Introspection

I haven’t been writing at all. Truth is, my life is good and work is good and all things seem to be falling in place…except the writing. I always have this guilty feeling about not putting words on paper. I start to write a story, then I give up.

I have a teenage son, and it drives me nuts when he gives up or is not motivated. But, yet, here I am. Failing to write for the umpteenth time in my life. Living the life of the tortured aspiring writer. Can I call myself a writer if I’m not writing?

It’s Christmas time, and we have done everything Christmasy. We have made gingerbread cookies (today), seen Santa, wrapped presents, bought presents, gone to Christmas parties. We’ve given to others (money-wise, present-wise, service-wise, and through my job). Life is good.

Why is it when life is good the words are hard to flow? Today, I felt a little limerence or nostalgia for the past. I went into the garage, and I opened up a cabinet looking for the cookie tins. I thought I’d look in the boxes of my writing, letters from people-from-the-past, all the things from college. But then I thought, when I do that it usually makes me sad. Or maybe sad is not the right word, wistful, maybe? Who knows what word I’m looking for.

I’m a keeper of things, much to my mom and my husband’s chagrin. I have my journals from childhood. They read like this: It’s Wednesday. I played with Meredith. Tonight for dinner we are having grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Oh, and they are all addressed to Jon, because I named my journal after NKOTB Jon. To be 12 again.

Then my high school journals are all about my first boyfriend J and my second boyfriend, also a J. And how I don’t know what to do. And how I’m failing geometry, but too afraid to tell my parents. And about feeling lonely despite being surrounded by people. The life of a teenager.

And in college, there’s this sense of not knowing what to do next. Of being swept up by the moment, and so idealistic, and thinking I can do anything, but HOW? And again, the obsession with a boy, P. I stopped journaling after I met Hubby. Put down the pen and paper and delved into my life. I stopped writing in full for awhile, until my 30s, after kids were born, and I had a mini-breakdown, and things started to get to normal again. Then I realized writing is an outlet. Writing is a source of release of all the stresses, all the anxiety, all the sadness, all the happiness, and all the success rolled from one day into the other and out the ink of the pen (or the keys of the keyboard, as it were).

I look back on my journals and think about how young and naive I was. I think about all the time I wasted being obsessed over people who were no longer interested in me. Such wasted moments when I could have been living in the moment. And why? Who knows. I look at my past, and I know I felt a deep sense to belong. A lot of my life I felt out of place, not in sync with the people around me. Wanting too little or wanting too much. Being in the wrong political group. Being too loud. Or being too silent. Feeling like people around me didn’t have the same big questions I had about life, philosophy, religion. And I know everyone feels this way sometimes. I know as human beings we have this deep need to feel a part of a group, and to be part of something bigger, and I know that’s okay. And finally, at this stage of my life, I’m starting to feel comfortable with me again. Comfortable in my own skin.

And thanks to some friends in a baby group I’ve been part of for 15 years, maybe I now feel like it’s time to start journaling again. Sometimes seeking the deeper inner parts of yourself can be refreshing and not debilitating.

It’s time to pick up the pen again.

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Hello Again

It’s been awhile. I have had a lot going on in my life. All good things, really.

Here’s an itemized list of my month of August

  • Kids started school. On August 6th. I mean, why? Super early. But, honestly, the routine has been good for them.
  • Hubby went out of town and came back on August 6th. Then he went out of town on August 15th for a week. This meant I had to go it all alone (with some help from my awesome mom and my awesome niece).
  • I started a new job on August 15th. Did you notice how that coincided with Hubby going out of town? Yeah, perfect timing! HA
  • My sister came into town to visit. I spent almost every night hanging out with her, except when she went to see Phish with my husband.
  • My sister and I drove up to see my other sister one weekend.
  • We went to the beach.
  • There were about 12,000 back-to-school nights, PTA meetings, and one conference.

I love my new job. I’m no longer in banking. I’m in education. And I’m working for a non-profit, which is seriously awesome and I feel more fulfilled in my life. That’s super important for me, I think. It took me a long time to make a leap out of the safety of my banking job, but I think I did it at the right time. I ultimately feel happier and more satisfied.

I promise to start writing a weekly blog. I will be continuing my race series, and adding some short stories. Maybe one of these days I’ll have time to work on my novel again.

