I had a weird week. I have started a dozen different entries — only to stop writing halfway through to start another. As I write this, I’m staring at several crumpled papers which lay strewn across my bedroom floor. This week, I was walking down the street and suddenly, I had this desperate urge to write. Without my notebook and pen, I
ran sprinted to a nearby store to buy the necessary supplies. I sat on a bench and wrote for an hour and a bit only to abandon my work midway by disposing of it in a nearby trash can.
Fingers crossed, next week will be better!
Have a great week, everyone.
“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
I just love that: Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. I recently started a new writing project on solitude and what that means not just to me, but to other writers around the world through the exchange of the written word. Like this blog, I have taken the project on blindly — and so anything can come of it. Two years ago, I would have obsessively thought it through to see if taking on this project was worth my time. I can hear my stern, judgmental voice, “Ya, sounds great but what will you get out of it, Stephanie?” And now I’ve learned (boy, have I learned) that the guts, the raw stuff that is so very essential to both learning and growing is obtained when you stop thinking and just do.
And so here I go, mapping solitude without a map.
Each month a handful of you Google, “How to start your life over”, which directs you to this post, bringing you to my blog. I’m absolutely fascinated by this. Who are you? And why are you starting your life over?
Were you like me, brokenhearted and pushed into a solo journey without a map? Or, are you sitting alone at your computer right now in the still night while close-by an unsuspecting lover peacefully sleeps?
Either way, I think it says a lot about us. That all of us are looking for a connection, a story of how the ones before us tackled this seemingly gigantic feat. When I started my life over, I found myself at every bookstore and library within a 5 mile radius looking for answers. Crouched on the ground, surrounded by self-help books, irritated browsers were forced to step over me and hopscotch their way through the book littered aisles.
The thing about starting your life over is that you get to (and maybe for the first time) be the architect of your own life. You’ll have the chance to knock down old decrepit buildings that no longer seem big enough to house you. You’ll have the power to create a quiet temple for when you need to be alone. Extravagant fortresses will go up in a flash, housing all of the people you care about the most. You’ll be able to repay them back for when they helped you sift through the charcoal remains of your old life and then later sat around for months holding your hand while you drafted up working drawings for your new one.
No matter how big of a feat it may seem, starting your life over is totally possible. Know that there will be times in the beginning when you will question whether or not you have made the right decision. You will crumble to the ground in a heap of your new plans – for days, weeks even. But somehow you’ll always get back up.
There will also be times when you’ll be walking alone down the street or perhaps sitting quietly in a coffee shop observing the outside world and everything around you will seem illuminated from within. Anything and everything will seem entirely possible; goosebumps will spread, your pulse will quicken and you’ll be reminded of why you set out to redo your life in the first place.
This second chance, this gift you have given yourself, could quite possibly become the most courageous thing you will ever do – and that is so exciting.
Good luck and safe travels.
“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that – I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”-Hugh Mackay
When I was a child, my mother had this book that she would fill out, documenting my childhood. It was filled with generic questions like, “Who’s your best friend?”, “What’s your favourite food?” and the most exciting question, ”What do you want to be when you grow up?”
From the ages of 4-8, whenever my mother would ask me that last question, I would answer that I wanted to be on Star Search (as if it was a profession). I was dedicated too, practicing my moves in the basement with my plastic high heels and a Fisher-price microphone. I would sing my heart out to Janet, Tiffany and the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack while imagining Ed Mcmahon affectionately watching on from stage left.
When I reached my tween years, I wanted to be a marine biologist and I begged my parents for an allowance to re-decorate my bedroom with an underwater colour scheme that was highlighted with a tacky whale wallpaper border. That crap-shoot of a dream quickly dissipated when I reached high school and spent my math and science classes daydreaming about English and drama class while drawing pictures in the borders of my poorly written tests. The nail in the coffin came when I watched Jaws and was then terrified to swim alone in a swimming pool for 3+ years.
In my early teen years, I gravitated towards words and the delivery of them when spoken out loud. One of my favourite things was watching montages that played before Olympic or championship sports games on television. I would tape them on the VCR and replay them back, carefully studying the way the pictures would match up with the words. Growing up with an aunt who was a filmmaker, I use to watch how she would sync music with video and be mesmerized by how powerful that delivery could be. I spent a lot of time reading lyrics and I was sucked into television shows that depended heavily on dialogue and the unraveling of the storyline.
