I’ve been reading this wonderful book called “Where the Crawdads Sing”, by Delia Owens. Last night I came across a sentence that really stood out to me, “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” How incredible it is to come across something so small with such a huge impact. Those brief moments in time you read a small sentence that explains all you are and for a quick moment you realise you’re not breathing…or is just me?
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to explain the peace I get from writing, or how I feel seeing the sunrise coming over the mountainside, tears rolling down my face. Peace comes from understanding not all things come with an explanation, and also patience. So how do those of us who long to live and do that which what makes us our happiest work the nine to five, repeat this each day and still have the energy to pursue our dreams, goals, and enjoy our lives fully?
How many of us find this routine of monotony completely exhausting? Sure struggling isn’t appealing, but neither is living paycheck to paycheck. I could be wrong, but isn’t the reason you don’t do it, the same reason you want to? Certainty comes with income, income pays the bills. Certainty is also comfortable, so comfortable that nothing ever changes.
I learned at an early age, just how important it is to follow that voice inside, the one who reminds you to be who you are. What if you are wild though? And by wild I mean, not conforming to the norm. What if that voice inside screams everyday to be on a path completely opposite of the one you are currently on? What’s so wrong with that? Nothing…absolutely nothing!
If your happiness comes from working a few odd jobs but you truly enjoy what you’re doing, continue on. If your happiness comes from completely uprooting your life and beginning somewhere new, then so be it. If your happiness comes from hiking a new trail each weekend, have at it! Find “IT” whatever it is, find it and roll with it. Life is going to happen regardless, days will pass regardless.
So here I am, sitting at my laptop the night before my very first book signing. I’ve waited entirely too long and didn’t think soon enough, “oh I should have cards to give out”! So, of course, I ordered them from staples an hour ago hoping and praying the man calls me to say I can pick them up tonight (fingers crossed). This dream come true is so real I can taste it, along with the bloody mary I have made for myself. I am sitting here alone, well Bella, Bruno, and Sweet Pea are here with me (2 dogs and a cat aka my children). My mom is relaxing in her home more than likely enjoying a good book, my love is at work tonight on a double shift and my friends are probably unwinding from a busy work week. I should be doing the same after a busy work week, but nope, I’d rather be sitting here writing, sounds about right.
Where was I? Oh yes, sitting here typing away listening to The Lumineers’s song Scotland. This song is extremely empowering for me (could be because I am Scots) and I feel the strength of Mary as I listen and type. Where would we be in this life if we didn’t have dreams? What is it like to not have them? There was a very brief time in my life when I couldn’t see the brighter side of things. This time period lasted roughly 10-15 years. It was brief because at the age of 35 thinking back, that time flew past my face. Don’t get me wrong, it was rough and the time didn’t go fast during these years in the slightest. I definitely struggled and had my own ugly to work out to find myself. I’m still working on that, but honestly all that ugly made me into the person I am today full of grit and gumption, I wouldn’t trade any bad, good, ugly or beautiful for where I am today. It’s all taught me something I just had to learn to be exactly who I am at this moment.
At the age of 13-14, I was in a pretty bad car accident. The one time I got a ride to school after my mom said I had to walk (definitely learned from that). I was also attacked by a pit bull walking home from a friend’s house and the dog had been chained up on the side of a house I was walking by on the street. It had bit my lower jaw and lower lip, as well as played tug-of-war on my right inner thigh, then proceeded to follow me home peacefully until I got to the top of my backyard. As I looked back to see where the dog was, it began to growl and show its teeth. I ran as if life depended on it, literally. My mom coincidently was working on a project in the basement and had seen me crying and went to the door assuming it was neighborhood kids picking on me and then she saw the dog. The door flew open and I ran in and by the grace of the Universe, the dog slammed into the screen door as it slammed shut. The outcome as we saw later was pretty bad and the owner of the dog who had assured my mom would cover the medical expenses had moved and cleaned out their house in one day.
