Graceful Exits (How to Walk Away)

 

One of my favorite pieces. I wrote this one a year ago, and it has become timely for me once again. I needed the reminder today. This must be something that we all struggle with, because this is one of my posts that is found most often via Internet searches.

There are times when we need to walk away.  Different situations and relationships reach their inevitable conclusion, and we must determine the best way to extricate ourselves.  We need to keep in mind that how we choose to exit impacts both us and those we leave behind.

Make a graceful exit from the workplace.  Most of us will switch jobs at least once in our lifetime.  You may receive a better offer, you may find you can no longer tolerate the environment, or you may be seeking to find career alternatives.  No matter the reason, I advise you to proceed with caution in how you exit.  (Yes, this is the voice of experience speaking.)
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This Is Not Goodbye

When I started this blog eighteen months ago I also began following a blogger who quickly became one of my favorites.  He wrote insightful, eloquent pieces that conveyed messages that have stayed with me.  He opened my mind to new viewpoints and invited me to question how I interact with people.

I was more than a little surprised when he decided to step away from his blog six months later.  As a new blogger I could not understand why a popular blogger with thousands of followers would (gasp!) stop blogging.  He was confident, though, that the time had come.  He felt as if he was on the verge of something, even if he could not yet articulate what it was.

I wished him well, told him I was thankful that our paths had crossed, and applauded him for knowing when to move on.  He told me that he felt I would know, too, when it would be my turn to move on.  I believe he foresaw this moment long before I could even imagine it.

I understand now his inkling of being “on the verge”.  I have been feeling for the past several weeks that this life, already a good, good life, is about to become amazing.  I have no idea what is coming, or where it is coming from, but I am ready to receive it with arms wide open.

I have renewed my dedication to making my body and my soul as healthy as possible through exercise, healthy eating, and positive interactions.  This feels like an essential piece of whatever this new journey may be.  I am also forcing my introverted self out the door and into face-to-face connections. I find myself overwhelmed with the need to be out in the world, to be of it, searching for signs of what is to come next.  All of which is leading to less time spent online.

While this is not a goodbye, I do feel the need to share with you the reasons for my periods of absence and the infrequency of my postings.  I owe you all that for the simple fact that you have taken time in your life to be a part of mine.  Believe me when I tell you that your presence here has made a lasting impact on my life.  It is due in no small part to your support and encouragement that I have the courage to take these next steps.

I have no idea how long my blogging hiatus will last.  I may feel compelled to write a post tomorrow, next week, or next month.  I do know that I will continue to write, be it here or elsewhere.  This blogging experience has reminded me that I need to write much as I need to breathe (a feeling I am sure many of you share).  I intend to take the plunge and start submitting pieces for possible publication.  Again, I would not have contemplated such a step without the feedback I have received here.

I follow over 400 blogs here on WordPress and other sites.  I will continue to be here, reading and commenting on your posts.  You are all an essential part of my journey.  I thank you for simply being a part of my life and for choosing to spend even one minute of your time here.  I have been blessed to make the most amazing connections and friendships through this blog.  I hope that you will stick around!

Wherever you go, whatever path you choose to walk, please remember to walk it with love and kindness in your heart.  Be amazed, look for the magic, wonder at the miracles, and opt for happiness.  Above all, be grateful, always and in all ways.  Cheers! Karen

Sunday Smiles – Connections

There are days when the internet makes me twitchy.  I log on to Facebook to be met head on with a barrage of negativity.  This candidate is a hate monger.  That candidate is a criminal.  I see “friends” tearing one another apart with snide comments, all because they sit on different sides of the political fence.  I read post after post disparaging this group or that, this thing or that.  Cops suck, the weather sucks, the traffic sucks, this restaurant sucks, work sucks…everything just sucks.

I “unfollow” a few political pages (I could have sworn I had removed them all).  I hit the “hide post” option multiple times as I scroll through my newsfeed.  I am almost thankful to come across a few cute cat memes.  I “like” a picture of an idyllic beach in Aruba.

I scroll a bit further, sigh a discouraged sigh, and prepare to log off.  But wait, what’s this?  Could it be?  An uplifting post?  Yes!  I click happily on a story about a former classmate’s 11-year-old son reporting on the NCAA Tournament for Sports Illustrated Kids.  I read with delight about one of the coaches taking the time to applaud this young man for his thoughtful question.  (You can view more about this here.)

