You are exactly where you need to be

Hello Friends and Family,

Do you ever have the feeling that you don’t belong in your own life? That feeling that the grass is greener elsewhere and you deserve that life. Or, maybe you’re in a position where you don’t feel confident that you are the most capable person for that role.

“You are exactly where you need to be. Each and everyone of you.” My professor Pam B. would start each class with a pep talk, a huge smile, and wide eyes. She would look deeply into each of us. And for 2.36 seconds, I would believe her. And then I would look at her side-eyed because I convinced myself that her words didn’t apply to me. Maybe those words were true for my classmates. Maybe those words were true for 2.36 seconds. Despite being admitted into one of the most prestigious nursing schools in the nation (#4 in the country according to USA Today), I still struggle(d) with the idea that I actually belonging here.

Facebook reminds me of all of things that my friends are doing with their lives. You know, the grown up things: getting married, having babies, getting promotions, traveling the world, buying cars, buying homes, planning for retirement. I surmised that there has been a fork in the road and I chose the “delayed adulthood” path. I’m still volunteering all of my time and I make no money. (Donations gladly accepted.) I wouldn’t have a bed to sleep on (or a phone to use, or a car to drive) if my parents didn’t buy it. A few pieces of my furniture literally came off the street (I do live in San Francisco, so that is perfectly normal).  My excuse for missing all of the “late-twenties-milestones” is that I’m in school. I question if this is exactly where I need to be in life.

(Random quote: Enough is not a quantity. It is a relationship to what you already have and who you already are.)

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I took this while hiking in Mt. Diablo

I don’t know if this is where I “need” to be, but I know that this is where I am. I’m not working now, but I’m in school so I can have a career that I will love for the rest of my life. I have a bed to sleep on, a phone to use, a car to drive, furniture to use, and a place to store all of that stuff with running water and working electricity. I don’t know if this is where I “need” to be, but I know that it really isn’t the worst place to be.

I was having lunch with my friend Lauren the other day.  (That was a lie. We were  having snacks because we only had $12 on us and couldn’t afford an entree.) Anyways, I was having “lunch” with Lauren and I mentioned that I thought my iPod was broken and I was probably going to have to buy a new one. She did some magic and it was fixed like new. It wasn’t real magic, it was a trick that she had learned to reset the iPod.  She may not have thought much about it, but to me, she was the right person at the right time. Pam B would have looked at her, smiled, and said, “You are exactly where you need to be.”

I’m sure you can think of a time where you had a problem, but you didn’t actively seek help for it. Then one day, the right person with the right skills and knowledge came along and solved your problem. They might not have thought much about it, but it made a difference to you.

Vice versa, you have been the difference in someone elses life. You may not have known it at the time, but you were the right person at the right time with all the necessary information and skills. You are the difference.

“You are exactly where you need to be. Each and everyone of you.” It might not feel comfortable. It might not feel perfect. It might not feel complete. But it is true.

How do I know this? I wouldn’t be wasting my time writing to you if you weren’t doing something positive with your life (I you made it to my email list). I truly don’t believe that this message would have found you if you weren’t exactly where you need to be.

(Random Quote: There are two great days in a persons life: the day we are born and the day we discover why.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Happy New Year!

I’m one of those people that take New Year resolutions seriously. Yes, I claim the title of being the annoying friend that asks everybody what their resolutions are. After asking many people, I have found the common theme among all of the answers: most people don’t make resolutions.

I’m sure you have heard a million versions about making and keeping New Year resolutions, so I offer you something different. I’m assuming you are also one of the people who didn’t write any resolutions this year. I will make it easy for you and tell you what your 2015 resolution is and how to accomplish it.

This year you resolve to be more authentically you.

You see how easy that was? Now, this is how you will do this:

  1.      Make a “Best of 2k14” list. (I stole this from my niece and nephew who don’t have the same stable childhood I had, but were able to list all of the good in the past year.) Take a moment to acknowledge the good in your life. You get bonus points for finding the silver lining in the bad situations.
  2.       Accept that there may be a “Worst of 2k14” list (but don’t spend time dwelling on it). People may have disappointed you. You may have missed an opportunity. The world may be crumbling faster than you can glue the pieces back together. Cry, breathe, and keep pushing forward. Becoming stronger because of your situation may make it to next year’s “Best of 2k15” list.
  3.       If you want to do it- just do it. Seize life! My friend Linda passed away early last year. The last conversation I remember having with her was about taking a school trip to Cuba. Both of us would have had to take out more student loans in addition to the mountain of loans that we had already accumulated. We laughed about how last week we were broke, but somehow we weren’t broke enough to go to Cuba. Linda went to Cuba and I can still hear her voice laughing about you just have to live life and eat a lot of top ramen to pay for it.
  4.       Let your “no” mean “no”. Today is the day you declare that you are too old to let another human being decide how you spend your time, money, or emotional resources. The tricky part is being a person of integrity and always doing right by others, but not at the expense of you. Good luck with that.
  5.       Realize the world is much bigger than you and your life. Don’t just thank the little people as you climb the ladder of success, bring as many people up with you as you can. No matter what is going on in your life you are still better off than a lot of people in many ways. For instance, you may have a rocky relationship with your siblings, but you can help someone else learn how to make a budget. Or, decide that every third Saturday this year you will have a standing appointment where you help in  a soup kitchen or women’s shelter. Sign up with a charity where you make a donation every month for a good cause. Join a ministry at your church that forces you to leave the comfort of church and find hurting people. The point is that once a month (or week) there is something that stops your daily routine and forces you to look at the world beyond your bubble and requires you to do something about it.

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My resolution this year can be summed up in 6 words: Produce more. Consume less. Waste nothing.

Produce more: I was originally thinking about cooking more food. I also like to make ceramic pottery (I just got a Groupon for the class) and putting together furniture. I hope this year I actually build more projects, take a complementary and alternative medicine class, and possibly learn how to make soaps and hair potions and lotions. I could produce more profound relationships, teach more classes, write more letters like this, and add more joy and happiness. Producing more is a broad way of saying that I’m going to position myself to rely on my inner (and deeply hidden) creativity instead of buying and relying on things that provide fleeting instant gratification.

Consume less: Less T.V., less junk food, less processed food, less Facebook, less natural resources (goal of conserving water and energy), less self-doubt, and less fear. No more buying fast food when I’m not hungry. No more buying more stuff to fulfill an emotional need. Less bad stuff and negativity. Less unnecessary stuff. The goal is to make room for what is important in life and have more money in my bank account at the end of the day.

Waste nothing: No more wasting time, money, food, or energy.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and comments!