But for now, I just wanted to say hi and that I’m around even though I’ve been quiet. August is just an insanely busy month.

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Let’s Be Friends, Bitches

Best Friends

I’ve been watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend on Netflix. Actually, on Saturday I binge watched a lot of episodes. On Saturday I was sick depressed. Anyway, I couldn’t bring myself to do much besides read and watch television. I’m also writing a lot and suffering a lot of angst. The two go hand-in-hand, ask any tortured artist you know.

The show is funny. It’s supposed to be a snarky comedy, rom-com, dark comedy. A mix of all sorts of genres. I like mixed genres, because I mostly write a mix of genres. It has hilarious songs that make fun of everything from Spanx to relationships. But it also can be real. In fact, in watching the show the main character reminds me a lot myself. Not to say I’m crazy, um, maybe I am. Who knows? But boy, I did some crazy things in my past that I would like to forget. Unfortunately, the past has a way of haunting the present.

One thing I love about Crazy Ex Girlfriend is its sarcastic way of dealing with real life. I love how Valencia has never had a group of girl friends and how they deal with that aspect of female life. Let me tell you—females can be vicious, catty, and petty. It’s time we taught our girls to be nice to one another, and not let jealousy get in the way. My husband said to me the other day, “You don’t even like girls.” That’s not exactly true–what I don’t like is bitches.

I made my best girl friends when I was in elementary and high school. I’m still friends with them. As an adult, I’ve had ups and downs. I had a great friend in college who sort of treated me like shit. Whenever I said something she would say, “I don’t care.” Well, not whenever, but a lot. I mostly chalked this up to the fact that she was from New Jersey. The thing is, it was easy to walk away from that friendship, because she didn’t give me what I needed and I didn’t give her what she needed. Plus, I had loads of college friends waiting in the background (Tiffany, Angie, even Jandy—that’s Janet and Andy for all you who didn’t know me in college). In my adulthood, I’ve had good friends who have come and gone. I had a best friend, and we were there for each other when we needed it, and then we moved on. Looking back on that friendship, I’m pretty sure I was going through a mid-life crisis (yes in my early 30s–I’m pretty sure life crisis happen every 10 years or so–hold onto your horses). I’ve always known when a friendship is ready to be over, because they’re easy to walk away from. If there’s angst about walking away from a friendship, then there’s probably some unresolved baggage and you need to get in there and work it out no matter how hard that shit is.

But girls are complicated. And I’m complicated. (Guys are complicated too even though they’d have you believe they’re not.) I’m apparently needy and have a lot of expectations of people. I’m aware of these faults and how they contribute to crazy-making. As I’m watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend and laughing at all the crazy bullshit going on with the main character, Rebecca, I’m also seeing echoes of my life when I was younger (and much less wise than I am today ;-)).

I think as people we tend to blame others for the downfalls in our relationships and our friendships instead of taking a long, hard look at ourselves. It’s much easier to pit the blame on other people, because then you don’t have to own up to the fact that you’re human and you likely make mistakes. For one, I’m super bad at communicating. I hate talking on the phone. I say things like, “Um, yeah, okay. Well I have to go.” Also, there are long extended, uncomfortable periods of silence, which are easy to sustain when you’re looking in someone’s face but harder for me on the phone. I would much rather meet in person for margaritas and Mexican food than talk to them on the phone, but that’s impossible with my long distance friends. I think about my long distance friends a lot (like Tiffany, Julie, Nabi, Kristin, Marianne). I’m just not so good at actually reaching out and communicating with them. I fall back on text a lot (who doesn’t), but I don’t think that’s an acceptable alternative to actually talking communicating.

I think the thing about girls is we let all the emotions get in the way. When we don’t hear from a friend, we think, “Oh God, that girl doesn’t like me anymore. Let me analyze this for twelve hours, eat a tub of ice cream, drink a six pack of beer, then shoot off some text to our used-to-be-best-friend saying: Why don’t you like me anymore? What did I ever do to you? Are you in love with my husband? Are we fighting over the same guy? WHAT DID I DO? Although, usually, in these types of situations I brood and never tell my friend I’m having all these thoughts (see–bad communicator).

Girls also do this thing where they let guy relationships get in the way of their friendships.

