I’m jealous

I’m a good person.  Happy.  Thoughtful.  I work hard.  I’m loyal, philanthropic, diligent, funny with a generous dose of sarcasm.  I choose joy.  I like myself.

Do I want to be more and do more?  Yes.  There are days when I want more.  Most days.  And, after years of soul searching to become a better person, I have come to terms with wanting more.

I love my car.  It’s sporty and black, holds a lot of stuff, has satellite radio, and gets 45 mpg.  Oh, and it’s paid for.  When the Panamera pulled in next to me a couple of weeks ago, was I jealous?  Yes.  Did I hate or resent the perfect, athleisurely-dressed woman who got out of it?  (pause while it ruminates)  No, I did not.  I should also note that she had Michelle Obama arms, and I’m jealous of those too.  I like the Panamera.  I don’t want a Panamera.  I would love Michelle Obama arms, and I’m working on it.  I’m okay with wanting more.

I love college sports.  I love the inspiring coaches, the hard-working student-athletes, the tradition, pageantry, fun, and the excitement.  When my team lost in the Sweet 16 in March, was I jealous?  Yes.  (breathe)  Devastated.  Heartbroken even.  Did I hate the other team?  Yeah, for a minute.  A few minutes.  And I was mildly happy that they lost in the Elite 8, but mostly because I liked the other team more.

Google told me the definition of jealous.  So it fits.  I feel envy of someone, their achievements, advantages, arms.  Then I picked up the Webster’s beast that sits next to my desk, the one I’ve used since high school.  Their definition was different – angrier.  Am I “resentfully envious” of that woman’s arms?  How can I resent someone who worked for something?  One is not simply born with Michelle Obama arms.  Well, unless you’re, you know…

jealous defimg_3652

Merriam-Webster used the words “hostile” and “intolerant” in their definition.  Urban Dictionary used “hatred/bitterness”.  The Online Etymology Dictionary uses “zealous” and “avaricious”, which don’t mean the same thing and seem to be on opposite sides of the positivity spectrum.  Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

So what’s the word that describes my feeling?  I’m desirous for that car.  I’m wanting my arms to be more toned.  I fancy a national championship.  Why yes, yes I do.

To me, it’s not the feeling of want or desire that warrants that negativity.  It’s what we do after that twinge of jealousy hits.  We see that car and that lovely woman, and we’re jealous, so the search begins for something to critique.  Pink is not her color.  Spent a little too long in the tanning bed today?  I bet she just wears those yoga pants and doesn’t even work out.  That hard-working, well-coached team wins a game and our jealousy and anger and disappointment become downright shitty, against their team and our own.  Must be nice when you bail your star forward out of jail so they can finish the season.  What’s the point of being 7 feet tall if you can’t block shots?  That coach will never get us to the Final 4.

Sadly, these are all things I might have said in the mind of my former self.  As I read them out loud, I’m actually emotional.  I feel the swarm of negative thoughts circling.  (I love you, Coach.  I believe in you.)

Breathe.  This is where we say — Stop.  No.  Not me.  Not today.  I can be disappointed without succumbing to a death spiral of self-pity or lashing out.  I can want something more without resenting someone who has it.  I can be thrilled with my wonderful life right now, while I work hard for what’s next.  And I can be happy for another’s achievements, advantages, and arms.

So I’ll keep working, and breathing, and choosing joy.  I will always be that fierce, faithful supporter of my team and their coach.  I’ll add a little more weight to my workout.  I’ll continue to say Stop at the right time.  And I am going to be okay with wanting more.

 

Other thoughts:

From Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-body-blog/201508/3-ways-turn-jealousy-motivation-and-self-acceptance

Amazing things will happen

I’m a quote person.  I like inspirational words and phrasing, and especially vocalized in a certain way.  There are three quotes above my desk right now.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.  

We find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

Do you sense a trend?

That first quote about change was in my old office at a job I knew I couldn’t continue long term.  I need more, and that helped remind me to keep moving towards my goal.  Staying the same is completely fine in certain circumstances, but change is always possible, somehow, and as needed.

The second quote about direction I tore from my nephew’s high school graduation announcement.  Meant to be hopeful for 18-year olds heading off into the world, it was also inspirational for this 46-year old in the middle of a long job search.

And the Lewis Carroll is my far-reaching quote, and it is inspiring and emotional for me.  It’s a quote for dreamers who keep dreaming, for hopers and believers in some day, and for those who continue to work and know that it takes every bit of effort, overwhelming belief, and a little bit of luck, to get what you want.