My brother recently told me that he has this vivid memory of being in my bedroom as a kid. I was decorating the inside of my closet with Got Milk ads when I told him confidently that, “when I grow up, I’m going to write these!” No one told my 16-year-old self that the glamour of writing catchy and wordy ads would also go hand in hand with deeply unglamorous copy (I once wrote an ad for grave maintenance).
At thirty, I don’t have a single friend who knows exactly what they want to “be” and I’m starting to suspect that our generation will never figure it out. The other day, while thinking about writing this post, I thought about how I would truly feel if I knew the answer to that question.
And I arrived at this: I don’t think it would make me feel any less anxious about my future; In fact, it may make me feel pinned down and a tad bit constricted on my personal journey. I think the knowing part (in all aspects of life) takes the fun and magic out of it all.
There was something so enchanting as I, a spunky and wildly creative eight-year-old, imagined myself all dolled up while performing in front of a captivated Star Search crowd - televised for all the world to see.
I mean, is it not the idea, the curious thought of what could be, that hooks us all, catapulting us into our next ambitious days? I think so. And I don’t want to give that up. For me, the knowing would stomp out my could be.
I’ll probably change my mind again tomorrow but for today, I’m going to try and embrace my inner eight-year-old’s ferocious imagination and take my time as I curiously wander through all of the possibilities of what I could be.
“Not all who wander are lost” - J. R. R. Tolkien
Months ago, I met up with my girlfriend J. who had recently become single. As the two of us single ladies gabbed over lunch, her new found freedom was apparent in her relaxed demeanour and her new upbeat attitude – she was literally glowing! But when J. told me that she was excited to get back out there and start dating, I have to admit that I thought she was suffering from delusional heartbreak because, well, dating sucks! But then J. told me something that I had never thought of before, giving me an entirely new perspective on dating:
“Oh, don’t get me wrong, Stephanie, I haven’t forgotten what dating is like but I’m just so excited to meet new people and experience new things. I mean, there is something to be said about the hilariousness of it all! I can’t wait for all the new stories I’ll get to tell!”
She got me at story.
In recent months, I’ve been on the craziest dates! I’ve had moments where every fiber of my writer being has fought the urge to run to the bathroom and write it all down before it slips away. At times, it has felt like I was watching an episode of Seinfeld, except in this delicate circumstance, it would be wildly inappropriate for me to laugh. I once went on a date with a guy who picked up his cell phone five seconds into our date and told the other person that he couldn’t talk because he was in Dublin! I then spent the remainder of the date wondering if he was lying or telling me the truth.
Dating is bizarre, and at times, extremely uncomfortable. But there is something to be said about being able to show up and just be yourself that is a skill in and of itself. In between the painfully awkward bit, dating helps you to navigate through the dark and murky waters and define what you’re really looking for in a partner. While sitting across from a stranger, sipping on overpriced vodka tonics, you become forced to clearly translate who you are, what you like and don’t like, where you’re headed next and most importantly, how you want to live your life.
For me, dating has taught me the immeasurable skill of saying ”no” when I’m not interested in pursuing a relationship further. It has taught me how important it is to continually invest in yourself and your passions – because going on a date with a person who has no interests or hobbies is by far the worst! And on a totally selfish note, dating has become an entertaining means of helping me work on character development in my own writing and of course, it provides endless, infectious laughter with my very best girlfriends.
I read this the other day and it got me thinking: “If you had no idea how old you were, what would you guess your age to be?” My entire life I always felt older, but lately I feel like a gigantic sponge that has so much to learn and soak up. So if I had to guess, I would say I was 24 years old.
How about you? Would you guess that you were older or younger than your actual age?
Well, it’s that time of year again, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions!
Whenever I think of January 1, I have a flashback to when I was young. I used to love cracking open a brand new journal or day planner — to me, it represented a fresh start, a new beginning. I would carefully pencil in important matters like my up-coming birthday and would write poetry or long and lengthy entries, documenting my days.
I’m a goal oriented person to a fault and so my biggest problem is coming up with too many resolutions and then feeling let down when I don’t achieve them all (it’s only slightly neurotic).
I’ve managed to whittle my 2013 goal list down to three. In 2013 I want to focus more on my private writing projects, take solo vacations (I can’t wait to blog about this) and try to be more spontaneous in my day-to-day life.
Are you making New Year’s resolutions? If so, what are they?