Spring Awakening


PHOTO BY UNCLE BEEFY

Oh, for heaven's sake. Let's just get this done. I have been mulling and mulling and mulling over what to say and where to start that, I mean, I have to start somewhere. Since my current mantra is "start where you are" then here and now seems a logical conclusion. So, here I am. Ta da! (Suddenly, I envision myself in a sidestep tap routine wearing a tutu? Same for you? Anyway...)

I've been away from 'The Bedlam' for the longest period of time since I first started blogging in 2007. But, despite appearances, I hadn't given up. The thing is, 2013 threw me for a serious loop - laid off from my job, a depressing and shockingly competitive job market, my mom's declining health, etc., etc.. It sucked. Sucked. And, being the Cancerian that I am, I suppose I needed to retreat into my shell in an attempt to regroup. That's not to say that I'm back and better than ever with all my ducks in a row and a strategic plan in place. But, with my flaws and imperfections, I am here. And, dammit, that's saying something.

There's nothing like a series of [what feels like] never-ending setbacks and disappointments to start whittling things down; first at your self-ascribed stories and perceptions, then what feels like your foundations, and, at some point, to the bare essentials. I'll try and spare you the gory details but I'm definitely forging a new perspective on things. No, I don't have any broad-sweeping, prophetic insights on things and I wouldn't expect to see me perched on a mountaintop dispensing Zen bits of wisdom any time soon. But I've begun to see the cracks that recent months have inflicted as insightful openings rather than evidence of being inherently broken.

Who knows why things happen when they do? I'm sure most of us have some framework or belief system to account for the purposes behind the ebbs and flows of life. I've been making valiant efforts over recent months in the figuring out of things by moving away from the "why me" to the "what is the lesson" phase. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all woo-woo on you. But what I will do is tell you that it has helped ease the weighty burden of the difficulties I've been facing by taking a more objective viewpoint. I found myself being able to create enough conscious distance that I could conjecture about the possible reasons a difficult moment could be serving me as opposed to merely causing great discomfort. And, admittedly, in other moments, I've slipped right back into the deep muck of processing through self-pity. A slip like that might ordinarily just add to the frustration of the circumstances and I'd likely feel as though I was doing something "wrong". But this time that said slip provided the perfect contrast and allowed me to feel the difference in the two approaches.

Once I'd been able to step back enough times and seek the possible lessons in a situation I was able to really see or, more accurate, feel how heavy and defeating the "why me" moments were. Additionally, I began to see that another glaring difference between the two vantage points was acceptance versus control. (Not that I have any, eh hem, issues with control. Yeah, right.) Just reading those two words, doesn't "acceptance" feel more open and "control" feel more constricted? And who wants to feel constricted in times of trouble? Not me. Despite my best efforts to the contrary. So, now I'm trying to be more mindful of how I'm feeling (i.e., getting out of my head and into my heart) and taking note of how a little surrendering can yield a lot of relief. Such sweet relief.

Now, I'm not merely sharing where I've been and am at the moment just to make excuses for my absence or to solicit sympathy. Really. On the one hand, it only makes sense as a starting point. But, on the other hand, I like the idea that it might also serve as a reminder in our "put your best face forward" world of social media that things aren't always pretty and perfect. This brings a few moments to mind.

First, while I was away, I received a kind and lovely email from one of my readers wondering where I was. Along with her supportive wishes that I might return to 'The Bedlam', she also shared her assumptions of what my life was probably looking like off the blogosphere including travel, parties, and making "fistfuls of money". (Um, not even close.) Secondly, a friend made the decision to shut her own blog down because of both wanting to spend more time with her family as well as feeling exhausted in keeping up with the 'Jonses', i.e., other bloggers. Some might say "super bloggers"? "How do they consistently make it look so easy?! And pretty?!!" (Um, editing?) And, lastly, a friend who became rather upset with me based upon her perceptions of what I was doing, where, with whom, and how often (and not with her) as deduced from postings on Facebook and Instagram. (Um, exsqueeze me?) Comparison is the thief of joy? You bet it is. It's also fertile fodder for wild assumptions that typically only function as a disservice to ourselves.

