Whiner or Winner?

Success is in the wanting, not the hoping.

We all have goals we hope to accomplish, both personal and professional. No one is exempt from this desire. For some it may be as simple as wanting to do well in school, or wanting to be a good parent. Others might have loftier goals – goals that require circumstances to align in the perfect way. Unfortunately, in most cases, the planets will not align accordingly, and Source will not give you a golden ticket. No, it’s a lot , and equal simpler, and equally more complicated than that.

The bottom line that differentiates the whiners from the winners has nothing to do with luck. It has to do with attitude, as in how badly do you want it, and how uncomfortable are you willing to feel. Yes, we all have things we hope for, but as Ms. Dickinson so eloquently pointed out, “hope is the thing with feathers“. And I’m here to tell you that bird will fly right out the window if you let it.

Hope is beautiful. Hope gives us something to hold onto, something to believe in. But hope alone isn’t going to get the job done. You can hope to accomplish something one day, but that day will be a long time coming until you decide that you want to accomplish that same thing. The success is in the wanting, not the hoping.

Hope will get your dreams in the door. But that door will slam shut and lock on the inside unless you rip it off its hinges with a bit of muscle and pluck. But what if I get a splinter? Well, yeah, you might. In fact, truth be told, you’ll most likely get more than one; in which case, you pull those splinters out and get back to work. Because remember way back when you decided that this was something that you wanted? Are you really going to give up that easily?

What if I fail? Again, that is a very good possibility – failure. But failing, much like falling, only requires that you pick yourself back up again. No, it doesn’t feel good, but sitting in a room looking at a locked door with your dream on the other side doesn’t feel good either. Scrapes heal, but regret is insidious, and is a slow leak of unhappiness that will infiltrate and sabotage future wants. Playing it safe might ensure that you don’t fail short-term, but it will definitely ensure that you fail big-time in the long run.

Naysayers will tell you that just because you want something doesn’t mean you will get it. Wanting doesn’t guarantee success. And I agree. But what the naysayers, giver-uppers, and lifetime hopers choose to ignore is something that Mr. Jagger in all of his big-lipped, rock and roll glory told us a long time ago – you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

Chew on that bit of pop-culture wisdom. I’ve talked about hopes and wants and then along comes this little thing called need. Like sticky-fingered children who need that extra hit of high-fructose corn syrup, we often allow our wants to get confused with our needs and vice-versa. Despite our absolute belief that we do, in fact, need to have the latest greatest, bestest and hippest whatever that just came rolling off the assembly line, we won’t always get it. And you know what? We manage to survive – even live and prosper. And why is that? Because whatever that thing was it was a want, not a need.

Semantics, you say? Nope, nope, nope, all my nopes. We are so full of shit as a consumeristic society. So caught up in the I need, I need, I need chant of conspicuous consumption that we have forgotten how to tell the difference between wants and needs – between wishing and hoping and thinking and praying; planning and dreaming each night – well you get the idea.

But sometimes in a moment of clarity, a moment of, what might seem to be nothing more than serendipity, the Universe smacks us on our third eye and shows us what we need, what we really, really need. That doesn’t mean we’ll get it because the Universe doesn’t work alone. You have to do your part. You have to want the need to get the need.

The Spice Girls, it seems were channeling the voice of The Universe when they sang, “tell me what you want, what you really, really want”. I’m a firm believer that if you put it out there, it being the thing you want, and you do your part, the part that involves the not-just-hoping, then the Universe will have your back.

So what do you want, and are you willing to do your part to get it?

What’s Your Story?

What stories do you tell yourself?

I had a conversation with my son Jake today. A conversation that I am particularly proud of. It all started out as my usual pep talk. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Jake, let me give you a little background.

Jake was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) at the age of six, and OCD at the age of eight. He “outgrew” his TS around the age of 14, but his OCD went into overdrive. Fast forward eight years…eight difficult years for Jake.

At the age of almost 22 (Feb. 16) Jake is struggling with social anxiety. His OCD mainly takes the form of repetitive thoughts, mostly centering around his anxiety of being “behind everyone else” in terms of where he is in his life. He has held himself accountable for a timeline that has been hi-jacked time and time again by anxiety and OCD.

He regrets that he didn’t have a “normal” high school experience. The local high school was awful, so we home schooled. I wish things had been different. Better choices available. But, at the time, it felt like the best option. And yes, I beat myself up on occasion about this choice. Hindsight, yada, yada.

