Tuesday, May 22, 2018

On Royal Weddings, Birds, and Shifting Social Tides

Last Friday, Seth and I stayed up late to watch CNN's live footage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle getting married. I'm so very glad we did. I've casually followed the lives of the British royals since I first saw Diana and Charles get married as a little girl, so naturally I was interested in seeing their boys get married too. I watched them be born and grow up, after all, so -- like many people -- I guess I feel like I know them a little bit. Plus, Seth and I already watched the live footage of Prince William and Kate Middleton getting married years ago and had a wonderful time.

Harry has always been my favorite of the two princes though, so I was especially interested in seeing him sort of find someone eventually and settle down. Imagine how thrilled I was when he chose someone not only smart and poised, but biracial as well. Being biracial myself, that really means something to me. I was born in the 70's, so I very definitely grew up with the message that girls like me don't get to be princesses. We certainly were never considered pretty, or desirable, or noteworthy, so it's been quietly blowing my mind a little bit that I can actually recognize myself in the face of one of the British royals -- something I really didn't think would ever happen. Yes, there are still plenty of bigots out there that think we mixed girls (Meghan Markle included) ain't shit, but they can't change the fact that this is just huge.

At any rate, watching that wedding was just what I needed, so haters be damned. Some people really seem to get something out of feeling miserable all the time and focusing on everything that's wrong with the world we live in, but I don't. As melancholy and depressed as I can get from time to time, I always choose happiness, and cheer, and optimism as often as it makes sense to, so it was really nice to spend an entire evening thinking about gorgeous white flowers, and crazy English church hats, and a beautiful mixed girl marrying the best prince for a change. 

It was nice spending the next morning filling my Facebook feed with articles and photos from the wedding as well -- something nice to look back on when the "memories" function reminds me in the future. And since my page is pretty well free of all the fake friends and annoying people I've been complaining about for a while now, I didn't have to put up with a single negative comment mocking me for actually caring about something as "frivolous" as a royal wedding. It was a really nice break from all the negativity and I'm glad I took the time to experience it. It's nice to know that life hasn't made me so jaded by 42 that I no longer have the ability to feel as innocent and enchanted as I did back when I saw my first royal wedding at only 5 years old. 

A couple of weeks ago, I finished the original set of video courses that I'd been chewing on here and there for months, so I eagerly started a few more -- one about performance psychology (to keep me juiced up about my workouts), one about the Irish identity (to start connecting with some of the cultures from my 23andMe ancestry reports), and a third on birding (for no other reason than I love birds and would like to be better informed about some of the ones that live here). Workout time really has turned out to be an ideal time to also try to learn something, so I really wanted to keep the learning train going.

I also downloaded a birding app from Cornell University yesterday and installed all the recommended guides to birds in my area. I played with it so much last night that I eventually gave Seth an Excedrin headache, but it sure was fun regardless. I love learning new things and I feel fortunate to have such easy access to really great learning platforms that are affordable (if not completely free). I don't know how people can actually choose to sit on social media all day and waste 100% of their time online when there are unlimited things to do, and read, and learn, and see. 

Now if only I could actually make some new internet friends that are interested in at least a few of the same things I'm into, particularly self-improvement. It's been nice to be rid of all the victims, and panhandlers, and losers I've been jettisoning from my life lately, but I haven't really met many worthy replacements yet. I guess until I do, there are always the new Facebook groups I've been going to. They're something.

Friday, May 11, 2018

On Inner Peace and Progress

Every so often, it occurs to me that I'm actually a lot more satisfied with myself and my life than I tend to think I am most of the time. It's pretty much impossible to sell me things I don't really want or need and I don't fall for the same bullshit schemes other people seem to lap up just like it's mother's milk. I don't wish I was a different person or dream of living a radically different life one day. Not anymore. There's definitely always room for improvement, of course, but I'm also pretty content with who I am and with how I fill my days. Anything I'm not currently satisfied with is either temporary or something I'm actively working to change for myself.

My recent disenchantment with so many of my old friends has found me trying to make some new ones that share some of my current interests and values. I found a few Facebook groups to join and contribute to that seemed promising. I've also been attempting to actually talk to people that seem personable. As a result, I've had a few superficial "let's get to know each other" chats with some new folks I've met and I've noticed something about the way I speak about myself and my life. I speak with confidence and pride about my accomplishments, my relationship, and the person I've worked hard to become. That's a far cry from how I used to talk about myself in the now distant past -- very carefully, as I was constantly worried that the truth of my life would seem as pathetic to other people as it did to me.

