We are all trying to do too much with our limited human resources.
When I was a kid, I went to church services twice on Sundays. I am thankful for this time in my life because I received training and exposure to general life guidance that I continue to rely on, even now.
Tonight, while sitting in the tub, I thought of one thing I learned during one of those many Sundays spent in church: “to trust is to not worry.”
I thought about that quote, and the different ways I have heard it repeated over the years:
- Worry is the absence of faith
- Worry is the absence of trust
- Worry is the absence of hope
You get the idea.
I thought of this idea, and the variations of it, and how I have applied it to my current life circumstances. My current life is a great mix of haves and have nots. The past two years have been tumultuous in many ways. I have been given the opportunity to learn from good experiences, heal from bad ones, and really spend a lot of quality time with myself, rummaging around my overactive mind, searching for and then sometimes rejecting, who Nicole really is.
Through my life’s challenges, there have been many, many opportunities to worry. And I am here to openly admit that I have usually taken every single one of those opportunities.
If I could add to the list above, I might add: “To worry is to exist as Nicole.”
I have always been a worrier. In the past, I have worried about the minuscule and the mountainous. I have worried about everything from how flashy my glasses are, to what classical music album to buy to play for my cats. Many of my worries start out as casual thoughts, then progress to concerns, and end up, right smack dab in the middle of Worry Town. I am, perhaps, the mayor of Worry Town, population me and my imagination.
Nowadays, I am more conscious and I have been able to quell a lot of my worrying, especially the silly things that I used to worry about. To be honest, though, I do still thank myself for the worry that led to research about what music to play for your cats. I have some of the smartest and relaxed cats to have ever lived.
But tonight, I thought about how I do not view my worrying as a lack of faith, trust, or hope. For me, just because I have faith that something will work out doesn’t mean I no longer worry about it. No matter what it is, from landing a new client to overcoming an obstacle in a personal relationship, both of these ideas and behaviors exist, simultaneously, in my mind and in my actions: for me, there is both faith and worry. There is both hope and worry. There is both trust and worry.
With that in mind, and with a newfound acceptance of how I can grow (i.e., learning to not worry about *some* things and accepting my seemingly innate and humanistic tendency to worry in general), I am writing myself a new definition of TRUST.
Trust: (noun) To keep TRYING.
I think worry and trust can actually be good friends, if they’re approached in a positive way. So, for me, if I keep trying, that means I am still maintaining my levels of hope and faith. Sure, along the way, I will most likely worry about how well things are going, if there’s something more I can do, if I need to perhaps change course, etc. But, as long as I am still trying, then I have not lost hope, faith, or trust that things will work out for the best.
Here are some examples that came to mind:
Perhaps you’d like to change careers and things are not taking off as quickly as you’d like. Since you need money for ripe avocados and car payments, naturally, you might worry sometimes. But, did you keep pursuing your dream, despite being worried or even failing at some things? Well, then you still have trust, hope, and faith.
Or, perhaps you’d like to change something about yourself, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Perhaps on Monday you cussed out the guy driving the gray Audi who cut you off in traffic and then on Tuesday you helped an old lady cross the street. You worried about how much of an asshole you are on Monday night and wallowed in your gracious glory on Tuesday. But regardless, did you at least get a tiny bit more aware of yourself?
Or, did you use that gym membership at least one time during the month? You might worry about how you fail, and fail a lot, but, if you keep trying, then you haven’t yet lost faith in yourself. You’re continuing to trust the path that you’re pursuing. And learning to trust yourself!
To trust is to keep trying, to keep going, not to ignore (or lie about) the internal fears and conflicts that we all suffer from.
Just keep going. It’s going to be ok.
I like to challenge myself to learn from mundane things that happen. I love the mundane and how things that don’t blatantly have meaning can be connected to big ideas and even bigger emotions.
I even love the word “mundane.” Say it aloud as you read this: MUHHHNNNDDDAAYYYEEENNNN
Yes, it’s it a fabulous little word?
According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary (don’t you just love to start a sentence with that phrase? It’s just like being back in college and writing a freshman level essay, right?)
Where was I?
Oh, right, yes, according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the word “mundane” means: of, relating to, or characteristic of the world; characterized by the practical, transitory, and ordinary. Mundane means ordinary, but when you describe something as mundane, suddenly, it is much, much less ordinary.
