January 30, 2010


It's almost February. Wow. It's almost February 2010. Double wow.

Although February 2010 is inherently of no great significance, it is one more month that I have lived in Denver, worked at my job and resided at my current address. June will mark three years in Denver. In August, it will be three years at my job. And, right around the corner is April, which equates to one year at my loft.

For someone who spent the first 18 years of her life in one town, 14 of those living in the same house, assigning such importance to these timestamps may seem insignificant and a bit frivolous. However, things are altered when added to the equation are the facts that since the age of 18, I have not yet had the one zip code for more than two years or stayed at the same job for more than three. Obviously, some of the aforementioned time was during my college years, where it is expected to reside in multiple dwellings over the years and hold jobs for short periods. But, beyond college, I have continued the pattern and now, at the age of 29, with June and the three-year-in-Denver mark fast approaching, I am fighting off a strong urge to pick up and do what I always do -- move and start over.

This feeling is not necessarily directly related to specific places or people, but just a general one of restlessness. In fact, we're a good match Denver and me, the best I have found so far. And, I have met so many amazing people here. But still, I cannot shake the feeling.

Honestly, at first thought, moving again makes me want to breakdown in tears -- all the packing, starting a new job, forming new relationships. But then, when I really take time to think about it, I realize that though the tasks surrounding moving and beginning anew are tedious, the results are rewarding -- meeting new people, the opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge and skills at a new job, the experience of once again discovering who I am in the process. . . Perhaps that is what I'm missing most -- rediscovering myself. Moving provides the perfect opportunity for some major self-inspection and, if needed, changes.

To be fair, I may be assigning a negative connotation to restlessness, which is not completely fair. When, in my opinion, feelings of restlessness have led to many great opportunities and results. Without at least a small amount of restlessness, we become complacent. Although not necessarily a bad place to be, I feel complete complacency can lead to laziness and the tendency to accept the status quo. And, as those who know me best can attest, I am typically never one who just accepts things for how they are.

In all honestly, I can't really leave Denver now even if I wanted to. Ok, I suppose I could as no one is holding me here by knife-point. But, I have accepted a great deal of responsibility with my Jaycees position and really, I would feel terrible leaving my co-workers high-and-dry. Not to mention, I have formed some awesome relationships here. So, I will refocus the energy I'm expending on the restlessness and instead examine it, sit with it and really understand its implications. Beyond understanding, I hope to accept it and move on. I would be naive in believing that the restlessness will not reappear again throughout my life, but if I truly comprehend it, I will be prepared next time it does.

In the meantime, if any of my Denver friends overhear me talking about new adventures or see me with moving boxes, please feel free to slap some sense into me. Literally.

January 21, 2010

the enthusiasm hangover

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was day six of employing the positive outlook and attitude tactics I learned last weekend and I felt really great. Life was good. This morning, I woke up feeling absolutely dejected. Nothing significant occurred last night that would account for such a radical attitude change. Yet, here I am, nine hours later and I still can't shake the feeling.

Lesson -- As much as I would love to, I am never going to be one of those 20 percenters who is perpetually happy and optimistic. It's just never going to be me. I realized today that I have been stressing out the last six days about my attitude. And honestly?  If I'm constantly stressing about my attitude, isn't that a bit retroactive? I know, I know. I need to CYA (check your attitude), but after a significant amount of self psychoanalysis, I have come to the conclusion that I'm OK with not being positive each moment of every single day.

To say I am relinquishing my efforts for a positive attitude would not be accurate. However, I am going to give myself some slack if I don't feel like belting into a rendition of "Walking on Sunshine" at any given moment. I'm absolutely content with being in the company of the 60 percent of the population who are optimistic some or most of the time. I'm going to shoot for most of the time, because, in my opinion, that's pretty good company to keep.

January 18, 2010

the power of one

This past weekend, I attended the U.S. Jaycees Leadership Academy in Tulsa, Okla. Honestly, prior to the event, I wasn't exactly excited about attending. In fact, I was annoyed that it was going to take me away from work for two days, as well as "waste" my weekend. Fast forward to today and not only am I extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend Leadership Academy, but I would go so far as to say it was a life-changing experience.

In addition to the new friendships formed and valuable information received regarding the Jaycees organization, I took away many amazing messages from the weekend. The first of which was received by way of a speech by Junior Chamber International president Roland Kwemain. Roland spoke of the amazing potential influence each and every one possesses within ourselves. The power to make a difference. The power to change lives. The power of one. 

As a complement to his inspiring words, Roland showed a video that portrayed a number of individuals who have made an invaluable difference in our society, such as Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Honestly, the video gave me goosebumps. To think that the actions of just one person can create such a massive wave of humanitarianism in the world is truly inspirational.

Alternatively, the power of one can also result in negative actions. Roland specifically mentioned terrorists and the great deal of pain and suffering that has taken place due to the actions of those individuals. He posed this question to the audience: What if that person had had a positive influence in his life instead of a negative one?

