So Long, Long Time

little daisies

I’ve recently discovered that I define the term friend very loosely. It’s not that I don’t have any friends, or that I don’t think of them as assets to any happy life. It’s that I put up with a little too much a little too long. I was always the type of girl who could never say “no”. I was afraid to say no for the fear of not being liked, or for hurting someone’s feelings. I would do things that I didn’t really care to do or that went against something that I believed to better be there for a friend. But I have recently stopped doing that, and in this new habit of saying no I have offended people who I had always said yes to.

In Buddhism, there is a practice that describes the term ”happiness” as providing happiness to others and you will in turn have a happy life, and you will be fulfilled. I agree with that whole-heartedly. But there are also enemies in your life that can cause great poison to the things you wish to do and your happiness and in that sense you must learn from your experiences with that person and be grateful for what they have taught you…and then move on.

I am not one to preach. And while we’re on the subject, I am a minimalistic religious person. I am an atheist in a predominately faith driven world. I read books on our evolution beginning in Africa. On skulls found throughout our time that better describe where we came from. I am not a bible reader. I do not pray. I am not a church goer, and frankly I’m happy to be that way. I don’t need to be anything else to better suit others. Currently I am Buddhist only because Buddhism teaches mindfulness in the current moment, loving others, cherishing life, protecting all things that live around us, and being compassionate. What better values to have? I want to be a good person, and I believe that I am. Religion has not created nor tested that fact about me. But if only people could see that everyone is different. We all have a reality that we believe to be true from different experiences and memories. We cannot force our reality on others because it only creates stress, struggle, anger. What we see in the world and how we decipher those pictures are all based on how our own mind works. No one else will see what you see, no one else will feel what you feel. Only you can examine certain experiences how you would examine them. When others try to make you understand something or get upset that you are doing something they don’t agree with, it is because you are disrupting whatever they believe their reality to be, and they are trying to protect that reality. You cannot take this personally, because it is not you doing so. (in reference to The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz)

That is why I am redefining my term “friend”. I no longer will compromise who I am to further a friendship. I will no longer sacrifice things that permit my happiness to better suit someone else’s reality. I am who I am and that will never change. Subtlety is not my strong-suit, I drink, I curse, but I should be free to live my life without offending people by being who I am. I embrace my quirks, and my imperfections as I will do for you.

I was taught to be good to all things. I am happy to call people my friends (assuming I will still have a few after this post) and I embrace everything that they are with every inch of my being. I will never tell you to be something you are not, as I would expect the same in return from you. I will look at you with loving eyes and know that you are going to do the things that make you happy and that may be something I don’t agree with and that is O.K. I am not here to change you, I am not here to make you something else, I am not here to distract you from the things that make you most happy. I am here for a shoulder. I am here to hear you. I am here to help you laugh and enjoy your life, and give you company when it is needed. I am here to be loyal when others fault, I am here to offer any advice that I can give you when it is needed. I am a friend. And that is what my new definition of friend shall be. No falseness. No bailing. I will be true to my word and I will be there for you. As you should be for me. With love, and compassion and most of all understanding.

-C

Funny Honey

purple flower

You know what’s funny? I always thought I would enjoy myself so much more as an adult when I was young. And that is simply not true. Honestly, I don’t know what’s worse – not knowing what to do in my free time, or being bored because I don’t have enough things to fill up my free time. But I do have a lot of things. So. Many. Things. But I have revolved my life around when I’m at work. And I don’t even do something extraordinary. I am a server. At a restaurant. I define the term “waitress” in apps, small plates, and tray service. And I look around at all of these people I know, all of these successful people and I stop and think – “what the hell am I doing?”

I have amazing friends, who are passionate in their hobbies to the point where they make their hobbies a source of income. They get to create all day and get paid. I get to serve families of four with their constant refills of Diet Coke with lime and “Can I get more teriyaki sauce?” What the hell am I doing. I act, sure. I paint, yeah. I take pictures, blog, sing. But none of these things am I so successful at that National Geographic wants to give me a yearly contract with a great starting salary. So how did these people do it? Did they just work really hard to get there? Did they fall into networking with someone great and just skyrocket from there? I must admit, I’m jealous at how amazing my friends are.

I am a pessimist. A total down-on-your-luck type of person when I’m not busy. I get in my head. I think too much. I start to doubt that I’m capable of doing those things for a living, and I resort back to just serving tables. Hoping that will fill the void long enough for me to stop thinking about it. Or am I just giving up? Am I being lazy? Am I not working hard enough to try and get those things too? Maybe. Who really knows why. Maybe I have made bad decisions in trying to make these hobbies a physical job related reality. Or maybe I just started to care too much recently. Realizing that your hobbies don’t really do much for you starts to make them not so fun hobbies. And then you lose passion in them, and then they don’t create the result you want. And then…quite frankly, the results are shit.

