Things I learned in 2014.

2014 was a year for hindsight being 20/20. I hit a lot milestones this past year, but I was blinded to them because I didn't open my eyes to them, or maybe because they weren't the milestones I expected to meet. It wasn't until some self-reflection that I realized that I've moved forward in strides, rather than standing still the way I've felt throughout the past 12 months. Here are a number of lessons I learned at the close of this year. I hope they inspire you to find your hindsight lessons, too.

1. Find what you love and make it happen. Life provides us with a multitude of pathways; some of which are secret passages we have to seek out. Things seem so obvious when you're looking at them on a map- this goes there, that leads here. But being faced with our lives head on creates a lot of confusion and non-compliance to the rules. Sometimes when you're there, in the moment, you realize that you're following a map to a place you were only headed for the sake of following the dotted line. I think that one of the most beautiful points in our lives is when we realize who we want to be, and not who we're expected to be. I realized this year that I want to see the world, especially the obscure places not many people try to go. I'm learning more and more that I'm fascinated by the culinary world around me, and also that I want to learn as much about world history as possible. Some of these things are interests that I've held, others are new. But it's been really exciting to discover things that I'm anxious to learn more about, especially since it takes a lot to gain and then hold my attention. I'm not saying I'm going to become a travel-food-history journalist, but I expect 2015 to be a year to further develop those passions, and I can't wait to see where they'll lead me.

2. Let your friendships flow, and chose to receive and let go with love. From my late 20's until now, I've had a multitude of people who have simply gone other directions with their lives. And it's often been heartbreaking for me to let go of those people, some of whom I've known for decades. But trying to keep them in my life is much more heartbreaking, as we attempt, time after time, to force an outdated friendship. The people who want to be in your life will be, and the people who can't, or sometimes wont, will no longer hold a place as anything more than a memory. That's okay, and while you may feel hurt at losing someone you care about, they once gave you a beautiful friendship. It's important to honor that by letting go with love. The proactive step is to make time for the people who make time for you, and dedicate your energy to developing those friendships. Nurturing friendships with those whose lives are in line with your own allows both parties to expand on the commonalities that brought you together, helping you each to grow as the people you're aiming to be.

3. Let love breathe. One of the biggest things I learned this past year was how to love other people by allowing them space to breathe. This was one of my biggest "hindsight" lessons, because I experienced some strikingly similar situations in 2014 that I'd once been on the other end of. I think that we often tell ourselves that we need to nurture love, and that is true. But we also need to allow love to nurture us, meaning that we need to allow others the opportunity to give of themselves. It not only gives us a chance to relax and not be "on" all of the time, but it shows faith in the other person by telling them that you trust them to steer things for a while. I've had relationships where I smothered and tried too hard, feeling like perfect couples wanted to share every experience and to be together as often as possible. Now I see how impractical that really is. I want to be in a reciprocal relationship, where we compliment each other's lives, but aren't each other's lives. Two people can't grow together if they're stifling each other from growing individually.

4. Never stop learning. Does anyone remember The Newlyweds TV show with Jessica Simpson? It was during this really unfortunate time in television (which may still be happening but I just stopped watching), when it became endearing to be a stupid girl. We all felt sympathetic for these adorable little idiots and they, I suspect, played it up even more. I'll admit, I played the part from time to time. The past few years, 2014 in particular, were about going the opposite direction. Maybe part of it is just me getting older, but I want to know what is going on in the world around me. I obviously care about making sure my hair isn't a mess and if I can buy pants that make my ass look good, right on. But I stopped subscribing to silly make-up magazines and scouring the US Weekly website, and started paying attention to the news and reading actual books. I guess I also just got tired of reciting the same useless crap. And yes, some of the stuff I read consists of silly anecdotes and bread recipes, but I seek out things that better my life rather than fogging it with idiocy.

5. You're in charge of the way you feel. I've spent a good portion of my life as a victim to my emotions. I often feel sad, or lonely, or jealous. Other times, I feel optimistic and capable. I'm incredibly superstitious and vulnerable to outward influences on my feelings, and maybe I'll always be that way. However, this year I found that most of the times when I've felt sad, I'm allowing myself to feel sad. When I've felt lethargic or trapped, I'm allowing myself to feel that way. I've had several discussions with close friends as of late, many revolving around unfortunate things happening around them. In those scenarios, there isn't much to be done about bad things happening, but you can always control the way you respond to those bad things. And your choice response to the world around you is what makes you the person you choose to be, not the person your world chooses. It's sort of empowering, to know that you can choose to change your perspective, rather than fall victim to an unchangeable world around you.

