FML…really?

I mentioned this months ago on Facebook, but now that I’m blogging I want to expand on my dislike for the acronym FML. For those unfamiliar with this gem, it stands for Fuck My Life. I’ve seen people post statuses on FB with things like “smudged my pedicure – FML, had a flat tire – FML, had to drop my class and have to retake it during the summer – FML…” Anyway, you get my point. Something goes wrong and people are ready to throw in the towel and loudly proclaim “Fuck my life”!

I always want to reply something along the lines of “Really? You have the ability to air your grievances on Facebook, I think you’re going to make it”. I will be the first to admit that I see the world through rose colored glasses and often believe in people way longer than they deserve. A co-worker told me soon after meeting me “Amy, you’re such an otter”. After I looked blankly at her she said, “You know. Some people think the glass is half full and some think the glass is half empty, but otters clap their furry little paws together and exclaim ‘oooh, oooh, I have a glass!'”. I took that as one of the greatest compliments ever. Despite these levels of positivity that can grate on the boyfriend’s slightly more realistic nerves, I do understand that bad stuff happens. And bad stuff happens to good people. But that doesn’t mean you give up. Nope, that’s the time to pick yourself up and give it another go.

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No seriously, I understand that bad happens. Here’s my 2011 in a nutshell – my husband of 8 years tells me he is gay while we are living overseas sponsored by the US Air Force. At the time, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still in effect so there were very few people I could tell and had to fake that everything was just fine for about 4 months. During that time of the most amazing poker face ever, I sent out over 50 resumes and applications and was rejected by all but 3 positions. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that by following my Air Force hubby I had accumulated about a ten year hole in my resume. Let me tell you, when your husband has just told you that he’s gay, every rejection letter hurts just a little bit more. Out of the 3 jobs that wanted me, I accepted the one in my hometown. That seems all peachy and grand. What could be better than returning to where your loving family lives? While I’ve got a great family that loves and supports me and saw me through the divorce (shoot, my sister acted as my divorce attorney), I felt like a huge failure returning to where I had started. In addition to that, I had to leave Okinawa early and leave behind the best friends a girl could ask for in my WOOT (Women on Okinawa Trails) women. I also had to leave my dog behind because it was too hot for her to travel when I left (no worries – we were reunited 8 months later). For the first four months I lived in Gainesville, I stayed with my best friend and her husband while searching for a house, adjusting to life in America (I’d been overseas for 6 years), and learning how to be a professional (seriously, I used to wear waders at work and electrify fish). I gained weight, lost a lot of hair, and was scared and stressed for months on end. On New Year’s Eve I was ready to kiss 2011 goodbye and have a symbolic end to my run of bad luck. Nope, not quite yet. On New Year’s Eve my dad had a stroke. Yeah, that was a big nutshell, but you get my drift, right? Not everything has been unicorns and rainbows. But you know what you do when life deals you a shit hand? You suck it up and keep playing.

I have a friend with a young son who recently went through a bitter  divorce because her ex-husband is a lying, cheating douche. Yes, she was stressed and yes, she asked for help, but not once did I hear her utter “FML”. She’s still adjusting and her string of bad luck recently popped up again with a parking ticket and her friend running out of gas on a busy road while they were both wearing skirts and heels. You know what she did? She laughed about it. What else is there to do really? Will crying help? How about some cursing? Ok, I like profanity and probably would have dropped the F-bomb before laughing along with her.

Some of you are probably thinking “Big deal. You guys had to get divorced and moved. That’s no big thing.” I agree, there are much bigger things in life than I’ve experienced. For example, a good friend of mine’s father recently found out that his cancer that he fought and beat is back and is at stage 4. Did she give up? No. Did her dad give up? No, he’s doing all he can to kick cancer’s ass again. And while I know it is eating away at my friend that this is happening to her dad and she can’t be closer to him, never once has she said, “FML”. The same goes for our front desk lady. Within a month of passing her 5 year cancer-free exam, she was diagnosed with the same stage 4 cancer that she had already beaten. She has been an inspiration with not only her positivity, but just her willingness to  come to work every day. No matter how tired or how worn out she is from her treatment, she is at her post smiling and greeting visitors. She is incredible.

