Tag Archives: Goals

A Word to You Graduates

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Hello, Graduates! Congratulations on this crazy awesome milestone and having the guts to jump blindly off this cliff of adolescence into the abyss of adulthood.

Y’all are so brave, and I mean that.

I remember not feeling brave at all when I was a high school graduate, ducking into abandoned hallways or taking the long way to my car, so I could avoid people asking me the question all graduates hear:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It was always followed by a sardonic laugh, like the person who asked it created the question for the pure joy of seeing me squirm and fish for words.

Ha, haa, huhhh…

Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted my career to be. I didn’t have a lot of talents, or so I thought. I never internalized what my “dream job” would be. Truthfully, the only career options I considered was what I could do that wouldn’t kill me and provide, you know, food.

It never occurred to me to “dream big”, to “search deep”, to “care” about what I should be. The question was so monstrous, so intimidating, I decided that I just wouldn’t “be” anything. That what I would “be” inevitably would pale to whatever dream I could conjure, so I might as well not conjure one at all. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

I was not a confident teen. I was driven by fear-fear lead to procrastination-procrastination to denial. Denial that I even wanted more than what I had allowed myself.

I’ve heard a lot of people blame the world for failures, but I was the worst kind of hypocrite. The world wasn’t my problem. I was my problem. And I had convinced myself that I didn’t need to know myself, that I didn’t need to believe I could be more.

I had been telling myself “NO” long before I donned a cap and gown.

For example, I was waiting tables my senior year of high school, and met a news anchor for the local television station. When the check was delivered, she put her card in the small, black folder and asked me to contact her if I wanted an internship with her.

I was elated. My heart burst forth lighting my path with rainbow dust. The opportunity of interning with her hung before me, a colorful piñata ripe with sweet possibilities. I held the stick. All I had to do was whack the thing open.

I didn’t.

I lived off the good feeling the offer gave me for a year before I realized I’d wasted it.

The phrase “my life will do” took the place of “I love my life” and, my young friends,  “doing” might make you feel good for a moment, but long-term, you want the “loving”.

I settled on a path in college, and didn’t dare question it until my senior year, and by then, I was so close to a degree, I just sucked it up and finished it.

Why did I do this? Why was I so self-destructive?

I’m not a thousand percent sure, but I have an idea that this is part of the reason:

I was asking the wrong question.

It shouldn’t be “WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?”.

It should be “WHO do you want to be?”

To get to that answer, maybe answer a few of these questions could help.

What kind of person do you want to be, inside and out?

What characteristics do you want to embody?

How do you want to affect others?

What about you do you want others to admire?

How do you want to feel at the end of the day?

I don’t want to give you the impression that answering this question is easy. In fact, my answer two years ago is different from the answer I hold in my mind today. It’s an evolving answer as we grow, observe, learn, and change.

BUT the hard work will be worth it.

In my heart of hearts I know if I would have ventured onto this path of self-discovery, my career choice would have been chosen to complement me, rather than an obstacle to overcome. And if I would have stumbled into a career choice that didn’t match my expectations, it would have been okay because at the end of the day, I would have known who I was. I could have recognized when I was in a situation that didn’t honor WHO I wanted to be and I could have made the necessary career changes earlier.

So, WHO do you want to be? WHO do you want your future spouse to fall in love with? WHO do you want your parents or guardians to be proud of? WHO do you want to face in the mirror every morning? WHO do you want your future kids to look up to?

Find that person, BE that person, and the WHAT, WHY, WHERE, and HOW will fall into place.

Cheers, class of 2017! Don’t be afraid to show my generation up!

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Update on Life-April Edition

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I have so much to tell you since the last time I’ve written. I think I’ll put it in sections, so I don’t forget anything.

A. The Poetry

With the poetry book done, I got a notice my alma mater was having a poetry reading that weekend. Standing in front of people I may or may not know and reading something that comes from such a private, personal place sounded terrifying. So I did it. And it was terrying.  I choked the last line because I was trying not to cry.

