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Renter or Owner?

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There really are two types of people out there…Renters and Owners.  What do I mean by that?  Come on, you must know!  We really are two different types. There are those who just don’t…or can’t…find something to tie themselves down to.  They may seem courageous to the outside world…always moving…making fresh starts where most would succumb to a feeling of defeat.  But when they move on…they still don’t tie themselves down to anything permanent.  They stick with something temporary…an apt that they just pay rent for…neighbors they don’t make lasting relationships with because they know they won’t be there forever.  They don’t shop for anything permanent because when their lease is up, it’s all getting trashed anyway.  

Personally, I’ve always been a renter.  But I’ve always longed to be an “Owner.”  I want to find a place where I can grow old.  I want to lay down roots some place.  I want a house that is set to my design…the style that I have in my dreams…I’m tired of still being (in my opinion) forced to pay rent to some other owner to live in their house.  

I tried once to own a place…but that didn’t really work out that well for me.  I feel like I should have gotten an “E” for effort…but I really didn’t deserve it.  I would think that once you have a “permanent” place, then it makes you think more permanently…you choose a boyfriend who may be around for a while…instead of the next cute drug addict you meet.  (I was young…still believed I could talk a guy off drugs…whatever…I learned my lesson.)  

But now I look at the life I’ve had since the end of that relationship 15 years ago…and I am living in another country, have been paying rent ever since, and still have not found the place where I want to lay down my roots yet.  I always think that my next move will be my last…then another relationship ends and I find myself needing to move just to be able to make a fresh start…another fresh start.  Anytime something like that happens, there are always butterflies in your stomach and the thought that maybe going back would be easier.  And then I have to remember that when things appear in the rear view mirror…they need to remain in the rear view mirror.  It doesn’t mean that maybe one day there isn’t a chance that things could be better or different with the people in your life…but it does mean that you still need to change.  You need to stop relying on other people to help you lay down those roots.  

It’s clear to me now.  In order for that to happen, I need to do it alone.  That’s how I was raised…that’s what I was taught…the only person…the ONLY person…I can rely on…is myself.  And that’s for happiness, dependability, love, trust…all those things people look for in their significant others.  If you are not happy within…it makes no difference how many jokes your man comes with!  They aren’t going to make you happy for long.  And as much as he adores you…you must love yourself first before anyone else can get in.  If you have a lot of self-hatred within yourself, it doesn’t matter what that man says.  There’s no beating down that wall into your heart.  

I wish I could be different…more trusting..more open to the love of someone else.  But it’s amazing how much more content I am when there’s no one in my life with the right to judge me or share with me their opinions of my faults.  I see my faults…I recognize when I am rude, inconsiderate, thoughtless, etc….but I also see when I am compassionate, loving, supportive, respectful and just plain nice to others and I feel like those qualities outweigh my bad mood moments when I’m probably just taking a low blood sugar out on the person next to me.  So for now, yes, I continue to be a renter.  But I do see that I need to overcome this obstacle we call “life” by myself.  Once I have crossed over to the other side and have become an “Owner” of a house where I can lay down my own roots, I’m not saying that I won’t let anyone in.  It’s just that I need to do all that before I should even consider it so that I can better identify myself as the person I am…not the person I want to be.

What generation are you?

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sinatra2I never remember which generation I truly am…is it X or Y…I can’t remember.  But I can tell you that I am the generation that grew up before cell phones and computers.  I learned how to make a friend by shaking their hand and looking them in the eye to see if they were someone I could trust.  I am also the generation who listened to the Frank Sinatra show every Saturday night…having grown up in a small apt with my family of four where we only had one radio and my father was who decided what we listened to on Saturday nights.  At the time, sure, I was the kid who would chime in with my brother, “Not Frank Sinatra AGAIN!”  And then we would sit and listen to that Italian crooner from New Jersey sing about life and love and bad luck and of course, New York, NY and Chicago!

Now I’m 41 years old, and one of my favorite things to do is to listen to Frank Sinatra.  It brings me back to the days of when I listened to the lyrics of composers such as Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hammerstein and George Gershwin who wrote about how “I Get a Kick Out of You” or “Shall We Dance” or “I’ve got a Crush on You” even the brave lyrics sung about how “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”  I now find myself singing right along with Frank Sinatra

“I get no kick from champagne,
Mere alcohol,
Doesn’t thrill me at all,
So tell me, why should it be true,
That I get a kick out of you.”

or

“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky
And the sweet, silver song of a lark”

And I realize that this was who taught me about life, about love, about loyalty and fear,these were the words that I heard so many times and were repeated in my ear, for so many years…words that I still hear today.

“I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race”…because that’s life!

