What Are You Waiting For In Your Thirties?

Sorry for the long post delay. I feel like I’ve waited way too long- which is the theme of this post.

Do you ever feel like you’re waiting around for that day when your life will get much better? For that moment you are finally in the shape of your life? For the year you can quit your job and retire? For that future time period when you can travel the world? And then you can be happy?

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Sometimes I catch myself waiting in this way. But what I’ve learned this year is that it’s almost impossible to be happy later if you can’t be happy now. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life worrying- it’s my go to habit. I can feel myself clenching up sometimes, preparing for the worst. I guess I’ve always felt like somehow my anxiety helps me to get things done.

However, lately, when I focus on manually taking down my anxiety levels and allowing myself to be happy now, I still get things done. I don’t fall into a valley of hedonism like I’ve been afraid of doing. Nothing falls apart because- god forbid- I haven’t worried about it today. My anxiety hasn’t seemed to be necessary to have a productive day.

This lack-of-waiting-to- be-happy mentality brought up thoughts of another trip with Jane. We haven’t taken a trip together just for fun in over seven years. Last time we went to Austin, so this time we picked the equally bizarre city of Portland, and it was wonderful.

At first it felt weird planning a trip purely for fun, but why wait?And why not? We just got back yesterday night, and we were so happy we’d made the leap, took the trip, and didn’t wait for some ‘better time’ in the future.

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First night in Portland!

You are allowed to enjoy life right now. Choose happiness right this moment. Of course you will feel sad and anxious sometimes, and that’s absolutely okay and actually good and normal. But anxiety doesn’t need to be the status quo. You can feel all the feels. But you don’t have to stay miserable..or anxiously await a better time.The future is uncertain. Choose to be happy now. What are you waiting for?

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Blue Star Donuts!

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Voodoo!

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Portland Love!

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The Bowling Ball Leaning Dilemma, or Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

It’s been awhile since I’ve last gone bowling, but it’s been barely any time since I’ve worried about something. Both of these things are connected by a bad habit.

You see, I have a ridiculously useless habit when I go bowling. I throw the ball down the lane (and I seriously mean throw, as I have no technique. I only go bowling for fun or birthday parties). Once I’ve thrown the ball, I watch its trajectory down the lane, and then, very predictably, I lean my entire body in the direction I want the ball to go.

This crazy-looking full body lean is sometimes accompanied by arm waving, pushing an imaginary force that connects me to the ball and will accomplish a strike by telepathy. Astonishingly, my leaning telepathy has zero effectiveness in getting the ball to change course. All the leaning does is scratch my itch to DO something.

Lately, I’ve decided to pay attention to the hum of worry that naturally clouds my mind from the moment I wake up. I vaguely worry that I’ll do something wrong and wind up with people mad at me, or lose friends. I worry that I’ll forget all of the tasks I must do later that day or “some day soon.” I worry that when I’m happy for no reason I’m not being ‘reasonable’ or ‘down to earth enough.’ I worry about being happy in general, because if I’m happy now, then I must have settled.

Take a look at your own life- is there a sheen of mild to medium worry coursing through your moments? Worry might have become so habitual in your life that you barely notice it anymore. Maybe you feel like worry  helps you accomplish something by keeping tasks in the forefront of your mind. On the contrary, think of worry as the equivalent of that bowling lean, where your best effort will always be completely useless. Sometimes when you feel like something is helping, your instincts are actually fooling you.

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The Trouble With Thankfulness In Your Thirties

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re still here, facing the possible Black Friday carnage, and the insane cyber Monday heading directly our way.

We may have felt sincerely grateful on Thanksgiving for our situations and our families and our friends, but now holiday shopping is upon us, and work is crazier than ever, and it’s hard to remember the peace we may have felt for a second or two last Thursday.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day- how gratefulness slips through our fingers so easily, especially with years of built up stress and to-do-list habits. I can be grateful for a moment for one second, and then suddenly my mind will be racing with worry about something I don’t have or what I have yet to get done.