Take this recounting of a mundane event last night at the Houston Ballet:
Last night, I attended the fabulous and glittery production of “The Nutcracker” at the Houston Ballet. I am a pretty serious patron of the arts here in Houston, well, the arts that I can afford, which typically include a show or two every quarter.
I took a deep breath as I bought those pricey, but completely worthwhile, center aisle seats, only a few rows back from the stage. I am glad I did. I’m glad I did because without being that close to the stage, I would have missed out on a little bit of professionalism and casual elegance that one of the dancers performed.
During one of the dances, the dancers were costumed in lovely, bright green suit jackets, with the gentlemen sporting, large, bright pink flowers on the lapels. As they danced, with the vigor and grace that only a ballet dancer seems to achieve, one of those huge pink flowers went flopping to the ground, falling from the lapel.
GASP! THE HORROR! Although I could have thought of much more troubling things to be happening at that moment, I could not think of a single thing in the world that was more important than that flower lying there in the middle of the stage, unattended, unpinned, and downright unwieldy! What if someone was to trip and the whole production be ruined?!
I did not have to wonder for long, because one of those muscle legged gents soon danced his way over to the flower, and with no fanfare and with almost tactical like precision, he kicked it from off the stage. The move looked flawless, like the stitching on the flower was actually designed to fail, so this one guy would, on cue of course, saunter over and gracefully kick the flower off the stage.
Later that night, thinking back about how the dancer had nonchalantly kicked the fallen flower off the stage, I thought about often times I have let hiccups throw me off course. And, I thought about how those hiccups eventually worked themselves into masterful little triumphs. I thought of these three things:
1) Screw ups are often not as noticeable or as impactful as you might think
No one around me gasped aloud when the flower fell. No one cared. Everyone was still in awe of the dancers’ abilities and performance skills.
2) People find mistakes to be a genuine (dare I say, mundane) part of being human and are quite forgiving of others mistakes
I found it to be a fun little part of the show that a small thing went wrong. I was also very entertained by how the dancer solved the problem, if we could even call a flower on the floor a real problem.
3) Just keep on dancing
No one fell on the floor, or cussed, or stomped the flower. It found its way to the backstage and the performance just went on, of course.
My connection to this mundane thing is my tendency to let hiccups get the best of me and take a big ole dump on my goals, dreams, and creativity. It’s the curse of perfectionism: I sometimes cannot see all the good in what I am doing if there is just one little thing going wrong.
But, I’m learning to not let those little hiccups get me down or slow me down. I’m learning to do as the graceful dancer did: when all else fails, just keep dancing and kicking, whether that kicking means kicking yourself in the pants, kicking your problems to the curb, or kicking someone’s ass if they’re in your way.
*Disclaimer: I do not publicly condone violence of any kind.
Until tomorrow, my friends…
This morning, standing in front of my Vitamix, half-awake, having just gotten out of bed after a raucous night of watching YouTube videos and waiting to reply to “Happy New Year” texts, I realized what I wanted to write about for the first day of my New Year resolution: CHANGE.
I tore the three stems of kale into small pieces and fluffed them into a delicate arrangement before turning on the blender. I do not know why I do this; I know that in a few seconds, all of it, the kale, the banana, the protein powder, will all be blended into a cheerful sludge that can be sipped through a straw. As the blender ran, I thought of how change happens constantly, and inevitably, to everything and everyone around me. I thought about how even though the kale went from its original state to an almost microscopic chopped version in less than a minute, its values remained unchanged. I thought of myself, and how even though my core values have not changed, life has taught me many valuable lessons over the past two years of my life, even though I often felt as helpless and beaten as I am sure the kale did whirling around a high-powered blender.
Change has been both my best friend and my worst enemy. Change challenged me to see myself in a new, brighter light. But, sometimes change crept into my relationships with others, and dimmed the light, leaving behind heartache and disappointment. Change has made me feel so powerless, and then over time, taught me the power in letting go.
What will this new year bring? I have no idea. I no longer speculate about the future very much. I no longer try to manipulate every moment of today into what I think will be something great tomorrow. So much is unknown to me and out of my control. Life is full of things that I can’t even fathom how to control. The prevalence of change in the past 2 years of my life has taught me how silly it is to even participate in the illusion of control.