But something good did come from it. A past professor, one I really looked up to, was there and after the event, she sat with me and went through every word of the chapbook and made sound suggestions that really made the quality of the whole project leaps and bounds better.

Though I’d settled on the title, it bugged me a bit. She helped me change it. I’ve already reworked the suggestions, and even submitted it to the first competition. There are two more that I’ll send to soon.

I’m going to write more on this, but I see merit now in choosing a smaller project to see through, beginning to end, before launching into a novel. I have tangible evidence on what “done” is like, and it is addictive. I believe the memory of it will carry me to completion on the next novel project.

B. Camp Nanowrimo

I have a goal of 25,000 words to get me to the end of a first draft of SongNovel. There is a new layout method that I’m in love with and am itching to put to action. (Dan Harmon’s story circle. Check it out!) I was doing really well, even exceeding word counts during the weekdays, so my weekends would be more family focused. Approximately 7,500 words in, my husband found a house that he loved. I love it, too, and through a series of emotional events, we’re…

C. Buying and Selling a House

After Hurricane Katrina (2005), the apartment the newly wedded Smiths (that’s us) lived in became too expensive. Not only my apartment complex, but also a host of others who sustained damage from the hurricane raised monthly cost $100 or more. We also had a pet, which meant most affordable complexes would not rent to us, even before Katrina. So we bought a little baby house, in hopes that we would be able to move to a toddler house about two years or so after.

For the past, 11 years, we have shared 1 bathroom about the size of an office desk. And we have grown from a 2 person family to a 4 person family as well. There are no secrets where there should be secrets. My friends, it’s time for a second bathroom. Please, Lord Jesus, let it be time for a second bathroom.

So we put a contract on the house that we love, contingent upon the selling of our current home.

Relatedly, on January 21, 2017, a tornado hit our small town, and I am still in conversations with contractors to complete/start work on our house. AND NOW WE HAVE TO SELL IT.  Per our contract, we had to list the house asap.

I cleaned the house to take pictures of the inside of it before the sheetrock gentleman came to fix spots in two ceilings and a section of carport. Then I cleaned more when people wanted to see the house before the work was done. I will also have to deep clean the house again when the workers finish. (I don’t know when that will be because they are on contractor time, which I found out recently is different than Mea time.) There is a daily tidying situation that has to happen before work everyday because you never know when you will have to tell your realtor, “Sure, these potential buyers can see the house without the 24 hours of notice we asked for.” (Daily tidying wouldn’t be difficult if my two toddlers weren’t sleeping on a pallet in the living room because their ceiling is getting worked on, and–I have two toddlers.)

And then there are…

D. Kittens Residing on my Front Porch

My sweet kitty is the best mom and wants her babies to see the world, but not from the cozy confines of our outside laundry room, as I had hoped. Instead she’s set up shop on our front porch, so anyone who would like to look at the house must first pass five tiny, blue-eyed, toe-biting guards and their mother. (They are adorable and we’re keeping two of the five because we love them so.) (I just wish I could love them so from the house we want to buy instead of the house we want to sell.)

E. Conclusion

I know this is just a season of life that will be fine in some months. It’s just messing with my creative life so I’m a little resentful. I can adjust with this unexpected change because at the end of the day, it will benefit my family. The house is a fixer upper, too, so I hope to be posting some before-and-afters of rooms and projects. I’ll tag them something clever in case you don’t care to see.

So…this is my life currently. Anyone else going through a big change?

Iiii….It’s Done

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At 4pm on March 29th, I finished my poetry chapbook.

 

A writing project complete.

 

Since then, I’ve done a lot of staring at things. And blinking.

 

I honestly feel like I’m in shock. I don’t really know what to do.

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It’s been so long since I’ve finished a writing project.

