Woo!! I finally purchased my very own website. Thank you to the free Word Press website for helping me begin my blog journey. I felt it was time to move forward with an actual domain name. I will keep this site active and it will feature all of my previous blog posts. Click the link above or below to visit my new website.
I have recently developed a new appreciation for the headlined emotion. I grew up putting a negative connotation on this word, I thought of it as poison, just like the sign states above. However, with an open mind, and a suggestion from not one, but two different podcasters, I am now able to see this yucky feeling in a brand new light. So far I’ve heard two episodes on different shows talk about jealousy being a good thing.
One of the podcast channels is Happier with Gretchen Rubin, this woman is AMAZING! I discovered Gretchen through the Vibrant, Happy Women podcast. Gretchen’s was the first story I stumbled upon about finding the courage to leave her career and pursue her passion. I was moved by this story, so naturally I tracked her down and started listening to her own channel. The Labor Day episode #184 is jam packed with experience, questions, knowledge, tips, enlightenment, etc. One thing I found fascinating is when Gretchen’s sister, Elizabeth, brings up a question that you can apply to your work life “Whom do you envy?”. They call it a “know yourself better question”. WHAM. That is some powerful stuff right there.
When we’re jealous of somebody, we’re usually jealous because we want what they have. My earliest memories of jealousy all boil down to that exact statement. I wanted what somebody else had, and early on in life that equated to material objects. I thought shiny things would make me happy, so if you had a shiny thing that I wanted that my parents couldn’t afford, I resented you.
As I grew older my relationship with this certain emotion began to change. I started to cheer on the people that have what I want. I’ll be honest, sometimes my first reaction is still that little twinge of envy. I mean come on, years of treating an emotion one way doesn’t change overnight. The difference now is that once that little twinge pops up I immediately address it and tell it “that’s not who I am today”. Just like that my attitude changes. I believe in empowerment today, cheering someone on for their accomplishments instead of scouring at them from the corner. It’s an amazing feeling behaving this way.
After hearing this suggestion on the show, I started to really ask myself Whom do I envy? I took a look around at the entrepreneurs, the visionaries working hard, being their own boss. The people creating their dreams, pursuing their passions, living their BEST life. These are the people I envy today. These are the people who have helped me realize what my next step in life is going to be. These are the people paving the way, showing me that yes it’s going to be difficult, but it’s sooo going to be worth it. Thank you to each and every one of you.
Unfortunately I am having a tough time remembering the second podcast, I need to start taking notes! I’m usually listening on my morning commute, so I don’t have the means to jot it down in the moment. I will work on finding a solution. I will also report back when I find that episode. Until then, thank you all for reading.
Before you go, I’m curious, Whom do you envy?
Finding your Why. This concept is relatively new to me, it was introduced to me in February 2017 through my current employer. I never had a corporate job until this one, none of my previous employers asked me about my why. Truthfully I didn’t really know what it was right in the beginning, only because I had never thought of it before. Now I see that question everywhere “What is your Why” or “Finding your Why”. I don’t necessarily have just one. It’s the same way I am with picking favorites. Someone says “What’s your favorite song?” I freeze. How do I pick just one? Well I can’t, I’ve never been good at it. My mind immediately starts to weigh the differences. I go to blurt out a song and then my brain says, well wait a minute, what about this one that makes you feel this way, and so on. I used to get frustrated with myself, but then once I accepted that I don’t want to pick a favorite anything I became much happier. Everything is my favorite, and I constantly use that word when I am talking about something I love.
I will tell you though that my number one Why is my parents. I’ve touched on my losing them in some of my prior posts but it was very brief. Honestly I just wasn’t ready to write about them in one entire entry. I lost my dad in August 2015 and my mom in May 2016, their deaths were only 9 months apart. I wish I could say they were my Why for the majority of my life, but I was very selfish, and when I think about it, I was their Why while they were here on this planet, in this realm.