Let’s say Holly is best friends with Jemma. Holly meets Daniel. Holly and Daniel start going out. And to Holly it’s like Jemma never existed. Or maybe Holly thinks that their friendship is so solid that Jemma will understand and she doesn’t have to make time for Jemma. Um, not true.

Jemma says, “Hey Holly, want to get a taco and margaritas tonight?” (I’m obviously in the mood for Mexican food today, but then again, when am I not?)

Holly says, “I can’t. I’m going to watch Daniel and his best friends play Madden for four hours, while simultaneously clinging to his arm and acting like a cool girlfriend.”

I mean, girls, why do we do this? We give up who we are a little bit to be with a man. Men don’t do this. They still have their “bros.” Bros before hos, dudes. They make time to game, to talk, to drink loads of beer. But women love to say they’re too busy with their boyfriend, husband, or their kids to maintain and nurture friendships. Man, that’s stupid and has to stop.

I know I’m an offender of this—in the past and today. I use my family as an excuse a lot to blow off my friends. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my good girl friends (like Cecilia, Stacy, and Andrea) can’t be replaced. They are people who I will always be there for no matter what. Even if we don’t talk and fall back on texting, when these people float back into my life and we get back together it’s like nothing has changed. And that’s what real friendship is. And it’s worth fighting for.


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The Rambler

Welcome back. Oh wait, I mean, you’ve been here so I am really just welcoming myself back. Life happened, and I realized this AM I had not blogged in a month. The strange thing is, I’ve been writing–well, at least a little bit. I have been working on my novel again. Mainly, I need to finish and then edit. This is what I’m very bad at doing. Editing seems like the dregs to me, and where is the time? It takes me a good three hours to be invested in editing my work, and there are no three-hour time slots open any where in my life.

But life is good, mostly. Good but stressful. I’ve made some great friends lately, and I’ve put myself out there. This is good, because I was having a near constant desire to sit in the blue easy chair, drink a Truly or two or three, and watch Netflix. I find leaving the house is the hardest before you actually do it. Like, it takes a lot of motivation to get off my butt and actually go out and be with people, but once I do it I love it.

I wanted to write about the Parkland shooting, because it’s never too soon to talk about common sense gun control. Last week, I blogged about it in my head. But then I thought, this is never going to change anything. My goal is to become involved in Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. This, I know, is the right thing to do. I have three kids, and I don’t want their right to life to be trumped by someone else’s right to own an AR-15. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I think the high school students speaking up for themselves, staging walk-outs and protests, is truly amazing. Folks, this is how democracy works.

And mental health? Why can’t it be both? I want our country to take mental health issues more seriously. It’s hard to get adequate care in this country. But so many people need it. I can’t tell you how much I’ve paid out of pocket to see therapists in my lifetime. And you know what–it helped me! And there’s nothing shameful about that. Get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health. That would be a nice place to start. Our boys (because those are usually the perpetrators of these crimes) need to learn self-control and self-regulation. I don’t think every violent crime is done by someone with mental health problems. I think ANGER is a huge issue in our society. Anger leads to domestic violence situations, mass shootings, as well as homicides. I think our boys have a lot of anger because they’ve been taught their whole lives to swallow their feelings. Well, that’s not doing anyone any good. Anger management needed, yes! Therapy or someone to talk to needed, yes. Let’s change society for the better. What’s wrong with doing that?

I promise, I’ll blog more. I have finished Waking Up White and need to blog about some of the ideas from reading and pondering over that book. I also am planning on writing a flash fiction piece and getting it posted. Here’s to more words more often.

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Random Thoughts Blog

This weekend, I thought about how texting prohibits you from hearing someone’s voice. I admit, I text way more often than I talk on the phone. I’ve never been a great phone talker. There are a lot of empty spaces. I like to see people’s body language when I talk to them, and for some reason I feel self-conscious on the phone.

We were out at a birthday party, and Darling Daughter came up to me to tell me something funny. She is a happy child. Laughs and giggles and takes everything in stride. I think it’s an amazing attribute to her personality. I told her, “I kinda like you, gal.” Gipop, my grandfather, used to always say that to me. I could hear his voice echoing in my head. It made me miss him, but it also made me miss my sisters’ voices and my brother’s voice. I don’t talk to them often enough. There simply isn’t enough time. And the world nowadays is all about convenience. I fall back on texting a lot, but I need to make that change.

