Archives for posts with tag: evolve

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams; live the life you imagined.”-Henry David Thoreau

Inspiration is everywhere. Everywhere. It lies dormant in every fragment of the human experience and in the simplest, most mundane of interactions. I found a sliver of it recently at

Taco Bell.

Recently my hunger-ravaged tummy found itself jonesing for a Beefy 5-Layre Burrito, so I took Agnes, the Rover, for a short drive to the nearby Taco Bell. (Spelling layer, “layre,” makes me feel like I’m eating foreign fare rather than something that is likely laden with trans fat and sub-standard ingredients. Is it obvious yet that I have a tendency toward over-thinking?)

Because the drive-thru line was abnormally long, I ventured into the establishment in hopes of procuring said burrito. Made nearly opaque with grimy fingerprints and smears of heaven knows what, the glass door presented a germophobe, such as myself, with a serious quandary: do I forgo burrito bliss in an attempt to avoid touching the handle that without a doubt harbors at least as much bacteria as the door’s windowed surface? Or do I chance dying of some communicable disease spread by people who at best wash their hands every other day then go to public places and insist on spreading their disgusting germs for all of the rest of us to contract? Yes it’s mean, but so is spreading E. coli.

I felt like I was in a “Choose Your Own Adventure,” book (which, consequently, I consider to be some of the finest American literature to ever hit bookstores) and was faced with a decision that could either lead me to the unraveling of a sordid and exciting mystery, or guide me to a certain death.

I decided to take a chance and enter the fast-food, “restaurant.” Does anyone else think that when fast-food establishments are referred to as, “restaurants,” that perhaps that’s a liberal use of the term? I generally reserve the term, “restaurant,” for places where the “furniture,” (another liberal use of the word) is not composed of some hard plastic that likely will be discovered to exude copious amounts of carcinogens.

At any rate, after braving the door handles of not one, but two doors (why do they have to have double doors? Is is just to ensure that you have double the opportunity to contract H1N1?) I headed in the direction of the counter. Bedecked in a color scheme of teal, mauve and a lovely shade of peach, Taco Bell was the perfect picture of late-eighties, southwest decor. Planters teeming with faux greenery that unsuccessfully attempted to “cascade, ” from their boxes, adorned the tops of pony walls designed to guide throngs of eager eaters into a serpentine line where they were expected to await their turn at ordering all the tacos and burritos their expanding waistlines could handle.

As I waited for the woman ahead of me to conclude her ordering, I watched as the employee struggled with the cash register. “I’m sorry,” the employee apologized. “It’s my first day.”

There are certain things that a person can say that will IMMEDIATELY garner my complete understanding and unparalleled sympathy. “It’s my first day,” is one of them. I have had enough jobs (I often tell people that short of pole-dancing and prostitution, I’ve done it all. Hyperbole, of course, but it certainly elicits an entertaining response.;)) that my heart goes out to anyone making a concerted effort to forge a path for themselves in a new, “career.” Again, perhaps liberal use of the word, but to each his/her own.

Once my turn arrived, the employee and I engaged in the banter of ordering and discussing the difficulties of beginning new employment when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a woman–the manager–watching the exchange. I noted immediately the high cheekbones and fine brow of the manager. She also had the most beautiful eyes. They were a crystalline shade of smokey gray and had the most indefinable twinkle.  Her lips were this pale shade of mauve and curved to a perfect pout.  She looks like a she could be a model, I thought. I hadn’t noticed that she had been studying me as closely as I had her.

“You are such a beautiful young woman,” she said to me. “And you have amazing eyes.” Okay, so that was weird. She was thinking some of the same things about me that I had about been thinking about her. You know what else was funny? That the most flattering thing about her compliment was not that she called me, “beautiful,” but rather that she called me, “young woman.” I guess my vanity’s leaning in the direction of preserving my youth at this stage of the game.:)

We began a brief, but enlightening conversation in which I returned her compliments with even greater emphasis than she had delivered hers.  Then things became decidedly unexpected. Delightfully unexpected.

