For anyone interested in following any future musings, please follow me at http://www.charlottebydesign.com.
For anyone interested in following any future musings, please follow me at http://www.charlottebydesign.com.
With the year coming to a close, I thought I might take the time to make my final post of 2015 —a final tribute to the year— one full of both triumph and the sting of defeat.
The year started with cutting the strings of a fraying relationship and ended with receiving my Associates of Science, with plenty of ebbs & flows in between. While this year has come with many pivotal moments, I won’t be sad to see it go. I will be seizing the opportunity to view the new year as a chance for a new beginning and, without being an advocate for resolutions, a year that will also bring new goals. Rightfully so.
I have chosen to start this new year by taking an academic hiatus to focus on my art. I know that makes me appear as if I am fresh out of grade school, hellbent on figuring out who I am. And despite being far from grade school, that could very well be precisely what it is. It’s not a possibility I am ashamed of.
I choose to embrace my continuous evolution and never knowing who I may give way to. I may not be the same person next year, or even next month, as I was before. And, perhaps without realization, that’s the same truth for most.
Except for you, person of pattern, whose life is a series of perpetual repeats. You’re excluded.
Personally, I will always aspire to change. I take pride in being a multifaceted individual and following the opportunities that allow me to experience growth. Even those opportunities that only prevail subsequent to hard choices. I live with little fear of shaking up the norm, and find my most prominent growth comes outside of the confines of my comfort zone.
And notably within my comfort zone resides longstanding friendships and realizing the need for evolution in such.
An uncomfortable truth, as a self proclaimed bleeding heart, is discovering that I cannot help every individual —despite diligent effort. And this rings particularly true when the person has little desire to help themselves. When a person chooses to be consumed and enchanted by their problems, they both cultivate and exacerbate them. This process becomes all consuming, negating the good in favor for the bad, until all that is left is theatrics and a bad taste in their mouths.
Another relationship related truth is recognizing that my kindness and attentive nature will not necessarily be met with equality. It’s knowing that I must reign in the efforts as to not push myself to the point of exhaustion for persons who are unable or unwilling to reciprocate.
And with this, I see the upcoming year as a year for downsizing, embracing minimalism, and feeding my art, starting with my social circle and working its way outward —or inward— depending on necessity.
Bon voyage, 2015! I won’t miss you.
There isn’t a neat, concise way to accurately describe the last some odd months of my life other than that ‘it changed’. And did it ever change —as it frequently does. After coming to an impasse, I did what any introspective person hellbent on progression would do: I created an alternative path.
I collected my lessons, and my belongings, and I moved forward. Small steps gave way to larger ones, and before I knew it, my life was different. What I once knew so well had become foreign, and what I had once not known became home.
To an extent, I am over simplifying the process. However, that’s what life has always signified to me: A perpetual process consisting of highs and lows. At times simultaneously, and at times with the scale tipping in favor of one over the other.
But the one truth I am most certain of is that my life is neither what it once was, or what it will be. And that there has yet to be a moment in my life that I could reflect on and say that I had not grown significantly. That I had not aspired for change, and had not achieved it. My plans may not always go accordingly, but they evolve and they adapt.
So, here’s to the past, the present, and the ever developing process that has lead me to & through them both.
My original approach to this blog was to use it as a resource for my jewelry venture. I still create pieces. They go no further than myself & my loved ones but the intention itself was sound. I enjoy my other hobby, I do. But, if put in comparison with writing, that’s all it will ever be. My other hobby.
I wanted to gloss over portions of my personality and emphasize a portion that suited a ‘brand’. Promising. Sure. What I failed to recognize is that, at any given point in my lifetime, I have never been able to not be authentic, without omission, to who I am as a person.
It physically pains me to suppress myself in any degree.
So, I am me…
I have a smart mouth and a questionable sense of humor. At times, I speak without consideration.
I would take this time to apologize to all of those affected by my sarcasm but honesty is important to me. Suck it up, buttercup.
I am rough around the edges —oh, lord— am I ever rough around the edges. And, despite having a reputable vocabulary, my favorite words only have four letters. I use them like they’re going out of style, with a smile on my face. I am dry. I am poker faced. And to some, I appear disconnected.
I am connected. Deeply connected.
On the otherside, I am kind, I am lighthearted and I am good natured. I have a hunger for adventure and I am fun-seeking in most all walks of life.
I am a thoughtful person, who never forgets a birthday, even without a Facebook, and sets aside herself in a moments notice if another person needs comfort. I am loyal and if I love you, I will love you warts & all —unconditionally— always.
I have my pluses and I have my minuses. My darkness, my light. My yin, and my yang. I embrace my flaws as a fundamental part of who I am. I challenge myself to improve but I don’t seek perfection. So, standing in my own way makes little sense.
