Normal

Before you get your panties in a bunch about the title of this blog, let’s get this out of the way. There is no normal life. No two and a half kids and a white picket fence. There’s no fitting in with the crowd. No this style, that trend. And there’s absolutely nothing to the entire teen makeover genre where they try to make a nerd into something recognizable. But just in case you didn’t get it the first time, there is no normal person. Period.

But, you have to admit, that when it comes to you especially, there sort of is a kind of “normal,” a status quo. I mean, if you grow a third arm that’s green and has suckers, well, I’m gonna take a wild guess that this is totally not normal for you. So, while you may not be normal, you do have a “normal” that you’re used to.

And when that changes, it can shake up your whole world. For me, having hypothyroidism is constantly revising what I mean when I say normal. Recently,  I was told that my blood levels were “normal,” even though I felt like a really irritable and tired version of myself. But since my thyroid is absolutely fine, then so am I. (Right?)

At the end of the day, I have to call myself normal when I can’t eat most things and I need a pill to remain conscious. To you, that’s not normal, but to me…it’s just a Wednesday.

The point is that the person you are today isn’t necessarily who you will always be. But the key is to be accepting of who you are now and who you are tomorrow. Really, just don’t get too attached to what’s normal for you because that’s completely relative.

But isn’t it exciting to get to know yourself all over again?

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Stereotypes

So, a policeman, a blond, and a vegan walk into a bar…

Now, this could end as a tasteless joke, and you’d probably enjoy that, but let’s consider what images this phrase conjures. What does the policeman look like? What ethnicity is he? How tall is he? Is he in full uniform? Does he have a crew cut?

And what about the blond? Is she tan? Is she beautiful? Is she scantily clad? 

And finally, the vegan. Do they have dreadlocks? Are they eating granola? Are they wearing flip flops? 

Just by giving the barest description of a person, you already seem to know something about them. Don’t you?

Except you don’t. And it’s not right to pin stereotypes on people before you get to know them, even if they seem to fit sometimes. Even when the policeman loves donuts, or the blond occasionally says something dumb, or the vegan chooses to preach their lifestyle to everyone in hearing distance.

So, why is it that even when you’re not fulfilling a stereotype you’re retroactively assigned one?

I mean, let’s say I love yoga. I love to practice yoga and meditation. This doesn’t mean that I also refrain from eating animals. This doesn’t mean that I am not interested in any other kind of exercise. This also doesn’t mean I solely wear yoga pants. (Okay, okay. The last one is true.) It just means I love yoga. That’s it. Fin. And do you know what it also doesn’t mean? That just because I don’t do any of the above that I’m not a true yoga “fan.” It’s like I don’t have the yoga street cred. 

Because we all just need to remind everyone that when you know one thing about someone, well, that’s all you can know for certain…until you get to know them for real. 

But also, if a person doesnt fulfill a certain stereotype, or even if they fill half of one or even all of one, you simply can’t assume. In the end, the time that it takes you to judge someone is the time it would take to ask them about themselves. You should try it sometime. 

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The Fear of Getting Lost

I went somewhere last weekend I’ve never been before. And next weekend, I’ll be going somewhere I’ve never been before, too. Actually, I’m hoping to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps and visit all 50 states. (But the jury is still out if she was actually able to do that and if we’ll just keep adding states so that I can never catch up. Stay tuned for the next 20 years.) 

Ive found that when you’ve seen a bunch of places that you’ve never seen before and had experiences you’ve never dreamt of having, you have to ask yourself: why didn’t I do this so much earlier?

Well, it’s not due to the fact that you’re in crippling debt from going to college, and a liberal arts college, at that. That’s not it at all

It’s the fear of getting lost. Because in this GPS driven world, it’s terrifying to get lost, to suddenly have to lock your doors because you accidentally rolled through the wrong part of town. Everything has to be planned out and plotted before we move forward. It’s lunacy, though spontaneous, to just set off with a roundabout destination in mind. 

But getting lost is where we find ourselves. We learn how to problem solve, and if we’re really lucky, we find something great along the way. All the best things about our favorite places were found when we left the beaten trail. (And usually, getting lost is half the fun because you don’t have to work too hard to do it.) 

We should never fear getting lost; we should only fear getting to our destination and not wanting what we find there. 

But really, it’s a beautiful, wide world out there. Go get lost in it. 

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Resilience 

I got my blood taken the other weekend. And in a very intelligent next move, I decided I would shoot some archery in my backyard right after. While I did hit the target, I also managed to smack my arm with the bowstring when it was fully taut. Which is probably about the second worst injury you can sustain when shooting archery. (Hint, hint: the first has to do with the arrows itself.) But this was still pretty bad.

Due in part to the needle puncture, the crook of my elbow turned into a yellow and green bruised and broken blood vessel mess. (Which I was weirdly proud of.) I would check it every few days to see how things were progressing, but after a week, I forgot about it. And now today, it is completely healed.

And that is amazing. I mean, I literally got stabbed with a needle and then smacked a thick string with considerable force against my arm. That should make you say wow! But it doesn’t. Because you hurt yourself all the time and your body heals. It heals. And it’s become so normal that you don’t even comment on it.

Well, this got me wondering: if the vessel that carries you, your soul or your consciousness or your essence or whatever, is that strong, then how strong are you?

I’d say pretty dang strong.

I mean, we’re not hermit crabs or turtles with this hard shell and soft body on the inside. Because our bodies do fall apart eventually (mine seemingly more than anyone else,what with all my annoying but non-life threatening ailments). They protect most of us, like a shell, but not all of us, unlike a shell.

