Above Average.

photo credit: unknown

"We are the average of the five people we spend most of our time with." -Unknown
There have been several periods of time in my life when I feel like this has come into play pretty heavily and I've had to essentially "check" my relationships. Who are the people I surround myself with? And more importantly: Why? If you have any level of self-esteem, you will probably feel like your time is valuable. If your time is valuable, you want to invest it where it will bring you the most fruition. Now I'm not saying that all of your time surrounded by scholars and saints, but perhaps it's important to evaluate what you are getting from your investments into these relationships? Maybe you have a friend who constantly asks the hard questions, thereby encouraging your brain to work harder. Maybe your best friend brings invaluable joy to your life with her laughter and easy-going spirit. Perhaps a friend is going through a tough time and you feel that your advice is needed, so you stick by their side to be a more helpful person. Although one could interpret this equation as selfish, I think that it's important to give meaning and therefore value to your relationships. You may give and you may receive from them- but either side of that coin is going to change your life in either a better or a worse way.
Are the things you're getting out of those relationships positive or negative(?), and that's the keystone to this equation. If the people you surround yourself with are selfish, cruel, impatient, or judgemental- you too will acquire some of those attitudes. And you will notice them wafting into your persona because (initially, at least) they will feel alien to you. Some new attitudes are good; understanding, love, acceptance and patience. And if they're new to you you will sense those coming into play too. But I challenge you to check the new emotions at your doorstep and decide if they are good or not. Once that is determined, decide what has influenced their arrival, and whether that influence is a necessary part of your life.
Keep in mind that people become what they surround themselves with. Not only should you surround yourself with good- but be the good surrounding others as well. You want to be one of the five people who brings some one's average up, not down.


Rain Down On Me.

I was having another discussion with my sister today; talking about blogging and journal-keeping. I laughed and told her that you could always tell whether my life was good or bad by how often I blog. When things are really great, I tend to have less to talk about because I am not spending as much time trying to figure out how to "fix things." When my life is trickier, I will blog more introspectively and overanalyze in an effort to understand my world better. I told her that when my life gets downright crappy- I'm hardly thrilled about it, but I am always at least grateful for the motivation that it gives me as a writer along with the inspiration it delivers for me to move forward. I'm not exactly doing a happy dance about it, but I still honor the drive that my challenges give me.
And it's so true. I know I talk about this in length throughout my blog but it's only because it's such an important perspective that I think people ought to embrace if possible.
Throughout my adult life, i have had several periods of time when I have felt my most "whole" as a person. It's been my goal to live a life with vibrance, peace, and balance. And I have really felt like I've been there about it on a few occasions that I can remember. Every single one of those times have been after a major trial in my life. They've been after a period of sadness, after feeling so lost that I essentially had to start over from square one. And the period of time when I've been in the midst of rebuilding has always been a little hazy in my rearview mirror- but what happens afterwards in inevitable. At some point or another, and it's never a moment I saw coming, I wake up. It's like I suddenly shake my groggy head and look around at my life and realize that after days, weeks, months of climbing out of whatever sadness has enveloped my life... suddenly and without realizing it I've become happy again. I've crawled out and made it back to daylight. I blink my eyes once or twice and allow them to adjust while I laugh at the fact that I've got sunlight in them again.
photo credit: unknown

Life is full of ups and downs. But I can't reiterate enough just how important my downs have been. And perhaps I speak for myself alone when I say that I appreciate the shoddy parts of my life. If it weren't for them, not only would I not realize how good the supremely good feels... but I also might not have the drive to have gotten to them in the first place.
When things are easy and good, it's nice to lay back and stare at the sky. It's when life rains down some not-so-good moments that you stand tall and build a shelter you can be proud of. Without the effort of building and rebuilding, you'll never be able to feel the pride of looking down at your splintered hands and realizing how amazing and powerful you really are.