I get it. I mean, I get it. I have my own moments. I know you probably have yours. But those moments of "they have it so much better than me" are utterly futile if we only use them to flog ourselves into submission. We can whip ourselves into a frenzy over all the things we believe we lack in the face of what we assume another person doesn't. But the vast majority of the time it's an incomplete picture. Here's the thing, it doesn't matter what the other person has that I/you don't. Assumed or otherwise. I mean, sure you're lacking. Duh. We all lack something. But we all have things, too. Things that others lack. Not that it's about competition, it's about perspective. And, oftentimes, we skew the view.

Before you think I'm using this post as potential to get a column in "O Magazine" or something, let me wrap things up. It's been a rough year and I feel like parts of my soul have been heavy grit sandpapered. But I've started to see how much that could be a good thing. The rough stuff isn't all over but I'm on a much better bridge for traversing over troubled waters. I'm good. The key to this, as I mentioned before, has been learning to accept things as they are. And, in light of the conversation about comparison, I would encourage you, should you have any doubts, to accept yourself as you are. You just do you. Cheesy? Maybe. But that's just me.



38 comments:

  1. I totally hear you Uncle B - 2013 was very rough for me too. Acceptance and gratitude have been invaluable tools for me, as well. Sending you solidarity hugs and three big cheers for knowing and being yourself! The internet shows such a small side of all of our lives - it's so easy to assume everybody else's life is perfect, we need to remind ourselves that everybody is going through SOMETHING. p.s. Comparison is the thief of joy is my favourite quote. It's also the only one I remember hahaha but that just goes to show the impact it has for me. Hugs and welcome back!! xo

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    1. Well, solidarity hugs and cheers right back atcha, Anile! And, yes, remembering that we all go through something at sometime is a way to remember that we all have our ebbs and flows, good time and bad, and that even the bad moments will eventually yield to the good moments. Circle of life. (You're hearing "Lion King" now, huh? Hahaha!) xo

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  2. You know, you live long enough, like you and I have and others here too, and sh*t happens. Sometimes really big sh*t. Most often big sh*t. Acceptance is the only way through.

    Some people seem to skate through unscathed. And maybe they really do - maybe the life portrayed in social media IS what their life really is like. Some people really are wealthy and happy and fulfilled and all that. But comparing, like you note, or feeling envious does nothing to better our own lot. It's just a distraction.

    I find that the tough times that are seemingly random are the easiest to deal with. The ones that are my own doing? Those are hard. And humbling - to be the author of my own roadblocks and drama.

    Anyhow, always a pleasure to read your writing. Things do get better. And things then at some point do get worse. And then better again. There's no "arrival" - we all just keep plugging along. If I can have a few laughs, make a few pretty photos, have a couple of good meals and conversations with friends, make my daughter and husband happy, then it's a huge win. Can't ask for much more than that.

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    1. Thanks so much for the sweet and thoughtful comment, Sandra!

      Admittedly, I don't think anyone gets through life entirely unscathed despite appearances. But, also, as you mention, what we see in social media may, indeed, be a genuine part of their life. Although, I doubt it's the whole picture. And let me say that I don't believe they're under any obligation to present themselves otherwise. That's their business and awesome for them if they have beauty and abundance in their lives and want to share it. I just think it's important to keep perspective and see it more as inspiration for what we may wish for in our own lives than a point of comparison to highlight what we lack.

      Indeed, there is no arrival. It's all a journey through hills, valleys, and plateaus and the landscape is always changing. Rolling along and focusing on your own journey with gratitude for the moments you mention above is absolutely a big win!

      Thanks again for the comment and the love and the support! xo

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  3. Oh Bradford...boy did I need to read this today. What a gift you just gave me (and every reader), THANK YOU. Seriously. xoxo

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    1. Thank YOU, Susan! Glad it came at just the right time. Love it when that happens! Big love and hugs for your continued support. xoxo

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  4. A great post Bradford - lots to give thought to! Especially in the blogosphere with all the rather swift and sketchy so-called friendships. One must really dig in and discern what's reality and what is a 'staged reality' as any blog or blogger gives us just a certain image of themselves. I think the majority of those people who are all out and about with their self-staging do have a reason for it. I mean something way more deeper and more profound than just the pursuit of fame and success. The longer I belong to this blogosphere, the more I observe and wonder how people twist and turn. But after all social media are one more stage for plays of all kind that need to be interpreted carefully and wisely.

