Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

2010, you were a dynamic year, indeed.

Despite the passing of George Steinbrenner, John Murtha, Dennis Hopper, and Tyler, I thought 2010 wasn't entirely bad.

1: I fought back injury and completed my goal race in respectable fashion.

2: I started my core book project, although it definitely needs more of my time.

3: I began what I believe is a solid screenplay with a very creative partner, although we still remain in the early stages.

4: I saw my parents both deal with some medical issues, but come through successfully.

5: I prayed as one friend overcame severe complications after delivery of her first baby.

6: And I prayed for the healthy growth of another friend's tiny premature twins.

7: I cried for a family who was robbed of a handsome, charming son who made me a better teacher.

8: I wept for a man who was judged by society and took his life to end the nightmare.

9: I listened to friends who needed me as they dealt with difficult decisions in their personal and professional lives.

10: Finally, I witnessed a marked change in the development of my girls, both of whom seem to be flourishing at a remarkable rate. And for them, I am truly thankful for they are a core part of my second lease on life.

For the record, Kendall's final words of wisdom of 2010 came today amongst racks of bras in the lingerie department of a retail store.

Kendall: "I love these bras. They're so beautiful."
Me: "Someday, you can have a bra."
Kendall: "I want one today."
Me: "Maybe we can look in the girls' department."
Kendall: "For bras?"
Me: "For bras."
Kendall excitedly whispers to her sister: "Did you hear that Grace? It's going down. My boobs are gonna have their own house!"

Ah, the innocence of a five-year-old...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kicking Old Habits

Throughout the week, I converse with a multitude of individuals—ages 14 to 54—from diverse and dynamic backgrounds. No matter the topic, their insights and discourse often teach me some lesson in life. Of course, the tone of their delivery can vary greatly, which is sometimes more interesting than their original purpose. Many of them bear the traits of positivity that spread like wildfire, igniting sparks in the bellies of those who surround them. I thrive in their presence. Some, however, emit a sense of negativity that often pervades an otherwise favorable environment, a bottom-feeder mentality that reeks and yellows the mood like stale cigarettes. Unfortunately, I cannot avoid the fatalists; instead, I just observe them, take note, move forward.

Recently, a friend wrote a missive about the effects that others have on our lives. His words truly hit me, for I feel as though we often choose to spend valuable time in our lives with negative people, when we do have the choice not to. I confess that I have committed this sin in the guise of being “proper.”

Steve wrote: “It is a peculiarity of human relationships that it is virtually impossible for one individual to have a lasting positive influence upon members of a group of negative thinkers. Usually, it works the other way. You cannot maintain a positive attitude if you spend all your time with negative people. Those who have wrecked their own lives are not the kind of people who will help you achieve success in your own life.”

Far too often, friends reveal that they are unhappy in their marriage, unhappy with their colleagues, unhappy with their family. So what is one to do? Stay in the situation? Maintain the relationship because it is what we’re supposed to do by societal standards? If so, how can we ever find success?

To me, the answer is to simply do what’s best for oneself, not for anyone else. People who call it selfish are selfish themselves, for they cannot appreciate that we need to do in order to positively live our lives. There are people who we must weed out of our lives for their negativity saps the energy that we need to spend on ourselves and our personal growth. To criticize anyone for choosing to do what's best for themselves is more egocentric, so long as such decisions are not affecting the safety and welfare of our very young.

Of course, I cannot extract myself from every Debbie Downer and Badmouthing Bob who cross my path. But I can surround myself with those who “get it” and will help me attain my goals, to find my greater purpose, to become whole.

Dumping emotional and psychological baggage gives us a sense of catharsis. It’s like kicking an old habit. My goal is to continue supporting my friends and family who need to kick their habits, and not be judgmental about the choices they make to help them be better, happier people.