After I told her for probably the third time how beautiful her eyes were, she said matter-of-factly, “I used to be a model.” Well duh, I thought. Of course you were. That much seemed obvious. The trainee who had rung me up, however, found this little revelation to be shocking and made no attempt to disguise that fact. Her mouth parted and her eyes widened and the surprise her face wore was nothing short of insulting. Turning to address her subordinate, the manager spoke with an amusing sense of irony.

“I haven’t always worn a Taco Bell uniform,” the manager said, her voice barely able to contain a cynical laugh

I haven’t always worn a Taco Bell uniform. The words bounced around in my brain like an echo in a cathedral. Sure, that was clear, but there was something in the way she said that incredibly obvious statement that made it seem so much more poignant. Something only her voice, her tone, her inflection could convey.

And I walked, then, my steps heavy with thought. I absently planted myself in a hard, plastic seat enmeshed in layers of filth and bacteria and assimilated the story that I had just heard. I cannot look at people and not wonder at their stories. I can’t help but find my mind meandering down silly paths of, “I wonder if…” But this woman and her life, the twists and turns it had taken that seemed nothing short of unexpected, they somehow struck me with a surprising impact.

As I waited for my number to be called, I watched a man and two sweet little boys arrived. With eyes the color of ash, there was absolutely no mistaking the parentage of the boys. The man and two children were the manager’s family. She beamed at them as she took a break from work to enjoy this unexpected surprise and I watched the scene with rapt attention. There was no wistfulness, no regret, no insecurity in her gray eyes. If there was ever a doubt as to which path she should tread, it seemed to have flown with the arrival of her children.

I just found myself feeling sad, not because I would be arrogant enough to know what’s best for someone else, because the older I get the more that becomes a moot point. And, as I’ve blogged in the past, I would NEVER trade being a mother for anything. The thing that was just a little heartbreaking was that she seemed to have given up on her dreams; that she had written off any life that diverged from her current one.  I think that anyone who works hard to make an honest living is someone to be respected and Lord knows that I’ve had far crappier jobs than nine out of ten people you’ll meet (not, unfortunately, hyperbole) but, I just hate seeing people discount their ambitions and relegate them to a place of impossibility. The annoyingly persistent optimist in me refuses to let that idea go. I understand the need to be realistic and to put food on the table, etc. I have made sacrifices I would never want anyone I care about to have to make . But I know–I know–that there’s something more; that life is more than some pragmatic need to live hand to mouth. It’s not easy–I know that better than most–but I just want so badly to see people move in the direction of their dreams.

At any rate, I guess I just had throw this tale out there into the great recesses of the cyber universe; to know that other people had heard the story of this beautiful woman and her current circumstances. I suppose I just had to express my hopes that, whatever her life becomes, that somehow her dreams find some small place in it. Maybe I’ll be able to use it as an effective reminder to make room for some dreams of my own.:)

XOXO

hollie

“Even if I don’t reach all my goals, I’ve gone higher than I would have if I hadn’t set any.” -Danielle Fotopoulis


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“Autumn to winter, winter into spring, spring into summer, summer into fall,– So rolls the changing year, and so we change; Motion so swift, we know not that we move.” – Dinah Maria Mulock

I experience life with all of my senses. I even taste it with each of the seasons possessing, to me, a distinct flavor. I imagine winter, with its cool crispness and evergreen symbolism, is rosemary. Spring is caraway seed; tangy and fresh. Summer, of course, is saffron–earthy and warm and the color of sunshine.

And autumn–my season– is cinnamon. Rustic, warm and full of surprising depth.  It’s funny how we can find ways of relating one experience to another. Every time fall rolls around, I anticipate its smells and sights and somehow, I guess, even its taste. The seasons pass like the experiences of life; my brain stubbornly clinging to the memories of both like the hindmost autumn leaves that desperately clutch at the branches of the maple tree outside my window each year.

I don’t observe fall, I feel it. It seizes me; tugging me into this ethereal place where the earth shifts and the air that envelops me is steeped in some sort of otherworldly sensation. Autumn is tactile and alive and I allow it to draw me in like a good book. It is the enchanting phase of the earth’s yearly cycle in which the world sits in somber silence waiting for winter to strike bringing its tendency to strip the trees to their bare, skeletal forms and brush the canvas of the sky a chilly gray hue. The world seems to change its clothes, shedding the bright long days of the prior seasons, and casting itself in a woolen coat full of warmth and weight; eliciting a feeling that is somehow both familiar and enticingly enigmatic.

