Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fairytales and Stupidity

"If you feel stupid, you're probably doing it right."
I am thirteen-years-old standing in a gym, wearing an outfit that radiates Elle Woods and her endless enthusiasm, running through a routine for the ten thousandth time, trying to smile like the Cheshire cat and nod my high pony-tail like the most faithful bobble head, and all the while wishing I could disappear into the pile of pom poms to the left and never utter"ready, ok!" again. Just as my morale  sinks to the same level of hope as Snooki's credibility as an author, my cheerleading coach's words of wisdom ring out to her lost sheep in hopes of herding them back to the land of Perky Pastures,

"If you feel stupid, you're probably doing it right."

I remember back then, I would grimace when I heard these words. I did not want to whip out the spirit fingers and whip my hair back and forth like Willow Smith. Yet, at the end of the day, we knew she was right. The more we stepped out of our comfort zone and the more energy/ridiculous facial expressions that we would show, the better our routine would look.

Let's fast forward seven years. Today, I was sitting in my new English Fiction class. We had a simple assignment where we were to write a fiction prose, and today, volunteers could read their pieces to the class. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I know this sounds ironic considering I have a blog that can be accessed on the World-Wide Web, but writing has always served as an outlet for the words I couldn't say. When you write it, you don't see the faces of reaction and reception when you speak those words. You don't see the rejection or the turning of noses. Therefore, I was embarrassed and wanted to keep my words safely on the page in front of me. An internal voice whispered,

"If you feel stupid, you're probably doing it right."

After battling the internal voice that only grew louder, I wearily raised my hand and the next thing I know, I am reading my story to an entire class. I felt more than stupid- I felt moronic/delusional (which is even more moronic that I got so worked up over a simple story- but that's beside the point). Yet, when I was through reading, I smiled. I had stepped out of my comfort zone. I had poured out my energy and thoughts. I had taken a chance despite the possibilities of rejection or criticism. I was doing it right.

I think this applies to life as well. People who are close to me have often told me that I constantly "live in a fairytale" mindset. As we all know, life is not a picture-perfect fairy-tale, and it never will be. However, I think one of the reasons our lives can't be like the fairy-tales is because we don't allow ourselves to feel stupid. If you look at the fairy-tales, they don't make the "smartest" choices. When would entering a castle with dragon security or climbing a sky-scraping (literally) bean stalk ever be the logical decision? Or look at  the movies. We aren't going to quit our job,leap onto a moving boat, crash a perfectly tasteful wedding reception, stand before an entire crowd of strangers, and pour out our hearts to someone over a loud speaker and in the spotlight (mad props to K. Heigl in 27 Dresses). We don't do those things because we would be allowing ourselves to feel stupid.

Yet, are we truly living if we never step out of our comfort zones? If we aren't chasing our dreams even if there's a dragon around the corner or a giant waiting in the clouds? If we don't fight for the people we love even if we have to stand outside in the pouring rain with a Boom box over our head and tell them they can have the last piece of cheesecake (Go Meredith Grey!)? If we don't ride Splash Mountain in the middle of December, and if we don't stand up at a concert and belt every word of Taylor Swift's twangy teeny-bopper songs as an eighteen-year-old even if people are alarmed and watching? Are we truly living if we don't ever feel stupid?

Because from what I've been told, if you feel stupid, you're probably doing it right.

So here's to chasing after a life 
of moments where I feel completely, absolutely, 100%, stupid.
The moments where I feel like
I'm truly living,
 I'm doing it right.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Red-Onesie Moment

Is this not absolutely hilarious yet so unfortunately true?
So, if you have been around me long enough, you know that I have a slight tendency to worry/put on a dramatic performance about absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, this is a weakness of mine, but fortunately, I have wonderful friends and family who love me anyways and help bring "Anxiety Girl" back from her conclusion jumps. One recent "jump" has resided in the back of my mind for the past few weeks, and I feel like there's a lesson to be taken from it.

It all started Christmas Eve. Megan gave me a new WHITE (if you have a person in your life who is the slightest bit accident-prone, DON'T buy them anything white) Coach watch that I absolutely LOVE. I was so excited and naturally wore it the next day on Christmas. Well, Santa has a sense of humor, at least at the McKenzie house, and he brought Megan and I red monkey onesies (Yes, if you are trying to remember- Megan and I are almost 25 and 21). Like I said, sense of humor.
This is the EXACT onesie I have. (monkey feet and all)
So Christmas night, I wore the RED onesie with the WHITE watch and wasn't the yellow in the crayon box to say the least. When I went to take off the watch before I went to sleep, my perfectly white watch now had a pink stain (major monkey business on the onesie's part). Of course, this sent me into a full Oscar-nominated performance as I mourned for my watch and acted like Kim Kardashian when she lost her $75,000 earring after jumping off a pier in Bora Bora. Clearly, someone should have given Kimmy and I a brain for Christmas because you don't wear a new red outfit with a white watch, and you definitely don't prod your monster-sized husband to chunk you off a pier into an ocean wearing $75,000 earrings. Back to the story..

