Fail (to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved)

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I’ve been taking a deep, long look at myself lately. Trying to figure out who I really am and if that is who I still want to be. This type of introspection makes me look at specific moments and compare them to past moments. This is the way I do things now but 10 years ago, 25 years ago or 40 years ago I might have done the same thing differently.

Take cooking, for example.

People who know me today have heard of my many cooking and baking fails. I have set fire to many foods like garlic bread, steak, and chicken. The smoke from one particular Fathe’s Day barbecue was so bad that someone called the fire department. It was out by the time they arrived. And no, I did not go out and greet them to tell them it was my fault. My first recollection of setting food on fire was in high school when I was cooking a frozen hamburger in a pan on the stove top. The flames touched the ceiling. Safety Alert: Grease fires and water do not mix.

Baking has its own share of stories like the angel food cake that caught fire or the peanut butter cookies that called for a yellow cake mix. Lemon cake is yellow, right? I don’t suggest you try it. Successful baking usually included some kind of burn somewhere on my body. While I used oven mitts to take a pan out of the oven, when it hit my bare leg I still got burnt.
These are funny stories but they became THE story. I was not a good cook and an even worse baker. I failed at both. When I look back at other kitchen moments in my life, I enjoyed being in the kitchen with my mom and grandmom. The kitchen was where I heard family stories and attempted to learn family recipes. It’s a place of warmth and happiness in my memories. I’ve cooked hundreds, maybe thousands, of meals in my lifetime so far. And the successes outweigh the failures exponentially.

So why and how did this become MY story? So I failed a few times. The definition of fail says “to fall short.” It doesn’t say that you can’t do it. It just says that it didn’t work out THIS TIME. In this case, I allowed someone else to make my failures permanent. Why would I do that? Two reasons. First, he needed to be better than me. Second, when you hear something enough times, you begin to believe it. Until you don’t.

I’m taking back the things that I am good at. In the future, I will remember that failing at something is not the end. Any cook has stories of failures and they all end with “I’ll never ______ again!” For example, I will never in my life use lemon cake to make peanut butter cookies again. And neither should you.

Truth (the true or actual state of a matter)

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It seems to me as I get older that truth is a matter of opinion. Some truths really are fact based but others are based on a person’s point of view. What I see as truth in a given situation may not be the same as the other three people involved. Especially if it concerns anyone’s feelings. Add emotion into the mix and all bets on finding a single truth are gone.

Why am I musing on such things? I started this blog in order to begin writing again. In the past, much of my writing was “secret.” Secret in the sense that only a select few would get to read it. As a teenager, I would leave poetry, notes, stories, etc. around the house as a way of communicating indirectly with my mother. I wrote for classes and myself. Precious few bits of my writing would end up in public for anyone to see. I still have in my possession several notebooks of things I wrote. They range from silly broken-hearted teenager stuff to very raw emotional rants. Each one held a bit of me from the moment it was written.

Today I struggle with writing because it’s very public – if you can find me. I’ve been posting erratically but I have several drafts saved. The last one I started is the one that led to this particular post because I want to understand my hesitation. My conclusion is that this hesitation is caused by fear. FEAR. Fear? Really?

Yes, really. If I let go of my tightly controlled hold on things and just put out there what is rolling around my head then things could change. People may not like what I write. What if my mother doesn’t like it? What if my 13-year-old daughter reads it? (We are heading into that “I hate my mother” phase.) What if my husband, who is no longer in love with me, reads it and it’s different from his truth? What if, what if, what if…

Never in my life have I spent so much time in the land of What If. I’m used to spending my time at the corner of What the Hell and Who Cares What They Think.

So, what if I decide to write my truth, my way and in my own time and not worry about “people” or fear? Maybe I’ll become a better writer. Maybe something I write will help and/or touch someone else. Maybe I’ll grow back into my own confidence. Hmmm…

Balance (a state of equilibrium)​

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Balance is a word that is being tossed around lately. Emotional balance, financial balance, work-life balance. What is this balance and does anyone really achieve it?

