Alive

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Sometimes it’s subtle. Other times blatant and bitter. And other times still it’s simply a longing that I am all too familiar with.

It must be nice, they say.

It must be nice to travel.

It must be nice to have weekends with the girls.

It must be nice to live grand adventures and dramatic moments that have nothing to do with the daily grind of getting from one week to the next.

It must be nice to get to do/see/have those things.

And I think to myself, it sure is.

Not because I think my life is always dramatic or perfect or filled with laughter and interesting stories. And not because I am smug or self-satisfied, thinking I have somehow “figured out” anything of any consequence. No. There is not even an ounce of superiority in me as I affirm that “yes, yes it is nice.”

There is, instead, an enormous sense of relief that washes over me. I can feel the lightening all over again as if it was the first moment the burden was lifted from me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that burden lately. I watch from afar as friends struggle with it. I read other women write about it. And it’s all too easy to remember how god damned heavy it was to carry the burden with me.

The burden said that time was marching past. It told me that I was running out of time. It sat on my chest and pummeled me over and over again with the message that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t doing enough, wasn’t at all what I was supposed to be. The burden carried with it a constant sense of dread like that of a ticking time bomb strapped to your back.

But it’s gone now. It’s been months since I’ve felt that level of suffocation, and reading about it only clarifies for me the stark difference between Then and Now.

And the only thing that changed was me.

Neither my husband nor I make any more money than we used to. In fact, we earn less than we have in the past. And we make far, far less than damn near every other couple we know. I still have obligations and responsibilities, including one more whole mouth to feed than I had just three years ago. I don’t have any more education than I did on my 19th birthday, and neither does Jared.

I’m not smarter or prettier or more fortunate than I have been at any other point in my life.

Not a single one of the obstacles that I’d always perceived to be “holding me back” has been removed from my path.

And yet, somehow, my life has exploded into a tidal wave of opportunity upon opportunity.

And again, I don’t say that to be smug. You can’t say your life is good on the Internet without pissing someone off – but truly, it is more than better than how it was before. It is a different life entirely, one more full than I had ever even dreamed about for myself. And as much as I cringe saying that, bracing myself for the backlash, I want so badly to bottle it up and give it to the people around me who I see pinned down.

I want to tell them it can be OK. I want to tell them how I know that.

I can pinpoint the turning point. The catalyst between that life and this one.

I came back from a trip to Philadelphia known as TequilaCon and was overwhelmed and amazed by the stories of people stepping outside their comfort zones. I realized that it had been years since my own comfort zone had been challenged, and I started to panic. The Burden was suddenly doubling in size and I felt the walls closing in around me.

I emailed a very good friend of mine and begged her to fix me. Show me. Shake me. Do something to make me understand how my life had gotten so damn stagnant. She advised me to look closer at my fears and myself. She typed the words that changed my life…


“…so i will ask you, what do you feel that are you being held back from? what is it that you desire that you feel that you can’t have by being married to jared and being mom to your children? are you sure that you really are being held back and not simply afraid to try certain things?

On May 10th, 2008 I woke up.

I suppose I had started the process several months earlier when I had thrown caution to the wind and moved to Florida. I moved further down the path in December when I realized that I needed to go see a doctor.

But May 10th is the day it all clicked. It’s the day I really started living.

That’s the day I realized that it didn’t matter how much money I made or didn’t make, because I could choose how to spend every single dollar. And I had a whole world full of options and alternatives available to me if I would just open my eyes to them.

And it didn’t matter how many hours I had in the day, because they were MY hours. It was MY time to spend however I wanted, and I had a brand new one to spend however I wanted over and over again.

This was my life – is my life. Right here. Right now. And it was simply waiting for me to step into it.

Even with two kids. Even with the husband and the job and the chubby thighs. Even without the degree or the fairy godmother that would finance my life of leisure. This was – this is – my life. And almost all of the reasons I’d been giving myself for putting it off were bullshit.

Since May 10th, I have…

  • been to New York City.
  • twice
  • watched my children swim with manatee
  • went away with my husband for the weekend
  • twice
  • been in a professional photo shoot
  • started a radio show
  • had a fabulous girls weekend in Orlando
  • been to two political rallies
  • once with a press pass and special access to “the media area”
  • attended my first protest
  • redefined my job
  • gotten my first official paid writing gig
  • and my second

And the only thing that’s changed… is me.

I tell you this not to impress you or lecture you or bore you to tears. I tell you this to remind you, to implore you to believe, that the world really is your oyster. Your dreams are attainable and they are within reach at this very moment. Life does not wait for kids to grow up or raises or retirement. It marches on with or without our participation, simply waiting for us to jump into it.

