Monday, March 31, 2014

Miss. Independent

I've always been an independent person.  Even when I was young, I remember telling my parents I wanted to do things by myself, and on my own.  I think independence is a good thing, especially in a day and age where you often have to be.  I mean I began my own business when I couldn't find work in grad school, I became an independent sales rep for a food company when I was having trouble finding work here in Denver.  I'm finding ways to make ends meet, I'm attempting to pull myself up, and I'm doing these things on my own for the most part.

Can a person be too independent though?  This is a thought I've had for a while now as more and more people have been telling me I've become distant.  I've thought this as I realize I don't get invited out by people anymore.  And I've thought this a lot as I look back at my previous romantic relationships.  Sure I can provide for myself, I can take care of myself, I can do what I have to do...but it's sure nice to share the load.  Have I become too independent for my own good?

For so long I haven't had a choice, I've had to do things for myself.  Being away from my family, and many of my friends meant that when I got sick I had to make my own tea.  When my car's battery died, I had to either find someone willing to give me a jump, or call AAA myself.  When the trash needed taken out when it was snowing, I had to take it out.  I've only had myself to rely on for a long time.  When people ask to do these things for me, I find it weird, because I've had to do it myself. And often when they don't do it the same way I would have it's hard for me to see.  So letting go of some things that I've been doing for so long, can be difficult.

I was recently told that one of the reasons a past relationship fell apart, was because as we both dealt with a difficult situation I turned into myself for comfort, when they tried to comfort and share their pain with me.  Now this was not the only one reason that this relationship fell apart, trust me there were other reasons too.  It made me think though, how many people have I unintentionally hurt, and turned away, who were trying to help me, and I was being my independent self not seeing their offer.

Don't get me wrong, the idea of not having all the weight on my shoulders is a nice idea, but very difficult for me to grasp.  It would be nice to have someone to take care of me, friend, family, significant other, etc., but the concept is foreign to me so when people try, I guess I inadvertently push them away.  Does this make me too independent?  Am I too set in my ways?  Can I change?

My paternal grandmother was a rather independent woman.  She divorced her husband in a time when divorce wasn't acceptable, and she never remarried.  She supported herself, and my father in a career that was male dominated. But growing up I noticed things like her lack of social relationships, her strict ways things had to be done, and her her general "Curmudgeon-ness" as my family referred to it as.  I swore that I never wanted to be like her in those ways, I wanted to not only enjoy life, but enjoy the people I spent it with, and be flexible.  Part of me now fears that I'm becoming exactly like her.

I know people can change, and I'm hoping I can change.  I just don't even know where to begin this time.  I guess when you have a fear of being so far on one end of the spectrum and being totally reliant on others, you may take things too far and become too independent instead.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What Tomorrow Brings

Two years ago today, I began one of the strangest, scariest, most wonderful journey's I've ever been on...and it seems to all finally be coming full circle.

Two years ago today I packed up my car, and began the two day journey from Kentucky, to Colorado.  I didn't have a job lined up, I didn't know where I was even going to live when I got here.  All I knew was that I felt like I needed to be here, so I had to follow my heart and give it a shot out west.  I can only imagine this is what the settlers felt when they went west.  Hopeful for new opportunities, and better lives.

The past two years have been challenging.  I've struggled with financial issues, and employment problems, and building a life here from the ground up.  But the past two years have been fairly awesome at the same time.  I've done things I never imagined doing like snowboarding, and learned to step out of my box every once and a while.  I know that without the struggles, I wouldn't have had the chance to do some of those things I've done, and enjoyed doing.  I also know that I wouldn't have grown into the person that I have become.

It only seems fitting that tomorrow, two years after arriving in Denver, I will begin at my first full time job since 2007.  Although it's still not my dream job, and still not enough to completely live on, it feels like the first real opportunity I've had in a very long time.  It will give me the chance to finally complete my Master's, and at the same time, become certified in early childhood education here in the state.  At first it was difficult to see this place as the opportunity that it is.  Let's face it, we all want the dream right out of the gate if we can get it.  I'm beginning to see though that this is a chance for me to finally grow, and complete some roads I stopped building a long time ago.  It's also a chance for me to gain more experience, and continue learning.  It's a chance!

