Archive for the ‘my antidote, my writing’ Category
I first heard of this awesome little group years ago. My sister went to school with one of the incredibly talented members of the band. I liked them back then, but that was when I was more in a heavier rock stage of my life, not that I don’t still love heavy rock.
Anyway, last time I was home my best friend and I somehow ended up in my sister’s car having a serious dance party to this jam…
I don’t know if it’s the timing of where I’m at with my life, the memory from having so much fun with my sister and co. that night, the fact that Big Tree now resides in SF or the humble happiness the music creates, but I absolutely adore this song.
In this song you can individually hear how each musician contributes his/her talents to the song and yet when you listen to them all together it makes for an even more powerful tune.
In so many ways this song reminds me of moving to California. Yet, it doesn’t make me long for the way my life was when I first put my foot on the gas to leave the East coast. Instead this song acts as a reminder to me that this is the journey. Through the ups and downs life remains so beautiful.
As I’m about to turn 26 I try not to look back. It was a rough year to say the least. I finally feel like I’m at the end of such a dark chapter of my life.
When I came back to San Francisco from Portland last weekend I felt like I was coming home. This is where I’m supposed to be. I have no idea where I’ll be a year from now, nor do a dare venture a guess. To quote the writing on the inside of my Grandma’s memorial service program, “you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.”
Moving to California didn’t turn out how I ever imagined it would, yet I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. This song has a fabulous way of reminding me of that.
This song is so appropriate for a variety of reasons. I spent the last night I was home with some of my nearest and dearest friends, the Kenney sisters and Jackie. Per usual, there was mucho listening to the Avett Brothers.
Now, en route back to San Francisco I’m having a glass of red wine having just finished a phenomenal book and contemplating the state of my life.
After a constant weekend of being on the go, I am alone, listening to music, writing; I’ve never been more grateful for a six hour flight in my life.
How irrevocably my life has changed in the past 8 months.
“Some say with age our purpose comes clear,
I see the opposite happening here.
Are we losing the fight?
Are we growing backwards with time?”
I used to know exactly what I wanted. I would spend my summers in Rockland hanging out with my friends and family. Eventually I grew restless.
Rockland is no longer a desired place to live for me.
People have changed and most of my friends have moved on.
But when it comes to the matter of family how do we move on? After living several months in San Francisco with a serious lack of love, in comparison to the immense amount of love when surrounded by so many friends and family I have back home in Maine, I was truly humbled on this last trip home just how much lighter life is when you let that much love in.
Spending some time with my brother and his girlfriend I was genuinely envious. My brother, most days, is content and happy with his life. A fisherman who loves a girl, his friends and his family. He spends his free time either hanging out with his best friends, his love or doing handy work for my parents.
A part of me is envious of that. I am envious that it could have so easily been a life I’d chose. A simple life.
However, when it comes to the familiar and the unknown I’ve always chosen the unknown. A part of me is much more comfortable with it.
My question now is: is choosing the unknown a weakness? Is it instead choosing what we know the harder option? Being satisfied with what we know and wanting what we have, not constantly striving to have what we want?
Is my life now a case of wanting what I cannot have? And not wanting what I have? Honestly, I’m not sure.
I know what I have is an incredible heart and love and loyalty for my family and friends but I also know I have a talent as a writer and a love for travel. How do I equally honor both those things?
“I was young and love was fun, now it’s so serious.
Now all the fun has equal pain,
There’s something wrong with this.”
Like a true nerd, I came home post the gym last night to listen to a webinar on social media while eating my overcooked broccoli and salmon, which strangely tastes the way running by the water back in Maine smells. Cooking fish is a new thing for me. Life sure is different from say a year ago.
Recently I’ve been freaking out, per usual, about what’s next. I have a REALLY hard time with just being in the moment in terms of my work. I’m working on it but I just have all this stuff in my mind going on about what I’m doing compared to what I want to be doing. Furthermore, I always seem to come back to the question, “What DO I want to be doing?”
I know that I don’t want to settle. I’m not someone who usually settles for anything. That’s the stubbornness I inherited from both of my grandmothers, may they rest in peace.
