This Is Not A List of Resolutions

(I originally wrote this in December, 2011. These remain true for me today)

Around this time of year, the blogosphere is filled with reflections, resolutions, and everything in between. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself but that’s because I didn’t leave my reflection to the end of the year.

I get the sentiment – a new year is peeking at us and we’re overwhelmed with this sense of renewal. For some of us, the new year can’t come soon enough. I’ve had those years myself, when everything associated with that year seemed like a bad dream.

Maybe it’s because I’m an “over-analytical bag of compassion” (as I’ve been called) but I tend to do my reflecting on a daily basis, so when December rolls around, it’s nothing new. Sure, I look back at my year and reflect a little but for the most part, I’m just ready for another day.

Because that’s how my life is – day by day. At times, it’s hour by hour, because I can’t predict anything anymore.  The only thing I can do is reflect, try to figure out patterns and then find out what works for me.

Over the last few years, especially over the last two, I’ve nailed down a few truths about my life.


Blood does not family make. Blood makes you related to someone else. It’s the mutual love and respect you have for another human being that makes you family.

People in my past who treated me like shit and broke me gave me a chance to rebuild from the pieces.  I may have jagged edges but the pieces are still me – just stronger, a little crooked but a whole lot wiser.

I will have bad days where I slip, whether it’s emotionally or literally as I hide out on my couch. The world outside will keep moving but I’m in control of the direction of my world.

My gut never steers me wrong. I just need to listen to it.

I think about death, way too often. Sometimes, it’s in irrational fear. Other times, it’s to reflect and remind myself that no matter how bad my day feels, I was alive today.  Tomorrow isn’t promised.

I’m a hot mess. That’s never going to change.

When my best friend tells me that a situation is sucking the life out of me, I should probably take note. For her to tell me that means that it’s been gradually pulling me down for a while.

When I get super drunk, I cry. A lot. This is a fact of my life. Sometimes, I throw up. I’m working on the throwing up part. The crying will probably never go away.

I’m an emotional wreck of a human being. You don’t want to know the things that make me cry on a daily basis.

Those who I call my best friends, the ones who are family by my definition, won’t leave me hanging – no matter how I insecure I get. I can’t let my past pain color the good in my life today.

Life is hard. Words are hard.

I can’t ever stop writing.

My life is where I want it to be. I can stop sabotaging it now.

I will never fully fit in to my surroundings, but I didn’t come this far in my life by fitting in. I came by owning the fact that I’m an outsider and making shit happen for myself.

I could never be any kind of inspirational writer/coach/speaker/fill-in-the-blank. I don’t know how to actively inspire others. I just know how to live and share. Anything else, to me, feels fabricated. [This is not a commentary on anyone else. This is something that I came to learn about myself after joining a couple of group sessions, trying to writing ‘inspiration blogs’ etc.]

No matter how old I get, I will never be too old for the silly things that make me giggle.


These are my truths based on my life and experiences at 2 years old. In a year, I might add a couple of things, or nothing significant could happen to change it.

All I know is that I’ll be doing my reflecting quietly, without any kind of life lists, because that’s what works for me.


How about you? Are you the reflect and make resolutions type? 

Do you have a life list?

Was 2013 a “Shit, I am so over it. Bring on 2014” kind of year?

If We Keep This Up, We’ll Feel Guilty for Being Alive

I want to talk to you about this thing we do.

We all do it. I’ve been doing it an awful lot lately, and I think that over the last few years, it’s really had an impact on how I approach life.

So, this thing that we do – the way we feel guilty about feeling happy because there are shitty things happening to people in our lives. It’s not that we’re going around bragging and that’s why we feel guilty.

We have guilt for feeling happy. We feel guilty because something good has happened in our life, and in that exact moment, something negative happens to be happening in the lives of many people that we love.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine called me. This friend is one of the few people whose call I actually take even though I hate talking on the phone. She called me to tell me something but she didn’t want to make me feel upset.

