Don’t want to be the “best you lost”

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I was listening to the radio the other night and a song came on with the lyrics “she got the best of me”. I wrote myself a note that I wanted to talk about that…and then misread my own note, hence the title. But I do want to talk about both things.

I don’t want to “be the best you lost” and I don’t want “you to get the best of me”. I’m better than that, in both ways. To say that I’m the best you lost, implies that the person you chose isn’t good enough for you. It’s something you say to make yourself feel better because they left you/didn’t choose you/etc. You may have realized that you are better than the person you thought you were when you fell in love with them, and now you’re stronger for it. Maybe you saw the good in them when they couldn’t see it in themselves, you were their strength and their inspiration…and then one day, they moved on (or maybe you did). In that moment in time, you chose them out of all the other people in your life and you’re better than you think…you didn’t choose to fall in love with someone terrible.

To imply that you were the best thing they lost implies that they are now not good enough to be with you, or maybe I’m just thinking about this too much and it doesn’t make any sense.

As to the other, obviously I don’t want someone else to get the best of me. That feels like I gave up on being me just because they left. We are always growing, every day is an opportunity to be better, to overcome an old wound, to allow time to heal the past…and by allowing someone to get the best of you…well that just doesn’t sound healthy.

I was out with a friend and talking about relationships and life, as friends tend to do when they go out. And now I’m sitting in my house writing and watching country music videos. Songs about lost loves, or songs about best friends that fall in love…seems like there are no in between’s here.

It’s hard not having answers in life…at first. Once I reached the point where I felt ok letting go, I learned what I liked and what I didn’t. And what I wanted. I am happy independent and alone, my introverted soul takes energy from the peace and quiet and internal review time that affords me. I like eating out alone, going to concerts alone, traveling alone…I thrive on my time to be with myself.

I do want a relationship-I don’t want to be “hashtag single for life”, or crazy cat lady, but if that’s what happens I’ll be happy with myself. I’d like to be able to hold someone’s hand when we go out, or to be able to rest my head on their chest when I’ve had a long day. I’d like to share in the moments of someone else’s life and be proud of them, and support the them, to comfort them when they need and to be there with them growing as individuals. Maybe one day…until then, I’ll be there for my friends, support them when they are going through a tough time, be happy for them when they are happy, and encourage them when they need it.

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Tea & Thich Nhat Hanh

Today was a unique experience for me. I don’t typically ‘teach’ OR spend time with kids. Yet I found myself teaching kids art today. And what that looked like was simply me guiding the kids to draw “new animals”, and sometimes feeling like I was herding cats. It wasn’t my forte, or even something I have ever been prepared to do but I tried it and I’m glad I am doing this for the next 6 weeks. It’s something that is intimidating and a bit scary to me, out of my comfort zone for sure. By pushing these boundaries and challenging myself I hope to find something I didn’t know I was looking for-much like when I went to my first mid-year conference almost 4 years ago.

I left Omaha 3 1/2 years ago with a feeling that I knew I wanted to be more involved in AZA programs and managing species, I wanted something to do in the Ungulate world that challenged me and helped others. After 3 years I found myself being approached by new keepers and first-time attendees asking for my advice on how to get more involved and spending time with one of the leading conservationists that I’ve admired for years. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Omaha, much like I didn’t know what to expect tonight when I the kids walked in to class for the first time.

After class I felt like going out for a drink, and wound up finding myself the tea house down the street instead. I discovered that drinking green tea, and reading Thich Nhat Hahn, was a very revitalizing way to spend my decompressing time. As I was reading I also wrote down some notes and musings, in addition to wanting to remember more of what I was reading, writing to me is extremely therapeutic and a mindful practice for me.

‘Don’t just do something, sit there!’ By stopping we actually allow positive healing to take place. Much like how when we’re super busy, if we just take a minute to list out our priorities and what we need to do, we can actually find ourselves ten times more productive. ‘Hope is an obstacle’; this to me was very connective, as I have, for many years now, claimed with my friend that hope sucks. Perhaps this is why…because by focusing on “tomorrow”, you aren’t focusing on the present moment, where true joy and happiness, as well as awareness, reside. Hope doesn’t bring enlightenment, joy, or peace, those all live in the current moment and the more we try to convince ourselves that “tomorrow will be better”, or “I have hope that someone out there is perfect for me”, we fail to live presently.

