The Searching Place: A Twist on Dr. Seuss’ “Waiting Place”

Via Flickr: just.K

I have always been an avid lover of Dr. Seuss and his way with words and rhymes. Then again, who isn’t a fond follower of his work these days? Although it may be cliché, there’s no doubt that one of my favorite books of all time (no, not just as a child, but even until today) is his very own “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” The way he was able to capture some of life’s biggest lessons and embed them into relatable rhymes and well-needed advice gets me every time. If anything, I truly believe that that particular book hits the spot for us, as adults, more than it might for children. The way he allows us to reflect on our journeys through thick and thin, failures and successes, and insists that we can still make it through at the end of the day is probably the reminder we all need to hear to keep going.

There is one particular part in the book that I found myself constantly relating to: “The Waiting Place,” that scary, useless place made for people just waiting for something…ANYTHING to happen. In grown up talk, we might as well call it the dreaded “stand still.” It’s that horrible part of our lives where we have absolutely no idea where to go from there; the part where one phase ends and another has yet to begin, and we find ourselves stuck in the middle; it’s the part where we’re hoping and praying and painfully yearning for that damn opportunity to knock on the door already. Yes, we definitely have all been there.

But, since I moved across the world to New Zealand, amidst building a new life for myself, I realized that there was no part in my beloved “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” that defined this part of my life. This part was all about searching for my next step; searching for what to do next; searching for a way to build my routine; searching for answers; searching for new friends; constantly, constantly searching. It seems that beyond “The Waiting Place,” there comes a time where you just refuse to wait anymore and you have to take matters into your own hands. Thus begins the searching quest.

I realized that, in Dr. Seuss terms, we find ourselves in a whole different place, the Searching Place. At that point, it only seemed right that to truly introduce this phase of our lives, I would have to attempt to recreate and twist his Waiting Place into this place of searching, maintaining a similar rhyme and rhythm that could fit into my favorite story, like a missing puzzle piece.

With that said, I introduce to you my very own attempt at some Dr. Seuss magic:

The Searching Place,
…for people just searching.

Searching for a job to do
Or the words to write
Or a path that leads to a greater height
Or a friend you felt like you always knew
Or a dream you once lost but can now pursue
Or searching for a journey to delve into
Or searching for a way to bid adieu.
Everyone is just searching.

Searching for a frog to kiss
Or searching for a home filled with bliss
Or searching to fulfill your bucket list.

Or searching perhaps for a shooting star
Or a miracle, or the keys to your car
Or some faith, trust, or pixie dust
Or the yellow brick road, or a chance to adjust.
Everyone is just searching.

At first, I thought it would be more difficult to come up with rhymes to put my point across. I know myself as a writer. I’m wordy and blunt and talk in clichés, and I haven’t written a poem since learning about Haikus in the fourth grade. But here I was counting syllables and scraping my mind for words that rhyme with “do,” and eventually, somehow it all fell into place! Perhaps it was my love for Dr. Seuss and slight envy for his ability to string words together in such harmonious flow; or maybe that deep-set desire to find the missing link I felt suddenly lacked from that wonderful book; but most of all, I just wanted to paint an image, like he has done for us so many times, that would simply define this phase of our lives that we all pass through…our very own Searching Place.

Relate to it, I hope you do, for this quest of searching is almost through. And we’ll find our ways to move mountains too. Persist and I promise these words to be true.

: : : I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me! : : :

— I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, Dr. Seuss —

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Quote of the Moment

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

-Mother Teresa

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Inspiration Board: 33 Ways to Stay Creative


: : : If my hands could hold them you’d see, I’d take all these secrets in me and I’d move and mold them to be something I’d set free : : :

— Let the Rain, Sara Bareilles —

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What Comes After “Happily Ever After”

There are so many moments in our lives where we find ourselves standing at the edge of a cliff, a leap of faith calling out to us, and the lingering question of whether or not to take it agonizingly tossing and turning in our minds until we finally make our decisions. For anyone who knows me, or anyone who reads this blog, I don’t need to remind you of my stance on the topic. But just in case … I am and have always been a true advocate for leaps of faith and following in your dreams.

My advice has always been to take it. Calculate all you want, assess the pros and cons even, but for the love of God just jump. I guess it’s because I’ve always believed that there must be a reason as to why we found ourselves standing at that cliff in the first place. Really, the outcome can only go two ways: we either make it, which in that case would be a risk worth taking, or we don’t, which would be a potentially hurtful yet forcefully strengthening lesson learned.  But at that point, it all comes down to the question of what do we have to lose? Or better yet, what do we have to gain?

Via Flickr: Compact.Girl

For as far back as stories on leaps of faith go, we’ve all heard as well as told the tales of the struggles we’ve faced when our hopes to reach a greener side fell a little short. But what about those of us who actually made it? What happens next?  Even a Disney lover like myself knows there is far more to a story than “happily ever after.”