My undying desire to articulate my voice in writing will not allow me to restrict myself to the confines of a proverbial box. And while I would appreciate others enjoying what I have to say, it’s unnecessary.
Welcome to Me.
Before dawn runs, rushed breakfasts, buses, morning meetings, brisk lunches, presentations, classes, papers written, homework, housework, sleep —rinse & repeat. It’s a rats race and the busiest man wins.
Or do they?
It’s irrefutable. There is constant bustle of never ending busyness. The top contender will be the one who has reserved sleep only for their final siesta. “Sleep when you’re dead.” This is for the betterment of the future… that elusive future date when all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. It’s coming.
They tell me it’s coming. It’s coming, right?
But what if it doesn’t? And what about the here and now? Does the importance of the future somehow negate the importance of the present? Is there somehow less value in experiencing the now? When is that on the agenda? Was that supposed to be squeezed in between coffees and TPS Reports?
Fuck. I knew I forgot something.
And, at what point in this grand design does the now become the then? Do the coordinates of “then” need to be plugged into my iMaps so I can route the shortest distance and arrive at my destination in a timely fashion, traffic permitted?
Shit. I think I took a wrong turn.
Consider the taste of the meal you consume; the wine you drink —do you ever taste it? The mornings you rise to; the skies in their distance —do you ever see it? The quality of the people you share your life with; the words you exchange —do you ever hear the words? Do you ever experience the moment?
There has to be some moment of universal acknowledgement that the now can not always be back burnered for the importance of the then. Eventually, irregardless of how many tasks you managed to both accumulate and/or accomplish, we all run out of both nows & thens.
Time is time — while you have it.
FOOTNOTE: This is a spin off from my “Finding Time” entry and the use of a morning run was for artistic purposes. I don’t run. If you see me running… you should, too.
Finding time —it’s no easy feat. Even if the hours in a day were doubled, there would still be stones left unturned. There would still be dishes undone, chapters unread, work to be addressed, and words left unspoken. Or, in my case, unwritten.
Oh, how pressing that is on my soul…
Reintroducing school work into my schedule has proven to be a detour from my route to self expression. Putting my thoughts to paper has once again taken a back seat to my business oriented predisposition. Begrudgingly, I acknowledged that I was in the home stretch of my accounting degree and that that, above all, should take precedence.
Trust me, it was a hard sell.
Mind you, I am not a woman who shies away from a hard work but the monotony of a nine-to-five, combined with motherhood, homemaker, and college student extraordinaire can leave even the most devout overachiever pressed a bit thin.
Thin on time, thin on patience, and perhaps a bit thin on sanity, to boot. And I’m not even saying I had a whole lot of that to go around in the first place.
However, I stand by the fact that people find time to accomplish what is of most importance to them and they prioritize accordingly.
Don’t bother fooling yourself into believing that the reason you didn’t hit the gym for the fifth year in a row was because you didn’t have time. Inaccurate. You’re not fooling anyone else, so, why bother deluding yourself? Don’t excuse that relationship that’s fallen to the wayside as a matter of circumstances beyond control. You didn’t have time, right? Wrong.
Certain activities, people, and tasks simply rank lower into the engrained hierarchy of what a person is willing to accomplish with the hours they are given. But it’s a choice. Any way that we choose to spin it, dress it up, adorn it with a bow —whatever it takes to make us feel better— it is a choice .
A (expletive) choice.
That said, I chose both. (Or was that ‘all’?)
My academic work is an important part of my journey. I will not shortchange the impact pursuing a degree has had on developing me as a person. Not solely in expanding my knowledge database but, rather, allowing me to know myself and what I am capable of accomplishing.
Yet, solving figures only answers to the part of me that beckons for order. It allows my meticulous nature to take hold and create a pattern that never strays from inside the corners. There is one right answer and it is executed with precision, and packaged neatly in its perfectly shaped box.
But I need chaos. I need passion. I need the breath of fresh air that fills my lungs when I put my pencil to paper or use my craftsmanship to will art into existence.
I need both of these elements. Together, they work to help fine tune and pave my path.
And, it is with my overabundance of ambition and a dash of greed in tow, that I will embark on my never ending quest to overthrow Wonder Woman and reign supreme.
Wish me luck.
Late last year I did something big.
No, I did not cure cancer. No, I did not conquer Everest. But what I did do was push myself outside of my own comfort zone. So far outside of my comfort zone that I landed straight in the Republic of Georgia.
That’s right, folks. The country of Georgia. By “country” I do not mean envision fields of corn and cotton, southern drawls, and pickup trucks. I mean the legitimate country of Georgia in the city of Tbilisi, population: 1.5 million.
I didn’t end up there on a whim. Not entirely. I ended up there to meet my boyfriend’s family for the first time. A nerve wracking experience in itself that was only amplified by my lack of knowledge of the Georgian language. This accompanied by their lack of knowledge of the English language, and only him to serve as a mediator, was sure to make for interesting events.