‘You are more than your emotions.’ It’s ok to acknowledge emotions for what they are, it’s not bad to feel fear, or anger, or jealousy. They are as much a part of us in that moment as our skin is. We can’t shed it and walk away, leaving it behind, but we can acknowledge how we feel, accept it, and let them drift away. After that, we can invest a bit of ourselves into determining the source and work to truly transform those feelings at their core into something healthy. Being able to find joy and happiness may be considered the point of life. I actually think tat the two are separate…

For me lately, I find that I have joy inside myself. But I am sad. The joy and contentment is innate and deep, the sadness is surface but there regardless. I acknowledge the sadness, I am tired of being sad, but I accept that it must move along before I can feel the happiness. It is possible to be joyful and sad simultaneously-for me at least. When I breathe and come home to myself, I find that I don’t need anything else, there is joy there and the sadness moves along for a time. My challenge now is to source the sadness and transform it.

Finding peace isn’t a lifelong journey…it’s always inside of us and ever present in the moment. All we have to do is find a way to sweep away the dust and silt, and the peace and joy are there, waiting patiently for us to come home.

A mystery to solve…

I texted myself tonight, ” when will Siri start to learn what we ask her to text and will she become sentient about it?”

Honestly, I would be very intrigued to see a catalogue of voice texts that I have sent over the past year. A lot of them lately…are three simple words. I. Am. Sad. In a way, my journaling and blogging are ways to track where I’ve been mentally, as much as physically, over the past few years. But I find it interesting to wonder what Siri would say to me if she was sentient, based purely on what I’ve said to her or asked her to type.

I don’t like it, that I’m sad. That’s an obvious statement, right? No one ‘wants to be sad’ or enjoys being sad…and as I sit here listening to Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Places”, and the parrots try to sing it while a cat naps at my feet…I ultimately am happy but also ultimately sad at times. And narrowing down the “sad times” to grow and become a healthier, stronger individual…well that’s not always easy. So I tend to just want to write and write bluntly and honestly because that’s the best way to be, right?

Hearing “Jesus, Take the Wheel”, followed by “Bless the Broken Road”, and then “Forever and Ever, Amen”…it’s as if there’s a sign being SCREAMED at me right now.

Musings, Pasta, and Malbec (what’s an “m” word for pasta?)

I’m going to start this off with a story that happened to me a couple of nights ago. I was in a cleaning and decluttering mood and was posting a few things on Craigslist. I happened to randomly click on a few categories just to browse out of curiosity (I haven’t bought anything on CL in a long time), and stumbled across something that looked interesting. “Pablo Picasso-$35”. It was a print of his piece, Mother & Child.

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I emailed the poster and inquired if it was still available, that something about it was drawing me in and I was very interested in it. I left to go run some errands and the owner replied, saying it was available and she could meet me that night if I was available. I decided to reply when I got home, and by that time she had emailed me a second time. Apparently there was a lot of interest in the piece but she really wanted me to have it, something about a gut instinct. I replied then saying that yes, I was definitely interested and could meet before my plans that I had that night.

We arranged to meet in front of the library on 8th street, and promptly at 5 o’clock I parked and saw a lovely lady sitting on a bench with the piece. I went up and she immediately patted the seat next to her and invited me to sit down. We started chatting and she explained to me the story behind the piece for her. It was very moving to hear how healing it was for her over the past 32 years, and she knew it was time for the piece to move onto a new owner and bring something positive and new into their life. She asked if I would mind doing a short interview for a video series she was working on about letting go of treasures and passing them, and I agreed.

We went and sat under the a tree in the grass and I told her my story. About how I was at a stage in my life where I was beginning to feel “nesting” behaviors, yet something more than a mother and child in the image drew me to it. Of course being a modest student of art growing up I was interested in Picasso, and I know enough about him to know that his earlier works were very realistic and soft, very unlike his cubism and surrealism phase. The uniqueness of this being not just Picasso but one of his early pieces (1904) was very special to me, and the softness and tenderness in the image is captivating. The way there are several renditions of the drawing on the page, it’s a style that I have always appreciated and admired, and it had me captivated.