To the left of these quotes is a window looking out to green, and a board with a few more bits of inspiration.  I love these words as well, except the bottom corner.  I’m not here to live the life I was destined for.  I’m here to live the life I make happen.

 

Another installment of a personal happiness project, revisited.

Do the thing with soul

It’s been a while.  I’m just going to pick it up.

 

Years ago, I did a personal happiness project to shift my life.  It worked, thankfully.  It’s time to revisit that, and I’m going to do it here.

There is a lot of negativity in the world. We have to fight for joy.  Fight for the soul in what we do.  Some things are easy.  Sometimes, the soul lies in wait.  We aren’t always ready for it.

But let’s get ready.

Yesterday, this piece of fantasticness popped up in my Shuffle on the way home from work.  It cleared the mind of job search and grad school and frustration with whatever.

The soul waits no more.  Just shake.

Heartbreak Hangover

Yesterday, my day started with hope.  I agree with the SiriusXM sports announcers who say it is the greatest day in all of sports – Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament.  It’s Christmas morning and the best birthday you’ve ever had.  You wake with that anticipation.  Swelling music should follow you around.  You’ve set your bracket.  You start the trash talk.  You watch all the videos March Madness has to offer.  You relive dunk shots and swats, and those perfect 3-pointers.  You recall the stats and heights of players who are preparing for battle.  You learn about campuses that never existed in your brain before.  You are full of the madness.  I was full.

My bracket probably looked a lot different than yours.  At the center of 64 was my alma mater – PURDUE – written in capital letters and highlighted.  #boilerup scrolled on top.  #hammerdown written beneath.  A loyalty bracket, they called it.  Mine looks the same every time, in the years when I’m lucky enough to see that name in the group.  Fellow alumni may have chosen North Carolina or Kansas again.  I can’t do that.  Call it delusional.  Call it stupid. I don’t care.  I call it faith.  I call it hope.  I see the world through gold and black colored glasses.

I am an all-weather fan.  It comes from sitting in Ross-Ade Stadium during the Fred Akers years.  It comes from the hope that, if you could just beat iu, that it would make the whole season okay.  My first football game, freshmen year, was Purdue vs. Miami of Ohio.  I sat there with a couple hundred of my closest friends, sweating in black, wool All-American Marching Band uniforms, when the skies opened up.  I think it rained four inches during that game.  Lightning hit the field.  That should have been a sign.  But week after week, for four years, I sat, marched, and played through those games – sweating, freezing, hoping.

I always hope.

Yesterday too.  I felt it.  I didn’t even consider that they wouldn’t win that game.

I was elated at the half.  I loved watching the dog fight.  I yelled their names and threw my fists in the air.  I hopped up and down and clapped with joy.  And then …  and then …  Double OT was what I got for loving the dog fight.

And then …

You feel pain differently when you go from hope to heartbreak.  Those damn colored glasses.

And then …

Negative internet commenters are the drudge of the earth.  You hide behind your anonymous Twitter profile and slam a 22-year old who misses a shot?  You call for firing the coach?  You use words like “hack”, “choke”, and “pathetic” to describe a team that could have just as easily given you a metaphorical blow job with one more basket and a stronger 3PT%.  You sit on your couch and you run the world.  But you are not there.  You are not them.  You are not.

They are.

They were there on that court with talent and pride, knowledge and muscle memory, with training and coaching, and yes, with hope.  You can’t tell me RayD didn’t feel the same hope I did.  And the joy I felt when AJ dunked was the same as Isaac’s joy.  The pride, the loyalty … they were shared feelings across many miles yesterday.  The frustration, the disbelief, the heartbreak … they were shared.  They are shared.

We’ve been there before, and I have to hope we won’t be there again.  I must.  After years of heartbreaking situations, I remain ever grateful, ever true.

Thank you BoilerBall.  It was a hell of a season.  I’m sorry it didn’t go our way.  Your way.  But I believe in you as players and coaches, as a team, as good men.

I remain proud.  I remain hopeful.  I believe.  Hail Purdue.  Boiler Up.  BTFU.

 

Twelve Months. Twelve Days. Twelve Moments.

To wrap up my year, I decided to choose one picture from each month of my phone’s 2015 camera roll.  When I actually sat down to do it, it wasn’t so easy.  Do you choose your favorite picture, or a picture of your favorite day, or a shot of something you still laugh about now, months later?   And it’s different choosing a picture now versus what I may have chosen months ago.  Our memories change.  Our emotions change.