To this day, I cannot tell you what I was expecting or if I had any expectations at all. I stepped foot on that plane a blank slate, acknowledging that it would be an adventure, and nothing short of that. Truth be told, I could have listened to a hundred anecdotes and, still, nothing outside of firsthand experience could have answered the questions I didn’t even know I had.
Our flight landed in the early hours of the morning. Between the sleep deprivation and the jet lag, I was barely coherent when we were greeted by twenty or so of his closest friends and relatives. It didn’t take me long to deduce that I fit in about as well as I fit into that old pair of blue jeans from high school. Hearing conversation yet not being able to decipher the meaning left me smiling at great lengths and, surely, at inappropriate moments.
What the hell do I know? None the wiser. —Cheese.
Without familiarity of the language outside of “hello”, “nice to meet you”, and a few mandatory expletives, it took all of a few hours before my first mishap.
Freshly showered, preparing to get dressed, I hear his mother knock on the bedroom door. Suddenly, it dawns on me that I don’t know the Georgian equivalent for any word that will delay the opening of that door. I silently damn my boyfriend for not being in the vicinity. Where’s my translator when I need him?
I fill the silence with a desperate cry of “one moment!” as I make a mad dash for a towel as if I was running for the 50 yard line. Futile. The door opens. I stand there with a look of horror, grasping my towel so tightly that my knuckles have whitened. Between the two of us, I’m not sure whom was more crimson; me or her.
Talk about an icebreaker.
Tbilisi itself is gorgeous, full of vibrant life and abundant history. Throughout the city an eclectic mix of both archaic and innovative architecture lined the populated streets. Off of cobblestoned roads were tiny shops with hidden treasures and restaurants with food so decadent you did not feel worthy enough to eat it. And outside of the endless lights and sounds was a subdued, mountainous region that rivaled the beauty of the city held within its palm.
The vast landscape was far from empty, though. Atop of mountains sat massive, ancient stone churches. Within their walls, the structures were adorned with rich textures and religious works of art. Even without considering myself a religious person, I could feel the presence of the church. It was as if an aura emanated from each brick and each surface within. Without words, the place spoke of a story.
The beauty of the city and the beauty of the people was unprecedented. And although the language barrier proved challenging, I could feel the warmth of his family and friends. I could see in his family the same gentle soul that he possesses and I could sense the goodness of the hearts of the people themselves. It was fascinating what could be communicated without ever exchanging words.
And when it was time for me to leave the city, I had had an adventure as I expected —only not the adventure I was expecting at all.
✌️ One Love
Thirty. Dun, dun, dun.
The word itself can cause an uproar in the hearts and minds of even the most collected of women. For some, it can feel like the end of an era. No more long nights of partying. No more casual recklessness. No more twenties. For others, this particular milestone can become a pivotal point where ‘past you’ swore that ‘present you’ would have accomplished (insert here) by this date.
If you promised yourself that you’d be a biochemical engineer or a homeowner by 30 and instead you’re waiting tables and sharing a small apartment with a roommate, it’s easy to feel like you’ve fallen short of your own expectations. All of a sudden your future self is your current self and you still haven’t earned that damned Nobel Peace Prize.
As a whole, we have a tendency to project things onto our future selves and, due to circumstance or choice, we sometimes fail to take the necessary steps to achieve them. It can be daunting when milestones knock on our door and we feel we’ve shown up empty-handed, failing to produce the desired results. We feel this way because it is easier to focus on what we haven’t accomplished because we’ve now reached the point in our lives that we once felt sure we’d have it all figured out. But here’s a secret: As long as you are trying, as long as you are learning and progressing, you are doing just fine. You are exactly where you should be. Just breathe.
However, should the impending doom of 30 cause an epiphany, seize the revelation. Take the steps, make the goals and work for what you desire.
I know that I have personally veered from the path that I once believed I would be on but I feel as if I landed right where I belonged. Each mistake has shaped me. Each decision has had a cause and effect. I’ve lived. I’ve learned. And *gasps* I don’t fear 30. Here’s why:
Your twenties are a time of self discovery. It is in this decade that you try, fail, and try again. Hard lessons are learned as you create yourself. As a result, your opinions become more developed with each experience and you become more secure in your mental and physical being. With this additional presence, the opinions of others becomes less substantial to your sense of self. You become confident in who you are as a person simply because you know who you are.
The decade of your twenties are spent fumbling through life, trying to grasp the answers to lives complexities. Few look to you for words of wisdom and there are few places this is more prevalent than the workforce. While you are undoubtedly expected to perform, there is a preconceived notion of being a twenty-something year old. Although it is possible, few break this mold. Perhaps you are an old soul? Regardless, the stigma is still present. While 30 is far from old aged, despite what you thought a decade ago, there is now a sense of history. You have experienced a portion of life that you are expected to have developed from. Let’s hope that is the case!
