You may recall from my last post that I made a list of all the things that make me, me. Well, I was trying to figure out how to incorporate “how I define myself” into that post, but the truth is, a top 5 list isn’t going to cut it here.
I’m at a place in my life where I’m incredibly comfortable with who I am. It took me nearly 30 years to get to this place, but knowing that some people never achieve this level of comfort with themselves, I feel pretty good about that.
As someone who participates in handful of activities that others like to judge (read: skydiving, tattoos, EDM raves, etc) I’ve found that it’s actually easier to feel good about the things you do when you find yourself in situations that require you to defend you actions.
Now, that said, you also quickly learn that it’s completely unnecessary to defend the things that make you happy to others. People love to hate. They LOOOOVE it. So don’t let people who say shit like “why would you want to do that?” about anything, make you think for even a second that maybe you shouldn’t. They’re just projecting. They’re scared, or some other shit, and because they can’t bring themselves to do it they think you shouldn’t either. Walk away. Those people don’t support you – there are plenty of people out there who will, even if they don’t have tattoos, skydive, go to raves, etc.
Having the ability to embrace and own the parts of yourself that define who you are is great. But having the ability to recognize the imperfections and realizing that those things don’t define you is pretty incredible.
That said, I wanted to visit a few of those things that really do define who I am every single day:
My life has been focused on my career for as long as I can remember. Even in high school all I wanted to was to be successful. I’ve moved from Michigan to Texas to Ohio to Illinois to Georgia to New York and to multiple cities within these states chasing the next best career opportunity. I can’t imagine my life any other way. Personal success is critical to my happiness and I have to say I’m pretty proud of where I’ve been able to go in the last 8 years. Can’t wait to see where this path takes me in the next 8 years.
I got my first tattoo when I was 20 years old. It’s two interlocking hearts on my foot. I had a needle on my skin for all of 2 minutes to accomplish this. I got another one to symbolize my love for music. Then I waited years to get another. I thought I was done. Tattoos didn’t define who I was at the time, it was just a “phase,” or so I thought. In recent years I’ve gone from a chick who has tattoos to a tattooed chick. My tattoos tell a story of my life. When I look at them I have great memories and great stories to tell. Each comes from a time in my life where I felt strongly about something – something that defines me. My tattoos are my way of visually expressing the parts of me that make me who I am. Sometimes I get disapproving looks, stares and friends and family members who shake their head. I’ve even been told that I don’t look like a chick who would have tattoos. Other times I have people stop me on the street or in my office and want to see them closer, want to know more. Those are the moments I thrive. My tattoos are for me. But, like them or not, they’re certainly not going anywhere – and there are more to come, you can count on that.
Having lived in numerous cities across the country, and visited dozens of others on business, I have gained an added appreciation for travel. I take any opportunity I can to visit places I’ve never been. I like to take opportunities and turn them into travel experiences. For instance, when I go to Tomorrowland (in Belgium) this summer, I’ll also be visiting Amsterdam and Germany – turning a 3-day festival into an exploration of Europe. This is just scratching the surface and I definitely need to go back, but at least I get to see more than I will in Boom, Belgium. I’ve also been known to extend business trips over weekends in order to visit friends or explore new places.
As a girl you grow up thinking of fairy tales and princesses and having this perfect life with a perfect partner. With experience I’ve realized that life is about personal success and if you can have people in your life that you can share those experiences with, life becomes even more amazing. Relationships, whether friends, family or significant others, are mutually beneficial – or at least they should be. You have each others backs, you love each other to the extent that being there for them is not a burden but a role you’re happy to fill. I take a lot of pride in my ability to love others to this extent. I have a lot of love to give and those who are in my life see and understand this – and hopefully, cherish it.
I have amazing friends. The ones who live in NYC and the ones who don’t. I’m so incredibly lucky to have the people in my life that I do, and honestly, I’m proud to call them friends. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t let people into the “friend zone” unless they’ve earned it. And I’ve also learned when to remove people from that zone that don’t deserve it. Friends do, with the exception of a special few, come and go. But the impact they have on your life in the time they’re there is invaluable.
I joke that I’m the “black sheep” of my family, and for the most part that’s true. Not only have I “moved away” from home but I continue to move around the country to chase experiences. I skydive, I have tattoos, I’m divorced, I go to raves and spend my money on experiences rather than “saving for retirement.” Regardless, my family continues to stand behind me. They support me when I need it the most and are there to let me know they’re there if I need them. I’m closer with my parents than I’ve ever been even though we live hundreds of miles away. I’m lucky to be able to return home for visits and say that my blood relatives are pretty “normal,” whatever that means.