Many people have often told me that picking up and moving across the country without much of a plan was brave.  My response has always been in jest that it was that or stupid, I'm never sure of which.  The fact is that there is a thin line between bravery and stupidity, and sometimes we need to skirt that line more than we often do.  Moving to Denver was both brave, stupid, and a huge gamble.  I finally feel like in that gamble though the house isn't winning every hand anymore.  Sure they're still winning a hand or two, but I'm finally winning some hands too.  Sometimes you have to take a risk, and you won't know how, or when, that risk is going to payout.  You just have to keep trying, not give up, and hang on for the ride sometimes.  I don't know if this new job is going to be the "breakthrough" I've been waiting for the past two years, but I'd be a fool to not hang on and see where it takes me.

One of my favorite sayings is, "Don't give up on today, for you never know what tomorrow may bring."  Here's hoping things are finally coming full circle, and my tomorrows keep getting better and better.  :-)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Victories

Throughout this journey there have been small victories, but on January 22nd I believe I had a very big victory.  Monday the 20th of January, was my birthday.  As I've gotten older my birthday's have become just another day, and I believe this is true for many people.  You begin to not celebrate the small victory that is making it to a year older.  We often view this day, not as a victory, but as just another day to push through, only with cake.  This year I almost did the same thing, pushed through the day like it was no big deal, but instead I chose to make something big happen.

As many of you have seen I have my bucket list posted on this site.  There's nothing special about my bucket list compared to other people's, it changes, morphs, and adapts just like I do.  In the beginning of this blog though I tried to be sure several things got marked off every year.  In the past few years that's kind of gone by the wayside.  When I moved to Colorado, and was able to mark that off I kind of stalled with my goals and dreams.  For some reason just being was enough for a while.  I think we all need to do that sometimes when things get overwhelming, but we also need to pull ourselves out of that and get back to doing things that make us a bit uncomfortable sometimes.  So since I didn't do much last year for my big landmark birthday...I decided I needed to do something this year.

In March I will have lived in Colorado for two years, and one of the most common questions people ask you when you tell them you moved here is, "Do you ski/snowboard?"  I laugh because winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are such a big thing here, and sports of any kind have never been a big thing in my own life, with the exception of a soccer stint in Middle School.  I've always wanted to learn how to ski though, even before I moved here.  So after talking to some people about where to go to get lessons (I was not just going to strap some wood to my feet and hope for the best, I wanted to really learn how to not kill myself, lol), and learning about the differences in learning to ski and snowboard I signed up for a lesson at Winter Park Resort with my friend Leigh Ann who was also a novice to learn the basics of snowboarding.

Let me just say first of all that they sure as hell make it look easier than it really is on television!!! I felt like a toddler learning how to walk all day. And yes I even had to learn how to walk in snowboard boots which was a challenge!  After almost six hours of help, I found myself not only standing and going down a hill on a snowboard, but I found myself loving every second of it, even if I still wasn't able to let of of the instructor without falling.  Something that once seemed like an impossibility was not only happening, but was turning out rather well.  I didn't break any bones, and although I fell quite a few times (the chairlift is the bane of my existence!!!!) I found myself laughing each time as I laid in the snow.  I may never end up being an Olympic Snowboarder, and I may not even be able to do more than just keep my balance going down a hill, but I actually did it...and plan to do it again in the near future. (At least once more this season!!)

My very first attempt to move with both feet strapped in!
Getting off the chairlift may be the most difficult part about snowboarding!

Trying to go down the big hill for the first time!
Just taking a break because my legs were Jello!
I think every snowboarding trip should end with s'mores!!

My new goal is to be able to snowboard for at least 5 feet solo, without having to have the instructor hold on to me.  I have a feeling if I go back to the Ski + Ride School in Winter Park that will happen no problem.  (Seriously if you want to learn, go there they're amazing!!)  Many people would say that I didn't actually accomplish what I had marked on my bucket list, I didn't fully learn how to snowboard in one 6 hour day...but I disagree that it shouldn't be marked off.  Not only did I accomplish getting up on a snowboard and learning about heel side, and toe side and how to do them. But I think that by getting out there and trying it was a huge accomplishment.  We have to remember that we aren't going to be experts at everything, but that doesn't mean that by trying we didn't accomplish it.