I don’t want to just have an okay job where I can just pay my bills and then have fun on the weekend and go on a vacation for two weeks out of the year. I want my life to matter. I want it to mean something. Ya ya ya, doesn’t everyone? What does that mean anyway?
Well, it’s different for everyone. For me it means that I lived up to my potential. I felt fulfilled. Satisfied. To further explain, satisfied to me means that I did something good for someone. Not that I made a lot of money. Not that I became famous. But that I made a difference in someone else’s life.
When I was younger I wanted to help find the cure for AIDS by writing about it so much that it would get people’s attention to change it. I wanted to travel the world and write about those so much less fortunate than us so that people would do something about it. Those were my naive dreams once upon a time.
While dreams and ambitions change I think it’s good to keep those things in mind so that we don’t lose sight of who we are. Because maybe, just maybe, those dreams of our youth, those uninhibited dreams where we still believed anything was possible are really the ones that matter. I don’t know.
Am I’m saying where I’m at with my life is not good enough? Or that I’m not grateful for how far I’ve come? Absolutely not. I find I’ve come a tremendously far way, in fact, when I quickly glimpse back I stumble at the idea of just how far I have come. From those dark days of being 16 confused and heading down a scary path to where I am now is an incredible journey. Yet, I feel I have so much further to go and most days don’t feel that sense of satisfaction I crave.
But where to?! and how?! I want the answers! Naturally, in a society that’s so used to getting everything with the click of a mouse I tend to have less patience.
Relax. I know I won’t get these answers over night. I also know that the better you become at just being in the moment, living it and being content the more those answers may present themselves, or maybe it’s just about not needing the answers at all. The questions in my head are seriously endless.
Anyway, I think I’ve created a balanced two-step plan that will prove to help. It just dawned upon me this evening while listening to the webinar and it sparked such an intense idea that I naturally wanted to write about it.
Here it is…
One: Take time in the day to enjoy the moment. A moment, a few moments. Just bask in them. Be grateful because they go by so quickly.
Two: Do something that intellectually stimulates you. Read a chapter in an interesting book, listen to a webinar about social media, read a well written article of interest. Make sure it is something that challenges you to think or reexamine a perspective you have.
No one is going to tell us to continue to challenge ourselves, our view our perspectives, we have to do that and I think we have to do that for our own sanity. For our own unique, individual sense of peace, love, happiness and respect.
Earlier this week I wrote about South African artist Fortune Sitole and his paintings of the shanties on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa.
I thought I’d offer some perspective as to what a shanty town like Khayelitsha really looks like. This is one of my favorite photos from South Africa as it was a very impacting moment that I will carry with me in my heart for the rest of my life. Upon driving into Khayelitsha I was so rocked to my core. To the point where I started to realize THIS is more the norm in the world we live in more than our lives here in America. It still blows my mind to contemplate.
To me, Sitole’s paintings and their vibrant colors add an aura of happiness to the paintings. I find that to be an accurate representation of Khayelitsha. The people and the children in Khayelitsha that I met were just as happy, if not happier, than the people I work and interact with in my daily life here in San Francisco.
It’s pretty amazing, but it really comes down to perspective. Does that mean that the living conditions of those dwelling in these make-shift houses aren’t horrific? Or that all the inhabitants of this community are in fact happy? Absolutely not. I’m not that naive and won’t pretend that I know the faintest thing about the daily lives of these people because I met a few of what is estimated to be hundreds of thousands.
I digress. I was speaking to perspective. It helps me remember that while my life these days is not what I imagined it to be, for better or worse, it’s still pretty damn fabulous.
I woke up, made a cup of coffee, put on some Bob Marley (REGGAE FRIDAY!) read the headlines in bed, wrote a few updates for a client and then got to sit here and write. Plus I get to wear jeans to work today and I’ve allowed myself to splurge and buy my lunch. These simple little indulgences and freedoms are all too frequently taken for granted in our society. I remind you to stop, breathe and enjoy the littlest things.
Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate holding company perhaps most well known for its powerful CEO and chairman, Warren Buffett, has acquired 28 daily newspapers in the past 15 months at a cost of $344 million, according to this Inc.com article.
Why would a successful company buy newspapers? They’re dead…or aren’t they?
The Inc.com article discusses Buffett’s remarks to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway and his excitement about the recent acquisition of these newspapers.
I can honestly say this is one of the first positive things I’ve seen written about the newspaper industry in a very long, long time.
I think Buffett makes some key points though. Points I heard reference by my journalism teachers at Northeastern years ago.
Namely, the importance of local news.
“Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents,” Buffett says.
I think this is a concept that is ironically proved by how powerful social media is. Social media is in itself all of these little micro communities where people share information, feelings, photos, etc. about a certain topic or idea or event.
I think newspapers have a great opportunity to become a leader of news within smaller communities. News but, as Buffett cites, not what we consider “breaking news.” Newspapers will probably never be the news breakers again, but that changed with the Kennedy assassination.
Buffett goes on to discus the challenge in making a business modle that will in fact make newspapers money, citing that the bigger papers like the New York Times have managed to make it work. I can testify that as I recently bought a subscription for my iPad.
I hope that newspapers DO stick around for some time. While I’m all about moving forward and reading the Times on my iPad, there is something very satisfying about sitting down with a New York Times and a cup of coffee.
I love this photo. It’s of a very famous mosque in a very famous square in Damascus, Syria. I wish I could remember the name. Anyway, something about it represents peace and hope and faith to me. I find it comforting.
How did I end up in Damascus, Syria you may ask? I was on a journalism dialogue in the Middle East several years back. Given all that’s happened in the Middle East since my trip there, it’s pretty mind blowing to go back and read some of my blog posts. SO if you happen to be taking it easy this Friday evening and looking for an interesting read, check it out: melissaleiter.wordpress.com.
One year ago today, I started the Leiter Side of Life in a post titled, “I wanted to write…”
In a blind leap of faith and excitement I set out on a quest to find more happiness and a sense of accomplishment in my life.
What’s so bizarrely ironic is that I found that, a lot of it, and lost a lot more. How far I’ve come is dulled by how much I also lost. Two of the strongest women in my life, the physical closeness of my family and friends and the man I thought I would spend forever with, my best friend.
I’m told that’s what growing up is and becoming a stronger more beautiful person and that life is never fair.
I guess I believe that, but honestly, some days I just long for the naivety I once possessed and the faith that everything will work out. It was so much more fun.
Still, I wouldn’t trade a second of it. Life is so beautiful even in the painful moments. I think that’s why I love piano music so much, and the ocean. They both can accurately represent sadness and phenomenal beauty at the same time, among other things.
I’ve been thinking for the past week that my ability to love so easily is a flaw. What I realized is that I was applying it to others, but I wasn’t applying it to myself. They say we are our biggest critic. That is most certainly true. It’s easy to judge ourselves and unbelievably difficult to forgive.
Looking back on the past year I made some big mistakes mostly caused in times of overwhelming emotions. Bigger than the mistakes, however, were the successes.
I went from being an unhappy waitress confused about where my life was going, to becoming a succesful and important part of an advertising team in downtown San Francisco. I write every day of my life and love every thing about that. It took a tremendous amount of discipline at times but was fueled by a strong desire to take control of my own happiness.
I learned another valuable lesson, however. That your career can’t bring you everything and it will never be who I am, it’ll always just be what I do.
My family and friends are incredible. Without their love and support I never would have made it through the work days.
Enough looking back though. Goals for the next year?
Write EVEN MORE Love myself a lot more. Stop letting my heart make all the decisions. Sign several new clients at the agency. Tell my friends and family I love them more. And have at least 5 minutes of pure selfish fun every day.
There’s a reason I used the term “leap of faith” at the beginning of this post. A dear friend of mine sent me this quote the other night and I feel it sums up much of my journey over the last year and also reminds me to keep moving ahead.