 

This year I decided I needed a baptism by fire. Something that would blast through this fear of acknowledgement/discovery. Not discovery as an author–that would be stupid cool–but discovery as in, the inner workings of Mea Smith. Which, I believe will be a huge step toward the author thing. I know I’m all sunshine and roses on the outside, but there are some pretty dark unicorns and tricky sprites inside that I’ve had (and have) to deal with.

My Southern upbringing taught me to deal with these things privately, but do you know how lonely “privately” is? And who really “deals” with their shit if they’re not pushed by someone or another? So, poetry has been my way to “deal” with the poop piles of death, disappointment, and depression (woah with the alliteration).

“No one has to read it,” I told myself. “Just write it down, get it out, cleanse the inside.”

And that’s what I did.

So, back to “baptism by fire”. I am a fearful being by nature.

And I’m friggin tired of it.

So when making my list of things I want to do this year, I wrote–Get Over All The Fear. I made a plan, and at the time, it felt like a good one.

The Plan

Step 1: Find that poetry that means the most to you. [Maybe subconsciously I wanted to share it because I typed it up after I hand wrote it–Or maybe I thought Iwould want to remember where I came from one day when I am not crazy (so probably never) and typed it up. Either way…]

Step 2: Write some more about The Things. You know what they are, Mea.

Step 3: Put them all together in a pleasing fashion.

Step 4: Share with world.

See, poetry is the most personal thing I’ve ever written. It’s my therapist since I can’t afford one, so putting this out in the world for others to judge and scowl and laugh and cry over…is probably the worst thing I could do to my poor, fearful self.

So that’s what I’m doing.

And that’s what I mean by “baptism by fire”. It’s going to hurt like hell, but I know I’m going to come out a better, braver person when it’s all over. (I so, so hope.)

Now, I sit. It’s cover glares at me when I tell it I’ve picked three competitions to submit to. I’m not sure it wants to go, but this is the Year of Overcoming, and so I and my darlings will overcome.

I decided to go mixed-media with it and added poems on photography I’ve done and illustrations. It’s this Thing that I’ve become proud of (look what I’ve overcome) instead of ashamed of (you don’t want to see my darkness; look glitter!!!).

So here is the cover:

Capture

I’ll let you know if I get chosen from one of the contests, but right now, it just feels damn good to Finish Something.

-Mea

Strange New Things

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Hello! Long time, no see, Darlings.

I could tell you Everything from even before my last post, really the last two and a half years, every excruciating detail that has brought me to now, a Strange, New Thing typing this post, but…

your speculations are probably more spectacular than the truth.

And I’ve worked so hard to figure out where some big, bad things fit into my life, I don’t really want to rehash them all. My emotions might explode and get into your pretty hair.

So, I’ll sum up in a less aggressive way-bullet points!

  • A very important person in my life made a terrible and uncharacteristic decision. It hurt so many people and cause him great guilt and regret, ultimately leading to his depression and suicide. The suicide happened before we could reconcile. I was 31 weeks pregnant during his funeral. It sucked a lot.
  • After giving birth, I had postpartum depression. Again. It sucked a lot.
  • I was in an unhealthy job situation that, in combination with the above, sucked a lot.

Two and a half years later, I think I may possibly be able to get back out in the world because of the next few bullet points.

  • Strangely, forgiving him wasn’t the biggest issue for me. It was that I didn’t tell him I didn’t hate him as he assumed I did. I was just so. So. Sad. I have come to a “place” where I can forgive myself more every day and grieve properly with each allowance.
  • I’ve been back on the medication that helps me deal with postpartum depression for a long while now. Actually, I believe I’m finally in a spot where I can try getting off of them again, which thrills me.
  • I have a new, positive work environment and I like to go there, to be a part of the “team”. I didn’t know how bad the previous situation was until I experienced something different. I make less money, but can I just tell you Folks that quality of life is worth a million rubies?

So, I’m getting back on track. It actually started at the end of July 2016, but I was embarrassed to tell you all publicly. What if I wasn’t “fixed”? What if nobody told me I had crazy in my teeth? I’ve had a few months of pleasant days now, though, and I feel more…resolved, maybe? That might be the right word.

