Life’s plan

When we concede to life’s plan, things fall effortlessly into place and the urge to resist dissipates.

I spent the majority of my life worrying – I worried about grades, fitting it, if I was living up to my parents’ expectations, if I was the only person struggling with the concept of God, what I was going to do when I grew up, and what I had done wrong thus far. This overthinking often led to a state of paralysis, a shutting down of my mind and a hurried retreat from reality.

I spent much of my life living in indecision. What should I eat? Who should I hang out with today? Which homework assignment should I do first? Lion King or Beauty and the Beast? The most insignificant decisions brought on immense levels of stress. And it didn’t help that everyone and their mother seemed to make fun of me for my uncertainty.

When I would finally come to a decision, I would lack confidence in my choice. I would continually wonder “What if I made the wrong choice?” My psyche and my life were overwhelmed by these corrosive thoughts. Although they weren’t blatantly negative and self-sabotaging, they stole from me time and energy that could have been filtered into more positive and productive activities.

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned to apply to my life is that of letting go. It took me a lot of time and practice, but I feel that I’ve reached a state where little can detract me from my sense of balance and well-being. Throughout my life, I’ve heard variations on the concept “it’s not what the other person does, but how you react that affects you.” This is all well and good, but where on earth do I begin? So-and-so hurt me so much; how am I supposed to not let that bother me?

It’s a matter of forgiving a person and forgetting that they have wronged you. It’s a matter of giving the other person the benefit of the doubt because we all make mistakes and chances are he didn’t mean to hurt you. Letting go involves finding the silver lining and feeling gratitude towards the wrong-doer for opening a new door, revealing a new perspective, or at least helping you clean out your tear ducts. Letting go involves living your day-to-day life, regardless of external circumstances. Is eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and cutting off contact to your closest friends really going to make you feel better? Why not instead focus on improving yourself and fostering your current relationships.

To say that I had a rough life would be a lie. My parents are still happily married, I went to private schools, I’m part of the racial majority, and I’ve never been bullied. What made things challenging for me was my high level of anxiety, perceived low levels of “fitting in,” low self-confidence, and tendency to doubt and blame myself. I made my life tougher than it had to be through my habitual ways of thinking.

 

I’ve learned that the little daily choices don’t really matter in the long run; however, they are reflective of my character, so I try to make the choice that best align with who I am and how I wish to portray myself.

I’ve gained confidence in who I am, what I believe, what I stand for, and in my ability to make the right choice. The choice may not be popular among the majority, family, friends, or mentors, but after taking their arguments into consideration, stand by your decision with a firm conviction. So what if you’re wrong? So what if you make the wrong choice? You may be embarrassed for an hour or a day, but after that everyone is likely forget the incident.

I believe that there’s something inside each of us that knows what’s best and knows what we personally need to do to arrive at that ideal place. Learn to listen to and trust that internal compass, for you don’t need to understand the mysteries of the wind to sail effortlessly around the world. Life has a plan for you, but first you need to stop resisiting its subtle nudges, and subsequently open yourself up to the endless possibilities that life has to offer.

 

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Versatile Blogger Award!

For the past week or so, I’ve seen my fellow bloggers receiving an interesting chain-letter type award: The Versatile Blogger award. In the past day, Melissa from Melissa’s Meanderings and Mac from Hemlock1981 were kind enough to pass it onto me. It’s so nice to be recognized and appreciated. I’m beyond excited to pass this along to some of my favorite bloggers!

So, here are the wonderful rules of the game:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link the blog back to them
  • Tell us 7 things about yourself
  • Pass the award to 7 bloggers
  • Contact the bloggers to let them know they’ve received the award

You’re not obligated to pass this along, but I think it’s a great idea. It’s always nice to learn something new about a friend (yes, I consider you all to be my friends). We each have our own networks on here and it’s nice to discover new (potential favorite) bloggers. Also, everyone likes feeling noticed and appreciated, so why not be the benefactor!

So, 7 things about myself:

  1. My parents didn’t have a name picked out for me when I was born. My mom had the perfect name for a little boy, but hadn’t thought of girl names. My grandmother suggested “Erin” because it was Irish and went well with my last name. My middle name, “Page,” is a family name.

  2. I absolutely love learning, especially reading! I’m graduating from college in May and when my parents asked what gift I’d like, I said “a bigger bookshelf.” I love owning every book I’ve read (or as many as possible) and I can’t wait to have them proudly on display. Hopefully Mother Earth can forgive me.

