The Magic of Growing Down

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Remember when we were little kids and how we’d spend hours fantasizing about how much fun life will be when we grow up? We envisioned that our lives would be filled with adventure, love that lasts forever, and there was no doubt in our minds that we would grow up to be exactly what we wanted. We were too small to be able to reach our juice box on the kitchen counter and our parents dictated EVERYTHING to us, but none of our restrictions kept us from believing that we would someday rule the world! We had no solid evidence that we were even capable of living the life we wanted. All we had was the belief that we would not always be kids and that we wouldn’t stop trying to be independent… even after every failure. One day we would no longer be restricted. One day WE would be able to choose who we wanted to be… and we would be it. WE would choose where we wanted to go… and we would go there.

Take a moment to obverse your life as it is right now. Are you living with this feeling of being restricted in life? Feeling dictated to by the world? Feeling like your “juice box” is too far out of your reach? The kid version of you would have gotten frustrated, yes… but they would have reminded themselves that it won’t always be this way… and they would keep trying… even through all the failures. We as kids fought so hard to become grown-ups, but when so many of us finally got to the coveted position in life, we stopped fighting for the life that we still had ahead of us.

As kids we were trying to grow up quickly because we didn’t want to be treated like little kids.

As adolescents we were constantly struggling with having one foot in immaturity and one foot in an adult world that we thought we were ready for, but had no clue about.

At 18 we sprint towards independence because we legally can. Regardless of if we can handle it or not, we won’t let anyone see us scared.

At 21 we think we’ve reached nirvana because we can get alcohol legit and go to all the bars where real “adults” hang out. We drink our way through decisions.

Somewhere between 22 and 26, depending on if and how long you went to school for, you then have to prove yourself as an educated adult by entering the workforce. You nail a job and now you’ve arrived! You buy a suit, some new shoes, and shots for everybody… on credit… because to be an adult you have to look like one, right?

If you’re like many Americans, between the ages of 22 and 26 (28 if you’re a late bloomer!) you marry and have your first child. You try to become the all-star parent who gives their 1 year old a Disney lifestyle everyday, because they won’t remember it… wait… they won’t remember it??

From this point on you work and live to prove to others that you’re living the American dream! You’re a stellar parent… but not too perfect… hip, current, with a splash of DIY originality.  You have a home that Pinterest dreams are made of, and according to your FB statuses your hubby is AMAZING… everyday. You have reached the “Grown up” life. What now?

Okay so maybe your life looks (or looked) nothing like the descriptions I detailed. That is neither here nor there. The point that I’m trying to make is that potentially we could spend most of our lives trying to not only grow up, but to grow out of the place that we were presently at. We spend our energy functioning in the present while our minds and hearts are living in the future… but the future isn’t for living! Living is meant to be for right NOW…. because NOW life is happening… NOW is what you can affect… and NOW is when you can begin to initiate change that will affect the future. Many people have went through different periods in their lives, and yet they can’t really identify with them because they don’t even feel any attachment to them… and in some cases they don’t even remember them! I’m not talking about periods of time that were blocked out because of trauma; I’m talking about pretty normal nothing-too-crazy periods in life. Maybe it’s all of high school, or all of your first marriage. It could be your kid’s teenage years, or all of collage (separate from your party days!). Whatever it was, there are those that were so focused on growing up, or just making it out of high school, or until they were 21 , or until they had a great job, or until they got married…. YOU GET THE POINT. Everyone is just too busy growing up to grow into who they are right NOW. The tragedy is that we then end up missing out on so much magic that is happening around us… in us… we don’t get to see and experience our own evolution because we are too busy planning a future that we are not yet an active part of.

I speak from experience. Not judgment. When I say “We” I mean “Me”.

I am going to be 31 in a few months and I can honestly tell you that there are periods of my life… chunks… that I recall as if I’m telling a story that I had heard from a friend about a friend… but not about me. I feel disconnected from my childhood and from my adolescents… all the way up to my early 20s.  I know they happened… I mean, obviously! I know that there were good times and bad, of which I can tell you some specifics. I cannot tell you much about myself as a child or as a teen, because I can’t really identify with that part of my life.  It’s as if I go into this dream sequence when I try to think back. It’s weird. It can be downright uncomfortable and awkward. I mean, who doesn’t know who they were as a kid or a teen?!?!  What I do know is that I had struggled for years with this feeling  that there was something wrong with me now as an adult, as a result of my detachment from my earlier years… like I couldn’t possible come to know who I am if I don’t know who I was.

