Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#266 Attend The Midnight Screening of A Blockbuster Movie on Opening Day

Middle Earth
Middle Earth

I am not going to lie. I am a Middle Earth Geek. Author J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit are arguably the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. My fascination with the enchanting, spirited, adventuresome realm of Middle Earth began after I had rented the Fellowship of the Ring movie on DVD. I was well aware of Tolkien's books but for as avid a reader as I was, I had never taken any interest to reading them. I find that very ironic in hindsight since they are so beloved to me now.

The movie completely enthralled me to say the least. I fell in love with the beauty of the Shire and the free spirited nature of the Hobbits. I was envious of their journeys through the forests and the mountains. I loved the little cottages they lived in with all the cute little rooms. I wanted my own Hobbit Cottage.

I wanted to be a Ranger just like Strider aka Aragorn. He was so knowledgeable and worldly. I wanted to swim in the waterfalls of Rivendell and lie beneath the stars on lustrous marbled balconies. I was eager to help Gandalf battle the Balrog in Moria. I wanted to ride a horse like Arwen and learn Elvish spells. I saw the goodness in Boromir as he battled his inner demons concerning the "one" ring and his father's wishes to bring it to Gondor. I was 29. Seriously? WTF? I was obviously feeling very caged in my life back then.

In fact, at that time in my life, The Lord Of The Rings sort of saved me in a sense. It was just what the doctor ordered. It opened my eyes to wanting more adventure, experiences and fun in my life, a life that had grown so very stale. Change was on the horizon. I wanted to read the books. That Christmas back in 2002, I received a beautiful boxed set of all four books. It was a very thoughtful gift and one of my favorites to this day.

I began reading The Hobbit on Christmas day. I finished The Return of The King on December 30th. For five days I was completely submerged in the world of Middle Earth. I barely slept. I was too entranced. I occasionally moved from my reading spot to get something to drink, use the bathroom and make sure the children were still alive but otherwise, I was burrowed under my blanket on my big grey comfy couch reading Tolkien's masterpiece.

The lovely design of  the boxed set of books I received as a Christmas gift. 

I was so crushed to come back to reality after I finished reading the books. Within days I went to the movies to see The Two Towers since it was released right before Christmas. The anticipation of waiting a whole year to see Return of The King killed me. I must say, Peter Jackson's take on the Tolkien classics were true to the book in many aspects, not all, but many. He had to cut parts out, change the story-lines of a few other parts and move some parts around because the movies were already lengthy.

The parts he did include were so cinematically breathtaking and heartfelt that you could not help but become completely lost in it all just as Tolkien had done with the written word. I do wish he would have gone a little more in depth about the beautiful romance between Eowyn and Faramir in the movies. In the movies they were more like supporting characters taking a backstage to the romance between Aragorn and Arwen.

Below is a somewhat modest description of Eowyn and Faramir's romance and eventual marriage since it was only touched upon briefly but moved me so deeply.

Eowyn of Rohan was a strong, beautiful, spirited, enduring character. She had fallen in love with Aragorn, the heir of Isildur. He was very fond of Eowyn but his heart belonged to Arwen. Eowyn was an accomplished shield maiden as were many Rohanian women. She wanted to fight in the battles alongside the men she loved to defend Middle Earth.

Against the wishes of her uncle, the king of Rohan, her brother Eomer, the third Marshal of Rohan and Aragorn, she disguised herself as a man and went into The Battle of Pelennor Fields. She killed the witch king defending her dying uncle. It was a feat in which no man had ever been able to do. Faramir, the second son of the Steward of Gondor and Boromir's younger brother, first saw Eowyn in the House of Healing while both were recovering from their injuries.

“And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” -Eowyn upon meeting Faramir 

He was very taken with her. He began his bid to sweep her off her feet in such a beautiful, subtle, admirable way. As for Faramir, he was strong but gentle, intelligent but unconceited. He was romantic, patient, and adoring, but also perceptive and intuitive. He was a man whom people looked up to, respected and admired just as they did his older brother Boromir.

He was a true alpha male, understated but commanding. People were naturally drawn to Faramir. Unlike his brother, he was able to resist the powers of the "one" ring. He was the one man that did not pale in comparison to his close friend Aragorn. In fact, in some ways, Aragorn paled in comparison to Faramir. It is why Aragorn held him in such high regard.

“For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back.” – Faramir to Eowyn

I guess it is obvious that I was completely smitten with Faramir in the book. My dream guy! Eventually Eowyn's obsession with Aragorn subsided when she unknowingly found herself falling for Faramir, the man whom remained close to her yet also kept a distance, allowing her to work through her emotions. She realized he was the true love of her life. They had both endured such troubles in their lives.

Only he could tame her wild spirit and open her eyes to all she was truly capable of. Only he could truly understand the depth of her soul and she his. In other words, they really got each other. They married and she became his queen. So sweet, I know. David Wenham plays Faramir in the movies. I became even more smitten with him because not only was he handsome but he played the part so true to Tokien's written character.

Anyway, my daughter was the one that eventually took the bait when one night, two years ago, she sat and watched the movies on TNT while I was in the room. Not always a good idea to watch LOTR for the first time when I am in the room since my goofball commentary is also present in the room. I made her laugh a lot but I could also tell how drawn to the movies she was as well.

She had become a LOTR junkie just like her mother. In fact, I even offered to let her read "my precious" books. It angers me a little that she has not read the books yet. I understand she is a college student and has to read a lot for school but in order to be accepted into" the fellowship" which is currently only one member strong (that would be me), she must read the books. (Hey, it's my fellowship, my rules.)
Update: Since I wrote this, she has read all the books. proud momma moment. 

When news broke about the pending release of The Hobbit, the junkie in me began salivating at the opportunity to see more of Middle Earth on the big screen after nearly a decade absence. My daughter was also eager to see The Hobbit which was even more exciting since I had gone alone to see the LOTR movies. Now I had a friend to take with me. The movie happened to be premiering on December 14, 2012 which was my daughter's 20th birthday.

I do not have much money so try I be creative and fun with my kids birthdays. Day trips to NYC and other places are a big thing. Trying new things is also something fun and creative to do. Quality time with my kids having little adventures are the stuff great birthday memories are made of in this family. They are older so the whole traditional party thing has been over since junior high anyway.

Neither one of us had ever been to a midnight premiere before. This could be something fun and different to do for her birthday. I have witnessed so many people incredibly excited for the release of a movie that they were willing to forgo sleep just to see it at midnight. I admit, for the first time ever I shared this same excitement for The Hobbit. I knew going to work the next day was going to be tough but I felt up to the task. I purchased two tickets for the 3D version of The Hobbit a week before the premiere. My daughter is a night owl so her being awake was not an issue. My getting sleep before the movie was going to be the real issue because I too am a night owl, although reluctantly, in my old age.

The day of the midnight showing I went home from work and immediately fell asleep which was not hard to do because work drains me now a days. It is so incredibly busy. I had hoped to sleep until eight or nine since I did not have to take my daughter to school at 5:30. Yea, that didn't happen. I was up and wide awake at 6 PM. I just laid there hoping to fall back to sleep. It's funny how the more you hope for something the less attainable it becomes. Sleep eluded me for the rest of the evening. Finally around 11:20 PM we headed out into the cold night air. Middle Earth was beckoning us.

We arrived at the theater expecting it to be really busy. Surprisingly it wasn't. We were 30 minutes early though. We walked briskly through the chilly night air into the theater. Inside we saw people wearing LOTR costumes in the lobby. I noticed the giant Gandalf man right away. He was wearing a T-Shirt under his robe. Gandalf doesn't wear T-Shirts I think to myself.