He continually compares himself to where his peers are, as opposed to where he is. For example, at his age, according to society, he should have a bachelor’s degree by now. He should be surrounded by close friends. But because he doesn’t have those things (yet), he feels less than.

As a result of being home schooled, and struggling with OCD and anxiety, Jake has had a difficult time socially. He has struggled making lasting friendships, and interacting with his peers. Another factor in this has been that his interests are vastly different, and hyper-focused, unlike many of the students in his classes.

You see, Jake is extremely intelligent, and has educated himself over the years. His interests are math and physics…like quantum physics. He wants to answer big questions like “why is the universe?”. He’s been thinking like this most of his life, and has found it difficult to find others who share his intense passion.

But here’s the thing. Over the past few years, I have seen Jake make so much progress. He is currently enrolled in school and is in his second semester as a Freshman. He sees himself as a failure.

Here’s what I see. I see a young man who has walked through the fire, and while he may be covered in soot, continues to get up each day and try. I see someone who has gone from rarely leaving the house to having a job and attending college. I see my son overcoming all the things that have brought him down, and some days still do, making strides each day to change those things.

But I also see this on his bad days. I see him telling the story of an awkward kid who has no social skills. A kid who “doesn’t do anything” and “didn’t even go to high school”. A kid who “has wasted his life”.

But that’s an old story, with only a slight bit of truth written into it…very slight.

Yesterday was a bad day, as I sat and listened to Jake tell his story-the same story he has been telling for years. And I said, “Maybe parts of that story were true at one time…but that’s not your story anymore.”

“You are in school. You are starting to make friends.”

He countered, “Yeah, but it’s not that hard for everyone else.”

“You don’t know that. People are good at wearing masks, making others think they know what they are doing. I think you’d be surprised at how many people struggle socially. Especially in this day and time when everyone is talking to a screen instead of a face. You’re not giving yourself any credit for the things you have accomplished.”

“It’s just hard when I see everyone else surrounded by friends, and making it look so easy.”

“Do you remember what you told me on your first day at Armstrong? You told me that this was a fresh start. That no one there knows you. No one knows your struggles. You said that you could go in and act like the most confident guy in the world and no one would know the difference.”

“Yes, but-“

“Stop it, Jake. You were about to say that you haven’t had the same experiences – or any experiences like the other people. OK, so your life has been different. More difficult than many. More roadblocks. But that was then. You have to stop living in your old story, Jake. You have to put that book away, and write a new story. And that’s what you’re doing, even if you don’t see it.”

“But it’s so hard.”

“I know, but you’re doing it. You’re getting up each day and going out there. You’re putting yourself out there. You’re weighing yourself down with your old story. Let it go. Focus on where you are now. What you’re doing now. When you stop acting like the old you, people will stop seeing the old you. That’s the person you’re showing everyone and that’s not you anymore.

You’ve been telling yourself for so long that you have no social skills, and that’s just not the truth.You have a job where you interact with your co-workers and customers for hours at a time. You’re taking classes and working with other students, raising your hand in class, talking with professors. That’s not what a person without social skills does. I get that it’s not easy for you, but you’re quoting a story that has ended. You are not a person without social skills. You’re in a brand new story now, that you’re writing every day.”

I’m proud of that conversation because it made me think of the stories I’m still telling myself, that are no longer true, if they ever were. For years, I’ve told myself I’m not enough, I have never been enough, and I never will be enough. I’m putting that piece of fiction on the shelf. I’m writing myself a new story.

I think we all create mythologies surrounding ourselves, our identity. Who people have told us we are, who we’ve convinced ourselves that we are. And we’ve told ourselves these stories for so many years, we’ve come to believe them.

What stories do you tell yourself? Are they accurate? Do they reflect who you are now?

Maybe it’s time to consider writing yourself a new story in this brand new year. You deserve it. We all do.

Eddie’s Attic Reading

I just did my first poetry reading last night at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta alongside the amazing Sabrina Benaim and Clementine vonRadics. How awesome is that?!

Just wanted to thank everyone who stopped me to say hi. I never expected my poems to touch so many people.

Stay tuned to this page. I plan on being more active here.

Thanks again. Last night was easily one of the best nights of my life.