I saved this one for last because, well, it’s pretty obvious. This is my 5th season as a skydiver. Being a “skydiver” is something that has changed over time. At first it was “cool” and now it’s about being a part of this amazing community, always having people who get you and get why you jump. It’s about the freedom you experience with each and every jump. It’s about pushing yourself, your limits and having as much fun as you possibly can. The sky is my playground and with each jump I feel a little bit closer to my 8-year-old self.
So tell me, what defines you?
Blogging is a time capsule of sorts. Writing down thoughts, experiences and dreams all in one place gives you a) a good foundation for realizing and articulating life goals while capturing experiences along the way and b) seeing how far you’ve come. Writing, no matter the form, essentially allows you to forecast your own future and make changes based on lessons learned along the way. It also allows you to see how much you’ve changed over time.
I’m amazed at people who make bucket lists as if they’re written in stone. As I get older I see how much my goals, my desires and my perceptions change over time. For me, blogging gives me the freedom to go back and see where I was one, two, ten years ago and truly take in all I’ve accomplished, learned and experienced in order to apply it to my future.
That said, I like making lists every now and again to mark points in my life to provide those types of comparisons in the future.
This time around I’m making a ‘top 5′ list of those things that are important to me, that define me at this point in time. Most of these are in no particular order, because honestly narrowing some of these categories down to only five is hard enough.
I’ll build my other lists based on these favorites. You’ll see.
3. Skydiving (duh)
4. Travel & Adventure
EDM is big for me right now. Time is running out for me to be a 20-something festival go-er but I have a feeling my post-Tomorrowland self will have an appreciation for DJs for years to come. Right now I’m loving:
1. Gareth Emery
5. Swedish House Mafia
Yes, I know SHM is a supergroup, and yes I know they’re no longer together, but I don’t care. Still love them. This was a huge challenge for me because I wanted to add Hardwell, Tiesto, Nero and Crystal Castles to this list too, but I had to stick with my favorites.
Ways to spend my downtime
You’ll notice skydiving is not on this list. Downtime for me is when I’m not working, traveling or skydiving. Just for clarification.
1. Exploring my city (New York currently)
4. EDM Concerts
5. QT with my dog
I used to have running, photography and yoga on this list. I’d like to get those things back.
1. Freeflying with other intermediate jumpers
3. Freefly coaching from advanced jumpers
4. Helping beginner jumpers and getting back to basics
5. Reading books and watching videos
All of these are valuable, these are just my current preferences.
Ways to treat myself
3. Special yoga or pilates class
5. Ice Cream
Yes, I treat myself with a new tattoo from time to time. It happens.
This is different from DJs, obviously, but felt the need to clarify.
2. Walk off the Earth
3. Walk the Moon
4. The Shins
5. Imagine Dragons
I do enjoy improving myself – hard work pays off people!
2. Hitting the gym
3. Regular writing
4. Reading everything I can get my hands on (for career, skydiving, travel, you name it)
5. Goal setting
Areas for improvement
That said, there’s always room for improvement and I’m in a constant state of trying to better myself. Here’s how.
1. Regular gym routine
2. Open lines of communication – especially when it’s difficult
5. Finding happiness in all areas of life
I’m add a 5.5 to the list, because I can, because this is my list: not letting people’s actions stand in the way of my own happiness. This has been a struggle my entire life and something I will probably work on till the day my ticket is pulled.
What’s on your top-5 list these days?
Love and blue skies!
Self-awareness is one of those things that can be rather challenging to achieve. No one likes to admit, even to themselves, when their behavior isn’t up to snuff. It’s just easier to stay blind to it. On the flip side of that, people often have trouble realizing the positive aspects of their personalities and the good they bring to the world. Being self-aware requires you to take a critical look at yourself and the impact you have on the world around you. It’s also something that can come and go, so once you’re actually there, it takes quite a bit of mental discipline to keep it.
I’ve been lucky (lucky?) in my life to have experiences, both positive and negative, that have allowed me periods of acute self-awareness. I still struggle with some of the success moments – it’s just not in my nature to be all “I’m the shit.” But what I find beneficial, difficult as it may be sometimes, is that I’m able to take a look at myself and course correct so that my behaviors don’t negatively impact those in my life – at least that’s the hope.
