Back to Me

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

 

Today was the first day in a long time that I realized that I am slowly becoming more like the old Cam, and I am extremely excited about it. What spawned this realization? I was talking to my friend who moved to California and just telling him about what I did today. Towards the end of my list of today’s events, he just started laughing. I am a very hilarious person, but at that particular point in the conversation I hadn’t used any humor, so I questioned what spawned his roll of laughter. He paused and said, “I missed you. It’s good to have you back. Ole happy, hippie Cam!”.

We talked for a little while longer, said our goodbyes, and hung up the phone. I really started to think about what he had said. I noticed that I had to fight the urge to laugh as well. “I am back,” I thought to myself, smiling. I knew, and felt, exactly what he had meant.

It’s hard to put your past self into words. So I’m just going to act like I’m describing a stranger who wasn’t me because it’s easier for me to articulate my former qualities that way. I’ve changed so much that looking back to the past on who I used to be is kind of like observing another person anyways.

She’s a health freak- I’m talking 100% external and internal. She doesn’t drink any alcohol or smoke cigarettes. She grocery shops in the organic section and at farmer’s markets. She makes her own almond milk, peanut butter, vegan cream cheese, and mashed potatoes out of cauliflower. She is a fantastic cook. While everyone else is sleeping, she’s at the gym. When she gets home, she meal preps. She reads a lot because she enjoys it. She doesn’t have a television because she doesn’t enjoy it. She spends as much time outside as possible. She walks her dog and talks about her like she’s a person. On the back of her dresser, which doubles as a headboard, she has hand written a million different quotes in different color markers. They range from “Live, Laugh, Love” to “Don’t waste your time and energy on feeling envy or jealousy. The race is long, and in the end, it is only with yourself”. She has the most brilliant smile and strangers often stop her at the grocery store or the bank to tell her how happy she looks. She holds the door open for people. She pulls over and helps old ladies on the side of the road carry things. She has conversations with bums about why they shouldn’t smoke when they are digging in ashtrays for stubs, but then tells them that if they are going to, to at least smoke their own and hands them money to go buy some. She is kind. She doesn’t judge or think mean thoughts towards strangers, remembering that everyone is fighting their own battle and that she honestly believes a chain of kind events towards people who need them could help end the world’s problems. She’s religious and a Christian in her heart and actions, but has no idea of that yet because a boy hasn’t given her a bible hidden in a stack of books, so her brain hasn’t learned it just yet. She glows with happiness, inside and out. It’s not an act, it’s just her. She’s fun, spontaneous, and a genuine good listener. She is a loyal friend and will get out of bed at 3 am to give her drunk ones rides, they call her the Cam Cab. She’s never in a hurry. She isn’t worried about money [which let me explain the thing is that I had way less then, I just had this weird/awesome way of knowing and trusting that everything always worked out]. She inspires people and teaches them things, and doesn’t know she’s doing it until they tell her, sometimes weeks or years later. She has plans to move to Italy to teach English. She has been applying for a volunteership to build the National Park of Patagonia and thinks that she will finally be accepted for that 6 month program this year. She believes in soulmates. She doesn’t believe in looking for them. She’s hard to tie down to one place, one person, one job, one life. Traveling makes her feel more at home than anywhere she’s ever lived. She wants to do great things; not like be famous or rich great things, but like make a difference and help people great things. She has no idea how to accomplish that.

I guess that’s the most of it. It’s crazy how far away from yourself you can become. You change one thing for one person, then you sacrifice this thing for another, then you stop doing this because of that… next thing you know describing who you used to be is like looking at a stranger. I don’t point fingers and I don’t believe in regrets. I changed because I made choices that led to decisions that lead to actions that caused these changes. It was totally under my control. It’s funny how when you stop concentrating on yourself and start focusing on someone else, how easy it is to become a ghost of the person you once were.

But today, that ghost must have jumped inside me. Here’s the events I was explaining to my friend that made him point this out.