I decided to put my thirty-something year old self out there and try something new.  Something many people will never try in their lives due to fear, or use their age as an excuse.  Not only was it a victory for doing it in the first place, but it was a victory for doing something many people wouldn't have.  This year I remembered that age is only a number, and only holds us back from the things we allow it to.

Thanks Leigh Ann for going with me, and for the pictures of me snowboarding (and the closing photo and quote which is perfect!). Thanks Winter Park Resort's Ski + Ride School for the awesome day and great instruction (I'll be back as soon as I have the money again!). And thanks mom for not freaking out too much at the thought of me going down a mountain with nothing but a piece of wood strapped to my feet. ;-)


Saturday, January 18, 2014

What's Comfortable

People say that things happen when they least expect them, and when they are just doing what they love and having fun.  This week is my birthday.  I'm turning an age I will never fess up to, and I must admit that my life has gone in a direction that I NEVER thought I would be going at this point in time.  That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

If my life had gone the way that I believed it was going to go in I would still be in Kentucky, or Southern Indiana living a life that was "comfortable".  At some point though I knew that comfortable wasn't what I wanted.  I wanted to branch out, try new things, and step outside of my comfort zone.  Even this week I'll be welcoming my old age by stepping outside of my comfort zone and going to learn how to snowboard. (Mark that one off the bucket list!)  The fact is that sometimes it's scary to step outside of that comfortable state of mind we all get stuck in.  In my experience it's always been worth it though.

I'm an over-thinker, and analyze my life quite often.  This is sometimes a good thing, but this also has it's drawbacks.  For instance, I find myself over-thinking and analyzing whether moving to Colorado was a good choice or not every time I have a struggle such as unemployment or financial stress.  Was moving here a bad idea?  No!  I'm happy, I like who I am, and I've met great people and done some rather amazing things since being here.  But I over-think and analyze when things are rough, and of course I feel like moving here was a bad idea then.  I'd probably be in the same situations though if I hadn't moved here.  It's easy to blame your problems and struggles on having gone outside of that comfort zone though.  It's the easy way out.

Last night I was reminded about how over thinking and analyzing can be a bad thing though.  I was awake into the early morning when many were just waking up for work.  I hadn't been able to sleep, and what little dozing off I was able to do was interrupted by a reoccurring nightmare that began about a year ago.  You see a photo of someone had come up into my social media feed and reminded me of time I had spent with them.  I miss this person, but I removed them from my life for a reason.  Somehow they keep creeping back in though.  Maybe I let my guard down because I'm hopeful that they have changed.  Or maybe they push their way back into my mind because I need to be reminded that things change, no matter how hard we hold on and fight that change.  Whatever the reason I spent my night analyzing their place in my life, and thinking about why I had let them in in the first place.  This morning I found myself with the dark circles under my eyes from a restless night of sleep, an upset stomach, and a lack of ambition and joy to do anything today.  By over-thinking, and analyzing I had allowed that person to do exactly what I had pushed them out of my life for doing.

That person is comfortable to me.  They are my comfort zone, and I have a feeling that's why I let them into my life time and time again.  The fact is, I know I don't like how they make me feel anymore.  I don't like the person I am when I'm with them anymore.  It's scary to think that moving my life away from a person is a good thing, but sometimes you have to do it.  I don't want to be that person with them anymore, so I need to change and not be with them.  Just like I needed to change and move away from Kentucky to be the better me I have become since I moved here.

When I have stepped outside of my comfort zone, I've found new adventures, had fun, and discovered new skills and passions.  I'm not saying every time you step out you're going to find these things, or that you have to do these things every day.  I'm saying you have to step outside of that comfort zone and be a bit uncomfortable sometimes to find those things that you do enjoy doing, and love.  As I turn another year older I hope that I am able to do this more often.  To take more chances, be uncomfortable more, and find more of those things that I enjoy and have fun doing.  I hope that by doing this other aspects of my life will begin to improve and advance, and a snowball effect will begin to take place.  I don't know if that will happen, but I want to at least try.  First things first though, I have to try snowboarding before I can know if I'm any good at it and enjoy it.  ;-)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I know over the years I have asked for many things such as, a Pony, Teddy Ruxpin, violin lessons, a television, even just plain old cash.  Over the years you have gotten me some items I put on my list, and some were just dreams of a young girl with no understanding of what the holiday's are truly about.  I know it's been years since I've written you a letter, or provided you with a list, but even a woman in her thirties sometimes needs to hold on to a holiday wish.