I<3 autumn. It. Is. Magical.

But as neither life nor my blog would be complete without symbolism, we venture into metaphor here.

Life being likened to the changing seasons of the year, is not a new analogy, but I think it bears significance and perhaps therein lies its tendency to be cliche. To further expound upon this ages-old allegory, I imagine that life not only has seasons, but that for each of us they are so individually subjective. That, like those living in various climes, that the seasons of one person’s life maybe drastic, consisting of dramatic differences from one season to the next with frigid winters and blistering summers. Others might have lives that mimic the climates where the year-round temperature is consistently balmy with only subtle distinctions between each passing season.

I am the former, not the latter (as if any of you had any question regarding that.:)) I have seen periods of such startling contrast so as to be distinguished from one another with remarkable ease. One season, which my blessed mind endeavors daily to blur to a distant, if not non-existent state, occurred during my twenties. I don’t remember them too well as it was fraught with a great deal of despair and more than my fair share of heartbreak. Confusion and unrest were the earmarks of this time and I often–as I have in this forum–referred to it as my Dark Ages. A time replete with darkness, a lack of clarity and an inhuman coldness that seemed wont to follow me.  I felt a tiny bit like Eeyore. Woe was me.;)

Winter can be tough. It does seem to drag on, threatening to smother us each within the confines of its persistent chill. The quilt of downy snow that blankets the earth often starts out cozy, but can become oppressive and stifling after it seems to continue for an inordinate amount of time. I felt as though, as a result of life circumstances, the Universe was unfairly expecting me to traverse through the suffocating brume of my life’s winter. It seemed endless and bleak and without reprieve.

Then came my spring. My world awakened with a startling sense of lucidity and purpose clearly defined. I felt as a rush of warmth danced its way across the sleeping ground and tickled the thawing earth to life. My world had awakened from the weary slumber of my darkest winter (knock on wood:)) and I felt…

renewed.

Summer followed in short order and I found myself embracing the evolution of Hollie. Like a fine wine, I’m enduring my seasons as I age to my own personal perfection. Not perfection as in, “flawless,”  but rather my own take on the word: perfection as in, “fullness.”  Me being the best Hollie I can be. I have, after all, no desire to be flawless. I find my imperfections are becoming an endearing part of who I am. Sure, I endeavor to improve myself, but I’m okay with me and I like myself more and more with each passing season. And besides, in the words of Nietzsche, “In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.”;)

So as I stand on the cusp of both the literal Autumn and my own metaphorical one, the question begs, do I dread a coming winter? No, I really don’t.

It’s kind of like the Pilgrims’ first winter in America. They struggled so much having been ill prepared and lacking the skills to cope and endure the onslaught of the harshness of a New England winter. But with the passing seasons, they enacted a system of adaptation and preparation that made the subsequent winters bearable and perhaps, even pleasant. I feel the same about my life.

I feel fall as it creeps into the world again. It stretches its fingers out and clasps the bright drape of summer that shrouds the sky. Pulling the curtain of August back, it reveals the pewter-gray sky of early autumn. The smell of decaying leaves permeates the air as a tiny bite nips at my skin. I feel the temperature as it slowly dips to a more boreal state and the world seems to emit a sleepy yawn. I gather a shawl of experience and, hopefully, wisdom around me and relax as my life continues to evolve. I watch as a peaceful hush settles over the landscape of my life. Who knows, maybe the next few winters will be mild and cozy or maybe I’ll skip them all together. I guess we’ll see…


XOXO


hollie

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet



“People change and forget to tell each other.” -Lillian Hellman

Memory’s a funny thing. We often index  past events into distinct compartments; defining and cataloging them with definite purpose. We have these mental tally sheets of good and bad, right and wrong. And even the most open-minded of us often can find ourselves cramming our impressions of people into equally restrictive spaces.

As I reflect on the most recent portion of my life, I find myself musing over the unexpected and often bizarre turns life tends to take. I think I can say with a great deal of certainty that very few of us have found ourselves in the precise place we had once planned. We evolve in ways that are surprising and unexpected and, in embracing this fortuitous progression, can create a person of quality and substance.