The power of one message is especially pertinent today, a day on which we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., a prime example of the difference one individual can make in the world. What would our world look like today if MLK had not decided to take action? What if he had not believed in the power that he had to make a difference? Although we will never know the answer to these hypothetical questions, I think the majority can agree that our world is a better place because of this one individual. The power of one.

As a result of Roland's speech, as well as another speaker, Matt Booth, I spent an extensive amount of time during the weekend examining my life and the path I am on, coming to the realization that I need to make a number of changes, including an overall attitude adjustment. Although I may never be a person who creates a change as capacious as altering a nation's history, I do realize that I have the potential to influence each and every person I come in contact with on a daily basis.

As one who firmly believes that each individual is responsible for his/her own life, I understand that I cannot force others to do good. But, wouldn't it be amazing if today (and tomorrow and the next day), I did something that was a catalyst for change in someone's life? Wouldn't it be awesome if a simple hello or a smile made one person's day?

In all honesty, the weekend's events couldn't have come at a better time. Just last week, I was walking home from yet another night out and I found myself questioning my life and the path it was taking. As I walked, I thought to myself, "Is this all there is?". I had come to a point where I was frustrated with certain aspects of my life. In all fairness, I was the one choosing to spend my days and nights in such a manner that when I took a minute to truly think about the day, I was not happy.However, I am also responsible and capable of making decisions that I can be proud of -- ones that make me a better person.

As a result of this weekend, I am going to make a concerted effort to have a positive attitude every day (even on Mondays) and extend that to my treatment of others. Additionally, I am going to make better choices -- ones I will be content with when I go to sleep at night. Ironically enough, this morning on my way to work as I was perusing the radio stations for a song to get me through the commute, I heard these words:

Oh, you've gotta live every single day
Like it's the only one, what if tomorrow never comes?
Don't let it slip away, could be our only one
You know it's only just begun, every single day
Maybe our only one, what if tomorrow never comes?

Now, I'm typically not a fan of Nickleback, but these lyrics could not have been heard at a more appropriate time in my life. Message received Chad Kroeger. Beginning today, I will do my best to make each day count and live a life that I can be proud of, believing in myself and the power of one.

Colorado Jaycees Tonya Bradshaw (left), Renee Verspoor and me with 90th U.S. Jaycees President Jeff Lank.

January 13, 2010

taking the reins

One of my goals for 29 is to complete a successful year as president of the Denver Jaycees, of which my term began a few weeks ago. So far, this goal has involved a lot of time-consuming tasks and brain-strain. Nevertheless, I have a good feeling about things at this point.

However, tonight is the first "real" test as I'll be leading my inaugural general membership meeting. And, although I've met with my board on a number of occasions and have gained a general sense of comfort speaking and conducting a meeting with them, tonight's meeting has me feeling all kinds of anxiety.

Beyond the feelings related to my presentation skills and my overall knowledge of the organization, I also hope all of the new information introduced tonight doesn't overwhelm the membership. I really want this is to a great year for the chapter, one that establishes a foundation that can be built upon for years to come, which is where the inundation of materials stems. Realistically though, I know that not every plan for the year will come to fruition and I have to constantly remind myself that this will be acceptable. I am only one person and my board is only one board and we are all human beings who have other areas in our life beyond the Jaycees.

Tomorrow, I, along with three other Colorado Jaycees, will be heading to Tulsa, Okla., for the Jaycees Leadership Academy. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of what it takes to be a leader in the Jaycees organization. Additionally, the trip will be a great opportunity to expand my Jaycees networking.

As for tonight, I'm fairly positive it will be a successful meeting and all of this worrying is a prodigious waste of energy (as is usually the case). It all really boils down to my instilling a little faith in myself and worrying less about what everyone else thinks. In the words of Adlai Stevenson, "It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse."

January 5, 2010

a human being, not a human doing

Another year, another decade -- all evidence that no matter what happens in life, time continues on. The year 2009 brought many things, some of them good and others not. I am different, yet I am the same.

Each year, it amazes me how quickly time passes. It seems that just yesterday I was living in my first apartment, in love with my first "real" boyfriend, excited for adulthood and all the amazing things it would bring. But, here I am, 29 years-old and yet sometimes it feels like no time has passed at all and I am that same girl, watching TV on my 19-inch RCA from the comfort of my green futon. The person who was scared she would never make anything of herself, yet concurrently frightened by what would happen if all her dreams came true. The girl who had an idea of what she wanted out of life, but really, had no clue at all.

I have accomplished many things and grown tremendously over the past 11 years, and I am truly grateful. Sometimes though, it feels as if I am in a moving car, peering out from the back window, watching my life pass me by.

A friend recently gave me one of the best pieces of advice I may ever receive -- she told me I needed to allow myself permission to just be, to live my life and forgive myself for the past and move forward. Through her wisdom and my own self-examination, I realized there are so many accomplishments and goals I want to achieve in my lifetime, but that none of these will mean a thing if I do not get out of the car and allow myself to enjoy them.

So, this year, 2010, I am going to follow the advice of my friend and take the time to just be. And to grant myself mercy more often, to let me breathe and allow myself to live life, fully-engaged.