I have a special request this year, and it's not something that will be easily wrapped up with a bow, and placed in your sleigh.  It's a wish I've discovered many people have this time of year, but only this year I truly feel like I really understand why they are wishing for it.  You see, I don't want things this year under my tree, I want my family.  Although I know this is an impossible request because of work schedules, airline prices, and various other reasons it's still my only request this year.

Last year I spent the holiday's alone as well, and although difficult, what got me though was the belief that I would be able to be with them this year.  This year I found myself in another situation of being unable to be there again, and this time the pain is more raw, and almost unbearable.  I can't travel this year because I am again having to work, to make not even enough money to survive on.  My family can't come spend the holiday's with me, because with a mother who is a minister she is working Christmas Eve, and no one can afford the insanely high airline prices this time of year.

Sure my family has visited me for a week here and there, and I have been able to go and visit them for a short time as well.  The thing is that as a man who travels the world in one night I'm sure you understand Kentucky and Colorado are not close together.  I can't take a weekend to go back home, the flights alone would take up most of my time away.  And although technology helps span that distance, virtual hugs can't compare to the real thing.

I know I am not the first person who can't be with their family for the holiday's, and I know I will not be the last.  Military personnel, emergency workers, medical professionals, and various other professions have to work too.  And maybe I can't be with my family this year because I'm supposed to have a better understanding of what these individuals go through every year.  I don't know the reasons, but what I do know is that everyone deserves a little time with their family this time of year, and when you don't have that choice the holiday's are far from enjoyable.

My family under my tree I know you can't really provide Santa.  I mean elves can't make them in your workshop.  But maybe you could help me find my hope and faith this Christmas, because I've begun to lose those over the past two years.  Maybe you could help me find my belief again that I won't have to spend every holiday alone.  Because to be honest, crying every time I see a commercial on TV about a family reunited for the holiday's really puts a damper on your night.

I know New Year's isn't really your department, but it sure would be nice to have a job next year that would allow me to live comfortably and lets me have some time off to be able to see my family more than one time a year, and on the holiday's.  Maybe you could help with that.

I still believe in holiday miracles, and I still believe in the holiday spirit.  I mean it was 14 years ago today my mom was diagnosed with a life threatening blood disorder that turned that Christmas upside down too.  She's still here though, by some miracle she beat it, and she's seen and done thing none of us were sure she'd ever be able to that year.  So I know nothing is impossible as long as I keep fighting.

So Santa, as you get ready to pack your sleigh, and venture out on your one night worldwide trip, please don't forget to drop a little hope down the chimneys of those of us without our families to share the holiday with.  Some of us need it more than you know this year.

Liza

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mental Walls

Several months ago a high school friend posted on her Facebook page that she was watching an Ironman happening in our hometown online and cheering the competitors on.  I commented that it was people like her that were going to push me to finish a triathlon one day.

It's true, one day I would like to complete a triathlon. My family thinks I'm insane for wanting to do such a thing, but like completing a marathon, for me it's about pushing myself to the limit of what I think I am capable of doing, and then pushing just a bit more.  This idea of pushing myself is what got me running in the first place.  This idea is what got me changing my diet, and the way I live my life now.  If I never pushed just a bit further, I would never know that I was able to do the things I now know I am capable of.  I have no idea if I will ever be able to complete a triathlon, but I do know that I want to try someday.

That same high school friend sent me a message after she read my post.  She too hopes to complete a triathlon and she invited me to attempt one with her in 2015.  Now I know this seems like a really long time away to plan for, but you can't just wake up one day and decide you're going to compete in an Ironman.  There is a lot of training you need to do before you can even think about it.  I thought for a bit and then responded to her that although I would like to, honestly I'm really not sure physically I'd ever be able to complete one.  We had a lengthy discussion about the fact that I still don't see myself as a runner, and I don't think I will ever see myself as an athlete.  In the course of the conversation she said something that has remained with me.  She said, "A runner is someone who runs no matter what distance or pace... and that's it."  I put a lot thought into titles sometimes, and sometimes titles don't mean squat.