We talked about how important it is to live int he moment, and to appreciate what we have while we have it. She said she hoped that the piece would bring me the same amount of love, and healing, as it brought her and that she was able to pour into it over the years. It was a really moving experience, and things like that just don’t happen a whole lot with me. Not in that way. It was a stark reminder that everything happens for a reason and to just trust in where I am right now. Even on days, or at times, when I am feeling lost, or impatient for what’s next, I know that I am where I am supposed to be.

It’s so easy to get caught up in feeling like we should be doing more, doing better, making a larger impact. 20 years ago, I was convinced I would be married and have a family by the age of 21. Growing up I always enjoyed having ‘younger’ parents (they were 19 & 20 when they had me). I liked that when I was in 5th grade my mom was 29 years old. For the longest time that was the ideal age to me-I didn’t want my parents to grow any older (as I’m sure most kids feel at one point or another!). Now, looking back, 29 feels so long ago. and I don’t have a 10 year old.

I have mentioned in previous writings that I don’t have any regrets in life, I believe that everything has happened and made me who I am today, and I am proud of who I am today. There are things that I am working to improve on, of course, but I wouldn’t change who I am for anything. I wasn’t meant to have children young. I had a miscarriage, right in the middle of my mom’s pregnancy to my half-brother actually. It’s crazy to think that I could have a 12 year old in my life right now. My sisters (who I assist-raised for many years) both were meant to have children when they were younger. My nieces were in my life for the first several years of their lives, and now I am finding myself living in a city with no immediate family members (an aunt lives nearby) and my birthday is this week. I’m not the type of person to make a big deal out of my birthday, but it is surreal to think about.

I’m not writing this post to try and garner sympathy from anyone (please, that really isn’t what I want). I am writing to try and put the feeling out there that it is ok, no matter where you are in life, to feel however you’re feeling right now. It’s ok to be frustrated that you’re mid-thirties and single, or early twenties and going through a divorce. Life gives you trials and puts you through situations for a reason, to build you up to who you’re meant to be. Watching country music videos of couples falling in love and pining for that feeling, yearning for that sensation of being safe, but scared and excited, and knowing that they feel the same way…it’s definitely been an emotional roller coaster some days, but deep down I know that it’s all ok.

Or I’m just repeating that it’s ok to put a band-aid on this ache. But then I look around at the life I have for myself and I am happy where I am at home, candles burning softly around, Sherlock sitting at the door outside watching the sunset, Koda at my feet with the cats, Pandora lounging around, and the birds softly settling in for the evening…I love this. Of course I would love to be sharing the moment with another human being…but timing is everything in this crazy world, and while our lives are short, they are also long and I am not in a rush…I have the patience to wait for what’s meant to be when it is and not before. 41462149_10100545550738993_7397333624007163904_n

 

Round Two

The first time I traveled to Panama, I learned a lot. About myself, about a species, and about a culture I never knew existed. The second trip to Panama, has had an interesting start so far. I’m going to gloss past a lot of what happened the very first day, because it was frankly quite awful and I am choosing to learn from the bad, but then move on and focus on the good and finding the lessons to take from each moment.

My taxi driver (I don’t even know his name and I spent 2 1/2 hours with him) was talking to me earlier, while we sat in a road block (specifically some cars drove down a one-lane bridge when it was our side of traffic’s turn and we were all stuck in the middle of the bridge for about 15 minutes until the cops showed up), and we were talking about my job. I had mentioned that I was traveling for work, to work with Smithsonian, and that I have a job in a zoo that does a lot with traveling and paperwork. He asked me if I had a family, or a boyfriend, and before I replied he said “Probably not with how much you travel huh?”. When I told him I had no kids, and I was single, he was shocked, asked why a 32 year old woman wouldn’t want to have a family-said that I needed to enjoy my life and at least have a boyfriend.

I brushed off his insistence that I needed to have a kid because until I do I just can’t understand the joy involved with that, or how I could cry the first time my baby says “mama”, but the dating thing is still sticking with me. And after a very long, exhausting day, I am raw and emotional, so I am choosing to write in a very raw and real way tonight…because I know that the rest of this week will go by much better. I mean, it could get worse, but ultimately, I know it’ll be ok. Sitting in the hammock on my balcony, of my gorgeous room, I can enjoy the sounds of the rainforest and it is very relaxing. It helps ground me and help me find home, even in a foreign country surrounded by strangers. And that is what I need right now…to find home because while I enjoy my independence, I do wish I wasn’t alone in this strange place. Well, and in life as well.

