What is success?

-Bobbie Lu –

-Susie Q –

I’ve been avoiding writing this and I have come to the conclusion that is because I have no good answer. I. Just. Don’t. Know. So, I’ll explain what success is for me – which seems to be a feeling of accomplishment. However, I realize that this definition is totally internal and unquantifiable – so it can not apply to anyone else in the way I understand it. That means that success is completely different based on each individual – Webster would not really enjoy my definition. I don’t think I do either. It’s really a “lack of” a definition.

Let me try to paint a picture of my idea of success. A friend of mine described a moment where someone at a gathering asked him the very typical question, “What do you do?” His response was inspired. He started by pointing to his wife across the room and said he had the privilege of being married to that amazing woman. He then continued with the facts that he was the terribly proud father of a wondrous 9 year old, that he was an adventure seeker, and that he was a tinkerer – he loved to “make” and “fix” things. Then he ended with, “and for a job, I . . .” Needless to say, the person he was speaking to was caught off guard – in a good way, mind you – but they were expecting the typical response. The one that sounds like “I am (insert job title here).” This being followed by appropriate hmms, and ahhs, and questions geared to look like genuine interest.

I loved this obtuse response. Right now I feel I am reinventing myself – or maybe I am actually uncovering layers I have just not discovered yet. How great to not let your job define who you are. It may be a part of you – but not usually the most important part. It is not your “success.”

So, back from my tangent, but I promise I will connect the dots. I think success is when I can see myself, define myself, believe in myself as an explorer, an adventure seeker, as a helper to others, as a person to turn to, as a proud mother and wife, as someone who tinkers in science, a lover of history, and ohh, for a job I . . .

Success seems to be determined by our society. In the US, success has become some variation of the American Dream. Over the years it has morphed slightly from the house with a white picket fence, wife, car, 2.5 kids, but the main tenants remain the same. Success is a college degree, marrying the perfect partner and making sure that you live happily ever after; then, have a family, buy a house, maybe a second house, some cars, more things, always more…. And then there is your job. Oh man, you’re going to work like a dog and say thank you for the opportunity. Your job is all consuming, it’s the rat race: follow the rules, dress appropriately, achieve, achieve, achieve, and then you’ll get a promotion so you can feel free to work harder. Good thing your marriage is guaranteed a happily ever after…

There are a number of issues with this version of the dream, one of them is that there are so many people. We can’t all have that job success. We all are not going to have that career trajectory. Everyone goes to college, some work hard, some don’t care, we all get out with the same degree. Face it, college isn’t about the education, it is the last hurrah, it’s treated as the best excuse for arrested development before a lifetime of hustling and disappointment. What does a degree mean any more? And all of the people working? They are sick, exhausted, uninspired, marriages are failing, people don’t know how to communicate, mental health issues run rampant. What about any of this screams success? Having success defined by our society, your job, and your relationship status sure hasn’t served very many of us.

To beat the inevitable doom spiral that comes from the realization that we are all fucked if we try to measure ourselves against this standard of success, it’s imperative to define success for yourself. Here is what a successful life would look like for me:

  • Allowing the important things to take time.
  • Enjoying things being slow and not constantly getting sucked into the hustle.
  • Having the time and energy to be present for my friends and family.
  • Prioritizing my health, both emotional and physical, so that I can show up and be creative, inspired, and energized in all that I do.
  • Having true connections with my friends and family.
  • Living rooted in my values
  • Feeling balanced in life between work and hobbies and allowing both to be a source of dignity.
  • Continuing to be curious and always seeking to learn more
  • Saying no, not overextending myself, maintaining some boundaries.

Mostly, I want to live my life on my terms and not try to navigate from someone else’s road map.

“And now what?!”

-Susie Q –

In a writing workshop we wrote on the prompts of what do I see and what am I thinking and for our Salon, we wrote on the daunting topic of “Now What.” I mashed those pieces together because they illustrate the anxieties that I have rolling through my head very well. Oh, and sometimes I use words like fuck or shit or butthole. It’s not meant to offend and washing my mouth out with soap didn’t make me stop. I promise not to overuse them, I use them to create a bridge from your mind, dear reader, into my chaotic brain space.

I am thinking that I wish I didn’t think about jobs and money so much. I am thinking that I wish I didn’t get angsty and reactive. I am thinking that as a yoga teacher, I should not be comparing myself so much to the people sitting around me. I am thinking that each of us is fighting our own war, dealing with our pain, experiencing our own lives and feeling as though everyone else is looking at us thinking, “Get your shit together.” I’m also wondering what the fuck I am doing? I vacillate between too much work and the anxiety over not enough. And, here is the point where I start doing math on what life currently costs me and then I get even more angsty. It seems as though I am looking at this winter as being full of darkness and feeling stressed and lonely. Trying not judging myself over these anxieties feels impossible, and so does relaxing.

I need a major attitude adjustment to make it through this winter of discontent.

Instead of dwelling on my anxieties, I’m digging deeper and cultivating some positive thoughts. I’m thinking about how the steps I have taken in my life have created the circumstances that have led to this unique shape that my life has taken. I am enjoying the simple, pleasant things. Hanging out with my dogs. Running. Drinking coffee. Writing. Doing things that help me feel calm, clear, and creative.

I am thinking that it is just fine to be anxious sometimes as long as I am honest with myself about where I am in this moment.

-Bobbi Lu-

So, we were given the prompt in a writing workshop that asked “What are you looking at?” and while our first prompt for this blog is titled “And now what!?” I think this one accomplished the targeted goal because, right then I was thinking, “now what do I do with myself?”

(To clarify, we often hand write our blogs first, then type them out for editing and publishing purposes.)

“Now what . . . ?”

“So now what?” I keep wondering, which is strange to me because I have spent so much of my time being busy, working, organizing, rushing from place to place. But now? Now I feel adrift. I am spending time examining each word – the ones I say, the ones I write, and most, most often, the ones I think. I am noticing the gaps between places and the places where things meet, and I am wondering about everything all the time because I feel that I left a place of meeting and stepped into a gap. That gap turned out to be wider than I thought, so now as I am looking around, I get dizzy, or I feel lost, and it makes me want to chart a new course . . . but where? Which way do I go?

“So now what?” is where I am . . . looking for answers – though I have to say, I’ve been alive long enough to know better, to know that it’s not in the finding but rather in the searching . . . in asking the questions. I am noticing how I hold pens and write slowly because I realize it slows my racing mind – and I find comfort there – in the gaps I’ve created by slowing down. In those gaps, I have begun to see, feel, and hear parts of myself I must have lost, or let go. I didn’t know it, though. I didn’t know I was not full – or at least not full of these things that seem to fill me with . . . well, I’m not sure, but it is nice, so I’m going to keep on with it. So, maybe I will continue to ask “So now what?” And I will keep looking in the these gaps. Maybe that is my, “now what.”

A tale of two blogs . . .

It was the best of times, it was the worst of . . . hmm, it feel like this has been said before.

Thanks for joining us. A few months ago, we decided to start talking about serious shit. Life shit. All the shit. And this kept going every week. So then, we started writing it down and editing it. And now, we are posting those musings here for you to take or leave at your leisure.

For each topic, you will see each of our writings about said topic. Susie Q will post her musings and wonderings and opinions (perhaps using strong language) and Bobbi Lu will do likewise (probably using a lot of dashes and ellipses . . . )