Dirt Road Princess moves to the big city. Now there’s a headline for you. Or perhaps not – I suppose country girls move to the big city all the time. But it’s kind of a big deal for me. Moving away from home for the first time is always a big deal. More so, perhaps, for a late bloomer such as myself. Particularly when moving from the country to the big city. This experience is certainly stretching me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
The big city is, well, big. There really is no other way to describe it. Everything about it is big. Especially when you’re a lone pedestrian. Fortunately, just about everything I could ever need is right here in my own little corner of the city. Several within walking distance. And this city has a good public transit system so I can get to those places not in walking distance. Exploring my own little corner of the city has been a blast. Finding work was certainly an interesting experience and not half so difficult as I expected. Particularly for a hard-working country girl such as myself.
Living alone felt rather weird for the first couple days, but I very quickly got used to it. Being my own woman is quite an empowering experience. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of independence, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give it up. I can do what I want, when I want, and how I want. I can make my own choices but I am also 100% responsible for the consequences of my choices. It’s a brand-new sensation – and I think I like it. I’m learning new things about myself, about life, and about other people. Just about every day offers a new experience or new information and it’s exhilarating. Makes me wonder “Why didn’t I do this years ago?”
Another birthday has come and gone. Seems like that happens more and more frequently. It’s fitting, I think, that this particular birthday should come right at this particular juncture in my life. Right at the crossroads of my past and my future. Caught in the middle of who I am and who I will be. Straddling the fence that separates the familiar from the unknown. I’ve put in my time and paid my dues, yet somehow there is still a shadow of guilt and a specter of anxiety lurking in the dark corners of my mind. But there are other emotions crowding and pushing to the front of my mind so that I hardly notice the phantom twins.
I am both excited and slightly petrified when I consider the future. But isn’t that how all the best experiences make us feel? Anything worth doing is going to call out a strong emotional response. Whenever I am doing or contemplating doing something important, I get both butterflies and a nauseated feeling. And that’s how this crossroads is making me feel. I’m learning that that’s how life goes. Change is inevitable, as are the emotions that accompany it. The only thing we control is which emotions are dominant. I’ve pushed the negative ones to the back and allowed the positives to take center stage, but it could very easily have gone the other way. Of course, since this change is of my own making, it was easier than it could have been. Some days, it’s still a struggle.
It’s the waiting that’s starting to get under my skin now. I’ve never been very good at waiting for anything and this seems particularly hard. Probably because it is such a big deal. My current stress levels are considerably higher than they probably should be. As it happens, there are a couple other big things happening in my life right now and it looks like they are all on a collision trajectory. My whole life is going to explode with big things happening in the very near future – probably all in the same week. And for now, all I can do is watch. And try not to get too stressed out. So far, I am keeping things in control. I pray I can manage that for just a few more weeks.
Last week I talked about finally admitting to my true calling. Today I’d like to talk about the process that got me to that point. It was a long, slow, at times painful process and I didn’t understand what was happening. In hindsight, I can now see how everything that happened has led me to this point in my life. And I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
The seed of my passion for writing was planted before I could even read. I learned to love books from an early age due to my Mama reading great books to me – both picture books and otherwise. Playing pretend as a kid caused that seed to germinate. It blossomed when I read my first “real” book. As in, a book with chapters and no pictures. I even remember what that book was – a biography of Helen Keller. Her story, and the way Mama was proud of seven-year-old me, sparked a fire inside that has never gone out. The gift of my first journal for my 8th birthday sealed the deal.
The path of my true calling took a dark, but necessary, turn during my early teen years. I was never the typical overtly rebellious teenager. Instead I poured the frustration and angst of those years into words on paper. I still turn to writing when I am frustrated or upset. As I came out of that phase, my writing became something more. Lighter and more optimistic, but also more real and honest. I had found my voice. I also began to delve more into writing fiction. Looking back, some of those early efforts were cringe-worthy, but I am slowly improving. I still have not created a story that is fit to publish yet. Someday perhaps.
