “So what, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is I could lose my job. I could loose a retirement that I have 15 years of blood, sweat and tears invested in. The could lose my ability to be a Soldier. More important than all that though, is that I would fail a challenge against myself, one that is seemingly easier than others I have accomplished.

You would think all of the reasons above would make me do it, make me find a way to get far away from that max weight/body fat line. Yet, I still struggle. Yes, I do have a few obstacles that don’t help me that I can’t control. I am short. I have a medically diagnosed slow thyroid. My family has a history of diabetes and extra weight. Oh, and I freaking love eating food, cooking food, and baking food. Fortunately for me though, I do like working out too.

But enough is a enough. I am tired of the stress. So, I have to do something to break the walking-the-danger-zone line game. So I have joined my friend on a 6-days-week/2-month Piyo challenge where she will hold me accountable, daily. I signed up for a half marathon in March and an obstacle mud race in April that I need to train for as well. I am filling my calendar with fun ‘bonus’ work outs: TRX last week, paddle board yoga (in warm pool) this week, and an Insanity class the week after. I wear a pedometer with the goal of getting 10,000 steps a day in just daily movements. Then, the hardest part….eating. I eat tons of healthy stuff, I really do. But I also eat occasional bad things too or just too much in general. Can you really be a glutton with zucchini or endamame though?

I am tempted to just not eat, but I know that I can’t do that and it will not help me in the long run. My metabolism is slow enough already. So, all I can do is plan and work harder and smarter. And there comes a point, where I have to believe I can accomplish this one personal goal. I have accomplished a lot more difficult tasks in my life, so why not this one? How can I let 5-15 pounds beat me? I can’t. I have come too far and done too much.

As I struggle with this new plan (that has the goal of altering my daily habits), I came across a quote from Thomas Edison. “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”

Good point Mr. Edison. Good point. I got this. I can do this. Watch out self and get prepared to be astounded.

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To see this week’s posts from both challenges above, just click below.

Be Wow

Writer’s Quote Wednesday