I came to a place in my adult life where I had to decide who I was going to be. Was I going to be someone who kept looking back, scratching my head, trying to create a future from a past that I couldn’t change even if I did remember? Or was I going to keep looking forward and focus on a future that would be worth remembering someday? I chose neither…. Because the one thing that I could tell has been constant in my life is that I have always been either running to something or from something. At age 30 I finally understood that the concept of “Growing up” as we’ve known it to be is highly overrated

I may not be able to re-do the past, or recreate my childhood, or recall all the details about my teen years. I can’t tell you about how I felt during various special moments that I know happened or tell you with certainty what kind of friend I was in high school. What I can do is create new habits, and un-teach myself old lessons that no longer serve a purpose in who I am today…. I’m growing down. I can stop running from or to something. I can stop trying to prove my independence or adulthood to anyone. I’ve done my growing… I’m 30 years old… I’m an adult. Everything from here on is not new growth… it’s evolution… expansion… progress. 
Being a grown up is not a thing, a place, a degree, a certain level of income, or even the act of getting married (As made apparent by the high divorce rate). Being a grown up is about having the balls to say what you believe in the midst of unbelievers… and being able to shrug if they’re not on board with you, without letting it disturb your sense of peace. Being a grown up is choosing to forgive with or without an apology. Being a grown up is about using “I would never do that” very loosely… because we’ve learned that lack of personal experience with certain situations doesn’t afford us the pleasure of certainty for what kind of decision we’d make had it been us. Being a grown up means saying “I don’t know” when you don’t know… because with our finite minds, we really don’t know much. Being a grown up means that there isn’t a price tag attached to  “I love you”… yours are free… Even to  the one-toothed man that picked up a quarter that dropped out of your wallet for you at the grocery store… just when you were thinking “Ugh, really?!?! I have all these bags in my hands and it’ll be a pain to stoop down to pick it up… but it’s A QUARTER and I think I need one more for laundry. I’ll be so glad when I don’t have to pay for laundry ever again.” Yes, you say “I love you” to even him… and his one-toothed grin made you think “I really do”.

I’m growing down.

 

Yours Truly, Andrea

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You Don’t Have To Like Them To Love You

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You don’t have to stroke their ego. You don’t have to indulge their insincere pleasantries and you don’t have to engage them in meaningless conversation. You don’t have to fill empty space with empty words. You don’t have to listen to verbal vomit or make nice with people who are not. You don’t have to like everyone to feel likeable. You don’t have to.

How many times have we tried and tried to be friends with someone who, for some reason or another, it never was easy to be friends with? You think that maybe if you look at the friendship a different way, or approach the person a different way, or maybe if you did more, or gave more, or if you two just lived closer THEN the friendship would work better. We just can’t seem to figure out why things with this person just don’t flow easily. Well… It’s because they are a square peg and you are a round hole. The two of you together just don’t fit.

Two amazing people may not fit together.
One amazing person and one horribly toxic person may not fit together.
Two equally toxic people may not fit together.
Some people just don’t fit together. Period. This goes for friendships and romantic relationships.

There is an emotional trend amongst some circles that say that if you cannot vibe with everyone you meet, that it’s because you are not one with humanity, or you are too picky, or you don’t have enough love in your heart, or you’re stuck up, or it must be because you’re broken. That’s just… Well that’s just a load of crap to me. It’s like saying you couldn’t possibly be a nice person if you aren’t friends with every nice person you know, or that you couldn’t possibly have a sense of humor if you don’t aim to make everyone you meet laugh.

Be sincere by complimenting when you truly mean it… Not out of a need to be known as complimentary or because you need people to always feel good around you. You are not responsible for their mood or ego. They are.

Speak when you have something you really want to say, not to fill empty space with empty words. A silent smile carries more value than the white noise of meaningless conversation. You don’t have to be anyone’s entertainment and silence is not something to be afraid of.

Love where there is love to build on. There can not be true love without respect, so stop trying to love those who you don’t respect. If there is no respect, then there is no trust… And to try to love without respect and trust is only lying to yourself. So respect yourself enough not to act out a love that is a lie.

You are funny, nice, caring, creative, passionate, loving and giving. That is who You are… So you don’t have to like them to love You.

Yours Truly,
Andrea

Why Catcalling Should Be the Death of the Music Industry.

And every other industry for that matter… including the fashion and beauty industry.