Naturally, the next day I am still trying to get my Oscar and began researching ways to remove dye stains from patent leather (friends, the findings for this research isn't that bright). So I tried a few cleaners, and if you can imagine domestically-challenged me trying to clean a watch, you have an Elmer Fudd imitation. Being Elmer, I was oblivious to the fact that I was driving everyone else crazy (clearly not getting the People's Choice Award) until my sweet boyfriend kindly yanked me from my dramatic, high-horse stage back to reality (the kid has a real talent for this) and reminded me that it was just a watch with one tiny stain on a band that could probably be replaced and nothing to fret about for half an afternoon. Switching roles, Elmer laid down his gun, and Bugs picked up a carrot and began to contemplate the situation.

As embarrassed as I am about my antics, I believe I received a good reminder that day. Life is not going to be a perfectly white piece of patent leather. It's full of stains and blunders that leave marks that can't be erased right away. Yet, it doesn't change who you are nor does it take away from your value. Although the dye left a stain on my watch, it didn't change the fact that it was still a functional watch and didn't take away its signifance as a gift. Also, as my family told me, the stain would eventually fade, but in the mean time, it was up to me how I would view it. Likewise, in life, we can't control the stains or their timing. However, we can change our perspective of the stains and know that they aren't permanent. They may affect us temporarily, but they will eventually fade into the past. We can choose to laugh at the stain and our dumb "red onesie moments," or we can let the meager stain permeate into our lives and rob us of much more than a piece of our band. For me, I'll write this off as a red-onesie moment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doler Days

"The only woman I ever loved, I married."- Mr. Doler
Looking at the picture sweeps a bittersweet smile across my face. I miss that smile already. Being back in Oxford and not going to the Veteran's Home is odd. For the past two and half years, I have moseyed down the hallways searching for Mr. Miller and Mr. Doler and their vibrant smiles, and when I would finally lock eyes with them as they were wheeling towards me, I would instantly know that I was learning a lot more than how to play a game of dominoes. I was learning about life. I was learning about love. The roots and depths of companionship. The power of one simple smile. Ultimately, I was learning about myself as Mr. Doler and Mr. Miller helped knock down the domino walls of my heart on a weekly basis and poured their lives into mine. If you have read my blogs from last year, you know that I lost Mr. Miller last November. Last month, Mr. Doler returned home as well. So today, this post is dedicated to my sweet Mr. Doler and the past year I got to spend with you. I love you.
I remember one day that I was visiting Mr. Doler, he told me about journalism students from Ole Miss that were interviewing some of the veterans. He was being interviewed, and as we played dominoes, we talked about some of the questions that he was asked and the story of his life that he gave. When the article was published, Mr. Doler gave me a copy, and there was one line that sent my hopeless-romantic, head-in-more-than-the-clouds-more-like-fairytale, female heart reeling. In the article, he had answered a question, and he stated, "The only woman I ever loved, I married." I am pretty sure I jumped out of my chair and hugged him as soon as I read that line. This also had deeper sentiment to me because I cannot tell you how many times in conversation Mr. Doler would randomly interject "My wife and I would have been married almost 55 years if she hadn't passed away." Each time I would smile like I had not heard this tidbit for the 500th time, and each time it would always touch my heart like it was the first time he said it. Although there are many conversations and memories with Mr. Doler that I remember and cherish, I believe this is the piece of advice that I will hold the most dear from my domino friend.

The only woman I ever loved, I married. I know what you're thinking. Come on, Shelby, you've said that three times now. We get it- your mind is frolicking on the set of Sleepless in Seattle or rowing in a boat with Noah in The Notebook- what's the real point?

The real point and lesson to take from my friend is that in our lives, we do not fight and pursue the things we love sometimes. We let all sorts of obstacles hinder our paths- resistance, fear, pride, judgment, others' opinions, doubt, selfishness, (fill in the blank with your excuse), and we watch things and people we love slip through our lifeless fingers like grains of sand. Instead of almost making a 50th year marker, we sometimes look back on our lives with regret and hear bells of what-ifs echoing through our minds. Mr. Doler did not let the world get in his way- when he found the ONLY girl he loved, he married her. When the country he loved was in need, he stepped up to the plate and served. He lived a life fighting for his loves. I remember one day shortly before he died, he told me he hoped that he made it to 90 (he would have been 90 next month). Mr. Doler, I wish you had made it to 90 because I know you would have lived this month with more love than most people have in a lifetime.