“There’s a reason we refer to ‘leaps of faith’- because the decision to consent to any notion of divinity is a mighty jump from the rational over to the unknowable, and I don’t care how diligently scholars of every religion will try to sit you down with their stacks of books and prove to you through scripture that their faith is indeed rational; it isn’t. If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be – by definition – faith. Faith is belief in what you cannot see or prove or touch. Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be… a prudent insurance policy.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Prey, Love
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.
I know that some would say there are moments that are too personal or emotional to share and this may be one of them. But let’s be serious, there aren’t too many people who read my blog that aren’t friends and family. I love to write, it’s why I started this blog, and in my writing I sort my heart and my mind. For that, I will not ask to be pardoned.
That being said…
Whenever we lose someone we love there is always a sense of surreal. It seems impossible. Unbelievable. Insane that the world can go on without that person, but it does. It most certainly always does.
But a part of us stops. It’s as though we are deeply sedated. Everything becomes cloudy. You just go through the motions. Time doesn’t matter anymore because everything just floats. Nothing is clear but you and your pain and the memories and the confusion on how to feel.
Emotions hit you like a truck. The happiness for life lived and love shared, the memories, the unbearable sadness. It knocks you out in waves at times.
Losing someone never gets easier. Honestly, only more confusing. Because each time you expect the world to stop, but without fail, it never does.
I think in my heart I knew I was saying goodbye to my grandma the last time I saw her. I knew with her declining health and me moving across the country I was taking a risk. She wasn’t going to be herself for much longer and after that she wouldn’t last.
She was an incredibly strong and independent woman. If my Grandma couldn’t be that, I don’t think she knew who to be. I’m blessed to have inherited those qualities, though at times, and in youth I still falter and lose my way.
he was just so damn strong. She never preached it upon others to tough up, however. Which made you want to be stronger. I don’t think I saw her cry once. Ever. It wasn’t that she was cold or emotionless, s
For when you couldn’t be strong enough and you needed her love and support she gave it to you unconditionally in the form of cow tail candies she got from volunteering at the gift shop or caffeine-free ice cream floats (disgusting FYI, we used to just eat the ice cream.)
One of the last nights I saw my grandma was a great one. It was as though everything had come full circle. I was with my mum, getting along, in the spare bedroom we used to stay in when we stayed at my grandmas house. We were happy. My grandma thought it was a party. We were all happy together and laughing and Gram, though I’m not sure she was all there, thought it was hilarious.
We were fighting over the Kennedy books.
The Kennedy books were mine. ARE mine, mum. We were upstairs, digging under the guest room bed through the bags and boxes of books trying to see if there were any of value. Through the last year my Gram would always whisper to me, “Now, when the time comes, remember the Kennedy books are upstairs under the guest bed. You want me to show you where they are? No you know. Well there yours I want you to have them.”
I’d get to laughing so hard. It’s just something old people do. Make sure you know where the stuff is for when the time comes. She wasn’t going anywhere yet. But those Kennedy books were her prized possessions Like most Irish Catholics her age, the Kennedy’s were king. Not her really nice, expensive china, or all her jewelry, nope the Kennedy books. She thought that was the greatest gift to leave. I’m honored she chose to leave them to me.
I’m not kidding you, she owned every book written about ‘em all. Bobby was her favorite I think. Though she greatly admired Jackie’s class and style. Always a lady, she’d say. With such grace. I am probably the furthest thing from Jackie Kennedy when it comes to style and grace, but my grandma loved me anyway and did her best to teach me the old fashion right and wrong ways of acting.
As you can gather from the blog post I wrote on my grandma’s 94th birthday a few weeks ago, her and I shared a very special bond that I valued very dearly.
While she thought the most valued possession she could leave me was her Kennedy books, it turns out one of the many prayer cards she gave me has become the greatest gift. In a way it’s the seemingly silent mantra my grandmother lived by.
That is the serenity prayer.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”
I am at a very difficult moment in my life where there are certain things I just cannot change. I cannot make a person feel love for me despite the tremendous amount of love I have for them. As a fighter, it’s unfathomable for me to just walk away.
While I could really go for an afternoon spent receiving her advice, I’m reminded of her strength and love in her passing and reminded that I too can be strong and that I too deserve to be loved.