 

Debut book of poetry on Amazon!

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Click on this link to purchase your copy of Nothing & Everything – a chapbook of poems about depression. If you are so moved to purchase my book, and, after reading it, are moved even more, please post a review on Amazon. This is a dream come true for me and I want to continue to pursue my passion. Your comments will help me get there. Thanks in advance.

 

I’m Published!!

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Yesterday I had an article of mine published on The Mighty’s website. If you aren’t familiar with the site read this for  a full explanation of who they are and who they represent. If you are familiar with them, then you already know how amazing their content is and why I feel so honored to be a contributor for them now.

I would absolutely love it, and you, if you would take the time to go over and read the article if you haven’t already. As a writer with a book on the horizon, it is imperative that I build a platform for my work. The more readers I have, the more likes and follows, all of these add to my platform and will help me out in the long run.

The edits on my book are nearly finished and I will be submitting them to an agent. If all goes well, the changes will be accepted and she will take me on as a client. The story on The Mighty is just one of the many parts of my bigger story, my book, He’s Not Broken.

Stick with me guys. I have a lot to say. If I play my cards right, then maybe one day I’ll be able to meet my supporters in person on book tours. It’s a dream of mine.

If you have a moment, please head on over to The Mighty and check out my piece on Tourette Syndrome.

Brain Spill

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* I am writing this so that others can see one of the many faces of depression. I am not seeking pity or attention.

One thing I have always been in my writing is honest. So this is me being honest, unfiltered and raw.  I am not editing this at all, so please forgive the James Joycian run-ons and stream of consciousness, it’s the most accurate representation of how my mind is working (or not working) right now.

Tonight, I feel broken. I feel like I can’t move. I can’t breathe. There is something inside of me that won’t work no matter how much I tinker with it. And, believe me, there is much tinkering going on.

I don’t like this. I don’t want this. But this is me. I have clinical depression. At any given moment it visits me. It doesn’t care if I have everything I need, everything I want. It comes without warning and stays for as long as it wants. The sun may be shining. The clouds cleared, but inside of me the storm rages despite the current forecast. I try to fight it, but it’s like fighting the undertow. It. Just. Doesn’t. Work.

But think of all the good things you have. You have so much to be thankful for. No shit. I know that. But my depression doesn’t care. Those of you who say this, I don’t fault you. I don’t hate you for thinking it’s as simple as that. In fact, I think you know it isn’t, you just don’t really know what else to say. It’s okay. I don’t know what to say either.

It’s like someone asking you how you are. They are being polite. It’s what you do. It’s not like I’m going to answer by saying, you know what, I’m not good. In fact, I feel like I’m disintegrating. You just don’t say that. It makes people uncomfortable. I get it. It makes me uncomfortable too. 24 hour kind of uncomfortable. Unless there is wine. And then it’s only mildly annoying. Until there’s a sad song. And there’s always a sad song, isn’t there?

But I’m a mom. I can’t “self-medicate” like my mind tells me I want to. I can’t keep a travel mug full of “peace” with me at all times. And, honestly, I don’t want to. It scares me that the wine helps as much as it does. I don’t want to be that person. But a part of me is that person whether I like it or not.

Then there’s the most awesome part of all. My oldest son also has anxiety and depression. And every time I look at my youngest I wonder if I have passed the curse on to him as well. Do I think I shouldn’t have had kids? Absolutely not! This world needs my kids because they are incredible. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty, which fuels my depression…vicious circle.

Did I mention I’m tired, but I can’t sleep?  I feel like I’m losing it most nights as I try to drift off with all of the what ifs shooting off like firecrackers in my mind. Problems that aren’t even my problems. Sadness that doesn’t even belong to me. I am too connected. So connected that I disconnect in order to survive.

I just want to rest. I just want to feel like everything will be okay. I want to trust the words I feed my children every day. It will get better. You just have to believe.  There are plenty of days where I feel like I’m just setting them up for the firing squad.

I’ll find my way out. I always have. But every time I surface, I can’t help but wonder when the next wave will hit.

 

 

 

Signs

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It’s hard to ignore a sign when the Universe displays it so brilliantly. Today is the day that I start some new practices that will propel me forward in my writing. So when I saw this rainbow (and actually it was a full double rainbow) how could I not see it as a sign that I am on the right path?

Peace, Ginger