The funny thing about 2014 is that while it was happening, I felt really confused. I had ups and downs at my job, I reignited some friendships and disengaged from others, and while I stayed home more this year than I ever have before- I also traveled more than I have during any other year of my life. It's hard to see the truth when it's staring you in the face, and I didn't recognize this year for what it was until near the end of it- but it was one of my biggest years for growth in my life. I don't know if I will ever feel my age, and at 31 I don't know how "on par" I am with other people in that bracket. But I also feel more like "me" than I have in a long time. Maybe ever. Which is a good thing, considering that I'll be "me" for the rest of my life.


Hey Jealousy

(Warning: This video has essentially nothing to do with this post and will 
send you into a 90's music whirlwind, should you succumb to its catchiness)

I often find myself getting frustrated trying to explain the way I see the world because it's not... well, normal. In a lot of ways, that's a really good thing. But it makes me seem sort of batshit crazy when I try to explain how my negative feelings tend to turn into something that I actually find constructive.

For example: if you follow my blog, you know that one of my biggest hurdles in life is overcoming jealousy. Not in a crazy "Who was that on the phone?" kind of way. But in this sort of like, "Ugh, why is that person's life soooooo perfect?" way. I think that, especially in this edited world, it's far too easy to see someone's highlight-reel Facebook feed and think that your mediocrity doesn't size up. I mean, lets get really real here and talk about how some of my closest friends are taking selfies in New York, or cutest-offspring-ever pics, and I'm over here like, "Look at my cat playing with twist-ties!!" I took a SnapChat of my cat listening to the soundtrack from The Aristocats last week. I wish I were joking.

And so, people-who-are-now-afraid-of-me, now you see why I find it so easy to take issue with people who are... I don't know... NOT taking SnapChats of their cats (SnapCats? It should be a thing).

Having said that- I have never, in my life, been a person who felt compelled to do (or not do) something because someone said I should. "What's that Mom? DON'T try Tequilla? Oh, okay. I'll get right on that." No. Not my jam. It takes a lot of nudging, and failing, and at times straight boredom to motivate me to do things that I probably could have just taken the advisory for and done right the first time around.

THIS is why jealousy is my biggest challenge, and also my greatest ally. It sucks to see someone doing things that I wish I were doing. I feel like a complete troll when I feel envious of someone for being pretty, or smart, or successful. But then I realize, in true comedic form, that my inner monologue sounds like a complete joke. "How dare that person be doing things with their life! How dare they get up early and blow-dry their hair and look awesome while my roots are growing in and I'm wearing flip flops to work! How dare they travel and have adventures while I sit here helplessly at my desk!" Um... hey, self, why don't you just DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE? Get up early, do your hair, plan a vacation, buy real shoes...

That's the simplest solution. Do you want to do something? How about you just, like, do it?

This is why jealousy is fantastic. It's really just admiration with a splash of laziness, which can be discarded and ignored to allow for motivation to chime in. I realize that some things are out of reach in the jealousy department. There's not enough self-motivation in the world to give me an ass like Gisele Bundchen. But if jealousy gives me the motivation to work toward my best version of myself, thanks for the inspiration- impossibly beautiful alien/model lady.

Life is 100% what we make of it. I of all people know how easy it is to get caught up in petty insecurities and trivial short-comings. But I also know that sometimes, you have to take a good look in the mirror and see how limitless the possibilities are if you only allow them to take root and thrive.

In completely related/unrelated news: if you're into SnapChats of ridiculous things, find me under Meganmccrindle.


Positively Happy.

Image found here.
 "So you attempt to hide your loneliness in public, to behave, in fact, as though you have too many friends already, and thus you hope to attract people who will unwittingly save you. But it never works that way. Your condition is written all over your face, in the hunch of your shoulders, in the hollowness of your laugh. You fool no one."  - David Murosek 
I read this and realized that it hit a little too close to home. But... not in a bad way.

Which is sort of weird.

And I don't know why it made me think of it, but I somehow went to this thought of most people's main goal in life, as far as I've heard it.

What do you want in life?
...I want to be happy.