I started cracking up when I saw the Hobbit man with hairy feet. I thought people only played dress up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Guess I was wrong. We got our kiddie packs of popcorn complete with a mini fruit snack and little soda and proceeded to walk right past the theater. This is mostly because I was so proud I made it ten feet from the counter without dropping one piece of popcorn. The things that amuse me.... so strange sometimes.

My mini partner in crime. 
My daughter diverted my focus and directed me to the correct theater. It was sort of crowded but there were still great seats to be had. We sat in the middle of the theater on the right hand side. All of a sudden I became horrified. I had been limited to only wearing my glasses since I scratched my cornea when removing my contact the Saturday before.

That resulted in my having to go to the ER. It was my first trip to the ER in almost ten years. My eye was still healing. I bought tickets to the 3D movie. How am I going to wear the 3D glasses and see the movie? My daughter senses my distress and asked what had me so perplexed.

I asked her if I could watch the 3D movie without the glasses. She said not really. The movie would look funny. I told her it was going to look funny anyway because I had to take my glasses off to wear the 3D glasses. Everything would be blurry. She informed me the 3D glasses will go over my eye glasses.

I asked her how could they do that. She told me the glasses were big enough to fit over them. I looked at the glasses in my hand. I started mumbling about how they were not going to fit.

Finally she said, "Mom, just put them on." As soon as she said it I became even more disturbed. Oh my god! I have become my father. And my daughter sounds just like me when I am talking to my father. Not good! I shut up and put the glasses on. They did fit over my glasses just like she said they would.

I was so happy when the movie started. I loved the deafening surround sound and the gargantuan movie screen. Too bad movies are so much money anymore. I need to go more often. Watching them on TV just doesn't compare, especially action movies.

I am not going to spoil too much of The Hobbit for those who want to see it. Let's just say it was pretty awesome. I am glad the glasses fit because it was incredible to watch it in 3D. I loved seeing Radagast (the brown wizard) in the movie. He is a nature wizard, a lover of plants and animals. His bunny sled of Rhosgobel Rabbits are freakin awesome and watching him nurse a little hedgehog back to life is one of my favorite parts of the movie. So cute!

I am not going to lie though, as excited as I was to see the movie, 150 minutes into the movie, I found myself nodding off. My eyes were starting to hurt from lack of sleep. I had originally planned to drop my daughter off at home and go straight to work to get some overtime but it became evident that if I did not try to squeeze in an hour's sleep, the day was going to be very agonizing for me.

I was thankful when the movie ended at 3:00 AM. That gave me a chance to get 60-90 minutes of sleep. As we walked to the car I felt somewhat confused by then ending. At the time I was not aware there would be three films and I was a little pissed by the ending. It wasn't until I was at work that a co-worker informed me there were going to be three parts just like LOTR.

"Good." I tell him. I would be so mad if that was how they ended it. I began to wonder if Peter Jackson may take some parts he originally omitted from LOTR and figure out a way to incorporate them into The Hobbit. That would be sweet! Guess we will have to wait and see.

Surprisingly the work day goes well for me. I don't eat too heavy because I know it will make me want to collapse in a pile under a random desk and take a nap. That would be frowned upon by the establishment. It also helps that I only worked partly in the dock office, then broke up the rest of the day by also doing scheduling and safety training.

In fact, I felt so good when I go home that I stayed awake. No nap. Crazy right? My son always says if I got paid for napping we would be rich. Back in the day this would be a walk in the park for me. I've done it a hundred times. Not anymore. However, it was a lot of fun going to a midnight premiere with my daughter. Think I just may see the other two parts of The Hobbit at midnight too. I can't wait!!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

#384 Doing Something That Absolutely Terrifies You

When I originally put this on my list, holding a big, scary snake or jumping out of a plane was what I had in mind. You know, the obvious things that terrify us. However, in 2012 I set into motion something that I wasn't willing to admit really terrified me.

This very thing had crippled me for many years. Avoidance was the special of the day everyday. I found every single excuse possible to avoid this huge, black cloud permeating my life.

My compilation of greatest hits included excuses such as:
"There is nothing I can really do about it."
"I can't afford to do it."
 And my personal favorite, "You can't get blood from a stone."

The truth be told, I was afraid. The excuses were just masks. I pretended I didn't care but deep down inside, I really did care. I tried to be tough about it but all THAT did was prolong the inevitable. For someone who was very capable and quite versed at taking difficult situations head on, this particular predicament had me paralyzed. I knew why. I know me.

You see, you can lie to everyone else but no matter how much you try, you cannot lie to yourself. The truth is always there, lurking inside like an unwanted stalker. You know what are you doing, even if you spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week telling yourself something else, it is still there. You can justify it all you want but at the end of the day, the truth speaks inside of you.

What I was lying to myself about was the state of my finances. Yes, I struggled juggling my monthly bills but when all was said and done, they did get paid. Sometimes it took months, even a year to get my bill balances back to zero but I did it. However, the debt I accrued during my marriage was also there. Those debts didn't disappear when my spouse did. They didn't go away just because someone did not want to play "grown up" anymore.

It was those debts that I could not afford to pay anymore. I honestly did try when I could but this was a joint debt accrued by two people. One person bailed and did not care anymore about the debt and what it was going to do to their credit, my credit and our family. I did care but made a fraction of the income. So, for years after the dissolution of the marriage, my finances were what can be described as a vicious circle.

I never had enough money to settle a debt outright and the debt collectors were brutal with payment plans. They really didn't want monthly nickels and dimes from me. They wanted their lump sum. They bought the debt from my original creditors for next to nothing, but still wanted as much money as they squeeze from me. In order to deter me from making monthly payments, they would tack fees onto my debt every month. They would harass, threaten and humiliate me too. It was awful.

Consolidation was out of the question for me. No one I researched was willing to give me a monthly repayment plan I could afford. Heating oil and gas had skyrocketed. Utilities increased. The cost of food increased. And despite popular belief, children do not get any cheaper to raise as they get older. More independent yes, cheaper, no. I could not afford to pay off my marital debt and maintain my monthly household bills. I did not make enough money to do both.

After all this time I was beginning to break. Everyday on my drive home from work, I was holding my breath and staving off panic attacks. Why you ask? Because I never knew what new court paper or shut off notice was going to be taped to my front door when I came home. Constable visits had become a regular occurrence in my life.

The Constable was always so nice to me when he had to serve me a legal notice though. He was very sympathetic. He knew the economy. I will never forget his kindness during this hard time in my life. He didn't make me feel like trash like the debt collectors did. But, I will also never forget how all of this made me feel either.

I was becoming physically ill from all the stress and anxiety. 6 years of juggling and struggling had taken it's toll. I felt so helpless. Some days I felt like an absolute failure. Some days I felt worthless and useless. Some days the debt collectors won. Some days I really believed I was trash. Some days I felt like crying, and I did, away from my children, in my bedroom, alone.

Somehow I had successfully managed to protect my kids from most of the wreckage left over from my split from their father but all of this this was starting to spill over onto them. I could not allow this to go on any further. This was not their cross to bear, it was mine. Avoidance was no longer an option. I could no longer be afraid to face the music. I wanted my life back. I wanted to be able to breath. I HAD to file for bankruptcy.

But, I had no clue where to start.

I decided to put my pride aside and publicly seek advice from all of my friends. The outpouring of concern, advice and well wishes was more than I could ever have expected. This outpouring not only got me pointed in the right direction, but also gave me the courage to face my one of my biggest fears. I also began to ease up on the daily mental beating I was inflicting upon myself.

After much research I decided to take on an attorney recommended by two of my friends, Jeremy and Jill. Not only was he affordable, but he put me completely at ease. He did not speak down to me. He did not make me feel like a loser or a failure. He understood my plight. He realized my inquisitive nature and explained in detail the process of filing for bankruptcy step by step because I am the type of person who needs to know as much as possible about how and why things work.

