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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sometimes, it’s not as bad as you think

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Yesterday, I dusted off an old writing reference book I had lying around my apartment in the hopes that this book would keep my mind occupied on my train ride to the dentist. I had The day I had been dreading had finally arrived… root canal day. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve been told about root canals; the most frightening story being the one  my friend told me about her father punching a hole into a solid wood drawer. I cringed at the thought of something hurting so much that it would cause someone to punch a hole into a solid wood structure. Here I was, on my way to have the very same procedure that my friend said lead to the gaping hole in one of her families wood drawers. Despite the fact that it had been years since I was told this story, and that the root canal procedure had advanced, all I could imagine was unspeakable pain that would mar my very existence. With a heavy and rapidly beating heart, I was on my way to the dentist, which incidentally fit into the passage from my writing reference book that I selected to read  on my train ride- “The scariest experiences I’ve ever had.” Some of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had have taken place at the dentist. I’ve always been afraid of going to the dentist. The sound of the drill, the gargantuan needles filled with Novocaine, the scent of teeth being pulverized, all of this and the mummified feeling the Novocaine left were enough for me to be over going to the dentist. Add in a couple of horrific dental experiences and therein lies a recipe for dental neglect, the consequence for my dental neglect being a root canal. Having only my non- root canal related experiences to look back to, coupled with various root canal horror stories, was enough for my mind to start conjuring up images of me writhing in pain for days.

A couple of hours, and tears, later, the root canal was over. When it was all said and done, I wasn’t writhing in pain and all of the wood furniture in my apartment remains intact. All of the things that frighten me about the dentist notwithstanding, the root canal was not as horrific as I envisioned. The debilitating root canals of yesteryear were indeed a thing of the past. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, after all, I’d been told countless of times by a handful of people that root canals nowadays are not that bad. Of course, “not that bad” to me meant that only one piece of wood furniture in my apartment would be defaced. As I was adding this “imagination gone wild”  experience to my file, I thought, how many of these “imagination gone wild” experiences had I given into throughout the years. Are these imagination benders, usually prompted by the “What if” questions, what have kept me stuck in the mire? “What if I get rejected?,” What if I fail?,” “What if there is no turning back? ,” soon after I’d ask myself these questions my imagination would work overtime  to generate grizzly scenarios that always ended in humiliation and failure. The fact that I have no solid proof that any of the cringe- worthy scenarios my imagination drummed up would come true has not deterred me from trusting in the strength of these fantasies. Just as I had allowed myself to get caught up in the root canal horror stories, I have allowed myself to get caught up in “What if”s” scenarios that have kept me from taking some risks, risks that could significantly boost the quality of my life. It’s high time I kick my “What if’s” to the curb and embrace all the good, bad, pretty, and ugly that taking chances has to offer.

Needless to say, I am not looking forward to going back to get another root canal (yes, I have to get another root canal, :/). Getting a root canal is not fun. However, the truth is that had I not personally gone through the root canal experience my imagination would have kept churning out horrific scenarios where I’d run mad in the street with pain, punching holes into every piece of wood furniture I’d come across. But having gone through the root canal drill (pun intended), I know that it won’t kill me. I am not going to die, let alone punch holes in my wood furniture. What I will take away from this root canal saga are not only some healthy teeth and, fingers crossed, killer crowns, but also a renewed determination to not take my “What if’s” at face value. So, here’s to a healthy grin and less “What if’s.”

 

 

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I do, I really do

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* This is a post I originally intended to post on Valentine’s Day. After some tweaking, I am posting it today 🙂