Children today don’t see the world like I do or did…but how can they?  They grow up idolizing people like the twerker or the Kardashians or the one who always needs a hairbut…Bieber.  What an idiot!  These people are not teaching our children lessons like the ones that I learned while listening to an AM/FM radio.  At a time when we all had record albums that we had to handle with care and that all began with that static sound in the background.  (A sound you never hear anymore because now it’s considered to be an imperfection.)  We learned how to grow up into the person we were because we didn’t know any different.  We spent time with each other, and we adjusted to each other and we all got along and we weren’t glued to a TV set with 1,000 channels.  (My first TV was in black & white and if you wanted to change the channel, between the 7 channels we had, you had to get up and turn a knob!)

So what generation am I?  I’m the Sinatra generation and I want to spend my life singing about “Falling in Love” and “Picking myself up to get back in the race” and about “Wishing on a Star” that I’ll meet a “Stranger in the Night.”  Because that is what life is about.  I will never be perfect, I’ve been up and down and I’ve made my mistakes.  But I plan to spend my life continuing to hold my head high because I know that I’ll never walk alone…if for no other reason than just because that’s what Ole Blue Eyes has always told me.

Road Less Traveled vs. Comfort Zone

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On Saturday I went hiking.  I have always been a big hiker…ever since I was a kid.  Anytime I hear about a hike about to happen, I make sure I’m invited!  Why?  Because as much of a city girl a14520316_10154564179609049_5635474682581688573_ns I am, I just love embracing our great outdoors.  As a child, while on vacation in Vermont or Maine, as a family, we would always go hiking. Then as an adult, while living in New York City, I would take Metro-North up to Cold Springs or Bear Mountain and spend an entire day hiking with work colleagues and friends from Grad School.  Now, while living in Central Mexico, where I am surrounded by 3 active volcanoes, I explore various parks that exist nestled between them where you can literally witness some amazing vistas.

What I found, though, while hiking, was how similar to real life a hike can actually be.  How when we agree to take the ‘road less traveled,’ we discover things about ourselves, things we would be willing to forego in order to achieve something. 14568139_10154564180144049_1938757262039498893_n Yesterday I took a hike in a place where I had never been before and there were some paths that may have seemed impossible to pass for some people (the inclination was intense, the length of each pass was long and I was frequently out of breath…but at the top, these passes lead me to some of the most amazing views I could have imagined.  A view that I would never have been able to see had I given up at the bottom…taken a seat and said, “My group can fetch me on their way back down.”  How much fun would that NOT have been!

In life we overcome obstacles, some placed there by chance while others we expect.  Like when we choose to attend a University that will challenge us mentally, academically as well as emotionally.  (I always used to think, if I had made it into Harvard, what could I possibly had to talk about with my classmates?!?!)  But in addition to that, how about what we choose to do with our lives, professionally.  We all “major” in something in College.  How many of you actually did anything with that degree?  My degree was in Psychology and I never hung my shingle out begging people to come and tell me about their problems and concerns about life!  But I can tell you that I did learn a certain level of understanding for the differences that exist within each of us, based on our perspectives and experiences.

I would not describe myself as being a daring individual, I would describe myself as existing within my comfort zone, pretty boring.  But that’s my opinion.  To an outsider, they may view me differently.  About 6 years ago, I moved to Cozumel where I am able to dive 12 months out of the year.  And I didn’t just become a recreational diver, but rather I went ahead and became a Tech Diver…which allows me to dive to 250 feet.  (Anyone who knows diving, can appreciate the idea of being ‘narked’ everyday!  It was pretty incredible!)  Kind of like tripping on ecstasy…kind of like how you must feel when you jump out of a plane…not knowing in which direction is up or why there are diamonds floating around you and no one else seems to want to catch them.  It’s pretty exhilarating…and the experience was worth anything I had to sacrifice in order for me to have it.  (Even the notion that it could lead me to my grave.)

But even after that part of my life ended and I moved to Central Mexico, I guess I really didn’t have much of an idea about what I was in for…so I guess this was the ‘road less traveled‘ since I didn’t know what it was.  Yes, I had a job lined up for myself to begin once we arrived, but I had no idea what the people around me would be like or how I might be commuting to work each day, what I might be eating or even what types of friends I make be making.  Most say that must mean that I was super brave to take that ‘road less traveled,’ while I may describe myself as being irresponsible or stupid for always believing that things always did, or will, work out.  Though somehow they always do…I have made some unbelievably, incredible friends who I will never turn my back on or run away from in order to return to the States.

