Posts Tagged With: Changes

Time to Breathe

Time to Breathe

Well, I’ve got my first interview set up for Monday.  I’ve been taking a small reprieve since my move to Florida with the job hunt because I just needed a little time to acclimate, breathe, and let the massive changes settle down a bit before jumping right into the next big change.  Don’t get me wrong, I THRIVE in change, it’s just that I’ve been going through so much change these last few years… I needed a little breather.  Also, I haven’t had a vacation of any sort in more than three years, and before that I had ‘working’ family vacations, so I just needed some time.  However, I wouldn’t call the time I’ve had ‘vacation’ time with any stretch of the imagination.  There was no vacation with all the packing, moving, decorating, gaming, trying to adjust to the heat, trying to adjust to living with a roommate, trying to adjust being away from my kids, trying to adjust to establishing a new workout routine, trying to adjust to finding my way around, and simply trying to adjust to just being me.

I miss my solitude.  I miss those I’ve left behind.  But, I’m here now.  So, wish me luck.

Till next time,

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Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather

I couldn’t believe it when I woke up this morning and threw the covers back, to find my warm hibernation had been invaded by a frosty chill.  I nearly let out a yelp, jumped up, and quickly wrapped in my plush house coat, not the thin silky one.  I needed warmth.  After brushing my teeth and washing my face, I checked the thermostat in the hallway to make sure I didn’t knock the air-conditioning down to a low temp, mistaking having thought I cut it completely off the morning before.  The temperature was set to 75, yet it felt so much colder.   I hoped I wasn’t getting sick.

A huge smile crossed my face when I trundled back to my bedroom and picked up my cell phone and shining across my screen was a digital display reading 52 degrees.  Below that sat a forecast for sunny skies and an expected high of just 75.  Yeah, Baby, it was  Sweater Weather!

Now I understood why I had slept so good and yet felt so cold…  it was cold.  It’s the type of weather you open the windows during the day, snuggle in the covers at night, and set the furnace to warm you in the mornings.  So, that’s exactly what I did, I flipped the switch to heat and set the temperature to 68.   A few minutes later after all the burners fired up in the furnace, I had to pull the batteries from my smoke detectors and open the back door as the first fire of the season cleared the dust from a long Spring and Summer.  Don’t worry, I put the batteries back in as the dust disappeared.

The first waves of Autumn have arrived.  This is my favorite time of year.

Other than a few cultural prejudices, the Georgia summer heat is one of the main reasons why I have this strong desire to move.  Another reason is simply that I’m an explorer, a rambler, a curious cat that wants to see the world.  However, a Georgia Autumn is one of the best and most prettiest I’ve seen in the many places I’ve already travelled.  I absolutely LOVE this state when the nights and mornings drop to a frosty temp, the skies are clear, the days are mild,  the leaves on the trees are changing, and the autumn flowers are blooming.  It means it’s time to get back to the woods and explore more hidden trails, beautiful waterfalls, breathe in some fresh air, and climb some Georgia mountains.  It’s the perfect balance.

The seasons are not the only thing changing. I’ve been feeling …different lately.  I’m not sure how to describe it.  It’s a mixture, much like the heat of summer fighting to linger as the cool air of Autumn fights to claim its dominance. My past and my future selves are fighting for dominance of my present.  My passions are fighting within themselves, changing from a burning hot excitement to a more mellow, content state of being.  Don’t get me wrong – I love to burn hot, but if I’m burning hot all the time, I’ll eventually burn out.

I’ve recently walked away from a relationship that was just… quite frankly, all wrong for me.  Though this man made me laugh quite often, which was a wonderful thing, and he had a lot to offer, he also frustrated me in a sense that he lacked a fire burning in him to match the fire burning in me.  I had all this passion bottled up inside me, but instead of providing a valve to help me release it,  he became a stopper – dousing it with cold water.  I found myself compromising often, pushing my desires and plans to the side, to accommodate a lifestyle I had already chosen to leave behind.  I knew I could play this particular game, but I didn’t want to play it.  I’ve been there, done that, and knew it would never make me truly happy because it’s not a lifestyle that accommodates who I truly am.

I also faced another relationship, another form of passion, another game, but found it too is not really the game I wanted to play.  Unlike the above mentioned relationship, this one actually burned really hot, too hot.  Instead of dousing me with cold water and smoldering my own flames, it threatened to overwhelm me completely, leaving me nothing but ashes. I’ve been there before too, and got burned.  I still feel the licking flames and carry those scars.  I don’t want to get burned again, so I found myself walking away from that relationship too.

