Our Past Is Our Future

All of us have pasts. Most of them are good [hopefully! LOL], and there are definitely parts of them that we sure aren’t proud of. For me, personally, I know there are huge chunks of my past that I wish I could just erase from my memory.

For years I was in a relationship with somebody that I never should have been dating in the first place. I got caught up in his “bad boy” image [a phase of life I think most of us gals go through, unfortunately], and inevitably got intertwined in his messy, chaotic world for longer than I would have liked. He was the polar opposite of me in every way, and we rarely got along. Our relationship consisted of constant arguments – we were angry more often than we weren’t. I was deeply unhappy, probably clinically depressed if I’m being brutally honest. I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been, and it’s because I was just a shell of myself. It’s weird to say, but looking back on it now, my memories of that time are like I was living outside of my body, just watching this crazy life happen that wasn’t even mine. The worst part of it all was that I had no idea how to get out of it. I felt completely trapped, and it was a feeling that I was not at all comfortable with. Fortunately, an opportunity arose for me to leave the relationship, and as much as I’d like to say that I’ve never looked back since then.. Well, that would be a lie.

It’s been over two years since I completely cut ties with that person, and yet that chunk of my life with him haunts me nearly every day. For years I’ve held onto so much anger about who he was in our relationship; who I was in that relationship. I’ve resented him for trying to break my spirit, for trying to control me and manipulate me, for trying to isolate me from my friends and family. He tried everything he could to turn me into who he wanted me to be instead of just accepting me for who I was. And I in turn allowed him to treat me the way that he did, and that’s what has weighed heavily on me all this time.

It’s not every day that I wake up with an anxiety about my past, and these days it only happens every once in a while. It’s a constant work-in-progress for me to find forgiveness for that person and the way he treated me, and for myself for allowing it to happen. I didn’t know it back then, but I completely had the power and the resources to get out of that relationship anytime I wanted, but I let the fear of coming clean to my family about the person I was spending my time with hold me back. I let the pride of needing to escape the relationship on my own keep me from seeking help. Pride and jealousy – humankind’s biggest enemies.

I have days where the anger just unexpectedly boils up inside me, trying to rear its ugly head. And the will to regret my past and the decisions I’ve made is always lingering. But the other night I had an epiphany, if you will. I was talking to my wedding coordinator about things suddenly just falling into place for me, as they had for her. And it got me backtracking and reliving the last few years of my life and how I got to where I am today. And as much as I hate the person that I was in that time of my life and the relationship I was in, every decision that I made, and the time that I devoted to that guy, led me to where I am today.

If you don’t follow me in Instagram, then you probably don’t know that I recently got a job working for my wedding coordinator as an assistant event planner and the lead writer for the company blog. It’s a huge deal for me – I have been trying for quite a while to get my own IG and blog off the ground as a source of income, but I don’t have enough of an “angle” to make anything of it. So it’s fallen a bit to the wayside, as my life is, generally, pretty boring LOL. Not boring, but there’s nothing worth writing home about, if you catch my drift.

This job, that seemingly just landed in my lap by the fate of some sort of career gods, really happened to come to me due to a series of events. Events that actually started because of the guy I used to date. Oddly enough, he was the one who encouraged me to leave my job at the restaurant where I was working at the time. He knew how much I hated the wacky hours and not having weekends off, so he told me to apply to some jobs on Craigslist – it couldn’t hurt, right? I remember vividly that it was a Wednesday night – I was up late updating my resume and sending it off to a handful of listings online. The next morning I received a call from one of them, an administrative position at an accounting firm. I interviewed, somehow got the job [in an industry I literally didn’t know anything about], and started immediately. And just like that, I kissed the restaurant world goodbye.

I was with the accounting firm for a couple of years. I’m a fast learner, and they noticed this immediately. They trained me in bookkeeping, and I ended up with several of my own clients that I was responsible for. One of them was an insurance broker for employee benefits, who I communicated with regularly and actually saw once a week to exchange documents for their books. As a very detail-oriented and organized person, it wasn’t long before I didn’t have enough work to do around the office. Tasks that initially took me a whole week now only took me a few hours. My boss could tell I was bored, but his client base was focused on small businesses, and he didn’t have any other clients for me to take on. As luck would have it, the insurance company suddenly had an administrative opening; since I already knew the COO via email, and, coincidentally, one of the owners knew my dad, I interviewed for the job and got the offer on the spot. I was whisked from one industry to another that I knew nothing about. Another job where I’d have to start from ground zero and learn everything there was to know.

