determination

Let not your dreams go to waste… (battling some demons)

All my posts come from my blog over at http://proseandconstellations.com.

The year is drawing to a close and with it, a difficult chapter, and as the door to a new one opens I sit in the half-light of the in-between. It’s New Year’s Eve, and yes, traditionally this is a time for goals and reflection (and when have I not taken the opportunity to make a big list to dive into?), but I think I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past five months while I’ve been removed from my life. 2014 beckons with a warm glow, but recently I’ve felt plagued with the old flames of self-doubt I thought had been extinguished.

As I mentioned in my last post, breaking my arm led to a whole topsy-turvying of worlds, and the time has come to get back on board. I’m not fully healed by any means, but I am well enough to do most of the basics, and am hopefully on track for the anticipated full recovery by about August if I put in the work. The routine part of normal life is scheduled to commence on the 2nd, and I will once again join the ranks of the daily workers. I’m scared, because I’ve now been off for almost as long as I was at the job in the first place, and I was by no means an expert in my role when I had the accident. I’d given it my all, and brought in new things to the company (and will be returning with a completed project I hope my boss adores) that I think made a difference, but now I’m going back and I feel like the new girl all over again, except this time, there’s the expectation I should fall straight back into the groove of things. So much happened in the six months I was there, I can’t imagine how much more there is to learn almost another half-year later. I want to go back and show them how committed I am, how determined I am, how I’m worth holding onto… but my fear of not being well-versed or up-to-date enough coupled with pain and limited mobility frighten me.

I think I’ve allowed this fear to fester in other attempts to regain a sense of normality lately, too, and I don’t like it one bit. Throughout the injury I’ve been pretty down about not being able to do so many things that were either part of the things in life I loved most, or were about to become them. In recent weeks, I’ve gone back to music – I can hold an instrument now, and AC and I made a joint goal in November to get 50 live performances under our belts by this time next year. That’s at least one per week, and we’re relatively on track, but after most of them, I’ve found those long-buried voices resurfacing, telling me I’m not good enough. And firmly believing I’m not. I watched an old video I did in my apartment before we decided to start a band, and it made me incredibly sad, because though it was before I’d ventured onto any sort of stage, I sounded better, vocally and instrumentally, than I do now. I know, logically, that if you take five months off from any activity, you’re not going to be a pro when you first try again, but it frustrates me to no end knowing I’m filled with such determination and had the courage to go from throwing up after singing one song in front of someone to being asked to do several shows (and being thoroughly exhilarated by them) – to having a weaker voice, less of a range, and losing much of the progress I’d made in playing. I know I can’t help what happened, but in a linear fashion, logic says I should be better than this video by now. And I’m not. And it’s horribly discouraging. 

The same seems to be happening in another area I was really enjoying before the break. At the beginning of this year, I’d decided to give modelling another go, and over a few months discovered a passion for artistic, conceptual photographic storytelling – something I plan on exploring on the other side of the lens in the new year. I’d done a bit of it years ago, but being cursed with apparently not aging (please don’t tell me I’ll appreciate it when I’m 40; I’m sure I will, but for now it’s hard turning 29 and still looking 20 and trying to be taken seriously in the professional world), I decided to give it another go, and became really passionate about it. Anyone who knows me in person knows I feel HARD, for better or worse, and so when I’m excited about something, I can’t not let it shine. I had great compliments from photographers, took risks, and took pride in being a model who could be counted on to be there on time, prepared, make everyone laugh and take risks for a good picture (not always the best decision), and it was a passion that kept building.

Then it happened, and I watched the world continue on without me. In recent weeks, I had a couple of opportunities to get back on set. I was prepared for the fact that I wouldn’t have full mobility, but I wasn’t prepared for my mind acting like it did years ago. I found myself in a sort of physical and mental paralysis that forbade me from being what I was before, and I didn’t seem to be able to do anything about it. I was completely taken over by having watched the world continue to spin without me and pent-up feelings of being forgotten that I couldn’t shake the feeling of not being good enough. My mind kept telling me: you were great six months ago; you should be better now. Again, logically I know an extended break is going to set anyone back, but I couldn’t stop judging myself. And it made me a poor performer. My photos reflected someone whose fear was overtaking their passion. My own mind was sabotaging the very things I love to do as an artist. And I can’t not see the results of how I was compared to how I am now and not be saddened.

My last post, however, was all about choice. I’ve always believed that life truly is only 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, but sometimes it’s a really tough battle, even when you’re given the tools with which to choose. It’d be easy to stop, now. But it would go against my entire nature to do so. I’m determined, and always have been, to be better each and every day than I was the day prior, whether as a person, a friend, a lover, a musician, a thinker, or a writer. I also realise the power of acceptance, and maybe I have to take this as a lesson in that. That maybe the reality is that something horrible happened and it did take me ten steps backward. But staying there isn’t the answer. Staying there isn’t me. I have to remind myself on days where the voices resurge that I, too, have a choice, and maybe I can’t help where I am right now. But I can choose how I deal with it. Stop judging myself, and realise that other people probably aren’t judging too harshly either. Start from where I am, keep marching forward, and if I make mistakes or don’t live up to my own expectations, then work harder. It’s what I have to do with my arm, so it’s the same attitude I should have with everything else I’m trying to rebuild. The hard part is that all those things are in their very nature, worthy of being judged. Modelling. Singing. Performing. Writing. All efforts to put something out into the world for anyone to see. But I think to keep going is to keep following dreams, and to be brave. And that’s something I’ve always tried to do.

