Only Human

It has been quite some time, and much has changed.

My job is transferring me to Hawaii, and I have a few months of training along the way.  It’s going to be a coast-to-coast adventure in America, starting from beautiful Northern Washington and ending up in Florida.  I will look out on to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans before June arrives.

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Although 2014 brings many promises of new beginnings, it unfortunately began on a very sad note for me.  My relationship ended in a very painful manner, and I never imagined I’d be writing an entry like this, but heartbreak feels like the equivalent of being sick with some kind of total body illness, it really does.  Regardless of whether it is you or the other person who ends it (for me, I was the one who ended it), it is horrible.  Ultimately for me, it came down to what I felt was settling in the relationship and accepting behavior that was very much not okay.  It still seeps deep into the core and unfortunately only the passage of time will heal what has been damaged.

It really made me start to think about how different people perceived love; or rather, what they thought was love.  The same man who said “I love you,” to my face was, behind my back, telling someone else how he wished he “could hold her all night.”  For any couple in a healthy monogamous relationship, this is not acceptable.  For people in polyamorous or open relationships, I can not speak, but I would assume that in those relationships, in order for them to be healthy, all parties must agree to whatever stipulations (and I would imagine there would be a good deal of communication involved).  I really do believe that for different people, different types of relationships work.  However, it is WRONG for one person to be covert and hide something from the other person when they are under the impression no such thing is going on.  That is cheating, in one of its many forms.

It saddens me to know that, at the end of my relationship, instead of being sincerely sorry for doing something that was wrong and hurt me a good deal, the man I was with was angry because he felt I had invaded his privacy and did not trust him; however, it was his behavior that prevented me from fully being able to do so.  The spectrum of human behavior is fascinating and terrifying all at once; whereas some of us are staunchly opposed to the idea of such behavior in relationships, others have no qualms engaging in it.  On some level these individuals must have issues with commitment and cannot enter the relationship both feet fully in.  Nevertheless, it does not take away from the hurt we feel when we cross paths with someone of that nature.

I think of Mary Oliver’s quote:

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What I Learned from Running a Marathon

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My coworkers are probably sick of hearing me talk about running a marathon.  Look, okay, running a marathon doesn’t suddenly make you a better person, you’re not “holier than thou.”  I will tell you this, though–it teaches you an incredible amount about YOURSELF and what YOU are capable of.  Sometimes it takes 26.2 miles of pain to figure sh*t out.  Oh yeah, there’s a little bit about running that you learn about thrown in there too (like don’t wear gear you’ve never worn before on race day, don’t forget to bring warm up sweats when your race is at the end of November and you’re the only idiot walking around in shorts in 35F weather before the race actually starts, and don’t just “wing it,” your body will thank you later), but mostly, it teaches you about life.

1. COMMITMENT AND DEDICATION ARE THE PILLARS OF SUCCESS.  You have to really be committed to the goal of finishing a 26.2 mile race.  I love the quote, “Do or do not, there is no try,” because you are either going to finish the race, or you aren’t, plain and simple.  Who the hell gets satisfaction in walking away saying, “Yeah, well, I tried to run a marathon.”  Injuries aside, you are going to be the one to ultimately decide whether or not YOU are going to cross that finish line.  Can you envision it?  Is the goal greater than the momentary doubt or pain?

2. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.  I have NEVER felt so much continued pain in my body before.  Hours of pounding pavement is absolutely killer on the joints.  By the time I reached mile 20, I was really, really spent.  I thought about giving up so many times, but I kept thinking about crossing the finish line and about why I was even running the race to begin with.  Wasn’t it to prove a point to MYSELF that through willpower all things are possible?   And if that’s not enough, think of all the people, good and bad, that were there along the way–the naysayers, the people who supported you, the people who hurt you, and the people who ran alongside you through the pain–think about them too.  

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3. DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU DESERVE.  This is perhaps the most important lesson I learned. Since YOU have put in the time and the effort, you have pushed past the pain and torn down the walls of doubt, you know what it takes to be extraordinary, you know that success means being better than you were before, and we all have the ability to be better within us.  Don’t make excuses, don’t accept excuses.  You will never succeed by taking either action, you will only be holding yourself back..

4. CHANGE IS POSSIBLE.  If after touching down in Japan 2.5 years ago, someone would have come up to me and said, “You’re going to run a marathon 2.5 years from now,” I would have laughed in their face.  I had never run more than 5 miles in my entire life.  Why would I even waste my time doing something ridiculous like that?  Well, because sometimes the things we once see as “ridiculous” and “impossible” suddenly become important to us, and as I learned how to push past pain I understood what it meant to change.  It was a long, slow process from within that required the aforementioned commitment and dedication.   Change isn’t easy, but it is possible, and it allows us to grow.

5. BE GRATEFUL.  You have a body that allows you to absolutely feel what it means to be alive–everything that you are made up of is working together intricately, allowing your body to run the race.  Be grateful you have the opportunity to do so.