I'm not going to lie, lawyers scare me. In fact, I try very hard to avoid anything that would necessitate the hiring of an attorney. I think it is a good plan. It's worked out pretty well for me so far, until now that is. Anyways, the first meeting was quite comical. I was late for my appointment by 30 minutes because I did not follow the map he provided. I decided to map it myself because why would I do the logical thing and follow the map he provided.

What did he know about how to get to the place where he works every single day? Yea. I know. Once I finally did find the street where his offices were, I ran into another problem. His law office was in a regular house. I just couldn't grasp this. Even though the numbers on the house matched the one he provided and there were big signs for several attorneys on the outside of the house, I did not believe that was the right place.

I had to drive by it five times before my mind was willing to accept that he and several other attorneys had their offices in this house. After I accepted the fact that this house was where I needed to be, I decided to drive by it two more times because I did not want to park too close to the house. Why? I believe only God really knows the answer to that because I sure as hell don't.

Finally I suck it up and park in front of the house because it is the only spot available. Most people would kill to park right in front of their destination right? Nope, not this gal. For some reason I felt the need to distance my Blazer as far from the vicinity of this house as possible which, by the way, really isn't a house. It is law offices.

I realize I reek of cigarette smoke since I pretty much had a cigarette in my hand from the moment I left work in Hazleton until I pulled in front of the house that was actually offices for lawyers in Wilkes Barre. Nerves and perhaps a touch of nicotine poisoning made me feel like I was about to hurl. I tell myself to stop being such a baby and proceed to douse myself with perfume.

Now I smell like a stale pack of smokes and a field of flowers that attract butterflies. Graceful, fluttering butterflies. I was about as graceful as a Friday night after the bar while climbing up the steep concrete steps to the house that was really offices. I managed to only trip and not fall. Depth perception sometimes eludes those who are poisoned by nicotine from chain smoking. That is my theory anyway.

I knock on the screen door but nobody answers. After about three minutes I remember it is offices and I do not have to knock on the door. Do I knock on the door to my doctor's office? No. I go right in. Do I knock on the door to the accountant? No. I go right in there too. Do I knock on the door to the hotel or the grocery store or any other place of business? No Chrissy. You don't. So why are you knocking on this door?

Because it is a house and your mind is trained to practice the etiquette of knocking when entering a house even though for the last fifteen minutes we have come to terms with the fact that this is not really a house. It is offices. So, I take a deep breath and I walk in. I notice there is a dining room table, a couch, a kitchen, oriental rugs, art on the walls, houseplants and not a single soul in sight.

Oh My God!!! This is a real house! I am standing in someone's house! I am going to need another lawyer for trespassing now! I feel like I took a detour into Whatthefuckville?

As I turn to bolt out the door I hear something. It is little feet tapping against the hardwood floors. I turn and look up the stairs towards the noise. There is a little Bichon Frise peering at me from the top of the stairs. Just like any other animal lover out there I go stupid and forget I am in a real house and start calling to the puppy because I want to pet him.

Yes, I am now 40 minutes late for my appointment to file bankruptcy which terrifies me and makes me nauseous. I am terrified of meeting my lawyer because lawyers freak me the hell out. I have no idea where the real office is on this late Friday afternoon and all I want to do is go home and drink an entire bottle of wine. I smell like nicotine and flowers and my hands are numb because they have not stopped shaking since I woke up this morning.

I am standing in some stranger's house running the risk of either getting shot or arrested for trespassing which would in turn necessitate the hiring of yet another scary attorney that terrifies me and the only thing I am concerned with at the moment is getting the little white puppy that is probably a mini Cujo attack dog down the steps so I can pet him.

Yes people!! Welcome to Planet Fess where the streets have no names, the sky is made of marshmallows and all touch with reality is completely lost once you cross over into my dimension.

The puppy comes running down the stairs. I pet him for about 5 seconds before reality comes crashing in. What am I doing? That is when I hear the voices. Great! That's it. It's official. I'm insane. The voices seem so real though. Suddenly a man appears at the top of the steps. He asks if he can help me.

I go stupid again. I point to the door. I mumble something about leaving then blurt out "Is this a house?" He gives me a look I immediately recognize because my father has given me that same look at least a hundred times. He informs me it is a house. It is a house that they converted into offices. I just shake my head. I give up!

"Are you my attorney?" I ask him. He tells me I would have to hire him in order for him to be my attorney. "Oh yeah, right" I tell myself. I have not retained his services yet. I walk the stairs to his office. It is homey but neat. I apologize for being late. He tells me I ruined his entire weekend. I look at him mouth agape. He is amused. Finally he reassures me that he is just kidding.

I feel the nausea ebb and flow in my stomach. I scan the room for a waste basket just in case I need to puke while he begins looking through my paperwork and asking me questions. I am not very verbally eloquent when nervous so it takes him a little while to get the hang of "Chrissy-speak". After answering a few questions he is able to translate what I am explaining to him so it is smooth sailing, until he loses my 2011 tax return.

We have no idea how he lost it because neither of us left the room. In fact he only got up from his desk once to make a copy. I begin searching all of my papers while he searches his but it is no where to be found. He tells me it will appear eventually and that we can start crunching some numbers. I watch him take a piece of paper and a pencil from his brief case. He starts figuring out the math.

I ask him if he likes exercising his brain. He looks at me like I am an alien. I point to the paper and all of the long hand math. He says yes he does like to exercise his brain and that he also cannot find his calculator. I take out my phone and offer to do the math for him. We proceed to crunch numbers. He comments that I must really be impressed with the great image of professionalism he is displaying by putting me to work. I find this hilarious. I tell him I was 40 minutes late, ruined his entire weekend and deserved to be put to work. He returns the laughter.

He looks over all the judgments against me. He says I must be hardcore because most people get scared and file after receiving their first judgment. I had seven. I explained about keeping my word. I told him it was fear that actually kept me from filing for so long. There is nothing hardcore about feeling paralyzed and helpless. There is no strength in avoidance. I told him I was terrified of all of this.

He was very empathetic and reassuring. He explained more people than ever are dealing with situations like mine. Good, hard working people whom have had found themselves on hard times. He knew I was not a credit abuser. He could see by my credit report that I had willingly paid and closed quite a few accounts on my own when I realized I could not afford to make payments. He explained there are people out there that do abuse bankruptcy which is why it has become a more difficult process to file. I was glad to hear he did not think I was taking advantage of the system because I was not.

As he starts talking about the math, he looks up and notices my eyes scanning the room. He calls me out on this. He says I am still trying to figure out where my tax return papers are because I think he hid them from me just to mess with me. I find this humorous as well. He is a perceptive one because that is exactly what I was doing. I didn't believe he hid them but they seriously have got to be in this room. Where the hell did they go? It was boggling my mind.

He distracts me by asking me if I have pets. I tell him about my B.Rabbit. He mentions something about Hazel and the rabbits from the book "Watership Down." My mouth drops again. The only people I know who have read the book and do not live in England are my father and me. I explain my surprise at him mentioning the book. I ask him if he ever saw the movie. He did not know there was a movie.

I inform him it is not really a cartoon for children but my father taped it for me and I used to watch it all the time as a kid. And there it was, my segno. Right then and there I knew he was the attorney for me. I decided I was going to retain him. How could I not retain a funny, cool, down to earth, calm attorney that read "Watership Down." I paid him the deposit to retain his services.