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I came across a quote recently that I feel may be apt for this situation, and may lead me through the door into a new chapter and a new year safely:

“If you have built castles in the sky, let not your dreams go to waste; just build the foundations under them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

I am finding it tough. But I think if I learn to accept, stop judging, be brave, put in the work, and look at reality, life is going to not only return to normal, but become even more of what I’ve always wanted it to be. I’m determined to make 2014 the year I tried my absolute hardest to make my dreams come true, to fill every moment with love and gratitude, and to try to always make the right choice.

“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well,” someone once said, “that Death will tremble to take us.”

Have a wonderful new year, and don’t forget that no matter where you are now, every passing moment is another chance to turn it all around.

Unmasked

Hannah Katy wrote an incredible post last week,  and it inspired me to write about something that’s been a bit of a regular in my life in the last few years.  First and foremost, I’m going to admit something: I despise fakeness. I also despise unnecessary negativity.  And recently, I’ve learned the unfortunate truth that the world, and the Internet, is full of it. But I’ve also learned that, as with so many things in life – you have a choice in how you let it affect you.

Growing up, I spent far too many pretending to be someone I’m not. I think what it came down to was the result of one too many bad relationships, leaving me with a pretty low sense of self-worth and confidence – and I desperately wanted to be seen as popular, to have people to “reaffirm” that I was worth something – at the expense of staying true to myself.

Image from Zemotion

Once I turned eighteen, as I think so many people do, I felt I needed somehow needed to define myself. Define myself with a career goal, with a group of friends, with independence and opinions… with an identity.  Several years went by, and I darted from job to job, boyfriend to boyfriend, friends to friends, in an ongoing endeavour to find myself. Find where I belonged.  Make myself into somebody that fit, in the secret hope that one day I would. You all know I had some rough relationship experiences, and I strongly believe were it not for those hard times, I would have remained the person I was five years ago. What motivation would I have had to change? After the last breakup, I decided this was the time to set standards for myself. To not just settle for anyone.  To be okay by myself and stay true to who I am, even if that meant being alone.  I learned a lot about myself by doing that, and it’s something that’s been an ongoing challenge. Not just in relationships (for the past two years I’ve been blessed with someone who’s believed in me, challenged me, and helped me push myself out of my comfort zone, seeing and believing in my potential) – but in friendships, too.

I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the notion of personality types, but it’s something I’ve always found intriguing, particularly in the Myers-Briggs ideas.  I think it’s fascinating how accurate the descriptions are, not just in terms of personal tendencies, but in how we react to any given situation, whether socially, at work, with other people, or in the face of adversity.  I am an INFJ (the “Protector”) through and through:

INFJs have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realise their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, they do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Not usually visible leaders, INFJs prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.

INFJs tend to be devoted to what they believe in and seek work where their needs, values, and ideals can be deeply engaged. INFJs, while concentrating on what is important to them, may ignore the political ramifications of their actions. Being able to talk honestly and comfortably to people at work is much more important to them than ‘playing games.’

The INFJ’s external environment may appear disorganized. Their internal environment, by contrast, is anything but haphazard. Organization of the internal world takes precedence over organization of the external world.

INFJs prefer occupations that focus on the big picture, involve conceptual awareness, and lead to a better understanding of the needs of people. They want their work to have impact and meaning. INFJs value staff harmony and want an organization to run smoothly and pleasantly, themselves making every effort to contribute to that end. They are crushed by too much criticism and can have their feelings hurt rather easily. They respond to praise and use approval as a means of motivating others, just as they, the INFJs, are motivated by approval.

Motivated by approval. Growing up, I had a desperate need to be affirmed in everything I did.  Doing things like acting, sports, talent shows, writing stories – being told I was good at something made me feel amazing. Later in life, I was a devout student:  I loved my assignments and I loved getting tests back. Being good at school gave me a sense of self-worth, and only in recent years have I realised why I so easily gave up who I was: to fit in. I needed the approval of others. Fastforward to summer of 2009 when I was crippled with anxiety, too scared to even eat lunch with coworkers for fear of what people may have thought of me. I wasn’t comfortable with who I was because I didn’t know who I was, and so it led me into a shell. Thankfully through determination, perseverance, faith, friends, and Sweet’s encouragement, I’m now at a point where I know who I am. And I know who and what I need (and can do without) in my life.