Feeling hopeful, I read some other posts.  Oh look, a friend received good news on a medical issue.  Another friend just finished her first half marathon.  Yet another is celebrating buying a new home.  Yay! Here it is!  The good stuff!

Now it comes back to me, and I remember why I still log on to Facebook every day.  I do it not to learn the political leanings of friends and family.  I do it so that I can hear the news of their lives.  I continue to scroll and read in order to tie the past in with the present.  I put up with the negative aspects to reap the benefits of the positive ones.

I return again and again because of the connections.  We can cross the miles, cross the years, and cross the distance to come together as if we had never been apart.  We can share in each others’ victories and console one another during trying times.  We can use words to convey emotions from afar, as sure as the touch of a comforting hand on a shoulder.

Yes, it is the connections that I crave and that I seek.   It is the connections that lead me back to this blog after a writing sabbatical.  It is the connections that sustain our souls the way that food sustains our bodies.  It is the connections that bond us together as humans, in friendship and in love.

Thank you for being one of my connections.  Cheers! Karen

Stay connected with me and “like” Fill Your Own Glass on Facebook here!

photo credit:  www.pixabay.com

Sunday Smiles – In Love with Love

At the risk of being a buzzkill on this day of hearts and roses, I must admit that I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day.  For this I have my husband’s eternal gratitude as he can go about his business each February while ignoring the barrage of commercials telling him what an absolute spousal failure he will be if he does not buy me this exact diamond pendant or that specific dangly charm bracelet.  No, there are no special dinner reservations or floral deliveries headed my way today, and I am all in favor of that.

Since I’m in a disclosure kind of mood I may as well admit that I do not like romantic comedies or romance novels either.  I understand they can serve as escapist guilty pleasures, but I have to say for the most part they leave me feeling unfulfilled.  I do not like the way they set men, and women for that matter, up to fall short in real life of the great romantic feats and gestures of the cinema.

By now I’ve probably convinced you that I should head up the local chapter of the new Love Haters Club.  I promise you this is not the case.  In reality I am in love with love.  I just happen to be in love with the kind of love that happens, well, in reality. Continue reading

Unpinned: A Shout-out to Less Than Crafty Moms

Moms out there, I feel your pain.  I don’t have any children, but I empathize with you.  I can only imagine the pressure you face these days.  It’s no longer enough to sit down to spend quality time doing arts and crafts with your kids.  These days your projects must produce Instagram worthy results.  You have to pin this and pin that and make sure that your creations turn out perfect and Facebook shareable.

I hear your cries for help.  I see them in the form of your social media statuses, where you share craft and baking ideas in the hopes that one of your friends will be the first brave soul to try them out.  Which one of you will take the plunge and attempt to make something that remotely resembles whatever it is you are supposed to be making?  Who will emerge from the crowd posting the victory photo that will help you to believe you can successfully complete one (just one, please, that’s all you ask!) of these artsy undertakings?

So what happens when your last Pinterest attempt was a disastrous fail?  The bunny cake that looked amazing on your tablet screen now sits on your kitchen counter looking more like a sad pile of roadkill.  Your caterpillar-shaped apple treats have lost their little heads.  The adorable baby owls that you painstakingly fashioned from toilet paper rolls and tissue paper are molting at an alarming rate.  You feel doomed to sit with your head down, sad and alone, in the arts and crafts hall of shame.

Friends, I have some good news for you.  Your kids still love you.  I promise, it’s true.  They don’t care about the decapitated snack food or the featherless birds.  They care about you, moms, and the fact that you are spending time with them.

Please don’t misunderstand me here.  If crafting is your thing then by all means, craft your happy little heart out.  Keep dazzling us with fondant covered baked goods.  You will continue to be a source of both inspiration and irritation to those of us who remain glue gun-challenged.  We’ll ooh and ahh over your painted pallet trees, and we’ll mean it.

