Monday, February 20, 2012

The Problem with Chasing Happiness

I had an awakening this past weekend.  I was camping in the Ocala National Forest, sitting under a canopy of palms and oaks when I realized that I have not embraced all of the blessings and happiness in my life.  Instead, I keep chasing happiness around the country and from job to job.  I am chasing after something that is already a part of my life, I just haven't embraced it.  These types of awakenings are difficult to accept.  I have learned something about myself that I do not like.  How did I get here?   

When every aspect of my life is not perfect, I feel the need to make a change and do something different.  Over the past few years, these changes have been moves.  When my life isn't going exactly the way I'd like for it to go, I start getting this gypsy-like feeling.  It might begin with changing jobs but then I end up looking at other places to live.  Confusion will eventually emerge along with internal conflict and finally a sense of despair.  At first, I thought that the despair came from wanting something but not knowing what I want.  However, I realized that it is really about wanting so much out of life and not knowing where to start. 

The problem with chasing happiness is that I'm running in circles.  This is exhausting.  I am the reason for my own exhaustion and inability to be fully present.  This is what I realized:  I am so adverse to drama and negativity that when I start feeling out-of-sorts my initial instinct is to make a huge change and embark on a different journey.  I want to leave instead of work through things.  Though, if I continue to do this, I will stop growing and I will lose depth.  No place is drama-free and no life is perfect.  I am usually good at seeing the positive in any situation but lately I have lost touch with this ability in my own life. 

When I really look at my life, I love most aspects of it.  I love the city I live in, my marriage is wonderful and my husband is my best friend, I've started writing again, I have embraced my love for photography, I am blessed to live by the beach, I can provide for my family and I have found God. 

The one area where I am not completely fulfilled is my work life.  Yes, I could make a change and maybe I will in the future.  I don't want to feel like I am in limbo and waiting for something I don't have, though.  I want to make the best of what I do have and reflect on what I am thankful for in my work:  I am thankful for having a job where I have both the ability and opportunity to make real change in my community, my work is founded on creating relationships and I love seeing them flourish,  working with children is amazing and they always change my perspective on the world as well as myself, I can role model strength, authenticity and compassionate service with those I work with and I truly believe in the work that my agency is doing. 

Happiness is all around me.  God has shown me so many blessings and I love my life.  I am declaring that today, February 20, 2012, I will stop being an idiot.  I will stop chasing happiness and instead embrace what He has already given me.  I will stop feeling paralyzed by uncertainty and complexity.  I want so much out of life and don't know where to start?  I will begin here, in this moment.
My boardwalk to the beach.  I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Difficult Conversation

Tomorrow, I need to have a difficult conversation with someone and I am nervous.  I hate feeling anxious and I really do not want my stomach to be in knots for the next 14 hours.  So, I am attempting to process through this feeling and figure out how I can be okay with what will occur tomorrow.

Will it help if I expect the worst?  If I imagine crying, defensiveness, feelings of being attacked and worry about one's security then I won't be surprised if these emotions actually surface.  This might be a negative way of thinking but it does put things into perspective for me.  What if I was on the other side of the conversation?  How would I want to be spoken to?  I visualize this scenario because it helps me be as empathetic as I can be.  Finding the balance between assertiveness and compassion is not easy but I know it is possible for it is a leadership quality that I truly admire.  God, please help me embrace this quality tomorrow.

I feel like I need to keep my focus on why I will be confronting this person.  I must engage in this conversation - I have no choice.  If I don't provide those around me with honest feedback, how are they ever going to recognize both positive and negative behaviors?  Tomorrow will be a time for me to be authentic and to voice my genuine concerns, as difficult as this may be.  It isn't about me.  It is about doing what is right.  Doing what is right is not always the easy thing to do.

I'm reading the bible for the first time in probably a decade as I embark upon my new spiritual journey.  I can't remember where, but I read a passage about not worrying.  It doesn't accomplish anything.  It won't help, it won't make things easier, it won't change the outcome.  Deep breaths.  Prayer.  Believing that I am doing the right thing.  This is what has already relieved some of my anxiety.  Thank you to God and the blogosphere for being available for me to vent, reflect and process through my feelings.

Jaime's prayer:  Dear, God - please help me find the words that will cultivate change.  Relieve my anxiety so that I can be fully present, listen attentively and observe body language as well as emotions that are not given a voice.  Give me strength while I provide feedback so that it is beneficial to the person I will be speaking with.  Help me stay focused on the big picture.  Thank you for giving me the ability to recognize when things aren't right, even if I do not have the answers.  I truly appreciate Your presence, which is with me always.  Amen.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Exhausted but Laughing

This is going to be a short post.  I'm completely exhausted, again.  I sort of feel like I've been whining a bit more than usual and I'm tired of it.  I have been praying a lot and tonight I asked God to help me see the opportunities that he has planned for me.  It is time for a change and I am going to embrace whatever new path He chooses for me.  I  don't know what the next chapter in my life will look like but I am excited about new possibilities.  I love newness.  I love adventure.  I both love and hate change.  I'm a gypsy.  And, I don't know where I want to be in a year or even three months.  Who really knows?

I can't figure all of this out tonight.  So, I am watching Manhattan Murder Mystery in the meantime.  It is a simple form of therapy and I absolutely love this movie.  I also love Woody Allen as both a writer and an actor.  My favorite part of the movie is when he and Diane Keaton get trapped in an elevator.  In his words, "It is a neurotic jackpot".  His neurotic behavior and her anxiety are so hilarious - I laugh out loud every time I watch this movie (and it has been multiple times).  I know that people have different views of Woody Allen as a person but, however you feel about him, I just can't imagine anyone not laughing during this movie.  If you need to laugh, give it a try. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Two Firsts

I'm so excited about my very first guest post!  Click here to check it out at the A to Z Challenge.  The challenge begins April 1.  You post every day (Monday through Saturday), each post will be based on a topic or theme with a letter from the alphabet.  You start with the letter "A" and end with "Z".  I explain why I am entering the challenge in my guest post.  Are you up to it?  If so, you can still sign up! 

I'm a little late in posting this link.  Tonight was the First Friday Art Walk in my town.  I love walking the streets of a historic town, listening to musicians, drinking wine and meeting new people.  I love visiting art galleries where you see the same artists and get to know them.  I wish the Art Walk took place every Friday night.  What a great day!  Today, I celebrate both my first guest post and my first conversation with someone who owns a haunted store. 

My husband and I walked into an antique store and spent about an hour listening to a very interesting story.  Apparently, the store used to be a jail and it was built on a cemetery.  Various paranormal teams have conducted investigations in the store and they determined that one woman and six child spirits live in the store.  The owner's story was quite dramatic and she even shared actual photos that the paranormal teams took.  She showed us a ghost-tool that lights up when energies are present (I think that it was called a K2) and I did see the light move from green to red a few times - I'm not really sure what I thought about it.  I am a skeptical.  Big time. 

At one point, I grew tired of listening to her story and wandered off to look at some newspaper clippings from the 1920's.  While my husband and another couple were grouped together, listening attentively to the store owner's story, I immersed myself in a Life magazine from 1950.  While I was reading a cigarette ad I heard childlike giggles behind me and I actually turned around to see who there.  There were no children in the store.  It totally freaked me out and I got scared - my hands got clammy and my heart started beating faster.  I just kept reading and then when we left the store, I told my husband what happened.  He wanted to go back to the store and tell the owner what had occured but I refused.  I do not want to open any doors to the "other side".  Even though I don't believe in this stuff - I'm not going to take any risks.