The change that’s happening is that the relationship I’m choosing, the one that fulfills me most, that balances me, that pushes me into those new adventures, allowing me to experience many of the things I’ve always wanted to do and see, is the one that has the right mixture of hot and cold, excitement and calm, adventure and responsibility – it’s the relationship I’m developing with myself.    Simply put – I want to date me.  It’s sweater weather, and I want to cloak myself with the right kind of sweater, appropriate for the right temperature, to maximize the right level of comfort.  Maybe someday I’ll meet a man that will bring the right balance for me, but until that time comes… I already have the right garment for these changing times.

Till  next time,

~The Perfect Sweater

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The Beautiful, Wonderful Mess

The Beautiful, Wonderful Mess

Every morning, just as my dreams begin to fade and reality takes over, a choice presents itself – a choice on how I’m going to face the day.  Regardless of the dream, whether it was good, bad, erotic, scary, hurtful, funny… no matter – I have a choice of how I’m going to set my pace for the day.

So many mornings over the past couple of years have been met with trembling hands, lumps in my throat, tears running down my cheeks, fear of the unknown, pain of the past, yet mixed with hope for a better day, for a better tomorrow, for love, for joy, for happiness.  Some days are met with those good moments, other days I face more trials and more heartache.  Every day I face me and the woman I was, the woman I choose to be, the woman I want to become.

I wish I could make everything perfect.  I wish I could always make the right choice. I wish I could always find happiness, always pick the right circumstances, and always find the right person.  I’m human and I make mistakes.  I get things wrong… a lot.  Sometimes …sometimes I get it right.

The world is in chaos, yet we’re expected to continue to keep on living, to continue hoping, to survive the pain.  Do you see me?  Do you not know I’m part of this world too?  For those who come into my life, I see you.  I look beyond your body, your words, your masks, and I see you – the beautiful, wonderful mess that you are, because in you – I see me.  I smile at your imperfections and hope you can do the same.

Quit expecting me to be perfect, to have all the answers, to lead you where you need to go.  I will disappoint you and let you down.  Don’t put that burden on me, I can’t carry it, I’m not strong enough.  Just love me as I am, and I’ll do my best to love you just as you are, and maybe together as we struggle to carry ourselves through this life and we won’t have to walk alone.

But if you can’t do that – let me go.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Gettin’ Real

Gettin Real

 

For those of you who know me and follow this blog regularly, the bluntness and openness in which I’m going to express this morning will come not come as a shock to you.  But those who don’t normally follow my posts – well, you’re in for a treat today.  I’m gettin’ real.

To start with, I want to celebrate a success.  I’ve recently started a new workout routine called “4 for the Core” (*see post below) recommended by Army Drill Sergeant T. Emilio Solano.  Today, I was able to reach my goal of holding the four core positions for the full minute required.  I did it!  It hurt like hell, my body was shaking, but I did it.  In the middle of the last position, feeling so proud of myself for my accomplishment, I started balling my eyes out.  Not because I reached another goal, but because I reached another goal.

I’ve come so far in the last two years, but not just on a physical plane.  Actually, the physical is only a reflection of all the inner changes I’ve went through.  The biggest of these changes have been my self-esteem.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’ve never had low self-esteem – as far as believing I was less than anyone else.  I’ve actually held quite a lot of pride and belief in myself.  However, there was a very long period in my life where I became numb and just didn’t love myself.  I didn’t know how to love myself and I sure as hell didn’t know how to let anyone else love me either. While I believed I was capable of doing anything in this world, no matter how intellectually or physically challenging it posed, I wasn’t afraid to face those challenges.  But, to put myself out there and let someone love me – scared the hell out of me.  It scared me so much I hid from the world… behind a fat body.  I noticed the heavier I became the less the world saw me.   The less the world saw me, the less I could disappoint it. I didn’t do this consciously, but I can look back over the past 20 years and see how I disappeared, step by step by miserable step until I lost Me completely.

That’s not an exaggeration.  Those who know me now, would have never recognized me just a few short years ago.  Those who knew me a few years ago often don’t recognize me when I’m standing next to them.  This happened the other day in the grocery store.  I stood behind a woman I went to church with for nearly 15 years. She glanced at me, but had no recognition in her eyes.  I smiled and was glad she didn’t know me.  In truth, she’s never known me.