One of my favorite volunteers also passed on the opportunity to say FML. Charlie is an 89 year old retired 3-star general that started volunteering at the museum almost 2 years ago. He has some incredible stories, but my favorite has to be how he met his wife and their incredible love story. Seriously, this is the stuff that movies are made from. Shortly before he started volunteering with us, his wife passed away from cancer after 62 years of marriage. It would have been easy for him to give up and say FML, but he didn’t. He made the choice to find something to keep himself going.

That’s the thing with FML. Once you buy into it you’ve given up your power, you’ve given up your freedom to make choices for yourself. You’ve let yourself become a victim and are willing to take what happens to you. Well, forget that! I want to be in charge of my life. So, go ahead and OMG, WTF or SMH, but this is your life. Make sure you’re going FTW!

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Failure by Comparison

GoRuck373When someone says failure it conjures up all sorts of negative connotations. Perhaps you didn’t get the job you applied for, you got a divorce, you didn’t meet the time you set for yourself for that last race you entered. In other words, you failed. And I get it. In that moment, failing sucks. Who wants to abandon their dreams, fall short of their goals, fail? As I get older, I can honestly say I do. It is only when we fail that we reassess and only then that we find out how strong we are.

I have failed at a lot. This used to be really hard for me to admit, especially out loud. I grew up in a house where if you weren’t going to be the best at something, why bother? When I entered my first marathon my grandma asked me if I thought I would win. When I told her no she responded, “Why are you running then?”. Believe me, this is no way to live. I have learned so much more from my failures and shortcomings than I ever have from my victories. It has taken me years to push away the fear of failure and embrace the uncertainty that comes with new experiences.

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Some of my biggest failures are due to comparing myself to others. This started at an early age and my comparisons were focused on my older sister, Monica. Let me clarify now that Monica and my parents didn’t encourage this competition I had set up, it was all my own neuroses. I was two years behind Monica in school and she was a tough act to follow. She was president of the National Honor Society, salutatorian, captain of the soccer team, dated a cute guy, and was all around loved by everyone. She didn’t do any of these things to try to make me look bad. She did these things because she was good at them and that was her personality. I am the one who would constantly make comparisons. With this self-imposed set up for disappointment, I concluded I would never be as good as Monica at anything and said fuck it. Yes, even back then I had a potty mouth. This worked until about half way through my junior year when I realized “oh shit, if I want to get into college, I better get my ass in gear”. That was the first step I took on my journey of realizing that I’m not living for someone else, I am living for myself. It was a tiny baby step that would have to be reinforced countless times in the future.

As most American females do, I also compared myself to any and every other female I encountered. Whether it was in real life or people I saw through the media, comparisons were made. Again, my first comparisons came with my sister. We are the same height and I weigh roughly 25 pounds more than she does. Who cares about this? Absolutely nobody! But I didn’t get that until about a decade ago. The one time I starved myself and got down close to her weight people asked me and my family members if I was sick with some terminal disease. Healthy, huh? I also compared myself to celebrities, friends, strangers in the gym. The self criticism and negative talk were hard to control. For me the comparisons diminished (honestly they still occasionally pop into my head when I’m having insecure moments) when I started pushing myself in physical challenges and seeing what my body is capable of. I will never be a size 2, or even a 6, and that is okay. These thick quads of mine have carried me through 10 marathons, 2 trail ultra marathons, triathlons, and a GoRuck Challenge. Do I wish my boobs were a little perkier? Hell yeah, I do. But you know what? They’re 37 year old boobs and are pretty fabulous.

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If I went by societal standards, one of my biggest failures would probably be my divorce. I think it’s ironic that I see that marriage, divorce, and the aftermath as one of my biggest successes. Shit, I got a gay guy to propose to me and we kept each other pretty stinking happy for over 8 years. That’s got to be worth something, right? Plus, the biggest part of that success is that I can honestly say that my wasband is still one of my best friends. We can count on each other for anything and know we’ll always be there for each other. As in all aspects of life, success and failure are all about perspective.

