Charting life's circuitous path

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A Warm Cup in Hand

Tea or coffee?  I think I’ll have coffee today.

Growing up, I was a staunch tea drinker. I would insist on hating coffee, but, oddly, would down a cappuccino or espresso with nary a shudder.  As if they were so much more different than just “coffee”.   The strong, intense flavor made me feel, well, sophisticated.  Older.  Mature.

Slowly, as Winters and Falls tumbled over each other in succession, I have found comfort in a warm cup – either bean or leaf.

Source: via Jo on Pinterest

I’m not quite sure if this makes me truly mature or sophisticated, but I definitely feel older.


And then sometimes, not.  Like, yesterday, when I was next to speak in a roundtable discussion, and I could feel my heartbeat rise, my skin flush and my breathing change.  I chided myself for responding like a flustered first year at school, but at that moment, I could grasp all of the times I’d felt truly nervous to speak up and those where I had spoken with confidence, conviction and strength.

Old and new.

Young and old.

Isn’t it odd how they can swap positions?

“Nothing exists as a permanent entity; everything changes. . . In our ignorance we believe that there is a peramanet entity in us, and our pain and suffering manifest on the basis of that ignorance.”

Thich Nhat Hanh on Why We Suffer in Your True Home

When I was a freshman in college, I distinctly remember sitting in a circle on the cold tiles of the hallway, and waiting nervously for the circle to close on me.  We were “getting to know each other” before term started and everyone was sharing their future goals.  “I’m taking engineering” or “I want to be a nurse” were heard more than once since my school focused heavily in those areas.  I was there on scholarship and, at the time, firm in my conviction of getting a Geology degree and straight on to Paleontology. Do not stop at Go.

I would rethink my life that year and change courses to English Literature.  Something I like to think of as gathering one love closer while still holding onto the other by hand.

However, when my time came to say my given degree and hopeful future, I began “When I grow up…” and immediately cringed.

When I grow up?

Wasn’t I already “grown up” at 18 and entering college on my own?  How much more “growing up” did I need to do?  (Needless to say, quite a bit.)

I felt childish, embarrassed and so little compared to those sitting around me.

It still bothers me, in a way, because I still don’t quite feel like I’ve “grown up”.  Sure, I’m older, I have some grey hair and I’ve even changed career paths.  We own a pet bird, have a car, and saving up for a mortgage.  In the eyes of the world, I’ve basically “grown up” enough that I can even rent a car on my own.  I suppose you could argue that my response was innocent enough and just an automatic one given the nature of the question being asked.

In my head, though, I don’t feel like I’ve “grown” in any way.  I do more, I pay more and I love more, but who I am is still muddied.  I fret about whether my life is going the way it should, or whether I’m wasting precious time.  I worry about my actual response to those questions and just keep on with the routine, hoping to make each day go by smoothly, nicely.  Blindly.

But now, I wonder if I’ve got that a bit wrong.  A bit skewed.

Drinking cappuccinos like water didn’t suddenly make me “old” or “sophisticated”.  Even now, I love my coffee, but I love flavored coffees like the Pumpkin Spice coffee from Trader Joe’s.  My sense of self hasn’t miraculously changed, like a light switching on, but it has continuously evolved.

Here I am, sipping coffee, but tomorrow, I might have tea again.  What the hey!  I might have tea and coffee.

Dissolving that fabricated image of a predestined “me” won’t happen with one swirl of the spoon.  I need to constantly remind myself that who I am is what I am.  Now.  Not the me of some distant, imaginary future or the me of the past.

Dawn on Pinterest


Getting back up again

Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

When you begin to fall apart around the edges, the more you try to put the pieces back together, the more they seem to bend and crease in your shaking fingers.

Yesterday saw pieces of me shattering in little piles on the floor with every step.

I arrived at work with a sense of confidence and a patchwork idea of who I was.

I left work feeling like I had been holding up a picture of myself that wasn’t painted with a light on.  I was smudged and just off a bit there and there.  Something wasn’t right and it hit me steadily in the heart during my entire shift.

A stack of errors greeted me as I put my bag down and spoke to me about ignorance and mistakes. What am I doing?

A meeting where I suddenly realized that I was still holding onto my past identity like rusty armor.  What am I doing?

A colleague that scattered more pieces of me to the floor with a simple phrase said under her breath.  What am I doing?

A mirror in the empty bathroom that reflected the trail I was leaving behind and the shattered image of a woman who didn’t know why she was there, what she was doing, or who she was.  What am I doing?