In the meantime, writing is both my lifeline and my outlet. It is the one thing I turn to in every situation. When I’m sad or joyful, depressed or content, angry or excited, when I feel broken inside and when I am ready to take on the world. Writing is always there for me and it is always my first reaction. That is how I know that it is my true calling. And that is how I know that I will never stop writing.
Some people seem to have it all figured out. From a young age, they know exactly who and what they are going to be and by golly that’s what they do. I am jealous of those people. By the time I graduated high school, I had emphatically decided on a career 20 different times, no two choices alike. When I was five, I wanted to be a firefighter. Then a police officer. At six I was gonna run an orphanage when I grew up. Seven-year-old me was a future politician. And so on. Lawyer, bodyguard, journalist, truck driver, cowgirl made more than one appearance, restaurateur, a secret agent phase of course, DJ – and the list goes on. I never could settle on just one.
I think there are two reasons for that. The first is equal parts personality and upbringing. My dad made no fewer than 8 career changes just in my memory span. I always thought that was normal, but I guess most people stick with the same one forever. I honestly don’t know if I could do that. There is something to be said for security, I suppose. But is security worth sacrificing adventure? Should I trade an unpredictable life of freedom for safe drudgery? Yes, I know I’m oversimplifying. But do I really wanna tie myself down – even to something I love – and potentially miss the next great opportunity? I want to grab life by the tail and see where it takes me.
The other reason for my inability to pick a single career is denial. All those years and all those varied careers I said I wanted, I never once admitted what I really wanted. Even to myself. Other than as a pipe dream. An “if-a-genie-gave-me-three-wishes” kinda dream. I have finally admitted to myself and to others what I truly want to be more than anything else in the world. I want to be a writer. Actually, I am a writer – I want to be a successful, published author. I believe that writing is my true calling. Some even say I’m good at it. Whether my work will be a success or not remains to be seen. Whether I can make a living off it also remains to be seen. But whether I make millions as a writer or a few bucks or nothing at all; whether I find a successful second career or work a string of jobs or quit working altogether; whatever else I may do, wherever my life may take me, one thing I know for absolute certain. I will never stop writing.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And I want to dedicate
this one to a very special woman who is often overlooked on this holiday. A
woman who is neither my mother nor my grandmother or even a mother at all. This
Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to my grandmother’s sister who, in essence, was my
second grandmother. My incredible great-aunt, who was widowed young and never
had children, loved her sister’s kids as if they were her own, including my
dad. And when my dad had his own kids, she loved us every bit as much.
When I was
very small, I actually didn’t realize that she wasn’t our grandma. She was and
still is an outstanding surrogate. She is one of the many beautiful souls in my
life who have shown me what it means to love without restrictions. She has
proven that love doesn’t have to follow traditional guidelines to be real and
true and pure. As a kid, I didn’t really understand the depth of what was
happening. As I got older, I slowly began to realize that I have been blessed
with more love than any one person deserves. In no small part due my awesome
So on this Mother’s Day 2017, let’s all remember the
women in our lives who are not mothers in the traditional sense of the word.
Let’s salute those women who step up when they don’t have to. Let’s show them
how much they mean to us. So today, Aunt V, I salute you. I salute your big
smile and your bigger heart. I salute your warm hugs and your open home and all
the amazingness that is you. Most of all, I salute your great love. I accept it
with gratitude and I return it to you with all my heart. I love you more than I
have words to say. Happy Mother’s Day.
I’ve written before about my “bucket list” – a lengthy and detailed list of things I’d like to see, do, and own during my lifetime. But there are really only three things that I want more than anything in the world. Although I am learning to be content no matter what, this is all I truly need to be happy and satisfied with my life. All the other dreams and goals would be nice but not essential. This is my life mission.
- To fall in love with the guy of my dreams. Wooed and won by my true love. Cherishing and being cherished in return. A passionate lifelong love affair. To build a life and a family with a man who I can trust implicitly and love infinitely.