The health insurance industry is very small. I mean, it’s BIG, but it’s small. Everybody knows each other. I’ve made a lot of friends in my office, as well as in other companies. One of them is my friend Jenny – when we met we just vibed. We have the same sense of humor, and want the same things out of life. She’s one of the strongest women I know – she refuses to fail. She defines the word perseverance. It was through Jenny that I met Mitch – the man that in just under five months I will vow my love and my life to. And through planning my wedding I hired a coordinator who just so happened to grow up with my groom-to-be, and eventually found my niche in the wedding planning industry. And it all started because of a person who, despite all of our issues and arguments, actually is the reason that I am where I am today. How’s that for some perspective?

I have been so fortunate to meet a man who loves me just as I am. Who knows that I can be feisty and unreasonable and just works with me instead of against me. It’s because of my past that I appreciate what my life is today. And despite the occasional desperate desire to block out chunks of my past, every inch of it has defined me and put me on the path to my present and my future.

And the funny thing is, that guy is where he is today because he met me.

If I was a stoner I would probably get off on a tangent right now about how our entire lives are predestined for us when we are born, but that’s a different blog post for another day.

When Life Throws You Curves…

…You learn to swerve.

That’s how the saying goes.. Right?

Maybe, but I think a more appropriate ending would be: …You hit the ball right out of the damn park!

I mentioned in previous posts that 2013 was a tough year for me. And, unfortunately, the first half of 2014 has presented a few challenges as well. I think that as we grow up and really become adults, life truly throws us a lot more curve balls. It’s how we handle these situations that grows and shapes who we are.

And so, I come around to avoiding the “swerve.” Recently, I had to deal with a whole issue of my dog biting someone and having to pay steep hospital bills because a certain individual thought that a midnight trip to the ER was necessary. I will admit, being bitten by a dog, any dog, is a scary situation. HOWEVER, unless you are mauled to the point where you need plastic surgery or TRULY believe that the dog may have diseases or rabies or something of the sort, I hardly think that a hospital trip is necessary.

But, alas, that was not my decision to make, and so, for legal reasons, I am being forced to pay for a mistake made by my pet. And, let me tell you, I avoided this situation like the plague until I absolutely had to deal with it. I hate confrontation, and the most run-ins I’ve ever had with the “law” have been minor speeding and parking violations. The last thing I ever expected to deal with in my life was having to go to small claims court to deal with a literally minor dog bite. But, as an adult, I must take responsibility for the actions of my pets; they have no way to speak for themselves, and are, essentially, a direct extension of my parenting (although, I will point out, that my boyfriend had a significant role in the origination of this so-called bite).

But that is neither here nor there. The point is, I dealt with it, as unwilling as I was, as an adult would. I went to court, and now I’m paying my “dues to society,” if you will.

Someone once said to me that our society is set up so that you can’t get ahead – that you are always one or two steps behind. More times than not, it feels this way. Sometimes, it seems like I am constantly fighting an uphill battle. Will I ever NOT be living paycheck-to-paycheck? Will I ever NOT be breaking even? It seems like I’ll forever be consumed with debt and expenses, but the truth of the matter is, if we fight hard for what we want, and we battle every little thing that comes our way head on, then we WILL succeed.

Life isn’t easy. If it was, we’d all be billionaires; we’d each own an island which we would only be accessible by private jet (which, of course, everyone would have). But, this is just not reality. Every challenge that presents itself to us, whether we choose to face it or not, makes us who we are – these bumps in the road are the building blocks of personalities, lifestyle choices, bad habits, the list goes on. Some of us may avoid problems by over-imbibing and escaping reality. Others of us may just ignore the problem until the absolute last second, and then tread as delicately as possibly until the issue is resolved. The choices we make reflect who we are.

So what are your choices going to be? I know I’m nowhere near perfect. There have been way too many instances in my life where I’ve turned to “friends” and alcohol because I didn’t like something that came across my life path. I don’t know if I’d go as far to say that I regret that decision, but I’ve learned that getting drunk only temporarily numbs your mind, and only puts the problem off until sobriety returns. In short, it is never the answer.

But we all must learn how to deal with things in our own ways; that is part of the beauty of life – having the freedom to choose. At the end of the day, just be sure that you are happy with the path of life that you are on. We will always have regrets, but be conscious of why you have them and how you can change so that you don’t feel that way about certain situations again.

There is an old saying, which you have probably heard – “Take the bull by the horns.” DO IT. There is nothing stopping you from being in charge of your own life and the choices you make to shape your future.

I’ve Got Friends in High Places

I spent my weekend camping under the stars and frolicking in a beautiful area of Northern California called Lake Clementine. It’s two tiny lakes nestled down in a small canyon, just north of Auburn heading toward Foresthill. You can only access your campsite by boat, and the road leading in and out of Clementine is only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. Your first thoughts upon arrival: SKETCHY. But this is immediately overruled by the almost fairy-tale feeling you get when you pull your boat away from the dock.