I’m not telling you that it’s not okay to be an arts and crafts savant.  I’m telling you that it’s okay not to be one.  The holidays will not be ruined because you can’t fashion ribbon and pinecones into a spotlight-deserving front door masterpiece.  Your babies will still have magical birthdays, even if it looks like they wrapped their own presents.  T

How do I know this?  I was a kid once.  I remember happily finger painting away, thrilled to be allowed to make a mess.  I recall fashioning crude Thanksgiving turkeys out of paper plates and construction paper.  I have memories of cupcakes my mom made for birthdays, the simple and delicious vanilla ones with chocolate frosting and sprinkles.

The point I’m trying to make is that nowhere in those moments did my child self ever question my mom’s artistic, baking, or decorating talents.  I had no idea if what we were making was perfection or garbage because it just didn’t matter.  The only thing I knew, and still know, is that I was happy simply having her there with me.

So moms, breathe easy and carry on.  Get out those supplies and gather up the little ones for some crafting fun.  Make a masterpiece, or make a mess.  Laugh over the Pinterest shortfalls and marvel at the magical successes.  Because someday your kids are going to remember these days, not for what you did or didn’t accomplish, but for the fact that you did it together.  You’ve got this, moms.  You’ve got this.

All photo credits:  www.pixabay.com

 

Resolving Not to Resolve (Choosing to Be Goalless in the New Year)

I do hereby resolve to remain resolute in my decision to not make any resolutions for the new year.  There, I said it, and I meant it.  I will not make a list, a plan, or an agenda.  There will be no repentance for the things I did or did not do in 2015.  There will be no judgments over the goals I did not complete during the past year.  There will be only an open mind and an open heart as the sun descends on one year and arises upon another.

No, I will not vow to give up this thing, that thing, or any thing.  The only thing I will get rid of is the negative self-talk that leads me to believe there is something(s) wrong with me that requires me to have to give things up, or that something(s) need fixing.  Other than that one thing I will be a keeper of things, even a gatherer of things.  Only these things won’t be actual physical things, rather they will take shape in experiences, moments, and memories.

I will draw these intangibles close and hold them tight.  I will live in each moment, I will feel deeply each experience, and I will savor every memory.  I will breathe in and fill up my lungs with the events of my days as though they are the oxygen that keeps me alive.  For they are…in their own way they are.

I will gather in and embrace the people who make the moments memorable.  I will continue breaking down the walls of privacy I have been kicking furiously at for the past few years.  I will do my best to eliminate the last tenuous hold I have on my personal space barriers.  I will answer the knock of strangers upon the door to my life, and I will welcome them across the threshold with a “thank you for coming” and a hug.  I will find ways every day to let the friends and family who make me whole know how much they are valued.

No, I will not set up any timetables or schedules for the coming year.  The word deadline is not welcome here.  Come to think of it, neither is the word goal.  Let’s throw out objective, aim, and target while we’re at it.

This year I will gift myself with the freedom of being goalless.  I shall recognize and accept that what I am happy doing today may not make me happy tomorrow.  I reserve the right to change my mind, and my direction, on at least 365 days next year.  My success with be measured only by my joy.

No, I will not have a plan.  I will invite my old nemesis spontaneity to the party.  I may even tell him to bring his buddy, my arch rival, impulse along for the ride.  Watch me step off of the path that has been so carefully trodden for years.  See how I spread my arms wide and step out onto the tightrope, welcoming adventure with a smile.  Don’t be too surprised to see me running in the rain with joyous laughter trailing behind me. I will daily remember and acknowledge that all of my very best moments have followed the precious seconds when I dropped my guard, my need for a plan for everything, and simply allowed life to be. 



My life will not be stifled by the vision of what I or anyone else imagines it should be.  It will not follow a cookie cutter blueprint of what a life should look like.  It will be what I, along with a good bit of help from karma and fate, choose to make it.  It will be my unique, messy, silly, beautiful, happy life. 

 Yes, I will remain resolute in my resolve concerning New Year’s resolutions.  Or will I?