After watching the blender whirl around for a few moments, I smiled that very slight smile that your face does when you aren’t really thinking about anything, and I decided that this is what I’d write about today. Perhaps this isn’t the most eloquent thing I will write all year, but it is honest, authentic, and a little strange, like me.
Happy New Year
See ya tomorrow!
In my opinion, this is one of the best songs written about change. Tupac talks about how change affects different people in his life, including himself, and the repeated line, “I ain’t mad at cha” conveys his easy and accepting attitude about how change is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Rest in Peace, Tupac, and thank you for sharing your life and poetry with us. Enjoy the song by clicking the link below:
Part of my goal in travelling to Portland was to not have goals, to not over think, over plan, over anything. I wanted to give chance the chance to interact with me and my life, something that I don’t usually embrace.
This is also a long and more eloquent way of saying that I didn’t plan anything to do, other than the tour to Haystack Rock and along the Oregon coast.
On Friday, October 20, 2017, I slept in (thank goodness) and met up with Rachel, the friendly British girl from the tour yesterday.
I should say that one of my “soft goals” for visiting Portland was to attempt to experience it as if I lived here. If I lived here, I wouldn’t search “what to do in Portland” everyday and check off things off the list. I would do regular, stuff, like meet a friend for lunch, sit in traffic, etc.
The sitting in traffic bit has become more familiar than I’d like, to be honest. So, on Friday, I drove from Beaverton in to downtown Portland. I wanted to be a cool kid and act like a local, so I tried to look for street parking.
Between the terrible traffic, journey from Beaverton into downtown Portland and searching for somewhere, anywhere, to park, I was 30 minutes late meeting up with Rachel. Tardiness is the biggest of my pet peeves, but, I am happy to say that I did not get into a mental frenzy over it.
Lesson learned: Even when you try or do your best, there is still a good chance that things won’t work out the way you planned or hoped.
Thanks, Portland traffic and downtown parking, for reminding me of this important lesson.
I finally found a parking spot that required me to pay $4 for two hours. I had to parallel park my huge rental, a 2017 Chevrolet Impala, into the spot, and I am proud to report that I was able to do it in one try. The Impala isn’t a limousine, but it is quite larger, in both length and width, than the Honda Accord I typically drive.
After walking in the light rain for a few blocks, I arrived at Powell’s bookstore. Powell’s is a Portland institution and is a lot of fun, but I had no interest in going back inside to wander around, since I did so a couple of years ago, and didn’t want to lug around the several pounds of books that I would buy. Going to the bookstore is a treat for me; I absolutely love it and it’s hard for me to control myself when I am in one. On more than one occasion, I have gone into a bookstore and left with $100 worth of stuff and no idea how it happened.
Rachel seemed completely unfazed by my tardiness and even more uninterested in my polite attempt to explain what happened.
Lesson learned #2: People are usually a combination of quite forgiving and loosely uninterested in you.
This lesson is hard for me to learn when taught in the context of tardiness. I absolutely hate when someone is late, but aside from that, I, too, am generally quite forgiving of people and their shortcomings, whether intentional or not.
Rachel and I walked 10 minutes in the cold, wind, and rain to the Portland City Grill, a lovely and swank restaurant on the 30th floor of an office building. The tour guide told us about it and it did not disappoint. The views of the city were spectacular.
I love the pacific northwest because the trees here somehow speak to my soul. I am not an outdoorsy person. I am quite chubby and I don’t typically do much of anything related to the outdoors. To me, “outdoors” is where I keep my car and where the roads are where I drive my car.
However, there’s something that warms my soul about the transition that trees undergo in the Autumn…well, trees in places that are not as close to the equator as we are in the southern United States.
Once you leave the South, where everything is warm and green seemingly year round, you are able to experience Autumn in a visual way. I have seen the most beautiful colors ever, just existing, for free viewing, on the trees here in the Portland area.
The food at the Portland City Grill was also very good. I had steelhead trout, which looks identical to salmon (to me), but the flavor is a little less pronounced. I also had the New York style cheesecake. It was ok, but not terribly memorable.
