Three Questions About Living My Life The Right Way

Today I’m going to answer the next three questions at once, because I feel as though they can all be answered simultaneously. the questions are: What is the difference between living and existing? If not now, when? and, have you done anything recently worth remembering?

If you know me, or rather, if you knew me, you’d realize that I’ve been trapped in a really crappy mood recently. Not just the January Blues (although January does really suck), more like the September, October, November, December, and January Blues. 2011 was a year I gave my self to stand still, but it left me feeling despondent and desperate to reconnect with my inner self.

I have a great “life”: health, house, husband, and hound. I have a job and a car and great friends. My brother told me that, financially, I’m in the “top 1% globally” (this is out of all 7 billion people, please don’t “Occupy” my driveway), and I can really believe it in many ways: I never thought I’d have all this at the tender age of 26. It’s a great life.

But living, to me, is backpacking across Asia, or learning to weave in India, or building a school in Africa. That was the plan I had for my life, which, for very reasonable reasons, didn’t play out right. Before anyone thinks I’m husband-bashing, the primary focus of my disappointment is myself. I get bouts of paranoia where I doubt myself, and think that I no longer have “what it takes” to do any of the things that I ever wanted to do.

Which brings me onto our second topic. If not now, then when? We all have dreams, some big, some small. Most of our dreams don’t allow us to choose the exact time that we get to realize them; however, there are those dreams, few and ignorable, that actually do focus on something that we can control. For me, that dream has been running. I was a runner when I was younger, WAY younger, over ten years ago. I used to run a lot. But a painful knee condition and the crippling self-consciousness of being an overweight teenager caused a fracture in my self-confidence, and, even after my knees were stronger, I never really ran again. Over the last few years I’ve dappled with 5ks (my fastest time being in the 29th minute), and have been known to run outside on nicer days here in Kansas City. Something in me has wanted to do a longer run years, and I’ve always held myself back, telling myself that I can’t do it, that I’ll fail. Or worse, that I will do it and no-one will care or value it.

This year I turn twenty-seven: the age I always believed I’d have my shit together. I finally realised that this is my year, and that I will train for that half marathon, and I really don’t care what people think or if people think it is an achievement. I’ve decided that 2012 is the “when” and the “now”, and that running this distance race will be the first step towards re-discovering all of my dreams of adventure.

As for the thing worth remembering? Well, I feel like we should remember every day, even the bad ones, as we can’t learn from things we forget. But that aside, I believe that today I did something worth remembering. I took the plunge, I signed up for The Race… I have a great friend who has committed to keeping me running, and I’m going to go for it.

Fingers crossed….


Do you celebrate the things you do have?

Today I would like to make a list of the things I am grateful for:

1) The fact that, by some strange mercy, it was 64 degrees in Kansas City today. And sunny.

2) My husband, who is one of the kindest and funniest people that I know. Watching him chase my puppy around the house is a highlight of my life.

3) My puppy, Batman, who has taught me that I am a “Dog person”. No matter how bad my day, how sick I feel, or how loud I yell; he always follows me around with a happy face and a wagging tail. His love is unconditional.

4) My job. In this economy it is rare to have a job, let alone a job I enjoy as much as the one I have. I take an immense amount of pride in my work, and am thankful that I am in a career I want to be in.

5) My house. I’m fortunate to be able to afford a home, and all the luxuries that I really need or want. It’s easy to always want more in a country that puts so much emphasis on commodities; however, today I am thankful for what I already have.

6) My family. Even though I am so far away from them, I contact my family every day. I wish that I could be with them, but we are lucky to live in such a technological world where it is possible to be in constant contact with the people I love. I have always been close to them, and they are my constant companions on everything that I do.

7) My friends. I love my friends, both on this side of the world and the other. Today I was able to talk to my oldest friend; Donna and I have been friends since we were three, and I was blessed enough to be maid of honour at her wedding. This afternoon we skyped for the first time, I was able to show her my house, my dog, my new haircut. It didn’t feel as though we were 3000 miles and 6 hours apart. I am thankful for her.

8) My lucky number is 8. I am thankful for knowing my own mind, and for being strong enough to live the life I want to lead. At the end of all things, the most important thing I have is my own mind and my own personality.

The day that started the questions.

The first mundane fact about me (and there will be hundreds, if not thousands, to follow) is that I work in an office, and sit in a cubicle. I used to have an office back when I first started 2 and a half years ago… four walls of my very own, with a copy of Van Gough’s ‘Starry Night’ on the wall, which everyone thought was depressing but I rather liked. Having an office was an advantage of being hired after a recession… lots of empty offices around. True story.

But, fortunately, my company has grown rapidly since then, and I have had to give up my (much-loved) office in favour of a cubicle that has a lot less space, but a lot more visitors. I’d much rather have a cubicle in a period of growth than an office in a recession, and I’d much rather have a tiny cubicle filled with visitors than a large office (with free painting) with no-one in it by me. Truthfully, I did rather rattle around in there on my lonesome.

Another (or two) mundane facts about me is that I like my job, and I like the people I work with. They keep me occupied. (Another mundane fact about me: I grew up in England next to a “pill-box” bomb shelter. I can’t use the word ‘occupied’ without thinking about the second world war, even if I don’t mean it in THAT way).

Anyway, as my A-Level Classics teacher, Mr Chappell, would say: “I digress”. It was on a rather usual day, when I was sitting in my cube with my work friends when someone sent me a link. I think the exact article was something along the lines of “50 things you need to stop doing”. The website was .

I fell in love with this website on the spot. I love reading current things by current people, and this website spoke to me. I loved the truthfulness behind the articles, and found myself agreeing with almost every article I read. The points were simple, well constructed, and hard to ignore. After a good forty minutes of browsing (in between working, of course), I came across the following article: “365 Questions to ask yourself this year“. I read all 365 questions, even though I was at work, answering each one in my head. Some were easy, some were hard, some were cheesy, and some were genuinely insightful.

Suddenly a little voice (I think it might even have been “Me”) spoke up inside my head. I should do this, I should answer these questions, one a day for a year… and I was Inspired. Capital “I”. It’s been so many years since I truly felt inspired and motivated to write than I hardly recognized what was happening.

Inspiration was always easy for me in college, I only needed to open a blank document on my computer and a short story would come tripping off my keyboard, often a thinly disguised reflection of my own life. I could, and often did, write several poems a day, the themes were very collegiate: Love, Sex, Heartbreak, Despair. Moving into the real world came with the cost of a cold, hard truth. Writing a poem about paying a mortgage, or watching my friends lose their jobs was neither easy, productive, or touching. I found the only words trapped in my keyboards were short, unintentionally terse email home: Everything fine, sorry for not writing, hope to write more soon. My mother would reminisce: “you used to write such lovely, long letters, everyone used to look forward to them”. The elephant in the room was that I no longer wrote, and people no longer expected me to. Me, the family writer, suddenly without definition. I was the family wordsmith, I had become somebody else’s Employee, and somebody else’s Wife.

So this glimmer of inspiration, this tiny re-entrance into my mind, is something huge and wonderful in the scheme of my grand Midwestern adventure. I hope to discover who I’ve become, if I’ve really changed in the five years since I put down the pen. My intention is not to impress my opinion upon anyone, and I sincerely hope nothing I write is offensive, it is not intended to be. I will answer my first question on January 1st, working from the list in the original article. If I omit, edit or amend any questions, this is only to better suit the purposes of the blog. I will try to keep aligned as closely to the questions I first read on that strange, nondescript December day.