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The only failures that we should truly regret are the ones we refuse to learn from. Didn’t get that dream job? Tweak your resume or volunteer some hours in that field. Missed your race time? Add some hill work or emphasize your recovery days. Got divorced or going through a break up? Honestly assess your contributions to the split and then realize that there is someone out there who will be a better match.

failure

While I have come a long way and am no longer afraid to try new things, I still have a ways to go in learning to trust my gut and follow my instincts. My current job is great by society’s standards. It pays well, has benefits, and a retirement plan. But you know what? Society’s standards aren’t necessarily my standards. I don’t find my job challenging or fulfilling. It goes back to my last post of wanting to do more and be more. I am trying to be honest with myself and admit my passions. It’s scary because what I want to do is not going to necessarily provide me with a steady salary or benefits. It’s going to take me a while to go through training and determine if this is what I really want. I will take the time to make sure I will be ok financially the first couple years of this venture. But you know what I’m not going to do? I’m not going to let my fear of the unknown or the possibility of failure prevent me from following my dreams. As my wise friend Katie said, “I decided to jump in bed with my fear and go for what I want”. We only have one life, folks. Let’s live it to the fullest!

Go Big or Go Home

Literally. If I don’t find a job to support myself, I will be moving back to Gainesville in October. That’s my deadline. We leave Okinawa then and I need a j-o-b. There is no way I can live with my parents. My dad would be fine, but my mom drives me crazy. I don’t even think it’s intentional, but she just pushes all the right buttons. Plus, I don’t want to be the mid-thirties loser that has to go back to her parents’ when her life falls apart.

My sister has offered me the guest room and I know she is sincere in her offer, but with her family and job she always has a lot going on. Knowing that it could be for longer than a typical vacation makes me feel intrusive.

My other offer comes from my BFF, DTMB. She is the best and it would be awesome to stay there, but again she’s got a husband, 2 dogs, chickens, a full-time job, etc. I don’t want to be the sad, soon-to-be-divorced friend that comes to crash with my cuddle-challenged pup.

All of this leads to the most stressful part of the impending divorce, Job Hunt 2011! Living overseas for the last 6+ years I’ve been sheltered. I’ve heard about the economic difficulties going on in the states, but I really had no idea how many people would be applying for one position. I am in competition with hundreds of applicants. I never knew a job search could be so hard.

I’m casting a wide net and applying for jobs I know I’m qualified for and for jobs that I’m mostly qualified for, but that get me really excited. I’ve applied to be a  biological technician, naturalist, environmental educator, program coordinator for Girls on the Run, sports director, and volunteer coordinator and my job search has covered 12 states ranging from Pennsylvania to California. I’m going for jobs I actually want and not just jobs I think can pay the bills. I’m trying to be brave in my search and find something I can be passionate about, but the reality of needing to pay bills keeps creeping into the back of my mind.

   

I’ve applied for over 30 jobs now and have received 6 or 7 rejections, a lot of no feedback whatsoever, and two calls for phone interviews. I’ve completed one phone interview and afterwards I thought I had done well for the most part, but in the last 5 days I’ve really been picking apart the answers in my head. I wish I could just let it go, but I’m obsessing. I’m not fully qualified for the job I interviewed for (no budget experience), but it sounds like a great job and I think I really want it. The other phone interview should be next week. I’m pretty sure I only got this interview because I know a guy that already works for this organization because I am definitely not qualified for this one (not nearly as many years experience as they want in this field), but I hope knowing someone opens the door just enough so I can wow them.

To keep the sanity levels relatively high, I’ve been sticking with my regularly scheduled exercise plan. Yesterday I ran 14 miles and it was a great run! After last week’s pitiful 12 I was worried, but everything went A-OK! Husband and I had to leave the house around 8am to get him to the airport which meant a super early start for me so I prepped the night before.

I left the house at 4 am and headed to the meeting point for WOOT (Women on Okinawa Trails) where I’d meet up with some running buddies at 5:30. Since it was still dark I had a head lamp and a reflective vest. I probably won’t be running at 4:15 in the morning on my own when I get back to the states, but I feel perfectly safe here in Okinawa – probably because I’m bigger than 90% of the local men. I cranked out 7 on my own, met up with my ladies, and got 7 more miles run and done. It was slightly cooler out (maybe mid-80s?), but still crazy humid. During those 14 miles I drank 2 liters of water and ate 1 pack of Clif shot bloks. I felt strong the whole time and was really proud that I didn’t take any breaks on this one gradual hill that lasted .75 miles. Boo-yah! I hope all of my long training runs go this smoothly. I also hope that I always have my yoga mat in my car. I sat on it on the way home in an attempt to protect my seats and when I got out of the car there was literally a pool of water on the mat. I am one nasty, sweat monkey and it feels so gooood!