One Second Every Day – May

Here’s the fifth month of my One Second Every Day project. This month includes

The song in the video is Pharrell Williams‘s “Happy” (as it seems to be the theme of spring). This month includes a new dishwasher, friends eating food, and bowling.

(Curious as to what this project is all about? See the first post.)

The Wanderer’s Guide to Life

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ~ Douglas Adams

Galaxies are so large that stars can be consid...

Galaxies are so large that stars can be considered particles next to them (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I graduated college nearly five years ago, I would not have considered myself a wanderer (or hitchhiker, as is the case with Douglas Adams).  I was a girl with a very narrow focus on life, and I thought I knew what I wanted: a steady 9-5 job as an Editorial Assistant at a publishing company where I would climb the ranks and, when I got married (who knows when that was going to happen!), I’d move out of my mom’s apartment.  In my spare time, all I aspired to do was catch up on reading.

Fast forward a few years, and my life looks very different than the less-than-inspiring version I was aspiring to as a recent college grad (Not that having a steady job is a bad thing, I’ve just since realized I want something more than that).

When I stumbled across the above quote earlier today, it got me thinking of all the sometimes frightening but always wonderful turns my life has taken, particularly in the past three years.  As another exercise in gratitude, I wanted to list some of those changes:

I have two Etsy shops: Remember when I said I used to aspire to simply catch up on reading? I’ve since opened up to online shops where I sell crafts and fine art (btdubs, I’m having a 15% off February sale in both shops now through 2/15!).  Because I have this outlet, I’m constantly thinking of new ideas for projects, which keeps the creative juices flowing.

I freelance, well, everything: I mostly copy edit, proofread, and babysit, but it’s so different than a 9-5.  I’m grateful that I can make my own schedule and even have time for lunch with friends 🙂

I am in a healthy romantic relationship: I used to be the jaded, single woman who thought that all the good guys were either taken, gay, or my best friends.  Nothing I did to garner a relationship seemed to work.  And then one day (like so many people told me, but I never believed them), it just happened.  A friendship I had for about half of my life blossomed.  And it’s been awesome ever since.

I think it is rare to find a person (and I am lucky to have friends like this too) who loves you, flaws and all.  (I know, I know. I’m probably giving most people a toothache right now, especially so close to Valentine’s Day. If you are not in a romantic relationship, let me encourage to live your life fully now, not in a holding pattern.  The right time and right person will come).

I am a professor: I thought this title only came after numerous awards, books, hard work, and lots of coffee (well, tea in my case).  I’m glad that a local community college gave me the chance to be in front of the classroom.  I am in my second semester of teaching, and it has been by turns challenging and rewarding beyond any of my expectations.

I have recently been commissioned to make art: This is something I thought would never happen. I’m comfortable calling myself a writer, but not an artist.  The painting commission I recently received was a really great confidence booster.

I am living on my own (well, with a roommate): For the past two and a half years, I’ve been living with a college buddy of mine.  We play video games and banter about poetry, faith, and Gangam Style (ok, fine, mostly Gangam style).

I have an MFA in Poetry: When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I determined that I was done with school.  But then I heard about the Poetry program that my alma mater was starting.  I knew I had to apply.  It’s been a little over two years since I’ve graduated, and spending two years breathing, eating, and sweating poetry was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have a chapbook: A chapbook is a shorter poetry manuscript (about 18-25 pages).  I put one together a few weeks ago, and I’m pretty happy with it.  I didn’t think I’d ever have the time or discipline to put one of these together.  Now I’ve got one and a goal of mine for this year is to get it published with a press.  We’ll see how that turns out!

I find myself continuing to explore different possibilities.  I’ve signed up for bartending school and am looking into certification to be a teaching artist.  I’m also applying to and saving for writer’s residencies and art classes just for fun.  I feel that the world is open to me, and I want to try everything I possibly can!

Ok, so perhaps there is no “Wanderer’s Guide to Life” as the title suggests, but I think that’s because to wander means to explore.  If you have a five (or seven or ten)-step plan for it, the fun is sucked out of the adventures.

Of course, wandering comes with its own worries and questions (for me, some of those questions are: what should I focus my time on primarily?  Do I want a career? Can I pay the bills doing activities I love?), but I’ve found that these bigger questions tend to work themselves out if you put in hard work and pursue the activities that make you feel alive.

If you would have told me about my current life situation five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. My options at that time were few because I made it so. My life as it stands now was unthinkable to me back then because it’s completely different than the stereotypical picture I had in my mind.  But when I think about my current circumstances, I smile and know this is exactly where I needed to land.

What is one event in your life that was a pleasant surprise?

Living for the Bright Spots

Happily Ever After.  This is a concept I don’t believe in.  It’s evident in my poetry and even in the way I live my life.  Sure, there is hope.  There is hope that circumstances will change and life will get better.  But these improvements are never permanent; there is always something more to work through.  And I don’t say this to be a downer, but to be a realist.

I think Jeanne Duprau said it best in her book “The Diamond of Darkhold” from the “Books of Ember” series.  This series takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a community of people is re-discovering the life people lived pre-apocalypse.  One of the ways they do this is through books.  Towards the end of the story, the narrator gives us the point of view of one of the main characters: “Maybe there was no happily-ever-after, as in that book of Edward’s, but there was happiness sometimes, and she had it now, doing what she knew she was born for…” I’ve been thinking about this quote lately.  I don’t know that there is a necessarily an ultimate happy ending because life is far too complex for a black-and-white solution like that.  But there are definitely bright spots.

When I said that my non-belief in “happily ever after” is evident in my poetry, I mean that I don’t usually write about happy subjects.  Poems are found in moments of tension, in friction.  When I said my un-belief is evident in the way I live my life, I meant that I live for the bright spots.   There will always be some difficulty to wade through and I do what I must to push through, as do most people.  But there are moments of happiness and sometimes those moments turn into days of happiness.  I’m talking here, specifically, about time with my friends.  A bunch of us got together this weekend and it was a great time.  There is nothing like hanging around with people who love you despite your weaknesses, who understand your quirky sense of humor, who rag on you to show affection….at least in my world.  And I’m sure another bright spot will be Thanksgiving: time with family, rough-housing with cousins, catching up with relatives I haven’t seen in a while.  Bright spots, moments of pure joy.

Perhaps this is why “happily ever after” is only in fairy tales.  I know this has been said before, but it bears repeating: Adversity is needed to truly enjoy happiness.  Without it, life would be one continuous happy moment….and that lack of variety sounds boring.  Having said that, I know people’s bright moments look different.  So, what are yours?

note on the pic: These are two of my bright spots — my friends (from the left) dee and mel