Some things change…and some never do.

What tales these tell...

I was an avid journaler as a kid. Journals, diaries, whatever you want to call it, I kept it. I started with a tiny pink one with bears on it that had a lock and key. The entries were of the “Today, I …” sort. In middle school, I moved on to bigger books with no lock, even though the words carried more emotion, drama and secrets. Through high school and partway into college, I filled three more journals, my handwriting improving from those formative cursive-style days to a hurried, but focused combination with print, the color of the ink settling on black or blue only, the stickers and doodles disappearing one by one.

My journaling is now more or less this blog, and although I still write about very personal issues, I can’t help but notice the changes over time between those secretive, scribbled escapist entries on paper, and these well-thought out yet similarly emotional typed essays — and the differences.

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Springing forward

Spring. A time of newly budding flowers, their colors and scent bringing life back into our dreary, gray worlds. Scores of people taking extra long lunch breaks outside, walking their dogs, hand in hand with their lover, playing with their kids, or reading a book and lazing away on the cool grass under the sun.

And there’s Daylight Savings Time thing, where we set our clocks forward one hour, and “springing forward” as it’s known. Because it’s warm outside, so many things change. It’s now better for running outside, visiting the zoo, and playing catch on the Mall. Bars and restaurants move their patio furniture back outside and the happy hours spill onto the decks and sidewalks, and start earlier in the day every week that we get closer to summer. Baseball season begins, outdoor concert season begins, and there are festivals and parades galore – all meaning it’s time to make plans with friends and fill up that calendar through September with lunches, BBQs, weekend getaways and more.

This spring, I kicked it off with my first running race ever – the St. Patrick’s Day 8k in downtown D.C. I had been planning it for months with Dan, anxiously awaiting my first foray into the racing world, after years of running several times a week on my own with no real purpose or deadline other than to stay healthy. Now that I’ve run an 8k, I’m looking into doing a 10k next, and then a half, and then ultimately, a marathon. I’m springing forward.

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How do we know what’s “best” for us?

When it comes time to make life-altering decisions, sometimes, the facts are clear, the options are A or B, 1 or 2, this or that. The decision itself may not be easy, but at least all the data is there, and it’s just making that final choice.

But what about when everything isn’t clear? What about when you want more time, need more time, hope there is more time? What about when it involves someone else’s life? What if you’re so unsure after months of thinking about it, talking about it, arguing about it, crying about it, that you’re not even sure anymore what you wanted in the first place?

And what to do, when everyone around you says, “You have to do what’s best for YOU.”

It’s not that simple, when you aren’t even sure what’s best anymore. When you thought what was best maybe isn’t anymore, what you think should be best isn’t what you want, when so many things are still undefined and undetermined, it’s not that simple.

You see it in the movies or in finales of tv shows: girl runs off to her dream job (good for her!)…but 5 minutes later her taxi is turning around, or she’s showing up on the stoop of the boy, saying no, I want the love! Who doesn’t love happy endings like that…but when it’s your own life, it’s not quite like that.

People hold back on making major decisions because they’re scared, because it means something different, because it means taking responsibility, doing the hard thing. And when one person holds back too long, it eventually means the other person has to make that hard decision for the both of them and then no one is happy. How do you get around that? How do you figure out the “best” decision for everyone involved?

Dreams, alligators & ahas!

I had a weird dream the other night that I was at my uncle’s house, hanging out with him and his son, my beloved cousin whom I fondly remember playing cops and robbers with and racing around on our bikes as youngsters before all the drama began with that side of my family. In the dream, one of my aunts was there, but I wasn’t really paying attention to her. And then suddenly, there was an alligator in the room. I guess in my dreams they aren’t elephants – it would only make sense that the Cajun girl has a giant gator as my metaphor. Then I put the gator in the tub in the bathroom and locked the door. Dream over.

Talking this over today, I started musing about the symbolism of this. This is of course on top of the fact that now that Dan has left, I’m back to not sleeping through the night, and having an increased amount of weird or bad dreams. I seem to be always running from someone or something in them, or hiding or fighting not to get hurt. Hmmm….

The ahas! are coming more lately. Not just with the dreams (and boy do those make a heckuva a lot more sense lately), but with why I have all the feelings I do, why I can be such a control freak, and why I chose someone like Dan as my significant other. Those self-help books DO make things come together, I assure you. In one sitting, I must say “that sounds just like me!” about a million times. It makes so many things connect and I don’t feel so bad about some of it.

My friend also went to an alligator farm in New Orleans recently, so maybe that was part of it. Although some of my family has had some not so friendly encounters with gators, I personally have only enjoyed the taste of their meat.

On a separate note, I have a question: If you made a major life change when you weren’t expecting to – career, relocation, etc – why did you do it? How did you decide? What triggered the change? Were you scared? Confused? Emotional?

Earlier this week, I saw the scale had gone up even more than I thought at the doctor. I was appalled. I was disappointed. I was pissed because I’ve been working out every day and eating so much produce I should start my own farm in my apartment. Then back at the office I was pissed when I saw an email that set off about 57 emotions, and fortunately, my amazing teammate let me ramble on for about 20 minutes about what direction I’m headed in. Sometimes we need that. I needed her to tell me it was okay to be confused and scared.

Aha moments, anyone? What did you do with it?

Step 1:

Be rid of all things toxic.

Now I’m not talking about not smoking (I don’t) or not drinking (I keep a low profile there too) or ditching other ridiculously harmful habits. I don’t really have any of those. But, detoxifying yourself also means mentally, emotionally, and socially. I’ve already been doing well with my workout routine and eating better. It’s time to move on to the big guns.

Tomorrow, I’m taking a step to make this happen. I won’t go into major details, but basically I’m getting a fresh perspective from someone new, someone who can’t take sides. And as part of all this, I’m going to start making choices about what to keep and what to get rid of in my life – and maybe who. We all do things or think things or feel things that aren’t helping us move forward, and that aren’t helping us live in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest. We also all have people in our lives that fall into this category. Maybe they are an old friend who isn’t so much a good friend anymore, or a newer friend that just isn’t panning out, or a family member that isn’t worth the stress either. I know that my biggest problem has always been to just accept that a relationship is over and move on – it’s one of the hardest things I deal with everyday. Those of you who know me more intimately know what this stems from – and I’m taking steps to fix it.  I can spend months agonizing over why my friend or old roommate or family member hasn’t talked to me in months, letting it bother me until it consumes much of my thoughts.

Or, I can learn to place it outside of me and my life, and say, ok, yeah I’m not feeling the love, but they made a decision. Maybe I don’t know the decision, and maybe it had to do with something I did or said, but maybe it didn’t. And realizing that and saying, things will be okay, is the big step. Realizing there are other people I have in my life that care and aren’t going anywhere. You know who you are, those people – and I appreciate it, more than you know.

So, as change comes to our country, and people are trying to keep their resolutions going, I’m making some changes, too. It’s really time.

For readers: What changes are you wanting to make this year?