My parents sacrificed so much for their children. My mom and my dad were never married, they separated a few years after I was born and my dad married my step mom not too long after that. I have a brother who is 11 years older than me from my mom’s one and only marriage, and I have 2 younger sisters and 2 younger brothers from my dad’s one and only marriage. I am beyond grateful that my parents set aside their differences and were able to raise me together, yet apart. They were both always there for me no matter what, no matter how many times I screwed up, or treated them poorly, they were always there. They put their children’s lives before their own, time and time again, we were their Why.
And now that they are both gone, they are my ultimate Why. Losing them has taught me how precious life is, how someone’s health can change just like that, how their entire life could change or be gone just like that. I have always stood in my own way, I’ve self sabotaged multiple dreams and passions (I won’t go down that rabbit hole in this post). I have clear memories of me telling my parents about my wild ideas and what I would hope to accomplish. My mom was more fear based and a natural worrier, so her reaction was always “Sarah, I don’t know about that, what if this, this and this happens”. My dad was more encouraging, he would tell me to follow my dreams but that I would have to work hard to achieve them. I knew they always believed in me though, no matter what crazy, creative idea was swirling around in my head, they were in my corner, 100 percent.
There are some days that I don’t want to get out of bed because I miss them so much, but then I think of the disservice that that would be to them. Even though they’re gone, they’re still pushing me, maybe now more than ever. This tragic experience has taught me that I don’t have to settle, for anything, and that I shouldn’t have to. Hell I don’t want to. My dream is to help as many people as I can, touch as many lives as I can, all while being creative. This is when I’m happiest.
I know they’re here with me, guiding me along. I see and feel them, I receive signs from them, sometimes big but most times small. I see their birthdays, my mom’s birthday shows up more often than my dad’s. I talk to them. There are days when I’m not so gracious, days when I get mad because they’re not physically here. Days when I curl up and cry until my eyes are swollen and little red spots pop up all over my face. Days when I just want my mom and dad. But they are few and far between, and sacred. I don’t ever want to stop grieving them, I don’t ever want to stop missing them, and I don’t think I ever will.
They are my Why for wanting to live my best positive life and achieve my wildest dreams. I love you mom and dad.
Something happened this past week that has left me scrambling to find meaning behind it. I am the woman who believes that everything happens for a reason, and as much as I would love to know that reason in that very moment, it usually doesn’t show itself until some time has passed. On Monday, October 22nd, I found out that my department at work is basically being dissolved within the next 6 months. I realize that this announcement probably left some people very upset. On the surface it’s unsettling news. There are hundreds of people in this department spanning the nation, and I don’t think any of us were anticipating a decision like this. I know I wasn’t. However, my immediate reaction was not panic, or disappointment or fear, in fact it was the opposite. How strange, right?
You see I have been questioning my job for the past few months. Before I found this opportunity I was hungry for a 9-5 corporate position where I could learn, grow and achieve success. Then it sort of fell into my lap, and I was happy and content with this new path, up until recently. About 10 weeks ago I started having a quarter + some life crisis. I began to notice that I was feeling unfulfilled with my current career choice. So I began listening to podcasts featuring inspirational stories. Stories about women who quit their jobs and chased their dreams. Women who are building empires and finding success doing what they love. This was truly inspiring, but I was far too scared to try anything like that. So instead of quitting I started this blog, and began envisioning what I ultimately want for Positive Aggressive. But some days I would come home so stressed out and drained from my job that I had no desire to focus on this endeavor.
Now enter the life changing news that I received on Monday. Somehow the universe conspired to do what I couldn’t. There are still many unknown variables that are in play, there will still need to be someone from our department at the office. Only this new job description may include the removal of about 90% of the former job duties. This would relieve the stress that I feel on a day to day level. Even though I was feeling that way about my job I still loved the company and the people that I worked with. Those are characteristics that aren’t always easy to find.
This sudden information made me realize that I was taking this job for granted. It was huge wake-up call in that respect. Even though I was feeling unfulfilled and not entirely happy, I ultimately was lacking gratitude for what I had in the current moment. Just 17 days ago I noticed that I needed to work on my gratitude for the job that I had, and I began to focus on positive affirmations. I surrounded myself with this message: I clearly see all there is to be grateful for in life. I acknowledge the blessings I have received in my life with gratitude.