I tell you this to remind you that there is a way. There is always a way.

And I tell you this also because, sometimes, it’s good to remember… yeah, it is nice.

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  1. avitable says:

    Look at you, with the recapping and all!

    I’m glad you’ve gone and done these things. I definitely think the first big step was the whole “sell two houses and move down to Florida” period, and then TequilaCon was another big step, and now there are lots of little steps that are just as much fun and let you live a little.

    Of course, since May 10th, all I’ve done is watch a lot of TV, but I’m okay with that.

  2. Sybil Law says:

    What a fantastic and entirely true post.
    It is ALWAYS us who hold us back, make the choices, etc. We are living exactly what we want to be living nearly every single day (sicknesses not included, of course).
    You sure are a smart, smart woman.
    But you do NOT have chubby thighs, freak!

  3. Ms. Karen says:

    Hm, a very timely post for me, as there are decisions that I am making that will change everything.

    Every. Thing.

    As scary as it looks and feels, I know the direction I’m choosing is the right one. Not the easy one, by any stretch of the imagination, but the right one.

    And that makes all the difference (even though I’m still kind of scared).

  4. Hilly says:

    God I love this post and love YOU even more for posting it. I cringe when someone says “it must be nice”.

    “It must be nice that people rallied together to pay your way to Tequilacon.”

    Yes, it was nice. It continues to be nice. I won’t feel bad for having wonderful friends who found me worthy of such an effort. I won’t apologize for being me, for being happy, for learning to stop fucking whining about what I don’t have and take control of what I do have.

    Ooooh Britt, you’ve done did got me a soap box to stand on! ;)

  5. kateanon says:

    It’s good to be alive – and you should be commended for these things. I’m trying to be this way myself.

  6. Erin says:

    I’m going to make my fiance read this. Maybe if it comes from someone who is not me, he’ll believe the whole “YOU make your life” thing :) Also? This beginning of this post kind of reminded me of Pilgrim’s Progress (which is a compliment and totally worth a read if you haven’t ever read it). :)

  7. Dude, I’ll have what she’s having.

  8. Coast Rat says:

    Good for you, Britt!

    Lots of people have asked me over the years, how can you do all the things you do in your life, accomplish the things you do, etc.? My response; where there is a will, there’s usually a way, because what or who is usually standing in your way to do things, is YOU, yourself. Sound familiar? Yep, thought it would…

    The following isn’t about bragging or self-emulation, it’s about DOING, MAKING IT HAPPEN, for instance: “Arranging” to come down here to do hurricane relief for two years, without being retired, etc., is another example. Making over 100 mission trips of 2,000 miles and a week long each, during a 30-year time period, to reach out to others, all while working and raising a family, is an example. You have highlighted this for others.

    I saw again: Good for you, Britt! Keep it coming!

  9. PAPA says:

    This was absolutely beautiful. And incredibly moving. Thank you for this.
    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you

  10. Selma says:

    I can’t help but feel there is a sign in this for me as you ‘woke up’ on May 10 which is my birthday. I needed to hear this today. You are right – life just flashes by and sometimes we waste it making excuses. Thank you, my dear, you have inspired me!

  11. Mr Lady says:

    Dammit, woman. I held out as long as I could. I LOVE you, dude.

  12. ~jtm says:

    Wow! Great post. I understand those ‘a-ha’ moments and have had a few….not at the moment…I’m a bit stuck.
    I do enjoy living vicariously through your adventures until I can manage my own, so carry on!

  13. i’m glad to hear you are feeling/doing better!!
    isn’t life easy when you convince yourself
    you create your actions to the world
    around you

    when you get as old as i am, you’ll laugh at yourself and how difficult you made your life, or at least that is what keeps me
    sane in an insane world

    unless you believe that i am insane, in that case, that is your problem BGWD

  14. Dawn says:

    Good for you!!!! That’s great!!!!! It really is.

    And thank you for motivating me. It might not mean that I’ll do any more than I do now, but you’ve put a bug in my ear. I might just start working on “being more alive” when I get back from Boca (the land of the almost dead) after Thanksgiving.

  15. Lisa says:

    I think it’s sad that you have to worry about any backlash because you’ve figured out how to enjoy and appreciate what you have in your life.

    You’ve learned how to count your blessings and no one should hold that against you.

  16. SciFi Dad says:

    Well put, Britt. The wealth you have may not be monetary, but it is clearly evident.

    Honestly, just an amazing piece of writing.

  17. Rachel says:

    Amen Britt.

