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April 23, 2012

Lisa Madras: More questions to ponder? There’s no stopping me now

NEW CASTLE — I've finally reached the end of my list of questions.

Twenty-one of them, to be precise, because if you remember, I snuck an extra one in there about halfway through.  

If you want to know a little secret, I wasn't really sure how I was going to make it this far. When I started this blog six months ago, I was a broken human being. My editor had asked me to blog, and the only reason I agreed was because I felt obligated to my job. Blogging isn't writing anyhow, they say. It’s graffiti with punctuation. But I can do that, I thought. Give me some spray paint and an overpass, and I'll let you feel my pain.

But blogging isn't graffiti. I had no red for rage, or black for despair; no sunny yellows for a little sunshine, or green for the envy I felt toward everyone who wasn't me. I had a computer, and seven days to put enough words together to validate my presence on this website for another week.

Heck, to validate my presence in this world for another week.

It was incidental that I started using the questions. They'd made me feel better about myself at times, and I wanted to share them in case somebody else needed them, too. And you're still here, so I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that somewhere along the line, you reached out across the chasm and linked your fingers with mine. I'd like to thank you for that.   

I'm by no means whole yet. But I have come a long way in six months, and exploring each of those 21 questions has been an instrumental part of the process. Here's a little recap of the questions, and as a challenge to my often long-winded self, a one-sentence summary of what I've learned from each of them.

1. What questions should I be asking myself? I've learned that no matter the consequences, and no matter how scary it is, being honest with yourself will get you further in life than any other single thing.

2. Is this what I want to be doing? I've learned the difference between reacting and responding, and that choosing the former over the latter can lead to a heartache that can last a lifetime.

3. Why worry? I've learned that there's a sort of scary world that exists inside my head, that, more often than not, has nothing to do with reality.

4. Why do I like {cupcakes} more than I like {people}? I've learned that I still have trust issues, but if I learn to use them to my advantage instead of letting them abuse me, I just may someday find someone who makes me as happy as pastry does.

5. How do I want the world to be different because I lived in it? I've learned that it's going to take a long time to become the person I want to be, and that I have to never, ever stop working toward that.

6. How do I want to be different because I lived in this world? I've learned that maturity has more to do with experience than age, and that I need to use those experiences as lessons, not as excuses.

7. Are {vegans} better people? I've learned that you should never compare yourself to the best that others can do, but to the best that you can do.

8. What is my body telling me? I've learned that you should always, without fail, trust your gut.

9. How much junk could a chic chick chuck if a chic chick could chuck junk? I've learned that everyone has baggage, both physical and emotional, and we should all clean house every once in a while.

10. What's so funny? I've learned that no matter what my ailment, laughter will always be my best medicine.

11. Where am I wrong? I've learned that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides.

12. What potential memories am I bartering, and is the profit worth the price? I've learned that sometimes you have to lose balance to gain balance.

13. Am I the only one struggling not to {fart} during {yoga}? I've learned that sharing our secrets brings us closer together.

14. What do I love to practice? I've learned that writing/blogging/graffiti with punctuation eases emotional pain better than any other vice.

15. Where do broken hearts go? I've learned that no matter how broken your heart is, it's your choice whether to build walls or build bridges.

16. Where could I work less and achieve more? I've learned that short-cuts aren't a sign of laziness, but rather a tool for gaining more time for the important things.

17. How can I keep myself absolutely safe? I've learned to say "I love you" as often as possible, because you never know if it will be your last opportunity.  

18. Where should I break the rules? I've learned that my true heroes are the people who are never afraid to do the right thing, even if everyone else says it's wrong, and that I will stop at nothing to be a hero to my children.

19. So say I lived in that fabulous house in Tuscany, with untold wealth, a gorgeous, adoring mate, and a full staff of servants — then what? I've learned that money is a lousy way of keeping score, and that I want end my time on this earth knowing that I never missed an opportunity to love or participate in a Nerf war.

20. Are my thoughts hurting or healing? I've learned that if you don't control your attitude, it will most certainly control you.

21. Really truly: Is this what I want to be doing? I've learned that I'm happiest when I'm standing at the intersection of Questions and Answers, and also that I've decided that I'm definitely not stopping at 21.


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