Friday, April 22, 2011

Confidence Found on a Bar Stool

What makes a person confident? Is it the repeated hearing of compliments? Is it something just inside them that says they are confident, or good enough, or smart enough?
Sometimes I wonder about that.
When does confidence become rude? Can your confidence ever hurt another person? Is that even possible, or just a problem with perception?
No, I don’t sit up at night thinking about this kind of stuff, but it is kind of fun to wonder.
I went out last week, alone, because I didn’t want to cook or be home alone. I went to one of my favorite spots and sat in an empty bar stool.
Once the Yankee game was over, the guy sitting next to me struck up a conversation. He was intelligent, thoughtful, and quite attractive. So, I participated in the conversation.
He said one thing to me that I had never quite heard before and didn’t really understand why it resonated so much to me.
But, he, after several attempts of trying to get to know me, finally said, “Are you one of those hot girls who doesn’t believe she’s hot?”
I nearly whiplashed my beer right into his lap with a stunned expression on my face.
Me? A “hot girl”? Of course I never believed that I was or am a hot girl. I am the girl who sits in front of a computer for a living, wears glasses at night, and studies for a graduate degree most of my spare time. 
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and thinking, but it dawned on me, that maybe there’s hope out there for all of us girls who say that the right guy is either “handicapped or taken.” 
Not that this is or was the right guy. I believe he was an agent of change. He allowed me to understand that everyone’s definition of “hot” is different. Maybe to him, in his young-Tom-Hanks-Ryan-Phillippe-wearing-a-hat-good-looks, being hot was being intelligent and confident. When he asked me what I enjoyed doing, I said I loved to work out and get outside, and also wine taste. I recognized that’s quite a social dichotomy. 
This guy in one sentence handed me a plateful of confidence that I had been missing for years. I’m still not sure what to do with it, but with less than a week of graduate school left, I think I’ll start with smiling more. 
Hot people, in general, don’t frown. 
Then, maybe I’ll pick up and read a book I’ve been meaning to read. 
You know, because hot people, can carry a conversation.
Then, I’ll just shut up and listen, and enjoy the atmosphere, but don’t be afraid to say hello. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Need Coffee. Did that Make Sense?

If you’re a regular reader, or sometimes just pass through, I apologize for my weeklong absence. 
I took time away from this journey to work on another journey. This involves some work on your part. Don’t worry, it’s not like homework. It’s very simple. 
If you’ve ever read this blog, why do you read it? What are you looking for? Is there something missing from your life, or is there something you’ve found?
Here’s the thing:
I believe many of us spend our entire lives trying to figure out the secret of life. But, as Faith Hill sings, “The secret of life is nothing at all.” 
There is also a question about “happiness.” That is almost a buzz word these days. What makes you happy? Who makes you happy? Why do they make you happy? 
Can’t we just be happy when we wake up in the morning?
Alright, so here’s the thing. When someone tells you something that you don’t really want to hear but you know to be true, how do you react?

Ok, because once someone told me, “You don’t write well. I can’t understand what you’re saying.”
It drove me nuts because my teachers had all selected me for writing awards growing up. I didn’t understand how my educators could respect my writing but my peers and colleagues could not. 
In college it proved to be a real problem. Fortunately, I had a professor who listened to me in class and recognized my thought process. 
Professor Lisa Smith was her name. I remember because she always sat on the desk at the front of the classroom and I sat in the front row. I mistakenly always wanted to call her Lilith. You know, like Frasier’s wife (ex-wife) from “Cheers” and “Frasier”? 
Anyway, she finally said to me, “Annie, you need to write your papers like you’re writing a letter.”
I said, “What?” I mean, what happened to the bing, bang, bongo format?  I seem to remember learning that in fifth grade. Introduction, three main parts, and then a conclusion. Bing. Bang. Bongo.
“You need to just start writing and don’t stop until you’re done,” Professor Smith said. “Don’t even start a new paragraph. Don’t edit it. Just write it and submit it.” 
I later found out that I wrote, thought, and spoke just like Lorelai Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls.” My thoughts hop-scotched, to me, naturally from one spot to another. If I tried to formalize the thoughts in some sort of restricted and legitimized writing format, it didn’t make sense. Oh, and I also like coffee just as much as she does. 
“What?” I said.  
“Just write it like you were talking, without a filter.”
“Wow,” I think I said, or I thought I said.
Anyway, I was a sophomore, I think, and for the first time in my life, someone with the power to decide my success decided with me, and not against me. She recognized that I had something to say, and to let me say it, even if it meant allowing me to choose my delivery. 
Lesson learned then is a lesson learned now and every day that I think many of us struggle.
Happiness isn’t about changing who we are or becoming who someone else wants us to be, it’s about being able to be exactly who we are, when we want to, and how we want to.  No disguise. No disappointments. 
So, a few years later when a news anchor said, “I don’t understand what this says,” I knew she was wrong.
I said, “let me see that.” I grabbed the script from her hands and I read it aloud.
“Oh,” she said. 
There were no more words.
I finally made sense. 

