It’s all progress

It’s all progress. And progress is messy.

We live in a very fast-paced world and if you’re even remotely of the overachiever variety, you probably have any number of things you’re trying to accomplish at a given time:

– Work hard to produce meaningful success at a job you enjoy
– Stay in touch with friends, near and far
– Read the stack of books on your nightstand
– Be a good employee, friend, significant other
– Eat something green once in awhile
– Try not to drink all the beer
– Use the gas stove for its intended purpose (making a home-cooked meal)
– Make paying for that gym membership worth it
– Catch up on the 8 shows you’ve added to your list on Netflix
– Call your mom
– Get rid of those old shoes you never wear anymore
– Make a scrapbook someday
– Finally hang curtains in the bathroom

And that doesn’t even scratch the surface. It’s oh so easy to feel like we’re falling behind in the world. When I stay late at work, I’m immediately behind on making it to the gym, grocery shopping, finally doing laundry. When I leave work on time, I feel anxious I won’t meet that project deadline in time even if I did make it to the gym to swim laps.

I constantly feel behind in some way. Recently though, I stumbled upon a little thought nugget of gold.

It’s all progress. No matter what.

Our list, that ultimate list of everything we want to do in life is ongoing forever and always. And each day, we are making a little bit of progress in one area or another. We feel behind because we didn’t make progress in the fun areas, or the areas we’ve been neglecting or in ALL the areas. But it’s still progress, people. We’re still moving forward inch by inch.

We never give ourselves credit for the progress, how beautiful and messy and wonderful and so damn stressful it is. That’s why we never find balance.

The key to balance then (I’m guessing here because I still haven’t actually found it) is in taking that little bit of daily progress and putting it where we need it. Where we need it to feel whole, to feel content, to feel happy, to feel in control. Maybe today I need that little bit of progress at work so I can walk out of the office feeling empowered. Tomorrow maybe my progress will focus on finally making it to my morning work-out. Some days our progress will be divided up all over every little thing in life. At other times, it may ebb and flow like the tides of the deep, blue sea.

I’m actually not at all sure if this is the key to balance. But I’ve been thinking… if step A is recognizing that we’re making progress and not focusing on falling behind and step B is deciding to make progress in the areas that will make us happy on any given day, then step A plus step B probably equals one giant step closer to finding balance. Am I right?
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Real life foursquare alliances

In eighth grade, I was the new kid in town. One of my most vivid memories from that whole year was the incessant amount of very serious foursquare competition. I’m not talking about the location-based social media app. I’m talking about the ole schoolyard game in four squares chalked out on pavement played with a bouncy kickball and four youngsters in squares A through D.

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My classmates took foursquare very seriously. We played every day at recess (RIP) and discussed strategy in the halls between classes. The line to play was always quite long, with only the best of the best maintaining squares A through C on a consistent basis.

Foursquare is not a team sport but soon enough, alliances formed. Forming a secret pact with classmates via whispers before lunchtime meant that once in the squares, you’d have someone on your side. Someone to team up with against the others. If you stepped in square D without an alliance, you’d be a goner in no time.

Alliances came and went but the best became legends of sorts. I still smile when I think about some of the unruly alliances of our class – power duos and trios with sick moves, wicked skill and undying determination to take everyone else down.

I haven’t played foursquare since 8th grade, but just today I realized, life is like one big foursquare game. Maybe the real world is just a lesson in foursquare alliances.

How do you become successful? The same way you get to square A. Hard work, determination and a few damn good alliances on your way up the ladder.

If you want to make it past square D, you rely on alliances to have your back and help bounce the others out.

If you want to be a badass, you surround yourself with fellow badasses.

Life is navigating one big giant network, building alliances and support systems as you go. If we’re smart, we find partners/co-workers/friends/mentors who excel in all the areas we lack. Just like in foursquare.

Whether it’s career-related or personal, alliances are the only way to make it through this crazy thing called life. At the end of any day, good or bad, we all need someone on our side who has our back and can mitigate our obstacles with a soft little bounce-out in the outside corner.

Here’s to strong, wonderful, badass alliances.

 

 

Life was never meant to be a struggle.

In a world where the “struggle is real” and people are aboard the “struggle bus” more often than they drive their cars, it’s easy to fall in a rut with the rest of “struggling” humanity. But are we really?

Truth be told, I, too, am struggling with this whole “struggling” thing. More days than not, some of the first words I think/say/text involve some conjugation of the word combined with a series of wide-eyed smiley faces and about 17 coffee emojis. I’ve been “struggling” about as long as I can remember, but I’m not positive I really remember why. As a society, how did we get so attached to the struggle, what does it even mean, how did it get so “real”?

A week or two ago, I was out on a trail communing with nature and pondering all the areas I’m “struggling” in (oh, let me count the ways) when, somewhere between reprimanding myself for hitting snooze 12 times and fully regretting skipping half of last week’s workouts, I stopped dead in my tracks. For there, right in front of me, on the same trail I’ve run hundreds of times, was a sign from the universe that I need to cool it with this struggle nonsense.