I knew what the news was. I knew exactly why she called.

“He proposed?” I asked, with a huge smile on my face.

You may be wondering why she thought the news might make me upset. Because she’d spent a good part of the last year being my support for my own relationship coming to an end.

I’m glad she called me. I was flattered that she called me, because in this day and age, there are only a handful of people we call and tell individually before announcing to the world that we’re engaged with a relationship update on Facebook or an Instagram of our ring.

Her happiness gave me hope. Her happiness made me happy.

This is one of the scenarios when it was OK. She wasn’t bragging. She wanted to share her happiness, and guys, that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being happy. We shouldn’t feel guilty that something is going right in our lives. We shouldn’t feel guilty for the little things that make us happy.

Should we share every single tiny thing that makes us happy with the world ALL THE TIME? Probably not. Especially if you’re me and are easily entertained by little things.

We should cherish and appreciate the good.

On the flip side…

Can we stop feeling guilty for being upset because something went wrong in our lives because we somehow feel the need to compare it to something that may seem worse in another life?

Shit happens. People in our lives get hurt. Our loved ones hurt.  Our loved ones lose their loved ones unexpectedly.

World keeps turning.

Your world doesn’t stop turning because someone you love is having something really awful in his/her life. We sympathize. We empathize. We let them know we are there but sometimes, there isn’t anything else we can do.

In the meantime, your life keeps moving forward.

You know what happens during your day? Good things, bad things and sometimes, unfortunately shitty things.

We have a tendency to feel guilt because we’re upset about something that happened in our lives. Why? Because if you compare it to something that is relatively worse in a friend/loved one’s life, we really shouldn’t complain because it could be worse.

As long as you are breathing, it could always be worse. 

I’m not saying complain about every little thing, but if you are upset because an event you were looking forward to got canceled, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Maybe that event was the one good thing you were looking forward to for weeks.

If we continue to constantly compare our feelings to everyone’s else, how are we supposed to feel? How are we supposed to process happiness, sadness, anger, and fear if we experience guilt for simply feeling? How can we process guilt as a pure emotion if we are constantly plagued by it due to this never ending comparison?

You guys, if we keep this up, pretty soon, we’re all going to start feeling guilty for being alive.

If we keep this up, we'll feel guilty for being alive



The Only True Competition Is With Myself

I woke up this morning with the realization that I’ve been doing myself a great injustice and it’s been two-fold. The reason it took me so long to realize this is because I’ve been trying to deal with the fact that my plans got a little derailed and I am currently not in Seattle (but the move is not off). I’ve been having a lot of negative feelings, which I then feel guilty for and so goes the cycle.

On to my realizations.

I’ve been subconsciously waiting for approval/recognition for my personal accomplishments without giving myself the opportunity to feel proud.

A lot has changed in my life over the past few years and I’ve been taking a lot of steps forward even if I stumble a little bit. I haven’t taken huge leaps and bounds. I have a tendency to keep quiet and I highlight my failures more than my accomplishments at times. I also highlight my friends’ and colleagues’ accomplishments because I genuinely feel proud of them. This is probably why I woke up with the realization this morning that I’ve been waiting on some kind of arbitrary recognition of my small victories. Not because I’ve been boasting them but because although I give without expecting anything in return, sometimes it gets a little lonely.

I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of explaining this.

The fact is that I haven’t given myself an opportunity to stop and feel proud, even for a moment, because I don’t recognize my own accomplishments. They’re not major. Hell, I haven’t reached any of my major goals but the thing is, I don’t give up. Every day, I wake up and do a little bit to keep moving forward. The thing is, no one is here with me to see how hard it is for me to even get out of bed sometimes. Or even turn on the computer and stare at that blank screen while waiting for inspiration to hit. I don’t even really do the small talk with friends on GChat anymore, which used to be my way of being connected. I did something similar to this when I got fired. Because I feel like my life is in limbo and I have nothing new to provide to the world, I keep it all to myself.

