Road Trip

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Life is a series of roads.  Some we take, some we avoid, and some we get stuck on.  Recently I guess you could say I’ve gotten stuck, a little lost if you will.  And while I feel like this blog may be a little more for me than anyone else, a way for me to remind myself that I’ll be just fine – maybe it’s something someone else has to see too.

As I say frequently, my life is full of ironic, crazy, what just happened moments, rolled in with comedic events that I almost wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t happening to me.  That being said, it’s no real surprise that the route I originally plan on taking sometimes has road blocks.  Without going into detail, that’s what I’m dealing with now.  And as I deal with the struggle of being a little lost, I’ve tried to come up with some positive affirmations for myself, and some silver linings that I could turn into words to maybe help someone else.  I’ve realized that getting lost in life, is a lot like getting lost on a road trip; and the way to go about getting to your destination is actually pretty similar.

So, without harping on my issues – here is my definitive guide for what to do when you get lost on a road trip, or in life.

Let yourself freak out.  I don’t know about you, but when I get lost (sometimes while even using a GPS), I get pissed.  You set out a route to get to a set destination and you planned on getting there in the amount of time that was projected for you, taking into account possible traffic jams, construction, and general delays.  The idea of going through all of that and then not being able to execute it can result in a huff and puff attitude, but rather than try to go from angry to a ray of sunshine – take a moment and be pissed.  Let out one good “what the *beep*” and then ready yourself to regroup.  You can’t regroup if you are on the verge of a freak out, so just give yourself the freak out moment.

Realize there are several roads to get to the same destination.  Even though you memorized the directions that you set up, those directions are not the only way to your location.  Sometimes the way you think you should go is really a road full of potholes and bumps that could damage your tires.  So be open to a potential detour.

Pull over at a rest stop.  We are all guilty of rushing to get somewhere.  Whether it’s because you’re perpetually late to everything, trying to beat rush hour, or hoping to get somewhere before someone else – we always have an eye on the clock.  As humans, we just naturally rush through a day, we rush through a moment.  We get caught up in trying to document everything through social media that we never take a second to actually be in the moment and take our feelings into account.  Being lost and trying to figure out where to turn by using a “you are here” map in your head is scary.  Relying on the voice of your GPS to say whether you missed the street or not can be nerve wracking.  Allow yourself to be scared, acknowledge the fact that you’re putting your trust into a machine.  Once you regroup, that’s when you can actually reroute and refocus.

Check your gas tank.  I have a fear of running out of gas.  It’s rare that I let my gas tank get close to or under a quarter of a tank full.  When I first got my car, my grandfather told me that it’s better for your engine if you don’t let your gas tank get to fully empty.  The same is true for our mental gas tank.  We can’t let our gas tanks reach empty and expect to have the steam to move forward in the time we expect.  Eventually something’s gotta give, and it will.  So keep an eye on your gas tank, and take the time to refill.  Keep an eye on your mental state, and take time to balance.  In both situations, it’s something that will never go to waste.

Roll the windows down and turn the music up.  Whenever I know I’m going to be in the car for a long amount of time, I make sure that I’ve set up an upbeat playlist.  Music influences your mood, and I make sure that the music I have on a long car ride is music that makes me want to do nothing but sing along at the top of my lungs.  When I’m feeling down, sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into the sad song playing on three different radio stations; but that’s when you have to roll down the windows.  Get the breeze right in your face as a wake up call.  It’s easy to be sad, and it does take work to be happy and optimistic; but when you’re happy and singing, you’re letting in positive energy, and over time it becomes easier to be happy.  Singing loudly will become natural, even if your singing voice may not be.

Admire the view.  Understand that your original route may have had a beautiful view, but that you may not have seen it because you were so focused on following the directions.  When you’re lost, you have to truly look around.  Your senses are heightened through your natural survival mode being turned on.  So while you’re looking at every road sign, don’t just look – take time to see.  Maybe you won’t see breathtaking landscapes, but maybe you’ll see something else that acts as inspiration.  Maybe it’ll be in the form of a young child playing in their front yard who has the zest for life that you may have lost over the years.  Maybe it’ll be in seeing someone struggling, putting your life back into perspective and reminding you that you don’t really have it that bad.  Or maybe it’ll be in seeing the single white feather fall in front of your windshield, confirming that there are higher powers that will always make sure you get to your destination safely and at the right time.

Most importantly, always keep driving.  Eventually every side street leads to a main road, and every main road allows another outlet to your location.  But if you turn around every time you get lost, you’ll never know all the intersections that open your mind to new connections.  So just keep pressing on steadfastly.

Once we let go of the notion that we have to know exactly where we’re going and exactly which roads to take to get there; that’s when we’ll finally hear the words, “You’ve reached your destination.”