    Fabulous. Monetary wealth is far from the best kind, yet it’s the most commonly desired. Sad isn’t it.. that so many can’t see the true treasures right before them.

    Beautifully put! Congratulations to you!!

  18. Dave2 says:

    TequilaCon changes lives, I say!

  19. Miss Britt says:

    avitable: actually, TequilaCon wasn’t a big deal to me. I mean it was fun – but it wasn’t scary or anything like that like it was for other people.

    Sybil Law: am I going to have to do a picture post of my fat parts?

    Ms. Karen: the scary ones hold the biggest reward. Go, YOU!

    Hilly: and you know what? It is REALLY nice for the rest of us to know someone like you. Honestly. You are freaking fabulous and add so much to my life. Getting you to Philly was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

    So fuck ‘em.

    kateanon: then you should be commended, too. :-)

    Erin: if that works, I might have you speak to my husband.

    SportsFan’s Daughter: he he he he – on the rocks?

    Coast Rat: and good for you, too. It was realizing people were already doing it that gave me the kick in the ass I needed.

    PAPA: wow. Um, you’re welcome. And thank you.

    Selma: I don’t think anyone has ever said anything more rewarding to me, Selma. You deserve so, so much.

    Mr Lady: YESSS! *Home Alone fist pumping*

    ~jtm: if you don’t mind me pushing – where are you stuck?

    crazy charlene: easy? no. Bigger? Yes.

    Dawn: but you’re already painting!!!!

    Lisa: ohhhh, you know the drill. Someone always will. ;-)

    SciFi Dad: thank you. Truly. I really appreciate the compliment.

    Rachel: I think most people want wealth because it seems to be the easiest way to the other desires. I know that’s how I was. The other ways definitely aren’t as easy – but they’re still there.

    Dave2: oh good sir – please change all of our lives soon and tell us WHERE THE HELL IS TEQUILACON 09?!?! And also – when?

  20. PocketCT says:

    Dear Ms. Britt,
    I think you are totally fucking awesome. How nice that you can share an awakening so eloquently. :)
    ct

  21. ~jtm says:

    No problems with your push :o)… I’ve set some things in motion, just have that back tire spinning in the mud at the moment. Sorry for cryptic, but this isn’t my place to air my shit. I applaud you in your accomplishments. I reflect back to you when I first started reading your blog and how you’ve grown! You are such a great role model for your kids, they are so lucky to have you!
    And on that note, I’m going to get off the couch and get dressed and do something constructive before work.

  22. Sarah Morgan says:

    SO true.

    You’re an inspiration, missy, and have been since the minute I met you. Thank you for sharing your awesomeness with us!

  23. Jenn says:

    To quote a brilliant woman I have come to love “Woohoo,fuck yeah”.

  24. Faiqa says:

    Thank you, Britt. I truly needed to be reminded of all this today.

  25. Thank you for reminding me that life IS good. And just living it is important.

    HUGS!!!

  26. Dawn says:

    Without you!!!!!! Actually, I finished one of the spare rooms (where the dog sleeps, actually) and the upstairs bathroom. There’s only my husband’s office left to do. I’ll wait for you for that. My pleasure. :)

  27. From my viewpoint here, at age 51, it’s been a blast watching your journey. You’re making it happen NOW.

    Too many people live for “Someday”. Someday when we have more money, Someday when the kids grow up, Someday when I have more time, Someday when I have the courage.

    My parents lived for “Someday, when I retire” then my dad had a stroke at age 49. He made a partial recovery, but he never got to do some of the things on his Someday List.

    I got very sick for 10 years, at age 37. We still went to London and California, and went on a cruise to Mexico, and moved to Florida. I left stressful jobs and removed some Toxic People from my life.

    I have to say, my husband was 100% supportive through all my journeys back to life.
    I hope at age 51, you will look back and say “No Regrets” because you didn’t live for “Someday…”

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Oh Britt, thank you so much for this post. Thank you. I have been slowly realizing that I can do anything I want, but in the last few weeks I’ve felt so set back. Thank you, thank you, thank you, love.

    Don’t feel bad about glowing about how wonderful things are for you. It’s inspiring to read how wonderful things have been going for you. And — ‘scuse my French — fuck all of the haters that can’t stand it. EVERYONE deserves to be happy, and no one should take that away.

    Thank you, again.

  29. [...] to do, because everything seems to be getting in my way. Miss Britt wrote a post today about being alive, and I realized that I have been in my [...]

  30. Raychelle says:

    Awesome post! Made me smile.

  31. Finn says:

    As Jesse Jackson always said, “Your attitude will determine your altitude.”

