Setbacks and Stepping Stones

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On Monday, I received a rejection for a job I felt confident was a “sure thing.”  Thankfully, it only took about seven hours of mourning this lost opportunity before I picked myself up by my imaginary bootstraps and submitted four more resumes, one of which earned me an interview for a position more suited to my passions.

Whether we’re talking about a job or life in general, I’m convinced that losing out on various opportunities simply paves the way for new ones – stepping stones to prepare us for something bigger and better.  A grooming period of sorts.  So when we finally reach whatever it is our heart desires, we will appreciate it all the more because of the rejections, victories, doors slammed and others thrown wide open.  And hopefully, we’ll have grown in the process, something which may otherwise not have happened without a detour or two along the way.

This morning I was offered the second position.  I’d like to think what was originally disguised as a setback was simply the means to an end, part of the journey toward Someday and the realization of my dreams.  ~ cs


Always the write time to: take chances.  Less than a minute after I jotted this down as #1 on my new list of dreams, I accepted the job.  And turned the page to a brand new chapter.

The Grass on the Other Side of the Fence

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You’re going along with your life and it’s good.  To anyone who asks, your marriage is good; your finances, health, children, job prospects (although you still haven’t landed your dream job…yet), home and neighborhood, spiritual life: all good.  Occasionally, your doctor sends you for extra testing or one of your children misses the mark and the thought crosses your mind (more than once) that you’ve failed as a parent.  Overall, however, you have no complaints.

Then, one day fate permits you a coveted glimpse of the grass on the other side of the fence.  Despite what you’ve heard to the contrary, you discover it truly is greener, the world painted in splashes of deeper, more vibrant hues.  A safe place to dwell transparently, your guard down and emotions heightened, stretched taut and worn on your sleeve in all their complicated imperfections.  Unfurling from a long, dormant slumber, you hear yourself think outside the box for possibly the very first time ever.

And soon you realize your finances don’t matter.  Your home is just a house, your offspring forever their mother’s or father’s child, your health and marriage can always be improved upon, dream jobs are synonymous with castles in the sky, your neighborhood is no different from the one down the street or across town and your spiritual life is.  Not.  The.  Church.

Obscured until now, the real you was hidden behind the clichéd windows to your soul and you realize it’s always been this way, your whole life maybe.  Because what you thought was good really spelled out mediocre.  Ordinary.  Average.  You recognize with a heavy feeling in your gut that you’ve settled.  What’s more, it’s all been a lie.

Because now that you’ve fully lived, you must ask yourself if you can remain in a mainstream existence without drowning in a sea of bone-crushing discontent, the memories of abundance — of more than — powerful enough to make you think that life can be yours.  The one that’s greener; the exception to the rule.  You remember its heady, verdant scent.  You recall its texture, its ripe hills and valleys rippling under your fingertips.  And its taste, oh the taste!  A craving so potent it threatens to burn a hole in your chest.

But you can’t have it.  Your life is on this side of the fence and it’s good, remember?

You may never forget that fleeting season where the void defined as less than became transformed into overflowing , spilling out across the top and bathing you with thirst-quenching contentment.  But you might just have to embrace the truth of your reality because you have no other choice.  Or quite possibly, if you clutch tightly enough to the slide show you replay  in the privacy of your own thoughts, the yawning void will be filled and the elusive longings of your heart made whole.  Because without this hope — this promise — the likelihood of suffocating will threaten all you’ve ever known until you are unable to recognize the face you see in the mirror, the blank stare returning your gaze.  So keep telling yourself it’s a good life.  You may begin to believe it.  Someday. ~ cs

Always the write time to: aspire.  Nothing more, nothing less.

How Bad Do You Want It?

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This weekend I met with an author friend of mine.  She was the muse for Looking Ahead into 2011, the woman living my dream.  For the good part of two hours over a pumpkin spice latte, peppermint tea and Starbucks’ healthy fare, she graciously allowed me to pick the right side of her brain.  I should have brought my laptop to immortalize the morsels she offered, but the words I took away from  our meeting were not the kind for writing down.  Instead, I walked away with them branded to my writer’s soul.

How bad do you want it?

After we parted ways, I thought about those six little words, how they’re applicable to any number of areas in our lives.  My friend who desires to lose weight: how bad do you want it?  Another who hates his job and desperately wants to make a change: how bad do you want it?  The marriage in need of repair: how bad do you want it?  And the runner who longs to win the marathon: how bad do you want it?

One of the truths I also learned, as I’ve always suspected: I’m my own worst enemy.  In other words, I am the singlemost culprit who keeps me from doing what I want to do.  What I have to do.  When I’m not writing, I can’t blame my family or the dirty laundry or the call to the vet or the myriad other distractions that vie for my attention (and, quite candidly, prevail most often).  I did joke with my friend, saying I knew the real secret to her success are those 12 extra hours in her day.  But seriously, how bad do I want it? ~ cs


Always the write time to: be good enough.  I am the only who has lived what I’ve lived and knows what I know.  My writing doesn’t have to be the best there is or the brightest or the funniest or most clever.  It simply has to be good enough.  Thank you, HP, for your encouragement and wisdom.

Choosing a Glass Half Full Kind of Life

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This past week I experienced one of those “ouch” moments.  During not one, but two online chats, constructive criticism from dear friends forced me to take a hard look at myself and I did not like what I saw.  Instead of counting the blessings in my life, I’d gotten in the ugly habit of focusing on what I’m missing (or imagined I was).

I have not always been that way.  Over a half-dozen years ago, my family experienced a traumatic, life-changing event.  I never once asked “why me?” or “why us?”  We just did what we had to do, leaning on our faith, friendships and a whole lot of laughter (no pity parties permitted).  I want to get back to that place,  because trying to orchestrate my life the way I want it to go has only lent itself to frustration along the lines of the best laid plans…

As I’ve written countless times, I simply need to stop fighting it and allow life to unfold in front of me, exercising faith over feelings.  It’s time to stop wishing for something better and focusing on a future that may not  even be a glimmer in the grand scheme of things (although dreams are still allowed).  Rather, I need to find that place in the present where I am daily reminded of my worth, where the pockets of self-doubt are emptied and the longings of my heart are satisfied.  And where the glass is always half full.  ~ cs

Always the write time to: be grateful.  Thanks to a recent suggestion from one of my Facebook friends (you know who you are) after I sent out an invitation to my pity party (which I ended up canceling), I created a “gratitude journal” because I truly have so much to be thankful for.