After hanging out with Rachel, I walked back to my car. I knew that the meter had expired, but I made no particular hurry to get back there. I would usually have rushed through lunch, with the impending deadline looming over my head and invading my thoughts. Instead, I thought, “It’ll be ok” and when lunch was over, I carefully walked back to my car, in the wind, rain, and cold, and observed the dashboard. NO TICKET.
Another full 30 minutes late.
Now, this experiment in “low worry, low stress” is not a doorway into tardiness for me. No, absolutely not. I still abhor tardiness with a level of hatred that I can’t describe. However, this mind experiment is a way for me to curb some of the ongoing and pervasive anxiety that typically fills my mind every day, all day. To sum up:
- Did I try to be on time for lunch? Yes. Did factors beyond my control and knowledge prevent me from being on time for lunch? Also yes. Should I beat myself up about it? No.
- Did I know what time my parking meter expire? Yes. Did I rush through an encounter with an actual human to get back to my car? No. Did the universe reward me for breaking my anxious patterns by not giving me a parking ticket? Perhaps.
All in all, it was a good day. I began to not feel so great, like a cold was coming on, so I went drove back to the hotel room for some rest.
I am also learning that one of the most important things that you should give your mind and body is A BREAK. Give yourself a got damn break. Take a nap. Go to sleep. Stop doing stuff, all the stuff, any of the stuff. So, that’s what I did with the remainder of the day.
Until the next adventure…
Thursday was my first full day in Portland, Oregon.
I normally do not like to schedule tours or other regimented things to do on the first day after landing in a new place. My body doesn’t tolerate airplane travel terribly well, even though I do it relatively often. I am often tired and just not feeling very energetic after air travel.
However, due to some scheduling conflicts with the tour company, the only day I could go on the Oregon Coast tour was on Thursday, my first full day in the city.
I don’t currently have to get up super early in the morning, so getting up at 6:00 am to fight rain, wind, and Portland traffic to go on a tour of the Oregon coast was a challenge. I am currently staying in an Extended Stay Hotel in Beaverton, which is just outside of Portland. Even though the journey into downtown was less than 10 miles, it still took me over an hour from door to parking garage. Yikes! This is the route from the airport area to my hotel.
I can say, however, in defense of the Oregonians, that they are a friendly driving bunch. I was able to easily change lanes when I realized I was in the wrong one. No one honked at me, and in an attempt to blend in, I did not honk at anyone.
I arrived at the parking garage, then walked the two blocks to the near-by Starbucks to wait for the tour bus to arrive. I received a call shortly after 9:00 am, stating that the tour guide was caught in some traffic. I was glad to know that even locals suffer through the traffic as well.
I saw one tour bus pull up, so I left the Starbucks with the $2 bottle of water that I bought just to ease my guilt about asking for the code to the bathroom. Guess who was in line for the tour? The lady who sat next to me on the flight yesterday, and of course, her husband. Thankfully, the bus was there for them, not for me. I am so appreciative that the universe did not think I was so awful as to deserve to sit next to those people for two days in a row, two travel excursions in a row.
While waiting for the next tour bus, the woman waiting with me started talking. She was a short, fair-skinned, blonde haired Brit from Manchester. I held my umbrella over her and examined her outfit. I thought it was a curious outfit, given the weather: Ugg boots, denim shorts, black leggings under the shorts, a sweatshirt, a coat with a furry hood, no rain slicker, no umbrella.
I felt quite smart in the outfit I’d chosen, but I have learned from experience to dress for comfort and weather while traveling, to hell with how cute you want to look. I was wearing an over-sized jacket with deep pockets, well-fitting blue jeans, a camisole, a long sweater, and pink rain boots. I felt so superior during the whole day, as the other tour participants wearily maneuvered around puddles while I stepped right in them with glee, not a care in my heart and not a drop of rain water on my feet.
The tour had several stops, including one at a nice, but not terribly blog worth rest stop a the entrance to a state park.
By far, the most interesting stop of the tour was Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. You can read more about it here: Haystack Rock Wikipedia
The weather was MISERABLE. I loved it, though. I have been to London twice, and even though both times have been cold and rainy, it is still my favorite place in the world (at least so far). So, to experience cold, windy, rainy, overall miserable weather along the Oregon coast was a delight to my soul. Perhaps my soul is also cold and miserable, which is why the weather delights me so much.