I like to be lazy on the weekends and play Civilization on the PC. I play an old version. It must be about 5 years old. My dad played it when I was growing up. And so maybe that’s the reason I like it. I’m a pacifist, but when it come to Civ I’m a warmonger. My favorite thing to do is to build up my military and take over other countries. I wonder what this says about me!

This year, Hubby and I are hosting Thanksgiving. My brother’s family will be there. Two of my aunts and their  families. My cousin with a baby who I’m dying to meet! I’m nervous and keep thinking I’m forgetting something. I woke up at 3 AM wondering if I needed to buy Sprite for the kids. Insomnia over Sprite, people! In the South, we make a lot of casseroles for Thanksgiving. I think ours will mostly center around dessert though. Son Number Two wants to make cherry pie, and I’m already making black bottom cupcakes. I think one of the things we’ll be missing this year is sweet potato casserole. Oh well.

This past weekend, I tried to do some intentional things with the kids so we weren’t just potatoes lying around on the couch. I went to Darling Daughter’s parent observation ballet class. She laughed the entire time. I hope she does a better job concentrating when I’m not there.

Laughing Through Ballet

Hubby and I took all the kids to the playground. Even the thirteen year old participated. Miracle of miracles.

son-number-1.jpgSon Number 2

This week, I’m going to work on writing again. I know my blog has been sparse. It’s been busy up in here!

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On My Mind

I realize I haven’t been posting as frequently. I’ve been working on my novel. It’s slow going. I have 5,000 words, but I’m also doing in depth character sketches. I have an idea of where the book is going, but after juggling several characters I felt spending time on research and character sketches was the way to go.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and I guess this makes me a better writer. But a lot of what’s been on my mind can’t be shared with you all–not at this point. Most importantly, I’m trying to get myself organized in my writing and in my life. I’ve had some issues with my kids, but I try not to write about them in the public sphere unless it’s something positive. I don’t want them reading something later on and saying, “Mom, why’d you write that about me or say that about me?” I find that wholly unfair to them. Especially now that I have an almost teenager. Lord knows my very existence is embarrassing enough to him.

Most days, I still feel like I’m pretending. I feel like I’m pretending to be a writer. I feel like I’m pretending to be a good parent. I feel like I’m pretending to be a friend. I guess writers think too much, which can be debilitating. Maybe I haven’t taken enough risks in my life. I’m timid in a lot of ways (Hubby would say I’m a bulldog, but not where it matters). I always think, “I could have done this or I could have done that, but I didn’t follow through.” Follow through is important. Taking calculated risks are important. I seem to always play it safe. I’m tired of safe.

The other day, Middle Son said, “Maybe when you’re a rich and famous author we can go to London.”

And I said, “It’s hard to become a famous author.”

And he said, “But you will, Mom.” No question in his heart that his mommy would be famous one day. I wish I had the faith my child has in me. I’m endlessly hard on myself. And I fear I’m endlessly hard on my kids too. I’m hard on my friends. I hold grudges for no reason, or because someone said something to me that hurt my feelings. I probably don’t listen enough. Life, success, friendships–they’re all so hard to navigate.

Last week, I decided I would count my calories again and exercise. I ran 4 times last week. I plugged my food into MyFitnessPal–when it was convenient. Again with the half-assedness. I keep asking myself why I’m not losing weight as I stuff another chocolate bar in my mouth! Okay, not really, but at 140 calories for 1 1/4 cup, eating a whole bag of Chicago Mix surely adds up.

I’m not where I want to be with my life, writing, friendships, weight because of ME. I tell my kids that they are responsible for their grades and their schoolwork. I tell them they will do well if they try hard. I tell them the only person they have to blame if they fail is themselves. Yet I can’t seem to figure this out or apply it to my own life.

On the whole, I’m happy, but I still feel like there is something missing. My sister said the other day, “You’re like me, you get bored. You have to be driven.” And that’s true, but my drive waxes and wanes like my moods. Perhaps I have ADHD, never diagnosed. A not-so-wonderful Kindergarten teacher told my mother that I’d never go to college. Perhaps she could see my desire to give up. It seems innate in me. When the going gets tough–give up. When there’s too much work–sit and watch Netflix for an hour. When the kids are driving me batty–run away to a hot bath. But isn’t even saying it’s because this or that a form of blame–a form of not looking in the mirror and seeing my flaws and my positive character traits–seeing myself for who I am: me. I need to face things head on. I need to make the hard decisions and take the risks necessary to make my life meaningful and to feel fulfilled.