“There is hardly a more generous gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite themselves.” Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m the type of consumer that magazine editors love. The person who mosey’s into supermarkets and drug stores intent on buying a few essentials but somehow gets lured into buying a magazine, or two. Somewhere between aisle 1, 2, and the checkout line, the photo shopped pictures and witty tag lines splattered on the front cover of various women’s magazines call my name. Over time, I’ve subscribed to some of the magazines that most frequently drew me into their web. No matter the focus of the magazine, without fail, the common denominator among most women’s magazines are the articles on romantic relations; “How to get a man,” How to keep a man,” How to get rid of a man,” and “How to survive without a man” are woven between articles on how to get flat abs, the hottest trends, and 5 simple cooking recipes. Perhaps the seemingly high influx of celebrity divorce news lately has propelled a steady stream of the “How to divorce proof your marriage” and “How to survive a divorce” articles. Without fail, the one thing that is stressed in all of the articles I’ve read about marriage in these magazines is the fact that marriage requires a significant amount of elbow grease to sustain, especially when children are introduced in the mix. Being a “professional” single woman myself (professional single woman: never married, never lived with anyone, no children, and most likely rocked a different hair style and/or color the last time she was in a relationship), I find the various relationship articles to be both entertaining and informative in that they open my eyes to strategies I can put to the test whenever the next boyfriend, and concurrently the next hair style, comes around.

Keeping the lines of communication open is chief among the relationship strategies lauded by the experts quoted in these articles. But what about the act of carefully assessing the “worst” that your partner has to offer prior to entering into a serious relationship to answer the question, “Can I work around that?” and more importantly “Can I accept these flaws?” In the January 2010 edition of O Magazine, author Elizabeth Gilbert shared an excerpt from her book “Committed” in which she reveals the painstaking act of narrowing down a list of what she believes are her top five most deplorable faults to her now husband Felipe. Gilbert writes,

“The most important thing I wanted to clarify, out of a fierce impulse toward honesty, was to make sure that Felipe knew what he was getting – and getting into – with me. I desperately did not want to sell this man a bill of goods, or offer up some idealized seductive performance of myself. Seduction works full-time as Desire’s handmaiden- all she does is delude; that is her very job description – and I did not want her stage-dressing this relationship during the out of town tryouts.”

The first item on Gilbert’s list read as follows, “I think very highly of my own opinion. I generally believe that I know best how everyone in the world should be living their lives – and you, most of all, will be the victim of this.” Puzzled by Felipe’s apparent unfazed reaction to this and the rest of the items on her list, Gilbert asked Felipe how he still loved her after rattling off the worst of the worst of her flaws to him. After some silence, Felipe shared the following poignant story,

“When I used to go down to Brazil to buy gemstones, I would often buy something they call ‘a parcel.’ A parcel is this random collection of gems that the miner or the wholesaler or whoever is bullshitting you puts together. A typical parcel would contain, I don’t know, maybe 20 or 30 aquamarines at once. Supposedly, you get a better deal that way – buying them all in a bunch – but you have to be careful, because of course the guy is trying to rip you off. He’s trying to unload his bad gemstones on you by packaging them together with a few really good ones.

So when I first started in the jewelry business I used to get in trouble because I’d get too excited about the one or two perfect aquamarines in the parcel, and I wouldn’t pay as much attention to the junk they threw in there. After I got burned enough times, I finally got wise and learned this – you have to ignore the perfect gemstones. Don’t even look at them twice because they’re blinding. Just put them away and have a careful look at the really bad stones. Look at them for a long time, and then ask yourself honestly, ‘Can I work with these? Can I make something out of this?’ Otherwise, you’ve just spent a whole lot of money on one or two gorgeous aquamarines buried inside a big heap of worthless crap.

It’s the same with relationships, I think. People fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that?’ Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you.”

Are you honestly able to say that the person with whom you are thinking of getting into an exclusive relationship with is somebody’s whose “parcel” you can accept and work around? Leaving dirty socks around the house and failing to place the toothpaste cap back on the tube is not what’s at play here, those sorts of annoying flaws are typically not earth shattering deal breakers in relationships. The essence of someone’s thoughts and beliefs is at the core of this exploration for ones thoughts and belief’s informs their treatment of self and others. A sincere and honest commitment to examine yourself in the light of your partner’s (and your) flaws can avert the potentially ruinous byproduct of deluding oneself into believing that the flaws we may ultimately determine we can’t accept or work around will not matter in the future. This is not to suggest that we concentrate only on chasing down the “bad stones.” It is important to relish all of your partner’s “gorgeous stones,” to have fun, laugh, be silly, be romantic, etc. The fun, silly, and romantic times are what fortify a relationship, they are what help keep a relationship healthy and vibrant. What these experiences will not do, however, is mask the giant elephant in the room. More often than not, these elephants can be spotted prior to entering into a serious relationship/marriage. And while the task of unearthing these “bad stones” can oftentimes be brutal, sometimes resulting in the pain of discovering that your current “one” is not the “one,” the strength and introspection gained from performing this difficult task is worth more than any good or bad stone in the bunch.