After the meeting, I spent the next few weeks faxing him some of the information I needed to file. I had also managed to save $700 towards the $1111.00 I needed to file. I projected that I would have enough to file near the end of August. My grandfather had passed away at the end of July so for a week everything was put on hold until we buried him. I couldn't deal with anything else at the moment.

The Monday after my grandfather's funeral, my bank account was seized by another creditor leaving me completely crippled. I spent my lunch making phone calls. My bank gave me the number of the attorney that filed the motion to seize. I called him. A woman answered, took my information then transferred me to the attorney's assistant. The assistant was incredibly rude to me which I was already prepared for.

He told me the attorney was not available. Once I mentioned the words "payment plan" all of a sudden the attorney was available. The assistant put me on hold while he got the attorney. Five seconds later I was connected to the attorney...which happened to be the same man claiming to be the assistant. I asked him what I needed to do to free up my bank account. He explained that the bank had 21 days to fill out paperwork and until he received the paperwork, there was nothing I could do.

I proceeded to inform the attorney/assistant that I was in the process of filing bankruptcy. I told him I would call him in 21 days. As I was disconnecting from the call I heard him laugh and crack a joke about me to someone else in the room with him. Instead of calling the asshole back 21 days later I moved my paychecks into a family member's account. There would be no payment plan now unless otherwise ordered by my trustee.

I was sick and tired of being humiliated and made the fool by people in general. I emailed my attorney and we made note of the call. This situation set me back greatly. I could not touch the $700 I had saved. I was back to square one. It took me almost two more months to find the resources to pay my lawyer but I did. I faxed him the rest of the information needed. I received notification that my hearing would be November 27th. I was surprised by how fast this was going to happen but also relieved. No matter what happened, it will all be over soon.

Since my kiddos were little, I have always made the weekend of Thanksgiving a four day weekend. I spend Thursday cooking my own meal early in the day. After I nap we go visiting. I spend Friday decorating the house and putting up the tree. I haven't gone shopping on Black Friday in ages unless it is online because I am not a fan of crowds. They sometimes terrify me as well. We relax and eat leftovers. I watch football and Christmas movies.

This year was a little different though. I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving, but by Friday my nerves were beginning to tweak. I found every way possible to distract myself from my upcoming hearing. I redid all of my wreaths. I tried some new decorations on my front porch. I put up my pink Christmas tree then took hours upon hours decorating it because I was not happy with anything I put on that tree.

Normally it is tradition to order pizza on Black Friday as a buffer between Thursday's dinner and Saturday and Sunday's leftovers. I forgot to do that. In fact, I forgot to eat entirely on Friday. It wasn't until Friday night at 10:00 PM that I finally got so light headed and dizzy that I forced myself to eat something even though I had no appetite. Saturday was no different except that I stopped sleeping and eating completely. My stomach was sick and twisted.

I took a nap on Sunday at 5 AM until 7 AM. I did not eat until 10 PM Sunday night and only because I had too. I didn't even try one of the pumpkin chalices I made. Sunday night I lay in bed until I had to work. I slept for two hours after work Monday. I slept for two hours at 5AM the Tuesday of my hearing. I did not sleep again until Wednesday after work.

As I am writing this on December 2, 2012 I am still sick to my stomach and suffering from tension headaches although I have been able to sleep. I wish my nerves would settle somewhat. The hardest part is now over. Maybe it is a delayed reaction. I have been in this mental state of stress and nerves for over six months now. I guess it isn't going to disappear over night.

Anyways, back to the day of my hearing. Everyone including my lawyer has said the hearing  would be rather quick. I arrived at City Hall ten minutes prior to my hearing. I realized I was over dressed when I walked up to the second floor and one of the other people waiting for their bankruptcy hearing asked if I was their lawyer. I could feel my stomach doing somersaults. No one else was dressed business casual, just me.

I stood out like a sore thumb. Great. It was now 1:30 and my lawyer was not there yet. I stood by the wall length window away from the rest of the people and tried to keep myself calm. I was waiting for my ears to start ringing, a sure sign of a fainting spell. Thankfully it never came. I was prepared for a panic attack but that never came either. I was breathing completely normal. In fact my heart rate was steady and so was my blood pressure. My stomach had settled. It was as if all of a sudden a complete calm was washing over me. I realized I had this. I was going to be just fine. I was okay.

I walked back over to the where the other people were and waited for my lawyer. He arrived a few minutes later and whisked me into the hearing room. I began signing a bunch of papers. He noticed my arms were filled with scratches and asked me if I got into a cat fight. He was really amused when I told him my Christmas tree was the culprit.

As we began filling out forms, we came to the question about injuries. He asked me if I was currently involved in any lawsuits for auto or workmen's comp injuries. I said no. He asked me if I was currently involved in any settlements for injuries as a result of a crime. I said no. He asked me if I was currently involved in any settlements for injuries sustained from being attacked by a Christmas tree. That stopped me in my tracks. I let out this huge laugh that echoed throughout the council chambers where the hearings were being held. I said no.

He put me at ease again. When it was my turn to be heard, I sat directly in front of the trustee which is normally where the lawyer sits. I looked him straight in the face the entire time. He wasn't so scary after all. In fact he cracked a few jokes with me and told me to watch as he made my lawyer squirm. He brought up my upcoming 2012 tax return refund. My heart began to sink. I always need that money to get caught up on bills and buy the things for my family that I can't normally afford throughout the year.

I watched my lawyer and the trustee go back and forth arguing about my return in an almost comical way. I understand the trustee works for the creditors. I understand he needs to practice a degree of emotional detachment in his work, but as I always say, give me five minutes in someone's presence and I can usually see them for who they really are.

What I saw was a man who was stern but also compassionate. A man who took pride in his work, paid attention to detail, but whom was also willing to help those whom really needed it. A man whom on a day to day basis has heard every excuse imaginable but had the knowledge to determine which reasonings were legitimate and which were not. He asked if any creditors were here to contest my filing. No one stood. He excused us. My hearing lasted 6 minutes.

My lawyer and I spoke for a few minutes after the hearing. He reassured me that it is rare that a case is appealed. He promised if there was anything that would ultimately become an issue, he would make sure to take care of it. The fact that no creditors showed to contest my declaration was a good sign. The fact that the trustee did not even get into my real estate was also a promising sign.

This past Friday I received notification that the trustee did not find any assets worth acquiring and that unless a creditor requests an appeal within 30 days of the hearing, my case should be closed. Of course I will not completely relax until all is said and done but I have been able to breath a few more sighs of relief.

The reason I have been so open and candid about most of my plight is because I know I am not alone in going through this. If this helps even one other person face their fear or make the decision to take the step towards fixing their finances, then all is not lost. I am not ashamed any more. I am not a failure. I am not irresponsible. I did break my word. I made a few poor decisions and learned a few hard lessons. Lessons I will not need to be taught again.

This is what I learned.

*My father has always said never live above your means. In fact do not even live at your means. Always live a little below them and save some money. This is definitely the best advice.

*If you see something you really want ask yourself 3 things. 

  1. Will I really use this, wear this, etc and if so, how often? 
  2. Will having this improve my quality of life? 
  3. How many hours of work is this going to cost me?
The last question is the one that ultimately gets me in the end. When I actually look at something in terms of hours spent working, I am able to make a rational decision. I am not saying you shouldn't have nice things or shouldn't reward yourself for hard work, but by putting stuff into perspective you will be more inclined to only spend money on the things you truly want and less on fluff or useless items. 

*Just like any other addiction, overspending is also an addiction. While I was not the major over spender, I lived with one. I was guilty of enabling him by trying to make up for the shitty childhood he had. That was not on me to fix. I know that now. Buying a bunch of stuff will not fill the voids in your life. Only you can resolve those voids by getting to the root of the issue and making an effort to change, resolve or move past it. 