So there's the challenge to me and you from that ridiculously adorable face pictured above. Find the things, the people, the beliefs, the places, the relationships, the dreams, the goals, the passions in your life that you LOVE and "marry" them. Fight for them "for better, for worse." Carry them throughout your life "till death do you part." Because when you're 89 and you look back on the years of life, isn't that what you want it to be filled with- love and all of its indescribable experiences?
I love you Mr. Doler. I know that you'll be waiting there one day, and I can't wait to see you again and only hope I can tell you that I lived a life that was full of fighting for love.
This is where I am this week. Hoping that a few cookies crumble the way I want them to- so if you don't mind, help her out and cross your fingers too! Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Time to Dance

"And a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:4

It has been four months since I have blogged. FOUR. I owe an apology to any who might have read my blog in the past. Looking back, I blogged the most when I was experiencing a valley, and writing served in 2010 as an outlet for me. Yet, I fell off the blogging radar in 2011. To simply and selfishly put it, it was my time to dance and rarely found/sought out the time to blog. Therefore, I apologize to those of you who had to read all of my valley posts and never got the description of the view from the mountain. That is my new M.O.- give you my tales from the mountain. However, before I get to that- I also feel convicted because I have not been as grateful for my time to dance as I should have been. I heard a verse from Job once that said "Should we accept good from God and not trouble?" I used to think this was showing our impatience for hardships. However, it applies to my life in other ways. In my times of hardship, I grew even closer to God. As I wrote once, it was a season of my life where I became less and He became more. Yet, when my time to dance arrived, I went tearing across the dance floor without thanking the One who turned on the music. I was the naive child who was enthralled by the song and was oblivious to the loving parent watching from the side of the room. Therefore, thank you God for the "time to dance" and for being the gracious, forgiving Father who smiles from the corner.

Back to 2011- I literally could probably write about the past year all day long. It truly was such a wonderful year where I was blessed with so many amazing people, experiences, opportunities, and life lessons. Yet, in light of the fact that I missed a Thanksgiving post and in celebration of the new year, here are twelve aspects of 2011 I am thankful for.

1. My parents. Throughout the past year, they have taken the role of a Servant Heart to an all-new level and have never ceased to inspire me on a daily basis. They are two of the most selfless and God-trusting people I know. I did not deserve them, but I am so glad I have their guiding footsteps in my life.

2. My sister who I have literally watched venture out into the "real world" the past year. From getting her Doctorate after six years of school in May to her "big-girl" job and her new apartment, I am so proud of her and the fact that she keeps raising the totem pole a little higher every day for me to climb ;)

3. My Aunt- Laura Story said it best in her song Blessings when she said "What if your blessings come from raindrops?" Although it was not under the most ideal circumstances, I am so grateful that my aunt now lives with us which has given me more time to spend with her and soak in her unique pieces of wisdom:)

4. An emergency-room free year! Can I get an amen? Besides a small passing out spell in the middle of the DG hallway, Kate finding me in my towel, and Maidee setting off the fire alarm as she ran up the fire escape to get to my room, the year ran smoothly and no roller skates to be found.

5. Speaking of DG, 2011 started my junior year which also meant living in the DG house. I have absolutely loved it so far and am dreading the sad day in May when I have to move out.
6. My childhood friends- although I have written about them in my blog several times, I could never run out of words to say. They have and always will hold a special place in my heart.
7. My college friends- From people I met my first day at Ole Miss to ones I met this semester, I have been blessed with such wonderful friends in Oxford who make this season of my life all the more beautiful and worthwhile.

8. A new friend in March- From a rather comical meeting, I gained a new best friend last spring and every day since has been quite entertaining. :) Simply put, I am so thankful for meeting someone who can put me in my place and make me laugh simultaneously. (This is not an easy task folks)

9. Trips- From Spring Break in March to four beach get-aways this summer to New Orleans in July to three trips to Houston in the fall and day-trips to Memphis, I have had my fair share of wheel-time so to speak and am so grateful for these adventures because they hold some of my greatest memories from the past year.

10. Mr. Doler- He will have his own post soon, but I am thankful for my last year with my sweet friend. I love you and miss your smile already.

11. The fact that everything happens for a reason. This has been my mantra for over a year now as I have blogged about it before, and this allowed for my time to dance.

12. A God who never ceases to amaze me, who loves me despite all of my flaws, who always listens to my never-ending rambles, and who blessed me with the past 11 wonderful blessings and my time to dance in 2011.