For nearly 20 years, I asked God and everyone around me – “Who am I and what am I supposed to do?”  I could never answer those questions and they tormented me.  I have over 40 journals FILLED with tear-stained pleas begging the answer to those two simple questions… to only be met with silence.  I answered the silence with becoming what everyone else wanted me to be  – what my husband wanted, what my church wanted, what my friends wanted, what my children wanted, what my boss wanted.  I convinced myself being the best at these things defined my worth.  It worked… to a point.  Everyone valued me for what I was or could be for them.  Opposition only happened when I began to make the decisions for myself and they proved to be contrary to the beliefs others had for me. In becoming myself I lost everything.  I wasn’t loved for me – I wasn’t loved at all.

I have learned to love me – to love the woman I truly am.  As I grow in that love, I’m transforming – literally.  My body is changing. The woman I’ve seen in my dreams, I’ve caught her a few times looking back at me in the mirror.  She wasn’t there before – always hidden behind a mask of professionalism, the cloak of religion, and the façade of middle-class piety.  Guess what?  She’s fucking beautiful, and sexy, and smart.  I see her – all of her… all her scars, all her fears, all her love, all her hopes… and she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. She’s taught me to see the beautiful people in others.

I’m not perfect.  None of us are.  Entering the dating world has brought up other questions – What do I like, what do I want, what do I find attractive, what turns me off?  What about me do men find attractive?  What can I improve?  I’m learning the answer to all these questions.  Reading online profiles has me shaking my head and sometimes laughing out loud, because it’s made me realize I’m in a really good position because most people don’t know the answers to their questions.  They don’t really have a clue what they want and what they like and hide behind their masks. When you don’t wear a mask anymore, you can tell when others do or don’t.  Most often their expectations are unrealistic.  (*see my upcoming post about The New Bachelorette – Dating over 40 Update), or they’ve convinced themselves of the good-sounding lie instead of the hard naked truth.

So, I celebrate my accomplishment.  It’s one of several I’ve made this past week, this past month, this past year, and this past season of my life.  I’ve still got a long way to go, baby… but I’m doing it. I’m living, loving, and learning.  I can’t tolerate imitation any more.  Only the real deal is good enough for me, because I’m bein’ real, getting’ real, and livin’ real.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

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Triumphant Changes

Triumphant Change

Woo-hoo!!! 90 lbs, BABY!!!!! I’ve hit the 90 lb loss mark since January 2013!!!!!!

No pills, no pre-packaged meals, no counting, no shakes or gym membership, no personal trainer or chef.

But before you think it was an easy, quick fix, let me reassure you – it was ANYTHING but easy.

The FIRST step: Changed my mindset. I quit telling myself I NEEDED all those things listed above in order to get healthy, because those are just excuses. Yes, I had physical problems, mostly due to my poor health and obesity.  But to change it for good – to change the outside – I had to change my mindset that it wasn’t just something I needed to do, but what I had to do, what I deserved. I deserved to be happy. I deserved to be healthy. I deserved to be sexy and beautiful.

The NEXT step: Changed my lifestyle. I quit sitting around all day. I started walking, scheduling outdoor activities, parking at the end of the parking lot – not the closest spot, started walking up stairs instead of elevators, started hiking, participating in 5k runs, and started exercising. YES it hurt… ALL of it hurt, but I didn’t try to master it all at once, I just simply made it a necessary part of my lifestyle. I also didn’t depend or count on anyone else to do it with me… because this journey wasn’t their journey – this was mine.

The LAST step: Changed my eating habits. I learned to moderate the portions and types of foods I consumed. I didn’t follow a strict diet plan, just a principal… eat in moderation and as natural as possible. I can have ANYTHING (other than to what I am allergic) I want – as long I balance it out, eat an appropriate portion, and don’t feed my emotions. I learned to enjoy my food. I learned to cook gourmet food, to love plating, and to appreciate natural fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. I smile now when I go to eat, instead of looking at food as my enemy. It wasn’t the food, but how I consumed it.

I’m sure I’ll lose more weight, but my journey isn’t just about the weight… it’s about the freedom that comes from living a healthier lifestyle. I wish I could snap my fingers and be able to share this same type of success with everyone who struggles with their weight, but I can’t. This is something that you have to want and do for yourself.  The goal isn’t to lose weight, but gain a life of healthy happiness because you love yourself and believe you deserve to be healthy and happy.