If you haven’t seen it already (which most of you have), there’s a video that’s gone viral that shows a woman being videotaped while she walks all around New York City for a day. In the video she walks around silently as she’s being catcalled, approached, or addressed in one way or another by men on the street as she walks by. You hear everything from the obviously sexual remark, to “Hello” or a “Good morning”. The point of the video is to showcase the harassment of women and what we can be subjected to. It is raising awareness, raising eyebrows, and  flaring some interesting debates.

The thing that gets me are all the comments on Facebook or YouTube attached to this video. Most of which are some variation of disgust with men, and how women are so sick of being treated like this, or that the men that say these things are perverts or something. Here’s the thing: The men in this video… the men some of us women encounter who make comments that make us feel uncomfortable… they are all just one piece of a very big puzzle. A puzzle that is made up of music, social media, culture, and dare I say… Women.

Oh Lordt… I can feel the hater rays from some people already! Do me a favor… put on some shades and hear me out before you rule me out.

Music is full of lyrics that make the female body seem as if it is something to be made a spectacle of, not necessarily appreciated in the more respectable sense of the word. You have Nicki Minaj who has turned butts into something like an episode of Animaniacs! You’re like “Okay… This is hilarious, and weird, and awkward, yet way too entertaining to stop watching!” You have Meghan Trainor who, with good intentions, may be sending the message that women with “Bass” are better because they got that “Boom boom that all the boys chase.” Then you’ve got hip-hop and R&B, of which 90% refers to women’s ASSests in numerous NSFW ways. Well… I hate to break it to you but these artists didn’t make themselves popular… We made them popular! You may say that you don’t approve of women’s bodies being objectified, but yet when some of you hear “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo, you ask your friend to hold your drink because THIS IS YOUR JAM! Curse those tricky beats with their seductive bass! Gets even respectable people every time!

Social media would all but almost shut down if girls would stop posting videos of themselves twerking, and if we’d stop sharing them… Even if just for the shock value. Again, we are reinforcing that bodies aren’t interesting in and of themselves… Not unless we wiggle, jiggle, and gyrate! This only contributes to what some men see when they look at us. Projections of music videos and YouTube videos that were made by men AND women, and then shared by men AND women, are being played out in their minds toward us. If we are not part of the solution, then we’re part of the problem.

Lastly there’s culture. You’ve got pop culture all over magazine covers, billboards, and ideas are being shared through commercials that say that a woman IS her body or the way she looks. There are products that touch a woman’s insecurities, and are advertised as something that will make her more visually appealing. So we buy into it because we feel unattractive, or we’re trying to snag a man, or because we need our ego boosted. Then we go out into the world looking and smelling good, and then we feel uncomfortable if we are noticed for all the OUTWARD things we just paid a lot to have in order to look attractive. ATTRACTIVE. As in to attract others by appealing to their senses. I’ll just give you a minute to let that sink in.

This world is full of extremes and everything in between. It may not be fair and it may not be right, but it’s a fact. It always has been and it will be long after we’re gone. Catcalling is not a new concept. There have been women long before us that it made to feel uncomfortable as well. The differences between then and now is the extreme frequency and broad types of platforms in which women can be made to feel harassed or objectified. The other difference is in the way in which women view themselves. If a woman was called a “Bitch” then, it was viewed as offensive and disrespectful. Today many women say a “Bitch” is just a term for an independent woman who knows what they want, so they don’t shy away from that word anymore. We are also owning our sexuality more. We are allowing ourselves to be more sexually assertive and not letting ourselves be defined by “Male” or “Female” sexual roles. Women are even making pregnancy sexy! The red carpet is full of pregnant women in down-to-there v-neck dresses while flaunting their baby bumps. So many women view their bodies less gingerly then before, which changes the way others view their body too.

There are so many messages about the female body, and many of them are telling us that a woman’s body is a spectacle. That it’s something with visual impact… like art… Which it really is! Yet what we forget is that what we the artist intended in creation, the observer takes by way of interpretation.

Men need to be reprogrammed on how to be appreciative, but respectful of a woman’s body… And to be respectful of even the women who don’t respect themselves. Ladies, we need to be respectful of our bodies, as well as the bodies of other women… even if they don’t respect it themselves. People, we need to stop participating in the very thing that we hate. Catcalling is catcalling. PERIOD. I’ve seen women do it to men. I’ve seen men do it to men, and women do it to women. I’ve seen a “hot” person catcall to someone and get a MUCH LESS disgusted reaction then “Other” types of people that catcall within the same stretch of sidewalk. Let’s call it like we see it: Most times there are conditions and exceptions based on… based on whatever! Who really knows except the person that’s being approached by men. Or women.