So, where does the rest of the protection come from? You. You have to believe if your body is strong and can heal itself in time, then so can you. Because until you are able to pull all of your extremities into a small shell, then you’ve got to defend yourself, all of you.

I just hope that the next time that you see a bruise on your skin, you’ll remember that it is, quite literally, only scratching the surface of all that you are. Things can always bruise you, but they can’t hurt you unless you let them.

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Sprint the Marathon

So, what are you? A sprinter or a marathon runner? Do you like to do dashes and race yourself against your own personal best? Or do you like to take long strides and conserve your energy?

Science will tell you that this is because you have certain types of twitch fibers, slow and fast, that make you either a sprinter or a long distance runner, not respectively. But to avoid everyone falling asleep during this blog post and giving everyone nervous flashbacks to high school gym class, let’s skip that part.

My question is whether you’re a sprinter or a marathon runner, are you always giving 100 percent?

I mean, think about it. When you’re running in short bursts, you may give the majority of your energy over to the task, but there’s still gonna be some left over, when you’re done and you slow to a walk. Same thing with a marathon. You’re going to stretch it out as long as possible, but it’s still likely that you can only give so much before you have to stop and keep some energy for yourself, just in case.

As you probably guessed, this is a metaphor for life (which should probably be the title of this entire blog). You can do it fast or slow, but are you really giving it your all? Are you really letting passion take over you completely to see that you reach your long term goal? Are you afraid to burn out completely, or are you scared to keep going and find that there’s no finish line?

It’s kind of like that weird adage where people tell you not to lay yourself down in your coffin all nice and neat, but encourage you to come in swinging and whooping and saying what a wild ride life turned out to be. Because it’s true. You shouldn’t rush and you shouldn’t conserve. You should sprint the marathon, and let the overpowering positive energy of each day move you forward and into the long haul.

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Chasing Inspiration

I know this one is going to hurt, because it hurt me too, but inspiration is not your problem, although you would like to think it is. 

The reason that you haven’t created something isn’t because the room is too hot or cold, your computer is too dark or too bright, or even because “you’re just not feeling it now.” 

The reason is…well, we’ll get to that. First, I want to tell you about how I got to it. 

I went somewhere new this weekend, somewhere beautiful and thought-provoking. And I wasn’t trying to write or even document any part of my trip.  Of course, even though I wasn’t trying to, doesn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t. I was just barely noticing the stream of words that were babbling by in my head, little lines from potential poems or half written articles for imaginary magazines. It had been awhile, I admit, but they were definitely there. 

And when I returned from my trip, the words were still there. They’re there now. It’s just that I haven’t done anything with them. I haven’t allowed myself the time to write them down. To see what they could eventually be. 

So, no. Inspiration isn’t the problem. Take a foot off your trodden, routine path and you will find inspiration. Heck, even look hard enough at the mundane and you can find the extraordinary. 

But what you can’t find so easily? The time to dedicate to your inspiration. But that’s the most important thing. Without doing something, you’ll never know how good you are. And without practice, you’ll never know how good you can be. 

So, chase inspiration. But ask it to leave you alone when the time is right to sit down and make use of your muses. 

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Me Duele Tonto

Little known fact: I am a huge Shakira fan. (Okay, okay, so it’s a very well-known fact.) And one of my favorite songs (La Tortura) is entirely in Spanish. As an ignorant American who took Spanish for years and years in school and then immediately forgot most of it, I can’t really tell what’s being said, but it’s a beautiful song. And so, it was when I was happily listening to it one day that I realized that I did understand some of it. In fact, I understood the following lyrics:

Ay amor me duele tanto

It means, as you may have already deduced from your own 6 years of rudimentary Spanish, “love hurts so much,” or quite literally, “love makes me feel so much.”

And do you know what I thought it said when I listened to it? “Me duele tonto” AKA “I feel foolish.” (which may not even be grammatically correct, because again, ignorance). So, I was definitely wrong, and you may be thinking that there is now no reason for this blog post due to one simple Google search for song lyrics. (Well, this got awkward fast.)

But here’s the rub! “Tonto” also means “stupid.” And I’m like, Eureka! That’s it! That’s my entire life rolled into a nutshell of a nutshell. That’s my autobiography title, a simple double meaning conveniently couched in another language. Thanks, Shakira!

Because that’s my entire problem. Every time I feel stupid, I also feel foolish. They’re inextricably linked for me, as they are in Spanish.

Seriously, I want to avoid any situation ever where I feel like there’s a chance I could look stupid. (This is also known as any situation ever because there’s really no way to know everything about everything, and so I look stupid when I try, but I definitely try.)

And so, I self-sabotage a lot because I can’t seem to overcome the idea that if I ask questions or if I seem like I don’t know something, I’m automatically stupid, and therefore, I feel foolish. Quite literally, feeling stupid is synonymous with being stupid in Spanish and in my own head.

So, how do you overcome this? How do you tell yourself that it’s okay to seem stupid AND foolish? Well, as one of my other favorite women (J.K. Rowling) once said, “I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?” I’d like to think “stupid” could be substituted for “fat” in this quote.

Because there’s a million ways to look or feel stupid. But asking questions so you don’t make mistakes, no matter how “dumb” they sound to your own ears, does not mean you are stupid (tonto). And that also means that you shouldn’t feel (tonto) foolish, either.

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