I also found out during that time that my father (who I had called Dad prior to this) had kept me a secret. Before then I had assumed that Mom and Dad just weren’t together anymore especially since over half of my class in school were full of split families. This lasted until I was 27 years old after countless attempts of being known, acknowledged and meeting a family I had known about my entire life. At the age of 27, let’s just say my mom was done seeing my heartbreak over this and she did what she had to. Thanks to my mom, I now know my family and have spent the last eight years working on our relationship and getting to know each other.
The reason I am sharing all of this with you is that circumstances don’t make you who you are, you do. You can wallow all day and succumb to the wrong that has happened in your life or you can choose to see beyond that and continue striving for your best life. Believe me, since then I have experienced the worst of the worst and also the best of the best. I have seen myself through not knowing where I was going to sleep from day to day, abusive relationships, family trauma, and turmoil and here I sit writing this story. I can truly say life is really what you make of it because I am living it to this very day. I have accomplished many of the goals I had set for myself due to my drive and upbringing. I am that person always reaching for the next goal, bettering each and every day.
I bring this positive attitude with me every day, sharing it with any who crosses my path. At work, at home, in the grocery store. Why dwell? It’s pointless really. Does the past still affect me, absolutely! Are there parts or memories that continue to bring pain, yes. I am a work in progress, growing into myself daily. If we don’t learn from our past, grow to inspire ourselves as well as others then what is there? If there is anything that you take from this article, please know you are not alone. Grow, grow and grow some more from each experience, hardship and use them as opportunities to better know yourself and then spread those learning lessons to help yourself as well as others. Bad days come, but guess what? We all wake up to a brand new day with fresh eyes for a whole new outlook! Please take each new day as a challenge to be who you are meant to be!
When opportunities present themselves, do you run with them or do you question and/or allow fear to take hold? Do you follow your heart or your paycheck? Believe me, I of all people get it. When people ask, are you happy? Do you like what you do? How many of you have said, “it pays the bills”? Unfortunately, I’ve heard this more times then I can count, even out of my own mouth. At a very early age, my mom showed me just what following your heart and dreams looks like. I am and will always be grateful to her for instilling guts into my upbringing (at the time, of course, she didn’t know she was teaching such a valuable lesson).
My mom taught and showed me in more ways than one how to stand up for yourself, (get ready for the swear words) take no shit, follow your passions and most importantly, follow your heart. She taught me literally one hundred million other things and continues to do so every single day but that’s a story for another day and we are on a different track tonight. Let’s get back to the point, shall we? Do you live where you are truly happy? You might not work where you thought or hoped you would, but at the end of the day, can you walk out of your front door, take a deep breath, and do what your heart longs for? How about the views? Do you long for and see sky scrappers and beautifully lighted busy streets or wonderous mountain views with the fresh smell of every tree you could possibly think of? Are you where you want to be?
My boyfriend and I recently took a trip, knowing this could very well be the place that we would want and need to spend our lives and guess what, it was and is! I have played the song “Sleep on the Floor” by the Lumineers for him for over a year and a half. (“Pack yourself a toothbrush dear, pack yourself a favorite blouse. Take a withdrawal slip, take all of your savings out. Cause if we don’t leave this town, we might not ever make it out. I was not born to drown, baby come on” (lyrics from the song). If you don’t know it, I highly recommend! I have always known I was meant for somewhere else, nothing against where I am now, but it’s just not for me. I have lived in so many places and been all over. I did exactly what I was meant to do here and I am truly grateful for the experiences and people I have met here. Leaving will definitely make me cry but there comes a time in your life when it’s just time to go.
At the end of our trip, I cried. I cried grabbing our bags out of the lodge, I cried giving back the key, I cried as we drove away in the truck, I cried once on the road and I cried when we got back to where we are currently living. My boyfriend and I have made the decision to follow what truly makes our hearts happy and that is to move. It takes a lot to leave what you know and where you are comfortable (not to mention having the funds to do so). We both have such a strong pull to where we were that it only makes sense to follow that deep down, know it in your soul gut instinct. We’ve been back for less than a week now where we currently live and we are so heartsick. We will be back to our dream location in just under five months to look at properties and such and we have a plan to move within a year. Sometimes something happens or you see something that just triggers a distinct feeling that you know deep down you should follow.
