No Longer A Visitor
“Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in.” ~ Brene Brown
Signs are everywhere and late this summer as I was nearing the last half mile of my evening workout, I came upon one. I had just turned the corner from the dirt road and back onto the paved road that leads to and from the fairgrounds in our small and quiet hill town. I happened to be alone on my workout this particular evening except for the serenade from the Foo Fighters on my playlist. I felt peaceful and calm and in the moment. The weather was rather pleasant for late August. Our local fair had just ended and there were still some remnants of it. Aside from the fried dough truck that sat idle in a parking lot was a rather tall, industrial orange sign on the side of the road.
It was still programmed, apparently, for fair weekend. As I made my way closer, the sign flashed ever so brightly with the words "Thanks for Visiting." I didn't think much of it that particular night, but for whatever reason I stopped and took a picture. I do that sometimes; especially when I'm alone on my workout. I never know when something that I see along my route might later be a delayed inspiration for a blog post or even a fitting picture for one. This night was no exception.
I've thought about that sign a few times since then; mostly as I leaf through my 5,000+ photos on my phone. But lately, and particularly today, that sign has been on my mind.
Thank you for visiting.
Four simple words that we may see or hear quite often in our lifetime. But the more I think about them, the more impact they have on me. Thank you for visiting. Simple words, polite words. Words that resonate on a much different level than they used to. Words that have compelled me to write this post and to make me realize that I never want to be a visitor in my life - again. I want to be in my life. Maybe it's age. Maybe it's losing people near and dear to me, some expected and some not. Maybe it's looking back on the challenges I've faced and realizing that they have taught me something along the way. Whatever the reasons, I know that I want to live my life - and not just stop by from time to time to enjoy it.
This past week was a milestone week for me. I felt good, I felt fulfilled. I felt excited.
I'm finding the pure enjoyment in writing, being, and engaging. It's been a long time since I've felt like this. I chalk some of it up to a promise that I made to myself. For anyone who read my recent post The Relevance of Numbers, you know that I started the NaNoWriMo challenge. Needless to say that by doing so, my wheels have been in high gear; and I'm discovering inspiration in the many crevices of life. One of them came in the form of a comment on my Numbers post. This person wrote to me that it is "all about daring greatly." I read it and thought "Wow!" I hadn't seen it that way, but perhaps I am.
And that led me to another thought...
I've been writing periodically for the past 20+ months. I've drawn inspiration from many places, but most of all I've exposed parts of my inner being that I wouldn't have felt comfortable with a few years ago. I've allowed myself to embrace my vulnerabilities as strength; and part of doing so is being happy with the person I am right now while working toward the person I know I can be. I believe that there is always room for personal growth, but I also realize that sometimes we aren't ready for it. With those thoughts in hand, it reminded me of the quote that I shared above from Brene Brown's book "Daring Greatly" - one of my favorites I might add.
It is about being all in. It is about engaging. And more importantly, it is about understanding what makes us tick, knocks us down, and helps us get back up. Much of it comes from within, although outside forces also contribute. If we aren't all in, if we don't engage in our life, if we aren't ready to accept that these challenges that are presented to us are opportunities to learn, then quite possibly we may be visitors in our own life. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, it may work for some. It doesn't work for me.
How do I know this? Because I accepted the invitation to complacency. I was mired in it. Wrestling with doubt and confidence issues and struggling to find my way. Afraid of my vulnerabilities and even more afraid to show them for fear of - you guessed it - judgement. I had let myself become a visitor in my life and it wasn't all sunshine and sandy beaches. There were plenty of storms, but even the strongest thunderstorm subsides; the rain eventually stops, the thunder and lightening cease, the dark clouds dissipate. Opening the sky so that the sun can shine again.
That was the silver lining for me: to make it through my personal storm and decide to live my life and not be a visitor in it. It's a continual process. One that began with not giving in, but recognizing, accepting, and changing; thereby being able to live the beautiful imperfection that is my life.
Today I can tell you that I am vulnerable and compassionate; and most days I am kind. I cry at certain commercials and I always cry watching "Steel Magnolias." I refuse to be ashamed of these traits even when they are viewed by some as weaknesses.
Today I can tell you that I've made bad decisions, but I've made some damn good ones too. I can be cantankerous and funny and I love to laugh. In fact, it is one of my favorite things in life - to laugh. A day filled with laughter that swells my heart and makes my sides hurt is always a good day.
Today I can tell you that I still fall into a funk every now and then, but I'm better equipped to climb out of it now. I'm more patient than I used to be and definitely more confident.
Today I can tell you that I've been known to curse with the best of them. My voice is stronger than it used to be, and sometimes harsher than I'd like it. I get fired up and angry on occasion. And certain things chap my ass (pardon the bluntness). When I feel these things though, it's a reminder that I am alive and that I am in the moment, and not just watching it go by.
Today I can tell you that I make the most of the moments (at least I try to anyway). I stop to enjoy the scenery. I take the back roads. I am content to sit and be. I love the fresh air, blue sky, and crinkle of leaves beneath my feet in the fall. And yes, some days I even love the snow. It makes me wonder how much I missed by not being present in my life.
Today I can tell you that I have experienced victory and defeat and I do understand the necessity of both - there are lessons in each. Some are easier to comprehend then others. It's important to feel both, to know both, to appreciate both. Some of my greatest successes have come from my worst defeats.
All of these things, the nuances of me, they are who I am. And I intend to be in it.
About that grandiose sign waiting for me as I rounded the corner? It wasn't just an object with words, it signified something much deeper for me. A subtle reminder that I used to be a visitor in my life. But now, I am in my life. And I much prefer it that way.
Writing from the heart...always.
Thank you for meeting me here. Feel free to read, share, like, comment. Whatever you choose, I'm glad you stopped by.
© 2016 Laura Mikolaitis