I recently published a blog in which I talked about looking beyond imperfections in order to always find happiness.  I am now 40 years old and my standards for life, I’m sure, have changed.  But I could not be happier because I am in charge of my future.  What’s the expression?  “Master of my Fate and Captain of my Soul.”  I’ve always been a big advocate of that!  If someone is not happy…or bored…or just “playing it safe” in their comfort zone, then when they complain that they are unsatisfied with life, I don’t have much patience for it.  Because if you want an exciting life that’s worth living, and sharing with someone else, then get up and go find it!  Take the ‘road less traveled‘ because you have nothing to lose.  Take the risks and chances in life that might result in an amazing experience…view…friend!  When I left my career and apartment and crazy, jet-setting life in NYC 6 years ago, so many people asked me, “What if it doesn’t work out?”  (“It” being diving in Cozumel while bartending to pay my bills.)

14494811_10154564180304049_2275144047963313583_n.jpgMy answer was simply, then I can just come back to the life I have now (using my MBA to manage law firms of NYC while earning a 6 figure income…blah, blah, blah).  But I don’t want to be the person who will ever say, “I wish I had tried that…or done that…or tasted that.”  I want to be the person who did all those things and survived them and now have them to talk about and share them with others who may be afraid to take that leap of faith.  I will never stay home out of fear of the unknown.  I am the person who has nothing to lose except the possibility of ever saying…I wish I had tried that or gone there…or done that.  The worst that could happen is that I spend a sunny day walking up a mountain with some great people, along a river and end up at the top where we see nothing worth talking about later.  What are the chances of that happening?

How would you define SUCCESS?

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What does Success mean to you? Is it a place you want to get to or a goal you must achieve or an obstacle that must be overcome?  And how do you get there?  Have you thought of these things yet?  Because in order to succeed in something, we first must know what it is we mean to achieve.  Goals must be set and plans must be considered.  Isn’t that how we were raised to think?  To always have a plan or an idea about our future!  Well what if something goes wrong?  How do we prepare for the rainy days in life?  Do they teach a class on that?  And what if we do achieve a goal, then what?  Do we die or just realize that the goal we had previously set was really just a part of a larger goal we still need to achieve?  I do hope that life is a cycle of continuous goals and ideas that just keep growing and establishing themselves as we progress through life and that it is really based on the journey we take to get there.

I was approached about 8 years ago by a author who asked me how I defined success.  (He claimed he was going to quote me in his book, though I still haven’t seen 14444599_10154537270034049_5581814555941088003_oit.)  Anyway, I laughed when I said that to me, success was defined as my being able to live my life on my terms, according to my rules and how I wanted to live it.  My father always used to tell me how I always had to do things “My Way,” (kinda like Frank Sinatra).  I always understood where I needed to go in life, I was just never good about drawing a straight line between A and Z…or even A and B, for that matter!  I always got there, I just got there following a different set of rules than everyone else.  I followed a different path and I never thought about whether or not the path I chose was the easier one or whether the path before me was even chosen or laid out for me.  Life was always too short to feel sorry for myself or to compare my life with those of others to consider fairness.  I definitely learned at a young age that life is not fair and that I needed to get used to that.  (Thank you, Uncle Charlie!)

But what types of goals did that mean I set while planning?  Did I plan?  Sure, I guess I did…or at least I tried to.  But you know what they say, “you either plan the dive or dive the plan.”  For all of you who are not divers, what that means is that if you plan something and things just don’t work out the way you had planned them, then you still have to live your life, right?  Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  So you roll with the punches and hope that everything turns out for the best.

A lot of things happened in my life which were not part of my “plan.”  But I just went with it because a few of those things were not given to me by choice but they certainly changed me as a person.  (I still remember the feeling of the rug being pulled out from under me when my mother died…like I was running backwards on a treadmill that wouldn’t stop.)  The only thing that eventually made sense to me, at that time, was diving.  So I moved some place where I could dive all year round.  Was that planned?  I guess…was it a lifetime goal?  Absolutely  not.  It was a goal for that moment and I had not planned for what came next.

I’ve never been good about setting those goals as I progressed through my 20’s…then my 30’s…and now my 40’s…I just keep allowing life to happen to me and I try to take advantage of every opportunity that falls into my life…whether it be financial, personal, social…a new job prospect, a new living arrangement, new friends as well as always looking to explore and discover new places I’ve never seen before, where I can eat food I’ve never tasted before.

So to me, success has nothing to do with money.  I want to say I used to think in terms of dollars…I remember having a saying, something like, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”  (Or was that Biggie Smalls?  Ha, ha, ha!)  Success is my being able to do all of the things I want to do, to call my own shots…have eggs for dinner when I want them…and not have to get anyone’s permission or approval for how I do it!  I want to write my own rule book to eventually get me to where everyone else is headed…the grave, except I want to be happy while getting there.  I understand that this requires me to be financially independent and capable of looking outside the box to consider my skills when approaching a new economy.  I mean, that is why my mother insisted that I get my Master’s Degree, right?  So that I could use it to be exactly that…my own boss in life who lives her life…her way!  And that is what makes me happy!