@AlanaFlorence Works Out, Too

Happy One Year Anniversary to this blog….may the second year reflect the authenticity strived for in Year One.

How much can a person change in a year?

I think this blog is a living experiment of exactly that.

When I started out writing on WordPress, I wanted to lose weight. I have. Not enough for me to brag about big numbers, but enough that I feel different and hopefully look a bit different, too.  When I started this blog, I wanted to work out more. I do! And I have found joy in exercise I never thought possible. When I started this blog, I thought clothes would be a good motivator for change. I wanted to feel like Alana again. I wanted to love shopping, and makeup, and hair and new boots.

I still love all of those things…but I’ve realized I love nurturing my soul way more than I love pampering my appearance.

And I’ve learned my dedication to wellness on the inside will reflect in a healthier way than focusing on appearance – as much I love a good outfit and hope to be able to wear the clothes I want to again.

In light of this, my new URL is alanaflorencewrites.wordpress.com. This is generic, yes, but it ties to my general goal of writing and also works with my Twitter, @AlanaFlorence.

And off I go, to Year Two!

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Perception is Nearly Everything, Sometimes

Like memories of what cannot be

Within the reign of memory

That shake our mortal frames to dust

– Hugh MacDiarmid

——————————-

1. Truth is relative

2. Except when it’s not, and you’re just wrong.

As John Mayer once said,

“You can be wrong and swear you’re right…some people been known to do it all their lives.”

But if something is wrong, does that mean it doesn’t exist? No.

Sometimes existence can be relative, too.

If you asked Professor McGonagall what non-being is, she’d tell you…. “Everything.”  *

* (“Where do vanished objects go?” “Into non-being, which is to say, everything.” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

Here are some examples of times I’ve been wrong:

In a journal entry dated early 2008, I wrote:

I  am old. I am ancient. I am decrepit.

I am a 24 year old undergrad.

Ahhh, the humanity.

… I feel like I have been in college longer than that Stifler guy from American Pie must have been in high school. The fact that I am IN high school when American Pie came out shows how old I am.

Sooo, I went with my dear Lancaster-ians (my English friends from my English university) to the fall convocation and realized that the freshman class of CU this year was born in 1990!!

I wore my sunglasses and tried to hide my smile crinkles, and then was literally paraded with the freshman and study abroad students (oh, there may have been a few grad students and transfers in there but who can spot them with the blinding light of youth surrounding you) past a bunch of cheering, whooping, entirely too perfect looking sorority sisters.

Maybe I have some sort of mental issue going on here, but this campus is making me feel ancient….

Part of me wants to the join the mass of my fellow 2002 high school grads and start having babies. One precursory glance at myspace shows that a large portion of my high school cohorts have babies.

But then part of me wants to make the most of being (relatively) young and revel in my last year of college, even if I am the new Van Wilder (the mormon version lolol).”

Yes, I thought I was ancient at 24. Wrong.

Here is another time I was wrong, in 1997. I was 13:

Bad Idea
Bad Idea

I found this while doing all of my de-cluttering (see other posts). It was empty.

Making pro and con lists are always a sound choice, right?

No.

Again, from 1997:

Baaaad Idea
Baaaad Idea

It’s a bit hard to read, but it’s a list comparing two boys named John and Glynn (wherever they may be, I doubt they are readers of my blog). One ‘good’ thing about John is that he is a ‘ghetto wannabe.’  But then again, Glynn would ‘make a better father.’  What did they share on the Bad List? ‘Wears hats.’

Needless to say, making this list was the Bad Choice here.

All kidding aside, how we perceive reality at any given moment is what’s ‘right,’ most of the time. I don’t want to go around in circles about moral absolutes or a lack of them (like murder), as that’s a topic for another day, but this is more about those of us who are ‘normal’ (functioning in society) and live out our lives in our own perceived reality.

I am one of the those people who finds meaning in everything. I’ve been that way since I was a child. I loved looking for ‘signs’ that I was on the right path, and I still look for those ‘God Winks’, or as some would say, coincidences. I love finding affirmation that the thing I believe is correct. And due to confirmation bias, our brains are pretty adept at doing this.

But it also means we can convince ourselves of untruths.

I’m not talking about a particular person or group of people or a set of beliefs. Because I think this just applies to everyone, as human beings.