Thank you for joining me and being a part of my journey in 2015.  You are the people that I speak of who make the moments memorable.  I wish you all the freedom to love yourself in 2016 and beyond.  Cheers! Karen

Photo credit: http://www.pixabay.com

It’s Not All Cookies and Cocoa (Holidays Can Be Hard)

It’s Christmas Eve!  We have reached a fever pitch of anticipation!  The trees are trimmed, the cookies are baked, and the gifts are all wrapped.  The turkey is thawed and ready to be stuffed.  The stockings are hung by the chimney (and if you are in the midst of the hot spell and running the air conditioning there is no chance of them being burned by the fire).  The only thing left to do is to await the arrival of the big, jolly man and his sleigh.  We are all feeling cheerful, festive, and excited!  Except if we aren’t…

Wait, what is that you say?  It’s Christmastime!  We are supposed to be filled with the joy & love of the season!  We are expected to be happy, happy, happy!  But what if that isn’t always the case?

The fact is that the holidays are not easy for some people. There are those who would prefer that the month of December quietly pass them by.  The reality is that there are people who struggle during the Christmas season, and we need to be mindful of their feelings.

I have friends who have lost loved ones within the past few weeks and months.  This is the first year they will be “celebrating” without a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, or a friend.  I know people who are caring for family members who are gravely, critically ill.  They will spend Christmas Eve spoon-feeding soup and medicine, offering sponge baths, and praying to their higher power for a pain free night for a cherished soul.

There are people who have been disappointed by those who should be closest to them. There are others who have been stressed to the breaking point by demanding, pushy family members who do not know, or do not care, when they are asking for too much. There are those who are so lonely that they would do anything to have some of those pushy people fighting for their attention.  There are some who are gasping for breath under the crushing weight of depression.

Yes, buried beneath the glow of the bright lights, silenced by the sounds of the nonstop Christmas music on the radio, you will find them if you only look.  They are the newly divorced, spending Christmas Eve alone with a freshly broken heart while their ex has the house full of kids.  They are the spouses of law enforcement and military personnel, resigned to yet another holiday making sure things are just right for the kids while trying not to wonder if their loved ones will make it home for next year’s festivities. They are the parents desperate to provide gifts not of cellphones and laptops, but merely a new doll or a toy firetruck.  They are the recently widowed, or the children who have lost a parent, gazing up to the heavens and trying to understand why.

We need to acknowledge and accept that there are people who simply prefer not to celebrate, or to do so in a low-key fashion.  We must understand that they are trying to maintain a facade of cheerfulness while inside they are coming apart.  We cannot trivialize their feelings by telling them to, “Cheer up!” or by admonishing them to, “Stop acting like a Scrooge!”

If we truly do keep Christmas in our hearts all year long then we must be sure to keep it in our hearts during the month of December.  Let us give those who are struggling the gift of our patience.  Let us bestow the present of love upon those who are suffering. Let us understand if they wish only to go to church to light a candle and reflect in solitude rather than accepting our invitation to a raucous Christmas party.  Let us be available without demand, and let us let them do what feels right for them.  Let us know that they do not wish to in any way diminish or minimize our celebrations by taking a more subdued approach to the season.

I am thankful not to be one who has lost a loved one.  I am grateful that my family and friends are healthy and happy.  I am, however, one who has had her Christmas spirit kicked around this year.  I am one of the ones who was disappointed by some while being pushed over the edge by others.   I do not cry often, but I have been reduced to tears more than once over the past few weeks, causing me to retreat and regroup.  I tell you this not to ask for any sympathy, as life presents us all with tough times.  I tell you this because it has helped me to have a greater understanding for what people do struggle with this time of year.  It has led me to a place where I get that the best some can do is to spend a quiet Christmas Eve at home, eating tacos and watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.  (Yes, this is our grand plan for Christmas Eve, and I am looking forward to a quiet night remembering who and what matters the most.)

Whatever holiday you celebrate, and however you choose to celebrate it, I wish for you an abundance of peace and love.  If you are one for whom this post resonates know that I hold you in a special place in my heart this year.  If you know someone for whom this post may resonate I ask that you offer them an extra dose of comfort and encouragement over the next few days.

One Happy Island

We returned home late last night after spending a blissful five days relaxing in Aruba with two of our closest friends.  Aruba, a tiny Dutch island that is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is billed as one happy island, and it lives up to the name.  From the moment we stepped off of the plane upon arrival until the moment we stepped on a different plane to depart we were welcomed and met with friendly, smiling faces.

We  stayed at the Divi Aruba All Inclusive Resort in Oranjestad which is a short trip from the airport.  We enjoyed the intimate feel of the property, and our beachside rooms were steps from the beach.  Our wristbands also afforded us access to the neighboring Tamarijn resort and its bars and restaurants.