- To raise children of my own. Our own, I should say. Both biological and adopted kids. Little people who need to be loved and cared for. To share with them the gift of love that was given to me.
- To have a successful career as a writer and author. One that allows me the financial freedom to quit my day job and offers the flexibility to spend time with my husband and kids. To feel as though my writing is making a difference in the world.
Everyone has a life mission. No two are the same. Each is as valid and valuable as the next. What is your life mission? Do you know yet? There was a time when I did not know mine. Even today I do not have the full picture, just the bare bones. I have a glimmer of a dream that I carry in a special place in my heart. A dream of a life that overflows with love and joy and passion. A life that is my own and is what I want it to be. I don’t know how I’ll get there, but I know where I want to be. Do you? Look deep in your heart – you will find your life mission there. And once you have it, don’t ever let go.
How do you know when a relationship is over? How do you know it’s time to let go? Is it a gradual drifting apart? Or a sudden painful break? Is it wrong to stop trying, to stop caring when you feel that a relationship has ended? Is there an objective way of measuring broken relationships?
I have had my fair share of relationships end. The first big ones were while I was still in grade school – both of my best friends moved away right around the same time. The first one tried for a while to remain pen pals, but the gaps between letters slowly grew larger and larger. Our last correspondence was probably about 12-15 years ago. My second best friend moved away without so much as a goodbye. I haven’t seen her since. I haven’t had a best friend since either come to think of it.
Right now I am smack in the middle of what feels like the end of yet another relationship. It never should have happened but one thing led to another until the scales reached a tipping point. Now I’m not sure we could patch things up if we wanted to. We each feel betrayed by the other and that’s a hard thing to work through.
The thing is, with the changes I am about to make in my life, it would be real easy to walk away from this person and forget the whole thing ever happened. That may even be what I should do. Leave it unmended and let Old Man Time do what he does best – heal all wounds. Perhaps without a fresh, daily reminder of what happened, we could both heal. Or maybe I need to patch it up and then walk away. Either way, I’m convinced we need some time apart.
Perhaps someday our relationship will be what it once was. Perhaps not. Right now, I’m not sure I care. There’s a vague whisper at the back of my mind that I should care. That I shouldn’t let this die because if I do, a part of me will die with it. Another part of me wants to just toss it on the scrap heap of broken relationships and move on. How am I supposed to know what to do?
And what happens when the day comes that I have a deeper relationship than a friend or sibling? What happens when I have a fight with the man I’m trying to build a life with? How will I know whether to fight for us or to let it fall apart? You can’t build a life on broken relationships. And now I know what I must do. I have to fight for every single relationship in my life. I have to fight for my family, for my friends, and someday I will have to fight for my man. I have to stay in there and fight till the very end for the people I care about. I am not a quitter. I am a warrior.
Something new is happening to me. Something I have never experienced before. It is amazing and wonderful and completely terrifying. Millions of people, if not more, have written about this phenomenon before me. I don’t know that I have anything new or particularly insightful to add to their words, but if you will indulge me with a few moments of your time, I have to tell someone. I believe I am falling in love.
Bizarre I know. And completely unexpected by everyone who knows me. I think some expected me to stay single forever. I’m not the type to need someone else to feel complete. Or to crave affection. Not openly at least. Tough as nails and fiercely independent – why would I need romance? That’s where everyone got it wrong. I may be both those things, but I still have a woman’s heart. Soft, tender, yearning to love and be loved in return.
Mama knew me. She knew that under my rough exterior was a princess searching for my prince charming. I am so grateful that she lived long enough to see me begin this process. Am I in love? Not yet. This is unfamiliar terrain; I am going slow. Will I fall in love? Maybe. I believe I could fall in love with this guy. But even if I do, does it mean he is my prince charming? Perhaps, perhaps not. He certainly is a prince charming.