*You cannot buy love and affection. They are not for sale. If someone implies otherwise then their motives are just that, motives. They are just looking to take advantage of you. Real love and affection are always given freely. 

*Be old fashioned. If there is something you decide you want and you do not have the money for it, save up for it. If the item is still available once you have the money, it was meant to be. If it is not, it wasn't. You may find after taking some time to save that you realize you no longer want it. Plastic should only be used for those items that can seriously affect your way of life such as an appliance breaking and even then, it should be used sparingly. 

*I like to travel. I want to do more. It is not impossible I just have to find a trade off and do without other things. If you have a passion, by all means support it. Life is still meant to be lived. Just be sure to find the trade off. What are you willing to give up in return without compromising your monthly bills or your responsibilities. I know people that make less than me but can do everything their heart desires, while still paying all of their bills on time and do not have unsecured debts such a credit cards. It's about being smart and patient. It's about learning to say no to some things so they can say yes to other things. 

*If your company offers a 401k or other savings/retirement plan, do it. Yes it is a deduction from your weekly pay but after a month or two, you learn to adjust. Trust me, I am broke but I still invest because in the long run it will make a huge difference in my life.

I am not going to lie, the decision to file for bankruptcy was one of the toughest ones I have ever had to make. The process is very trying. Several times in the last seven months I have come close to an emotional and mental breakdown. If it weren't for my friends and family to lean on during this time, I have no idea what I would have done. You are completely vulnerable and exposed but, a good lawyer will get you through this.

A good lawyer will be honest but compassionate. There is nothing wrong with going on several consultations before choosing an attorney. In fact you should. I did. You need to be comfortable with your choice. And remember the alternatives, yes I came close to cracking up but I definitely would have had I not taken action. It was never about losing my things, I am not a slave to my things, they can be replaced. This was always about regaining my quality of life, protecting my family and getting a second chance to learn from my mistakes and have a fresh start.

So this is it. I survived bankruptcy. Of course I did. I faced something that terrified me. In the end, I discovered the root of my terror. I am terrified of feeling weak and helpless. I had to come to terms with the fact that I am going to have weak moments. Avoiding them is not the answer.

I cannot always carry the weight of the world on my shoulders and some burdens I just cannot bear alone no matter how much I try. I learned I am not inconveniencing the people that really care about me by needing their shoulder or their ear once in awhile. I learned having a weak moment does not affect my character. Avoiding them does. Even Cassius Clay lost a few fights back in the day. I'm doing okay in this crazy, beautiful life. :)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

#206 Assemble A List Of My All Time Favorite Quotes

Bucket List #206: Assemble A List Of My All Time Favorite Quotes

I love quotes. Why you may wonder? Perspective is one reason. You see, just like any work of art, be it a painting, a song, a poem, a symphony, a novel, etc., the piece has one meaning to the artist whom created it but takes on new life through the various translations that occur when others submerge themselves into the work of art. Quotes are spoken or written forms of art. They can be viewed as condensed versions of a profound speech, prose, or novel. Quotes express the ideals or reasonings of the author while providing maximum impact with minimum words.

The other reason I love quotes is simple. Quotes can be so inspiring. When you need a different perspective or a reasoning to your state of mind a quote can draw forth an alternative way of thinking. Circumstances you may be facing or emotions you may be feeling can make more sense when written word is put to paper by someone from another place or time. Simply put, sometimes what we are feeling or experiencing is too complicated to put into words. Those whom have a talent for reaching and relating to people are often times also equipped to put life into perspective for all of us to relate.

I, myself, like to think I am proficiently gifted with the written and spoken word. I also like to think that one of my other gifts is my ability to relate to people of all walks of life. However, because I am oft times the listener, I also need a constructive outlet for my emotions and circumstances. For instance, it's not always easy for the listener to talk. It's also not always easy for the listener to find someone willing to listen with the same undivided attention the listener provides. When I find myself feeling I have nowhere to turn, I enthrall myself in the written word to seek solace and inspiration.

In fact, I have many quotes saved in a wordpad doc. When I come across a quote that invokes something inside of me, I place it in my collection. They are all favorites of mine so constructing a list of my favorite quotes would be both time consuming and extensive. Instead I am going to limit myself as much as possible by listing quotes that have inspired me the most, gotten me through the toughest times, changed my perspective or just made me smile.

1.  “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." - Elizabeth Kubler Ros 

Elizabeth Kubler Ros

Physical attraction is enough to arouse a person's heart rate, but after the initial attraction, personality is what becomes the main component of attraction. A person with a poor or negative personality, no matter how physically attractive will lose their luster. Like attracts like. This quote reminds me to not become bitter or negative about the curve balls that life is always throwing my way. Every girl wants to be beautiful. I am no different. The key to being beautiful and positive is to start from the inside. Start with your soul. It's okay to feel anger, resentment and bitterness. We need to. It would be unhealthy not to acknowledge any emotion you are feeling. They key is to transform those negative emotions into a more positive, compassionate outlook. 

Find the lesson. Understand why it happened. Be grateful it happened. Be grateful because you learned something that you can use to better live your life. Help someone else with your new knowledge, but never remain bitter that it happened. Hardships do not have the right to make you a negative person. Only you have that right. You alone are responsible for how the hardships you face will affect your character. Practice compassion and kindness. Smile. Listen as much, if not more, than you talk. Teach. Learn. Empathize. Do not be to quick to judge. Open your heart more with each hardship rather than close it to the world. Everything happens for a reason. If you can fight through the negativity, you will find the power to move forward. If you allow it to consume you, you will remain exactly where you are. 

2. "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." - John Wayne

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

This quote by the famous John Wayne has changed my life. I had worked in the food industry since the age of 14. After my separation from my ex husband, he decided to drop me from his insurance even though we were still legally married. He tried to tell me they would not allow him to keep me on even though legally I was still his wife. The only way I would have been able to make him budge would be to hire a lawyer. I did not have the money for a lawyer at that time. I also had a $500.00 medical bill because I did not know he had dropped me.

Looking back, his immature nature was actually a blessing to me. You see, anyone that has worked in restaurants knows the benefits, if there are any, are terrible. I needed to find a job that would offer me health insurance as well as some type of retirement program since I had relinquished my rights to my ex-husband's 401(k) to ensure I gained full custody of our children. In order to gain these types of benefits I would need to leave the restaurant industry, the only career I had ever known. 

In November of 2007, at my father's suggestion, I started working in the web and domain industry for Network Solutions. That was a far cry from waitressing in many aspects. Classroom training did go very well for me. Answering live calls, however, was confusing and stressful. I remember going home every night almost in tears because the job was not at all something I liked. I dreaded waking in the morning to go to work. The only other option I had was to go back to waitressing. Deep down I knew I couldn't go back. I didn't want to. I was burnt. I needed to move forward. I had two children who were dependent on me. I was now the breadwinner. I needed to learn how to become an independent woman. This terrified me.

Networks Solutions had various training departments which I knew I would enjoy and excel at. Assisting people was in my blood. The positions also paid well and did not involve sales. In order to be considered for those positions however, I needed to become one of the top 5% of customer service representatives in the center. I needed to become an expert in online technology and excel in sales. I did not believe I could do this. I had never really challenged myself before. I had never taken any real risks in my life. I had nothing to lose I reminded myself. I decided to set my sights on the prize. I made my goals and began working towards them.

I recalled seeing this quote online a year prior. It practically jumped out of the screen at me. This was exactly how I had been feeling for so long. I was scared to death of screwing everything up in both my life and my children's. I decided to print the quote and hang it in my cubicle. It was time to saddle up and be brave. I swear I looked at Mr. Wayne's words 100 times a day. I knew what I had to do. I had to take a chance. I could succeed or I could fail but I would not know unless I tried. What I DID know was that I could no longer afford to be complacent. I had to work harder than I ever had before. I studied anything and everything pertaining to the job. I worked with the top sales supervisor and representatives to improve my sales skills. I worked with my team supervisor on ways to perfect my performance.