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Run for those that matter, run for those that don’t, because in the end you are going to have made the good ones proud and you will have left the bad ones 26.2 miles behind.

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“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” -Da Vinci

Murakami and a Storm

And because I think right now, Murakami explains everything in this:

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Waterfalls

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My job can really be a downer sometimes; often my schedule changes at the drop of a hat and before I know it I’m in the drug store scrambling to pick up enough toiletries for an impromptu trip.  Today was spent much at the mercy of my bosses waiting for word from their bosses (this sounds like a bad comedy, right?) about my schedule in the next few weeks.  Things ended up turning out a little better than expected, and so to celebrate I came home, had a few drinks, ate some of the leftover Easter Ham (I believe my words as I walked through the door were, “I want this [piece of chocolate], I’m having a drink, and all I want to do is eat some of that ham.”), watched a few Twilight Zone episodes, and listened to some “oldies” (aka 90s music).  

One of my all-time favorite songs is TLC’s Waterfalls.  I love, love, LOVE that song.  If any artist(s) ever wanted to write a song about life it was done perfectly with that song.  Genres aside, the lyrics ring out true:

Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to

Those lyrics are screaming, “Don’t go after things that are out of your reach (for good reason), stick to what you should be focused on in life.”  I feel like at any time in my life when I have questioned whether something felt right or not, I can hear that line playing over and over again in my head (I definitely soundtrack my life, sue me).

My favorite part about the song is Left Eye’s rap, which is actually much more beautiful when read:

I seen a rainbow yesterday
But too many storms have come and gone
Leavin’ a trace of not one God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray
I pray all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days

And like His promise is true
Only my faith can undo
The many chances I blew
To bring my life to anew
Clear blue and unconditional skies
Have dried the tears from my eyes
No more lonely cries
My only bleedin’ hope
Is for the folk who can’t cope
Wit such an endurin’ pain
That it keeps ’em in the pourin’ rain
Who’s to blame
For tootin’ caine in your own vein
What a shame
You shoot and aim for someone else’s brain
You claim the insane
And name this day in time
For fallin’ prey to crime
I say the system got you victim to your own mind

Dreams are hopeless aspirations
In hopes of comin’ true
Believe in yourself
The rest is up to me and you

I don’t know if I would ever get a tattoo (one day I’d love it, the next I’d be over it already), but in my imagined maybe-someday-when-I-get-a-tattoo reality, I would probably want to be even artsier than I already am (so, would that cancel out “being artsy”?), I would want to get one of those bolded sections in some super feminine print (so I could be like one of those fabulous examples on Pinterest).  Okay getting waaay too hipster for my own good!

Anyway, for a fantastic blast from the past…err, 90s (and some just plain old good life advice) listen to some TLC.

This New Year’s Post brought to you by David Bowie

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I’ve been listening to David Bowie’s “Heroes” recently and have been inspired by its daring declaration of love amidst war. So I’m declaring love amidst war and happiness amidst chaos.

I recently returned home for my long anticipated holiday vacation. The plane ride across the pacific was easily the worst flight that I have ever experienced, with what seemed like hours of clear air turbulence violently shaking the aircraft. I have made that flight about 16 times, and none have been as terrifying as that one. And even though I was sandwiched in between two people but had previously selected an aisle seat when I purchased the tickets, even though things had just seemed to continuously be going wrong that day, I was elated when the plane landed in Chicago and I realized that all the things bothering me were so incredibly trivial.

2012 has been a very difficult year. It started off on a very bad note personally, and blows were thrown repeatedly at work. There were some very low moments where I just wanted to completely give up, but I muscled through and I realized something incredibly simple: my life is very, very good.

2012 started on a bad note because of a hurtful personal experience, but from that experience I started distance running. I also learned what I would accept in terms of treatment by others. Instead of dismissing poor behavior as being too picky, I now know to see what something is for what it presents itself as.

I experienced blow after blow at work. We passed every challenge handed to us, and more importantly, I HAVE A JOB–WITH A GOOD SALARY! I own my own home, travel as I please, and have never worried about anything financially. My job isn’t glamorous, it’s a constant headache, but it provides me with an incredibly good life for a 20-something college graduate.

The only thing I was looking forward to at the end of the year was coming home to see my family. The fact that I have a family who is so incredibly supportive of me and is constant in my life is perhaps the greatest thing of all. Because I could be nothing, I could fall, and they would still be there ready to receive me as is.

So my resolution for this year is to write more, because I’ve been denying myself the thing that has been with me all along. Seeing life and color and experiencing it all, happiness, sadness, boredom, anger, elation. It’s all there, and I’ve been living it all. This is what I am, for better or for worse. I have my problems and my issues (hey, who doesn’t?), but I know that truthfully they aren’t so bad. I’m worse off than some, luckier than most. I can’t remember the exact quote, but I read in a magazine recently something along the lines of, “Happiness is being able to do what you please in the evenings.” And I have that luxury; I can go out to dinner with friends or lounge around in my apartment reading or giving in to my Pinterest addiction (no shame). I’ve gotten my share of heartaches and embarrassments and frustrations, but right now, this New Year’s Eve, I’m doing okay. In fact, I’m doing better than that.