I’m just a bummer in a nutshell. I ‘bum’ about things, and don’t really have a reason to. Maybe LA snatched the life out of me. Going and going like an energizer bunny can wear down your drive. Maybe I just need a break. But I have a break, right now. I have 10 days off from my job to do nothing, to sit and do my hobbies. And the first few days of trying to enjoy doing my hobbies I quit enjoying them. Painting for instance. I think I’ve lost my creativity, my imagination. I can think of nothing to paint. It pains me to paint, because I sit there and wonder what to do. Did school do this to me? I used to sit in class in high school and just create things, I had a million ideas running through my head. I was good at it. I knew what I was doing. Now I have nothing, I have no ideas. The ones I do aren’t that interesting.

So what happened? Did bullshitting all those papers about government in college suck me into this adult bubble of serious thoughts and how to make more money? Who am I? Where did I get this attitude? Why am I so concerned with it all? I just want to be able to create like I used to, so how can I get back to that?

Maybe that is why school seems so enticing to me. Going back to study Archaeology and Anthropology. Get a degree to go in the jungle and work with Primates. Would I be happy there? Surrounded by animals? Probably. But I can’t be sure. I’m manic. I’m all over the place. Someone has opened my mind and whipped it up like Sunday eggs. Is there such a thing as a mid 20′s crisis? I need to get my shit together and I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe that’s what the others have that I don’t. They have their shit together. They took a chance on one path and stuck to it. I have a million paths that I take a few steps down each day, only to come back to the middle by the end of the evening. Set up camp, get some sleep, and start fresh in the morning. I need to take my gear with me. Let things go and just head for the unknown with my head held high. Hoping that I’ll have enough money to get by. I’m a chicken shit for not doing it yet. I have no courage to just go. But I’m going to force myself.

Maybe that’s what I lost, my childish enthusiasm that everything will be alright. Funny little world, isn’t it?

-C

Soul Searching

bench

Ive recently done a lot of soul searching about myself. At first I was forced. Bad relationships can create that lost self after so much time in a downward spiral. But being forced was a good thing. Ive learned a lot in these 2 years of not ever really being with anyone. At first it was hard. It was the worst getting used to doing things alone again, but honestly – I enjoy my solitude now. It was hard remembering what made me happy, since I was so wrapped up in a life for two. It was hard knowing how to go out and do things by myself.

And that is where I went wrong from the beginning. I let go of my independence for something I thought was better. Something I thought would last. Silly me, life doesn’t work that way. I know that now, and with my 2 years under my belt of doing things alone I can say there are things I know more about myself than I ever would have learned with someone else by my side. I learned that I love to paint, I learned that I can be brave – moving out to a city far away from anything and anyone familiar and starting my life from scratch, I learned my personality better – when I should hold my tongue and when its ok to lose my cool, I learned patience, I learned to love myself, I learned that going to see a movie or a concert by myself is actually pretty relaxing. So many things have been figured out just by being with myself in my own space.

I can say that I am truly at my happiest right now, alone, with no one knocking on my door – and that is saying something. Relationships mean something completely different to me now. There is no ultimate sacrifice to be with someone, there is only compromise when the time is appropriate. Nothing should ever be taken forever for the sake of someone else. There is no change in who you are and there should never ever be. I learned that one the hard way, but I am better for it. And I know that it will never happen again. Perhaps that’s why I’ve stayed without significant others for this stretch of time. Not because I don’t want them, but because I want to do things without someone else’s plans thrown in the mix or disapproval of something I wish to do. I want to travel, I want to study Anthropology, Archaeology, Wildlife Biology, Primatology, Zoology. I want to learn things, and learn them on my own, I want to take pictures, and spend time with my family I already have, and then later I can worry about making one of my own.

Perhaps that makes me selfish, wanting to do all those things without someone telling me otherwise. But maybe that’s my whole point. Maybe I have spent too much time helping others achieve what they desperately want and let go of my own needs. Which can be ok for a little while but not forever. I let go for too long. And now I have taken this time to achieve what I want. I don’t know how long it will last, I don’t want to plan it. I just want to continue it now. Continue the single thought process and uninterrupted ideas. Sit by myself somewhere are just write, alone on a park bench. Alone anywhere.

All I really know is this is the first time I have ever felt this way. I’ve always been the hopeless romantic type, hoping that my soul mate or true love is somewhere out there. Who knows, maybe he is. But I’ve stopped planning for it. I’ve let go of that, and focussed on the love for myself. I think it’s about time. After all, I was dealt a tough card thinking I had found love already but was wrong. And that’s ok because it has given me the time to really enjoy my own company. I had been missing out on that.

Cheers to aloneness. Embrace it.

-C

Speak Low

Charlotte in the mountains

I’ve recently discovered the unfortunate demise of the word “hope” in my life. I have hoped for things far too often and I find many times more often than not – the hope cannot be fulfilled simply by hoping. I recently “hoped” for someone only to realize that this person I’ve tended to hope for has never pulled through for me at all. Not even once, not even close.