Where I am going with this, is that life is short! How many times have we all heard that? Too many right? I have said before, live, really live! Yes, I know it takes time and money to pursue that which makes you happy but damn it, do it! Sorry for yelling through my blog but if that’s what it takes. No matter what your situation or where you are, you are capable of achieving, please always remember that. This world moves so fast, and the bills will always keep coming. Put some dollars into that savings account every pay, even if it’s just a couple. Your situation isn’t permanent, you are here now, living. I’ve seen a lot and lived through a lot (that’s an understatement) I can truly say with experience I am where I am today because of everything I have been through. Was it easy, hell no! Was it worth it, absolutely!
You aren’t where you grew up, you aren’t your surroundings. If what you want is the complete opposite of what you know, that’s okay, as long as you live! Work towards what you want. Believe in yourself and your goal and/or dream. I see day in and day out people who talk but don’t put in the action, dedication and work needed to get where they want to be. Guess what? It’s not going to be handed to you. Drive, ambition, grit, gumption, tenacity, accountability, and responsibility are what it takes to make it happen. But it can happen. Live the life you want and can look back and say I did it! Not one that makes you look back and regret. Life is full of lessons, good, bad, beautiful and ugly. Learn, grow, move on and keep going!
This is by far, my absolute favorite poem. To me, this poem is an inspiration at it’s best if you are a nature lover like myself. I don’t want to exclude anyone from this as anyone can love it as much as I, not just nature lovers. When I read this, it reminds me to always stay grounded and to constantly follow my dreams. To pursue a love no one knows but you. That in itself is absolutely amazing. It’s your own personal secret. It’s the permission to pursue what makes your heart the happiest. But do we really need permission?
The answer is no, no we do not. Now let me back up a bit and explain. If you’re at work and want to leave early or you scored amazing tickets to a concert or game for the next day and need to call off, then yes, I recommend asking your supervisor or whoever will be covering that shift absolutely. But for everything else, once you’re an adult, who do you really need to ask permission? Whether you are married, a mother or father, single, a friend or relative, if they know you, they know what you love and where your passions lie. Simple as that, right? Wrong. There are multiple reasons people don’t pursue or follow through with the things that make them truly happy (minus anything extremely inappropriate or disrespectful to yourself and others in your life of course). For some, they have lost themselves within the title, mom, dad, wife, husband, sister, brother, friend and any other title that automatically removes who you are. Here’s the thing, you are still you, right? If you have surrounded yourself with super awesome people, then they will understand and support your dreams and goals. If only it was that easy.
In a relationship or marriage, you’d respectively talk to the other about your ideas and what you’d like to do and if that person respects you as an individual, they’ll understand how important this is to you and say hell yes! Or they’ll simply say, that’s awesome. Some people don’t swear, don’t ever trust those people. I’m kidding, of course, you can trust them a little. If you’re lucky enough to have found someone who supports who you are, as an individual human being, then my friend, you have hit the jackpot! Kudos to you. Instinctively together, you’d work out the kinks as a whole and find what works best for the both of you and if children are involved, for them as well. When you are in a relationship, yes, you should consider the other’s feelings. But like I mentioned before, as long as it’s not inappropriate and can mesh with your family life, why not?
Okay, let’s get back to the real reason I’m writing this tonight at 7:42. The title of this blog is called: Grit and Gumption. So let’s talk about that. Either you have it or you don’t. I hate to be that brutally honest (no I don’t) but it’s true. Either you want it or you don’t. In my current line of work, I am constantly hearing excuse after excuse. Let’s face it, even in my personal life, I hear excuse after excuse. Anyone and I mean anyone can reach their dreams if they would only put in the effort to do so. I don’t mean to make this sound easy, I of all people know that it takes extreme work and dedication. You literally have to force yourself every single day to pursue that which you truly want. It does not come easy. How does that quote go? “That which comes easy, is not worth having?” Side note, I find sometimes I talk and write in primitive languages, just go with it. I read obsessively and find comfort in how things (some of them) used to be.