It's an awfully tall order, when you really think about it. Because have you ever really met anyone who was happy ALL of the time? I don't think I have. Even the people who I've found to be the happiest have often had moments of pretty deep sadness. And that's totally fine. And normal. That's life.

So I decided something: I don't want to be happy.

What do I want? 
To be positive.

I want to stop considering the negative possibilities and start considering that good can (and will!) come from everything in my life. I don't need to pretend to be happy, or fake a smile when my heart isn't in it. But I do want to be sitting, in the midst of my completely normal bad day, with the outlook that I will walk away from it a better person, and that things will turn out alright in the end.

This is a huge challenge, at least for me. I dwell. A LOT. I over-analyze even more. I stress and I plan and I worry. And sometimes that can't be helped. But it's a comforting thought to know that my tendencies to be... well... me, are acceptable so long as I check myself out of them at a reasonable hour and remember that it's all going to be fine. I just need to remember to remain positive.

There's also this:
"It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light."
...and because of that, everything will be fine. Our problems are never the issue. The way we interpret and respond to our problems is the issue. We tend to be our biggest roadblock, which is almost humorously ironic considering that we are the ones in control of removing our problems from our lives, simply by looking at them in a different light.

So take your roadblocks- take your blustering mind- and make your life positive, even when it can't always be happy.


Things I learned in Rome.

I'm starting to go through my pictures from this month's trip to Europe, where I had the good fortune of somehow finding myself in Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Florence and Rome. The funny thing about it is that as soon as I got off the plane at LAX, I knew: I have now been to these places. It was just so matter of fact. "Oh, yes, I've been to Rome." And... you know... that was that. But when I began to look through my photos, I realized, that wasn't that.

I'D BEEN TO ROME. I'd touched the wall of Vatican City. I'd stared up at the once-bronzed statues of the Altare della Patria. I looked at my camera roll and remembered the feeling of wandering the streets of Montmartre in Paris and giggling with my old roommate, Rachael, as I took a selfie pretending to pick my nose at the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence. But when I was there, I remember feeling exhilarated yet somehow disconnected. I guess it all just rushed by in this wave of excitement and overwhelming wonder.

And I looked through my pictures and I started to compare this feeling to like, LIFE. There were times during our whole "Euro Fest 2014" that I felt tired and crowded and irritated about one thing or another. But I don't look back and remember those moments with much consideration for them. And I can't help but ask myself, now, Is Life Just One Big Travel Album?

I flip through my mind and thumb through all of these moments in my life that I know happened. "I've been through this experience," or "I've seen this place," and I know, you know... that's that. But then I begin to look closer and I realize: that isn't that. I'VE BEEN TO THESE PLACES. I've been through these experiences and they were real and they were great, or terrible, or mediocre. But more importantly than anything else- they were real, tangible, audible and moreover existent experiences that I sped through in a flash of excitement and wonder.

The funny thing is that I have all of these little mementos of my life (so far): photographs, books, letters and trinkets. And I see them every day without a second thought of what they felt or looked like or meant when I was there. I have a pair of diamond earrings that a boy gave to me when we dated 5 years ago. They're the only precious jewelry I own, and I never, ever change them. But I long ago stopped staring at them in the mirror as something that I felt honored to wear. I guess I just forgot that moment in my life and how valuable it was. I wont go on to list a bunch of "things" that I own and don't appreciate, because it's embarrassing. The point is- my life has run on auto-pilot of "this is what's happened," and I often forget to appreciate that good or bad- tired or frantic- alone or with company, it's been pretty remarkable.

The thing is, I know that this is common for everyone. What, so every time I look in the mirror I'm supposed to stop and guffaw over a pair of 5-year old earrings? I'd never get anything done! But... well... let me tell you about two little moments that happened in Rome that put things in perspective for me.

One was when we first got to Rome. We'd been to about 30 amazing places in about 6 days, and I'd been trying to save myself for Rome. We stopped at every monumental attraction in the city, each met with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. But by the end of the day, our cries of "That's SO awesome!" were starting to slowly fade, and finally my friend Amy hit it on the head by saying, "Honestly, it's not that these aren't amazing. But how many times can we see something that's 'SO AWESOME' in two weeks?"