I put this on my phone, I wrote it on a sticky note, I kept it in my email, I repeated it over and over in my head. Within 11 days the universe decided my fate for me. Within 11 days I got the notification from corporate. How crazy is that?! It gives me chills. Although I have no idea what this next 6 months will look like, I am hopeful, excited and I am grateful for all of it.
Photo Cred: Quite Contemporary
I just wanted to stop by and share this chilling photo I captured yesterday. Just in time for halloween.
Anytime someone agrees to share their story with me I do a little happy dance. I love reading these excerpts as much as I love writing my own. I was especially delighted when Bobby agreed to open up and talk about a subject that is elusive to most people I know; Balance. Bobby and I went to the same high school, he was older than me and we hung out with different people, but if you went to Meyers High School, you knew who Bobby Collins was. His personality was larger than life. Fast forward some 12 odd years, and I was given the chance to get to know Bobby. I found out that his heart was just as large, if not larger than what I remember from school. Recovery brought us together, and it’s been a gift to watch him grow and flourish. Bobby was there for me when my mom passed away. He showed up at my house with flowers and his companionship. I will forever be grateful to the love and kindness that he spreads throughout this world.
A Delicate Balancing Act
Becoming overwhelmed seems like a natural and easily triggered state, for myself. Knowing how to say ‘no’, walk away, or even prioritize things in life can be a tricky practice. Yes, a practice. One in which at times I feel like I fail at, however, I know it is through failure and trials that comes growth and expertise. I like to think that in my “previous” life as an active alcoholic I was able to balance things, but the reality was – I knew how to do one thing correctly, drink, and drink in excess was the mission. When I found recovery and started to work on the inner workings of me I found a new freedom. One that lead me into a recovered state of mind, body and spirit. I assumed that with this serene state of being I would be able to balance life and life’s circumstances; boy was I wrong.
How do you find balance in your day-to-day activities and life? What do you do when your plate is too full? Is there truly enough time in the day to get everything accomplished? As a person in recovery I have at times a seemingly urge to strive to get everything done. To get where I think I am supposed to be in life if I didn’t have my “mishaps”. But then reality sets in and the lack of peace and unsteadiness comes about, and I remember, ‘Easy Does It’. I didn’t get here overnight and I’m in a marathon, not a sprint.
For me, it’s about learning how to balance and practice the art of balancing. I do this through easy and simple steps:
- I start my day by meditating and clearing my mind from any obstacles
- Write down a list of things that need to be accomplished-
- by writing a list it helps me visually understand what it is important
- Know when my plate is full and have the ability to say no
- When to walk away, ask for help or simply take a break
Life has the funny ability to provide each and every one of us many gifts, but awareness and self-awareness are indispensable and our biggest assets. It is always OK to pause and understand when something isn’t serving you a greater good or purpose to walk away. If we are not growing from it; how are we learning from it? If this task, person, thing or subject is keeping you off balance, it is your sole responsibility to be in tune with your inner peace and know how to say ‘No’. It owes no explanation and carries a complete sentence behind it.
Balancing life carries a fine line between peace and turmoil. One which provides an abundance of happiness and contentment and one that has a burden of destruction. Therefore, balancing life is a skill we must practice on a daily basis and requires discipline, structure and constant revisiting on all of our parts. Life is a journey and therefore we must remember to enjoy the ride.
I’m really excited to share my first anonymous guest post. Whenever I approach someone about featuring their story, I give them the option to share anonymously. Honestly, I feel that when we don’t reveal our true identity it’s easier to share our deepest, maybe darkest thoughts with the world. I remember making up aliases back in the day, sharing my words, protected by my anonymity.
I love what I’m about to share with you, someone baring their soul, being honest and real about their feelings. Making a promise that they will change their ways. This is what the guest spot really means to me, people being real and letting us into their lives, even if we don’t know their name.
“I’m bad at being loved – like really bad. I have pushed away probably any person that has ever attempted to love me outside of my family. But I hate being hurt, and that’s why I do it. Sure, some things may be amazing and they may last for a long time, but what about when they end? Because from my experience all good things come to an end, especially relationships. So here I am at 25, realizing I’m in love with the world’s most perfect man and he’s not coming back.