I’m someone who regularly struggles with unnecessary guilt. The people in my life mean everything to me and the last thing I want is for anyone to feel less than 100% amazing 100% of the time. So even when events out of my control cause them pain or struggles, I tend to feel as if I could have done something to make their experiences more pleasant.
Let me give you an example: say I were to fly my family out to see me in New York for a weekend, but their flight was delayed and they were going to miss their layover so they had to rebook the flights and all this is happening while I’m in a meeting at work and can’t be available to help them. I would feel guilty for a) not being able to make this process easier for them by stepping in and helping and b) having booked a flight that was delayed in the first place.
Obviously the latter is irrational, and the former is something they would completely understand. Like I said, unnecessary guilt. Don’t judge me, I’m working on it.
I foresee myself always wanting to make sure the people around me are happy and content – it’s just part of my nature, and honestly something I take a bit of pride in. That said, I realized recently the impact that some of my behaviors were having on people I truly care about. It wasn’t easy to come to terms with the fact that by doing the things that I needed in my life, I was unintentionally hurting those around me. “Hurting” might be a bit of a strong term – it’s more like I wasn’t giving all of myself the way that I prefer. I am struggling with a balance between ensuring that I get everything I need for my own mental well-being and giving enough of myself to support the people in my life.
Needless to say, I’ve been failing at that as of late. I’ve been selfish. I don’t like being selfish – not for one second. But I also realize that sometimes, I need to be. It’s that delicate balance that I’ve yet to quite figure out. I’m just thankful I’m capable of taking a critical look inward to realize the issues so at least I can acknowledge them and head down the path of figuring out how to make it all work.
So, if you’ve been in the path of my selfishness as of late, I sincerely apologize.
Love and Blue Skies!
I’m not one for making resolutions. My feeling on it is this: everyone makes this big fucking fuss over the changing of a date, but the truth is, it’s just another day. People put so much stock in “the new year,” they want it to be this grandiose occasion that they’ll remember forever, and they make these huge plans to, practically overnight, drop all their bad habits and make big changes. When in reality, what I see happen is people are sorely disappointed with the outcome of their New Year’s party and spend the next 30-60 days (if they’re lucky) living out their newly planned life until they realize the goals they set were unrealistic and give up.
I’ll admit, that’s a bit pessimistic, but probably fairly accurate.
I’ve never understood why people wait till the beginning of a new year to make changes for the better. Hell, I don’t even get why people wait till Monday (read: “I’m starting a new diet…Monday”). Why not start now? I guess I’m not the typical all-or-nothing type of person when it comes to habits – I know there are going to be hurdles on a path to any goal, so just because I trip on one doesn’t mean the journey is over (read: “I ate a cookie, I guess today is shot and I can splurge all I want”).
I prefer the idea of constant progression in a general direction of improvement – which isn’t a concept that came easy to me. When I was running competitively I found the all-or-nothing attitude did nothing but hurt me. I was obsessed with fitness and nutrition to the point where I was becoming unhealthy. I pushed the limits of my body everyday until it broke – first my back, then my foot (twice) – before I learned to reel it in. Starting over was exhausting and keeping up with a strict diet and exercise plan that didn’t allow for much real living was nearly impossible to tolerate.
The past decade I’ve learned the importance of balance, of taking life one day at a time and living in the present as much as possible.
That said, I’m no stranger to setting goals, and it just so happens that one area for improvement is becoming a focus at the start of a new year. Am I calling it a resolution? No. Honestly, I expect that I’ll be working on this one far longer than just one year.
It goes along with my sentiment about balance. In general, I’m a people pleaser. I always have been. I like to make the people in my life happy. As a kid, it was about the praise I’d receive for doing something well, as a young adult it was about the recognition. Now, as someone who is nearing 30, I find that wanting to please others is mostly about the intrinsic reward of knowing that I have a positive impact on someone’s life and the strengthened relationship that often follows as a result.
That’s all fine and great, but I find myself continuing to struggle with pleasing myself. After all, how do I intend to accomplish such a task when I’ve expended all my energy on ensuring the happiness of everyone else.
I struggle with the idea that “you can’t please everyone all of the time,” and I am acutely aware that, for the most part, if I don’t look out for my own needs, wants and desires no one else will. I think this is going to be something I continue to work on for years to come – I may never perfect the balance, but I’m certainly willing to try.