    It is so good and refreshing to read you again;-) Sending you a big hug all the way from Germany!

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    1. Absolutely, Igor. What we see in social media needs to be interpreted carefully and wisely. And I'm fine with self-staging - I do it to! And it's not necessarily insincere or a mere pursuit for fame and success, as you mention. I'm inspired by beautiful images and find it deeply satisfying that I might find or create something that others may find inspiring. I imagine a good many of us in the design/food/art blogging world would feel the same way. Like I mentioned to Sandra above, I just think it's important to keep perspective and see it more as inspiration for what we may wish for in our own lives than a point of comparison to highlight what we lack.

      Big hugs to you all the way from the Pacific Northwest! xx :-)

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing...it was brave and cool and generous of you to do so :) It sounds like you've been through some shit, and you're going through some shit and as someone who's been through some shit myself: I'm sending along an internet high five too. And back to this whole gratitude thing, it's amazing how lucky you are that you've even started to figure this all out! That in itself is such a damn great gift. I know so many people, who make it all the way through life and get so stuck in this "why me / woe is me" mentality that they are never able to see their way through all the muck. This approach will take practice, but I'd bet you're up for it :) So blog or don't blog your way through this (though my vote is still for "blog")...we'll still love you either way!

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    1. I'll take your high five, Erica! The gratitude and acceptance is absolutely a great gift. And, indeed, it's going to take practice. Although, I feel a little late to the game if I allow myself to, dare I say it, compare myself to others. I hear you on knowing others who never seem to figure it out. But witnessing their difficulties has also helped me on my own journey so they have gifted me in their own way. Not to say I believe I've figured it all out.

      Anyhoozles, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it and your kind support. And you can count on me blogging my way through it! Can't keep my mouth shut, I tell you! xo

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  6. Love this post, thank you for the reminder that 'poor me' times are also opportunities to reflect and learn. Leonard Cohen sang: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." x x

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    1. So lovely to see you here, Sam! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. LOVE the Cohen quote! PERFECT!!! xx

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  7. Well, I'm super glad to see you back. You're a fabulous writer and that photo is beautiful. I know things have been tough, but hey it's spring and your attitude is amazing - I would have just wrapped myself in a blanket and howled for a year. And O Magazine would be HUGELY improved if you had a column :)

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    1. Believe me, Paola, I had my blanket moments! Fortunately, they lasted days and not months or years. Nothing like some lovely spring weather to help buoy one's spirits for moving onward and forward. But let me get things around 'The Bedlam' up and running before I plunge into "O". ;) Thanks so much! xo

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  8. You have no idea how much I needed this post right now. Thank you for this Bradford.

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    1. Hi Jen! I thought I'd responded to your comment here but, my bad, whoops. I'm so glad that the post came to you at the right time. Hope that you and the family are doing well. And hope I get to see you again one of these days! Hugs!

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  9. Greatly said and done!
    Wisdom does come through (with?) pain; looking back most of us will end up feeling grateful.
    Welcome back!

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    1. Thank you so much for the comment and the support, Anna! Feels good to be on the road back! No doubt about it that wisdom can come from painful moments and I think the sooner we realize that, the shorter the time it takes to look on those moments with gratitude. Thanks, again, for taking the time to read and comment! :)

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  10. So glad you are back. I've missed your writing.

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    1. Thank you, Ileana! Appreciate your comment and support! Best, UB :)

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  11. Hey B, so good to see your post and "hear" your voice again! I love your insight and attitude. That is some major enlightenment that is tough to reach after a hard year. Good for you! And mister, I'd still love to see you in person for some catching up sometime soon. xoxo

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    1. Lovely of you to stop by, Miss Katie! One of these days we **really** need to do lunch! Up for a PT visit! Hope life is treating you swell! xo B

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  12. *waves from the same boat*

    Love you long time, Beefy.

