Sunday, February 11, 2018

How Badly Do You Want it?

Over the past year, I have endured many new tests.  Just like most people, I have faced barriers and challenges my entire life, but the magnitude of what I have faced and what I have accomplished (specifically since March 2017) has been pretty incredible.
When knowing Chad would not find a new job in Peoria, Illinois, at the time, I didn't know when he would be moving, what I would have to do on my own, or how it would affect our lives.  When I decided to put myself out there to see if I could relocate to a more artistic market, during interviews, I had to picture myself in a new city, a new environment, and eventually, a completely new industry (if law and government can be categorized as "industry").
Nothing has ever come easily to me, and no one has ever handed me anything.  I have worked my best to accomplish everything I have received.  I suffer self-doubt; my negative self-talk is deafening; the image I hold of myself is beyond disappointing, but I find ways to still fight for what I want.
Yet, somehow, I am still surprised when I face barriers against goals.  Maybe it's part of my process - to reach that moment when my head tells me, "you know you aren't good enough for this.  Who in the world did you think you were fooling?"
But I keep pushing.  I attended my first "Sexy Stiletto" dance class and went ahead and joined the group for the video promo.  I achieved my certification as a Dance Fitness Instructor this weekend.  I am sharing all this -  whether anyone gives a shit to read it or not - I am being brave enough to post it, share it, and keep it real. 
Today on Facebook, there was a statement shared in a group by a beautiful young woman who is just ready to die.  She doesn't feel she has anything to contribute anymore, and, while she doesn't intend to take her own life, she has sunk to such a low that death seems her only consolation.  I don't have the answers for her - I don't even have the answers for you or for myself.  However, I do know that we are all on this planet for a reason.  We may never comprehend why, but I think it's our job to do what we can for one another.  It might be as simple as a smile when you make eye contact with a stranger, a quick text to a friend, or an invitation to someone to get out and "do something" and actually follow through.  Or you can lead in a supervisory position, be a mentor, or inspire some people to dance in a fitness class... maybe all the above.
I don't know my purpose.  But if I can inspire anyone - any one person - to try something new or dance without care or share feelings when they feel they are all alone, I will feel I have succeeded.  Thank you for your support.  Let's dance.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Why We Continue: Seek the Benefits

I didn't move from Peoria because I was unhappy.  I adore my friends, I enjoyed my job, I loved being a "Dunlap Mom," I appreciated networking with the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, I was so excited to perform for The Peoria Ballet.  I sought to relocate to Austin for my husband to find work and provide my daughter more opportunities for her future.

And now, almost five months after leaving everyone I love, here we are in Texas.  My husband still is not employed, and my daughter isn't allowed to audition for the high school dance team until next November due to their strange policies.  Too often, I question what I have done.

There are still benefits from the major changes, though.  I have learned so much about myself.  Regardless of the set backs I suffered and the always-present self-doubt, I have succeeded over so many challenges that I have surprised myself.  Being new to the city, I have already met some incredible people and started some terrific friendships.  In a new position, I have slowly learned more about law, legal aid, hurricane disasters and Texans than I thought possible.

Thanks to social media, I am able to keep in touch with my friends and get to know new ones.  I have joined a private group of women all new to Austin, which is helpful to not feel alone in the transition.  Making such a huge change in your life is frightening and intimidating... but giving up and retreating home is terrifying to me in an entirely different way.  Growing and changing isn't easy.  If it were simple, anyone could do it at any time.

I don't have many regrets in my life.  Most are actually things I didn't have the courage to do.  And I don't regret moving to Austin.  Everyone has doubts, and as long as a lesson is presented, learning is a gift, which can sometimes be painful.  I am not one to give up - like, ever.  I move on, but I don't give up.  Not only am I continuously encouraged by some very dear friends (y'all know who you are!), but I am also getting motivated to achieve some new goals in the new year. 

It's a struggle - some days are a lot more difficult than others, but I am getting seriously inspired by all that is possible in 2018 and on!  "That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger!" 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Defining a Dream: aspiration, goal, aim

When I moved to Austin in August, I had a mission.  Creating a Facebook page, I documented my challenges, reflected on my goals, endured sorrow, felt happiness...  While I have learned a lot about myself, I also know I still have a long way to go.

The fact that has hit me the past couple weeks, however, is that I can't articulate any dreams or aspirations.  Aside from developing self-worth with a hope to end up liking myself, I don't have any goals that I would label with that word.

For years, I was able to perform my "dream job" as an event planning coordinator... but my career path was altered for income needs.  As I evolve in my abilities and talents, I am completely clueless as to what is next, if anything, when it comes to my employment.  Most of my jobs have just, sort of, happened.  In fact, most things in my life have just happened when I had the least expectations.  I haven't had those experiences of "going for it" and landing a dream gig or a perfect home.  My favorite roles, either took years to work out or were just incredibly difficult to finally happen.  Others that I yearned for just never panned out.