But why is that so hard for me to do?

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The Tree

Here’s another one from Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds challenge of the week: write about a tree. I had a hard time with this, because I’m writing about a tree in my current novel. I wanted to share some of that novel, but I’m intent on having it published some day. At first, I thought I’d bypass this challenge, but this idea came to me. I hope you enjoy.

The Tree — 924 words. 

virginia-live-oak-440351_1920

Running. Feet pounding the ground. Ashton ended up where she always did, in front of the great big oak tree. The branches spread out like giants’ arms against the clear blue backdrop of the Southern sky. She placed her hand on the trunk and felt the warmth of the tree.

When she had been just a girl, her dad had strung a tire swing to the big horizontal branch. She had swung, laughing, and pushing her head back against the wind. She looked up at the green leaves as they danced in the sky. The tree held life. Her life, a memory of her fleeting childhood existence.

When she and Deke married, they took over the land. Then her dad got sick—lung cancer from too many cigs smoked as he herded cows into the dust. He held on for two weeks after the doctor diagnosed him. Ashton’s mom moved to the back room. She let Ashton, Deke, and their clan of little children take over the house. Ashton liked to listen to their bare feet on the wood floors. It reminded her of her childhood where there was always too much noise and clatter in the small farmhouse.

Ashton held her hands up to the tree. She rubbed the silkiness of the green leaves.


“You know, Ashton, this could all be yours one day,” her father had said, one day when he pushed her on the swing.

Ashton had laughed her high-pitched little girl laugh, tossing her blonde curls into the wind, feeling like she could fly away.

Her father stopped the swing. He kneeled down in front of her and took her small, soft hands into his rough, calloused ones. His blue eyes twinkled in the fading light of day. He smelled of Old Spice and cow manure, the smell of Ashton’s childhood.

“I mean it. You’re the one. This is the place.”

A rustle of wind blew through the tree, and it seemed to wave at Ashton. She looked up at the tree and could almost feel it wrapping its life-giving warmth around her. Her dad squeezed her hands, then hugged her. He started pushing the swing again.


“I want to put a tire swing up for the girls,” Ashton said.

“There?” Deke asked, pointing to the tree as they walked toward the wind.

The girls had stayed home with Ashton’s mom. The memorial service had been two weeks ago already. Ashton’s mom had taken to wearing only black and making pies: peach, apple, pecan. There were more pies than they could ever eat. The sting of Ashton’s father’s death still took her breath away. The tree gave her the air she needed to breathe again, to feel again.

“I was thinking about selling off this acreage to the Boyers’,” Deke said.

“Oh,” Ashton said. She looked at the tree, and it seemed to bow its head in sadness.

“We could make some money. Put it in a college fund for the girls. This farm just don’t produce as much as it used to.”

“You can’t.”

“Why can’t I?”

“Because that tree is important,” Ashton said, pointing to it. The tree seemed to stand up a little taller, the leaves danced against the bright light of the midday sun.

“Don’t be silly, Ashton.”

After dinner and the girls’ baths, Ashton sat in the living room with her mother while Deke read to the bouncing girls who had wired themselves up, slap-happy before bedtime. Ashton knitted while her mother ate a piece of peach pie a la mode. They conferred and agreed. Ashton kissed the urn on the mantle before heading off to bed.

The next morning, Ashton ran to the tree. Running made her feel so alive. She hugged it and swore it hugged her back.


“I met someone,” she said.

“Who?” her father asked.

She sat on the tire swing, holding the worn ropes, her keds firmly planted in the dip her bare childhood feet had made on the ground.

“His name is Deke Malloy.”

“Irish, is he?” her father had joked.

Ashton, in the full throes of adolescence, rolled her eyes.

“I think I’m in love, Dad.”

Her father smiled, held her hands, and gave her a kiss on the forehead.

“I think it’s about time we took down the tire swing,” he said.

“Oh Daddy, I love this old thing.”

They both looked up into the branches of the old oak tree. It had seen so much on this land for the last hundred years, so many people coming and going. Ashton could feel its spirit. The next day, Ashton’s father removed the tire swing. Five years later, Ashton and Deke married.