So let’s hear it, whether you call them resolutions, goals, plans, you name it, what do you have in store for 2013 and beyond?
Love and Blue Skies!
When it comes to skydiving, I’ve found that the most positive experiences in the sky – the one’s where you come down and, whether the jump was a complete success or not, you learned valuable skills that will come in handy on future skydives.
During the Fly Like A Girl boogie at Skydive Carolina this weekend, I had the pleasure of doing a 4-way freefly with three of the load organizers. After shaking off the intimidation factor – after all it was clear I was by far the least experienced on that jump – I took it as an amazing time to learn from three badass chicks.
Our dive plan went something like this: flower grip to head down round, to open accordion (still head down), back to HD round then flip to sit and play monkey see monkey do with Sharon, docks if proximity allows and back track away at 5K.
Sounds easy enough, but knowing my head down skills I was a little nervous. On the entire caravan ride to altitude (which equated to about 20 minutes – man I’ve been spoiled with a King Air at SDA…) I sat with my eyes closed, visualizing the exit over and over, reminding myself of the importance of being strong with my legs and deliberate in my actions. When the door opened at 14K butterflies invaded my stomach, but I knew this jump was my chance to learn something and I had to get it together.
The exit went off and I felt instability on the hill so I did what I needed to do and took a cheater grip on Amy to save it. Suceess – and lesson 1. Whew! We didn’t get the accordion but we flipped to sit and campfired till 5K, back tracked away and landed without a hitch. On the ground I got some of the best tips and coaching of my freeflying career – tidbits that helped every jump there after and will continue to be skills I employ on freefly jumps to come. It’s jumps like these, humbing as they may be, that make me love this sport so much!
There’s always something new to learn in skydiving, and there’s always room for improvement. As I see it, you never stop being a student – that is, unless you start believing you’re too good to learn something new.
The thing about improving in skydiving, as with anything in life, is that you have to be open to it. You need to be willing to learn and grow with every experience in this community – which often requires you to set your ego aside and put yourself into humbling situations. Being able to accept that you make mistakes is the only way to learn and grow from them. As long as you’re not putting yourself or others in danger, find ways to get out of your comfort zone. Jump with people who are badass and willing to help. They are out there. Events like Fly Like a Girl are designed to pair beginner and intermediate jumpers with those who have the skills to teach. Travel to boogies because of the organizers – they are there to ensure you get put on a dive that will only serve to grow your skills.
Regardless of your plan for learning, whether it’s traveling to events, flying in the tunnel or building a team of like-minded flyers willing to dedicate so much time and/or so many jumps to simply becoming a better flyer, do yourself a favor and be open to the possibilities. Learn from all those you jump with – don’t let that skydiver ego get in the way of your progression.
Love and Blue Skies!
This is great advice for all aspects of life and something I’ve found makes most circumstances easier to tackle – but especially in skydiving.
When it comes to making decisions in life, we all have those moments where we hesitate, where we doubt ourselves but often push forward anyway. The problem with this is, if you’re wavering in your mind, that’s going to show in your actions. This effect is magnified in sports like skydiving. This is why when you’re on the plane you’ll often see jumpers with their eyes closed walking through a dive flow, preparing their muscles for exactly what they want to do – even something as simple as handle checks to keep that memory fresh so you can make the right moves at the right time as needed.
In short, make a decision and act confidently on it.
When you’re not confident about an exit, it’s going to show. When you’re not confident in the tunnel, you’re likely to hit the wall. Making low turns under canopy – whether aggressive or not – must be deliberate and calculated or you just might bounce. Visualize, breathe, dig deep down and find that part of you, no matter how small, that just knows you can do this and bring that to the forefront of your mind.
For a long time I had trouble with exits. There was never a reason why I wasn’t confident about it, I just wasn’t. Then I started wingsuiting and found that if you’re not completely solid and stable on exit, if everything isn’t timed just so, flat spins are likely – and let me tell you they’re not fun. After about 10 exits in a row that were complete shit (thankfully I was able to recover quickly so the skydive didn’t completely go to hell) I had to find that part of me that knew I could do it, that part of me that wanted it so badly I had no choice but to make it happen. Being deliberate was the only way and solid, practiced visualization helped.
I still find myself doubting certain things about a planned jump, but the more I push myself out of that comfort zone the more confidence I have in my flying overall.
At the end of the day you have to find what works for you, but the next time you find yourself with butterflies about a dive plan, remind yourself to be deliberate in your actions – you just might surprise yourself.