    Or as Captain Picard used to say to Number One, “Make it so.”

    I was miserable until I was forced to step out of my comfort zone — actually I pushed out of it while it was still moving, but whatever.

    And now I think it’s time step out a bit further. Thanks for reminding me.

  32. Here, here! Great reminder!

  33. Ren says:

    Well said.

    Most of us live within walls of our own creation and realizing that you can remodel or tear them down entirely is, of course, liberating.

    My own prison is one of comfort and distrust of the “grass is greener” phenomenon. However, I’m also aware that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can create a large amount of inertia. What to do, what to do….

  34. i am so proud of you. in so many ways. life is good, it is nice. and you deserve it!
    much love,
    becky

  35. martymankins says:

    What a great list of accomplishments this year so far.

  36. Stephanie says:

    Holy shit.

    Did you ever read something that made your jaw drop, and say, “Oh.My.God.”

    Well, this post did. And it made me take stock of my own life.

    And now I’m going to go write about it.

    As always, thanks Britt.

  37. NYCWD says:

    I agree… there is always a way.

    I just wish people would learn, as you have, that “the way” is not necessarily knocking over a liquor store, mugging a grandmother on Social Security check day, or utilizing violence against others either physically or verbally.

    Shit.

    I’m a real downer aren’t I?

    Well, in reality, orange isn’t your color.

    It’s mine.

  38. Rachael says:

    Wow, sounds amazing! What a great post and a great reminder to all of us that life is what we make it.

  39. Jeremy says:

    What a great post, it’s great that you noticed an issue, made a change, and are now living life to it’s fullest. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that you were able to remember all of it :D

    Keep up the good work, and make the coming year even better!

  40. Dory says:

    Thank you so much for that much-needed reminder.

  41. SwanShadow says:

    Glad to see that you’ve worked it out, Britt.

    For the record, there is nothing at all wrong with chubby thighs.

    Not that you have chubby thighs. But if you did.

  42. Poppy says:

    Life is what you make of it, not what you wish you had. Congrats on learning the lesson early. :)

  43. Robin says:

    I really really needed this today. Seriously.

    Thank you.

  44. Robin says:

    …and you SERIOUSLY don’t have chubby thighs. I should know…I have chubby thighs…but I love them. :)

  45. [...] today (she’s awesome, you should check her out if you get the chance), and she wrote about taking your life into your own hands. Her writing made me realize that the only thing that’s been in my way is me. I can do [...]

  46. Finn says:

    Because everyone keeps talking about your “chubby” thighs *rolls eyes*, I wanted to share this with you:

    In the airport on the way home from TequilaCon, a U.S. Airways employee complimented me on my trench coat and said she almost bought one just like it. I asked her why she didn’t. She replied, “Well you have big legs…”

    I still don’t know what this has to do with the coat.

  47. Miss Britt says:

    PocketCT: and I think you are woody and horny!

    ~jtm: like I said in email – any time.

    Sarah Morgan: and here I’ve been being all impressed by YOU.

    Jenn: *blush*

    Faiqa: really?? I had NO idea! ;-)

    themuttprincess: anytime

    Dawn: where on earth do you live, woman?

    Sheila (Charm School Reject): I feel like I should curtsy, or something

    Little Miss Sunshine State: I so loved hearing about you and your husband packing up and heading down here as soon as high school graduation hit for your kids.

    Elizabeth: you’re welcome. And thanks for taking the time to let someone know that they had an effect on someone.

    Raychelle: well that’s always good.

    Finn: hope to hear all about it

    Atomic Bombshell: I’m glad you thought so!

    Ren: yep, I think I was kind of at that “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” place for a long time. And some people are good there. But I.. just… know I need more.

    hello haha narf: and I am so grateful for you. I wonder if you even recognized your own words in this post.

    martymankins: it does look like a lot to me when it’s all listed out

    Stephanie: I hope I get to read about it!

    NYCWD: yes, yes you are kind of a downer today. But I get it. If you bounced in here all happy and inspired, the space/time continuum might rip or something.

    Rachael: thanks

    Jeremy: I didn’t remember crap. I blogged it and went back and looked it up. LOL

    Dory: aw, you’re welcome

    SwanShadow: agreed. But man can we get hung up on shit like that sometimes.

    Poppy: ditto ;-)

    Robin: you’re welcome, babe.

  48. Miss Britt says:

    Finn: that is… odd. At best.

    I actually DO have big legs. Well, hips. Then thighs. Then calves.

    It’s not an insult. It’s just the way I’m built. Like a pear, or something.