Within three months I became one of the top 5% in the company. Within 5 months I retained a temporary training position. A position in which over 75 representatives applied. No one had ever gotten that position so early in their employment with the company. Within one year working at Network Solutions I entered the Quality Assurance department. They accepted 37 applications for the position. No one had ever gotten that position so early in their employment either.

For the first time in my life I believed in myself. I had set a goal and had followed through successfully. I had taken a huge chance and it worked out. I still have the same quote that once hung in my cubicle now hanging in my home office. I look at it often. It changed my life. It changed my way of thinking. It opened the door to my becoming the woman I am meant to be. I am no longer afraid to take chances or challenge myself. In fact, I can do anything I set my mind to. I can accomplish anything that really matters to me as long as I put the time and effort necessary into each challenge. Life is scary. It is full of the unexpected. Rising up to the challenge instead of running for the nearest exit is the best way to live a happy fulfilling life. I know this now. I live this now! Thank you Mr. John Wayne for changing my life. 

3.  "You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." - C.S. Lewis

You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream

Thought it was fitting to follow Mr. Wayne's quote with this one considering this too, has changed my way of thinking. When I was a child, I thought life was over after 30. I believed that once you were 30, you just raised kids, visited grand kids and kept house. How wrong I was. My life did not even truly begin until I was in my thirties. I have seen and accomplished more in my 30's than I have my whole life. 

There is so much more living I have left to do. There are so many things I have yet to see, experience and feel. I refuse to allow my age to define me. I am not alone in my endeavors. More and more people are also following this mantra. I am certain when you remain young at heart it radiates from the inside out. I believe if C.S. Lewis were here today, he would agree. Never stop believing; never stop trying; never stop living. 

4. "Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

Then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom

The first time I read this quote it brought me to tears. This one quote summed up the inner conflict I had endured for a good part of my life. As strong a woman as I was during that time, I was not strong enough to make the decision to be a happy person. You see, loyalty to a fault is one of my most prominent character traits. It can be a curse or a blessing depending on the situation. In this case it was a curse. It took much time from me. Time I could have spent blooming I instead spent trying to be someone I was not. I was living in the image of what others felt I should be until I finally took my life back. It came at a price but it was worth the cost in the end. 

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it is very difficult holding my ground, especially to loved ones, but I do because I can't go back. In fact, I look back to that time in my life to remind myself  just how much I have bloomed since then. I may have been late, but I did get my opportunity. I get to be true to myself. I don't want to be anyone else. I shouldn't have to be. No one should. I know I will continue to bloom even more as the years move forward, even if it seems like I am going backwards on occasion. This is yet another reminder that everything happens for a reason. No regrets, just lessons. 

5. "Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves." - Henry David Thoreau

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves

If you have not noticed a theme here, I have done a lot of soul searching over the years. Going back through the previous quotes, you can see my journey has left me in uncharted territory several times. I have come to the understanding that it is necessary to become lost once in awhile through this thing called life. What Mr. Thoreau has written is undoubtedly true. If you want to discover who you really are at your core, face something you have never faced before. Whether life throws it at you or you challenge yourself, personal discovery will most definitely come to light when dealing with the unexpected. It's in this immersion that we can clearly see our strengths and our weaknesses. It is an opportunity to change, to evolve, to chart a new path in our life. 

6. "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." - Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes I randomly joke that I am running out of glue from holding all the broken pieces together for so long. Then I remind myself if I run out of glue there is always duct tape, liquid nails, safety pins, a needle and thread.....cement. Sometimes I come pretty close to shattering, and it isn't pretty, but I know my capabilities and they always set me right again. Sometimes it just takes a little longer is all. I've visited this place before. I know what to do.

This place I am referring to is "rock bottom." I am sure everyone has heard of the term "rock bottom". I am sure most of us have felt at one time or another that we have visited "rock bottom". I personally have hit rock bottom three times in the past six years. Every two years it seems like I am once again falling straight through the rabbit hole. I am currently there now. After I claw my way back to the light of day this time, I do not plan on visiting "rock bottom" again anytime soon. This is exactly why I take heart to this quote so very much.

What Mr. Hemingway is stating is that life is going to break us all in one way or another. Some carry a heavier burden than others, but just because something seems minor to one person does not mean it is minor to the person bearing the weight of the burden. Everyone's shoulders are different. Some are made to bear more weight than others. As my grandmother often said " God does not put more on your plate than you can handle. You have to find it in you to handle it and not give up. It will only make you stronger." 

There is something very positive about visiting rock bottom I have come to find from my many visits. Unfortunately we are often times too distressed and anguished to see anything positive. We are missing the lesson. Allow me to explain. There is a Hindu goddess called Akhilandeshvari. Translated from Sanskrit her name means "never not broken". Why would the Hindi have a goddess representing such a weakness? Because it is not a weakness at all. It is a strength. I'll delve further. 

As people we have a tendency to repeat the same things over and over again. We go from one toxic relationship to another. We go from one dead end job to another. We stay when we should go. We move backwards when we should move forward. We refuse to change. We become routine, mundane. We create excuses. We deceive. We settle. We do this because it is easy to do. Life is hard enough right?

All of these are learned behaviors and learned behaviors are the hardest to break. That is when fate intervenes with it's hammer and breaks the toxic pattern. You have now lost control. What's done is done. The question it life that is always making your living life harder or should you be pointing the finger elsewhere? Are you brave enough to ask yourself this question? Are you your own worst enemy? 

You have to make a choice. You can pick up the pieces, glue them back together and change your life to ensure this does not happen again, or you can continue to repeat the same learned behaviors. Don't worry, if you decide to do the latter, fate will be back to break you again until you learn your lesson. And sometimes we need several lessons before we learn. Some people never learn. The reason the Hindi have dedicated a god to being broken is because it is at our weakest moments that we have the most power to change our lives. We are actually at our most strongest. Power is a strength. You just have to see it. 

And...It is not an easy choice to make because we often want back what we lost. Or do we really? As I mentioned, learned behaviors are very hard to break. But if you think about it from a different perspective, it makes perfect sense. You have already lost something or for some people, everything. There is nowhere to go but forward. Which direction do you chose? Do you chose to go back on the same path or do you chose to take a different path. 

Perhaps there is something you have wanted to do your whole life but were afraid it would disrupt your life too much. Well guess what, rock bottom pretty much disrupted your life for you. Why not take that chance now? Why not rise from the ashes? You don't have to go balls out, you can do it in baby steps. The choice is yours. You have the power to pick up the pieces and change your life. 

7. "Ask yourself this question: Will this matter a year from now?" - Richard Carlson

Ask yourself this question: Will this matter a year from now

While we are on the topic of "rock bottom" and picking up the pieces, I came across this quote about a year ago. These words help me so much when I am going through distressed times. I ask myself this question all the time. And while yes, some things will matter a year from now, most instances will not. In addition to asking myself this question, the quote has inspired me to take this a step further. I remind myself that a year from now my life will be different than it is today. 

It may not be drastically different or it may be completely different, but it will most definitely be different. I try to picture myself a year from now and what my state of mind will be like. I always think of myself as calm, happy and trouble free. The picture I create in my mind helps me through some of the darkest days. I hope. I dream. I never give up. I roll with the punches. I live. I tell myself that most of what I am going through at this very moment will just be a memory a year from now. It works for me because I know it to be true. Maybe it will work for you. 