In the afternoon, they all dressed up. Ashton and her mother wore blue, the color of the sky, and her father’s favorite.

“I guess I didn’t realize how important the tree was to you,” Deke said.

Ashton’s mom held her hand. The little girls followed along, picking daisies they would later make daisy chains with. Ashton could almost see the outline of the tire swing. She looked at the tree, and she thought she saw her dad there waving at her. She smiled, and held up her hand. The tree waved back.

Under the tree’s shade, she and her mom struggled to open the urn.

“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” Ashton said.

She poured her father’s ashes into the dip her childhood feet had made. The leaves of the tree waved in the wind, and the ashes swirled a little then settled into dust. Ashton smiled, imagining her daddy standing there, her hand securely in his. She put her arms around her mother’s waist and around Deke’s squeezing them close to her and looking at the wonder of an old oak tree.

“Now about that tire swing…”

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5 Second Rule

I’m not one to read self help books. But every now and then I see something motivational, and I feel like it applies to me. Like, remember a long time ago, when everyone was reading The Purpose Driven Life. Then it was The Secret. And I’m sure about a billion others. I never read them. I do have respect for the people who wrote them and who make millions of dollars selling words about how to better live your life. Because that’s what everyone wants to do, right? Live their life better.

Yesterday, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and I came across Mel Robbins. She wrote The 5 Second Rule. It’s the latest in self help books to take off. She makes a great point in this extremely long interview:

From the time you decide to do something, you have 5 seconds to launch it. I believe this is true. She is truly funny when she talks about how she goes from staying in bed to being successful. The interview is worth listening to even if you don’t believe in self-help garbage (I don’t really, but I do think there are some tricks and tidbits that people like Mel Robbins can teach us). Plus, for some reason I love writing about self help, even though I probably need it the most!

If your brain is like my brain, it’s brimming with ideas. You want to start something, but you lose motivation. You want to write a book, but you are risk adverse. Let me tell you something: being afraid of failure and success are probably my biggest weaknesses. The most successful people in this world aren’t afraid to fail. They know it takes failure to get things right. We are flawed humans, and we learn from our mistakes. Living by Mel Robbins’ 5 second rule helps with the initiation process. So say you’re thinking: I want to write a great novel, 5-4-3-2-1, pull the computer up. Don’t come up with all the reasons why you can’t write the novel, why nobody will ever read you, why you’ll never get published. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DO IT! Sometimes, I need to take my own advice.

I’ve been trying to make little changes to my life to be a better person. I’m super messy, and honestly probably was never diagnosed with ADHD as a child. My lack of executive function skills is appalling. This weekend, I’m going to use the 5 second rule to stop procrastinating and to clean up. I’m going to use it to work on my novel that I keep putting on the back-burner. I’m going to use it to set goals of being more present with my kids. Basically, I’m going to trust my first instinct and let all the anxiety, risk-adverse thoughts, and bad behaviors fall by the wayside. I’m going to take the risk to live my dreams.

What changes do you want to make in your life? What goals do you have? How could you apply the 5 second rule to live a better life?

Initiate. Dream. Live. Risk.

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Success

First of all, it’s been months and months since I blogged. I went through a non-creativity period where I was busy and not writing at all. I shirked some of my writing responsibilities, and for that I’m truly sorry. I’ve always been an up and down writer, but in order to be a successful writer I need to learn how to work through those periods of less creativity. Since that apology is out there, I’ll get to the point.

A few days ago, I was sitting in a bored board meeting. One of the many men said, “Successful people usually hang out with other successful people.” This is not news to most people, and it’s true. If you’ve ever tried to get a job it’s all in who you know (despite the fact that the ambiguous they will say it’s not). But it got me thinking, what is success anyway?

The dictionary defines success in the following way:

noun
noun: success; plural noun: successes
  1. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
    “the president had some success in restoring confidence”
    synonyms: favorable outcome, successfulness, successful result, triumph;

    Hollywood ending
    “the success of the scheme”
    antonyms: failure
    • the attainment of popularity or profit.
      “the success of his play”
      synonyms: prosperityaffluencewealthrichesopulence

      “the trappings of success”
      antonyms: poverty
    • a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.
      “I must make a success of my business”
      synonyms: triumphbestsellerblockbusterselloutMore

      antonyms: failureflopnobody
    • archaic
      the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims.
      “the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises”

    I work an 8-5 job. I come home to spend time with my family. We make enough money to eat, go out to eat, go on wonderful vacations. The world would probably describe what Rob and I have achieved as a successful lifestyle (in large part because of the lottery of being born to the right families). But is what I have success? I’m not so sure.