Within minutes of settling in we met on the beach, anxious to relax with drinks in hand and our toes in the sand.  The white sand beach stays cool and does not burn the bottom of your feet even at midday.  We were rewarded with the trade winds offering a cooling breeze and a stunning sunset over the ocean.

While there was free wifi available in the lobby area, we chose to heed the advice offered at a local restaurant, The Paddock, and remain unplugged.  The reward was great face-to-face conversation and much laughter.  We were glad to have opted to tuned out and simply chill for a few days.

 

The days went by quicker than we wished, but they were relaxing and rejuvenating.  We spent time swimming in the gorgeous clear ocean, sipping cocktails, and sampling plentiful food at the two resorts’ restaurants.  We went offsite for a fun sailing and snorkeling excursion where even I stepped out of my comfort zone and snorkeled.  We explored the downtown area and its colorful shops.  We have already started a list of things to do and see upon our return.

We made new friends and strengthened relationships with old friends.  We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary a few days early.  We hated to leave, but we returned home with memories that will last a lifetime.

Aruba has cemented its place as my favorite island getaway spot.  It is a destination we will revisit in the near future.  There is a native phrase, biba dushi, that roughly translates to living the sweet life, and that is a perfect description of the past five days.  In our eyes Aruba more than lives up to its “one happy island” moniker.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Smiles- Holiday Memories

I am sitting here in the quiet early morning, nursing the mother of all head colds and savoring my first pot of White Chocolate Peppermint coffee of the season.  Yes, it is that good, and the peppermint is cooling a throat made scratchy and raw from a night of relentless coughing.  I would love to invite you over for a cup, but it would be hard for you to sip through the surgical mask you might wear to guard against the germs.

As I enjoy a stillness interrupted only by my sniffling, I find my mind wandering to the holiday seasons of my youth.  Was December not the most magical month (and really, isn’t it still) filled with wonder and surprise?  I need only to close my eyes, and I am transported back to my childhood home and Christmases past. Continue reading

Finding Fall (Holiday Road Tripping)

Each fall I find myself longing to be in the mountains.  Here in coastal South Carolina we do not have the change in colors, or in temperatures, that I was accustomed to growing up in New Jersey.  Sensing my need for cooler air and higher elevations, my husband suggested a long weekend in Asheville, NC, and we decided Thanksgiving was the perfect time for a road trip.

We drove up on Thanksgiving and enjoyed a holiday feast of chicken nachos and smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese accompanied by a few local craft beers at The Bier Garden in Asheville.  If you are a craft beer lover I suggest you put this city on your must-visit list as there are several quality breweries in the area.  Our favorite find this trip was the Catawba Valley White Zombie Ale with a fresh orange slice.

On Friday we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway for a scenic trip to Graveyard Fields Falls for our first hike.  We were a few weeks late for the fall foliage, but the air was blissfully humidity-free.   The upside was less traffic and less crowds.  We did not find this area to be the most picturesque, but we did enjoy an active four-plus mile hike that helped us burn off (some) of our meal from the night before.

On Saturday we ventured off to Catawba Falls in Old Fort, NC at the recommendation of a friend.  It was a gorgeous day, and the scenery here did not disappoint.  The trail is basically a three-mile roundtrip up to the falls and back.  You do have to cross the river at the start/ end point, so be prepared with waterproof boots (or wade across sans socks and shoes as some hikers do).

Upon leaving Catawba Falls we decided to drive to Mount Mitchell State Park in Burnsville, NC.  The drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway is breathtaking in its own right.  Upon reaching the park you can climb to the summit and look out from the highest elevation point east of the Mississippi River.  There are different trails to choose from, and due to limited daylight hours left we picked a short three-quarters of a mile Balsam Trail.

We made our way back to the coast this afternoon tired, happy, and with great memories of a wonderful weekend getaway.  It was the perfect opportunity to unplug and tune in to the wonders that nature offers.  If there is one thing I have learned it is that when the mountains are calling I must put down the phone and answer them.

Daily Prompt:  Bloggers, Unplugged

All Photos Copyright @Karen B. Pearce 2015