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Posts Tagged ‘change’

‎Sometimes it’s helpful to be but one anonymous face in the sea of a big city. Sometimes there’s comfort to be found in the reality of being surrounded by hundreds of people who don’t notice, don’t realize, don’t care. Sometimes there’s relief in being able to hide, out in the open.

I was on a trip for work, my first such trip. It was exciting and new and frankly, all a little overwhelming. I was trying to be gentle with myself. I was trying to cut myself ‎a break and take the advice that I always give everyone else but seem to ignore when it comes to my own life. I was trying, but I was failing and I was feeling like it was another in a long line of failures.

I felt like I was treading water and losing the ability to keep my head above the tide. I’d gone from being the person other people went to for answers to the person who had nothing but questions. It was not a comfortable place for me to be.

I knew that this was the whole point. I knew that for too long my life had been lived firmly ensconced in my comfort zone. I knew that it was supposed to be unfamiliar and uncomfortable and awkward. But just because I knew it didn’t mean I liked it.

And it all seemed to hit me right there, in a McDonald’s at the corner of a busy city street, staring out the window with a half-eaten egg Mcmuffin (hold the meat) sitting on the table in front of me.

Dozens of people walked by the window, striding purposefully towards their destinations. They didn’t see me, didn’t even make eye contact, and for that I was grateful. It was nice to be ignored, to be left alone with my thoughts, my tears and my egg Mcmuffin.

I gave myself five minutes. Five minutes to wallow and feel sorry for myself. Five minutes to question the decisions I had made and the choice I thought had been made for me. Five minutes to wonder if I would ever again have any of the answers.

Change is hard.

I thought I knew all of the ways it would be difficult but I didn’t take into account being my own harshest critic. No one around me was expecting more of me, except me. No one around me had unrealistic expectations of me, except me. No one around me was being hard on me, except me.

It took five minutes to understand the only one making it harder than it needed to be was me.

And then I told myself to suck it up and I wiped my eyes and finished what was left of my breakfast. I headed out and joined all the other people who knew where they were going.

One day I’ll feel like I know where I’m going again. One day I won’t have to think about it and I’ll have less questions and more answers. One day I’ll have the egg Mcmuffin without the tears.

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Lately I have been spending altogether too much time thinking about all of the things I wish I could change about myself. Not necessarily physical things (although there are a few of those) but mostly “inside” things.

I’ve been thinking that if I had a magic wand, I would wish to be more patient, less likely to hurry everyone through life. I would wish to be the kind of person who encouraged my kids to try to tie their own shoes even though it takes three times as long and we’re already late.

I wish I was one of those people who exudes friendly; someone who welcomes everyone in, friends, acquaintances, strangers. Everyone.

I wish I was less critical, less likely to find fault and more likely to point out the positive. ‎I’ve always snickered at people who spend all their time on the bright side, it seemed like such a boring place to be. But maybe they’ve figured out something I haven’t? After all, they do seem to smile a lot more than I do.

I wish I spoke more softly, laughed more softly, expressed my opinions more softly. I always seem to be so loud, inside my head and out there in the world.

And because I don’t have a magic wand, and I can’t just wave it around in the air and “poof” become the person I think I’m supposed to be, I’ve been trying to change the old fashioned way. I’ve been taking deep breaths and biting my lips. I’ve choked back the “we’re running lates” and the “did you see what she’s wearings” and put a smile on my face even when I didn’t feel at all like smiling.

I thought if I tried hard enough I could turn into her. Her, that woman over there, the one who seems to have it all together and figured out. Her, the woman who seems so happy.

Until I realized that if I get rid of all of those things, I don’t know who that woman is anymore. The things I don’t like about myself are just as much a part of me as the things I do. They’re all pieces of the same puzzle, and without them the picture doesn’t make any sense.

So I have slowly come to the understanding that improving doesn’t always mean changing. Rather, maybe it just means softening the sharp corners, turning the volume down one notch but not the whole way, smiling extra big when I feel like it but still letting a frown slip in when I’m feeling broken. ‎Maybe improvement is done in small degrees, not broad strokes.

Because no matter how hard I try, I don’t know how to be her.

I just know how to be me.

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I can see it, just outside every window and at the corner of every thought. Sometimes it does a good job of hiding itself and I go days without a glimpse. Other times it is right there, adding hollowness to every laugh and breath to every sigh.

It is the other path; the one that was supposed to be.

I have spent so much time trying to find a way to reach it; it seems so close but the short distance is insurmountable. It’s like we are running on two rails on the train tracks, close enough that I could lean over and almost graze it with my fingers, but all the while realizing the two rails are never destined to actually meet.

It is the path of what might have been, and as much as my mind appreciates that living a life of “what-if’s” is dangerous, my heart just can’t help itself. It’s not that I think the other path would be any less difficult, any less painful, any more full of contentment than the one I am currently on. I know that each path brings its own challenges, obligations and gifts.

It’s just that I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m supposed to be over there instead.

Supposed to be.

That phrase runs over and over in my head.

It’s not supposed to be like this; it’s supposed to be different.

I know I’m not doing myself any favours, thinking this way. I know there are things in life that can’t be changed; that the path I’m on is a pretty great one and the grass is actually pretty green, here on this side of the fence.

But sometimes I don’t want to be realistic. I don’t want to be reasonable or rational or practical or sensible.

I just want to take some time to imagine what life would be like over there.

Over there where I’m supposed to be.

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I coloured my hair on the weekend. Me, who has had the same hair colour since birth (with the exception of a few highlights here and there). I decided I needed to try something different for awhile.

It’s not permanent, just one of those temporary dyes that washes out in six weeks. I may have been ready for a change but I can only do a little bit of crazy at a time.

As I stood in my bathroom, hands covered in flimsy plastic gloves, continually squinting at the instructions to make sure I was doing it correctly, I tried not to dig too deeply into my psyche.

It’s not a big deal, I told myself. People do this all the time. I just need something different; just a little something different.

When I was done slopping the goop through my hair I had to sit on the side of the tub and wait. It’s like the “time out” period; I was forced to sit there and think about what I’d done.

Ten minutes to wonder how it was going to look. Ten minutes to run through what I would do if it ended up blue or purple or if it made all my hair fall out. Ten minutes to come to the realization that this little change really isn’t going to change anything.
But it is a change I can control. I didn’t have to wait or wish or wonder; I decided to do it and I did. All it took was a trip to the grocery store and, let’s be honest, I’m there at least twice a week anyway. In between perusing the toothpaste and grabbing a roll of pre-made cookie dough (yes, I’m that kind of mother) I just took five minutes to ponder the difference between “hazelnut” and “cappuccino” and that was it. Decision made.

And at the end of it all, I rinsed, conditioned, dried, styled, looked in the mirror and smiled. It looks good. Different but still me. Proof that change can happen, and every little step in the right direction counts for something.

Not bad for ten minutes.

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