We grew up playing soccer together and he was always the shy guy, the quiet nerdy one that found it extremely difficult to strike up a conversation. And I was always the one in the middle of a conversation – usually the one to start it no matter who it was with. It wasn’t until high school that Matthew actually told me how he felt about me, and I kind of just laughed it off; I wasn’t interested in a shy soccer player with great grades and a future ahead of him. Fast forward several years and we still FaceTime and talk regularly, and he’s still telling me that he’s praying for me to be his wife. He’s still asking God to place me in his life because he loves me – LIKE WHAT?! What kind of crazy man is this??
Eventually Matt left for medical school and our conversations have become less frequent and less in depth. I know he’s busy and he’s doing really great things – I’m still his cheerleader when he needs to be reminded why he’s doing what he’s doing. But I’m also his biggest fan and I want him to know that every single day of his life. We were talking the other night and I made a joke about our wedding day and he said “You’ll find the right guy but it won’t be me.” And in that moment I was crushed…I pushed a little more to find out why he would say that as I held back the tears, and he told me that he had laid his heart on the line so many times to only be pushed away. Because that’s what I do, I push you away the moment I know you care.
I’m sure he was right; I’ll find a wonderful man one day. And I know he will find an amazingly kind and bright person to spend his life with. But his words hit me like a brick wall and stopped me in my tracks. I finally realized that I’m bad at being loved and accepting that people may want to be around me, so this is where I stop. I will stop being so cold and I’ll stop pushing people away because they may end up being the most valuable person in my life. This is me turning into a more caring and open person – may it lead to something better and brighter.”
Photo cred: http://www.jessicaremus.com/anonymous/
This week’s guest blogger is a woman that I worked with last year, a woman that I admire. Her strength, courage and perseverance is inspiring. Earlier this year Amanda suffered a brain aneurysm, and she survived. Below you’ll read her encouraging words and hear her story of this life changing event. She shares her struggles but also shares what she’s done to turn this experience into a positive one. We chatted the other week for almost 2 hours and sometime in the future her and I are planning on starting a podcast! She inspires me everyday. She also started a GoFundMe page that she talks about in this post. I’ve included the link at the end of her story. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to write this post, it means so much.
“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to write this post. I want to thank Sarah from the bottom of my heart for giving me a chance to share on her blog.
“Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” – Unknown
I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post. How do I want to share my story? What details, if any, do I provide? I wrote a draft with the timeline and details of what happened. But details can be boring and it’s easy to get bogged down in them. Then I wrote a draft that had condensed details and a brief timeline. What happened and the timeline IS important but doesn’t necessarily add value to this post.
In the beginning of May my brain exploded, or in other words, a brain aneurysm ruptured. Let me frame this for you: 50% of all ruptures result in death and of those who survive 66% have some type of disability. Post-rupture I was out on FMLA. Much of my first month home was spent sleeping, napping, or just resting. A brain injury recovery can take many years and even then survivors are never quite the same.
I said it before and I will continue to say it – I am blessed. I survived and I don’t have any physical deficits. My cognitive and motor skills are in tact. Yes, I get neurofatigue. Yes, I get worn out much easier than I used to. Yes, I get headaches.
It is an odd thing to have come that close to death. One of the things I see a lot in my survivor groups are people who are grieving their old life. I sympathize with them and understand. However, my life is not wildly different than it was pre-rupture. I don’t ever say this to rub it in someone’s face about how well I am doing. I share it because I (now) know statistics were against me. But even for how well I am doing I am still a stroke survivor. I am still a ruptured brain aneurysm survivor.
One of my biggest struggles has been balancing “I’m fine” with “I went through this huge life changing event.” I never want to use it as an excuse but I don’t want to downplay what I went through. I’ve been struggling with what I refer to as survivor’s guilt. I’m so thankful things turned out so well for me but I sometimes feel bad that not everyone who survived is doing so well. I try not to get hung up on this too much because so much of it has to do with where the rupture occurred, timing, proper diagnosis, age, overall health, etc.