I woke up at 5 am to drink a protein smoothie made with fruit & veggies in my blender and go to the gym for spin class at 6. After spin, I worked out more and came home. I made breakfast which consisted of eggs cooked with cottage cheese on protein toast with avocado. I walked my dogs down to the preserve and back, which is about a four mile loop. I showered, threw on a bathing suit, and went and laid out at the beach for a while. I went grocery shopping at this place called Fresh Fields Farms [amazing!] and publix. While I was there, an old man told me that I looked like one of the happiest people he’d ever seen [I was visiting fantasy land in my mind and day dreaming about some happier memories about a year ago involving an old couple, grilled cheeses, and a past publix trip]. On the way home, I saw a lady with her 3 young kids waiting at the bus stop looking hot and aggravated, so I gave them a ride. It turned out being quite the ways away, about an hour longer than expected, so when I got home I spent some time cleaning where my ice cream melted all over my car. I cleaned my house and put some laundry away. I practiced Modest Mouse “Ocean Breathes Salty” and Willie Nelson “Always on my Mind” on guitar. On Tuesdays, I started a new routine of giving myself a facial from a mask I mix up of a bunch of stuff [activated charcoal, tea tree oil, rose-water, European clay powder, honey, and aloe- try it, it makes your skin so so so smooth]. Then I started meal prepping for the week, so I made cauliflower stirfry [no rice, you use the grated cauliflower as the rice], egg fritata, peanut butter protein waffles, 7 seed protein granola bars, salad with homemade guacamole for the dressing, baked chicken stuffed with homemade spinach pesto, and some gluten-free protein donuts for a treat on my high carb days. When my friend called I was reading The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was having a bad day so the phone call started with me telling him some advice and a cheesy “Old Cam quote” to back it up. I haven’t used a quote paired with some advice in a long, long time. It even felt familiar and happy to do it; and it was awesome to remember one after so long too. Then came the laughing.

Sometimes, things happen for a reason and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. You can’t change the past. You can’t force people to love you and be with you. Today I realized that I can only look forward. I can go back to working on myself and being the person I loved and the friend I am called to be. I picked up a few new tricks during my relationship and they’ll come in handy, but it’s mostly time to revert back to the old, known, tried, and true methods. Hello, Happy Hippie Cam. Peace out negativity and fighting for things that just don’t deserve more efforts at this current point in time. Maybe one day they will, or maybe they never really did. The fact of the matter is, it’s all behind me now and all I can do is smile, accept it, and see what happens next.

Damn, I missed me.

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Love Does or Doesn’t It?

Sometimes you read a book and it resonates deep, down inside you somewhere. You aren’t really sure why, but it touches your heart and soul in such a way that it seems as if the author wrote what they wrote because of you. That the connection you feel couldn’t possibly be meant for any other reader besides you; that whatever sentence or paragraph that you just read was specifically formulated for you to read, whether the author knew it or not. I read a lot (I don’t own a television and haven’t for years) and it has been awhile since I have read a book that did this to my heart. Then I was given the book Love Does by Bob Goff. I don’t know if it was the timing, or the person that gave it to me, or just the book itself that made it touch me so deeply, but it did.

I think it’s very important in life to surround yourself with people and resources who will keep you in check. Who are not afraid to tell you their opinion about what you’re doing or how you’re living without sugar-coating it or being scared to cause an argument about it. You need to have faith in and respect their wisdom, experience, and their motives. You need people around you that love you so much they will tell you when they think you are fucking up and that they believe that you need to stop. More importantly, you need people in your life who will tell you this but still stand by you while you continue on your own path and don’t follow their advice. That is why a few years back I made some changes in my friend circle; correction, I abolished pretty much 90% of it. I realized that the people who surrounded me didn’t care enough to tell me when I was fucking up, and encouraged it by doing it with me. When they did give me advice about what to do or not to do, it was almost always motivated by their own personal schemes and what benefits they would get from it. So I changed. I dropped more people than I can say without sounding like a cold-hearted person, but sometimes its ok to be selfish and this is one of the areas that I encourage selfishness.