Establishing new steps the past few years has become holistic for me.  I have had to put myself out there, but not get my hopes up and be quite autonomous about the outcomes of job applications, interviews and places to live.  Throughout it all, I would remind myself not to become excited at the possibilities because of the chances of being selected are always unknown.

Yet, I feel I need - and should - have a drive to accomplish more than "figuring myself out" or "finding out who I am."  I do understand though, that what I am doing IS an incredible challenge.  It is continuing to be a big commitment to keep at it. 

Sometimes I am excited, while others, I just feel lost and powerless.  Which, I guess, is life.  "When nothing is certain, anything is possible."  I just need to establish a few fluid goals and perhaps my "dream" will show itself when it's time.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Final Changes

I am now officially a Texan.  I no longer have an address in Illinois.  My car has TX license plates, and I received my new Driver License in the mail this week at my newest Austin address.

Finality.  An irreversible ending.  There really is no going back.

When I think about all that has happened over the past three and a half months, I am overwhelmed.  In just fifteen weeks, I have enjoyed and suffered so much change.  From living in a house, moving into a studio, being forced to buy a new car, and settling in a two-bedroom apartment, I have learned new tasks at a new job and been able to meet pretty cool people.  Visiting so many places, I have experienced amazing food, fantastic drinks and interesting conversations with people.  A few fun nights dancing.  A hurricane weekend.  And I have been drained of so much money.  So. Much. Money.

But all of life comes with a cost, right?  Spend money to make money.  You can't take it with you.  Life is a journey - or a roller coaster... or a journey on a roller coaster.  We have all these quotes and philosophy, and when real shit happens - when you sell your home of over eight years: where you pictured your daughter graduating high school, the place where you celebrated so many awesome times with friends, yet a place of disappointments, loss and despair - it makes you think.

Where am I supposed to be?  What the hell am I supposed to be doing?  Am I happy?  Will I be happy?  What exactly IS happy?

I will continue to miss my hometown, my friends, my family, and my life.  At least, the life I had and where I thought I could go.  In August, I left all of it behind for new opportunities, lessons and adventures.  It has not been easy.  "Marni's Shit Show" entries were just highlights - no one was in it with me every single day.  I was alone.  Surviving with the goal of thriving, I am proud that I made it through everything.

Every day, I have had lessons to learn and re-learn when necessary.  Every week, I assessed the pros and cons of my accomplishments.  Every moment, I have been aware of my capabilities and my independence.  And I coached myself to push and get through it all.

So, with the completion of the sale of a house on Orchard Lane in Peoria, I am sad, but ready for the next phase(s).  I honestly have no idea what is in store in 2018, let alone the next few years, but I do know, 100%, that I can take life's challenges and I will come out on top.  If perspective has taught me anything, at least I'll be in a pretty good head-space.  I hope y'all will be there with me to laugh at the ridiculousness of my path and to toast to all the hurdles I have cleared.  Love to you all.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Only Thing Constant...

So - Friday's entry in my daily meditation book:
     I am a process.  Life is a process.  Alterations are part of the process.

This hits hard right now and I have been reflecting on it a lot.  Moving to North Austin for the high school of our choice (all three of us decided together for different reasons) is not easy for me.  I made my studio in South Central ATX my home.  I loved my commute.  Being in the center of all this city's energy was so amazing... but I didn't accept this job and relocate only for myself.

I have truly learned, however, that the only way I can be the greatest for everyone else is to take measures to make myself the best I can be, and a balance is necessary.  Compromise.  There has to be a solution.  I have stepped up to so many challenges in Texas and actually feel so different now, but a core piece of me is missing (other than my friends and family).

Since moving, I have really missed my fantastic experiences learning CIZE with Mary Maripat Hartman and The Fitness Marshall videos and live concert workouts.  I felt so incredible.  Relocating twice now, I haven't had many evenings free yet to try classes in Austin.  The two I have attended have been great, but now I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do with myself.

Timing classes in Austin is a hurdle - the traffic is never consistent, so I worry about scheduling (and paying) for classes if I am physically unable to get to them on time.  However, I have to make this a priority.  If I don't, I know that I will be consumed but anger, bitterness and regret.

Alterations.  Unlike clothing, with ourselves, these are on-going.  And sometimes, as soon as you find your groove, Karma comes in and shakes things up.  It seems pretty easy to become bitter and blame everyone and everything else for your "bad luck."  But that behavior doesn't make anything better.