There is just absolutely no feeling like roughing it for two days and getting (almost) completely away from your daily routine and the annoyances of technology. Two peaceful days couldn’t have been better spent. And the best part of the whole weekend: spending it with recovering addicts – people who can find fun somewhere besides the bottom of a bottle.

So while the boys broke in their new wakeboards, the two girls did what girls do best – gabbed. And got to know each other.

It seems to me that more and more these days we cling to this Peter Pan complex of refusing to grow up. We have so little desire to be monogamous – men like to wait before they’ve been established in their careers before they start wife-hunting. And sometimes then it’s too late – they’re so accustomed to being a bachelor that it’s impossible to ease a woman into daily life. Women are in a phase of feminism and feeling a sense of power in refusing monogamy; being a “slut,” in a sense. Most of us have been planning our dream wedding since we were kids – we want a WEDDING, but it doesn’t really matter who we marry.. “If you’re unhappy, just get a divorce.” And technology – it’s making us crazy! My boyfriend and his ex are friends on Facebook and just started following each other on Instagram – they must still be into each other.. RIGHT?! This constant power struggle is making me want to rip my hair out and scream. As if it’s not exhausting enough that most of us have pets to take care of and a full-time job to get to five days a week, ON TOP OF all the outside drama that the pressures of our daily lives create.

A boyfriend once said to me, “If you’re around nine dull pencils, you will be the tenth. If you’re around nine sharp pencils, you will be the tenth.” This weekend, this quote really resonated with me.

I was raised by a close-knit, morally sound family. My parents and my dad’s parents went to college and got degrees. They are extremely successful and well-off. My sister and I were taught manners and morals from the very beginning. You address your elders as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” You mind your P’s and Q’s. When you eat at friends’ houses you eat everything on your plate regardless of whether or not you like it, and you say “Thank you for dinner,” even if you absolutely despised the entire meal.

Until I went to college, I lived a pretty sheltered life. And not by any doing of my parents, I can assure you of that. I was painfully shy – I played soccer and went to school. I had a couple of neighborhood friends, but mostly I was happy with my nose in a book or hanging out with my parents. Perhaps this is why I gravitate towards people who are wild and dramatic. Everything that happens to them is taken to a level of a four-alarm-fire. All the activities we engage in revolve around alcohol and getting our next fix. This is neither healthy nor progressive. The only difference between where I am now and where I was when I was 23 is my job – I no longer work in a restaurant. Woo hoo. Big friggin deal. I still get up every Saturday and wonder where weekly mimosas with “girlfriends” are taking place.

This past weekend I had a chance to see a different way of life. I spent the weekend with people who realized that the way they were living (basically the way I am now) was getting them no where. They weren’t happy and they made a change. Seeing how happy they are now just simply getting up every single day and living that day to the absolute fullest motivates me to want to be just like that. The tenth sharpest pencil.

This weekend I was happy. I traded the bottom of a beer can for the bottom of a Monster can. I read a book, went fishing, and roasted marshmallows around a campfire instead of going to a bar and blowing money on drinks. I woke up this morning completely sober, and stumbled into the bathroom because turning the overhead light on was blinding, not because my drunk from the weekend hadn’t worn off yet.

This weekend completely solidified my plans for a healthy, happy summer. I hadn’t completely committed myself to it yet, but now I have. I want this summer to be the best one yet – and not because of drinking; but because I fully enjoyed every aspect of my life in every way I possibly could.

To everyone in this world that is holding on to their youth and having a desperate feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) because you’re at work and the idiots who don’t have a 9-5 are out partying – DON’T FEEL THAT WAY. You’re growing up and moving on – time to leave all the partying behind. Time to settle in to your future and to TRULY see what this amazing life has in store for you – because I can assure you, you weren’t put on this earth to get drunk on a boat or at a bar every weekend. It’s time to grab life by the *ahem* balls and strive to be the best, most successful person you could ever hope or want to be.

Armed With Knowledge

As I grow older (albeit – I am still young, HOWEVER), one of the things I am appreciating more and more about life is my mind’s ability and unlimited desire for new knowledge. LEARNING, in essence. In my not-so-distant youth, I had a hard time caring about the things I was being forced to learn in school. Even in the trips that I’ve had the privilege of taking to other countries, I never really truly cared about the history of the places I was seeing. And now I am really regretting my lack of interest while I was abroad.

This semester, I am taking an Art History class; I never would have chosen it for myself, however, it’s a pre-requisite class for my major and so I HAVE to take it. I was seriously regretting it. Like, nails on a chalkboard, pulling teeth.. Yes, that drastic of a dislike. My interest in history has never been too deep. Take me back a year or two? Sure.. But all of the time leading up before my birth? WHO CARES? Okay, I’m not THAT selfish, but you get the idea. History – not my thing. Until this class.