Hard to believe that summer is over. That means something completely different than it did last year at this time when I was in Chicago preparing for winter. Here in the South we’re still experiencing 80+ degrees during the day, but the mornings and evenings are becoming cooler and the humidity isn’t nearly as high (my hair is thrilled with that).
Though the skydiving season is still in full swing for me, I like to take time to reflect every now and again on the lessons that I’ve learned – both in the world of skydiving and in the community at large. Life has presented me with a lot of great information I’m sure others would benefit from hearing, if they haven’t received the message from the universe yet themselves.
- Surround yourself with good people and you’ll continue to experience good in the world. - It’s amazing how true this is. In all my moves I’ve been blessed to find good people and they’ve introduced me to other good people, and at the end of the day when I find myself surrounded by people who truly care, I couldn’t be happier. The lesson here is this: choosing not to welcome negative people into your life, or even removing someone from your life who doesn’t bring positive vibes, doesn’t make you a bad person – it opens the door for so much more than you might imagine.
- Prioritize. – This goes with everything in life, but I’m specifically referring to skydiving here. If you’ve been around these parts long you’re aware that sticking with a discipline isn’t my forte. But once I finally committed to freeflying and threw myself into the tunnel to be beat up rotation after rotation and spent all my time and money traveling for coaching or even just to jump with some bad ass freeflyers, I knew this is where I was meant to be in the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got my fair share of frustrations with my flying, but that’s just the nature of the beast. More time, more money. I’ll get there, and one day I’ll be that bad ass freeflyer that people are chasing.
- Skydivers protect each other. – This partially goes without saying as we’re all a bit responsible for the safety of our fellow jumpers. See someone’s chest strap routed wrong, you’re telling them. We all do pin checks for each other on the ground and in the plane…it’s just what we do. But what surprised me more than that was the personal protection you receive when you’re among fellow jumpers. The dropzone is a safe space for skydivers. We all come from different walks of life but at the end of the day you can truly be who you are without condemnation in this community, and we’re all there for each other when times get tough. Some of my closest friends are skydivers, not just because of the shared interest, but because they are good people who appreciate me for me and who I trust have my back. I know that when I go to the dropzone on the weekends I’ve got people watching out for me and take great comfort in that fact.
- Don’t be afraid of the word ‘no.’ – I learned this long ago when it came to my career, but it never really dawned on me that I could apply it to my personal life too. If there’s something you want, ask. What’s the worst that could happen? You hear the word ‘no’ and you’re in the exact same position as if you’d never asked.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ – This is one I’m still working on. Personally, I’m a people pleaser and if saying no might disappoint someone I’m likely to say yes, often begrudgingly. But all that’s going to do is make me bitter when my time could be much better spent doing something that benefits me as well.
- Live within your means – Still a struggle of mine, of course, but I’ve found there’s so much less stress when you live within a budget – sorta. I was so good at this at the beginning of the summer, but with travel, new gear and tunnel it’s become a challenge again. Living within your means doesn’t have to mean that you can’t have any fun – just reallocate money to what’s most important. If you’re traveling all the time, live in a modest place….stop shopping at Nordstrom during the week so you can fund that tunnel trip. There’s ways to cut corners to get what you want – you just have to figure out what’s most important in your life. I found that selling gear I wasn’t using helps. I wanted a new helmet, so I sold mine. I ordered a new tunnel suit, so I sold my old wingsuit. Selling a pair of freefly pants and an old jumpsuit I wasn’t wearing anymore helped fund my Viso2 purchase. Hoarding gear was not productive for me, selling it was.
- I’ve got amazing friends. This brings us back to the beginning of the list. Sure, I choose to surround myself with good people these days, but they also choose to stick around. They say that it’s the hard times in life that let you know who your true friends are, but truth be told, I’ve been in a great place for quite some time and I continue to be awed at how wonderful, protective and caring my friends are.
Life is too short not to try as hard as you can every day to be living the way that’s going to make you happiest – acknowledging the lessons will help you get there faster. The road might not be filled with unicorns shitting rainbows but at the end of the day, if you can look yourself in the mirror and be happy with what’s looking back at you then you’re doing pretty well.
Love and Blue Skies!
When I was fresh off student status back in 2009, I found myself getting pulled into fairly big-way belly stuff. By my 40th jump I’d done two 8 ways, a 10 way and an attempted 15 way jump. A typical skydive for me during this RW phase included anywhere from 6-8 people. We’d start with a BFR (big fucking round for those who aren’t familiar) and turn points if time allowed.