These twelve pictures were clicks on my phone.  So fast.  They were simple and memorable and perfect in their own way.  That’s what moments are.  They add up to the hours of our days, and the days of our months and years.  Sartre compared moments to little diamonds.  Aren’t they though?  Some small, some big, some you’ll never have … some brilliant, some rough, all perfect in their own way.

It’s good to look back as we set intentions for the new year.  There are important people and important things that happen in our lives every single day.  It is about those big goals we set in front of us, and it’s about the little things too.  The lovely perfect and not-so-perfect things.  It is about the things we looked forward to, and those we never intended on, never planned on, never knew would come.  It is about the every day, and how we live each moment.

Enjoy.

“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

 

“If the whole world I once could see
On free soil stand, with the people free
Then to the moment might I say,
Linger awhile. . .so fair thou art.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

What Does It Mean

One of the best aspects of my personal happiness project is finding places or knowing places where I am supposed to be.  A feeling comes over me.  I’m at peace.  I’m doing the right thing.  I’m happy.  Rotary is one of those places.

I first joined in the mid 1990’s.  We were a new club, full of energy and service.  I didn’t know what I had back then – didn’t fully appreciate it. I was years away from my project, so bitterness and worry still played too big a part in my life.  Now, twenty years later, in a different club, I know and understand.

The Greater Anderson Rotary Club organizes and participates in many service projects throughout the year.  When I saw the blurb in our newsletter about mentoring in a local kindergarten class, I jumped at the chance.  And when a friend asked me to help with a dictionary delivery, I jumped at that too.

For years, the club has donated dictionaries to every 3rd grader in Anderson County, South Carolina.  I was lucky enough to go with Kathryn to Starr and Iva Elementary Schools in District 3.  What a fun group of kids!  We had five or ten minutes in each classroom, explaining our project and how they can use the books.  Teachers had the option to keep the dictionaries in the class or send them home.  We also introduced them to the Four Way Test, an important part of Rotary clubs all over the world.

4-way-test-2

Kathryn had each class of students look up “beneficial”.  In 3rd grade, they haven’t all covered dictionary use in their curriculum yet.  I suppose many just use dictionary.com or an app.  It seemed like the kids enjoyed swiping their finger along paper rather than a screen.  I hope so.  I hope they’ll learn many new words, making check marks as they go.

Rotary is important in our world.  The Four Way Test is important.  This international organization, founded more than 100 years ago, and now with more than a million members, has an impact on local communities, countries, and our world.  It has an impact on me.  Rotary has played a tremendous role in moving our world closer to polio-free status.  #endpolionow  http://www.endpolio.org/take-action  Rotarians know the value of mentoring, a local dictionary project, coins for Alzheimer’s research, and the fight to end a crippling disease.  Try the Four Way Test on that.

May you all find a place where you are supposed to be.  Enjoy.

 

 

A Morning Walk

Years ago, I posted about my daily walk in Shenyang.  I made that walk so often going to Chinese class and the gym.  My view is different now that we’re back in South Carolina.  I still think of that vined archway that isn’t there anymore, the guitarist playing for small bills in the tunnel under Qingnian Dajie, and the way the buildings tower above.  I miss it.

Within a week back in the US, my friend D told me that I would grow tired of the question, “Are you glad to be back?”  Well, of course we are.  We’re glad to be back in a country where we can read everything and understand.  We’re more capable of navigating the politics and bullshit.  But people don’t ask that question in the same way we answer it.  People ask as though it’s a comparison.  “Glad” to be back here rather than still in Shenyang, as though the last five and a half years were tragic somehow.  A hardship.  And being back is better.  It’s difficult to be with people who don’t think about or appreciate our life there, and that we miss it from time to time.  But at least some people ask something.

This is part of culture shock.  Or maybe it’s just part of every day life.  Folks go on about their business.  Maybe they ask questions so they can answer it themselves.  Or they ask questions about only that which they know.  Many just live their lives in a state of comparison.

I’d rather live this life than that life.  I’d rather be a country mouse than a city mouse.  I’d rather be like me than be like her.  Well, you know what?  I’d rather Daniel Craig acknowledge that he is my secret boyfriend.  I’d rather peanut M&M’s were actually good for you.  I’d rather be sure that Glenn is still alive.

So, yes, I am glad to be in the United States, where life in Smalltown, America is pretty darn good.  I am glad that my morning walks are highlighted by blue skies and red brick.  I am happy to drive my little car down highway 29 every morning, saying hello to the cows on my way to work.

But I would be happy there too.  It isn’t a question of rather.