I repeat a quote to myself often and it helps me evaluate the surroundings I’m in and the people I allow to surround me while in them. I think it’s important to stop yourself from falling back into old habits, and this has helped me stay moving forward and out of old ruts that I really have no desire of revisiting. “If you are the smartest person in the room, it is time to move on”. Some people will probably think this is stupid, but I don’t. I think that if you really think about it, it’s actually an amazingly true and accurate life motto to take on. You want to surround yourself with people who are constantly inspiring you to be better, who are teaching you new things about life, and who challenge you. Nobody knows everything. If you are ever in a place where you either think you know everything or you have learned all there is to learn from it, it is time to move on. We should all be constantly improving upon ourselves.

“I once heard somebody say that God had closed a door on an opportunity they had hoped for. But I’ve always wondered if, when we want to do something that we know is right and good, God places that desire deep in our hearts because He wants it for us and it honors Him. Maybe there are times when we think a door has been closed and, instead of misinterpreting the circumstances, God wants us to kick it down. Or perhaps just sit outside of it long enough until somebody tells us we can come in.” -Bob Goff, Love Does

I have had a lot of people who I respect, who I value, who teach me things and inspire me, who have motives that are true, and who are in amazing relationships that I one day hope I can have one similar to, tell me it’s time to move on. That I shouldn’t place any more hope in Nick or us ever seeing each other again.  That I’m a pretty girl and I’ll be fine and it’s all apart of a plan that I don’t understand yet. That continuing to stand outside this closed-door will eventually just make me miss out on other opportunities I really am supposed to take. Then I read this book. That quote. I found myself torn in-between a bunch of things: their advice, my heart, my doubts, my hope, Bob Goff’s advice, God’s subtle hints. Love is a funny thing. So is pride. So are the hints we receive from God, or the universe, or whatever it is you believe. I lived a lot of my life ignoring coincidences and I realized maybe that’s where I went wrong. Maybe they aren’t coincidences, maybe they’re important signs you are supposed to pay attention to. Maybe I was supposed to open this book that was given to me, read this very paragraph, and go with what I feel is what I’m supposed to do: believe that one day, Nick and I will get another chance. I’m not supposed to date or get numbers or sleep with other people. I’m not necessarily waiting around; my life has been filled with new experiences and adventures lately and I can say I’m very happy. I just think that the dating area in my life should be off for a while. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone else anyways because I don’t even have my heart to give to a new person, I never got it back.

The thing that I realized the other day is that I am also supposed to be teaching the people who have decided to include me in their surroundings. I am supposed to be beneficial to their lives as well and it is a 50/50 type of deal. So when I decided to turn down their advice and counsel, I realized that that really is ok. Maybe it’s my turn to teach them a few things about loyalty, faithfulness, determination, and hope. Maybe that’s why I was placed on their path, as a reminder of unconditional love and devotion. I feel like in the world we live in today it’s all about quitting and giving up and getting new things to replace broken things. I want to be an example to them that that isn’t the only way to do it. That maybe, if you try hard enough and have enough faith, it will work out. That if you stay hopeful and understanding, things that you once thought were lost or broken or destroyed can be found, repaired, and rebuilt. I know what most of you are thinking and I’m ok with it. In a world where I hardly agree with anything anybody thinks, I’d rather be looked at as foolish/naive/stuck in the past/pathetic. Maybe Nick and I will never talk again. I can’t make him come back, I can’t make him miss me, and I can’t stop him from dating and meeting someone else. I can only control my own actions and my own hope. I can have faith it will all work out. I can continue to love him and hope he finds whatever it is that makes him happy, and maybe that’ll include me.

 

Yes.

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There’s one three letter word in the English language that has a lot more power than people tend to give it. I realized this back in April when I decided to make that word a much more active part of my life. That word is “yes”. Simple enough, right? It’s a pretty common word that most people tend to use everyday. When I sat down and decided to start saying “yes” more often and more purposefully, I realized that I had been using it wrong for years. The problem is that most people use it as an answer to a question, which is what I often did. The thing about “yes” is that I think it is supposed to be used much more as an action; a promise to do something when the question is asked, and not just as a brush-off or acknowledgement of a request like it has turned into.