  3. I’ve lived in Arizona for my entire life. Thus, I think 70 degrees Farenheit is chilly, 50 is freezing; over 108 is hot and 102 is “not that bad”; mid to high 80s with a light breeze is my ideal. Snow is a foreign concept. Rain is a really big deal. Sunburn is inevitable.

  4.  My favorite foods are dark chocolate, steak, and kalamata olives. My favorite animal is the jaguar. My favorite colors are turquoise and sapphire blue. My favorite season is autumn. My favorite words are eloquent, grotesque, abysmal, and voracious.

  5. I have a fear of falling (but not heights), so I don’t like rickety bridges, balconies, or seemingly unsecure rollercoaster rides. I also have a phobia of knives – if I see a knife out (that’s not in use) I experience an irresistible urge to put it in the dishwasher or silverware drawer.

  6. I absolutely love singing in the car with the music turned up and the windows rolled down, even if I’m embarrassing my passengers. It just makes me happy. If gas prices weren’t so high, I would drive around aimlessly listening to music and observing the scenery all the time.

  7. I’m going to borrow Melissa’s idea a leave the final question open. So, what would you like to know about me? I’ll answer either below in the comments or delicate an entire post to the topic.

And the awards go to:

  1. Genn at cadencies
  2. Jaclyn at Jaclyn Rae’s Blog
  3. Danny at dannyduluoz
  4. Joss at Crowning Crone
  5. J Roycroft at The Roycroft Report
  6. Gina at Just Married
  7. Batty Broad at The Life of a Batty Broad

Thank you all for your wonderful and inspirational work!  There are so many other writers and readers I’ve come to know over the past few months who I did not specifically mention and I’d like to thank you as well!

My brother

When I was about two, my mother informed me she was pregnant with my younger sibling. One of my earliest memories was her asking, “Do you want a younger brother or a younger sister?” I thought about it for a moment and excitedly replied, “I want a big brother!” My mother smiled and laughed lightly. I immediately sensed that I had given a wrong answer.

Or maybe that didn’t happen. Our minds play tricks on us; our memories get lost, altered, and diluted over time. However, I can assure you that this anticipation and desire for an older brother was one of the earliest and, to this day, strongest feelings I have ever experienced. Even at a very young age, I wanted someone to watch over me, protect me, take care of me, and most of all someone to be my friend. I wanted a big brother.

I didn’t get the big brother I so desperately longed for, but the baby brother I was blessed with was even better than anything I could have imagined. As kids we did everything together – we climbed trees, collected bugs, spent hours building with K’NEX and Legos, read books for hours on end, constructed furniture forts, and discussed life’s big issues, such as how to talk mommy into giving us just one more cookie and how to convince daddy that we couldn’t possibly live without another puppy.

Like any other relationship, we’ve gone through phases of being embarrassed of one another and not wanting anything to do with the other. Luckily we’ve outgrown that (hopefully for good) and are closer than ever. We go to concerts together, go out for lunch, shopping, the movies, and while I’m away at school we connect over Facebook whenever possible

I am so grateful to have such a wonderful, supportive, and loving family. Today, I’m celebrating the birth and the life of my baby brother and one of my best friends.

Happy 20th birthday, Matthew!

James Frey: questionable person, brilliant writer

James Frey is a name surrounded by endless negative connotations. His novel A Million Little Pieces was famously denounced by Oprah Winfrey after it was revealed that key parts of the memoir were fabricated. In his previous three novels, Frey has addressed drugs, sex, rehabilitation, love,  homosexuality, crime, death, struggles, dreams, and other taboo and controversial topics. More recently, Frey has created a book-writing fiction factory in which he hires budding writers and heavily critiques their work; he was recently accused of exploiting and underpaying these young writers. Finally, on April 22, Frey is set to release his four novel, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, which portrays a modern-day messiah as a Bronx resident who does drugs and parties with prostitutes.

I just preordered said book for $34 on Amazon. (Hey, it was better than $49.50 through Barnes & Noble!) Now, why on earth would I – an intelligent, level-headed, morally sound person – choose to support such an arrogant charlatan? Why would a good Catholic girl support a man who is openly criticizing and mocking Christianity?

Most people hear the name “James Frey” and envision a self-righteous, intentionally controversial jerk. I won’t argue that they’re wrong. But I would like to defend him as a writer. James Frey delves into controversial and taboo topics, which I can understand may be uncomfortable for some people to read about. But consider this: they are also hard to write about and thus often neglected or skimmed over by writers. James Frey also writes in a stream-of-consciousness style, bringing the story to life for the reader.

A Million Little Pieces was the first book that made me cry; My Friend Leonard was the second; and Bright Shiny Morning the third. Thus far, James Frey is the only author whose work has been so real, so meaningful, so honest, and so emotionally driven that it has brought me to tears. And I read a lot, so that’s saying something!