I came to realize that I had been lying to myself since the start of this journey nearly two years ago that I was free from my previous identity.  Apparently erasing who we once were wasn’t so easy.  We can go on for a bit with the belief that we’ve changed our skins, but underneath it all, we’re still who we are – the girl that wants something. Having a career that matched my skills was important. It wasn’t enough to just get by.  I had thought I had found that something, but yesterday forced me to see the truth – I have to accept who I was and make her a part of me before I can fully accept where I am.

For a while, I had settled and believed myself content with this patch of ground.  Now, I realize I have to get up and keep going. To keep seeking, to keep searching.

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Catching every last ray

Soon, it will be the first of September.  Although Fall doesn’t officially start for another couple of weeks, it feels like Summer is getting just a bit tired from the three months of sun and heat.  Slightly earlier evenings coupled with slightly cooler nights make for a craving of warm mochas, fuzzy layers, and colorful trees.

We had a relatively quiet summer.  No big vacations.  No big events.

But we did have a lot of mini-triumphs and adventures.  We did a lot of firsts this summer and we tried to fill each bright day with an aim to remember it as a summer where we made things happen.

Something that I’m quite proud of, and to be honest, completely surprised by is my keenness towards swimming.

I learned that swimming in a public place isn’t a completely horrific idea.  I don’t shrink when strangers are lounging around the pool (which, by the way, seems to be the primary use of our pool), or if kids are splashing about.  We discovered that our apartment pool is actually quite nice, albeit a bit leafy.  And best of all, I learned how to swim – a skill that I’ve never been able to pick up and which allows me more control over my fear of drowning.  With this new discovery I’m even opening up to the idea of getting on a boat!  We’ll see. 🙂

We discovered a new city that we had imagined to be dull and “rustic”.  Instead, we had an amazing time poking around its colorful streets and biking its picturesque canals.  It wasn’t exotic and it wasn’t even a destination point for most tourists, but we had fun and rode a tandem for the first time and took the mini-train just for kicks (even though it was full with children and parents).

We ate bags and boxes of dark red cherries. We’re still eating them.  Most of the time we popped them into our mouths, but they could be spotted in parfaits, on top of yogurts, sprinkled over Joe-Joe’s and cream, and even once in mini pies.

I had been dreaming of making cherry pie since I received my pitter last year, and I finally did it last weekend.  Pie crust mushed into a cupcake pan with a cherry-peach filling and topped with cream.  They were just what I had hoped for and they satisfied my creative need to make something new and challenging.

I ran, ran, and ran some more.  I took advantage of the outdoor temperatures and jogged up and down the street at least a couple of times a week.  Did I go far? Not really.  Perhaps a few miles.  Was I gearing up for a race?  Not on your life.  But it felt empowering being outside and exerting my body to its fullest.  I’ll miss the bright sun and paved streets once Winter comes, but in the meantime I plan to swim and run for as long as it allows.

I discovered a new job with new responsibilities.  I learned that I quite like being in interviews and am probably very strange for it.  I realized that sometimes a change can be spontaneous and that those moments can bring about the best paths to follow.  Now, each day at work feels like a good challenge for my brain and my skills.  I’m still learning, but it’s a step off the cliff, so to speak, that I was glad I took.  Instead of just hitting bottom, I landed in a valley just waiting to be explored.

By the way, wondering why I’m not posting on Wednesdays like usual?  It’s my new work schedule.  Thursdays are my new blog days.  🙂

What’s one of my fondest memories from this crazy summer?

We rediscovered our little hometown coffee shop and their delicious, yet unassuming cakes.  Walking into town is only about a mile and we stroll past little shops and community green spaces before entering the small coffee shop with their rows and rows of brown coffee bean bins.  I embraced coffee after a lifetime of distaste and it’s opened up a new world of flavors, deep aromas and countless possibilities.  Their drinks are a blend of strong coffee, cream and whatever else strikes your fancy, but what I enjoy discovering is their cakes. Homemade, simple yet so right with your drink in hand that we make this almost a ritual at least once a month.

While Fall is sneaking up on us fast, we will definitely not stop our drive to make each outing, each day filled with something new and fun.  We already have a Saturday Doctor Who beginning of season to-do scheduled and perhaps a trip out to a Renaissance Festival and amusement park in the works.

Whatever you do, take each day as it is – an open day to make it your own.