Thursday, March 23, 2017

Focus

Reflecting off my last post, I'm realizing calling my past self naive was a bit harsh. I was not naive in daring to imagine I could achieve my goals in writing. That was ambitious and admirable. In a way, I look up to my old self. I had focus and a purpose. I was motivated, passionate, and driven. The naivete was merely in believing that I wouldn't stop. Looking back at my blog posts during that time, it is evident that I loved writing. I really truly loved it. And in my heart, I believe that I still love it. But my head just cannot seem to find that focus.

I love stories. I love getting to go on a journey with a group of characters. Enjoying the good and the bad. The laughter and the tears. Discovering hidden truths. Uncovering deep dark secrets. Realizing that they were always supposed to be together! Wait, what? He was the villain all along?!

A good story. I will always love a good story. 

Depending on my brain function, I choose to devour stories in varying degrees of mental focus. I've made this really high tech flow chart to create a visual display. 
Lately, I've had a hard time making it over the CW* shows tier let alone making it all the way to the top tier of creating my own story to devour. That top tier is my goal. That bottom tier has been my go to. In less than a month, I watched the whole series of the Office. No shame. But since Christmas, I think I've read maybe 2.5 books.** For shame. And since last summer, I've written not much if not nothing. Yikes. 

I'd like to blame it on work. But moms and dads alike manage to work all day and still come home and care for small humans. People work all day and then have to keep working late into the night. Others take night classes. Many, myself not included, go to the gym. People don't stop living their lives because the work day is over. Ergo, work is just an excuse. And a poor one at that.

Reality, there is no excuse. For something that once was an unbridled passion, there is no excuse to not find some small glimmer of that focus still deep inside of me. Step by step, I will make it back to the top of the flow chart. Perseverance. I had that once. I think it's due time I found it again.



*CW show - a show focused around teenagers/young adults who are often caught up in love triangles while simultaneously tasked with saving the world from a nuclear explosion. 
** I'm really needing to find a good book (or book series). Suggestions?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Naive Dreamer

Since I made the weird decision to revisit this blog after an incredibly long hiatus, I thought it might be interesting to go back and read some of my old posts.

And yes...indeed it was interesting.

I wound up in the series of posts that chronicled my initial journey into the world of writing. That was seven years ago. I was a nanny, obsessed with Twilight, and hopelessly naive. How endearingly I wrote having no clue that my future self was going to completely derail all of those hopeful plans. I devoted countless hours to writing. And numerous blog posts to detailing my adventure as a writer.

I was a writer! Writing was like breathing. I needed it.

Somewhere along the way writing seemed to slowly get pushed aside until finally it was merely something I'd done and not something I do.

I don't write. I haven't written in months!!

During the time of my life where I was really truly a writer, I spent my days in a fantasy world. I had a long commute, a child's nap schedule, no television, and no wifi. I had time. Time to read, imagine, and create. Damn... I had it good.

Little did I know how hard it would be to maintain something that I was completely passionate about. To be honest, I am a bit ashamed. How cruel I am to have taken that young girls dream and just left it by the wayside.

I worked so hard. SO HARD.

I poured my energy, emotions, dreams, hopes, failures, concerns...I poured it all out into those words. I knew then that it probably wasn't very good. But, I hoped that as I grew as a writer, I could learn to make it better. I foolishly hoped that I would keep going. I would keep working. I would keep writing.

I'm not going to make empty promises. I've learned better than that. I know that tomorrow is a new day. A day where I don't work in a cozy bubble of dream like reality. I work in an office, filling my head with numbers, important details, and the such. It takes a lot of my energy! But, goodness, if I don't even try...I will have failed myself once more.

So, to the sweet, naive, ambitious, and hopeful young girl (with the absurd abbreviations) - there is still a lot of novel to go. Maybe now it is about damn time a get going. 


3 Things For Myself

I haven't blogged in forever. Time has sped away from me in moments of busyness, moments of laziness, and moments of "where has the time even gone."

This weekend I've been overwhelmed by nostalgia. Thoughts of my past have flooded in during various moments. Triggered by the senses.

When the air was cool in the morning with the promise of a warm day ahead, I thought of a day in fifth grade when I stood on the playground wearing knee high purple socks and coral shorts and played four square. 

