Being Seen

Happy 2015! It is a new year, a new day, a new perspective. I have started this year off in a mellow way. For some reason (maybe having the flu) I have a very laid back view on this year, and maybe my engine just has not revved up yet.

I have been reading and just finished a book: “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer. An interesting book for me, as I hate asking for help from others. Yes. I am more of the do-it-myself variety. Asking for help means I have to trust others, and from past experience “others” can let you down, and not be there with what they said they would do. So I rarely ask. I am a product of my childhood where individuals often did not come through for me. Alas, I do not often ask. So I thought this book would be a good one for me to read.

I had an aha moment. Asking and being seen. One of my life pet peeves is not being seen. Somehow feeling invisible for much of my life (remember my dad felt that children should be seen and not heard) has been a pain point for me. I want to be seen and heard. Thus this ideas from Palmer especially resonated with me:

“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen. When you are looked at, your eyes can stay blissfully closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, as you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light. One is exhibitionism, the other is connection. Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen.” Page 201

I crave connection. To me there is no point in a relationship if there is no connection. While I have not told you much about Palmer’s book, I highly recommend her story. It is a long read, but she takes you through her triumphs and setbacks as a street performer, musician, wife, and friend. She easily is able to ask total strangers to crash at their home, but has a hard time asking her husband for money. I am the complete opposite. I can ask Chris for almost anything, and have a hard time asking friends, colleagues, and strangers for help. I know that 9 times out of 10, Chris will be there for me (no one is perfect). Yet, I do not know if I have those odds with everyone else in my life. Sad I know, but it is how I feel after being burned.

What do you want most? I do not want to be looked at, I want to be seen.

Witness. See. Appreciate.

It is only nine days into the year and the thought that was going through my mind yesterday is why is it so hard for us to stick to things? We spend so much time talking about New Year’s resolutions and how we are going to keep and honor them throughout the year, and why is it such an ongoing conversation from year to year? Do we not have the self-control, resilience, and tenacity to follow through on what we say we are going to do? Do we just get bored? Or do we not set up realistic expectations that are obtainable?

I have not been able to decide. There is a part of me that is already hard on myself for letting a few things slide in the last nine days, where I think “wow, great track record so far this year.” Yet, why are we so hard on ourselves? What is the big rat race that we are running so fast in? Where is it taking us? I know I often carve out too many items on my to-do list for each day and it feels great when I am able to accomplish what I set out to do each day, but is that what really matters? If we look back from year to year, will we remember what we cross off on our to-do lists, or will we remember the hearts we touch, the conversations we have, and all the things we learn? I hope it is the latter.

While I do not want to add another thing to my list, I loved taking moments to capture the good that was happening in my life (and of course for Chris too) in 2013. I mentioned a few blog posts ago, that I want to continue doing that for 2014. It was fun to sit down on New Years and pull each item out of our jar and remember things that happened early on in the year. A few made us laugh and think, “wow, that made the jar” and I am sure there were many we missed that should have been documented. In any case, I think what I would like to track and appreciate is what I learn each day, week, month. Maybe there is nothing for weeks, and maybe there is a lot. Who knows, but I believe if we are consciously watching and we think about tracking it, we start to see those learnings show up everywhere. All because we watch for it. I think that will make for an even better 2014.

Rather than berate myself for not sticking to things completely, why not try, learn in the process, and celebrate the good that does happen? We have so little control over so many things in our little worlds, what we can control is what we witness, see, and appreciate. Are you with me?

Moments of bliss

Most of you have either headed back to work, or will be starting back at the office today after a holiday break. That might be a bittersweet moment. Maybe you love your job, but you also love time with your family and friends, and maybe also a bit of time with your butt on the couch catching up on movies, football, and a little HGTV. As we start into this new year, where you think, “I am going to live my life just a bit differently this time,” think about the precious time you might have had over the holidays. Maybe you had a day off, or a week, or two weeks. Whatever amount of time you had to do whatever you wanted, cherish it. As you get pulled into your fast paced life where sometimes you feel like the wheels will spin-off, try to take a moment, slow down and remember this quieter time.

I recently found this quote from author Jonathan Carroll. I did not read one of his books, but found it online a few weeks ago. I have always loved the word bliss. That perfect moment when you go ah, this is the life. It does not always have to be when you are on vacation, or have down time. Maybe it is that moment of quiet when you put your feet up after getting your kids to bed, or maybe it is after giving a presentation that you know you nailed, or maybe it is as you slide into a hot bubble bath.