In understanding this principle as it applies to me, I’ve found that extending this to those around me has provided me with something akin to having a super power. That super power is: acceptance. For someone like myself, endowed with a hearty helping of stubbornness, acceptance can, at times, seem counterintuitive. The compelling need to fight things tooth and nail can sometimes take hold and thwart any attempt at achieving acceptance. However, embracing it as weapon in your arsenal  with which you battle your way through life, will do nothing short of liberate you.

As one year after another fades into our memories, we become embroiled in the day-to-day of life; constantly striving to meet the demands of careers and family. We somehow freeze the events of the past like an aging snapshot steeped in nostalgia and catalog them under specific headings in our brains. Archived there, they lie dormant and untouched except for the rare revisiting of them on occasion.

While there’s nothing at all wrong with this method as it pertains to events and most generalizations, it can prove to be a disservice with regards to the people we’ve been blessed to know. Sometimes as we grow and evolve, we tend to forget that those we knew in these bygone eras, have changed and grown as well. We can recall with impeccable clarity the cruel actions of a class bully to the extent that part of us imagines him the same way now; as though he goes to work, punches a time card then proceeds to spend the eight-hour work day inflicting swirlies and wedgies on his coworkers. Perhaps that’s a mild exaggeration, but it’s for dramatic emphasis. I am not above employing hyperbole when it suits my purpose.

I ran into a girl once in the mall with whom I had attended high school. She was physically rather unchanged, as we had only graduated a scant two years prior, but there was a very definite shift in her demeanor. She had in school been rebellious and disrespectful, but I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t amusing. Her fights with the teachers were legendary and she possessed a tendency to back-talk that, while lacking in respect, did often supply her peers with an ample amount of entertainment.

I  called out her name and she glanced around her in surprise. Her eyes settling on mine, she seemed alarmed at first, then ashamed. As I approached her, she cast her eyes downward in embarrassment. I wondered what she could have felt so ashamed of. I hadn’t known her well enough to have merited any reaction nearly so personal. As she again raised her eyes to meet mine, I saw in them a vulnerability that was rather unexpected. It seemed to flash across her features like a restaurant marquee announcing the dinner special.

We made small talk for a minute or two all the while she fidgeted nervously. Finally with a ragged breath, she attempted an awkward smile.

“Look.” she practically spat the words out in her impatience. “I’m not the same as I was in high school. I’m a mom now and I’m not into the stuff I was into then. I’ve changed.” That’s what she had been embarrassed about. She was afraid that I and everyone else would forever remember her as being some trouble maker like she was in high school; that we would never assimilate the progression into adulthood that nearly always leads to maturity and change that she had experienced. She wasn’t giving herself  or anyone else enough credit.

But it touched me. The way she had endeavored so hard to change and to grow; much of which I suspect was the result of motherhood. And I realized something then: it wasn’t fair to pigeon-hole someone into some compartment just because it once seemed to have fit them. It was a disservice to that individual as a human capable of change, to deny them the opportunity to be recognized for that change. But, it was also a disservice to me if I didn’t allow my interpretation of that individual to be as fluid as their growth would inevitably be. I would be depriving myself of having wonderful friends who just became wonderful-er with age.

How would you feel if  everyone associated you with the worst thing you ever did? If they endlessly identified you as being whatever you were at your lowest point?

It made me think a lot that day and a lot since. I thought about the courage it takes to change and the confidence it requires to shake off the tags and labels people–including ourselves–seem so wont to affix to us. That we can change every day; that we can shape and control the people we become, that’s another super power. (Wow by the end of this post we will have developed two!)

So when we choose to accept people we take them in whole–the good and the bad. We accept them as they are now and as they’ll be in the future. We accept the worst they are with the best they are. And we give people the opportunity to surprise us. Because we’re more than the failures and fears and we each deserve the opportunity to prove that. I’m just phenomenally grateful that those closest to me have afforded me that chance, even when I didn’t feel I deserved it.

XOXO

hollie

“The curious paradox  is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” -Carl Rogers

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