Tag Archives: Observations

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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The Unintended Effect of Embracing My Tribe

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At some point, I don’t recall when, society began glamorizing what it’s like to be “awkward” and I had finally found my People.

I was elated!

I wasn’t alone!

There were others who had the tendency to trip on her own shoes, or say embarrassing random things in front of important people, or go to hug her husband and accidently poke him in the eye.

I don’t know if it started with Bella Swan, I feel like we can (almost) all agree that she wouldn’t have been so cute if she didn’t fly her Clumsy Flag high.

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There are amazingly hilarious shows like NEW GIRL and 30 ROCK that have main characters I relate wholeheartedly to. It’s like sitting with old friends and accidentally choking on biscotti sticks between stroppy life stories.

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I had never felt so welcome.

And suddenly, I was even collecting embarrassing”events” like Pokemon cards. As soon as I would do something weird, I would catalog it so I could tell my other “awkward” friends. It was like a strange Girl Scout group, and for those of us who are somewhat socially moribund, it felt good to be a part of something, even if it’s an Embassy of Embarrassment where you must have at least three level 10 incidences on file before you could be a full member. And that’s only to join. To stay in, you have to meet quotas.

About the same time, I unconsciously decided that those descriptors were the best attributes I had. That I was only these awkward instances stitched together into a timeline.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the words I use to describe myself.

Awkward. Weirdo. Clumsy. Dummy.

All super uplifting, right?

And then I realized, those words weren’t just in my head.

“I am so awkward.”

“You don’t know me yet, but I’m a weirdo.”

“Listen to this dummy thing I did.”

“Mea, you idiot…”

It wasn’t someone else saying these things to me. It was me…demeaning me.

I  noticed something. Something I didn’t really like. I was starting to be ONLY awkward–ONLY a clumsy-dummy-weirdo. Before, I would have these moments of brilliance. I would at least feel confident with a pen in my hand. I used to hold on to these moments like you would a string tied to a helium balloon because, before awkward was cool, I wanted to be luminescent when I “grew up”. Well, at least mostly shiny.

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Slowly, though, those shiny moments separated farther and farther in time until I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen one. But I could totally remember the last 10 times I told myself I was an idiot.

To my tribe, I told funny anecdotes.

But I was not happy.

I wonder how many of them aren’t happy either?

I heard myself one day, “Gah, me equals awkward,” and it made me stop in my tracks. (Literally, I almost caused a traffic jam in the hallway.)

I. Heard. Myself.

How long had I been shoving myself in this soggy box? So long that I forgot what it felt like to be competent and confident in my talents. “I am not one for false modesty…” (Elizabeth Bennet said) but, in the past, I had not been one for false condemnation, either. Was I really a dummy-wierdo? God, I hope not.

For an experiment, I practiced not saying aloud the things I didn’t want to resemble.

It was hard.

It is hard.

I’d unintentionally ingrained this line of thinking to flow freely from my head to my mouth to my heart that stopping it took constant attention.

Until it didn’t. (I did it again today, but I’m writing this post, so I wonder if old habits truly do die hard, or if it’s just in the forefront of my forehead.)

I’ve noticed an improvement. I feel more “together” in the world rather than cliquishly “awkward”. I feel more capable with publicly verbalizing ten words in a row without accidently creating a dirty joke. I feel more Real Smiles than not these days.  I feel more like Sometimes Shiny Me instead of Always Awkward Me.

Now, I’m working on my thoughts. Even the disappointed tone I hear my inner voice use when I do something dumb. I can’t change the fact that I am naturally clumsy and that I think differently than most people I know (which makes me the life of the party, let me tell you.) But I can forgive myself, and I can release those moments, rather than hoarding them for future hilarious floggings.

I’m finding that I WANT to be forgiving. That I want to see what more I can be by just…believing I’m more than a failed trek up the stairs (true story). This is what I want to tell all the members of my trippy tribe. We don’t have to just be an after-dinner story. We are more than our awkward experiences.

I’m not saying you have to change anything after reading this. I just want to be real with you.  We are Writers and/or Readers. We KNOW words are powerful. Why did I NOT think that applied to Real Life, instead of to just the lives I create? For me, right now, it’s the lack of words that have made all the difference. But don’t we Writers already know that, too?