 

 

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Be Nice

For those who know me, you know that I am outspoken and tend to speak without a filter.  Anyone who simply reads my blogs can probably tell I’m sarcastic and opinionated though.  Well, my parents always kind of hold their breath when they think I’m about to go off on a rant.  My Dad specifically always tells me, “Be nice Kristina.”  Yes Dad.  

But, in all seriousness, I do always keep that line in the back of my head.  I always treat everyone with respect, I know everyone is facing their own battles that we know nothing about.  So truthfully, I am nice, unless you give me a reason not to be.  Respect… I’m all about that.  

So, today, I was walking to class from the parking lot at school.  My last final of the semester!  I’m sure every fellow college student knows that feeling of pure excitement when walking into your last final.  As I’m crossing the parking lot, there’s a line of cars coming, but they seem far enough away for me to safely get to the other side and get out of the cold.  The first car is a red one, which appeared to be slowing down to let me cross.  “How nice,” I’m thinking, as the person who lets everyone cross.  I put up my hand casually to wave a thank you as I cross.  Now, I’m safely across the street and giving myself a pep talk in my head for my final when I hear someone yell, “I was going to run you over and put you out of your misery.”  Wait, what?  

I turned around just in time to see a red car, the license of that car, and the girl in that car roll up her window.  All the other cars behind her had already pulled into rows looking for spots.  Confusion.  That was my first reaction.  I don’t have problems with anyone at school, or none that I know of anyway.  So why is someone yelling that?  I stopped for a second, debating on whether or not I should approach the car and reveal why it is my Dad tells me to “Be nice.”  But realizing the time, I walked off to class instead.  

The words kept running through my head.  “I was going to run you over to put you out of your misery.”  It’s human nature when someone says something mean to you that you go over it in your head a few times.  Why would she say that?  Did she think I was someone else?  Even if she did, why would you say that to anyone?  Especially around the holiday season.  The next thing that entered my thoughts though was about weaker people.  I thought of people I know who are quiet and care deeply about the opinions others have of them.  What if they had heard that?  What if someone who was dealing with their own set of problems reached their breaking point, and then heard that?  That’s all it takes sometimes for a person to collapse, a line that was said – possibly without any truth to it and simply for a power gain, to really make someone fall.  As someone who was severely cyberbullied, I know first hand that words hold more weight than a person thinks.  

A few years ago if someone yelled that at me, I may have taken it to heart.  It may have wrecked my entire day.  I was cyberbullied badly and my outlook on life was not good. But not today.  I’ve come a very long way, as anyone who has overcome obstacles can tell you, your perspective on life changes when you survive them.  A few years ago I may have thought there was something wrong with me to make someone yell that.  Today, with my outlook, I’m able to recognize that the people who say things like that are the ones with something wrong.  What Sally says of Susie says way more about Sally than Susie.  Luckily, that statement was yelled to me, and not someone who is dealing with their own version of Hell right now.  

Well, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t just let stuff like that go.  I mean seriously, if you’re going to play with fire, well you are going to get burned…

I knew the car and the license plate and knew that the driver pulled in around where I parked.  Long behold, after my final walking back to my car, the red car is a few cars down from me.  No, I did not slash a tire or key the side of it.  Instead, I heard my Dad’s famous words echo in my head, “Be nice Kristina.”  I got into my car, backed up out of the spot and was about to go drive home.  “Be nice Kristina.” It echoed again.  And seeing the car, I still didn’t feel that I could let it go, or for the sake of what’s right let it go.  So, I pulled back into the spot, pulled out a piece of looseleaf paper and my pen.  I took the cap off and was so tempted to write a few explicit words.  “Be nice Kristina.”  So, I decided to take the nice route to prove my point…

I went with this:

I’m the girl you yelled at this morning.  When I walked across the street you yelled, “I was gonna run you over and put you out of your misery.”  Well, happy holidays, because clearly you have your own set of issues, and need all the best wishes possible to randomly yell at someone crossing the street.  I’ll pray for you!

Everyone notices when there’s something underneath their front windshield wiper, but it’s a little more annoying when you go to put the car in reverse and there’s a folded piece of paper looking back at you.  So yes, I put it underneath her back windshield wiper, and off I went to start my break.  And how appropriate that as I got back in my car, put my iPod on shuffle, Eminem’s song “Beautiful” started playing (check out those lyrics for some empowerment).  

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My message is to watch your words people.  They hold weight.  What was yelled at me this morning did not wreck my day, my mood, or my outlook; but how could whoever yelled it know that?  What if it wasn’t at me, but someone else?  Then what?  Watch what you say, words linger.  And for crying out loud, it’s the holiday season… be nice.