Honestly, I cannot convey this enough. I am living and breathing proof of what may come if only rejection did not discourage you. Rejection is everywhere. Doubt, criticism, and judgments will come, that’s a given. It’s how you handle it when given that stands out. I cannot stress this enough, be the bigger person, always. Easier said then done I know. I have swallowed countless words I’ve wanted to say, but chose to always take the higher road. Stop doubting what you’re capable of and keep going. Use your words and actions wisely. I have to say here also, choose your battles. With anything in life, if there is something weighing you down, depleting you of that good energy and does not support that which brings you peace or fuels what gives your heart it’s happiness, get rid of it.
We all have to work and support ourselves and/or our families, that’s a given. What I am saying is this, work towards your dreams, please. Don’t forget who you were before all of that. Before any titles, you were you. Hold onto that. Remember that. Remember what made you, you. What made you stick out from everyone else. What made you different, regardless of what that is. Grit and Gumption are what makes us stand out, from all the rest. The determination to not give up, not to quit, despite what has been handed to you. One of these days. I just might write my story. You might be surprised to see what I have overcome (it might take two or three books). I’ll write them, one day. Regardless, we all have our stories, maybe you scared, completely understandable. It’s scary out here. Maybe you have someone in your life who has manipulated you so intently, your life is no longer yours? They have honestly fed you every guilt trip possible, to make you feel as though you are the most horrible person for wanting to live your own life. I am sure I will not be the first person to tell you, this is extremely toxic and unhealthy. If you have someone like this in your life, please as hard as it may be, try and develop healthier boundaries as I know this could be someone close to your heart. However, it is not true what they say. Those that love you, care about you, will respect and truly want for you whatever your heart desires and gives you peace.
I can speak honestly of this, as my mom has always been my sounding board and supporting rock. I feel it’s important to mention, she is also my editor, (She did not ask for this, but she does look over my work and let me know where my mistakes lie, punctuations and wordy sentences.) Thank you, mama! She also supports any decision that I make, whether it’s up her alley or not. “This is your life honey, do what makes your heart happy. I may not like it, but it’s your life, she says”. I cannot express enough how grateful I am to her. For her unlimited support and respect towards anything that puts a smile on my face. Of course, she is a mom first and foremost so comes the guidance and advice. Truthfully though, she is my friend. At the young age of 34, I truly know I can say anything to her and she will love and support me regardless. How many can say that? I know what I have with her and thank her daily for the love she provides and constant arms that hold me through all of it.
That said, live! I mean really live, please. Give it all you have. Circumstances do not make who you are, you do. Negative outcomes, bad work days, unpaid bills, untraveled places, unhappy people (family or not) and goals yet to happen are not who you are. They are only points in time that can change with any given breathe. The Universe is only waiting for you to decide. Here I will list synonyms for Grit and Gumption: Initiative, resourcefulness, enterprise, imagination, ingenuity, inventiveness, cleverness, astuteness, understanding, backbone, guts, moxie, determination, spine, common sense, anchor, courage, bravery, spirit, steel, nerve, and valor. Do any of these sound familiar? They should. One last word here, please if you share in these and feel you are or will fulfill these with action, please do so with kindness. Kindness above all speaks highly, higher than anything else.
It’s 3:21 in the morning and I am sitting here writing to myself, at least that’s what it feels like. As of right now, anyone out there who could possibly ever read this seems imaginary to me. As I write, listening to Mumford and Sons, Lumineers and the wonderful sounds of my kids (dogs, Bella and Bruno) snoring, the thing that sticks out most in my mind at this very moment is how the most unexpected moments lead to the most beautiful outcomes. I can say this about many situations and opportunities in my life. Like falling in love, a niece and nephew creating an awesome title (Aunt), getting accepted into college and the steps it took to get there, no matter how many tries. The relationship of a mother and daughter growing together through love, patience, forgiveness, respect and understanding.