8. "I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen." - Ernest Hemingway

I like to Listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen

Another powerful quote from Mr. Hemingway. This made me smile because I have been doing this my whole life. To share a characteristic with Ernest Hemingway is very exciting for me. It is funny because I am sometimes accused of not paying attention when the truth is, I am paying everything. I have a mind that races, I do have trouble focusing, but I also have one of the sharpest memories you will ever meet when it comes to conversing, listening and most importantly, observing. 

Age has rusted me somewhat, used to be able to recall complete pages from books at will, can't do that anymore, but I can still do a lot. I didn't hone these skills until later in life because being the class clown was more important and way more fun for me than applying myself in school. I am glad I did not allow this to slip away from me completely. I can honestly say, these are some of the wisest words I have ever read. Simple yet profound. Think about it. Do you really listen or do you just hear? 

9. " Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to remember someone you never met." -Author Unknown

Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to remember someone you never met

I saw this incredible quote a little over a year ago. I had to read it several times because it was so philosophical for a modern day quote. It was not your typical quote written by a teen with a broken heart trying to reach out to the boy or girl of their affection on Facebook. This was written by someone whose maturity displayed itself between the spaces of each word. Only a person who has experienced true love and true heart break could ever write something like this. 

The author of this quote understood from personal experience just how incredibly difficult recovering from a broken heart really is. No one can take heart break away from someone else, no matter how much they may want to. You may be able to distract them from the heartbreak, you may be able to assist them in moving past their heart break but you cannot take it away from them. The only entity that has the power to remove real heart break from the soul of the inflicted is time itself, the great healer. 

10. "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them the first time

This quote is also something I live by. I have two takes on this quote. First, it may be naive of me but in a world full of cynics and deception, I still take people at their word. I still give people the benefit of the doubt. I believe in second, third and fourth chances. I try to see the good in everyone. I try to draw out the best in the people I care about. Yes, sometimes my efforts are futile. Yes, sometimes people are not who they say they are. And yes, sometimes I find myself feeling like a doormat. However...I will not allow those experiences to prevent me from believing that there are good people in this world because I know many of them. I cherish them. I am blessed to know them. They give me hope and they bring happiness to my life. 

Secondly, what I believe Ms. Angelou is touching on more than taking people at their word is accepting a person for who they are when they find the trust and the courage to let their guard down to you. We all have little walls in which we surround ourselves. We do this as a preventative measure to protect ourselves from the more negative emotions we have experienced in the past. Experiences we may encounter when getting to know someone new in our life. Some walls are tall and thick, others are small and thin. It depends on how guarded a person is. 

When a person willing exposes their vulnerabilities, weakness and flaws to another person, it means they trust you at a very deep level. This is a very difficult thing for most people to do because most people have also been scarred by people from their past that they had bared their soul to. When someone finds comfort in your company, when someone connects with you on a deeper level, they may want to show you who they really are. They may want to invite you into their soul. This is a privilege. I personally feel one of the most beautiful and most human experiences one could behold is a bond with another person whom you can truly be yourself around and vice versa. This is what true intimacy is at it's core and it has nothing to do with sex. 

11. "What does not destroy me makes me stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche

What does not destroy me makes me stronger

This quote by Friedrich Nieztsche, a psychological pioneer, does not need much interpretation. Again, this is about choice. You can allow circumstances to suck the life out of you, or you can persevere. I have this quote branded on my brain. 

12. " The woods are lovely, dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep

I interpret this beautiful quote by Robert Frost as a polite refusal to give in to despair. The days we do not want to get out of bed, the days we wish we weren't born, the days where we have no choice but to encounter something we would rather avoid, the days when the end looks more beautiful than life itself is when we need to tell ourselves that there is nothing more beautiful than life. Tomorrow is a brand new day. We need to make a promise to ourselves to live each day to it's fullest. We need to make a promise to ourselves to spend as much time as possible living in this one life we have. 

We need to make a promise to ourselves to never give up on our hopes, goals and dreams. We need to promise ourselves to make every effort to banish negative thoughts from our mind. Let's face it, the more you think about something the more power you are giving those thoughts to engulf your very being. We need to keep those promises we made to ourselves. Those promises will bring better times because with any dark period in our life we need to remember this too shall pass. We have much living to do, some of the best days of our lives are ahead of us and we have miles to go before it is our time to sleep. 

13. "There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice

With love there often comes guilt and punishment. Why? Because we try to replicate love. Just like each person is one of a kind, so is love. I believe people would be much happier if they understood this. To err is human, and as humans we often punish new loves for behaviors past loves displayed to us. We are defensive and proactive instead of open and reactive. Sometimes we try to force love's hand rather than allow nature to take it's course. We tend to feel guilty and inadequate when compared to a current lover's past flames because we do not always share the same attributes and qualities of the previous lovers, making us more self conscious and unhappy with ourselves and the relationship. In other words, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Love cannot be compared. Love cannot be recreated. It can only be felt. Think about it. We as people change as the years move forward. We are always growing. We are not the same people that we were 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 years ago. Neither are the people we once loved. So why do we expect the love we feel to be the same? Why do we expect different people to be the same? Similarities are one thing, but no one will ever be exactly the same as someone else. And that is not always a bad thing. 

So why do we do this? We tend to think our last love was our greatest love and nothing will ever compare. We believe we will never find love again worth having. What we fail to realize, many times, is whether you ended it or it was ended for you, it happened for a reason. Why do we enter new relationships with such negative and hopeless thoughts? We need to let go of the past and experience the present.

I have changed my outlook on love quite a bit over the years. I still have to work on some of the above mentioned things myself. This quote reminds me to keep working and remain positive. I look at all the wonderful things that falling in love brings. Butterflies, lightning bolts, new memories yet to be made, new experiences yet to be had, finding arms that ache to hold you, finding someone that misses and thinks about you as much as you miss and think about them. It is so exciting. It's another chance to get it right! Who says a failed loved has cost you your one chance to have something real and wonderful and forever? You are alive aren't you? (If you are reading this you are alive.) And where there is life there is hope. It may not be the same love but it does not mean it will be any less of a love. In fact, it could turn out to be the greatest love. All you have to do is open your heart.

14. "I love her and that is the beginning of everything." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ever the romantic, this is more of an open love letter than a quote. What truly binds me to these words by F.Scott is how he fell in love with a woman (Zelda) that was independent, free spirited, honest and self respecting. He did not care what anyone else thought about her. What mattered was what he thought. It was his life to live, no one else's. She was his great love. She was his kindred spirit. He would die for her and she lived for him.

What inspires me more about this quote than Mr. Fitzgerald wearing his heart on his sleeve is that a man found a this type of woman appealing and attractive. He fell in love with her. And while their life was not a fairly tale, it was intense, passionate and real. Let's face it. In this day and age women outnumber men. In order to gain a man's attention many women are willing to give it up easily. They are willing to sacrifice who they truly are to win the affection of a man. 

Many women are downright deceptive to beat out the competition of other women. And men actually fall for this.... What ever happened to respect, dignity and just being real? When did love become a side show? Or a contest? Or a game? And more importantly why? I guess it is fun if you are on the receiving end. Whomever is the highest bidder wins right? But what are you really winning? 

I am by no means an ice queen and I am certainly not the most moral woman on the planet, but I will be damned if I am going to sleep around or present myself as something I am not to win a man's affection. Do not mistake my self respect for frigidness or a superiority complex. Do not mistake my independence or my capabilities as being feministic and man hating. Do not mistake my free spirited nature, my intelligence or my strength as a woman for someone who is uncaring, cold and unloving. It is the furthest thing from the truth. 