Only you can change your own perspective.  I've always known this, but when you are sinking into a pit of despair and frustration, and you feel like you have no "fight" left... it's so difficult to see any chance of hope left.  Those are the testing moments.  The times that challenge your character.  You either quit and sulk, or you rise up and refuse to be brought down.

Obviously, I am not only talking about my need to make time in my schedule for a workout class... but, big or small, the way we spend our time either makes us happy or makes us miserable.  It is up to each of us.  While sometimes, we really are helpless - I cannot magically get a job offer for Chad, nor can I manifest the perfect person to buy our house in Illinois - other challenges give us a chance to examine our own power over situations. 
See the process and adjust yourself to the process, when possible.  Make the choice to do what you can, but also be patient and recognize that the right thing is on its way.  I have the choice to redirect my perspective and let go of what I cannot control.  It's difficult, yes, but feeling sorry for yourself doesn't make the situations change in your favor, either.  Finding peace with the things I am not able to fix is the only way to survive.  And the only thing constant is change, so while unhappy, knowing it cannot last forever - something is bound to shift - certainly helps sometimes!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Have You Changed? I Have, and I Will.

It is my last night solo at my ATX studio apartment.  I did this.  I moved alone, to the coolest city.  I started a new job with new lingo, new acronyms, new co-workers.  I have made new friends, met new neighbors, visited new places, have had new experiences.
I have stepped into a new segment of my life.  I have changed.  I have developed a full understanding of the "unlearning" of all that you tried to be, that you never actually were - and were never supposed to be.

Unsure of the future, as we all really should be, at least I know I am able to handle unknown challenges.  I can do whatever needs to be done.  Apparently, I always could, I just didn't have to know my capabilities.

As I pack up the belongings I have enjoyed the past 10 weeks, I reflect on my mission of "Cook, Clear & Connect."  It's hard to gauge, but I believe it has been a success.

Chad seems impressed by my creative dishes and seems proud that I ate more than just hummus and queso in my time alone.

Still having a lot of self-doubt and negative thoughts about myself, I truly have become my own friend.  That. Is. Huge.  As with all relationships, I definitely need to keep nurturing and understanding, but I have come to realize that I am a pretty cool individual... most of which was visual to me due to my awesome friendships.  I have some epic people in my life who choose to spend time or chat with me - that means more than anything.  Helps me continue to believe in me.
Connect... again, a work in progress.  My spirituality has suffered so many struggles, and I know this will continue.  But looking to gratitude and opportunity makes such an incredible difference.  I no longer pray with my head bowed, but with my chin up, knowing that the Powers that Be are delivering lessons to me.  Whether I like them or not, each hurdle, each road block places me in the place where I am meant to be. I don't have to understand it.  Apparently, I don't need to like it (most the time I don't!)... but while I am only wrong two times per year, I get that I cannot plot out my own journey.  Life isn't meant to be that way.  I can only be an active participant and enjoy the ups and downs, knowing that I am capable of picking myself up and pushing myself forward during all the dark times.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Phase II of Moving to Austin -Adjustments Continue

This week, I leave my cool, little studio in South Austin.  We move my few items to the North for Hope to attend a high school that offers amazing pre-college courses in addition to her needed Literature, Orchestra and Drill Team (Dance Team) electives.
Most of me doesn't want to leave.  Besides enjoying a kick-ass commute and being able to walk to so many incredible places, I truly have enjoyed my time living here.
The neighbors have been terrific.  The laundry facilities literally right next door to me have been truly appreciated.  The security has been appreciated.  The palm tree... the word LOVE doesn't even describe.
Like my house in Peoria, I need to focus on what is yet to come rather than what I am leaving behind.
Pros and cons exist with every situation- and this is just another.  Even without a family, I know that this studio apartment wouldn't be my "dream home."  I don't ever want to own another 3-bedroom home, but I know this isn't my end-all, be-all address either.
The truth is - I don't know what I want. 
That used to frighten me.  Now, it empowers me.  I actually like not knowing what I want.  Yet - I love knowing what I do not want.
Confused yet??
I am in love with the possibilities.  And our world is full of them.  If we can just take a teensy step out of "comfort," we are introduced to such an incredible world.  And when fear hits us, which that bitch always will - that is our test.  Either we retract and "go home."  Or we find our courage and step up to the challenge.
I love living in Austin.  I miss my friends and my loves more than anything.  I have relationships in Central Illinois that will never be replaced.  Honestly, I don't want replacements.  I will carry that love and happiness with me for as long as I exist.  But I am enamored with the energy and the people of this city and state who I have been blessed to meet already.  -It's only been two months!
While the next move is a bit "uncomfortable," I am already prepared that nothing is permanent... especially with a 10-month lease!