Yet I still wait for some kind of recognition for how far I’ve come, even in the last year.

I think we all do this on some level, but some of us are better at getting over it than others.

Which brings me to my next realization.

I have been competing with everyone else in the world, but not just those who have accomplished more than me.

I have been comparing myself to other freelancers, solopreneurs, bloggers, entrepreneurs – you name it, I’ve compared myself to them. That’s natural, at least in my case, because I’m an overachiever. I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do but in the last couple of years, I have learned that it’s OK to slow down and I don’t have to have everything perfectly figured out.

On the flip side, I’ve been slowing myself too much and downplaying the moments I should feel proud because I didn’t want it to seem like I’m bragging. Because, you guys, despite all the bullshit, there have been great things happening in my life. My hard work has been paying off but is it fair of me to keep that to myself because I don’t want others to feel bad?

I’m not saying I’m going to brag, but I have been in competition with the entire world, when I should just be in competition with myself.

The only fair measurement of my success is against my own failures and how I’ve handled what life has thrown at me.

I have been spending so much time trying to mold my words to make everyone else happy that I’ve forgotten my voice.

At the end of the day, I’m left with my doubts and failures. I need to learn to put my accomplishments and dreams next to those, and remember that it’s my passion that’s brought me this far in my life.

So it’s time for me to slow down and block out all the noise.

It’s time for me to start being fair to myself, rediscover my passionate voice, and share it with the world (again).

Forgiveness to Passion – 5 Years

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years? (Author: Corbett Barr)

Today’s prompt is eerily timed because 5 years ago today was one of the worst days of my life.

Dear Berrak,

I know the anxiety you feel right now. The events that will unfold today will make this the worst day of your life (so far in your life). It will break you & it will tear apart your heart when you see the scene unfolding in front of you tonight. You’ll blame yourself for months (even years to come). Don’t. I can’t stop you from doing what you’re about to do. You feel lost, with no way out. While this won’t be your way out, and in fact, it will keep you trapped for months, you will be OK.

Every bad moment in your life has been a turning point. You’re strong enough to move past this and heal, even if at times, you feel the opposite. You have people who love you, no matter what. I can promise you that your life doesn’t get easier right away but the pieces fall into place. You grow up.

And Dad forgives you.

That’s the most important thing you have to remember. He forgives you. No matter how much guilt you feel in the upcoming days – weeks – months and even years, just remember that he forgives you.

It’s been 5 years to the day and the most important thing I can tell you is this: I forgive you.

Just keep breathing.



Dear Mrs. O’Brien,

First of all, I WANT TO SEE THE WEDDING PICTURES.  Did it turn out to be as much fun as I hoped? Where are you living these days? I hope all of our dreams came true, or I worked my ass off to make sure that I at least tried to make them come true. I just looked at our life in 2006, and I gotta tell you, if I’ve grown even half as much as I grew in the last 5 years, I bet I’m super happy.

I’m sure there’s still stress, that’s just life. I just hope that I kept the dream alive. I bet I’m loving being married. As much as I deny it, I’m such a housewife.

Wherever it is that life took you, I’m here to remind you of one thing: Stay passionate. Remember, that’s when you’re the happiest.




This post is part of the Emerson Trust Yourself 30 Day Challenge which is a celebration of Emerson, his influence, his message and a beautiful new edition of Self Reliance put out by The Domino Project.

The Trust Yourself Challenge is a 30 day online initiative that encourages you to not only trust yourself but to expand your vision of what you think of as yourself. 30 amazing thinkers and seekers have been invited to each create a writing prompt for all who sign up for this challenge. You’ll get one prompt per day emailed to you that will expand on the theme. You are encouraged to share your posts and writings and thoughts on twitter  by using the hashtag #trust30. Please sign up at and investigate the nature of Self Reliance.