The next set of bullet points are things I’ve learned going through this mess:

  • Forgive others.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Experience your emotions. Don’t hide them away.
  • Write it out to understand better.
  • Keep hold of your joy.
  • Live the best you can.

I’m feeling good about 2017. I truly hope you are, too.

Kanpai, Lovely People!

 

June 2015 Update

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I have a working outline! Tomorrow I will begin writing a. Whole. Lot. as I try to squeeze out a rough draft for the July Nanowrimo Camp. I’m fretful and nervous, but it can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT?! I’ve been humbled with the failing of LibertyNovel and feel that one reason it didn’t work out was because it took so long to write it. Through the years, I changed so much and the message got garbled because what I wanted to say kept changing as I learned lessons in my life. So this time, I’m writing with a single message and theme and motivation in the forefront along with the characters, plot points, and world building. I’m hoping this formula will produce a better draft than LibertyNovel had a chance to be.

So, here’s to MediatorNovel and everyone writing this upcoming month! *Raises metaphorical glass* CHEERS!

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April and May 2015 Updates

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I don’t have a set number of hours to share with you for these months. I know. That sucks. It’s just that I have taken every spare moment to read on a couple of books, one on novel structure and one on outlining, and I haven’t been writing down when I start reading and taking notes, so I truly just don’t know. Is it fair to just say “a lot?” I don’t even know.

Why am I reading craft books, you might ask? Because after finishing the first draft of LibertyNovel and working with critique partners, I realized I needed help in this area. Lots and lots of help.  So what does a nerdy girl do when she realized she doesn’t know or understand something? She buys a book…or ten…and hope it whispers secrets to her.

LibertyNovel is shelved for the time being. I’m sad about it, but I owe the characters a better story than what is there, and I just don’t know the answer yet. So I will percolate until the time is right. Until then, I’m starting afresh with another idea and, oh my gosh, I can’t wait to share. But, for now, I call it MediatorNovel, and I love it so.

I wanted to be done with the outline by the end of May. That isn’t the case, but I’m finding there is a good possibility that I won’t have as much work to do after the first draft if I take care planning before it.

Soooo… here we go, again! Back to the drawing board but with so much more knowledge thanks to LibertyNovel and craft books! I’m so excited I could spit!

Love,

Mea

March ’15 Update

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I have Critique Partners!!! There are two lovely people who have consented to work with me on getting this novel to the query stage, in spite of all my Me. (Just kidding. I’m awesome.) Already I’ve seen such a huge difference as I critique their writing and get a new perspective on mine. (And, dang, they’ve got some good stories!) I am overwhelmingly thankful to have met such lovely writers. Because of their thoughts and experiences, I have grown soooo much this month! Ah, I just….can’t….even…. YAY!

Here are the stats:

Total hours: 23 hours 20 minutes (20 hours was the goal)

Total days: 8 days (20 days was the goal)

I have Big Decisions to make on this book, and I wish I had more consecutive time to make these decisions, but we deal with what we have. I just feel like, when I have to break it up like this, I’m taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back. On the bright side, I’m still one step closer to done.

I wanted to clean out the office area of my kitchen this month. I got all but the overhead shelf done. I consider that a success. I am also ready to start putting together my bedroom table that I’ve been working on with MY OWN HANDS, slowly but surely, for the past three months.

Oh! AND Husband moved ugly furniture out of my bedroom to its new and desired location, and I moved the pretty furniture out of the dining room (where it did not belong) to the bedroom and it looks sooo much better. I got paint samples this month, too, and I decided what colors I did NOT want my bedroom walls but had much success with the kitchen color. These were things I didn’t have on my To-Do list, but I’m impromptu like that.

One day I will have time to write a thoughtful, endearing blog about life metaphors and licorice. Today is not that day. Hope y’all’s month was stinkin’ amazing!

Laters!

-Mea