At one local event one of my AFF instructors pulled me aside and told me that I really should get away from the big ways and do some basic 2 and 3-ways to improve my skills. At the time, I wasn’t sure why this was valuable advice – I was by far the newest jumper in the group and many of those flyers had hundreds if not thousands of jumps, so I was learning something on every jump.
But now, as a freeflyer, I completely get this advice. So often I see people who want to learn something in the sky getting on these 6, 7, 8-way freefly jumps, where the average jumper has 300 skydives and is trying to organize something where that guy who can barely hold his sit is base. I’m always there to watch these videos and hear the post-jump commentary, because 99 times out of 100 the jump went to total shit and became what we call a zoo dive.
Not only are you not going to learn much on these jumps, but often times they can be quite dangerous with jumpers of varied experience levels all over the sky.
So what do you do when you’re manifested on one of these jumps that just keeps growing in size but you really want to learn and know the jump isn’t going to be productive? You have to know when a jump becomes too many to properly learn and progress and be willing to back out. Fun as these jumps might be, save them for sunset load, when you’ve had a productive day in the sky and want to end the day with something entertaining.
The last two weekends in the sky were spent doing one-on-one jumps with fellow freeflyers, willing to work on some stuff in the sky. I literally did the same jump all day last Saturday, and this Saturday was basically the same, working on the same transition over and over, and getting coaching on how to improve.
I chatted with one of the jumpers who had been jumping with a larger group of beginner and intermediate freeflyers all day, and there was frustration in their tone. Learning wasn’t happening on these big jumps and all they wanted was to walk away with some things to work on, having seen even the smallest improvement in their flying, but that didn’t happen with skydives like these.
I’m not normally one for shelling out advice, given that I’m still very much a student in this sport myself, but consider it advice from an AFF instructor – that’s where it came from originally, after all: if you want to improve your skills, stick to 2 and 3-ways, get some coaching, and dedicate yourself to practice and drill dives. Save the zoo-ways for boogies and sunset load. You’re bound to see improvement if you just put your head to it.
I have this rule for myself when life just doesn’t seem to be going my way – I call it the 24-hour rule. According to said rule, I allow myself 24 hours to sulk, be upset, pissed off, or whatever other negative emotion I might be experiencing about a situation, and then I force myself to make a plan to get the hell over it.
I’ve been known to press this rule on my friends and family as well. Too often I get invited to pity parties – those things fucking suck – where I immediately present the rule and let them know that I’m happy to support their terrible attitude for the next full day but I expect a plan for how they’re going to move forward tomorrow. Some have fully appreciated this, others don’t take to kindly to my “lack of sensitivity.” But, it’s not for everyone I suppose.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule – like a death in the family or other devastating news that requires a full-fledged grieving process. I’m talking about your everyday run of the mill issues, like getting a talking to from your boss, or even bigger things like minor car accidents, injuries, even an unexpected change in career path, that inconvenience you and piss you off, but aren’t enough of a travesty to ruin your spirit.
I’m a believer that time heals all wounds, and that most over-reactions in life can be prevented by sleeping on it before taking action – especially on an emotionally charged situation. That said, sometimes it takes a little effort to get yourself back on track.
That’s where the 24-hour rule comes into play.
Give yourself time to grieve, to hate, to cry – whatever you need. But then, make it a point to move on. This timeframe may not work for you, you might need 2 days, a week, whatever, but then find ways to keep your mind productive. Make a plan for getting back on track. Have an injury and can’t do the things you love most? Okay, that sucks, be pissed. Then, figure out how you’re going to spend your recovery time. Read that book you’ve always wanted to read. Take up photography. Volunteer. Push yourself out of your comfort zone so you still know what it’s like to experience living. Whatever it is, do something to get your head out of the negative and be happy with your situation right now. Don’t let life turn you into Debbie Downer, no one wants to surround themselves with that kind of negative energy.
Of course, this is all easier said than done. It takes practice, persistence. You’re still going to have moments of missing whatever it is that was stripped from your life, but if you’re determined to not let the twists and turns of life bring you down, you’ll come out on the other more complete and fulfilled than you could have imagined.
Love and Blue Skies!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to judge others lately and I thought I’d share some of my conclusions. Growing up in small town USA you’re almost brought up to judge the behaviors of others. Typically, we all grow up in similar families where anything that seems “out of the ordinary” is securely locked behind closed doors.