I place a high value on eloquently written, poetic, historically accurate, original, and wisdom-entrenched works with thorough character development, as well as a smooth and engaging plotline.  However, I also appreciate crass exposure to a dramatic reality, even if it is an exaggeration, because it’s a reality that I’ve never seen nor experienced firsthand. I appreciate the brutal honesty and raw emotion because over the course of a week or two I can somehow relate; I develop an attachment to the characters and their lives and I am able to emphasize with every move they make and every emotion the feel.

James Frey is definitely not for everyone. His books are heart-wrenchingly painful and tragic; however, they are, in thier own way, a unique and beautiful masterpiece of the human experience. Up until reading Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 last fall and The Savage Detectives a few weeks ago, James Frey was my favorite author (now he’s number two), yet in the past five years I’ve only recommended his books to three people. Although I personally love his writing style, I understand that he deviates from the norm in nearly every respect. It is exceedingly easy for me to accept that someone doesn’t appreciate his books, his style, his presentation, themes, or all the above. However, I’m sick of people who haven’t even read his books assuming that he’s a bad writer based on his bad reputation and the negative publicity surrounding him.

One month from today, I will begin reading the first book I have ever preordered, the first hardcover book I have ever paid full price for, the first book I have spent months anticipating. James Frey may be an antagonist and a man of questionable character, but in my humble opinion he is a brilliant writer and I am both proud and excited to add his latest book to my collection.

Dark Was the Night

Typically I don’t like gift cards. I carry the plastic plates around, excited to have some pseudo cash. That is until that moment after the transaction when I realize “Oh crap, I forgot to use my gift card…even though that’s the reason I came here in the first place.”

Starbucks, Dillard’s, California Pizza Kitchen, AJ’s Fine Foods, Z’Tejas, Fry’s Food and Drug, Barnes & Nobel, iTunes, and Amazon…all lost in some deep crevice of my wallet, purse, or desk drawer. Okay, I’ll admit it: I never forget when I have book and music money. Every time I enter the iTunes or Amazon store,  I’m reminded of my $12.89 and $25 credits. As hard as I try to “save” for an upcoming release, it just never works out. But I’m not complaining.

This weekend, I purchased a new album, Dark Was the Night (Red Hot Compilation), which combines indie rock and singer-songwriter elements. It’s a wonderful collection that benefits a good cause, the Red Hot Organization – an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS. For $13.99, I received 31 songs from artists including: The Decembrists, Spoon, Feist, Bon Iver, Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service), Stuart Murdoch (of Belle & Sebastian) and many more!

Although some tracks weren’t great, overall I am very impressed with the quality and diversity of the album. I also loved the peaceful and relaxed tone throughout. Here are a few of my personal favorites from the album. Enjoy!

Andrew Bird – The Giant of Illinois

The Decemberists – Sleepless

Stuart Murdoch – Another Saturday 

Riceboy Sleeps – Happiness

Life is a song, so why not dance?

The song of life is a beautiful melancholy, an intoxicating fragrance that creeps under the door and slowly fills the room. Life is a cache of sober thoughts and inexplicable longings. Life is gentle torture, a slow and painful death from which there is no escape. Life is spilling over with broken bones, broken hearts, and broken spirits.

 But life is still a song. So why not dance?

Listen to life’s rhythmic pulse, its harmonious patterns, the emotional ebbs and flows. Listen to the violin cry and realize that her tears are not shed out of oppression and sorrow, but rather out of overwhelming joy. Listen to the symphony of sounds, how each note complements the rest. Listen to each instrument share his memoir, listen to him passionately expresses the essence of his being.

Allow yourself to be drawn in, to experience the esoteric power produced by the hundreds of perfectly placed notes working harmoniously together to create a unique and unforgettable masterpiece.

Life’s song is a delicate melody, one to be observed but never touched. All too often we focus on the bitter and depressing lyrics, that bacterial species of pain that eats away at you from the inside out and makes you question your character. All too often we get caught up in our mistakes and afflictions, we get caught up in ourselves. In doing so, we fail to appreciate, fail to even notice the underlying structure, the sound foundation that has always supported us. Take the time to glance down at that foundation and you’re sure to spot some leafy companions – small but ornate foliage filling the gaping cracks and pleading for you to take just one look at them, to be reminded that life is a magnificent gift.

Life is a beautiful melancholy.

It’s up to you whether the emphasis is placed on “beautiful” or “melancholy.” It’s up to you whether you dance jovially without reservation or sit alone on your bed and weep for what could have been.

Life is a song, so why not dance?