Time is valuable in so many ways. It can save a life in a medical emergency (such as it did in mine). It is a currency that you cannot get back. How you spend it matters. Who you spend it with matters. What you do with the time you are given matters. What is unique about time is everyone chooses to spend their time differently but time all spends the same. Once it is gone you can’t get it back.
This is something I have been thinking about a lot the past several months. I had a lot of time on my hands being out on FMLA. Some of it was spent doing schoolwork as I did not drop my last class for my master’s degree. As I mentioned a lot of time was spent sleeping, napping, and resting when I first got home. Eventually, I stopped sleeping as much but still was on restrictions so couldn’t do much. Towards the end of my FMLA I started crocheting again. I thought if I was going to be sitting around I should at least do something productive.
I started a GoFundMe to raise money so I could make blankets for brain aneurysm survivors. I have made three so far that I have given away in one of my survivor groups. This gave me something to do and give back to a group that gave me so much in the days after my rupture. It also gave me something to do with my time.
I really understood the value of my time and how I wanted to spend it. We often work to make ends meet (unless you happen to be born into a wealthy family). But we were not made or meant to work to live. There are so many more things that are much more important. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely have to work or my bills aren’t getting paid.
Pre-rupture I was working through lunches and if it was particularly busy I would be there until 6pm sometimes even 7pm. No more. I made the decision that when I went back I was not working through lunches and I would be leaving at 5pm. And I have pretty well stuck to that. There was one day when I was there until about 5:45pm and one day I worked through lunch but that is it. In both cases there was an extenuating circumstance.
Doing this has brought me less stress and even some peace. We need to find a work/life harmony. This can be difficult but it is vital. It is in our non-work life activities that we do things we enjoy and love. These are the things that bring us joy and help us to weather the stresses of our work life. Our time here is incredibly short. This gift of life can be taken from us at any moment.
Find joy in the little things. Find peace in the quiet moments of your day. When we do this we start to find our mind shifting. It doesn’t mean that life becomes perfect but we start to attract the good things. Positive thoughts become the norm. It is easier to find the good in a situation that is otherwise difficult.
Whatever we fill our minds with will spill out in the forms of our emotions and actions. If a mind is filled with negativity or hate it will spill out. On the flipside a mind filled with love and positivity it will spill out.
Life will never be perfect. Might as well buckle in and enjoy the ride with all it’s twists and turns.”
This past weekend three of my closest friends and I had the honor of being bridesmaids at our best friend’s wedding. When I think about life and relationships, I feel lucky to have these women by my side after all these years. The bride is one of my oldest friends, we grew up around the corner from each other. If I try to think back to when we first met, I truly can’t remember a time in my life that she wasn’t there.
I’ve had many “best friends” over the years. I used to search for myself in others, this sort of behavior started at an early age. I bonded with girls that I thought I wanted to be. I would go along with everything they did, and I rarely voiced my own thoughts or opinions, just to be accepted. This would become a pattern throughout my young life.
The universe did however, sprinkle some special people in along the way. Friendships where I didn’t feel the need to behave that way. These women always accepted me for who I was and the mask would come off when I was in their presence. What a comforting, peaceful, feeling. I didn’t need to pretend anymore. I am happy to say that I’m still incredibly close with these very same women. These relationships span some 15+ years.
There are 6 of us in this particular group and we’ve all managed to keep our bond going strong. We each have separate lives with friends separate from our group, but that doesn’t change anything. Two of us moved away and yet we’ve never strayed from each other. There are definitely periods of distance and we’ve grown apart some, but at the center of each of our hearts we hold this friendship dear. That is why I picked the image for this post. We are tangled. We grew side by side for many years, we were there for each other when things were the messiest. I am thrilled to see these ladies with their lives [mostly] figured out (because I mean c’mon who really ever has it all figured out?). We’re all building our lives up, the mess is behind us. We can all sit back and watch each other grow and flourish. And if things ever get messy again we’ll be there for one another.