I realized that after being in a committed relationship that lead to an engagement for a few years, that at some point “yes” followed by an immediate action stopped existing and was replaced with saying things like “soon”, “let me check with Nick”, “let’s plan to do that”, or “definitely, I’ll call you when he gets back in town”. Before I knew it, I had done something which is very out of character for myself: absolutely nothing. I stopped working on myself. I stopped improving myself through new experiences and traveling, which is the way that I feel I grow and learn the most. I stopped being the impulsive, jump-in-the-car-and-go, down-for-anything, just-ask-and-she’s-in girl. I started waiting around. I started turning down things. I started making plans, 90% of which never happened because we never happened. Eventually, I lost my spontaneous reputation and people stopped asking me and inviting me on amazing adventures and to join in experiences. The calls from my friends became fewer and further between, then eventually stopped. My invites and questions asked became much more easier things- like a night out at the bar or a beach day drinking, which I’m at a point in my life where I really just dislike drinking as a social activity. It has lost its’ fulfillment and fun and appeal to me, so I eventually even said no to that, and became bored. Bored and waiting, all the time. I do not like to regret things, and I don’t regret very many things about our relationship, but I do regret the time I wasted and the things I said no to, for what turned out to be nothing. So after this parting of our ways at the end of April, I decided to get back to that girl I used to be. How? By saying yes and acting, not planning, but doing immediately.

The things that have happened in a little over a month have really opened my eyes to why I used to be so happy before. Yes is a very positive word, especially when it is acted out. I believe that positivity attracts positivity, I always have. One of my best friends approached me right at the end of April. A few years back I had driven across country randomly, a trip which started out as a 2 week visit to Memphis and became a 6 month long road trip coast to coast [that is the girl that I am trying to get back to.. if you could feel my heart ache for who I was back then while typing that sentence I think everyone would understand me much, much more]. Wes looked at me and said “Cam, you should drive with me to Cali and pull my last trailer of stuff out there. I’ll pay for everything and give you some money for missing work.” He moved out to Lake Tahoe in March and was back in Florida to pick up his dirt bikes and four wheelers. I immediately said “Yes”. Wes didn’t believe me, which kinda hurt to be honest. There was one time when my acceptance to the deal on the table wouldn’t have been a shock or misinterpreted as a joke. I told him yes again, and asked him when we were leaving. I got my shifts covered at work and we left 3 days later. “Yes” was as simple as that, it was a response, followed through with an action. The trip was great, not quite as long as my last coast to coast adventure, but it reminded me of a piece of myself that I had long buried and ignored.  I saw new things and met new people and got to travel. It was deep down good for my soul and began to bring back an older Cam that I wish I had never changed for anything.

The funny thing about saying yes is that once you do it, you seem to get more invitations to do new, fun, and exciting things. Which, thank my luck, have for some reason all been offered to me for free. In the last month and 13 days of changing my perspective of yes, I have: been on a cross country roadtrip, started professional guitar lessons, went to TPC at sawgrass, started violin lessons, been hiking in North Carolina, went on a camping trip to the springs, been wakeboarding, been off-shore fishing, got an amazing trainer and nutritionist, recieved an opportunity to live in Italy for a year with a job [which I haven’t exactly said yes to because that one unfortunately does require a little more planning but I am getting closer everyday], am going on a week long vacation to the Keys and staying in an amazing house in Marathon with boats & harleys, have been to the art museum downtown known as the Cummer [which I have wanted to do for a year but we never seemed to have time], and started this blog. All those things sound amazing, right? Well, ready for the real amazing part? I have actually done that entire list and have still made more money than I have spent [thank you Wes].
My advice for you: start saying yes and following through with an action and you might just be surprised at the chain of events it leads to!

 

One last thing.. for the person who I hope maybe one day is reading this, but probably isn’t. There have been a lot of hard questions I have said yes to too. Do you miss him? Do you know he’s slept with someone else already? Did you hear about St Patty’s day? Do you know he was on a date at European Street already? Do you really still love him? Do you really plan on not dating anyone for a year still? Do you honestly forgive him? Would you take him back if he showed up right now? You know that he probably is never going to show up again, he already moved on, right? You still plan on waiting?

Yes.