I jokingly said that maybe something was wrong with me, and that was why I’m still single. He looked at me and asked if I was serious, if something was wrong with me. I know there isn’t, I truly do, but it does make me occasionally wonder what is in store for me in the future. I enjoy being alone, I thrive on being quiet, but on the flip side, I also love the company of my friends, talking to them, and I sometimes have a thirst for activity. Just as a piece of paper has two sides to it, we all do as well. Sometimes my desire to be social (and by social I really just mean not alone) overrides my quiet time. And then I find myself not wanting to leave the hammock because the sounds of the frogs is addicting, and the few last bird calls of the evening are keeping me in place…despite the fact I feel like mosquitos are eating me alive.

I was enjoying my first meal in over 14 hours and staring out at the panoramic vista of rainforest and fog drifting down over the canopy when a large flock of parrots went flying past. They were squawking, and enjoying flying in loops around the resort, and did a few passes over the next twenty minutes. Every time I looked up I saw either the parrots, or a married couple standing on the balcony overlooking the range. Each view caused a different feeling inside of me. On the one hand, independence, freedom, and a sense of rising above it all as a parrot, and on the other hand, the feeling of companionship, having someone to lean on, and not always having to be so strong alone. Though each could on the flip side mean something else. For the birds, being a part of a flock and feeling safe, having a mate that you’re with for 70 years, that’s what their natural instinct drives them to. And for the couple, well they had a child sitting at the table while they stood and stared out over the landscape. Could they have been thinking of how different their lives are having someone who depends on them for everything? Perhaps they were watching the birds and wishing they could fly away…I’ll never know, it’s not like I went and asked them anyways.

Why am I alone? Why are any of us where we are in life? Why do some people find “true love” at 17 and 80 years later they are the sweet couple that young kids admire? These questions may be good for starting an internal dialogue and some introspectiveness, but they aren’t healthy in my opinion and can easily lead you down a rabbit hole that doesn’t actually help-it just shelters you in a wonderland world that isn’t really real. Coming back to what centers me, and breathing slowly through the suffocating feelings reminds me that life is more than “finding the one”. It’s about finding yourself. Once you start on that path you realize that you are capable of so much more, and worth so much more. You begin to put a value on your relationships and yourself that you didn’t before maybe, or maybe you said you did but in truth you were just pretending.

I keep writing in the hopes that I’ll have some lightbulb moment, in truth, I’m writing to distract myself, to keep my brain focused on putting the way I’m feeling into words and not fixating on an indescribable feeling. I started writing poetry again earlier today, while on the flight where a kid peed on my foot and in my shoe, and the 6’6″ guy behind me kept kneeing me in the back and kicking my feet because his legs were so long, and between the poetry and the drawing that I did, it was oddly very therapeutic. I say oddly because when I fly, I have every good intention of working on my writing, or drawing, or ready, and in truth I wind up spending the entire time playing stupid games on my phone. Getting back to my roots isn’t always easy, but it does feel so much better when I can manage to do that.

“I’d like to see your skin a glow int he soft light of fireflies. Every inch of you, every sweet kiss, every little broken piece of you fits in so well with every broken piece of me. The way your body responds to mine, I crave you int he most innocent of ways. I am captivated by the sounds you make when I brush my fingertips across your skin. SOmehow you feel more like home than these four walls I live in. I long to use my tongue to write a sonnet on your body that’s for you and only you. A sonnet detailing the way your love raises me up and makes me feel as if I”m in heaven, if only for a moment.”

The truth is, I am alone. But not really. I always have me, and maybe that’s the secret, is learning that being alone is the best way to be whole. (Or perhaps I’m beyond exhausted and this raw and emotional writing will sound like nonsense once I am well rested!)

Melting, Suffering, and Existence without Interpretation

I don’t have a chapter title for this one yet, it’s the first time I’ve written for awhile, not just in documenting my travels but truly writing. I have a few thoughts that are in my notes that I want to delve into though. One, is how I dislike “surface people”, or the surface versions of people. Another is that you should “suffer” for those you care about, not because of what you want.