I try to lead by example for my children in all I do. I was raised by a man whom respected women. I was raised by a gentleman with a kind, giving heart who would do anything for the ones he loved. I was raised by a survivor whom also taught me how to survive when the chips were down. Is he perfect? No. Does he have his moments? Absolutely. Who doesn't?  The one thing to this day my father always is, is himself. I want my children to be proud of whom they are too. 

I do not want them to compromise themselves for affection. I see too many people doing that and it saddens me. Love, above all things should be where we can truly bare our heart and soul. I can be old fashioned sometimes I guess, but....I am not going to change that, nor am I going to stop believing. My mantra is, if it feels right, by all means go with it. Take that chance. If it feels like something I will regret later, I best leave it alone. Trust me, I still have fun, but it is always on terms I am comfortable with. 

15. "Accept the things to which fate binds you and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all of your heart." - Marcus Aurelius

Accept the things to which fate binds you and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all of your heart

Another quote I live by. Marcus Aurelius was one of the greatest emperors of ancient times. He was also one of the kindest and most intelligent. Just like King Priam of Troy, he loved his people and he loved his life until the very end. It was their way of thinking that made them legends. It was how they honored their hearts and life in general that made them such notably good men. I make no secret about believing in fate. There are no coincidences. It is all fate. And fate is our friend, even when it seems like it is not. I sound like a broken record I know but I do believe everything happens for a reason, even the small things. If you are open in your heart and your mind, you will take advantage of what fate presents to you. If you do it with all of your heart, you will be rewarded for your efforts. It may not be immediately, some things take more time than others, but it will happen. I know this to be true as well. 

16. " Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." - Anais Nin 

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

I love these words. I admire Anais Nin. What she so beautifully speaks of is how very different people can be. She talks of having an open mind when making a new friend because with each new friendship more doors will open. Doors you may have never thought of entering. These doors can lead to new possibilities, new worlds, new personal growth. There is something so lovely and exciting about that don't you think? Never judge a book by it's cover. Read a few pages first. You may find yourself not wanting to put that book down. 

17. "It's better to cross the line and suffer the consequences that to just stare at the line for the rest of your life." - Author Unknown

When I read this quote I was like "Woooooow." Very similar in nature to being scared to death but saddling up anyway, I think of regret when I read this quote. It inspires me to live my life with as few regrets as possible, something that becomes even more apparent as you get older and time becomes less of a luxury. I think of those three awful words....Could've, Would've, Should've. 

How many of these statements come to your mind when thinking about missed opportunities you were too scared to make happen or too "comfortable" to oblige? How many opportunities did you miss because you listened to what everyone else thought and not what you felt? Is it your life to live or everyone else's? How many times have you told yourself it was a terrible idea or it would be too difficult to make happen? How many times have you given in to impatience and settled? I am happy to say I do not have many regrets, but I do have a few and they were big ones. 

My theory is this, every single action you take is going to have a consequence. Some of the consequences will be very small and unnoticeable, while others will be life altering and impacting. I understand the word "consequence" itself has such a negative ring to it. But...clear your mindset for a minute if you will. Humor me. What if you took a chance and you suffered favorable consequences? What if you actually got what you wanted? Is that bad? No. It's not. We need to stop labeling every single little thing in life as "good or bad" and "right and wrong". 

Life is not black and white. It is many shades of many colors. We should not judge someone because they "sin" differently than we do nor should we be so arrogant to think our way is the only way. Unless you walked a mile in another person's shoes, keep your judgement to yourself because you could very well find yourself walking in those very shoes at any given time while eating your words with every step. Just because something isn't a fit for you does not mean it is not a fit for someone else.

We can't go back and change the past, but we can certainly go forward. Life is not going to happen to you, it is up to you to make life happen. Do it without regret! 

18. "Music is what life sounds like." - Eric Olson

Music is what life sounds like

This quote makes me smile every time I read it. I am a music lover. Always have been. And what Mr. Olson says is true. Music can express and invoke emotion as much as and sometimes more than words themselves. Actions are the only things that are louder than music and words when it comes to emotional expression. Songs can take us to memories we experienced throughout our lives. They can be happy, sad, angry, melancholy, breath taking and profound to name a few. What does your life soundtrack sound like? Maybe you should make one. 

19. "Life is like a roller coaster ride. It has it's ups and downs but it's always worth it in the end." - Author Unknown

I always think back fondly to a conversation I had with my best friend years ago when I read this. I was very frustrated with life and people, especially men, in general. He told me life is an amusement park and I am the roller coaster. He said when people observe you, they see a woman that is spirited, positive and full of life. When they are in your presence, there is a light that they are drawn to. It's my aura. And just like the roller coaster, everyone wants to experience that. Some jump right on the roller coaster while others take coaxing. Some think about the roller coaster all day, finally get up the nerve to approach the roller coaster but then lose their nerve at the last minute and run away. Some people never come back. Others eventually gather the nerve to take that roller coaster ride. 

At the time I did not like this. I told him I wanted to be the tea cups. He said I would never be the tea cups. I stated I could be a merry go round. They are not scary. He said I could not be that either. As a last ditch effort I asked him if I could be the tilt-a-whirl. He said no to that too. I am the roller coaster. I did not want to be the roller coaster I told him. He asked why I felt this was a bad thing to be. I told him I did not want to be a ride people were afraid of, especially men. 

He told me that the right people and the right man will understand how fun and exciting the roller coaster is. They will know you will be there for the ups and downs of life because you have already experienced the many ups and downs of life. You know what to do to be happy. You know how to live life to the fullest. You are deep and intense. You have a positive, fun loving nature but also a calming, nurturing side. You will have your moments too but you rebound quickly from them which will also be thrilling because we all have a drama quotient, your's just happens to be minimal. 

These people will not want to get off the ride because they know it will be the ride of their life. They will love you for being a roller coaster. Their roller coaster. Some people and the right man will stay on that roller coaster forever. They are the people you want in your life. They are the people worth the ride. Don't be ashamed of being the roller coaster, don't be ashamed of who you are because it's the best ride in the park. The right people for you will know this. 

As much as I did not want to hear this at the time, I now look at is as one of the best things anyone has ever said to me. Not only did I take it as a huge compliment, but I took it as a lesson to be who I am and let the cards fall where they may. I also took it as another big lesson about life. I have felt just about every emotion there is to feel. I am glad I have too. It is what makes me the person I am today. It gives me my compassion and understanding. It gives me my long fuse. Life is a roller coaster and so am I. I am a roller coaster and I am proud. I should have a t-shirt made! 

20. "You are the result of the love of thousands." - Linda Hogan

You are the result of the love of thousands

I read this quote for the first time a week after my grandfather passed. It took my breath away. My deep spiritual side totally grasped these words for the very depths they invoke. There is no explanation needed for what this does to me. It just moves me completely. 

And there you have it! This is my list. It was very difficult to construct this list. I knew it would be. It was even more arduous to pen the emotions these little banks of words solicit in me. I tried to do the best I could. These quotes may take on even more meaning to me as my life moves forward. We all have our ways of getting through each day. The positive thing is...we are finding a way to get through each day. If you practice positivity daily, it will eventually become a way a life. Even the bad days are still the best days because we lived through them. Each day above ground is a gift. If you take anything from a trying day, take this away....each day will get better as long as you are willing to use the gift of another day to your advantage. 

How do you do that? You need to make the effort. You need to pick something up when you fall, even if it is just yourself. You need to remain strong at the broken places. You need to remember just because something did not go your way today does not mean it won't go your way tomorrow. Remember, just because one thing did not work out does not mean many others things won't. Ask yourself..."in a year from now will this even matter?" Saddle up people but do it with all of your heart! I hope this inspires all of us to take on the roller coaster of life and love the ride! 


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