“One of the saddest realities is most people never know when their lives have reached the summit. Only after it is over and we have some kind of perspective do we realize how good we had it a day, a month, five years ago. The walk together in the December snow, the phone call that changed everything, that lovely evening in the bar by the Aegean. Back then you thought “this is so nice”. Only later did you realize it was the rarest bliss.”

If only we could bottle those moments, and on our toughest days open the bottle for seconds to be reminded of the smell, sound, and taste of that moment. Just to tell us life is good, that it does have moments of bliss. While we cannot bottle them, we can hold on to those rare moments. It is a new year, month, day. Just like we did for 2013, Chris and I are going to keep our jar out for “Good things that happened in 2014.”

Want to join us, so you can look back at your moments of bliss?

New, new, and new

I love new beginnings. Maybe we are not all this way, but I think somewhere deep inside we at some point like when something is new. I love starting a new pen, a new journal, wearing a new item of clothing. There is something special about it. It is a first chance. It has not been effected by other people’s opinions or negativity. It is just new. How about a new job, the new house, or car? It is like you get to start over. Those of course are the bigger ticket items, which is why maybe a new pen or journal brings a smile to my face.

There is always the intent to have better handwriting in that journal, or to never lose that pen. Often our best intentions do not go as we plan, but I think those best intentions lead us in a direction to care more, be more present, and appreciate the little things in life. Oh, about new beginnings…do you know when a word or idea comes to you in different threads all in a short period of time? I am sure it is because of the New Year, but the idea of “new beginnings” has continued to find its way to me these past few weeks. I saved a few of the ideas. One is from Rainer Marie Rilke, who really needs no introduction:

“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been.”

The other was a memoir I finished a few days ago called: “The Yarn Whisperer” by Clara Parkes:

“Beginnings are beautiful things. They’re the tank full of gas and the open road, a brand new notebook and a freshly filled pen. Reality hasn’t had time to intrude. All you see is the vast and exciting opportunity that lies ahead.” Page 81

I love that Parkes has the same thoughts on pens and journals. I had not thought about a tank full of gas and the open road but I can visualize it. Here is to new beginnings. A new year. A fresh look on life. Hopefully each of you have had at least a bit of down time to recharge and look freshly at your life as you start the New Year.

I decided to start out 2014 with a new look for random olio. It is something I have wanted to do for a while, and somehow yesterday it all came together. A new beginning just before random olio turns 2.

Designing my 2013

It is officially 2013. Still so hard to believe. While I am not much of a fan of New Year’s resolutions, I do think it is good to have goals for the year. So much good happened in 2012, it is hard to imagine what big things will happen in 2013. Here is the start of my list of things I want to do in 2013:

  • Run a 1/2 marathon
  • Start writing a book
  • Read more than 125 books. Maybe 150?
  • Travel more
  • Celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary (via a trip)
  • Add more photos in my blog posts
  • Take my camera out more often so I can add photos to my blog posts!
  • Paint more
  • Get back into drawing, I have a new fascination with figure drawing
  • Start to meditate

Here is my dilemma: I am often hard on myself to do everything and then some more. For example, each year I add another project to my list. In 2010, I wanted to read 100 books, for 2011 I wanted to read 125 books. In 2012 I wanted to read 125 books, write in my journal each day, and post a blog each week day. This year what has come to me to add to that list is: to meditate each day. Is that a lot to take on in addition to my exercise regimen, professional work, and being a wife? Will I have enough time in the day to do each of these projects? Yes. Why you might ask? Because these projects fuel and inspire me. Often I will write in my journal and get a blog idea. Or I will run and read, and solve a problem at work. It all somehow connects together. I think meditation will be the perfect blend to what I am already doing.

What to do better next year…

I would like to cherish the small moments, smile and laugh more, play more, and reach out and connect with those in my life that I have not spoken to in a long time. I would like to let go more and control less. These all might sound like easy things to do, but for me they are not. They will take conscious effort and focus if I want to be better. Take cherishing the small moments: This means I have to live more in the moment, which means I have to be more aware when I am not living in the moment. Hopefully as I meditate more, that will help with each of the above items. Time will tell. I will try to share my progress throughout the year.

I am also going to start doing something I saw on Facebook. I have started a jar that says: “Good things that happened in 2013.” At the end of the year we will open the jar and read all the notes. I bet it will be quite amazing to look back and read things we had forgotten about, and to see all of them in writing. I am ready for 2013 – bring it on!

What goals do you have for 2013?