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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Stats of Life


I write, ramble and ponder. Seemingly, there are no consistent topics to my posts. I just go with whatever inspires me that day. Sometimes it’s an angry poetic rant to people I can’t approach in person. And yet, other times I may weave together a romantic story involving a cat and a machete.

What do those have in common? Now that, took a moment to consider…

The daily post today said:

Go to your Stats page and check your top 3-5 posts. Why do you think they’ve been successful? Find the connection between them, and write about it.

When I looked at my top four posts, I scratched my head. How the heck are these things related?

  1. Four haikus together that gave advice to the bitter, greedy, hateful people of the world.
  2. A haiku that talks about our childhood dreams and adult reality.
  3. A fictional romance about a cat who links a machete-weilding hot guy with a home-owning girl in yoga pants.
  4. My personal ramblings, and a couple of iPhone pictures, on how I am discovering myself.

The connection is life, but not just any life. I am not talking about zombie lives or miserable/hateful/bitter lives. No, I am talking about lives with purpose. They all encourage passion and personal improvement. They speak to the hearts and souls of us as human beings and whisper-give it a try, be more than yesterday, seize the moment and don’t give up.

I have lived that just-barely-breathing life before and vow to not return to it. I promised myself to live in the moment and plan for my tomorrows. Each day, I want to be better, stronger and wiser. Sometimes I exceed. Other times, well, I fall on my face. But, that is OK. That’s life. If we get another chance to try again the next day, we are blessed.  I think that is how these four random topics are connected. Now go look around and relish in all that you have, and go take a few baby steps towards your dreams. One step at a time, you can get there. And who knows, maybe you will inspire some bitter/sad person, accomplish that childhood dream, or meet your soul-mate. And in between all that, you may just discover something new about yourself. 🙂

Best wishes.

 

Nato

Working Towards a Dream


workFor short time in life, I was blissfully working my dream job at a photography studio. Then, the U.S. economy crashed, I was laid off and then sent to a war zone. It was a lot to process in a short period. Ironically, going to war saved me from even more stress though.

My dream job was working for a photo studio. All day long I was either taking/editing pictures or designing coffee-table style albums. It was creative and exciting so I didn’t mind the hard work, long hours and average pay. I was learning elegance to a basic craft the Army had taught me.

As a military photographer/journalist, I learned to capture scenes of training events and actual missions through photography and articles. It was shoot (my camera, not my weapon), move and gather information for a corresponding story. If you missed a shot or quote, that was it, you missed it since there typically was no re-do. I covered assignments where I photographed various missions in small towns while deployed to Bosnia. There, I got to see the hope in the eyes of locals as they got the help they needed and pride in the faces of the Soldiers who got the chance to make a difference. Other times, I got to sit one on one with a Soldier and really talk to them about what they did and why, which generally resulted in an interesting feature article. It was rewarding, and I loved it. However, there was more for me to learn in the aspects of photography (and journalism).

That is where the civilian photo studio job filled the gaps. I photographed weddings, community events, portrait sessions and magazine shoots. I was learning more about my camera than I ever knew existed. I discovered that lighting and angles could create magic. I was witnessing huge moments of people’s lives: weddings, anniversaries, and milestones of their children (newborn through senior pictures). I created memories that they would cherish for years and perhaps even generations. Once, I even had the honor of unknowingly making the last portrait of a beloved grandmother before she unexpectedly passed away. The family called in their grief to order a candid picture I had taken of her laughing at a recent wedding. My photograph was to be her memorial picture. To me, that was an honor that I will always remember.

I’ve had some friends say, you can’t just take pictures your whole life. Frankly, that kind of hurt and I was rather offended. I mean is my dream less worthy? Less valid? I knew what they meant though. It is hard to make living off of photography. Just like it is hard to make a living off of writing, painting, singing and dancing. Those facts are pretty accurate according to statistics. And even when I did have a full time job at a photography studio, the pay was not enough to support my family alone. I could only do it because I was married and there was another income then.