I am lucky to have such a great guy for my possibly first, maybe last, love. He is everything I could have asked for in a boyfriend. Sweet and fun and intelligent and sexy and so much more. He treats me as his equal and as though I am special, as if I mean the world to him. He makes me feel like his Cinderella and if he isn’t careful, he is going to make me fall completely, hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with him.
Frustration, particularly when we allow it to build up indefinitely, can be one of the biggest problems we deal with in our everyday lives. I am at a point where my frustration has been accumulating for at least a couple years. Probably longer than that even, but it has been more noticeable here lately. Stemming primarily from circumstances beyond my control, which makes it that much worse. I have done my best to “handle” it, but that is never easy. Especially when the frustrating situations only deteriorate with time. And especially when there are multiple sources of frustration. Sometimes it makes me want to scream. Or cry. Or beat my fists against a brick wall.
There has been one amazing change in my life this past year or so that has both helped my frustration and made things worse. One thing in my little world that is what I want and on my terms. Most of the time. This makes it easier to deal with frustrations by providing a break, but it also makes those frustrations worse by comparison. It also makes it that much worse when this one comfort lets me down. When it ceases to act as a balance to the constant frustrations and instead joins their ranks, it very nearly pushes me over the edge. I am afraid of allowing my pent-up aggravation to destroy this one good.
The primary fuel for my frustration is lack of control. Being an uptight, take-charge, super-opinionated type of personality, having others dictating what I can and can’t do or how to think is particularly aggravating. Even worse is being judged and criticized for thinking and being different than everyone else. My paradox is a need for things to be my way and also desperately wanting to please the people around me. This makes for a highly combustible situation.
Finding myself and discovering where I stand and what I believe has only accelerated the problem. On the upside, I have learned to accept that others won’t think like me and won’t make the same decision I would in their shoes. But on the flipside of that, I have zero tolerance for anyone who expects me to conform to their parameters. Being (well) over 21, it is high time for me to define my own parameters. But due to various circumstances I still have individuals in my life who believe that they have the right to dictate how I live and what I do.
There really is only one solution to this problem. One way to nix these sources of frustration. It is a decision I have been loath to make for quite some time, knowing that the day would come where I would no longer have a choice. Where I would have to do what’s right for me. For the sake of my own sanity and well-being. It is a difficult decision to make – the two sides of my personality have been at war with each other for some time now. The time has come to end this war. The frustration and the turmoil have begun to take a toll on both my physical and mental health. I must do what is best for me, come what may.
Life is always teaching. The question is “Are we always listening?” Or even “Do we ever listen?” It’s tough, you know. To hear what Life is trying to tell us, to listen through the noise and chaos of our existence. But if we can find an inner stillness, we will hear exactly what we need to hear. Whether it be encouragement or a rebuke, the right words are always there. Sometimes whispering. Sometimes thundering. I wish Life would thunder at me every time it spoke because I am often thick-headed and don’t hear. Something I need to work on.
I heard today. Just a whisper, but I heard it. I find that happening more and more often of late. As always, it was exactly the words I needed to hear. “Just breathe. You can do this. You are more than dynamite and fuse. Don’t react in anger. Breathe.” It was pretty cool. And I was pleased with myself that I heard it this time. There was a day when I never heard what Life was trying to say to me. I feel like I have grown and matured that I can now hear. Even through the noise of this world and the tumble of my own thoughts.
I call it Life, but I don’t really know who or what is speaking these words to me. Sometimes pointing out that I screwed up, sometimes making an observation about someone else, sometimes nudging me to say or do a kindness, sometimes reminding me of things that I already know. Perhaps it is God, or my own conscience, or maybe I’ve just finally found the good sense I always lacked. If I believed in ghosts, I’d probably think it was my mother saying these things to me. Perhaps it is the memory of her and the desire to live up to her belief in me that has finally made me sensitive to these words. They do sometimes come in her voice. Or perhaps it just means I am crazy and the men in white jackets are going to come take me away. As long as they are making me a better person, I don’t mind having voices in my head.