Stop and Go

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Hi, is anyone still out there? Assuming anyone in the blogosphere is still out there and cares, I’m back with a new blog post. After establishing somewhat of a rhythm with my blog (keyword “somewhat’), I fell off the blogosphere map. I wish I could say that my absence was due to an exciting job change (nope, still at the same hell, er, I mean job), some fantastic travel opportunities (no dice there either), or a budding romance with Ryan Gosling (nope, sadly still a delusional fantasy). Here are the main not so thrilling reasons I’ve been MIA from the blog world:

1 Not enough time to draft posts: Ah yes, the universal not enough time reason for not posting in ones blog. While not an original excuse, certainly a tried and true excuse. Although a good chunk of my time has been gobbled up my job, I do realize that watching reruns of the Biggest Loser has taken up a significant portion of my time lately.

2. Stress: Considering that I still work where I do, need I say more.

3. Reverse writer’s block: It’s not that I’ve been crippled by the glare of a blinking cursor light with nothing to add behind it. On the contrary, there have been several notable items in the news that I have been wanting to write about, but my lack of confidence brought upon by some evil forces at work has kept my desire to write them at bay. Add a little dash of dread about my future and there you have the perfect mix for reverse writer’s block.

Coming to terms with the fact that you may not be able to realistically sustain yourself on what it is you love to do sucks. I am in no way saying that I won’t eventually attempt what it is I’d like to do in the future, nor am I trying to be negative. Realistically assessing where one is currently at in relation to where they’d like to be in the future provides a clear picture of not only what it will take to achieve their vision but also what achieving that vision may mean for them in the long run. All of the positive thinking and mantras in the world will not provide me with the money that I need to pay my rent, utilities, food, student loans, etc. It is precisely these things that force me to head out to a place I despise Monday through Friday. The alternative would be to be homeless and/or starving, two things I’d like to avoid. Currently, I find myself in a place where I have to start thinking about alternative things to move onto that do not suck out as much life energy as my job. What that alternative will look like, I don’t know. What I do know is that unless I win the Mega Millions or discover that I am the long, lost heir to some fortune, I’ll need to figure out a less soul sucking way to pay my bills. This being said, my time away has not been all stress and rent paying. I have been able to find solace and stress relief in two activities I never thought would provide any sort of comfort: fitness and cooking.

I used to perceive going to the gym as a chore akin to scrubbing my bathroom toilet. My lack of stamina, coordination, and of all things discomfort producing left little in me that desired going to the gym. Today, I can’t wait to hit the gym! The euphoric feelings and stress relief that I gain after each of my workouts are rivaled only by the tone and definition I am starting to see all over my body, especially my arms. While I would not categorize myself as an advanced exerciser, I hold my own and that feels great! The increased stamina, coordination, tone, and definition I am experiencing, coupled with the feelings of euphoria and stress relief make me want to push just a little bit harder each time I go to the gym. Going to the gym along with working out to some DVDs at home has made a world of difference in my life. One of the best overall workouts I have been doing is yoga. I cannot tell you how much the practice of yoga has improved my performance in all of my workout routines. I have better breath control (important during any form of exercise) and an increased awareness of how much strength my body possesses. Personally, I don’t approach yoga as a spiritual exercise, but rather, as a strength building practice that functions well beyond the realm of the yoga mat.

I had almost forgot how good it feels to write. Drafting this blog post made me feel alive. It was so refreshing to be challenged by something that I care about, something that fills me with joy. Writing strengthens me mentally, and although at times writing be stressful (enter writer’s block), it is a “good” type of stress that at the end of the day leads to a stronger version of me. While I can’t say how frequently I will be able to post in my blog, I will try my best to keep up this blog because writing is just too good to keep on the back burner.