So three months ago, I took my leap of faith, got married, moved half way across the world, and found my happily ever after (which actually does kind of resemble the ending of a Romantic Comedy that leaves you with that warm, fuzzy feeling inside). And that warm, fuzzy feeling of “I did it, I actually made it, I’m finally where I want to be,” is one you’ll absolutely love dwelling in for as long as you can.

But that’s just it. When you’re standing up there on that cliff, in the moment you imagine the glorious place you want to be, do you actually know what that place even is? Whether it is getting married to the man of your dreams, landing your perfect job after college, finally moving to the city you wanted to moved to when you finished one phase of your life or other, it’s easy—and actually encouraged—to paint an ideal mental image, set a goal and work toward it with all we have in us. But aside from a set of ideals, do any of us really know what it looks like on the other side of a leap of faith?

When the “I did it” cloud eventually clears, you will suddenly find yourself staring right into a new beginning. You will realize that a leap of faith is not only a happily ever after, but a whole new story, and that can be just as scary as the decision to jump in the first place.

So when I first arrived in my new life, I expected to know exactly what to do and when to do it. I thought that after this success, I would once again ease into a rampage of achieving all of my goals and magically reaching all of my dreams, as I had been doing before I leapt. But it’s not that easy. It’s not supposed to be that easy.

In all of my honesty in revealing the other side of Happily Ever After, I’m afraid I may be scaring off those of you who are standing at the cliff as you read this. But, by all means, don’t stop! Jumping into the arms of a dream you’ve always hoped to follow is the most wonderful experience you may ever come across in your life. And when you finally feel the overwhelming bliss of accomplishment, the struggle of every step along the way becomes so worth it.

Don’t stop, not for a second. But once you land, remember …

Remember who you are despite the unfamiliar norms and expectations that will hover around you.

Remember that it’s ok to stop for a minute, take a step back, and let your new surrounding sink in before you hit the ground running.

Remember to take the time to learn. And in a foreign atmosphere where you’re beginning all over again, you are bound to learn something new everyday.

Remember that despite your potential craving for a bit of empathy, no one will understand the transformations you are undergoing better than yourself, nor should you expect them to.

Remember that just because you left behind the people, places or things that made up your comfort zone, you are not alone. You are never alone.

Remember to enjoy it – every minute, every new encounter, every one of your “firsts” in this new experience. It keeps the warm, fuzzy feeling always lingering in the air.

Most of all, remember that you cannot expect yourself to begin where you left off before taking a leap of faith, because that strong, passionate, brave decision to jump in the first place only proves your ability to bring yourself up again and again and again.  And what better time to bring yourself up than right now … as a beginning to your Happily Ever After.

: : : You can take everything I have. You can break everything I am like I’m made of glass; like I’m made of paper. Go on and try to tear my down. I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper : : :

— Skyscraper, Demi Lovato —

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Our Greatest Fear and the Quarter Life Crisis

A little over a year ago, I graduated from university in a major I loved and a hunger to find my place in the real world. I felt like all the clichés of graduation symbolizing new beginnings were true and a door of endless possibilities was finally opened in front of me. But despite this romanticized view of such a pinnacle in my life, I ended up moving back home after eight years of living alone.

I will admit openly that my greatest fear—after checking off every goal on my mental university bucket list—was that I’d end up back home. Here, I was convinced my passions would be forcefully stalled until I was able to find a way out. And because of that fear, I felt like my life was at a standstill.

Throughout this time, the person I probably complained to most was my little sister. She always knew what to say to make me feel better. One day, as we were lying on the bottom bunk of our childhood bunk beds, she said:

“I just had an epiphany! Think of it this way…before, you were a caterpillar and now you’re in a cocoon and soon you’ll be a beautiful butterfly!”

Before I go any further, please don’t mistaken this for any REAL wisdom my 17-year-old sister would give—she actually is quite wise! (We actually laughed at this ridiculous idea for ages, and saved it in a note on my phone titled “Funny conversations with Noor”). So, no, I never took the silly cocoon idea seriously.

With time, I picked up a great training opportunity with a Fortune 500 company, fell into a comfortable routine, and I’ve always loved living with my family. So home wasn’t so bad after all. But was I making dreams come true? Moving mountains? Awakening the greatness within? Not really.

But then, a year of living at home had passed and only a few months were left before I’d leave again. I started to question what if Noor was right? What if, since I’ve been home I entered into a cocoon that kept me sheltered and gave me an excuse to hide away from the world? What if my passions were meant to stay pending for what seemed to be the right time? What if, after I finally found comfort, love and support here, I wasn’t ready to leave?

In the midst of my inability to answer my own questions, I realized something very important: I was definitely in a quarter life crisis.