    Success is personal. The definition of success I most relate to is a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity. Success in writing would be achieving publication, popularity, and being able to live off of my writing. Perhaps if this happened I would feel successful. Certainly, writing The Devil Within made me think of myself as successful, and it also made me think of myself as a writer. However, the dissolution of Booktrope threw a monkey wrench in my plans. This probably affected me more than I let on at the time. The more I think about it though, the more I think that failure often leaves to success. Those who take risks succeed, those who don’t go nowhere.

    The integral part of success seems to be the internalized desire to achieve a certain goal. For a person who is interested in business, that may be becoming a CEO. For someone who is super family-oriented, this may be staying home with their children and raising them to be capable well-adjusted (is that even a thing?) adults. For a writer, that could mean multiple things: writing everyday, becoming a published author, freelancing.

    The more I think about my idea of success the more I think it doesn’t line up with the traditional ideas of success promoted within our capitalist society. As a creative person, I find the hum-drum of a 8-5 job to be draining. Don’t get me wrong: I have a great boss and a great workplace, and hey it pays the bills. So many people would be content or even ecstatic with the life I have built. But to me, success is tied to writing. The more I write, the happier I am. And isn’t that the point of personal success? To be happy, the have a purpose-filled life?

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Reflections on Death and Life

Recently I read an article about the importance of “me” time in everyone’s life. I also read an article about the importance of silence. I’ve been doing a lot of heavy thinking lately. I had a friend die suddenly about two weeks ago, and let’s face it when shocking events take place in our life it makes us look more closely at how we’re living.

I had a conversation with a co-worker at work about how I like to lock myself in the bathroom, take a bath, and read a book. This co-worker could not believe it, and it became the butt of all her jokes in regards to me. She’s probably reading this blog right now. But it griped me. Not because I don’t think I deserve the me-time (I do, and so do you), but because there is this perception in the United States that people don’t need, don’t deserve, or simply don’t have time for me-time. Well, this my friend, is a mistake, or even a travesty. Everyone needs alone time. Everyone needs me time. Everyone needs time to recharge. It doesn’t matter if you’re a working mother of three like me, a single parent, a non-parent, a man or woman. It’s simply a biological necessity. It’s as essential to humans as touch and love, but it’s something that we do not make time for in our chaotic world.

We’re constantly bombarded by information: cell phones, people, activities, kids. And because of that, sometimes we forget that we are connected human beings. When we feel overwhelmed or tired the best thing we can do for ourselves is stop and reflect. Stop and enjoy a little bit of solitude. Look for the inner peace that can keep us going.

Since my friend died I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we live. Our family lives are dictated by schedules and technology. I sit on the couch in the evening, and my kids stare at a television or their own handheld gadget. I write in the morning or at night, making the computer one of the main gadgets in my life. But we’re missing out on a huge part of human connection. As a mother, I want my children to remember that I took time to play UNO with them. I want them to remember that I laughed with them…and cried with them. I want them to remember my presence in their life, not that I was always staring at my phone, my computer, or that I was too busy to spend time with them.

The way I can best be there for my children is to be there for myself. I know that I don’t have a traditional family life. My husband works from home, so he’s capable of making dinner and picking up the kids, dealing with homework and doing most of the “traditional” housewife jobs. Since my job is away from home, I come home and get to be the “fun” parent, traditionally assigned to the “Dad” role. My husband and I both value our alone time, our rest and recoup time, as a time that we can sort out our feelings on life and come back to our children more well-prepared to handle them and all their idiosyncrasies.

As I process the emotions regarding my friend’s life and death, and help his wife—one of my good friends—find her new normal, I need my silence. I need the time in the evening when I lie in bed and try to figure it all out. Some people can put all their faith in God. But in times like this questions arise. Silence helps me sort through those tough questions. My alone time helps me come to terms with decisions I’ve made in the past and what decisions I need to make in the future. We all have a finite time on this earth, and we don’t know when our time is up. I want to live my life the best way possible and leave an impression on my children that I was there for them, because we never know when our time is up.

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