Self sacrifice and self preservation…when you love someone, society defines true love as many things. A quick google search and “Love is when you choose to be at your best when the other person is not at their best. Love is when what you want is never important. But what the other person needs and wants is always paramount.” is one of the top answers. There are dozens of others that talk about depth of feeling, longevity of passion, and putting the other one first. In the songs, its all the same. While I do believe that true love is about putting the needs of another above your own, I think that the other side of that coin is that you don’t sacrifice your well being for them, especially when it isn’t mutual. Is it still true love when you are willing to give up everything, sacrifice your career, compromise and change your beliefs, even going so far as to put yourself in situations where you are uncomfortable or unsafe for your significant other if they don’t’ show inclination to do the same?

Everyone has their own language that they speak in, and hear in, and I don’t mean linguistically. Just because, for example, I sacrifice my beliefs to satisfy and please my spouse, and that is how I show my affection and love, their style of communicating their love may simply be to buy me a diamond necklace for my birthday. To them, that could mean just as much as what I am doing. That is an extreme example, but I do believe that you have to take care of yourself and your happiness before you can truly love another. This isn’t an enlightening revelation by any means, but it is something that I am seeing be more and more true the older I get and the longer that I am single. I miss the feeling of having “a true love”, the comfort that came with knowing your best friend was there beside you, someone who knows you better almost than you know yourself, and that you mutually lean on each other for support when you need it. I have the same support structure amongst some incredible friends, but there is a distinct difference. I am relieved to have this time to myself to learn more about who I am, what I believe, and to discover my view of the world. If I was with someone, I am sure that my thoughts would become theirs and vice versa. It’s almost unavoidable, especially when you are head over heels and the excitement of the beginning can become overwhelming. As much as the loneliness in the quiet moments can threaten to overwhelm me at times, I am grateful for the time I have right now. Perhaps my role in this life will be to provide support and comfort to those closest to me, through my life experiences and insights.

Empathetically, it can become draining to feel the suffering and pain of those around me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I focus on myself and healing who I am, in order to provide better support and help to those around me. Only by having a strong center and core can true support happen-imagining a castle without a strong base…it’s amusing to picture how that structure would collapse in on itself. It may hold for a short time, but one misstep, one extra stone, and it crumbles. How can that help anyone then?

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Day 2-start of lectures!

It’s really happening! It may not seem like a big deal to many folks, but this is way more impactful to me than most conferences I’ve been to, and at least on par with the working meetings at AZA Mid Year. It’s been so incredible to meet and talk to keepers, vets, dentists, supervisors and directors in the last 24 hours, all from different backgrounds but here willing to learn more and grow. These folks don’t know what they don’t know and being able to talk to them, help them with issues they’re having, and provide resources and connections has been remarkable.

Eland, gazelle, and giraffe watch over the building where we are meeting, and the room was full with around 100 folks today. Add to that the translation and language barrier (which by the end of the day didn’t feel like a barrier), and it was a bit overwhelming up front!

The talks went well, so it seemed, and by lunch we were ready to eat.

The elephant girls were excited to see their trainer when we walked by, and the red deer and wapiti (one of my favorites!) watched us eat lunch (well more specifically the taxidermy animals in the museum did that but these guys were right outside!). They have so many hoofstock species here…aoudad, fallow deer, sika, duikers, gazelles, cervids….it’s amazing. And I haven’t even seen the aviary yet!

I did get to pat an elephant on the butt, so that was fun 🙂 watching Carlos bring him back was akin to watching a guy help a semi backup. It was a neat experience and I’m glad we got to see him up close.

We rounded out the day with one last talk and headed out for the night. The bus was full (and I mean….25 people full in a maybe 14 seater open seat van type bus), and I must say that my tolerance for human contact is always different when I travel. I don’t mind it and actually really appreciate the Mexican way of greeting one another-a hug and kiss on the cheek. I’m going to have to remember we don’t do that in America when I get home or I’ll wind up in HR!

We had drinks and light food for dinner, and shared stories. Cartel jaguar cubs, sanctuaries that weren’t sanctuaries, musk deer calves being primal and spastic (yes that’s a label), and chimps being cute (yes apparently they are!), were some great ones of the evening.

Also I received this photo from my kickball team captain and had to laugh, I appreciate how bad ass I look, even though I felt uncoordinated as I pitched! I’m sad to miss this week, and can’t wait for our next game!