While waiting in the Starbucks drive through, the combination of the hot sun through the window, the warm breeze, and cool blast of the air conditioning, I felt myself instantly back at the beach on Long Island NY. A place I haven't been for a dozen years. I could even smell the salty ocean, feel the comforting discomfort of sand stuck to sticky skin, and taste the barbecue chips that were salty and sweet from the remnants of the ocean and sunscreen still on my fingertips.

Throughout the day, I kept recalling various moments from childhood and youth. Memories of a life not so long ago yet out of reach. Thinking so fondly and yet with a tinge of sorrow of this life before. Remembering happy times and simultaneously fearing how I'll never get back there.

Through the years, people have moved on. Weddings, babies, moves, new jobs, new interests... We are human, and we don't stay the same. Sometimes all that is left of a time in life is the memory. The people in the frame though once friends are now strangers. The place once your home now home to someone else. A girl in knee high socks now grown.

Suddenly the warmth of yesterday's nostalgia has turned to an unnerving feeling of being adrift in the uncertainty of tomorrow.

I know where I've been, but I am not quite sure where I'm going.

Amidst this sense of unknown, I wandered onto a post that expressed the need to do three things for yourself (http://blog.freepeople.com/2017/02/3-today-5/). To eliminate the nervous energy of having to fill the day with activity, chores, and duties. But to allow a slow morning of enjoying a cup of coffee (or three). To do three things in this day that aren't focused on what the future holds or caught up in moments of the past.  But that give the today of my life its own meaning.

So... three things I will do for myself:

1. Buy cushions for my patio chairs.
2. Primp - despite having no where to be. I will shower, curl my hair, pluck my eyebrows, and paint my face with makeup.
3.  Choose the less healthy option for dinner simply because I know it will taste good.

And then tomorrow, I'll remember the way the sun shown in through my third story apartment windows. The way the birds kept landing on the table outside and chirping an endless song. The budding branches swaying with the gentle breeze. The deliberate decision to leave the closet a mess for just one more day. And I will remember that even though times have changed and more changes will soon follow, happy memories of the past will continue to serve as a reminder that life though moving forward is full of scents and sounds and people and places and emotions.

Life continues to move forward even if your stuck reliving the past. Don't let the days speed by without giving to each one a meaning. Don't get caught up in the anxiety of what others have and you don't. Or the fear that what once was shared is gone. Because life of today does not negate the past, but dwelling in what is lost will negate the future.

If today you feel as I...adrift. Grab hold and solidify three things for yourself. Make the most of today so that you don't wind up wasting numerous tomorrows.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

And now that you don't have to be perfect...

Well, hello old friend. It has been a long time since I last wrote some words in this here blog. A long time since I poured out my heart into a page that was then sent into the void on the internet. And goodness, I've missed it.

Life since my last post has been busy. Between work, travels to see my sweet nephew, and hours of television, I have found the days and weeks slipping past all at once too fast and too slow. I return today to my blog as there has been something pressing on me for some time now.

I'm a perfectionist. And to be a perfectionist while lacking the limitless ability to succeed at every endeavor, is not an easy thing to be. It leads to underachievement from fear of failure. It leads to breaking my own heart time and time again. It leads to small words causing an avalanche that buries me deep in self doubt, fear, and worst of all, bitterness. Perfectionism doesn't make life better. It makes life difficult. This desire for perfection has been something I've always struggled with. I need to get it right or I have no business even trying. As a result, there's a lot of experiences I've failed to even try.

What happens when I strive for perfection, when it is inevitably not achieved, I run away. I give up. When it comes to a flight or fight instinct, I'm gone before trouble even has a chance to find me. The first sign of difficulty or an inability to achieve at the highest level, I crack and I quit. Now, quitting itself has a time and a place. But only when you quit because you believe you can be better, not because you think you're not good enough.

So, in this long life fight against perfectionism, I've struggled. I've lost many many times. Recently, I revisited the great work by John Steinbeck, East of Eden. An epic telling of humanity. I discovered this quote that has struck me as so incredibly influential, I simply had to blog about it.

"And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good." 

Those words. So simple and to the point. Similarly put by Voltaire. "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good." 