Until next time, *pregnant pause* (See what happened there???)

 

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!

 

August Update

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August is over and the end of the year is getting CLOSER! How are you guys getting through your Goals? I’m truckin’ along! Some have been changed due to circumstance and pregnancy, but that’s life, y’all. We deal, right?
I’d like to tell you a little of what I’ve learned since I’ve started to finishing Part II of the First Daft. Before I even started writing, I drafted an entire back story, all the while creating the nuts and bolts of this story. I have an ENORMOUS amount of paper and files that will never see the light of day and that did not have any effect on what I am currently writing. (I reserve the right to change my mind about this as my first draft and first revision isn’t done, but right now I feel like I wasted a whole lot of time dreaming.) So I resolved to start writing and to worry about back story issues along the way. For Part I of the book the only thing I knew when I seriously started writing was at what point the section needed to end and the end of my book all together. These are two super good things to know, by the way. (Well, maybe I had an idea instead of a specific scene about where Part I needed to end, but as the end drew near, I had a specific scene.) But from here to there, I had nothing but a foggy image in my head, y’all. I made it up on the fly and, can I just say, there is a LOT of revising that is going to have to happen in Part I. A. Whole. Lot. I finally got to my ending scene. Reread the section once and got it to CP knowing that it was going to change shape completely, but she had it, and I had my milestone, and she loves me unconditionally, so I knew I would eventually be forgiven. But something had to change for Part II. I wouldn’t survive another almost-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants section. This book would never get done that way. I know me.
So for Part II, I spent time drafting an outline-ish type thing. It was something like a timeline and felt like a lot of “Oh! And then THIS!” with a sentence or two or clever dialogue that sprang up or something. Originally, I wrote it on a flow pad. I think better with a pen in my hand, and when it was done, I transposed it to a document. This worked so very well. I had a starting and a stopping point not only for the second section, but also for each writing day. I’d open up the outline and know what I had finished before and what needed to be written that session. If I’d written something that made the story more interesting, no worries! I’d just alter my outline a little in retrospect, do a quick read through to eliminate plot holes, and move the heck on. I also starting keeping track of how much I wrote, when, and for how long on a chart, which is how I’m able to write these Monthly Update posts.
So now Part II is done, and I’m outline Part III. I have 10 scenes with sentences and I know where I want to end. While I was thinking, I wrote on the first scene and have it completed now. I like that I still feel the progress of writing while I’m in a bit of a holding pattern (outlining), seeing how to get to the end. I still hope I can get through Part III by December 10th (baby’s due date), but we’ll see.
I look forward and dread Revision. There will need to be some major overhauling. My hope is that by the end of it, I’ll be proud that I finished the effort. Because this has been such a HUGE effort.
In short:
Break your story into three sections, know where each section starts and ends, and loosely outline each section before your write it. This formula has worked for me so far, and I hope it saves someone who is starting from scratch months and years of my frustration.

STATS:
Words-2,632
Days with writing in them-3
Hours: 3 hours and 55 minutes
(Not including outlining days, lots of article reading, and a webinar)
Words to Date: 42,631

I hope y’all are pressing on toward the goal! Gotta go pick up my sweet son, now! Later!

May Update

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I didn’t reach my May goal for “number of days with writing in them”, but when I realized this midway through May, I tried to make the best of the rest of the month I had left, putting extra time in where I could find it.

Writing Days: 6
Writing Time: 12 hours and 20 minutes (Yay!)
Number of Words: 7,827
Number of Scenes: 3 major scenes plus a little

And a total of 34,610 words in 5 months.

4 3/4 scenes left until Act II is DONE, and I’m happy with the effort put into the 6 days I did write.

I wish my heart was into celebrating. I hope the others who have had a successful writing month will eat some cake for me!

March Update

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For March…

*drum roll*

I MET MY WRITING GOAL, which was to write at least 12 days out of this month.

The total stats are–
Days with writing in them: 13
Total number of Words: 7,762
Total amount of Time: 9 hours and 58 minutes.
Year to date word total: 17,921

Closer. CLoser. CLOser. CLOSer. CLOSEr. CLOSER!

Yep, Writing Peeps! This book is getting DONE! Whaaaaaat!