This is a view of Haystack rock. You maybe can’t tell from this photo, but it is absolutely majestic! The weather was SUPER COLD, near freezing. It was so windy that I fought to control my umbrella, but the wind snatched it away and turned it inside out twice. You can’t see her, but there’s a local teenage girl dancing barefoot in the waves, while wearing a hoodie and shorts. I just stood there for a little while and smiled, letting her joy infect me from afar, even though of course I thought she’d also lost her mind.
This is a set of houses along the beach. Wow, those folks sure are fortunate.
This photo of me was taken by my super cute, happy, energetic, and overall adorably kind and hilariously Oregon-ish tour guide. I didn’t get a photo of him, but he had the kind of energy and kindness that I aspire to one day have.
Haystack Rock is in the distance and the girl next to me on the phone is the British girl that I met outside the Starbucks. Although it is popular for tourists, or just anyone with a face and hands, to go places and photograph everything, I have trained myself to stop doing that. Thanks to the self-inflicted control, I have actual memories, you know, the kind that you keep in your brain, of places I have visited. I have the memory of the girl dancing in the freezing waters and if I just think about it, I can feel the cool water drops beating against my face while standing on the beach. I think memories > selfies + incessant tourist photography. But enough of my ranting…
The next stop was along a cool trail near the Haystack rock. I didn’t get a photo of where this was, but the tour guide was super jazzed to take us here. We followed him down what he called an “entirely flat” path to another spot on the beach. As a chubby girl who isn’t yet the athlete of my dreams, I can say that the path is more accurately described as “mostly, kind of flat”, but to a super fit soccer coach / tour guide, I could understand how his muscles didn’t require the effort that the rest of ours did.
Even though I am thoroughly a city girl, at least that’s how I currently describe myself, I was in awe of the old growth trees (that’s what the tour guide called this area, “old growth”).
This is a tree that fell down a long time ago, and other stuff is growing from it and on it. So beautiful.
This is a gorgeous tree stump!
A downed tree across a small river running through the forest.
The river running through the forest and the bridge overhead.
Next, our super, super eco-friendly and conservationist tour guide drove us through a lumber mill. I found this to be so, so hilarious and a bit ironic, especially to an outsider, perhaps even more especially humorous to a person who has lived in Texas for a long time. In Texas, it seems the most important thing to protect is GUNS or your access to them. To hear a tour guide wax on about conservation but then to also drive us through a lumber yard, in a judicious attempt to show how even though he hates cutting down trees, sweetly showed how he also understands how doing so is the livelihood of lots of Oregonians.
This little deep sea fishing business was located next to the lumber yard.
The next stop was the Tillamook Forest Center. Of course, I had to take a photo of the huge Smokey the Bear statue.
Because I am a city girl, and I knew that I’d be going back to the hustle and bustle of Houston, AND because, really WHY NOT, I bought a pair of statement earrings from the gift shop. Yes, the gift shop had tons of, well, forest related stuff, but I am moving towards only acquiring things that make me happy. So, a book about trees would have perhaps matched the purpose of the museum, but, for me, there’s nothing like a pair of interesting earrings. I have an embarrassingly huge earring collection and I love a pair that comes with a story. These definitely have a story. And they’re gold. And they’re birds. I mean, what more do you want in a fashion accessory?
Photos of me attempting to take a few shots with and of the beautiful scenery. I took some of these with my phone in an attempt to save my point and shoot camera from getting even more wet.
I am trying to let my eyebrows grow back and I have been mistaken for a much younger person lately. Coincidence? Perhaps.
The last stop was the Tillamook Creamery and Museum. They make world-famous cheese and the shop was part museum, part gift shop, part creamery. I am lactose intolerant, don’t particularly have any affinity for cheese, and, since it was about 45F outside, I had no particular interest in the ice cream, which I will usually endure the intestinal distress to eat anyway. So, I wandered around and took some photos while we were there.
Here’s a photo of a very beautiful dairy cow. This is a photo of a huge photo, to be exact.
The outside of the museum and gift shop.
Some plastic cow figures explaining the birthing cycle of a cow.
I absolutely love a museum, but I honestly wasn’t too jazzed about a dairy museum. Maybe it was the end of the day and I was too tired to appreciate it.