Keeping consistent with lessons learned and developing from experience comes the all-encompassing knowledge. You have fought your battles. You have earned your stripes. With each additional experience, your knowledge base has expanded. Partied hard all night during the work week? Decided to incorporate the word “moderation” into your vocabulary. Spent your money carelessly? Stocked up on candles & Ramen and learned the benefit of a well thought out budget. By this point, it has become clear that actions beget consequences and you act accordingly. This growth is essential and paves the way for betterment. It assists you in becoming the best you that you can achieve. That’s all anyone can ask for.
While this compilation barely scratches the surface, there are lessons and optimism to bring forth into your next decade. Do not dread an end of an era but rejoice in the opportunity to have anew. Let yourself embody the growth you have experienced and find assurance in your presence. This life is the only opportunity you have.
Disclaimer for the overly sensitive:
My humor can be questionable. I am lighthearted. Learn to laugh. It’s good for ya’.
So, what I neglected to mention from my previous entry is that the city of New Orleans, like all beautiful things, has its darkness. Not all smiles are from friendly faces. If you’re not quick, there are those quick to hustle. If you’re not aware, there are others aware of you. However, admittedly, my girlfriends and I do not make for quick victims.
Each of us are proficient with firearms —safety and accuracy. And on this particular trip, one of my girlfriends shined above the rest. Concealed in this small pink purse on her lap, which can only described as the Mary Poppin’s Grab Bag of weaponry, were more tools than physically possible. In fact, she broke physics. The tight confines of this purse held not only your run of the mill knives, tasers, and bears –oh my– but also a full fledged baton.
Be that as it may, despite preparation, sometimes you are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. And, fortunately for our group, that was not the case for us in the wee hours of that morning. With luck and a dash of intuition, we decided to spend our Saturday evening on St. Peters instead of returning to the tourist staple of Bourbon Street where we had been earlier that day.
It wasn’t until we woke up hazily that Sunday afternoon to concerned text and possible accusations of our whereabouts that we heard the news.
Naturally, despite being in our “backyard”, we remained completely oblivious to our own names, let alone Channel 4. As it so happened, while we were perpendicular, a much more tragic scene was unfolding on the famed street. Two currently unidentified men exchanged gunfire, injuring a total of 9 individuals in the process. Locals and tourist alike scattered indoors in search of safety. Thankfully, as luck would have it, there were no fatalities.
So, with heavy hearts & livers, we closed our trip on a solemn note, both thankful for our own good fortunate and saddened by the choices of some and the misfortune of others.
✌️ One Love
I deleted my Facebook.
Understandably, this may not sound like much. However, we exist in a world where narcissism is more prevalent than compassion. A world where the word “selfies” —which I can only imagine is internet shorthand for the painfully self absorbed— has been added to Merriam-Websters. A persons every thought is uploaded at such rapid succession, that little is left to the imagination. It’s time to break the cycle.
Mystery & modesty have become dying arts. In their place is a platform to showcase your shallow assets, accompanied by “likes” that, despite their silence, cheer out as if you’ve received a standing ovation. As if the outfit worn was so great, or the comment so profound, that praise was merited. This reinforcement rings so loud in our minds, that this behavior becomes conditioned. And, subsequently, your validation has now been reduced to the thumbs up of others.
This becomes some grande parade of endless requests for approval and brand development, as if we were marketing ourselves to an audience. And that sentiment leads me to another all too blatant truth: If you are not the consumer, you are the product —in more ways than one.
Inevitably, we market our minds. “I mean, that status really was clever, wasn’t it?”
We market our appearance. “Pretending I didn’t spend the last half hour primping in the ladies room applying Revlon. #NoMakeUp”
We market our hobbies. “Just picked up a protein shake and headed to the gym. #LegDayBro”
And we even market our children. “Little Timmy’s reading at a third grade level and Suzie’s lead clarinet! #ProudMom”
Many of us have become masters of branding ourselves into that superior, superhuman version of ourselves. You know, the one that doesn’t actually exist? We are acutely aware of the differences between our own Internet personas and reality but blind to the fact of this same discrepancy in others. This bombardment of only the best & brightest moments can lead to unwarranted feelings of inadequacy. Even with the conscious knowledge, it’s hard to not to challenge an unsolicited and unwilling participant into a competition of comparison.
But, I digress.
And it is in this newfound time that I wish to become fully immersed in the activities that truly engage my mind; that soothe my soul and promote my growth. I hope to only seek validation from myself and from those few whose opinions are relevant. I hope to experience each moment with depth as it is occurring and without desire to broadcast it, or capture it, to share it on a broader scale. I want to appreciate and experience each moment for what it is as it is happening and for no other reason but to do so.
I want that freedom.