The next 'perspective' moment for me was when we got to the Trevi Fountain. I was tired of walking and, quite frankly, overwhelmed with it all. I've found in my travels that it's been my quiet moments I've appreciated the most. The times when I've gotten to sit and just marvel at the grandeur of something. And as we all tried to muster up the strength to talk about how amazed we were about something remarkable, I made a small request. "Let's all just stop and take 30 seconds of silence to just stare." And we stopped talking. And we stared. And the noises of The New invaded my ears as I heard foreign languages interpret the word "awesome," and the water flushed from the fountain and every single movie and photograph I had seen where someone had made a wish in this very place flashed before my eyes as I stopped and just... absorbed the moment.

And, well... I guess that's what life is. It's a series of "SO awesome" moments, happening on fast-forward. I guess that's what Ferris Bueller meant when he said that if we don't stop and take a look around once in a while, we'll miss out on life. It'll still happen. But we'll have gotten so caught up in the rush of each rapid-fire moment that we'll forget what it felt like, smelled like, sounded like and even tasted like- when we were standing in that space. And whether you felt great or tired, whether things ended spectacularly or whether your heart was broken by the turn of events, there was a flash of time in there that was pretty amazing. And I guess what I learned in Rome this year was that I'm always in Rome. Every place, every moment... it's all Rome. And it's always SO awesome.


A Blanket, Eeyore and a Guitar changed the way I see the world.

"Excuses are a chance to reiterate who they are. 
Your reactions are a chance to reiterate who you are." 

I've spent a lot of time lately looking at the person who I've been, and the person that I am now, and kind of wondering: if I could go back and change anything, what would it be? I don't believe in the whole "no regrets" thing, because I think that everyone has regrets and I also believe that we NEED them. Without messing up, being aware of it, and progressing forward as a result of it- we don't grow. So I like that I have regrets because it means I was aware of what needed to change. I like that.

I think that if I could change anything, though, it would be to not have taken so long to figure out who I wanted to be. Let me start that with a story. A really, really embarrassing story. The summer before my senior year in high school, we took our individual portraits. It's this big deal and in my house my parents put everyone's up on the main wall and blah blah blah. So there's a head shot (which is still at my parent's house), and a full body shot where you use all kinds of props to showcase what your strengths and interests are. My sister had her Cheerleading garb, my brother had his Letterman's jacket from Waterpolo... etc. I had no idea what to do. I certainly wasn't going to wear my swimsuit and goggles, and I didn't really have many interests (or so I thought) outside of just 'hanging out.' I asked my Mom for her advice and she suggested all of these neat little props to represent "me." So what does my picture have? I'm sitting on a Zebra-print blanket (to show I was trendy or something I guess), holding a magazine with a picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar on the cover (to show that I was a huge Buffy fan), next to a stuffed Eeyore doll (to show that I was suicidal or something), and I'm holding a guitar. I HAD NEVER PLAYED THE GUITAR IN MY LIFE. The idea was, according to my mom, I knew I wanted to learn to play some day. And by the time I was going to look back on these pictures, I'd be really, really good. Probably.

I used to be so ashamed of this picture, and obviously I realize how totally ridiculous it is. But it occurred to me, yesterday, how 100% spot on it was as far as representing "who I was." I was a girl who had no idea who I was. Everything was projected as this image of who other people thought I should be. Note: if you have to ask your mother what represents 'you,' you're doing it wrong. But that's who I was- an interpretation of what everyone else wanted to see. My bedroom wall was cluttered with magazine pictures of women skinnier and prettier and more famous than me- people that the world put on a glossy page and told every teenage girl that we should be like. I bought the shoes they said were cool, I took the general ed classes in college that everyone took. My personality was essentially a xerox copy of whoever seemed like they knew what they were doing.

It wasn't until years later that I started to befriend more people who promoted individuality, and I started to see things that the world showed me and say, "meh, that's not for me." And maybe that makes me less of a celebrated "yes" person, but I'm okay with that. When I look around my room, now, I see places around the world that I've been because they were important to me. I have books that represent my values and clothes and jewelry that I think are pretty and comfortable. I have a 13 lb. cat that everyone else hates but I think she's the greatest thing in the world and they can go to hell if they have a problem with that. I love my little life, and it finally feels like home to me.