Funny little things you would never think could connect one to the other. I have always been a writer, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I brought it back again, awakening a passion that stirred deep within me. Writing is my therapy after all, even if no one ever sees it but me. It was multiple english classes with a professor who I don’t think even realized how amazing she was and is that inspired me to write again. She introduced authors and poets I’d never read before. She gave assignments that allowed creativity to blossom. For a few of them, I could either write a short story with my own personal touch and ending in their style or a poem giving my viewpoint as to what the story was trying to say. I chose both with different authors, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf for the poem, allowing me to create my own take on the story. The poem was called What Never Was. For the short stories I chose Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and The story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. For Hills like White Elephants I chose to write a very personal story in the style of Ernest Hemingway called, Now that Everyone Knows. For The Story of an Hour, I wrote a different ending, allowing the character, Louise Mallard to live a life she was desperate for. I will share these at some point.
My point to this is, it revitized me. When I graduated from Penn State in 2016, I immediately applied to Youngstown State University for their Creative Writing Masters Program. As a non traditional student, having been 28 when I enrolled at Penn State, I assumed making the honor roll every semester, being the student speaker at graduation and submitting my awesome poetry would be enough to get me into the program, wrong. I was not accepted into the program pretty quickly. The reason given, no one writes in rhyming fashion anymore. So basically, I did not fit into the box they had molded and shaped for aspiring writers. I will tell you, this lit a fire under my ass like no other. That was January 2017 and I have been a writing fool ever since. That rejection only fueled that much more writing, especially my style of writing because truthfully, who are they?
This brings us to now. It was a song written by Mumford and Sons called, Hopeless Wanderer that inspired my writing name. Listening to the song on repeat, daily, monthly, yearly. The Wandering Soul Writer was born. I chose this name for the Title of my first self published book. This book contains every poem I had written in the year 2018, 124 poems. The rejection taught me that not everybody will dig what you have to say and that is okay. You’re not writing for them, you are writing for you. You have something to say. I recently read, Girl Wash your Face, by Rachel Hollis. A huge thank you to mom, for putting this book into my hands. After reading, I was absolutely motivated, of course, the book is great! I started this whole blogging notion 2 years ago but found I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t really in it. Thankfully, reaching my own breaking point of just say it already, I decided to create a real website. One I actually had to pay for. So here it is, writing to all of you wonderful imaginary people.
I’m almost done with this story, I promise. So coincidentally, the exact same week I decided to really do this, my sister-in-law (who is actually not my sister -in-law) long story for another day, but we’re a big part of each other’s lives, like sisters, called me up on a Tuesday and said, what are you doing Thursday night? Drawing a blank (due to my full time job filling my brain), but knew I had designated Thursday night for working on this exact blog and attempting to teach myself from scratch what a domain name was, how to research hosting sites and how to link both (which was not easy, let me tell you!) I said, uh I’m not sure, what’s up? She said, do you want to go see Mumford and Sons? The exact thought that popped in my head was, do we all want to breathe? Umm yes, yes I absolutely want to go! After ensuring that the love of my life was unable to get off work to go, my “sister” and I made the official plans.
What I am trying to tell anyone who is willing to read and listen is this, I put it out there! I was inspired by Mumford and Sons to create this awesome website name, two years prior and the week I decided to put it out into this magnificent Universe is the exact same week I received the call to go see live, the band that inspired me. Let me tell you, this was the most amazing, interactive, passionate show I have ever been to. I’ve been to a lot of shows, hands down best ever! Life is what you make it folks. If you really think about it, we truly create the life we desire. Our choices lead us to what seems like, at the time, the most unachievable outcomes, but here we are and here I am. I look forward to this journey and what will come of it. Thank you for reading!