I also want to add… I didn’t do this alone. I have a couple of friends who loved me, encouraged me, and were there with me every step of my journey. They didn’t run beside me, but they were there through all the tears and triumphs. They loved me – and that love pushed me forward. They know who they are (because both of them HATE any kind of attention), so I don’t have to mention them here – but I love them more than I can ever express.

Till next time,

~The 90lb lighter T.L. Gray

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Crossing the Ocean

Crossing the Ocean

 

One of the many adventures I’ve taken in my life was when I spent eight months aboard a commercial fishing vessel in the Gulf of Mexico working as a navigator and deckhand.  It was a unique experience and I believe when I had my first encounter with God.

Up until that point in my life I was an angry young woman, struggling to raise two babies on my own, practically a baby myself at just twenty-one years old. I was scared, but I didn’t have the luxury to be scared or lick my wounds, I had two lives dependent upon me.  I could no longer continue my education and found myself in a little fishing town with no decent prospects for sustainable employment, so I took a chance and turned to the water.

I’d been on a few recreational boats by this time, living in a Florida beach town, but I’d never been on one that went so far out that the shoreline would disappear.  I can’t explain the feeling that consumed me as I stood on the stern of that boat watching the Panacea shoreline dip in the horizon with the sunset.  I knew my life was going to change, again, but I had no idea what sort of adventure or hardships lay ahead for me. The only thing I knew was that in order for me to break away from the life I had, I had to sail into the unknown.

The unknown was much bigger than me, much bigger than anything I had planned, expected or imagined, much like the ocean.  We think we can understand the size and scope of it vastness, but that’s from the perspective of the shoreline.  Once you get out past where the land disappears, the ocean becomes bigger and you finally see yourself as the tiny drop of existence you truly are.  You also find out that you’re not in control of as much as you think.

It’s a scary thing to face mortality.  But, in order to cross the ocean, to venture into the unknown, to experience what you’ve never experienced, you have to have the courage to lose sight of the shore.  “Come what may.”  You don’t know how many times I’ve said those words and had the strength to stand in the face of the unknown and the uncertain, with my shoulders squared and the wind in my face.  Here I am once again, staring out and an ocean of uncertainty watching the storm clouds and the swelling waves, but I’m not so sure I have the courage to say it one more time.

Here I am twenty-one years later, once again scared and angry facing MORE uncertainty, and in desperate need for another encounter with God. I wonder where this hardship is going to take me and who I will be at the end of it.  Will this be the storm that finally capsizes me, or will my stabilizers keep me afloat one more time.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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I’m Hanging Up my Cape for a Compass

Maps

 

The world is a crazy place.  The earth is a beautiful wonder, a magical exclamation of awe and excellence. People inside it come in all shapes, sizes, and ideals.  I have to shake my head sometimes at the ignorance and intolerance that spreads like an incurable disease, but I refuse to let it destroy my view and make it an ugly place.  I’m weary from trying to save it, when I can’t even save myself.

I’ve allowed too many people to steal my dreams and crush my hopes, that I’ve become quite protective over them these days.  I no longer trust the words of “someday” or “tomorrow” because those never seem to come and end up being broken promises.  I am learning to live in the day.  I’m learning to be happy with me and do what I can to make my immediate world a better place – not by fighting some political, social, or spiritual war, but by loving myself and extending what love I can to those around me or who I might meet.

Ask yourself…

  1.  Who are you?  Really, look deep inside and determine who you are – what you like, what moves you, what you dream, what you desire, what makes you happy.
  2. Where have you been? Have you been somewhere in your life you cherish and that made your soul sing?  If not, what keeps you from going out and exploring the world to find that place?  Are you afraid?  What excuses do you use to keep you where you are?  What about circumstances in life – are you where you want to be?
  3. What have you done?  What have you done for yourself, for others, for the world?  What impact on this earth have you made?  What mark will you leave?

 

We only get so many days on this earth, and we have no control when that last day will come, and it’s up to US – not someone else – to make the best of the days we have.  It’s the everyday, little decisions and moments that make up our lives, it’s where we do our living.  What do you fill your moments with?  What are the consequences for those little decisions?

I want to go, I want to do, I want to see, I want to experience, I want to explore, I want to know, I want to taste, and I want to feel – EVERYTHING.  I want to make wild, passionate love, I want to laugh, I want to dance, I want to sing, I want to be loved.

