Sunday, June 1, 2014

I would hope I'd be Chandler.

You would be hard-pressed to scroll through any online media or news site and find something along the lines of "What I've learned in my 32 years." or "How I chose to live a happier life." or "Advice to my 25-year-old-self" mysteriously missing. Why? Because these types of articles are the "philosophical" equivalent of "What Friends star would you be?"-type quizzes and "Bout to get my __________ on! Just sayin'." status updates....they are everywhere (For what it's worth, I take the Buzzworthy quizzes with far more fervor than any reasonably sane person should. The end result could be a conclusive explanation of what kind of cheese I would be or what city I should call home...i love them all. I am fairly certain, however, that I have never suggested I was 'bout to get my anything on). 

And in complete disclosure, I typically find myself clicking the link for all of these articles. I know that I will likely just find more of the same cliche stuff that frequents every other list - be grateful/mindful, value sleep, drink water/meditate/exercise, money doesn't buy happiness...but it makes things easier, never stop dreaming, you will always have to compromise - yet I read anyway.  I suppose a part of me is simply looking for validation of the things that I have also come to know/accept, but the bigger part is hoping that, in one of those bullet points, I will finally find the complete contentment, to trusting my decisions, to actually being the "best me I can be." 

And so I read...
But inevitably don't. 

And while I realize that my disappointment is illegitimate considering 1) there is no magic life key and 2) there is no sound reason some random blogger should be able to really "speak to" my soul and mind as though we were BFFs, I always find myself frustrated, thinking things like "Well, no shit, of course sleeping four hours on a couch every night isn't bringing out the best Liza I can be." 

If "sounds like someone needs to meditate and be more mindful of blah, blah, blah." is going through your mind right now, quit reading my blog. You are dead to me. 

Here's what I choose instead...
I have asked several women in my life to answer a variety of questions that typically inspire these types of articles. Some are very close girlfriends, some are acquaintances who I wish I knew better, some are women who I have never actually met, but who inspire me. There will be a wide spectrum of careers, incomes, ages, and locations represented. The similarities between this impressive group of women, however, is far more significant than their differences.  They all seem to really be living life. They take chances. They have fun. They think and read. They love. They seem passionate. They are the ones through whom I like to vicariously live. 

And so, in the next post, you will hear from these ladies. 

Until then, however, I offer my thoughts on the same questions I posed to them.  While none of us have that elusive magic key, maybe, just maybe, we will say something that makes you think, or laugh, or take solace in your own thoughts. 

Or...we might just make you roll your eyes and think cuss words. In which case, close Pillow Book and go get your Buzzworthy quizzes on instead.   
1. Do you consciously resolve to be a better/happier woman? How do you do this?
I do.  I actually probably overthink this. I am constantly trying to come up with ways to be more productive or a better steward to my community/world or just generally a happier person.  I have not settled on some definitive answer yet, but here are some specific things I do in search: I write letters to friends, I make to-do lists of things I really don't want to, but need to, do and I do at least two of them, I read through my gratitude jar, I reread passages from my favorite books, I go through my Pinterest boards and try recipes or projects that I pinned long ago, but never did, I take my dogs to the creek and let them play, I fix coffee, pour it in my favorite mug, and sit on the porch, I make lists of the places I want to go and the things I want to do, I tell someone why I appreciate them, I walk the farm or clean stuff at the barn, I declutter and give or throw away things that I don't need or have not used. 

2. What advice would you give to someone in their early/mid 30s regarding a fulfilled life? 
If you have to talk yourself into it, it probably doesn't fulfill you. Realize that stability is important - you have to have to job, you have to take care of responsibilities, you should appreciate what you do have - but if acceptance is the product of constant reminders and logical analysis, there is likely something more that you really want. Figure out what that is. You may never pursue it or you may even decide (sometimes upon crashing and burning) that your reality was in fact quite greener, but living with "what if"s or constantly questioning "What is missing?" will crush your soul.  Don't be afraid to consider this question. 