About Today.

photo credit: unknown

I had a nice conversation with my sister today on the importance of being imperfect. As far back as I can remember, I have been all or nothing about almost everything in my life. I only play games that I know I will do well in, I only ask for what I am certain to receive... if I don't think I can do it really well, I just don't even try. Even as I write this, I have spent the better part of the past week obsessing over my Mass Communications textbook to study for a test that my professor specifically told us would be "An Easy A." I wish I were joking, but I'm not.
I tend to maniacally dwell over things I did wrong, things I wish had gone differently (especially if they were out of my hands), and how I could control my life better and therefore guide it toward some sort of perfection which I am certain no human could never really be capable of.
Not everyone is like this, I have to remind myself. Some people leave the house without making their beds. Some people don't take a multivitamin. Some people *gasp!* eat McDonald's Big Macs.
And it isn't that I claim to be perfect, because I am far from it. In fact, it's in this constant quest for perfection that I am probably the most flawed. I become stressed and fumbling, frazzled, reclusive, and critical of myself and others. Especially that last part. I have a history of trying so hard to be funny that I tell wildly inappropriate and awkward jokes. All I want, literally, in my whole entire life- is to be at peace. I want that serenity of being comfortable with who I am and where I am in my life. I don't want to care if my hair isn't done. I don't want to avoid spontaneity because I'm worried that I might mess something up.
It is important that we allow ourselves to be imperfect. It's important that we loosen our grip on who we want to be, and just enjoy who we already are. There are a million things that we can push ourselves to become, and that list will never get any shorter. We can always be smarter, funnier, have better skin, etc. And of course, it's good to improve ourselves. But there is a fine line in the sand that we need to stop at, one that is crookedly drawn with broken driftwood. We need to be okay with how far we've already come, even if we think no one else sees it. Just to sit back serenely and smile at the person we are and enjoy today instead of worrying about past mistakes or future endeavors. Today is the most important day of your life, take some time to savor it.


Photo Session.

 I recently did a photo session of some friends of mine for their engagement announcements. Here are a few of my favorites from the day!

This one was actually a candid shot- but I absolutely LOVE her facial expression in it.


Cruise Control.

Hi. My name is Megan, and I'm a control freak.
...I guess "freak" is a harsh word, let's just say that I like to be in control. I feel comfortable when I am in control of a situation for a number of reasons. One, I suppose, is a lack of trust in other people. Another is something like an overconfidence in myself and my capabilities in the majority of situations. A third, I suspect, might be that if/when things do fall apart- at least I can trace back to the where and why. I dislike not knowing why a situation went sour and in this way, I can understand it all to a micromanaging "T."
It's not pretty, I'll admit that. No one likes to be overbearing and micromanaging. But we all have our flaws, and among many more... this is one of mine.

I wont lie: this flaw of mine has gotten me into several pickles. Not literally, because that would be delicious, but figuratively of course. My neck and shoulders constantly ache, I spend more sleepless nights than I'd like to admit, and I'm getting wrinkles on my face from making that "you're kidding me, right?" face. Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes that face. Obviously this is something that I need to work on.

Which brings me to my daily commute thought this morning: Where does it start? And where does it end?
I think that a lot of the equation of "control" stems into our psyche of "taking care of things." Obviously we, as adults, need to be responsible individuals. However there are plenty of times when we (see: I) allow ourselves to overstep our boundaries of responsible and into the territory of controlling. It's far too easy to do, if you ask me. I am a master legitimizer, and I often tell myself the old "well if I want it done correctly/at all, then I had better do it myself." Or worse yet, "They need me to do it, it would be irresponsible not to step up to the plate."

I once had a roommate, years ago and she may still read this blog, who said that I was a "Mother." She claimed that I manipulated situations to a point where I could control them, and that I likely didn't even realize I was doing it. I can honestly say that I spent years annoyed at her evaluation of my personality. It's only far after the fact that I can see how right she really was. I hate not being in control of things, and to some extent I most certainly push them towards a place where I am back in charge. I guess it's true that the things and people you find yourself most angry at are often from a place of truth that you didn't want to see.