Well, the dream has stopped and reality is now here. After redeploying and divorcing, I could not realistically return to the photo studio job. It just would not have been financially wise. But, as adults, we have to overcome and adapt to survive. That doesn’t mean that I have given up my dreams on working as a photographer and writer. No. It just means I have to readjust my plan. And plans take work, according to Colin Powell. “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”

For me, hard work is doing what I need to do to be financially stable, completing my obligations and THEN working on my dreams. So, I accepted a government civilian job as an editor for technical manuals. (Yes, there is a sleeping hazard associated with this job at times but it is a miracle job nonetheless, but that is another story altogether.) Then, after that, I am a Soldier who can be a photograph/writer/commander for the Army Reserve. (Only five more years and ?? deployments to go before I can retire too!) AND THEN, when I have time, I shoot pictures for people as my third job. Or as I like to say, my bonus job. I have also started two blogs so I can work on my writing and photography as well. It may not be the dream pattern and gets a little hard to schedule at times in between a social life, but, it is what I need and want to do. One job pays the bills and helps me develop my editing skills. The other job makes me serve something greater than myself all while helping me maintain my skills at photography, writing and resiliency. And then, I can play around and shoot everything from weddings to senior pictures to work group shots. It is a lot of work at times. However, I think it will pay off eventually. And according to Sam Ewing, it shows that I am not a quitter. “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”

Overall though, I truly believe that nothing will ever happen if I don’t make it happen. Like Powell said, dreams don’t just happen by magic. You have to figure out how to get to where you want to be. And when given a road block, you find a new way. There is always more than one way to a destination, but the only destination I want is the ultimate me. The best thing is, I get to decide on the route.

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For Dungeon’s Prompt ~ Live to Work or Work to Live.

 

 

Brink of Madness or Edge of Greatness?


My schedule has been completely off for the last month. It has been crazy busy with my two  jobs and trying to squeeze in blogging and fun. To many, I may look like a super-organized, fun person. Sure, that may be part of the case, but I also know me. When something is bothering me, I am more active. When I want to avoid something, I am extremely productive.

There is nothing major wrong in my life. Frankly, I am quite happy most days. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends. I am blessed with two jobs. (No, neither one of them is my dream job per say, but they will do for now.) I am working out more and eating healthier, so I feel fit and energized. I fill my time with things that I am passionate about: reading, writing, horseback riding, photography, and being outside. I actually feel like my life is just beginning in many ways. I spent years of my life in an unhappy marriage and in the middle of that, a few years being deployed. I learned to embrace solitude. I learned to depend on myself. I learned how to cope with stress.

So now, here I am in the midst of the most beautiful time of my life and something is off. I can feel it, but I don’t know what it is…

Fast forward now. It was nearly two months ago when I wrote the above paragraphs in a draft post. Things have gotten even more hectic and busy. But I am still here and still busy. I am still stressed. but smiling. Now that some time has passed, I wonder, have things been off? Or, is it just that things are new? Different? Headed in a direction where they should be going? Change is hard.

I read somewhere once (and I can’t recall where-sorry, as I do like to attribute) that writers tinker with madness. Though I have written for the military for years, I am still hesitant to call myself a writer. I have published articles for my job, but I feel like I haven’t written anything worthy of the title writer. In some ways, that is why I started this blog. I had so many thoughts, phrases and stories in my head. I would lay there thinking of these, but they never went anywhere. I was afraid to write. Feared rejection. Scared to try. So I did nothing.

Now, I don’t care as much. I am not nearly as afraid. Perhaps its the wisdom of age. I mean, what can rejection do to me at this point in my life? How can it hurt me? Perhaps its the realization of age. I have wasted enough time in my life putting off who and what I am. I muted my personality and desires to make others happy. I can’t do that anymore, nor do I want to. Perhaps its the fact that I have been deployed a few times. I have seen poverty and hopelessness. I know how lucky I have it. And that knowledge urges me to seize my opportunities, not complain (as much) and live life with a passion.

No longer can I sit and wait and say, soon I will do it. My soon is now. Who knows how many tomorrows I have? And, if I don’t start taking steps to make my dreams into actual goals, they will always be just that – dreams. So one day at a time, I will try to take steps towards the me I am supposed to be, the life I am meant to live. I will be passionate. I will not be afraid to try. And when I fail at some things (which is inevitable), I will try again another way with a smile on my face. Now, whether I am on the brink of madness or the edge of greatness…I guess we will see in time:)

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For the Daily Post ~ A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma.