Success Prompt

Prompt: Success

My Response:

Success is a loaded word. I thought I was a success working at a job that could pay my bills and wasn’t too stressful, and afforded me enough money to live on my own. But now my job’s changed. It’s changed several times over the years but now it’s something that I don’t enjoy at all and I’m wondering how to change that. It’s not completely terrible, but it’s not what I want to do either. The problem is that I’m not sure what I want to do.

I don’t know if I could handle the pressure of trying to make my passionate interests the source of my income. It seems like that would suck the joy out of every interest I have, whether it be editing or writing. If you are forced to do that day after day, surely it would get tiring like anything else.

I guess I haven’t found what I would do and be able to never get tired of doing. I’ve always been writing my whole life, but as everyone knows, freelance writing isn’t the most stable profession. And I really like the security of knowing when I will be paid.

I think success is being satisfied with what you have, who you are and what you’re doing. Also, living an authentic life. I struggle with that. I try to please other people. To this day I’m in a corporate type of career (working on a laptop even though it’s from home) but it’s in a way that’s manageable for me now.

I don’t know if I could do the regular, going into the office every day type of job anymore. It’s just so tiring and unfulfilling. I envy people who get to work with their hands, to do something physical and create.

I think success is feeling alive every day, and like you’re following the right path, the one that feels right to you. It’s a tricky thing to find but it’s important not to give up. Even though I’ve been at my job for 10 years and have a lot of paid time off accrued, that doesn’t mean I should stop searching for a job I enjoy more. After all, I have to spend 8 hours engaged in a job every day. It’s just hard to know which one is right until you try, and then sometimes fail, and then decide it’s time for a change.

I’ve never been extravagant. For me, success would be living in a modest home, having leisure time to spend doing whatever you want, and having enough money to cover expenses and give a few luxuries to yourself and your loved ones.

There’s no reason to live in excess, it doesn’t make people any happier, at least not me. And there are far too many people living in poverty for me to ever feel that I need more success. I am grateful for what I do have, because I’ve been blessed to not have to work too hard but still be able to make my living. And my boss is nice as well, you don’t always find that and I don’t take it for granted. I think being a success means being happy with who you are and what you have.

 

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August 29, 2013. Tags: , . writing. Leave a comment.

Break from the News

Since I started working from home, I got into the bad habit of watching the news during my lunch break and other breaks. I had little choice in what to watch since I cancelled my cable, but I still could have chosen to watch something else. And that’s what I’m doing now. There is a book review show that’s on usually during my lunch hour and I’m watching that now instead.

Hopefully one day I’ll be one of those people who eat mindfully without distractions, but I’m not quite there yet. And working from home is very isolating. You kind of want to be in touch with the outside world, even if it’s just people talking on television. But I had to stop watching so much news. It was getting inside my head and making me miserable.

Watching the news daily is like reinforcing the idea that the world is a terrible, scary place and we should be fearful at all times. For an anxious person like me, that really doesn’t help me get on with my life or try to live fully. If I see that something bad happened nearby or on a train I take, I’m less likely to go out and explore and do the things I want to do.

I try to maintain a positive mindset, no matter how many negative thoughts or feelings I might be having. Not watching the news makes this easier. You can choose what you want to think about, instead of being bombarded with negative images and stories.

My parents watched the news constantly when I was growing up and I always hated it. I wanted to have my mind on other things. And the Spanish news they watched was even more sensationalistic and graphic in the way they reported the stories. I didn’t want to feel naïve, but I didn’t want the constant assault of the news every evening either.

Many people hate the movie ‘The Secret’ but in the commentary track, Rhonda Byrne says that she doesn’t watch the news because it doesn’t make her happy. That statement makes perfect sense to me. Why fill your head with dark, depressing things when you have the choice not to?

Everything you do affects the quality of your life, and I would rather work to maintain a positive outlook on the world and myself and eliminate things that get in the way of that effort. I want to spend more time in my life feeling well, not being saddened or appalled or frightened by news broadcasts.

August 27, 2013. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Run Away

Prompt: Running

My Response:

Running can mean many things. People run for health, to feel better about themselves, to live longer. People run because it makes them feel good. I remember feeling great when I was a child and I ran around all the time with friends, cousins, whoever.

It’s something that some people forget to do enough as they get older. Playing a game of tag with kids is a great way to run. Getting a little out of breath every now and then is good for anyone.

Then there is metaphorical running. Sometimes you find yourself running and running away, trying all kinds of different things, but then ending up in the same place. You can try to outrun yourself but you are always the same person.

Running away isn’t always a solution. It’s better to face yourself and your problems head on. Running away from life and issues is not an option. They are always going to be there, no matter how far away you try to run.

I’ve never taken up running as a workout. But maybe it’s something to consider. I want to experience that ‘runner’s high’ that many runner’s describe. That feeling of euphoria after completing a strenuous, vigorous activity and involving the whole body in the effort.

Running seems like a good way to feel alive, to feel in control, and like you have power over your destiny. I’m sure it’s also a powerful way to relieve tension and stress. Running is starting to sound better and better.

August 24, 2013. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.

School Days Prompt

Prompt: If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?

My response:

I miss absolutely nothing about school, except maybe summer vacation. But school itself was a difficult place for me to be. If I had a friend, it was one or two and not often people who I really liked.

In college I kept more to myself than ever, having realized that I’m not someone who warms up to other people very easily. I wanted to be liked, but I also really just wanted to graduate so I could read whatever I wanted to read (I was an English major).

The bullying I endured in high school was something unreal. I still am affected by it on my bad days, so it hurts to see that bullying is still so prevalent in schools. I was lucky that cyberbullying wasn’t a thing yet back then, as Friendster and Myspace and those types of sites only came to be after I had already graduated.

Cyberbullying is something that I’m not sure I would have survived. At least without the internet, a person can maintain some sort of privacy and mystery, and that’s what kept me going in those days. Teasing is incredibly pointless and damaging, and I still don’t quite understand why young people feel the need to do it.

I didn’t say much in school so people wondered about me and made their own conclusions. But basically I ignored them. My family was stable and I knew school wouldn’t be forever so I mostly hid out at home. Home was a relaxing place away from the madness of trying to fit in, when I clearly didn’t.

The thing I miss about college though, was the variety. Each new semester there would be new classes with new professors, held in new classrooms. Sure, the assignments were a lot of work but it’s not like I was responsible for paying bills or making my living; I was commuting to college from home.

As an adult, unless you take a risk and change jobs, there isn’t much variety in the day-to-day and that can get very monotonous and boring. You have to learn how to add your own spice to life and keep things fresh so that your brain wakes up and remains engaged in the world. This isn’t always easy to do. There is more fatigue, more responsibility and budgeting to consider. But it can be done.

It’s tricky to look for a job while keeping one full-time at the same time. But people do it all the time. I think if your job has you fed up, you owe it to yourself to see what else is out there that you can do for a living.

Staying in a rut can be safe and predictable, but also boring as hell if you don’t strike out every now and then. It’s important to remind yourself to enjoy life and feeling alive, as opposed to just existing and getting from one day to the next.

August 22, 2013. Tags: , , , . writing. Leave a comment.

I remember…

Prompt: I remember…
(from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg)

My response:

I remember when I was in 8th grade and it was Christmastime. My whole class was at this crafts fair they held every year in the cafeteria. There were crafts sold, as well as decorations and all types of gifts. I was sitting at a table across from the popular girl in class.

One of the boys in our class came up behind her and put a fake, gold necklace around her neck. She was surprised but didn’t even acknowledge him or look up from her conversation with the person next to her. The necklace was one of those that best friends buy for each other where there’s a heart pendant broken into two pieces, and each person wears the necklace with one half of the heart. Inscribed on the heart pendant were the words ‘best friend.’

He put it on her and she barely noticed. I remember feeling so insignificant, small and invisible. Here I was, thinking how happy and grateful I would be to have a thoughtful friend buy me a gift like that and actually put it on me, but I was sitting alone. And I just watched what happened. She took it for granted and it made me upset and a bit angry.

I thought, if it were me, I would be happy and laughing and cherish that necklace as a sign of acceptance and affection. In the 8th grade I pretended I had a whole group of friends outside of school and didn’t need to waste time getting to know my classmates. They kind of shunned me anyway, because I was always just weird, the nerd, the valedictorian. I wasn’t cool like this girl was.

I wasn’t stylish or fashionable or allowed to hang out much after school. But she was. Her mother died when we were in the 6th grade and that was a rough year for her and the rest of our class. We all attended the funeral and felt so badly for her. She was raised by her grandmother.

So while I was there at the crafts fair, feeling jealous that she had friends and I didn’t,  I should have realized that I was lucky enough to still have my mother and my family for support. Something so incredibly important when you are just 13 years old.

I guess we all get a raw deal somewhere. No one’s life is all smooth sailing all the time. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. But we must all leave the comfort and security of childhood at some point, and learn how to make our own way in the world. I don’t know that I have learned that yet. I still have a long way to go.

August 19, 2013. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.

Nature Prompt

Prompt: Nature

My Response:

I enjoy being in nature. I like wide open areas like parks and beaches. I hate congestion and crowded cities. I’m starting to realize that more and more. Nature is so fascinating when you are young, but as you grow up, you stop paying as much attention. And it’s only when you do something out of the ordinary, like go on vacation, do you stop and really observe the world more closely.

Nature is abundant and always in motion. But it moves at its own pace, effortlessly. There is something very meditative about a rain storm, whether gentle or thundering, or the pattern of waves on a beach.

It’s a spectacular show and I feel a bit cheated by all this technology and all these screens constantly surrounding people these days, and children. I’m glad I did not grow up in these times and got to experience a good part of life without the internet or smart phones.

I know I spend way too much time indoors and away from nature, and that is not good. I promised myself I would get out more this summer. But personal challenges have been holding me back. I’m working to overcome them but it is a long and difficult road. I will be spending this weekend with my parents.

They have a beautiful house and a pool and I can’t wait to just hang out in the back yard and relax in their company. And maybe go for a swim. My apartment always feels so cramped and small whenever I come back from visiting them.

I could always move in with my parents. But do I really want to do that at my age (34)? I just don’t know how that would work. But maybe for now, I can simply enjoy a break from here and a weekend with loved ones, and more time spent outdoors than indoors.

Observing nature slows you down, and humbles you. It’s hard not to feel your problems are small when you are looking up at a vast sky overhead.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
-Lao Tzu

August 15, 2013. Tags: , , . writing. Leave a comment.

Cancelling Cable

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who don’t watch tv. But I haven’t been able to try that yet. I still hope to someday. I noticed my cable bill was getting very high so a few months ago I decided I would cancel my basic cable channels, leaving me with only about 22 channels. I am limited to watching mostly news (which I try to avoid anyway because it’s depressing) and that’s about it, unless I choose to watch a home shopping channel.

Sometimes I miss the extra channels, like on Saturdays when I would laze around until the afternoon watching reruns of 90210 or after work when I would watch ‘Celebrity Ghost Stories’ on Bravo, but mostly, it has been a good thing. I have done a lot more writing and kept up this blog where I don’t think that would have been as easy before. And the shows I do follow I just try to catch online after they air, and usually that way there are fewer commercials.

If there is nothing to watch on my limited television channels, it gives me the added motivation to do something creative, or go for a walk or do an exercise DVD, or be still and meditate, or go to the library or a cafe and write. Or get to sleep early. And those are good things. Right now I watch about 3 shows, 1 on channel 2 and two that I need to catch online. And I have the streaming Netflix plan which I should probably cancel, because it does not get used very often.

Television is OK every now and then, as long as you don’t start planning your activities and days and nights around catching certain shows, because then you become enslaved. Something like meditation isn’t as entertaining as a show or a movie, but it is far better for a person’s peace of mind to focus within, rather than always being passive and consuming entertainment. Meditation helps you be more mindful, of who you are, and where you are in life.

This world is loud, insistent and always calling on our attention. But we don’t always have to give in. We can give ourselves space to breathe and enjoy the moment, without having to rely on another distraction.

August 13, 2013. Tags: , , , . writing. 3 comments.

Time Prompt

Prompt: Time

My Response:

I hate time. I hate the passage of time. Time is no big deal when you’re very young. You feel you can waste it because you have plenty of it. But now I’m 34 years old, I know I don’t enjoy the work I do and do it mostly because I have been with my company for 10 years and therefore have lots of time off accrued. And it’s a way to avoid living at home with my parents, having no privacy and no real freedom and getting in their way.

But still, I have to do work everyday that I don’t enjoy and I don’t know how to pursue things that I would enjoy as a career. Doing something you don’t want to be doing (in my case, talking on the phone) is very draining and it leaves me with an unsatisfied feeling at the end of the day, like I didn’t use the day the way that I should have, the way that would have made me happier. I spend most of the day talking to people about their medical issues, which becomes very depressing after a while. But it’s a work at home job, and that’s a plus.

Time scares me. Knowing that time is ticking away no matter what we do. I see so many changes happening in my family and it’s unsettling. I guess I haven’t quite learned how to let go and go with the flow of things, and not be upset by the fact the life is out of my control.

I will grow old someday (if I live that long) and I will see my niece and nephew grow up and form lives of their own. I will see my parents grow older and eventually pass away and I’m not really sure I can fully comprehend all of that yet.

I tend to live as if no time has passed. I try to give myself as little responsiblity as possible, thus trying to recreate the childhood experience even though I know that is futile and silly. And it’s affecting those around me and affecting myself because I’m resisting the growth and change process. But I have to move along with it and trust it and just move into a new phase of life. I have to take control and dominate my fears of growing up.