For me there's always a mental hurtle I have to get over before I can do something.  When I ran my first 5K, there was a turn midway and your ran the same distance back the way you had come.  I reached that midway point and seriously considered stopping.  The run was cross country, I was performing less than how I had wanted to, and frankly I was tired.  At the midway point though I saw my mom cheering me on.  Now she had always been my biggest supporter at choir concerts, and violin recitals.  She always had, and still does, support my crazy ideas and the choices I make.  But seeing her face as I pushed myself to jog to the turn around, hearing her cheer me on, pushed me to finish and not give up.  There was no physical reason I couldn't finish that race, I had just mentally hit my wall at the time that was telling me that I couldn't go any further.  My mom reminded me that I was there to break that wall down.

Mentally the thought of an Ironman scares me.  Mentally I will never see myself as a runner, or an athlete.  I know that physically though, nothing is stopping me from trying.  I've spent almost three months thinking about it, and the thought still scares the crap out of me, but sometimes fear is what we need to push ourselves that much further out of our comfort zones...

I want to compete in an Ironman in 2015. :-)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

To Write Love on MY Arms

Last year I wrote this blog entry.  I spoke about my own struggles with depression and suicide.  This past week was again National Suicide Prevention Week, September 8-14.  This year my outlook on this week was very different than it was last year.  This year I still though about my own struggles, but instead I chose to look at helping others with theirs.

There's an organization that I have been following since the 2000's called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).  This organization focuses on mental health education, not just depression and suicide, and the hope is that by educating people the mental health stigma can be removed.  Something I very strongly feel we need to do.  They also help people find help, invest in treatment and recovery programs, and inspire and encourage people to share their own stories in order to help others.  TWLOHA has a unique beginning, and story.  If you are interested in learning more about them I encourage you to visit the TWLOHA website and read about it.

This year for National Suicide Prevention Week, and World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) I decided to take action.  Do more than just share my own story, but talk to people.  Although I woke up on the 10th with a headache because of the impending rains here in Colorado messing with my sinuses this was important to me, and nothing was going to stop me from participating.  My aunt had purchased a World Suicide Prevention Day pack for me, a t-shirt, bracelet, and various posters and postcards to pass out and share about depression and suicide.  I put on my shirt and bracelet and took the postcards and posters with me to a local coffee shop.  Caffeine is supposed to help headaches anyways. ;-)

I ordered my coffee, asked if I could hang a poster and some postcards on the local happenings board, and sat down with my kindle to read for a while.  The barista asked me what my shirt meant, "You Cannot Be Replaced".  I explained World Suicide Prevention Day, and that suicide is the third leading cause of death among people 15-24.  I told her that because I have struggled myself, I want to help other people who are struggling and let them know that it's okay to talk about how they are feeling, and there's nothing wrong with asking for help.  I gave her one of the postcards I had held back from putting on the bulletin board that talked about TWLOHA, and World Suicide Prevention Day and she went back to work.  Although no one else asked me about my shirt, or took a postcard off the board while I was there, I wasn't silent.  I spoke to one person and who knows if that did anything, but maybe she took the information and told her friends, or maybe that information was just want she needed to hear to break her own silence.  Who knows, but I talk about wanting to break the stigma of mental health a lot, and it's time for me to walk my own talk.

It's amazing the difference a year can make for someone. Last year I was reflecting on my past, not that it was a bad thing, but my focus was on what could have been.  This year my focus changed, I chose to look at how my experiences can help break down walls and inform and help others.  I think ultimately that is the goal of many organizations such as TWLOHA, how can we look at ourselves and use those experiences to help others.  I encourage you to look at yourself, even those scary parts we all have, and see how they can help others in any way.  I guarantee you, you are not the first to have struggled with and dealt with those things, and you won't be the last.

YOU cannot be replaced!!!! I cannot be replaced!!!!  We are all important, and we all have a purpose, even if we are having a difficult time seeing it or dealing with it.  If you need to talk to someone, please don't be afraid to do so.  I'd be glad to help if I can.  And you can always find help at TWLOHA, chat live online to someone at IMAlive, or call 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).

YOUR STORY IS IMPORTANT!