What is perfect anyway? Well, the quick google search of the definition yields this result:

perfect

adjective per·fect \ˈpər-fikt\

Simple Definition of perfect

  • : having no mistakes or flaws
  • : completely correct or accurate
  • : having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.

     
Too often what happens when I seek that perfection, is that the goodness that surrounds it is lost. And goodness to me means so much more than perfection. It means trying even when you may fail. It means smiling even when you fall down. It means seeing beauty in brokenness. It means discovering that even when we aren't perfect, we are enough.

The reality of humanity is that God has long since decided that we don't have to be perfect. He knows we are deeply flawed and sinful. Instead of wiping us out with floods, He graced us with His presence here on earth in the form of His son, Jesus. And then Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. He gave His life for ours so that we might discover how to truly live.

Living comes with mistakes. It comes with failures. It comes with embarrassment, heart ache, and struggle. But living, also comes with adventure, excitement, learning, discovering, searching, and encouraging. It comes in big and small moments. It comes with happiness and sorrow. We are not meant to live perfect lives. But we are meant to live well. We are meant to live good.

"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good." (Minor Myers)

This battle with perfection is hardly unique to me. It is something I know many of us struggle with. In recent weeks, I've really, really been struggling. But, instead of running away because I'm not perfect, I'm going to stand and fight. I'm going to prove to myself that I don't have to be perfect to be good. And maybe in this new discovery, I'll learn that whereas the desire for perfection destroys me, goodness will renew me. And in that ability to find good, I'll find so much more. I'll find strength, happiness, contentment, or even the opposite, a need for so much more. 

So, I go out today not to be perfect, but to be good. To discover the things that make me happy. To live a beautiful, full, and flawed life. May you do the same. And may we all remember these words. "And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good."

Sunday, November 1, 2015

If at first you don't succeed...

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. It is November. And, as someone who still sort of considers herself a writer, that means National Novel Writing Month. I failed last year. Not just in the month of November but during the year as a whole. I hardly took any time to sit down and write. My blog is an obvious testament to that seeing as the last post was in March.

Life has changed in that I have a full time, real person job. It takes a lot of energy, mental thought, and sociability. It is a good job. I'm learning to like it. However, without also writing, I'm feeling a bit lost. I survived life as a nanny for so long because I was also a writer. Writing was the aspect of my life that gave my soul purpose. It consumed my thoughts and gave me direction. Even though I've missed it, and thought time and time again that I should just sit down and write, I haven't been able to. My fear is that maybe for a while writing was something I was okay at. The time and place of my life were conducive to writing and so I wrote.  What if that time is gone?

I'm worried that writing isn't like riding a bike. Where it is a skill that's never really lost but takes a bit of time to get to the place where you can ride with your hands off the handlebars. But in time, you can get back to your old bike riding tricks. Perhaps, I fear, it is more like math. A skill that you slowly build from addition, to multiplication, to PEMDAS, to calculus. But stop doing math and goodness...the other day I had to use a calculator to subtract 500 from 2050. I remember these numbers because the inability for my mind to process the amount without thinking was kind of frightening. I used to be really good at math. And, I used to be able to write thousands upon thousands of words. And well, I was never all that great at riding a bike.

Anyway, this post's purpose is nothing more than to warm up my fingers and my mind. For in this month of November, I will write 50,000 words. I might be tired. I might fall behind on the dozens of shows I watch. And, I might need to use a calculator for simple math.

But what I hope comes from this month, is that the feeling deep down in my gut that comes from telling a story in words--my words--returns. That all encompassing need to write more. I hope I learn that I can still write, and even more, that I can still LOVE writing. I hope that writing steals away that time I spend obsessing over little things and devotes it instead to obsessing over character descriptions and plot trajectories. I hope writing gives me a new foundation to stand on. One that's firmer and based upon something I truly love.

I'm not going to go back and reread this post. I'm not going to edit the grammar or work on refocusing my analogies. What I'm going to do now, is post this. Because that's what NaNoWriMo is about. Spitting out words and sentences that maybe make no sense. For now, it isn't about making things perfect. It is about writing the words. 50,000 of them.

One month. 30 days. 50,000 words.

Let's go.