I’m doing pretty well.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us!

The Resolution

It’s really funny how sometimes irony pops up unexpectedly in our lives–and then we’re left thinking, “Well, geez, I guess I set myself up for that one in some weird way.”

Have you ever wanted something–or thought you wanted something–and it doesn’t work out and you kind of put it out of your mind, but then suddenly it just clicks easily for someone else?  You’re left there kind of behind in the dust, asking, “Why didn’t that work for me?”  I think that’s hard to swallow, and this can be applied to career, love, life in general.  “I’m putting out all this effort, why wasn’t I good enough for job ____ or for person _____.  Why was so-and-so better than me and they didn’t even put in a quarter of the effort.”

I suppose there are two potential answers.

1.) You are not actually putting in the effort entirely required to achieve whatever it is you are looking for.

2.) The universe is telling you something.

As for #1, I think of a line actor Dermot Mulroney has in The Wedding Date, “Every woman has the exact love life she wants.”  And let’s step back here and imagine that this isn’t really just a quote about someone’s love life, but about life in general.  Within reason, we all have EXACTLY what we want; or rather, what we allow ourselves to have (which in a sense, is what we want because we are not allowing ourselves otherwise).  I say this WITHIN REASON because obviously there are outside factors for certain situations which inhibit us.  But think about it–you can’t just WISH to play the piano and then be able to play, you have to put in the time and the effort to do so.  So sometimes we need to reassess certain situations we initially shrink from because they are not in our favor.  We need to ask ourselves, “What am I going to learn from this so that I can influence the outcome of a similar situation in the future?”

As for #2, I do believe that the universe operates with some sort of underlying timing.  Imagine if chaos had some sort of rhythm to it–what if, and I’m going to be really radical here–what if chaos is actually just another name for a pattern or patterns that we do not yet recognize?  I’m going to be really ridiculous here and make another terrible pop culture reference–in 1984 a truck driver named Michael Larson went on the popular TV gameshow Press Your Luck.  In what appeared random to previous contestants, Larson saw order and as a result he beat the game.  He knew exactly how to game the gaming system itself and it created a huge uproar and scandal.  But the point is this–before him contestants saw the flashing lights on the board to be a completely random, chaotic sequence, but in reality it wasn’t.  What if things really do happen for a reason, even if nothing more than just to complete some larger pattern among the universe that we can’t fully comprehend?

Cinema Inspiration

As noted, I’ve taken up writing again.  Not that any hiatuses are planned, it’s just that because of the nature of my work I tend to have very little time to really just sit and reflect.  However, I firmly believe that the lack of healthy outlets causes a person to really start to lose sight of themself; when work becomes the entirety of a person’s existence, things go south pretty quickly.  Anyhow, I am going to try my best to get in a few entries a week (if anything, for my own well-being).

So as I was getting my apartment fall-ready, I was thinking about inspiration in general, considering why I like certain influences and want to reflect them.  That goes for clothing, decor, artwork, writing, life in general, whatever.  In this case, specifically, I was thinking about my favorite movie–Almost Famous.

I will hands down say that Kate Hudson’s eccentric and fanatical muse, Penny Lane, is definitely a major style-influence.

Penny Lane asks the main character, William (based on director Cameron Crowe), if he wants to go with her to Morocco.  The character of Penny Lane is, up until the end, almost completely surreal.  Kate Hudson does a fantastic job of portraying an individual who is always on somewhat of a different level of reality, right down to the   very fact that she doesn’t even use her real name, or let others know what it actually is.

I love this movie for a variety of reasons, another being the music.  As Zooey Deschanel’s character Anita leaves home to become a stewardess, she hands William a note and tells him, “Look under your bed, it’ll set you free.”

William inherits Anita’s record collection and begins to pursue his dream as a rock writer, which is the basis for the entire movie as he travels the country with the fictional band of Stillwater.  Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, and a handful of other classics paint the movie’s soundtrack.  One of my favorite scenes is the morning after the character Russell has a bit of a debacle the night before.  Divided on a few things concerning the path the band is taking, they seem to come together as they all join in to sing “Tiny Dancer” on the tour bus.

As William travels with Stillwater, he is faced with the challenge of writing what the actual truth, despite the pleas of the band members to just, “make them look cool.”  Eventually he does end up writing the article for Rolling Stone as he sees fit, even with a few bumps along the way.  William leaves home young and misses his high school graduation, which hits home for me because I left home during my senior year to study abroad in Japan.  I also missed my high school graduation, along with a handful of other high-school staples.  I think there is something for those of us who feel the need to find whatever it is that we are looking for–we seek it by travel, by writing, by whatever.  But there is something that compels us to leave behind what is the usual and comfortable to seek that which is foreign to us.

Anita tells William before she leaves, “One day, you’ll be be cool.”  Maybe what she actually meant was, “One day, you’ll know who you are.”