The reason I started out my entry with that quote is that I was having a moment today where I felt like I was kind of getting the butt of things. I was irritated that people were expecting things of me that I felt they weren't personifying themselves, and it was very much a "well, why should I do it then??" moment. And I made all of these very true, very valid excuses of why I felt like the only non-hypocrite. But that thought stopped me because, at the end of the day, I can only control my own actions and reactions. And just because I feel that someone else has made poor choices doesn't change a thing about my own. I struggle with that concept a lot, actually. And not to sound like I'm a saint by all means, because I can be a real selfish asshole. But I often feel like it would be fair and right for me to react to a scenario based on the scenario, and not on the person that I try to be. But I don't want to be anybody based on what other people believe I should be. I'm not a teenager, asking what represents "me." I am "me," and I should be the one deciding what to include in the picture.


Something (an update).

It's been too long. It keeps being too long, unfortunately. I think that I started to feel like I was writing because I needed to write, and the fact that I write for work, now, seems to have taken some of my steam out of personal musings. Plus, work has been busy and good and fun, but exhausting with all of the new responsibilities of my recent promotion (they made me the new Marketing Communications Manager). But it's good.

I also started to feel so exposed with this blog. I write every thought here, and began to feel like I had no secrets anymore. And honestly? I missed having secrets. So I'd love to make bold promises as to when I'll write and what I'll say, but I wont do that. I made a promise that my New Years Resolution was to make a series of resolutions, which I should do. But something is coming, and I don't know what but I know it is. I can always tell when something is changing and right now, something is changing. Last week I had a mini-drama because I've noticed a lot of chaos in my life lately. Not bad chaos, necessarily, but just upheaval of everything about my life that I thought was one way and turned out to be another. My job change, two of my best friends moving away within a few months of one another, feeling very disoriented and lonely. And it's sucked, quite frankly. BUT- I also know that it's a really good thing because great changes come out of great trials. There are a number of things about my life that I've noticed I was to change, and it's taken me feeling disappointed about them in order for me to snap into action and make the changes themselves. I've always been stubborn like that.

It's almost March. In April, I'll be going to spend a week and a half in Brussels, Paris, Florence and Rome. Which is an important trip to me because I've now tried to go to Rome twice without having been. I'm finally going there, and on top of that I'll be spending an entire day completely on my own, which I'm more than a little excited about since it'll hopefully pave the way for future trips I'd like to take alone. Maybe this next few years of my life will be my travelling years to see all of the places I want to see: Peru, Tibet, Prague, Croatia, Spain, Morocco... I want to see it all and maybe this big change coming my way is finally doing that. We'll see.

I wish I had better blogs and more exciting stories, and maybe I need to get back to writing on a regular basis so I don't lose my ability to do it in a non-work setting. But in the mean time, life is good and crazy and interesting. I can't wait to see what happens next.


On New Years Resolutions and Keeping it Simple.

photo courtesy of remainsimple.com
So... here we are 6 days into the new year and I haven't really given much thought to any 2014 resolutions. In the past, I've done a year with monthly resolutions and that worked out pretty well. For the most part, however, I don't really do that whole "I'm going to ship-shape my life starting at 12 pm tonight."

I know that I need changes in my life, and I guess now that I'm 30, I should start doing that whole grown up "making plans" thing. Ugh. But I read this article from The Art of Simple, and it spoke to me. Starting off the new year under a load of expectations and meticulous planning isn't really where I'm at these days. I like the idea of spending January deciding on what I really want to do and, even more-so, what I need to do. I'd like to spend this month reflecting and assessing, and then each following month working on something in a different part of my life that needs attention. I also want to emphasize relaxation and acceptance this coming year. I've dealt with anxiety a good part of my life, but I'm finally at a place where that seems to have subsided.

I spent a lot of my 20's trying to impress other people. I believe that's fairly normal for someone in that age bracket. I wanted to be who they wanted me to be and prove that I belonged and was smart and funny and whatever-else-I-worried-about. It's different now. I want this to be a time in my life dedicated to impressing myself- and learning why that's enough. I read a Michelle Obama interview where she said:
 "I found that other women, in similar situated balancing career family, trying to do it all and a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we're so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others."
And I believe that to be so very true. For a multitude of reasons, be it caring for others or caring too much about what others think, we put ourselves at the bottom of our priority list. Which is crazy. So this month will be about reflection in order to discover how I can value myself more. If that means I stay home with a cup of tea and a notebook, that's okay. Sometimes it's okay to keep it simple.