Monday, January 28, 2013

Who's Got Your Goat?

Last week I was driving to the grocery store when I found myself replaying a story in my head that I've been reciting for the past two years.

People in Hollywood should be better drivers.

My blood pressure rises every time I think about it. If they would just learn to go faster or slower and not block intersections or cut people off, life in the city would be so much easier. The problem is that my getting all fired up about it does nothing to the other drivers. It doesn't make them more conscientious. It doesn't magically remove a chunk of them from the road to decrease traffic and make left turns simpler. All it does is get my seat belt in a wad...

So as I cruised down Franklin Avenue last Thursday, I caught myself in the story spin cycle and tried to turn it around. Rather than focusing on how other people should be different, I tried to identify how I could take responsibility for my frustrated state.

I should be a better driver. 

Almost immediately, I felt more relaxed. Finding my role in the situation was empowering. It meant that not everything was out of my control.

I quickly sought evidence to support my new story. I should be a better driver: I should focus on being calm when I drive. I should worry about what I am or am not doing—even if it's in response to someone else—instead of concerning myself with what other people are doing. And, I'm not a perfect driver all the time, so I really shouldn't judge others. 

When someone or something has got your goat, the one who suffers most is you. And one of the best ways to end the suffering is to turn it around and identify your part in the equation. Would things be different if you spoke up to the person and expressed your feelings? Would it help diminish the resentment? Could it be that they were somehow tapping a sore spot in you that really didn't have anything to do with them? Or maybe it was a matter of you taking a particular action—interacting in the same way you always did—and expecting a different end result?

If the well is dry, there comes a point when you just have to move on and look for water elsewhere. 

I'm going to remind myself of this as soon as I get into my car again during Hollywood rush-hour traffic. For me to expect it to be anything different than it has proven to be during the last two years is just silly. All I can do is turn it around and look for ways I can be better in the situation. I can release my goat, remember to breathe, and hope I stumble upon a good Bee Gees song on the radio. And I know beyond a doubt, that will make the ride much more enjoyable.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why Rejection Is a Blessing in Disguise

 Rejected AND naked. Oh, the humanity.

Putting yourself out there is always scary—whether it's for a job or a relationship or an artistic endeavor. It's never easy knowing your "fate" is in someone else's hands.

As someone who has been dumped and turned down for jobs more than once, I know the feeling of rejection quite well. And although many of those situations left me heartbroken and forlorn, I've actually come to embrace rejection.

Rejection is one of the greatest warning signs that the other party involved isn't the right fit for you. 

My college boyfriend must have broken up with me (or threatened to do so) at least a half dozen times when we were in our early twenties. Back then, it felt like there was something wrong with me, but the reality was that we just weren't well suited for each other. And that's totally okay.

I have lots of friends who are dating right now, and if there were one bit of magic fairydust thinking I could sprinkle on their brains, it would be to make peace with rejection. 

If someone rejects you, something is wrong. It's either the wrong person or situation, the wrong time, or maybe it's a signal that you're doing yourself wrong in some way.

Sometimes it's all of the above.

Think about it: Would you really want to be in a relationship with someone whose feelings for you were just lukewarm? Would you really want to work for an employer who wasn't excited to have you? Would you really want to trust someone with a heartfelt creation, only to have them change it or throw it away? 

If you're nodding your head yes, I challenge you to reject your own thinking. Don't give yourself over to someone or something that doesn't recognize your value. You deserve the happiness that comes with finding the right fit. And it's worth weeding through some bad matches and withstanding some cold shoulders to get there. 

In the end, it's worth waiting for the one who is "all in." So don't give up.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scrapping Our Best-Laid Plans

Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara CA - January 1, 2013

Like so many other people in the world, January sparks a yearning inside me to make plans.

I can't remember how many years I've been doing it now, but somewhere around the holidays, I sit down and create a big to-do list for the coming 365 days—just so I'm clear on all I intend to get done.  

The funny thing is, the plans always change. 

This week I was looking over last year's list—and my big plans to finish writing the novel I started and visit certain restaurants and save a chunk of money in 2012. It would be very easy for me to feel like a failure for not crossing those things off my list. But I know that in their place, some even more miraculous things occurred.

In fact, nothing really turned out like I thought it would at the onset of 2012. But as I enter 2013, I have a new house, new friends, and exciting new endeavors in my life that are probably more delightful and exciting than finishing that book or visiting that one restaurant would have ever been.

I was reminded on New Year's Day of how wonderful it can be when your plans fall apart. My husband and I were on our way to a beach in Santa Barbara with another couple when their car died. Neither of us had jumper cables, so we had to find an auto supply shop and drive in the opposite direction of the beach to go buy them. Needless to say, it wasn't how we had envisioned the day playing out.

But when we finally made our way to the coast, we were met with one of the most incredible sunsets I've ever seen. Had we gotten there earlier, we might not have stayed long enough to see it.

When leave wiggle room in our plans and surrender to the Universe's unexpected changes, we often get results that are much more spectacular than they ever would have been under our sole control.

I have to say, it was the perfect way to start out a new year.  

But I'm still going to sit down and make my list for 2013. Just so I have something to compare the wonderful twists and turns to in December. 

What unanticipated shifts in plans have left you pleasantly surprised lately?