I am dedicated to making a positive impact in the world. I sincerely want to do all I can to help other people, whether  through my workplace, my personal life, or my blog. One of the many reasons I write is not only to document my life, but to write about the struggles, the bad stuff as well as the good, and overcoming it, in the hope that it might reach someone – and maybe even inspire them. The emails I get on the subject may be few in number, but mean the absolute world to me. Knowing I’ve inspired just one or two people means more than any number of comments ever could. I don’t write to be popular, and I don’t let online time interfere with real life. I’m easily hurt, but I refuse to maintain vendettas or seek revenge. I believe being able to live a good life while maintaining integrity is better than revenge of any sort.  I value interpersonal harmony and am deeply unsettled by conflict, yet I am passionate about my values and beliefs, and blatantly honest. I will always tell you how it is, even if it’s not what you want to hear. But it’s only because I believe in the power of truth.  This has resulted in people cutting ties with me and even getting fired from a job, but I will not keep quiet if there is something important to be said. I will speak up if I believe it’s for the greater good. I will not be taken down by those who continue to define me by my past mistakes – I will focus on continuing to better myself; the person I am becoming because of them. I will not let fear dictate my life. I will question the truth in rumours rather than continue them.  I will not follow the masses and ignore an elephant in a room, but will put a hat on it and maybe even hop on and take it for a ride. People may find that uncomfortable and distance themselves, but I will always stay true to myself. Because that, to me, is more important than popularity. I will write about the good as well as the bad, and refuse to create an online persona – even if that decreases readership. I may not be popular, but I am real. And you know what? I’m 100% okay with that.

New Year, New Goals, and a Culinary Adventure

It’s a new year, and with a new year comes celebrations , a new look for the blog (what do you guys think?), and of course, resolutions.  2009 was a big one for me, and after making (and, for once, keeping) the toughest resolutions yet, I want to make 2010 even better.  Looking back at the last ten years has been interesting.  I’ve seen highs and lows, good decisions, bad decisions, lulls in which I did nothing to grow as a person, and more recently, a lot of soul-searching, risk-taking and pushing boundaries, which have ultimately led me to a happiness and peace I haven’t felt before.  And I want to make 2010 even better.  I want to look back in another decade and see hopes and goals realised.  So I suppose I should really start off with some sort of new year’s resolution list.  This year, I want to…

1. Read.  Not just blogs and newspapers, but actual books.  I’ve always loved to lose myself in stories of wonderful imagination, but reading was kind of put on the backburner in 2009.  This year, I may not have a book club to join, but I resolve to finish at least one book per month.

2. Learn to drive.  My nan never learned to drive her whole life, and as much as I love her dearly, I don’t think this is the wisest example to follow. I must be the oldest twenty-four year old non-driver in the world!  It’s been an ongoing resolution of mine for the past eight years, and I think it’s about time I stopped being so scared and got into the driver’s seat.

3. Work harder on becoming pain-free.  I’m done with the zillions of appointments with as many different people I can find in an attempt to do something about my back pain.  I’m going to pick a strategy and stick to it, instead of trying a load of things once and giving up after not seeing immediate results.  I’ve been assigned a strengthening plan, which I will stick to daily, I’m going to live more healthily (eat better, drink more water, stop being afraid of exercise for fear of exacerbating the pain), and I’m going to use heat and positive distractions instead of pain killers and self-pity.  And we’ll see about going for another round of injections.

4. Do even more to lose the anxiety. I feel like, with the help of Sweet, my friends, family and so many of you, I’ve come a long way from the person who used to be scared to even pick up the phone.  I’m still a little nervous about being in the spotlight, but I’m at the point where if I prepare, take notes on what works and what doesn’t, breathe deeply and think positively, I can teach a small class once a week.  In March, my term position is up, and there’s been talk of potentially moving into a new position – involving a lot more facilitation.  It might be the hardest task yet – but it’s my goal to be able to teach more classes, be more at ease speaking in front of people, critisise myself less and be more comfortable in my own skin, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. Learn to cook properly, and stop eating “conveniently”.  Since moving out on my own six years ago, I’ve fallen into the trap of eating what’s cheap and what’s convenient.  I don’t eat junk food, but my meals are carb-heavy, unvaried, and more often than not, involve microwaving something.  A few weeks ago, I decided I was going to learn how to cook.  And yesterday, I began the challenge!

I pulled Delia off the shelf and picked a couple of recipes I thought I could tackle.  Creamed Chicken with Avocado, Baked Parsnips, and Sweet’s special roasted potatoes.  Two hours and only one cut finger later, we had a success!  I learned how (and why) to “blanche” vegetables before baking them, I learned how to make my own cream sauce to the perfect consistency, and I learned that I never want to have prepare parsnips ever again.  They’re probably the most delicious vegetable in the world, and baked in butter were absolutely divine – but cutting the core out of something shaped like a carrot was slightly too frustrating.  (Lucky for me, Sweet was on standby, and took care of them for me!)

The meal was lovely (although, looking back, I would’ve picked something with a bit more colour), hearty, and I felt an enormouse sense of accomplishment at having made something so delicious (and took half an afternoon!).  I also felt enormous after eating something with so much cream and butter in it, which leads me to want to do something slightly healthier next time – but I think I’ve definitely found myself a new hobby for 2010.

What about you guys? Tell me about your resolutions for the new year!  And of course, if you’d like the recipes, drop me a note and I’d be more than happy to send them your way. 🙂