That’s it for today, more stories and adventures coming soon!
About a week ago, I was sitting in my office in Houston, Texas, daydreaming about whether or not I should take a quick jaunt up to Oregon, you know, to relax, escape the enduring Southern heat, and take a break from the sadness in my heart, and the sadness of the whole city. In case you have been under a news media rock, Houston was pretty much submerged in water for several days thanks to our friend known as Hurricane Harvey.
Without much planning, I booked a flight and hotel and rental car and arrived here in Portland this morning. The few hours it took me to get here have already given me enough to write about for the next week, and if this hotel was any nicer, I might just lock myself inside and do just that. Alas, my efforts to be cheap have landed me in a barely nice, lightly musty hotel room, which I may vacate if my snobbier tendencies do not release me. I am going to give it one night.
Here’s a few stories from the day, so far. It’s only 3:16 pm here and the day is still young, even though I typically feel horrible after flying and today is no different.
Air Travel Sucks
Before I arrived to the airport in Houston, I received a text message from United Airlines saying my flight was delayed by 30 minutes, and it’d leave at 9:30 am. With the extra 30 minutes, I decided to very slowly eat a bag of cashews and trail mix, drink my $5 bottle of Fiji water, and play with the idea of reporting the well dressed business man who left his luggage unattended for about 15 minutes.
Just as the businessman came back, I overheard an impatient woman announce the final boarding call for Portland. I looked at my phone, noticed it was only 9:01 am, but proceeded to run to the gate anyway. Although I was technically wearing athletic shoes, no other part of my body is athletic, and I was doing my best not to swallow the heart pieces that were lodged in my throat. I was relieved when the United representative did not ask me any questions regarding my boarding pass. I wouldn’t have had the breath to respond anyway.
Aside from the very, very talkative passengers next to me, the flight was uneventful. I will write about them in a future blog post.
Arriving in Portland, I had the chance to sit in a full-sized chair while I waited, and waited, and waited for the bags to arrive on the carousel. While I waited, I took a picture of my feet.
And here’s a photo of the nearby piano that has a big sign on it that states “Play Me.” Two people took the piano up on its offer; one played beautifully, the other just played.
Here are some other fellow, miserable passengers waiting for the bags to come.
And here’s a lovely old lady who decided to wear all the contents of her bag instead of packing them. You can’t tell from this photo (which is a shame) that she is wearing an undershirt, a sweater, a coat thing over that, and a skirt, and some stockings, and some leggings. Even to a Southerner, Oregon isn’t cold enough to require such excessive attire. The poor dear. Or, should I say, “Bless her heart” as we’d say in the South.
I stood around patiently until my bag finally came. I have learned to be a little aggressive when waiting for bags; I learned this behavior in Lagos. After a full plane of people waiting for about half an hour for their bags, being a little aggressive at the carousel was necessary.
After retrieving my bag, I went to the Budget rental counter. I forgot that I rented from them before and I also forgot that you have to ride a little bus a full 10 minutes away to their rental counter. The price was cheap, but I did regret the distance, once I got on the funky little bus.
While waiting on the funky little bus, I noticed these odd little storage houses inside of the terminal. I wonder what’s in them? Oregon has that feel of nice people doing nice things all the nice time, so I didn’t automatically presume it was something treacherous or macabre, like I would have thought had I been in Texas.
And what a lovely and dreary day to arrive in Portland! I love the rain and the cold, so for me, this place is like heaven on Earth.
First place to go after getting the rental car? FOOD, of course. I typically fly in the mornings, and if it is a short-ish flight, I do not eat. So, I was ready for breakfast about 7 hours after waking up this morning.
I had heard about this place called Burgerville and I decided to drive there and have a chicken sandwich. It was tasty, even though everything is sold a la cart, so a chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries, and a soda cost $12. Meh, I guess, when in Rome, right?
I can say that going through the drive-thru at Burgerville was its own lovely experience because of two things: 1) There’s a sign alerting car drivers to watch for folks on a bicycle (which I honestly think might be against the law in Houston, ha!) and 2) I have never seen such beautiful, Fall foliage in a drive-thru.
This is where I will leave the post for today. More stories and adventures to come.
Until next time, my friends…