    And I happen to LOVE my trench coat. :-)

  49. i loved that conversation because it reinforced for me that as happy as i am for you in your marriage and momhood, i am happy for me in my no children singlehood. it was a wonderful reminder we can both be happy with what we have. plus, while there are things that as a never married woman i’ll never understand or that as a been married since before you could legally drink woman you will never understand, we can still hold up a mirror to the other and ask for some explanation or guidance. and that, my friend, is tremendous.

    (makes me wanna do the happy girl wiggle!)

  50. An inspiration, m’lady.

    Not sure if you know it or not, but you’re living The Secret. Oh, yes you are.

  51. [...] is the shit I am talking about…. I am way too tired to post right now, but honestly, THIS post was the best post I have read all day today. Go read it…it will change your life if only [...]

  52. Kelley says:

    You peeking through my windows woman?

    At least knock and I will bring you out a Margarita…

  53. pocket queen says:

    Britt, really. You hit the nail on the head.. and beautifully. It’s just what I needed to hear, right now when it’s such a turning point and the determining choices aren’t really on my hands.. I’m so reassured to realize that I am taking all I can from the opportunities I have. So many people just stand still, when the “things that would be nice” are just a will and a little effort away. See, I’m applying to study a Master’s abroad, and everyone keeps saying, “oh you’re so lucky”.. what? we all have the same chances, only I’m one of few actually taking them. You made me realize that. And even though the choice for the actual school I may be attending, or the scholarship I -crossing my fingers- may be getting, are all out of my hands, it IS so empowering solely to realize that I’m doing something to get what I’ve always wanted.

  54. Oh Ms. Britt – I think this post is pretty much why this whole blogosphere can work – I’ve just stumbled here for a lot of my own life reasons and I just subscribe to you and then this post. I don’t know jack about your journey but your words hit me on so many levels – about facing your life and jumping in….at least that’s what it did for me tonight as here I am at 41 years old, three young kiddies, a career behind me and a whole new one in front of me somehow, someway….

    Right on…

  55. Sarah says:

    Oh Britt.
    I love this post and I am so happy that you are so happy with your life. When my friends are happy I am happy.
    This post makes me want to go out and do something. I can’t wait until school is over and I am in grad school and able to actually be out on my own and enjoying all the opportunities and struggles it holds.
    Of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t have plenty of opportunities to do things while I am in college though. :)
    Oh and you are totally my adoptive older sister right now. Just thought I’d let you know.

  56. I love this. VERY well said. I’m currently working on revamping MY oyster, but its hard. Baby steps…

  57. Gudrun says:

    I totally agree – you shape your own destiny! Your post is very thoughtfully written and inspiring, perfect for the holidays.

  58. Courtney says:

    That’s really inspiring. I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut myself. Completely overwhelmed with financial bullshit and no idea of what I want to do when my maternity leave is up. Maybe I should step out of MY comfort zone and sign up for something to change me… huh.

  59. Miss Britt says:

    hello haha narf: I love that about us. I like that we can be different and not feel threatened by that. We? Are clearly awesome.

    Angie: someone tell Oprah. She’s going to want to see this, I’m sure of it!

    Kelley: frozen. No salt. Thanks!

    pocket queen: you should be really, really proud of yourself.

    Lee the MWOB Queen: there is a word for that. Serendipity? Is that it?

    (No- really – what’s the word?!?!)

    Sarah: oh my God woman – college is MADE for opportunities to do shit you’ll never be able to do again!!

    Colleen – Mommy Always Wins: it is definitely NOT easy. I think that’s why we get stuck sometimes.

    Gudrun: thank you

    Courtney: I am a huge, huge fan (kind of an obsession, really) of jumping out of the comfort zone.

  60. This is so awesome.

    You know what I hate? I really, really hate the “must be nice” sentiment. People say it ALL the time, and it always makes me cringe. I think it’s the asshat-iest thing one person can say to another. It implies you don’t appreciate what you have (like you said) and it implies you don’t deserve it and it implies that it has somehow been dropped in your lap and it implies that the person saying it has no control over their own circumstances (like you said.) ARGH IT MAKES ME FUCKING CRAZY.

    Must be nice? Damn straight.

    Good for you, babe.

  61. Ginger says:

    OMG, what an inspiring post. Thank you SO much for sharing this. *hugs*

  62. pocket queen says:

    awww… thank you. really. it means a lot to hear something like that, specially from someone that technically i’ve never actually met =) u rock Britt!

  63. Sarcastica says:

    This is going to sound lame…but you give me hope. You

  64. Sarcastica says:

    heh. Clicked too soon…the rest of that sentense was simply “you really do”…

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