I’m making plans –  but I’m going even one step further than that because I’m not waiting on tomorrow and someday – and I’m doing.  You can either come along with me, or stay behind.  I can’t let anyone steal these things from me any longer or crush my hopes for them in my life.  Someone else can save the world.  I’m hanging up my cape for a compass.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Detours, Assessments, and Adjustments of Goals and Dreams

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I can’t express how important it is to keep our goals and dreams in front of us.  Life has a way of coming in and disrupting our plans, getting our feet off our chosen paths, and throwing in twists, turns, roadblocks, detours, and obstacles.  That’s normal.  Being human means being able to adapt and adjust to the situations and circumstances that come at us.  But if we are ever to fulfill our dreams and goals, we must continually be reminded of them, keep them posted in front of us, keep them shining like the North Star to be used as our guiding point and our compass. We need to constantly remind ourselves what we want to achieve, accomplish and experience in this life, assess our actions, adjust our options, and make necessary decisions.

Yes, we can and will experience all those unexpected and unplanned things, and many of them will be wonderful, will enrich our lives, and will change our directions.  Sometimes, its okay to shift and adapt – we become better for it.  The key is to be in control of those changes so that we don’t lose the goals and dreams we set for ourselves.  This is the only way to not to be filled with a lot of regret because of forgotten, lost, and unfulfilled dreams.

Take a few moments today and remember your dreams, write down your goals, repeat them to yourself.  Take an assessment, look at your North Star,  and then determine if you need a readjustment to get you back on your chosen path or  if you need to select a new one.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

Here is an updated status report and reminder to myself concerning my 2014 resolutions:

  1. No more grieving. (I’ve had a moment or two, but for the most part, I’ve been smiling, hopeful and looking forward to the future. I’m happy.  I’m really happy.)
  2. Fitness: Run a 5k (no walking), lose 50 more lbs, and get more fit(I’ve scheduled (5) five runs and will start back running/jogging on Monday – needed to heal from a sprain and sickness.  Joined three fitness challenges (Get Healthy West Georgia, Times-Georgian – Get Fit, and the 30-Day Arm Challenge), started a hula-hoop, sit-up, stair, and salsa-dancing routine.  So far I’ve officially lost 4.5 lbs  – 45.5 more to go.)
  3. Go on a real romantic date. (Still working on this one.  Got close – actually planned one. Maybe soon I will make it a reality. It’s still early, and I’ve got plenty of time.)
  4. Take a vacation to one of my dream spots . (Making plans for a road trip in a smokin’ hot Mustang convertible with a girlfriend in late June: Chicago to GreenBay and throughout parts of the Great Lakes.)
  5. Finish one of my novels (completed and edited). (Started editing Hunter & Chase and wrote my first Character Blog post. Need to refocus and get busy.)
  6. Sign and promote at least (5) five new authors with North Star. (Got several queries and submissions to weed through.)
  7. Save at least ¼ of the money I need to move to the PNW. ($200 in the pot.)
  8. Climb and descend the 605 steps at Amicalola Falls. (YES… DONE, DONE, DONE!!!!)
  9. Hike at least 50 miles of the Appalachian Trial (not at the same time.) (7.5 miles completed, 42.5  miles left to go.)
  10. Go White Water Rafting (Tentative trip planned in late July. Maybe I can combine this with the date.)
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Present Circumstances

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View as I entered the state of Washington 05/30/2013

Life happens.  Roadblocks, detours and delays are all part of the chaos.  No matter how much I plan, dream and expect my life to go a certain way, stuff happens to change those plans.  However, I don’t have to let those circumstances rule and determine the direction of my life.  They may have changed my current course, but I’m in control, and it’s up to me to make sure I’m still headed in the right direction.

Presently in my life there are a lot of changes going on.  My children are grown and flying the nest.  My 20-year marriage is coming to an end. My circumstances have changed drastically from what they were last year.  But my ultimate destination and goals are the same.  I’m still just as determined and focused to achieve those goals as I was a year ago.  I went through a numb period, dealing with all the changes, but these have only been detours.  It’s up to me to stop, realize in which direction I stand, turn my face toward the desired destination I want, and then take the steps to get there.

No one else determines those steps but me, and no one else can take them either.  No matter where you are or how you got there… take a look around at your present circumstances, determine where you want to go, turn toward that direction, and then start moving. I dare you.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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