The sign read “Life was never meant to be a struggle, just a gentle progression from one point to another, much like walking through a valley on a sunny day.”

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Weird. That definitely hit home.

We live in a world where “struggling” has become a competition. If I’m “struggling” because I accidentally ate my entire lunch before lunchtime and spilled coffee in a meeting, but my co-worker is “struggling” because she barely slept the night before and has her shirt on backward, for whom is the “struggle” more real?

The sign in the park taught me a couple of things. Mainly, that life is meant to be lived and appreciated. Struggling and thinking about struggling and beating yourself up for struggling isn’t living. It’s sad and it’s depressing. Secondly, struggling is part of living and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you. That’s the cold, hard truth and the sooner we realize it, and start appreciating living for what it is, the better. Don’t beat yourself up so much, the struggle isn’t THAT real.

Next time you’re on a struggle submarine gunning for the bottom of the ocean, try jumping ship. There’s life to be lived, after all.

The One Wedding I Regret

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In all 20-something years of my life, there is just one wedding I regret. Just so we’re clear, I wasn’t the one getting married. I’m not even engaged at this point. No, at this wedding, I was a meaningless passerby in a sea of family and friends and a beautiful, amazing couple about to embark on an incredible journey of love.

Though I really was of no significance to this wedding or even to a majority of the people there, I still felt strongly about making a positive impression, about looking and acting my best and above all, being truer than true to myself and having a great time. I had my reasons for caring so much, and perhaps they were dumb, but regardless, I spent a great deal of thought and contemplation on this wedding.

Which is probably why it’s been weighing on my conscience for about a month now. Stupid regrets.

Anyways, I showed up at this wedding, dressed elegantly (in my opinion anyways), hoping to leave a positive impression and have a great time with my boyfriend.

About 20 minutes into the wedding reception, I threw all hopes of a fun night out the window and had to focus 100% on standing upright. You see, I walked into the reception and promptly fell down a flight of stairs…in a dress. A girl on a mission just can’t recover from something like that. My mojo was toast from the get-go.

Several minutes after that whole ruckus, my chair broke. Which was obviously not a huge burst of encouragement for me.

Looking lightyears away from competent when I had tried so hard to have a good time was a huge blow to my confidence and led to me TOTALLY ruining the rest of the night for myself (and likely my boyfriend too, though he appeared to be having a great time).

Looking back, I hate how much I let a couple embarrassing moments and a few emotional thoughts rattling around in my head kill my confidence, mood and mojo for the entire night. That’s the thing about the past though. It doesn’t really make sense to dwell on it since it’s not like we can redo it. We must learn from it.

Though beautiful and amazing for the wonderful bride and groom, I can’t help but wish I could cut myself out of this wedding and paste in an edited redo. Unfortunately, I can’t and I’ll just have to live with the fact that I want to redo the entire thing.

On the bright side though, I’m sure I’ll be invited to plenty other weddings (or at least I hope so) in my lifetime and now, I’ll be fully prepared for whatever is thrown my way.

Home is Where the Heart Breaks

Home-is-where-the-Heart-isI know you’ve heard it. That catchy, sentimental phrase that’s emblazoned on white picket-fence décor everywhere – Home is Where the Heart Is. For almost 20 years, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it really did.

But now, I disagree. What or where do you consider home? I was born in the small town of Bevis (pronounced BEEE-vis in case you’re wondering) but moved to Hilton Head Island mid-grade school. I once lived in the hilly no-man’s land of Morrow, Ohio before moving to the antique gift shop city that is Lebanon. I moved to Central Ohio for college, and still live in Columbus now. I consider myself a Cincinnati native and a Columbus dweller but really, I’m a conglomeration of every place, city and state I once considered home.

For me, home is where my family is. It’s where I went to grade school (all three of them). It’s the pool I had swim team practice in every day on the island and my favorite Hilton Head restaurant, Amigo’s Café and Cantina. It’s the halls of my high school and the antique downtown streets of small town, Ohio. It’s the loud boisterous atmosphere of an Ohio State game in the Shoe and it’s the broken pavement I once broke my hand on. It’s the island trails I use to take early morning bike rides on with my dad and the dip behind the plate at the old softball field where I learned to catch for my southpaw sister. It’s my big girl apartment that I come home to now and it’s the bunk bed at my parents’ house that I share with my younger sister. It’s my boyfriend’s apartment where we’ve cooked dinners together and his family’s home in Cleveland where I’ve spent countless weekends. If home is where the heart is, then my heart is broken. Into a lot of pieces.

Not that this is a bad thing. I’m pretty happy with the places I’ve been so far. But so just we’re clear, home isn’t where the heart IS, it’s where the heart BREAKS.

I hope your heart’s broken, too.