Search this term online and you’ll find hundreds of articles trying to explain this psychological trap us 20-somethings fall in. They try to give reasons as to why we become aimless graduates. They criticize us for our inability to choose or follow a path when we reach a fork in the road. In fact, we apparently are so knee-deep in this sudden panic of trying to figure out what comes next that we aren’t even sure if we want to choose from the options in front of us. And the sad part is that the majority of us reach a point where we truly do fall under one category or other that defines the symptoms of a quarter life crisis.

But despite all the research and the strangely accurate explanations that make you feel like a walking cliché, I came to the realization that it’s not just about the fear of what comes next. It’s about the fear of living up to expectations. And possibly the hardest expectations to overcome are your own.

Who doesn’t have ambitions, aspirations, passions, or a flat out bucket list they hope to fulfill? We all do. We all know exactly what we want…or at least have a pretty good idea of it. But the problem is that we have a tendency to shy away from really pursuing it when the moment finally presents itself. We don’t fear what comes next. We don’t fear falling into society’s norms. We fear chasing our dreams and failing to achieve them. We fear listing the things we truly want in case we fall short of acquiring them. We fear disappointing ourselves.

And so the excuses begin. Life is unfair. We don’t know what we want. We can’t do it. And no, we’re just never ready.

Looking back at my year at home, I now realize how psychotic it was to try and convince myself that I was in a cocoon that sheltered me from exposing my passions. I feared I wasn’t ready to move on after finding my place back home. I feared being able to make it like I once did before. But if I were to stick to that ridiculous metaphor, then a cocoon’s real purpose is to allow transformation to grow within it; to foster strength, beauty and prepare the being within for something much bigger.

My time here has been anything but a standstill. It has been a tornado of lessons learned, some of which I’m still learning; and a storm of tests, some of which I’ve failed. And my greatest privilege is to have experienced every step of it with my family, who not only supported me, but also taught me and tested me. In all my eight years of living alone, I did not experience struggle, then smooth sailing; discouragement, then encouragement; ultimate lows, then ultimate highs like I did in one year living at home.

The quarter life crisis warns that us 20-somethings have a tendency to stumble into a race we may not want to be part of just to escape ending up in our old childhood bedrooms. But home gave me a moment to slow down, remember my dreams, and look for the path that would allow me to follow them. Home stopped me from rashly falling into just any race and reminded me to run my own.

I believe that we create our own expectations because we are the only ones who are completely aware of our capabilities. We are the only ones who are completely aware of the extent of our reach. And I wish I could promise you that nothing will stand in your way but something will. Life always will. All I know is that in a little over a month, life is going to break me out of that cocoon whether I’m ready or not. I can choose either to fly, or fear. And I’m done with fear for now.

: : : Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us : : :

– – A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson – –

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Quote of the Moment

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.” They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

-John Lennon

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The Soul Mate Search: Blame the Greeks

So this is why we have so much trouble finding our “other halves.” Oh, those Greeks! Did they always have to provoke the Gods to inflict some sort of punishment on us? Still, it’s a sad yet mystical tale about how the search for soul mates all began, with a bit of beauty and hope for a happily ever after. Just the kind of thing the hopeless romantic in me likes.

Image via Rosie Hardy

Once upon a time, there were gods in the heavens and humans down on earth. But we humans did not look the way we look today. Instead, we each had two heads and four legs and four arms—a perfect melding, in other words, of two people joined together, seamlessly united into one being. Since we each had the perfect partner sewn into the very fabric of our being, we were all happy. Thus, all of us double-headed, eight-limbed, perfectly contended creatures moved across the earth much the same way that planets travel through the heavens—dreamily, orderly, smoothly. We lacked for nothing; we had no unmet needs; we wanted nobody. There was no strife and no chaos. We were whole.

But in our wholeness, we became overly proud. In our pride, we neglected to worship the gods. The might Zeus punished us for our neglect by cutting all the double-headed, eight-limbed, perfectly contended humans in half, thereby creating a world of cruelly severed one-headed, two-armed, two-legged miserable creatures. In this moment of mass amputation, Zeus inflicted on mankind that most painful of human conditions: the dull and constant sense that we are not quite whole.

For the rest of time, humans would be born sensing that there was some missing part—a lost half, which we love almost more than we love ourselves—and that this missing part was out there someplace spinning through the universe in the form of another person. We would also be born believing that if only we searched relentlessly enough, we might someday find the vanished half, that other soul. Through union with the other, we would recomplete our original form, never to experience loneliness again.

This is the singular fantasy of human intimacy: that one plus one will somehow, someday, equal one.

As told by the Greek playwright Aristophanes
Written by Elizabeth Gilbert, “Committed: A Love Story”, pg. 97-98.

: : : You may be king, you may possess the world and it’s gold, but gold won’t bring you happiness when you’re growing old. As sure as the stars shine above; you’re nobody ’til somebody loves you. So find yourself somebody to love : : :

— Somebody to Love, Michael Buble —

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