3. What lesson have you learned the hard way? 
One of the greatest fairy tales of life is that if you work hard enough or want something badly enough, you will achieve it/it will (or, will not, in some cases) happen. This is not true. Accept that. Sometimes this is learned through death. Sometimes through lost love. Sometimes through denial letters. There often is no silver lining. When one door closes, another one does not always open. But...
work hard and want something desperately anyway. One way to survive loss is take comfort in knowing you did everything you could. 

4. If you wrote one quote on your bathroom mirror, what would it be? 
"Decide what to be and go be it." 

5. If you had one piece of advice for your daughter/best friend/[any other woman of significance in your life], what would it be?  
Don't be around people who make you question your self-worth. You are stronger than that. 
This is switching gears a bit, but not entirely. Stay with me...

You know, jumping out of a plane sounds much more scary than it actually is.

No, really.

When I think about or tell people the basics - climbing to an elevation of 10,000 ft. in a five-seater plane on a cloudy, drizzly day (by the way, "drizzle" at 120 mph isn't like the "Oh, I don't need an umbrella to walk to the car. It's just drizzling." sort of rain); standing on a 6" ledge at that height in a slightly oversized, Kentucky-blue jumpsuit with black rectangle accents; crossing my arms, leaning my head back and jumping out with the parachute-toting, tandem skydiving instructor I only met about thirty minutes prior - I'll admit that it sounds pretty outrageous. I promise you, though, it didn't feel that way at all to me.  Exhilarating, surreal, inexplicable, yes. Scary, careless, unsafe, no.

I realize that seems to make very little sense.

Well, here is my rationale...
1. The staff at Skydive KY in Elizabethtown, while professional, was friendly and laid-back. They had an office dog. They didn't offer cliche or corny jokes about flying/jumping/landing. I did not hear "dude" once. They suggested that we would have fun, but never implied that we were embarking on some life-altering adventure.  In short, they seemed capable, but relaxed.  I had avoided talking about the trip to anyone beforehand because I did not want to answer questions or be burdened with others' fears or excitement. I appreciated that in the two hours or so before the jump, the time when we were signing liability forms, being trained, and watching other people jump, I could still live in this environment of relative calm, devoid of nervous chit-chat or unnecessary verbal build-up.

2. I trusted the person I was with. I never questioned whether Lee would do it. I never worried that I would have to talk him into it and in so doing, make myself more nervous. I knew that if anything seemed askew or I was in any danger, he would stop it. I knew that we would both have fun and not take it too seriously.  I knew he would be up for Cracker Barrel biscuits afterward.
3. I think we should do out-of-the-ordinary things when given the opportunity.
4. I realize that I could die tomorrow on my way to the library. I realize that if we worried about everything that could go wrong, we would do nothing, whether that was mundane tasks like driving to the grocery store or extreme sports like skydiving.
5. Even though I have certainly made mistakes, done my fair share of stupid, stupid things, and have regrets, I know that in the past few years I have consciously tried to live the best life I can live. I have made hard choices, I have taken chances, I have tried to be more open with my feelings, I have pursued some of my dreams, and kept hope that the untouched ones might be fulfilled. I guess I am just more of the Avett Brothers mindset, "if I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die."

Plus, as i said, jumping out of a plane really isn't as scary as it sounds.;)


  1. I don't care what you say...You are one courageous soul seeking girl. You are a person who is willing to take risks to define yourself. You always find ways to challenge yourself in every facet of life. You seek to make every day one not to forget. Every memory you create gives a glimpse into your whole being and soul. I love the fact that you are always searching for ways to truly enjoy life and discover things about yourself that you don't even know. That takes courage. Most people are satisfied just settling for who they think they are never pushing the envelop. I have to admit I include myself in that group. You inspire me, girl!

    1. "Courageous soul seeking girl"...i really love that, Mom. Thank you for saying that, and more importantly, seeing me in that way. You give me too much credit in the above comment, but for whatever amount is true, I chalk it up to good genes.:)