It’s extremely difficult to let go of the sometimes very painful old-feeling moments in life- those moments where we’re hit with a sad situation, or when we screw something up or feel guilty about something, or someone hurts us, and those same-old-feelings come up once again. It’s very hard to be thankful for all we have, when seemingly large problems are hitting us with 30-plus years of habitual worry once again.

However, I feel like it’s possible and actually quite necessary to feel thankful in my thirties way more than I have before. Every day I try to start again. It’s like brushing your teeth- you have to keep doing it- it doesn’t just last.

There have been some stressful work situations going on in my life lately where I’ve been angry and feeling wronged and hurt. Sometimes I’ve stewed in those emotions and sometimes I’ve expressed them and tried to be clear about what was wrong. All of that action had its place, and I think that it was good to express the problems and my feelings about them. However, after awhile, it became impossible to stew in the negative feelings anymore. I was causing myself unhappiness and grief. There was nothing to do but to concentrate on things that were still good- and there were many things to be thankful for.

I started feeling thankful for people who smiled at me when they walked by. For children who were adorable and quiet and sweet. For the cool breeze I felt as I walked to work. For the beautiful park I was able to run around in the morning. For coworkers who made funny jokes. For hot showers. For beautiful texts from my family and friends. For delicious hummus. For my Spotify playlist.

And I started to feel better.

We have so much and we forget. I think that forgetting is normal and natural. The habit of not thinking about the small stuff has been a survival tool that’s gotten us through more than thirty years of life. We want more and more- which can be great. We’re in our thirties- we have big dreams. We want an amazing career and an amazing marriage and maybe a family and a creative empire and a wonderful home and creative control and financial freedom.

And those big dreams are extremely important. Huge, in fact.

But we’ll never appreciate them if we can’t be thankful for what we have today.

Each moment is a win. Each day is jam packed with small and beautiful things. Don’t be afraid to appreciate them again and again and again- Thanksgiving is every day.

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Beautiful terrace view on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles 

Sometimes the Solution Isn’t to be Nicer

I struggle hard to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. I strive to do my absolute very best.  I hate regret. I hate it.

I try very hard to word things correctly, and to be aware of what I might have done wrong in the past so I can always do things right in the future. I think hard about people’s feelings. I try to be helpful. I try to be fair. I worry about people’s happiness. I hope I’m being nice enough. I hope that I’m not doing something wrong and upsetting someone. I strive to be the best possible friend. I strive to be the best possible family member.

I used to be slow to return texts and emails– I struggle to be faster.

I used to let friendships lapse a bit when I got into relationships– I’m now very aware of this issue and have sworn my allegiance to my friendships.

I used to let significant others do what they wanted, even when it made me extremely unhappy or suffer– I now attempt to communicate what I need early on. This is very hard for me to do. I sometimes feel awkward communicating what I want without being asked but I know I have to.

I used to be more outspoken– now I struggle to be careful with my wording… to the point that I’d almost rather be silent than say the wrong thing by accident.

I used to believe that being nice (and down to earth and rational) could solve almost any problem– I’m now starting to understand that it cannot.

Sometimes when people surprise me by acting in what I perceive to be a sudden cruel way- possibly by saying something mean to me, or flaking on me, or disappearing on me, or by not accepting me, or telling me that they’re upset with me but hadn’t let me know before, I freak out. I obsess over what I could’ve done differently. I look through my old texts or emails, and think about conversations. I wonder if I worded things incorrectly. I worry that maybe if I could have somehow been even nicer and more thoughtful, things would be better.

But then I think about all the amazing friends and family members who accept me even when I’m busy or don’t return texts immediately or say random things that come to my head without editing them. I think about all the people who I accept and forgive all the time…even when they’re slow to respond to me or jot down brisk silly texts, or seem distracted and don’t act the best they can all the time. I realize that the people in my life are imperfect. The same way I am imperfect. And I’m suddenly starting to realize that the RIGHT people, the amazing ones, will forgive the dumb mistakes or the slow emails or the days between seeing each other when we get busy.

Sometimes being nicer and nicer in an effort to make things work with certain people isn’t going to ever make things work anyway. Perhaps the answer is to have more respect for myself and for the people who forgive my transgressions because they know that I’m doing the best I can. Because they love me for who I am, however imperfect.

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