Maybe it’s because I AM getting older and I AM (believe it or not) maturing, but for some reason this class really made something in my head click. From the first day of class, I was drawn to the subjects in which we were learning. This class focuses on the Paleolithic Era through the Middle Ages; times in history where we don’t even know things for sure, because they are pre-literal and nothing is written or documented. And maybe it’s studying these periods of time, where people truly had hardships, and had to move every single day in search of their next meal, that make me realize that learning is important. In so many ways, we as a people have made so much progress in all of this time (roughly 30,000 years), and, yet, at the same time, we have really learned nothing at all. History DOES repeat itself. There were wars, battles, takeovers, royalty, etc. And there still are today. There was slavery and inequality in women, and in some places in the world, that is still happening today. How can such a technologically advanced culture be SO ancient in every other way?

I guess this post is for those of you who think you don’t want to go to school – that it isn’t for you. If you have the opportunity, if someone will help you finance it (goverment, family, whoever), DO IT. GO TO SCHOOL. Maybe not now, but it’s NEVER TOO LATE to get an education. There are 70-year-olds in some of my classes at Sac State. I am almost 27 and I’m FINALLY realizing the value that learning can bring to the self. I don’t necessarily believe that having a degree is the most important part of having an education, but absorbing and maintaining as much knowledge as possible – I believe that THAT is where the value of getting a degree really lies. After all, knowledge = power.

And, yes, I’m going to say it. Our society is DUMB. We are LAZY. We want a five-hour-shift restaurant job because it gives us time before or after to go out partying and “stay young” forever. *Sidenote: I will say that restaurant jobs do have the perk of allowing people to get an education while staying gainfully employed. America has this ridiculous Peter Pan complex. I won’t deny it, it wasn’t too long ago that I was still holding on to this fantasy of youth as well. But at some point we have to let go. Our brains are the most amazing organ we have. We are the only species (to our knowledge) that have the ability to walk and talk and go into a classroom and learn. Why are we lowering our own standards by getting sucked into the party scene? I don’t know if you know anything about Sacramento, but there is a significant population of homeless drug addicts that live in the downtown area. I see them all the time. In the dead of summer, wrapped in woolen blankets, sitting on a curb, rocking back and forth and chattering to themselves. Is this really the society we’ve allowed ourselves to come to? Our brains are not weak! They are STRONG! They have the ability, if we allow them, to maintain and retain so much knowledge and information. I see these poor individuals every day, and I can’t help but wonder how escaping reality through drugs can be that appealing. It’s disappointing that certain individuals can allow themselves this fate.

Guess what? Nothing is predetermined. We decide our own fate. That’s part of the beauty of life. You choose your own path, you take yourself where you want to go. I don’t think I believe that we are weak to substances. I think we are afraid of struggle and afraid of challenge. We want the easy route. If things don’t fall into our laps, we get angry or upset and we use drugs to escape. I’m not sure I believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I hope that all of the people who lost their lives to substance abuse have the ability to look back and regret the fate they chose. I, for one, am so happy with the place that I am now. That I am lucky enough to have a family who will support me and help me pay for an education.

I guess the bottom line is.. Don’t be lazy. Don’t take the easy route. Look around at the people who have chosen “easy” – drugs, drinking, homeless; no clothes, no friends, no family. And look at what you can have when you challenge yourself and your brain. A home (even if it’s a studio apartment, it’s a roof over your head and place to keep the things you have), family & friends.. etcetera, etcetera! Most importantly, though, you will have a future, an opportunity for any kind of life you want! And if you want to give yourself over to youth and partying AFTER an education, then that’s your choice. But don’t soil the power your brain has before you even give it a fair chance.

As far as we know, we only get ONE chance at this life. ONE chance to prove to ourselves and to the people in our lives that matter (or maybe even those who don’t) that we can make it. And for everyone, the definition of “life” is going to vary a little bit. Some people strive for a mansion, and perhaps paid for by a job they don’t enjoy. Others live a meager life, but they LOVE what they do. But, again, the beauty of DECISIONS, and the power we have as individuals to make them. So take your ONE chance and make something amazing out of it. Push yourself beyond your limits. Don’t hold yourself back, no matter what. Believe in an afterlife, and the ability to regret once you’re there. You shouldn’t have regrets. You shouldn’t let fear hold you back. Every single day I am forcing myself to go beyond my limits, to push myself even when I absolutely know I won’t like the results. Live your life the way it’s been intended for living. It’s taken me to age 26-and-a-half to realize that life is precious, and a proper education is a golden opportunity. It’s never too late to take your chances, to move into the next phase of YOUR life.

Live a life you are proud of.