I’m writing about this because I’ve been addressing my own mea culpa  as of late. Maybe it’s just becoming an adult, I don’t know. But I am seeing places where I’ve been wrong, even if I would have bet my life I was right, at the time.

Part of my ever-progressing journey into Letting It Go is accepting the times and places where I was truly….wrong.

I had this one idea perpetuating in my head for years (well, I’ve had plenty of ideas perpetuating in my head for years) and then one day a friend of mine told me, bluntly:

“Just stop.”

How does one simply enter Mordor  turn off an idea? It’s not easy. But once you accept it’s wrong, in some cases you really can

Just. Stop.

And some perceptions simply fade with time.  When I was a teenager, I literally believed I could, if opportunity presented itself, marry JC Chasez from N Sync. My best and I manipulated our movements in certain ways at N Sync concerts (trying to get picked to dance on stage, waiting outside certain doors or hotels) , so utterly convinced we were that if we could just MEET THEM, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez would love us. How could they not?!?!

My first year of college, at 18, I began realizing how silly this seemed as  I was studying  in my psychology class how the adolescent mind quite easily accepts grandiose ideas

I don’t ever want to lose my dreams, my ambitions, or most of all, my sense of self ,  which has been shaping itself ever since all of the quirky incidents I’ve mentioned.

But I want to remember that while perception is everything at the time, sometimes…there are times we are just plain wrong.

And I’m sorry.

An Authentically Cold Place

Icicles
Icicles

Spring is barely, just barely, showing its pallid upper Midwestern face but it’s still winter in my heart. Don’t feel sorry for me, though: I’m embracing coldness by choice.

Let’s get the Frozen analogy out of the way up front: I’m definitely more of a Princess Anna than a Queen Elsa. I’m way more likely to embark naively into the unknown with my heart on my sleeve than I am to brood in an ice palace of my own making.

And yet, the latter somewhat describes my present state better.

My three year old son is really into superheroes the moment. If he could have any super power, dragon fire and super strength are high on his list. But his choices are measured. He’d rather be the ‘Regular Hulk,’ with, you know, just the right amount of strength. And when he shoots fire as a dragon, it’s usually to save someone from a castle (I haven’t quite worked that one out yet.)

if I were going to choose a superpower, I’d usually say teleportation. Or apparition, if Harry Potter was a real thing. But going along with my son’s predilection for simpler powers, I think I’d say….my very own ice shield. The kind which could repel negativity and keep my own, burgeoning authenticity in tact, unable to be penetrated by anything outside my own mind, heart and soul.

I’ve built an imaginary ice shield recently. I don’t see it as permanent; it’s just there to protect me while I get my heart right. I’ll surely warm up again.

But why do I need an ice shield?

I’m discovering the importance of letting go (oh no, more Frozen tie-ins) of people who aren’t good for my well-being. This includes relationships where I do all of the work, people who I want to like me but they just don’t, and people who I want in my life but they don’t reciprocate. I’m older now, and I feel a proper sense of discernment about who should stay and who should go. I used to hold on to everyone, but I’m not that naïve anymore. I’m naturally inclined to form one-sided emotional ties. And, ouch. I need that ice shield.

I’m  also discovering the nature of most criticism. And it comes from the criticizer’s own issues nearly 100% of the time.  Yes, that’s a made up internet statistic. Unsolicited insults (well, when are they ever solicited?), rude remarks, and people and institutions making you feel not good enough….ice shield, please. I don’t have time for others to put me down or make me  feel less than.

Why? Because I’m learning the art of authenticity.  And each day I’m working to discover who I am, really. What I stand for, who I stand for, and how to make each action, word and gesture of mine a deliberate reflection of my authentic self. I’ve never been a dishonest person (although I have been dishonest; there’s a difference ). I highly value integrity in myself and others. I’m often called brave or ballsy (Go, Go Gryffindor), but I STILL find authenticity a work in progress because as humans we often act contrary to our ideals. I don’t want to do that anymore.

This is somewhat heavy, I know. Just look at my ice cold stare. Or glare.

The takeaway?

We’re all only doing the best we can. Or, we should be. We need to be kind to one another, but also ourselves. And sometimes the kindest thing we can do  is say ‘screw you’ to those who have created the need for ice shields , but not out right. Unless you’re looking for a fight.

I’d suggest saying it out loud to an empty room, taking a deep breath and the high road ,and of course, letting it go.