Something amazing happened at the wedding. Our group was originally 7, but she had moved during the earlier part of high school and her and I lost touch. She was at the wedding. The bride brought the original group back together again. It’s been 16 years, I think, my memory is a bit foggy, but roughly 16 years since I’ve seen this person. Her and I were very close for a period of time and wouldn’t you know that nothing has changed in that absence. The first few moments may have been a little awkward, but once the initial shock wore off, we picked right back up where we left off all those years ago.
That’s the magical thing about true friendships. They know no distance, or boundaries of time. I have several of these relationships today, even outside of our group, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the universe for putting each and every special individual in my life. If we haven’t talked lately, or even if we have, know that I love you very much and I am forever thankful that you are in my life.
This week I am featuring my co-worker and friend, Jen Williams. She is a truly talented writer, she sent over a short novel that she wrote years back about her grandmother passing away. She is great at describing situations, I really felt like I was there going through this experience with her. I challenged her to shorten the story for this post and she rose to the occasion. This is a story about loss, love, grief, acceptance, awareness and much more, in only a few short paragraphs. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us Jen.
“You know, I’ve always been good at accepting death. It was never something that scared me. Plenty of people in my life passed away when I was quite young (both my grandfathers, great aunts/uncles and even my own uncle) I was a person of faith so I believed those people went to heaven and we’re happier. However, when I was 16, I really knew what it meant to lose someone. To make a long story short (which literally it’s a long story. I wrote a short novel about it if you’d like to read the WHOLE thing let me know) I didn’t just lose my grandmother, I lost a place at the table. A friend when no one else was there. A comic relief. A voice, though quiet, spoke volumes.
You see, my junior year of high school was not easy. I had a bad relationship with a boy my grandmother told me wasn’t worth my presence. I struggled in school due to my personal life. My parents just struggled in general with work and money and raising a family while taking care of a sick parent. It was a hard October. To paint a better picture for you, my grandmother came to live with my family when I was 9. Throughout the years she was a caretaker for us. A good bit of my teens my mother worked at night and my father worked in the day and played video games all night. My grandmother was the one who made sure my brother and I were taken care of. She made sure that when we were out of line she’d become Grambo (like gramma and Rambo. Get it??) However, the beginning of senior year my grandmother, who was never healthy to begin with, became even more ill. Now at this point, she had already lost a toe due to neglecting diabetes. Well, she had the flu to begin with but while at the hospital learned she had gangrene from a cut on her foot from when she was cutting her toenails. Now, this kind of thing always irritated me because she seemed to always be sick and never took care of herself and here she is possibly losing a whole leg. I felt that she was always causing my parents extra work to take care of her and now we may have to remodel the house again for her to be in a wheelchair. Well a month went by and everything fell apart, literally. Our refrigerator broke as well as our furnace. I spent time in the emergency room. My boyfriend broke up with me. And my grandmother couldn’t fight her infection any longer and she passed away after telling the nurses she was ready and to stop treatment.
Her funeral came and went and it started to hit me. I felt so guilty. Why was I ever upset by who she was? Yes my parents had to do a lot for her and spend a lot of time with her. But why was I jealous of the attention she got? She needed it. I was selfish. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss her at the dinner table giving us updates on the weather (even when they were wrong) or repeating something someone JUST SAID because she wasn’t all there all the time. My house felt empty, cold. Her room just a hollow shell of the moments that were now memories. Christmas won’t be the same without her there. To think, just six months before that, we threw her a surprise party for her 70th which I’m so glad now we did.
Here I am now, almost 10 years later to the day, writing about her. Do I still feel guilty? Not as much as I did. I was a bratty teenager who had a dose of reality. However, I do still miss her. I no longer live in my parents house but when I go there I think of her. Her room was an addition that was torn down and we don’t have the same kitchen table but the memories remain. We talk very fondly of her and we talk about her often. The only thing I honestly regret, is I wish I would’ve listened to her more about not being with that boy in high school and not having some of the friends I did. She worried about me. I feel I still ended up okay in the end. I just wish she was able to see me now. I graduated college, married a great man and own my own home. I just wish she could see that I’m doing okay. But like I said, I do believe in heaven, so I think she knows I am.
I still love you gramma Betty Jean.
Your Jenny Penny”