Of course, that was in the 80s.
Fast forward to the 21st century where most of us consume our news online, and even worse, via Facebook, and you can imagine how many skeletons that would have remained in closets are so easily creeping out through the interwebs.
We are all sharers to some degree. We love people to know the positive things that are going on in our lives. Of course, the more you share of yourself, the more challenging it becomes to keep those parts of your life that may not be working out the way you’d prefer, in the dark.
That said – as I know many of you are thinking – everyone has the choice of what they want to share and what they don’t. And yes, I’m in complete agreement with that sentiment. However, if you’ve been putting yourself out there (or, if you have some type of celebrity or athlete status, it’s more likely that others are contributing to putting you out there as well) it can be difficult to shield yourself from public judgment of others.
A great example of this is the recent leak on what goes on in the Olympic Village and the backlash that a lot of athletes are now enduring because of their after-hours activities. Yes, these athletes are best-in-class and should act as such, however, as far as they were concerned, these activities were supposedly taking place in a safe space – where they could unwind. Not all the Olympians are taking part in drunken debauchery as some articles have quoted, but some are. Not all are having sex with every other athlete they find attractive, but some are. Truth is, who are we to judge?
I do agree with some who are saying that these members of society should be the most upstanding that exist – there are kids that look up to them, see them as role models, and for as long as the Olympics has existed, it’s been a badge of honor simply to participate. But does unwinding with some booze and sex in an area that was promised to be a safe haven automatically make them bad people? Maybe that pedestal we put them on was a bit too high, sure, but isn’t that more a product of our starry eyes and our naitivity than their personal actions?
This is, of course, just one example.
Judging others is just something that happens. We all do it. I don’t care who you are and what high horse you think you’re perched on, you do it too. I used to do it ALL. THE. TIME. In fact, it was part of my life that I enjoyed. But, as life throws more experiences at me, I find that when I’m peeking into the lives of others, judgment isn’t something I enjoy. In fact, I find myself thinking things like “dude, 10 years ago I would have thought you were [fill in the blank here depending on the situation],” rather than actually placing judgment in the present. A habit I hope to break, because honestly, it’s still only one notch below actually judging someone’s character.
Judging others based on their choices and actions seems easy to do when you have little life experience of your own. The truth is, cliche as it seems, until you walk even a block in someone else’s shoes you just don’t have the authority to judge their actions. You never know what someone else is going through – I don’t care what rumors you’ve heard, what you’ve seen on Facebook or what you’ve even heard from their friends and family, you are not them, you have not shared their experiences, so you can’t judge their decisions because you just don’t understand.
That said, this doesn’t mean you should walk around in life not passing judgment on others at all. Judgment also helps us determine who we should surround ourselves with on a daily basis. The ability to judge others lets us know when someone doesn’t “feel” right, and choose safe, harmonious communities. Without the ability and decision to judge someone you just might be unknowingly shacking up with a serial killer or an abuser or someone who picks their nose and eats it.
Our wonderful human brain allows us to use this judgment to protect ourselves and those that we love. It’s a trait that continues on in the gene pool because it’s so valuable to the survival of our communities.
What it comes down to, as with most things in life, is self-control. Being the intelligent beings that we are, we’ve realized that we can use this judgment in ways that will unnecessarily alienate others, make them feel bad about themselves, or simply provide fodder for discussions with other members of society (read: “did you see what Jane was doing last night at the bar? She’s such a slut/idiot/drunken whore.”).
When judgment turns into gossip turns into name calling, that’s when it’s time to do some self reflecting and reel it in. Does talking bad about someone else’s decisions make you better than them? Does it make you feel good about yourself to speak badly of another person? What are your motivations when it comes to spreading rumors and talking about someone else?
These are good questions to ask yourself before, during, or even after you’ve judged someone else.
Doesn’t it make more sense to understand before making accusations? Exploring a situation with questions, asking individuals rather than groups, approaching the person himself to find out more information is a great place to start. It might not hurt to ask yourself why you’re exploring for more information in the first place. Do you genuinely care and want to help or are you simply searching for ways to make yourself feel superior to someone else?
Judgement can be a wonderful thing. We were blessed with this ability, but use it wisely my friends, because in the end, prematurely passing judgment doesn’t make the other person look nearly as petty as it makes you look.
Love and blue skies!