I’m not good with lots of responsibility. Maybe it comes from being the younger sibling, I’m not sure. But I’ve never had a pet on my own or owned a car. I tend to not want to make a big impression or carry real weight on this earth for some reason. It’s the same reason why I’ve shied away from internships and jobs at big companies or jobs with high visibility and level of responsibility. It feels like it would be intimidating, too much of a burden, and very stressful. My fear of failure is very strong as well.

But maybe all this playing small has been hurting me. Nowadays I’m not sure what I should do. Should I buy a car so that I’m not so isolated? So that I can go visit family and see them more often and be more a part of their lives? Should I move to another state and make another attempt at finding my own life without the judgement of others?

Time is passing and I feel paralyzed in indecision. I want my life to go back to how it used to be but I know that’s not possible. Things have changed in my relationship and I know I need to develop myself and stop hiding. It’s so difficult though, when the majority of my life has been spent deep inside my shell.

All I’ve ever wanted was the love and acceptance of others, of everyone. But that’s an impossible goal. You can never please everyone else and find a way to please yourself at the same time. No matter what you do, someone will find fault and criticize you, so you might as well do what you want.

August 11, 2013. Tags: , . writing. Leave a comment.

Innocence Prompt

Prompt: Innocence

My Response:

Innocence is something I don’t think is ever really lost. We see innocence in children, or in someone in need, or in someone learning something new, or trying to expand their horizons. Everyone has curiosity. Innocence emerges when the ego is left behind.

When the ego is set aside, the pure state of a human being is revealed. Innocence is something we all experience and a part of us is still questioning, unknowing, trying to learn and grow, and become someone better. Innocence is an eye opener, like experience is, but in a different way.

When you let yourself be innocent again, you let your guard down, your defences, your sense of control. And you just live in the moment and want to find out whatever it is offering to you. Innocence is something to cherish, to keep in mind when dealing with others and yourself, and the world in general. Innocence is a part of our natural selves.

No one was born superior, knowing all the answers to life. Everyone is guessing, everyone is innocently exploring and living and breathing. When you open your mind, you become innocent again, willing to be taught, willing to see something in a new way.

I don’t have children but I experience innocence in my niece and nephew, the way they literally look at things, explore things. They are always living in the moment. And that is the best part and what I hope they can hold onto as much as possible as they grow up. Being innocent and knowing you are protected and safe; we don’t always feel that way as adults.

But it’s important not to resist the present moment, to just flow with it and try as much as possible to detach yourself from results, and from the past and the worries of the future. If you live in the present moment and realize all there is to enjoy there, the future takes care of itself. Do whatever you want to do, as long as you don’t hurt others, and become acquainted with your innocence.

August 10, 2013. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

One Word Prompt

Prompt: Technology
(Found on this site- http://blog.tglong.com/blogflash2013-march-2013-30-days-of-flash-blogging/)

My Response:

Technology. I love it and I hate it. For a long time I refused to get a smart phone, because I was just fine using my phone as a phone and thought that having the internet with me everywhere I go would become too distracting. And it has. I can’t tell you how many times a day I check twitter and my emails on two email accounts. I need to figure out how to turn off the little pings that go off whenever a new email comes in.

I’m not too bad with texting, except when work is slow. But it does cause an eye strain to be reading all day. And I love to read. But a screen is not good for my eyes, especially right before bed, it’s terrible for relaxing the mind and getting to sleep. The reason I got a smart phone was to be able to better see pictures of my niece and nephew when my sister would send them.

I made the mistake of downloading the app for the Buzzfeed site. This is the biggest time waster! But I just can’t seem to tear myself away from it. I read it when I should be writing, when I should be working, when I should be exercising or meditating or doing anything else. It’s almost worse than getting sucked into hours of television, because you are reading a tiny screen in your palm.

It’s terrible for those of us who tend to procrastinate. I have an Ipod and a digital camera as well, though I don’t use the camera much. Digital pictures, I’ve noticed, have become less and less necessary to print out unless you get a particularly great shot that you want to show off or look at often.

I do use my Ipod though, usually when I take long walks and want some music to keep me motivated. This has become the only way I listen to music lately so I’ve been trying to look into getting some speakers so I can listen to music without having to wear ear buds. I think the Ipod was a great invention. I’m not too savvy yet on syncing my music to my phone since my phone is not an Iphone, but I guess I will get around to that with time.

I think technology can’t ever compare to real experiences and the natural world, so I’m glad I didn’t grow up in a time when it was as prevalent as it is today. I still had a beeper in college and only got a cell phone later on, and I am grateful for that, because otherwise I don’t know how focused I would have been on my college coursework.

August 9, 2013. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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