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    1. Right back atcha, ZW! Wanna meet at the Starboard Lounge for a Mai Tai? ;) XO

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  13. No shame in taking a hiatus. Life hits us in waves and sometimes it's all we can do to keep our heads above water. Bradford we love you and will take our snippets of Uncle B on the blog whenever you feel like it. Sending hugs your way!

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! You should be seeing me a little more frequently. Hugs right back to you! xx

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  14. Hi UB - Just have to say right off that yours is one of the first blogs I read. Now I've got more then 700 in my Feedly! Those bloggers that seem to make it easy have help! They have ways to monetize their output, etc.

    I'd say, if you do the work, they will come. Even small regular posts of BofB are better than no posts. I too had a really sucky '13, so I'm claiming '14 for breakthrough (sounds like you are too!), and not letting the junk in the world get me down. Your blog is an originator, and as such you will always have a large, loyal following! Long live BofB!

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    1. Hi Melissa - Thanks so much for the super sweet and supportive comment. I *really* appreciate your kindness and steadfast support. (Btw, my Feedly is out of control, too! Haha!) Cheers to a better '14 and a stupendous '15! xx :)

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  15. Welcome back, and thank you for sharing your struggles and how you process them, how you take action! It's very refreshing to read something like that; very insightful, too, especially since I'm going through a bit of complicated phase myself.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. Hoping that things smooth out soon for you! Best, UB :)

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  16. 2010-2012 was my dark hole and we are coming out of it. Much love to you friend, as you do the same.

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    1. Hi Aimee! Lawdy, I hope mine doesn't last for two years! But, if so, I'm sure I'll survive. Glad to hear that you're emerging into the light! Big hugs! XX

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  17. I am so happy to see you're back Uncle B. You have been missed for sure, not just by me either - I was talking to a blogger friend the other day wondering what happened. I so appreciate your honesty in this post and I'm really sorry to hear you've had a bad time recently.

    It can be so easy with social media to think everyone else is living a dream existence where nothing goes wrong. I posted a picture a while back on IG of the stain on my brand new carpet where my friend's dog had done a giant sh*t! Some people got it, like I was trying to say - life isn't perfect guys - look, sh*t literally happens. (I have a dog too so it's not a big deal really, they can't help it sometimes). But some people really didn't like it and said they didn't follow west egg to see this kind of depressing thing. It was really interesting. Sometimes I wonder if social media, particularly pinterest and IG (because they are so visual) are a form of escapism. Whatever, I'm just so happy you're back - you've made my day! Louisa xx

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    1. Hi Louisa - Firstly, thank you for your readership, support, and kind words. I really appreciate it. There's no doubt that social media serves as a form of escapism - for myself as well. But with all the talk lately regarding comparing oneself to others (and the way we tend to see others as doing better than ourselves) it felt like a good time to 'keep it real'. At any rate, glad to be breathing a bit of life back into 'The Bedlam' and glad for the support of readers like you! xx :)

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  18. Just be prepared should I ever meet you that I will be hugging you…hope you are okay with that! I think this post is perfection and speaks to so many right now. The comparisons, the control/or lack of it. The perspectives and assumptions. My husband is going thru a job change and I am choosing to look at it as what are we going to learn from this…otherwise I would loose my mind. And for my pity parties there may be a cupcake or two involved! Wishing you well. Much love.

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    1. Yeah, Tammy, I'll be okay with that - I'm a hugger not a fighter! :) I'll be thinking good thoughts for the husband's job change and your perspective is spot on! Parties, pity or otherwise, always call for a cupcake or two! Hugs! xx UB :)

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate your thoughts. Your comment will appear as soon as I can publish it.

Even if I don't always get the chance to respond back, know that you're sending smiles across the miles. Warm wishes right back atcha! Thanks again!

p.s. - Contrary opinions or constructive criticism are also fine but "The Bedlam" isn't a platform for random acts of nastiness. Keep it classy.