So now I ask, again: where does it end? To begin a search for the answer, I came up with this: Responsibility is taking charge of the things that you're supposed to do. Control is taking charge of the things other people are supposed to do.  
photo credit: unknown

It's my aim to make this a new credo. In a situation where I start to feel anxiety over what is and isn't being done, I need to ask myself: is this something that is my job to do, or is it someone elses? And there's a certain level of peace in releasing that need for control. Suddenly you wont feel so overwhelmed by the number of things that could go wrong. You wont feel that pressure to get things right, because they're not your things. Sure, things might not go the way you would have arranged them to- but isn't that sort of beautiful? Who wants to live the expected life, the one you see coming? I know I don't. I want surprise... I want amazement. It's not a matter of abandoning responsibility, but discerning what things in life were never yours to begin with. Then just take a deep breath and let those things go.

This is going to take a lot of work, at least for me. But I'm looking forward to it.


No More Mr. Nice Guy?

photo credit: unknown

There's an old adage that says "Nice Guys Finish Last," and we've held on to it for generations. For a lot of reasons, it couldn't be more true. You don't see many people who got to the head of their corporations by being voted "most considerate" by their colleagues. And how many times have we seen that sweetheart of a guy get stuck in the friend zone by some girl who is, instead, dating a guy who hardly gives her the time of day? Nice guys get screwed. Over and over again. Except the guy who is in the friend zone, ifyouknowwhatImean.
It's a dog eat dog world, and with the billions of people on this planet you've got to fight for what you want. Sometimes you've got to fight real dirty-like. I have a (beautiful, wonderful, bright, amazing...) friend who resides in New York. She gets up every morning at the crack of dawn and stays at work until sometimes as late as 10 o'clock at night. When I asked her what kind of crazy pills she was taking, her response was this: This is New York City. This is where the best of the best of the best live. If I don't do my job to the maximum capacity, there are 15 other people lined up behind me to take it from me. And here I am, complaining about not having a full-hour lunch break. Speaking of which, did you know that you legally only supposed to have a thirty-minute break for lunch? I looked it up.
Back to the subject at hand- nice guys get the raw end of the deal. We do other people's work. We give you a ride when your car is broken down- only to have you talk about us behind our back a month later. We give our boyfriends back massages even if rarely reciprocated. We let you over on the freeway when we've been waiting in a ten-minute line of cars, because you probably didn't realize this was your exit.
But I want to trump the horn of nice people everywhere and encourage them to continue. Don't cave to being the jerk hole who cuts people off in traffic and has some bizarre superiority complex about who knows what. Think, for a moment, about what you gain by being a jerk... I mean seriously. I'm a firm believer in a certain level of peace at the end of my life. I really, really look forward to at least that portion of being old (wrinkles, memory loss, etc.- notsomuch). When I am old as dirt, sitting in my rocking chair and whittling or whatever randomness I will get myself into- I anticipate and desire a feeling of calm about who I've been and the life I've lived. Now I'm no scientist, but I think that the most important thing you can achieve in this life is a series of positive relationships with the people around you. Even if you are in that whole zone of "I want to provide for my family," you're hoping to enforce a positive relationship with those people. You can't take your yacht with you, so to speak. So when you notice the things that you can take with you to the end of your story (and beyond, if you're a believer of such things)... it's not the job. It's not the relationship you sabotaged and wherein treated someone like crap. It's not the people you used or put down and the ego boost that maybe happened as a result. No one looks back euphorically on that. "Yeah! I was an asshole! Winning!!!"
It's the time you spent scratching someones back, so to speak. It's the smile on the face of someone you gave free babysitting to because they hadn't been on a legitimate date with their spouse in 3 months. You may be thrilled with your new promotion at work, but you can't take it with you. The only thing- the only thing- that you take with you throughout your life, is yourself. So in my humble opinion you should add value to that... add value to who you are. And I think that if you can accomplish that, it's impossible to finish last. Nice guys may finish last in laps 2-3 and 4; but they finish first in the big race. And that's all that really matters.


Photo Babble.

So I got my new camera yesterday and got to fiddle around with it for a few minutes (literally) before I went to bed last night. These are some pictures that I toyed with on Picnik.com.
I know it's semi-pathetic that they are of my cat and my mirror-mantra but in all fairness I had a friend over for dinner last night, and I didn't get around to trying out the camera until afterwards. I already have the photo bug, though, and will most likely wind up getting way too into it for my own good!! I promise to try and write something more inspiring today or tomorrow, but so far I've been too busy to even think.
Hope everyone is having an awesome February so far!