I'm not sure when or how it happened, but at some point I guess I stopped pretending I like myself and started actually liking myself. I'm proud of how honest, spiritually grounded, and responsible I've become over the years. I'm proud of the fact that I'm no longer settling for ho-hum relationships with boring, embarrassing men I don't actually care about or, worse, feel ashamed to be associated with. I'm very proud of the way I can say with complete candidness and confidence that I'm a full-time professional writer that can feed her family thanks to her skill with words. It's been fun to see how impressed new acquaintances are when I talk about what I do and what I'm into as a result. It's like seeing myself through fresh eyes and truly being able to say I like what I see. 

In other news, I deleted my LiveJournal this morning. I posted a final entry stating my intentions a couple of weeks ago along with a few links to other places I could be found in the future if people were actually interested in continuing to know me. I figure that if folks haven't taken me up on my offer to follow me one or more of those places by now, then they simply don't care enough about keeping in touch with me for me to be bothered any further. So as of now, I'm gone from there. Free at last.

It does feel a bit odd though. Even though my journal there hasn't been active in many years at this point, actually deleting it closes a pretty major chapter in my life for good. LiveJournal was the catalyst for many serious changes in my life. The choice to start writing there was directly responsible for my later decision to start my business and become a professional writer. It's where Seth and I met many years ago when I was still married to my ex. Most importantly, seeing myself through the eyes of the people that once read and loved my writing there showed me that I was so much more than the unremarkable, unimportant little Macy's salesgirl my ex-husband and family saw when they looked at me. That was then and this is now though, so it's time to let go.

Next order of business is to go through my friends lists on the rest of my social media and scrub it clean of anyone else I really no longer want to know. I don't want to know any more losers, or mooches, or sad little excuse makers with no self-esteem. I only want to associate with people that lift me up, inspire me, or make my life better than it otherwise would be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Angelus

The Angelus - Jean-Fran├žois Millet (1857-59)
That painting there -- Millet's The Angelus -- is one of my favorites right now, as it makes me think of the head space I'm in these days and all of the things that are positive about it. To begin with, it depicts a couple that not only works together, but prays together, taking a moment to bow their heads for the Angelus at dusk. They're hard-working farmers that work the land, not fancy folks that live easy lives. They work hard for everything they have, but it's a good life they live and it's one they never forget to thank God for. 

When I look at that painting, I see the standard I'm aspiring to, both on my own and within the context of my relationship. My ideal life with Seth looks like that life. In fact, I think I've made a decision. Whenever I get around to fixing up my desk area and making it work-friendly again, I think I'd like to buy a framed print or canvas of The Angelus and replace the nondescript print of my mother's that's currently hanging over my desk. At one point, I thought I'd replace it with a piece of my own art, but I think this is much more appropriate for where I'm currently at in my life.

It's amazing how differently I process the passage of time when I feel like I'm being consistent about  doing something good for myself. For instance, it's now the second day of May. At my current age, time has a way of zipping by at what honestly feels like a breakneck pace sometimes and the start of yet another month normally finds me feeling disappointed in myself because of how little progress I made as far as moving my life forward over the month before. This year has been different because of the way I've stuck by my decision to make exercise a regular part of my life. 

Every time I realize another month has passed and a new one has started, I can't help but also realize that means I've successfully completed yet another month's worth of daily exercise and mindful eating. I feel productive, disciplined, and proud of myself on a level I just haven't in years. I've kept up with my promise to myself and to God that I'd start every day with prayers, a set of rosary mysteries, and some Bible study as well. And as if that isn't enough, I've been getting back into my video lectures lately as a way to keep my mind busy while I work out. This is me at my best and most productive. I'm thrilled to see this version of myself isn't something that's simply been lost with age.

In other news, I got a wonderful surprise in the mail today. My monthly delivery from ButcherBox arrived safely and I was thrilled to see it contained the salmon special I added to my shipment this month. Anyone that has known me for long knows how much I love the different food delivery services I use to supply us with good quality things to eat and ButcherBox is my favorite way to get responsibly sourced meat. Up until recently, you haven't been able to get seafood through them though, so I was really happy to see they were offering a salmon special for the very first time. With any luck, this will be the first of many.

Food and meals are another area of my life that is pretty well in order and that I'm thankful for. I love food, love cooking, and have a real passion for food culture. I read voraciously about food, study gastronomy, and welcome the chance to explore new territory when it comes to good, simple, delicious food. I'm also lucky enough to be with someone that is the same. So many of the men I've dated in the past have been so limited and had so little curiosity about anything truly wonderful in this world, so Seth's attitude is really refreshing. I can't wait to cook this salmon up for our Friday Fish Day meal this week. Life isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but so much about it is good nevertheless.