So can we really say we hate it? ALL catcalling across the board? Do we only hate it when it’s the wrong person, or when we aren’t entertained by it, or if we’re not in the right mood for it? Does it depend on if it serves us in the moment, or if WE are the aggressor?

I guess these are questions only you can really answer for yourself.

Yours Truly, Andrea

When The Seasons Change

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There are seasons in life just like there are seasons in nature. Some are bright and touch you with the warmth of all the hope they contain. Others feel as if the cold and harshness of it all knows no limits. Then there are those seasons that are caught in the middle… the ones that feel as if you aren’t where you want to be, and yet you aren’t where you used to be.

How can one tell when the seasons are changing in our lives? How do you know when the season is changing within a relationship, a friendship, or a job?

Sometimes we can confuse a bad day, a bad week, or a dry spell for a change in season. We think “Everything is going wrong, so it must be a SIGN that it’s time to go!” or “All we do is fight all the time. It’s obvious that this means we’re not good together anymore.” In a society where there seems to be a common belief that happiness is a sure sign of a great life, I have found that there are two types of hard times in life: The kind that offers us an opportunity for a BREAK THROUGH, and the kind that’s preparing us to BREAK OUT. Regardless of which we might be in, both offer us an opportunity for personal growth.. and the more we grow the more the people, places, and things around us have no other choice than to shift to make room for all the newness growing within us.

If you feel that the winds of change may be blowing, here are four teltail signs that you may be going into a new season:

  1. You’ve tried everything to reignite it, but after many attempts, the passion just isn’t there anymore. By “Passion” I mean the fulfillment you once got out of it, her, or him. It was like an invisible cord that kept you connected to it regardless of how little money you made doing it, or if your Dad thinks he’s a moron, if your Mom says that you could do better, or if no one understands what all the excitement is about. Maybe it happened slowly or maybe it was a rapid progression, but your passion just isn’t there anymore. Maybe you don’t understand why you no long feel fulfilled by it. Maybe you’ve attempted over and over again to reignite the flame because YOU REALLY WANT TO BE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT… but… nope… you’re definitely not anymore. Here’s what I do when I feel my passion waning: I pause from all the trying that I’m doing… trying to love what I’m doing or trying to act like everything is just peachy keen. I let myself just be. Then I pray and seek out my motives behind any discontentment. Is it because I’m just pissed that I didn’t get a promotion? Am I harboring unforgivness or holding onto anything that is causing me to self destruct? Do I just have a bad attitude? Lastly I become purposeful  in either making things right within myself if I’m the problem or I become purposeful in making the changes necessary to find where my new season may be taking me.
  2. You feel like a fish out of water. “What happened?! I used to be so good at this!” is something you may have thought to yourself. Whatever it is that used to come so naturally to you has now got you feeling like you’re floundering. Sometimes we digress in nature due to becoming too comfortable in our abilities that we no longer challenge ourselves. Maybe it’s because you’re distracted for some reason. Maybe it’s because the grace that once empowered you to be able to do what you did so well has lifted. If that’s the case, then it may be that a new season is coming.
  3. If  the idea of change doesn’t seem to be as scary anymore. When we’re in the right season of life, the idea of change can be scary. We have a peace about our position and don’t want to disturb that peace. Yet when a new season is upon us, all of a sudden we crave change. We want to take risks and we start seeking out opportunity. We become open to walking away from what’s familiar.  Observe those cravings when they come. They may be trying to tell you something.
  4. Time. As in “Give yourself some.” Just like the literal seasons, they aren’t going to go right from one season straight into another. There’s going to be a transition into it. If one day you love something and then the next day you hate it, that doesn’t mean you are going into a new season. It means you’re human and some days you’re more into something than other days. Give yourself some time to draw a clear distinction between a new season and moodiness. If you have a long stretch of time in which you feel the same way consistently , then that may be the time to evaluate things.

I know that new seasons can be hard…. Especially if you can see it coming and you aren’t quite convinced that you’re ready for it yet.  Just try to keep in mind that the ending of a season has no discomfort that cannot be healed by the beginning of a new one.

Yours truly,
Andrea

Over Chicken Teriyaki…

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Mall food courts offer a very raw look into the eyes of humanity.

With an atmosphere that thrives on distraction, superficiality, and side glances instead of genuine eye contact, all of our insecurities are glamorized here. If there is any place where insecurities are encouraged, it’s at the mall.

Over chicken teriyaki is where I study. Study movements, glances, body language, pursing lips, and nervous pleasantries.

