So much of what we say comes from what has been said and these words hold the meaning handed down from those that taught us. Your values are handed down in diluted milk from bottles with cracked rubber nipples and only transform once life has offered more than you ever wanted and the new normal looks nothing like it did. At that time we start gulping down mouthfuls in a heavy stein because we know how to breathe through our noses and don't need to be burped. I must redefine life in order to keep from being swallowed by it. I need new reference points and new meanings to make it okay. We need to make life better in the new frame things sit and shift in.
What is your definition of success?
Once upon a time success meant enough disposable income to hire someone to clean up after me. Now it's more about my state of existence. Am I happy? Am I joyful? Does my joy rely on situations or people? I see joy as something that comes from within. It's not peace as much as a fluid state of accepting the many things I can't control, knowing I can always control my reactions. I don't have to control or complete anything. I can appreciate this moment and my ability to be present in it. That is success to me.
What is your definition of failure?
There are times when my ability to step back and see what is important is given away. I will give my strengths away to the rage that clouds my judgement. It's often part of life when what I expected looks nothing like I thought it would and what I see needs to be redefined because nothing fits. I lost it almost a week ago. I'm usually calm and level headed, but I wanted things to go my way and I couldn't have it because I can't control what is outside of my reactions. I was biting my nail (right thumb only) down to the quick. I was weaving through traffic and speeding and creative was almost reckless. Failure was getting home and having a drink in defeat, rather than in celebration. Failure is reacting in a way that others are afraid to share their truths with me and about me because they have to dance on eggshells because of my possible reaction.
What do you call the in between?
The space in between is full of power and possibility. It's where I can evaluate what is before me and control my reaction to what I can not control. It's where I can gauge my fear and boldly act in spite of it, stepping out in bravery and strutting around in courage.
What is home?
Home used to be where my husband was. I used to tell my ex that it didn't matter where we lived, because my home was with him. Home is where I feel most at peace. It can be in a snuggle and tickle session with my sons. It can be in my car and facing the ocean. It can be alone in the car because I love being alone lately. It can be deep in a conversation about everything and nothing all at once. It's where I am seen and heard, if only the thoughts afraid to emerge because I will not give them the credence they deserve.
I once joked about this place. It was where bitter men go when they aren't chosen and they're too passive aggressive to have a tantrum and call me names for my rejection. And yes, I've had some really angry men try to hurt my feelings for not being interested in them. It was also where I stuck some of the greatest men in my life. If I never got romantically involved, I could always rely on them listen to my deepest thoughts and know that their friendship (and mild attraction to me) would keep them around. Then I was put in the friendzone. It was a first for something that wasn't mutual. I enjoy the idea of being worth keeping around, but I finally get the allure of sticking around. It's really not a bad place to find yourself. I'm also in a place where I wasn't too excited about a real commitment.
What is work?
I felt that work was about getting paid for what you can do. I see it as getting to go somewhere that challenges you, makes you happy while doing it, and then pays you on top of it. Work is no longer about doing something I hate, but about finding a happy place to be passionate about what you are doing. I have yet to find joy in down time, but the times when I am challenged and pushed and concepts are expanded are happy. I leave work feeling really happy every day.
What is family?
I once saw family as obligations and duty. It was the family you were given, and the one you chose, and creating a bridge for the two that often had me straddling two sides while making repairs and feeling like I've been walked all over in the process. I see family as a network of support. My family supports me in all the ways they think are best for me, and the reward is huge if I really look for what that means and looks like since the shift that removed the floor I stood on and threw me off and into amazing love that is stronger than I ever thought I'd have a right to feel.
What is love?
I grew up on love songs and ideals. I know what I thought it would be and I went for it. I bought that dream and set of ideals and stored all of my souvenirs. I see it differently now. It's fluid and flows around all of us. We have a choice to confine our love to a single set of people we trust, or we can love completely and blindly, throwing everyone and everything into the shadow of our protection. We can consistently choose what is an action in perfect love for humanity, and I find that choice usually benefits me profoundly as well.
What is beauty?
It's what I choose to look for at every opportunity and in everything. It's finding you have a beach body because you have a body at the beach. It's the fall of rain in my desert home and not complaining about getting wet or drivers that follow too closely. It's the sweet fan of dark lashes that shield the eyes you enjoy looking into. It's the warmth of a hand to hold when you are most afraid or close to losing control of the crazy thoughts and emotions taking you hostage. It's the smile of someone that wants your smile in return. It's a field of California Poppies and butterflies floating while hummingbirds hover. It's friendship that spans decades and knows just how to pick you up, no matter how many months or years have gone unnoticed . . . because they will always know and love you at your core.