I find my emotional life very off-balance these days. I can go through my days pretty well for a good part of the week and then BAM! Some little thing takes my breath away and I’m off balance AGAIN. It’s usually unexpected. A song, a card or note, a picture, a phrase that someone uses in conversation. Nothing big or brash. Small, quiet, quick. A knife turning in the heart and days of walking on a balance beam trying not to fall off.

I have to admit that there are longer intervals between episodes. I even believe that they may become a yearly event instead of weekly. Of course, this is still a great improvement over the daily battle for balance I was facing nine months ago.

Even when I feel that I’ve achieved a precarious emotional balance, there’s still the rest of my life that is in the mix. How do I balance work, home, kids, family and just stuff? At work they like to talk about work-life balance. While listending to a podcase recently the person was saying that the phrase should really be work-life integration. I like that MUCH better. It actually seems more attainable than balance.

Balance suggests that there is equality between your work and your life. Reality suggests otherwise simply because you spend so much of your time at work, thinking about work and getting ready for work. Integration suggests that they can each work around and within each other. So instead of coming home exhausted and trying to make my grocery list, I can start it during work at a time that I need a mental break. That mental break will also give me a different prespective on whatever I was working.

And by the way, someone where in all of this I’m told that I need to find time for myself.  Time to do things that I want to do.  You know, like blogging. I do this so well, that I’m doing this at 10:30PM when normally I like to be in bed, lights out ready to sleep, no later than 9:30PM. I’ll pay for it tomorrow when 6:00AM rolls around and I’m feeling groggy.

Maybe I’ll try for balance again in a couple of days. Tomorrow will be an experiment in integration.

Struggling (have difficulty handling or coping with)

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Life is full of curveballs. Sometimes it will bring you a happy coincidence and sometimes it will punch you in the gut. Either way, it’s never a straight line to where you are going. How you react and regroup is what determines your path.

The past year I have had several “punch in the gut” moments that I have refused to let define me. I have had people expect me to behave like the person I was 15 or 20 years ago because they cannot, or will not, see the person I am today. How I’ve changed over the years. How I’ve grown or at least how I think I’ve grown. It makes me wonder if they still see me like that because they have not grown at all. They have become stagnant and struggle with life.

The nice thing about rolling with the punches is that I’m at a point where I feel like I’m growing again. Things look brighter, less gray. I’ve begun to think about things I let go, like writing. I’m choosing to make my life more colorful, active and meaningful. I’m spending my time with people who are important to me. People who are positive, uplifting, funny and creative. The kind of people who believe in love and kindness.

It’s not as if I never struggle with parts of life, it’s that I am determined to face each struggle head on with a ferocious will to overcome and learn. Lately, I’ve learned that I am resilient and that is a very good thing.

Reflection (a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration)

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It’s the end of the year. This means that you’ll be seeing and reading about reflections on the past year, holiday, lifetime, whatever. There are more things that cause us to reflect on our lives than just the end of the year. Life events cause this type of reflection all the time, whether it is through gain (a new relationship, job, experience, child) or  loss (of a loved one, a job, a relationship, a home). Reflecting can be just that – to think, ponder, or meditate – or you can use what you discover to bring about change.

2016 has been one heck of a year both in the world and in my world. I’ve spent a good portion of this year thinking, pondering, giving careful consideration to who I am today and who I want to be. I realized that over time I had stopped doing things I loved because life happened. It was rarely a conscious decision but more a whittling away at my time. One of those things was writing.

In my past, I would spend time writing. I started at 12 years old with a diary which soon became poetry and eventually very short stories. In college, I wrote a screenplay and even tried my hand at lyrics. As my time became filled with other things, I attempted to journal daily. That would last for about a week and then I would find my journal several months later and feel bad about it. There was a time that I would write letters and cards to friends and family just because I enjoyed the simple acting of writing but even that fell away. Soon I just stopped writing altogether.

All of this to say, welcome to my blog. The first change that all my reflection has brought about. In 2017 I will begin my affair with writing all over again. You are invited to come on this journey with me. I don’t know where it will take us but hopefully to a place filled with humor, love, and even some reflection.

Happy New Year to you all!