I learned that beautiful 16 year olds shift nervously while handsome 16 year olds walk by, while beautiful 40 year olds shift nervously while beautiful 16 year olds walk by.

We are all nervous 16 year olds when our insecurities are illuminated.

I learned that Moms with kids sometimes forget that they are there when a small MAC bag is on a table in front of them like a small shrine… containing a single container of lipstick. The Woman in her smiles while the Mom wipes up spilt milk from the floor.

We all have more than one identity in life… and they all need to feel celebrated.

I learned that elderly couples rarely have anything to say to one another over dinner… but it is never asked if the wife needs help with her purse or bags. It’s implied. He’s got this.

Generations can change over time. Time doesn’t necessarily change generations.

Look up from your phone. Look away from the person sitting across from you. Don’t zone out. Look. REALLY LOOK at the bones, and nerves, and blood, and cells, and magic that is happening around you.

Mall food courts offer a very raw look into the eyes of humanity.

Yours Truly, Andrea

Okay… That Happened.

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It’s okay to get caught up in an emotional moment and throw your phone across the room.

“Okay… that happened.”

Some moments are like a rubber band being snapped against your skin. Quickening you. Awakening your senses. Sparking an out-of-body experience where you are watching yourself and you are possibly… probably… cringing.

Your partner simply asks if you loaded the dishwasher after dinner…before you know it you verbally vomit every annoyance or offense you’ve had concerning them from all the way back to their conception. Or… your Mother makes an innocent comment about a photo of you and your ex by saying “You look so happy”… your response is to get up, head for the door and say something to the effects of how you’re glad you are nothing like her, that you didn’t choose to smile through a disastrous marriage, and settle for moments in photos to remind you of what happiness feels like.

“Okay… that happened.”

Or… you throw your phone across the room because you are feeling super stressed, and crazy overwhelmed, and you’re trying to type a post on your blog, and your stupid phone keyboard went janky, and you just wanted to backspace A WORD, but instead your stupid phone keyboard backspace button won’t stop backspacing, and it deletes everything you typed, and you don’t know if the blog app auto saves like it would if you were on a laptop, and so you yell a few choice words and CHUCK your phone as hard as you can across the room. Then you want to cry because you can’t understand why you are SUCH A SPAZZ. WHY AM I SUCH A SPAZZ?! THIS IS WHY I DON’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND! I’M SUCH A MESS! GOD, I HOPE I DIDN’T BREAK MY PHONE!

[Picks up phone]

Okay, cool. It’s in tact. My Precious.

[Goes back to watching dvr’d American Horror Story]

“Okay… that happened.”

Forgive yourself.
Ask forgiveness.
Mend.
Move on.

There are too many tomorrows filled with the possibility for snags. Don’t let today be your undoing.

Yours Truly, Andrea

Ode To Bloggers

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To write from the heart… from your life… in such transparency and honesty… without any award or reward (in most cases)… without having any motivation to do so other than believing that your words carry weight in this world… to possibly have no other experience or expertise except that which living has afforded you, and yet perfect strangers still drink in your words as if they were being served from a golden chalice. This is life of a blogger… and this is why I feel that bloggers deserve more respect and notice than most journalists the world over. They use the letter to coerce the world. We use the letter to shed light upon it… and ourselves.

Blogging is simply an online journal that is shaped into something more presentable that any journal I have completed in my lifetime. When I look through all of the journals I have kept over the years, they are filled with all the ugliest and most beautiful thoughts, moments, and feelings I’ve had. They are also barely legible! You would have thought I had a doctor write all of my pages for me! I don’t judge myself for it though. As I read line by line I begin to feel the buildup of emotions I felt while writing every word… every page. My writing wasn’t being led by the need for proper grammar, spelling, or any kind of etiquette. I would write something and then I’d scratch it out and write the HONEST version of it. I had many scratched out sentences in my journals… even as early as last year… because even then I was struggling to trust that even words on a page would not betray me. Yet a year later here I am… blogging online… for an unimaginable amount of strangers who may be holding my words with razor gloves.

I pour myself into other people’s online journals. The wealth of wisdom, insight, and inspiration is enough to last you a lifetime. Most are not experts. Most haven’t written a single book. They miss an “And” or “The” here and there. They are living their words. Every word is a verb no matter what it is and that is wonderous to me. They are living their life just as I am. They are the journalists for the People. By the People.

Support bloggers with the same fervor you would while supporting local farmers or local businesses. Investing in them… in us… is investing in You.