I find this very confusing. Why do I continue to hope for people? And then I realize, ah yes, it is because I have hope in people. What I have is a hope that everyone is good and just and people will follow through, that their word is good. But here’s the thing, some people’s words are not good. Half the time they don’t mean anything. They fill the void that is open space to be filled. They say things just to say things. They say but do not DO.

I have also been a practitioner of this, and I’m sorry and sad to admit it. I don’t know where we got this idea that saying we are going to do things and then NOT doing them has become OK. I try more often than not to follow through with my word but alas, I am a sorry soul to reek havoc on the fiction of “hope.”

I have created that horrific circle of hoping for people, and letting people down. When all it really comes down to is being good with your word. Thinking before you speak, knowingly saying yes or no. And for that matter, not feeling bad when you want to say NO and just simply saying it.

I find this very hard. Saying no to people is not something I’m good at. And that is where my fault lies. We would rather say yes to not make our own selves feel bad when we know that answer should have been no. We don’t let ourselves down by saying yes, and in turn let others down by giving them false hope. By lying.

I rant on about this. Is there a fix? Is there a solution?

The only time my mind feels safe is when she is out in the mountains. Fresh air, pine trees, pathways of water streamed through. I recently discovered that when I am in these mountainous forms of rock and wood I have clear thoughts. I’m not running from saying “yes”, I’m not pitying the false “hope”. I am just living. Living in the present moment of the beauty around me. I had the pleasure of taking photos, which also clears the mind. Seeing through a lens perfectly crafted to magnify what your eyes are seeing. Freezing time in a pixelated masterpiece. Looking back on these photos we can catch a glimpse of that feeling again. Soaking in the technological nostalgia that we desperately “hope” to feel.

That is the good hope. The kind you create for yourself. In your hobbies, in things you love. I hope someone reads this and understands my jumbled thoughts and imagery. That is good hope. That is the kind that floats in the unknown. Either delivering or leaving you wondering if it ever delivered. Not knowing the truth can sometimes be better than knowing. Hoping for the best and never receiving the terrible news.

I would rather have the mountains tell me everything is alright…

-C

First and Foremost

I take a moment. Breathe. Let my shoulders sink, and I begin –

I’m not good at creating habit. Never have been. Even with the sour things: smoking, drinking, lust. It was never my thing, never something I wanted to sink my fingernails into and never let go. I still have to find new things that I may enjoy, as most humans do, but I have this agonizing thought in the back of my mind. That interrogating question on my very being. “What if you get bored of this?” And yes, what if I do?

I spent my college days pursuing something I thought I wanted as a child. Perhaps I still do. But there comes a time when you keep pushing and pushing, and the tires just keep spinning in the mud, in the rainfall that is any profession for the last 10 years. Unless you’re someone in a carpeted box, much like a Homo Sapien style Kennel. A modern day “Neanderthal Cave” if you will. Only instead of hunching over your latest kill, its over paperwork. I prefer not to live in a box with the only incoming light coming from some plug in the wall, faceted to an LED light bulb. Only the best. No, I wanted the lights to shine on me in a different way. I wanted a stage beneath me, spatting words from some director who wrote a story about his divorce or a dead poet who created half of the English language we know today. I still want that. But what I DONT want is to have the passion ripped from me as a puppy from it’s mother, weeks too early because the puppy mill needs to make its shipment on time. I don’t want to only do what I believe to be something very dear to me because my rent is coming up and I need to make enough on the next paycheck.

I’ve realized how much has spoiled for me because of money. Everything revolves around it. Even as I selected a blog I was given options of bigger and better blogs only for a price of course. What? So what you’re telling me is I can’t be an artists without paying to be an artist? I can’t show artistic expression without expressing my gratitude via PayPal? Forget it. So here I am, on a free blog not paying a dime for my artistic expression, because I don’t have to. And you don’t have to pay me to read my stories either. This isn’t about that.

I must admit, I’ve dealt with this unfortunate atmosphere with distaste for quite some time. Wanting to be something, but only at a price. Wanting to fight the weeds of those negatives wrapping around the body of something special. Participating, hating. All the venomous opinions that are the human races coping mechanism to someone who may have actual talent. It’s never enough to simply say, “You should do something with this, you’re quite good.” It’s always how hard it’ll be, how little money you’ll make, what sacrifices you will need to get there. But then I think of the great words of Jim Carrey during his Commencement Speech last year. He said, “My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

And so this blog is about an artist who is wanting to create something that she loves. That’s it. All I want is to CREATE SOMETHING that I LOVE. So every chance I get, I will be posting stories and these stories will be accompanied by photographs of the world we see around us. Raw, gritty, real. Happy, sad, whatever. Everything depends on what is seen through artistic expression. So without further adieu, I welcome you to Portrait & Pen.

-C