Question: What makes you happy? When do you feel most understood? Have you ever tried to change who you are to make sense to other people? Did it work? Let me know!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We All Have Little Girl Dreams of Making it Big

UPDATED: April 7, 2011

Ok, so I wrote this post last night after watching "American Idol." Then, without anticipating it, a person who seemed to be just about everyone's favorite, Pia Toscano, was eliminated on Thursday night. Clearly, she is in a caliber of her own and does not need a show like "American Idol" to be successful. 

Even though I participated in the "I'm outraged" and "what just happened" reaction, I do believe that she, just like every little girl (and boy) who tries to do what they believe they can do, is already a winner. 

Now a question for you, what is it that you really want to do? What's stopping you? 


Thanks to Charlie Sheen winning seems to be everything these days.
It’s not about winning, though. It’s about trying. It’s about getting up after falling down. It’s about trying that dance move one more time. It’s about wearing that ballerina outfit even though you think you look like a marshmallow when you’re wearing it. It’s about singing country, if you’re a little bit country, instead of singing rock ‘n roll. 
Just saying.
When I was about 7, I was in a little dance troupe. I was in a class called “intermediate jazz.” I wasn’t reformed enough for the ballet. I was way to attention-deficit for that, and not quite coordinated enough for tap (as much as I wanted to be). I had these small-town, big-girl dreams of making it big. 
Our dance teacher decided we would be dancing our final number to “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. Little did any of us know then that a spoonful of sugar made me dangle from the chandeliers and not dance. 
I can still remember holding hands with the other members of our all-girl group as we wore these checkered red and white leotard outfits with frilly white things attached to them and sparkling red hats. We skipped are way to the right, and then around, in a circle. Then there was something about “jazz hands.”


Apparently, if you spread your hands open really wide you can feel the energy coming out of your fingertips. I think it was just the blood freaking out about which way to travel.
Somewhere, in the home archives, and not in this house, my parents have a picture of me in that dorky little outfit. Man, I thought I was something else. And, like almost every 7 year old girl, I knew, I was going to be a star. 
23 years later, all I an say to that is just dance. Lady Gaga got that right. Just dance. 
And, in the words of my eighth grade language arts and social studies teacher, to my friends, and to those who try, “You’ll always be famous to me.”
It’s not about winning. It’s about believing. 
It’s not about being famous, or even trying.

It’s about being you. Red and white checkered leotard with frilly white thing, and all. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm Asking You: What Do You Look Forward To?

Let’s make this one brief.
The other week I wrote about looking forward by looking into my rearview mirror. You know, seeing my future through my past? Or, looking at my past as I’m moving forward.
Right now, I’m looking at one month from today, or by the time this is posted, yesterday.
May 2, 2011 will mark a new beginning for me. I’ll be seeing the world with new eyes. It’s significant on many levels, but mundane on many. I’ll have seen people I enjoy and really am counting moments to have just a moment or two with them. I’ll also have finished my Master’s program at Boston University. Then, on May 3, 2011, I’ll be “free.” I think anyway.

Then of course I know I'll have to do my laundry more often and keep my house more clean, but that OK. I'll have the cat do it. (Insert smile here.) 
Here’s a question:

What do you look forward to? What do you want to be “free” of? And who do you just want to sit down and have a moment or two with? What will you do? 
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