The Intoxication of Accomplishment

Shame on me. I went two weeks without posting a damn thing on here. I was doing so good too! I’m sorry. BUT! I’ll tell you why I haven’t been posting. I finally accomplished one of my goals for the year.

I GOT MY OWN CAR. (The picture featured was taken off the internet. It’s not my ACTUAL car. Seriously, snow in southern California? HA!)

*GASSSSPPPP* I KNOW!! My own car! My very first one that I don’t have to share! Well, It’s a truck. A 1997 Toyota 4Runner, which is almost exactly what I wanted. I know a car would have been more economical but I didn’t know which way my life was going to go when I started looking. I figured a truck or a compact SUV covered a lot of bases. House. Commuter. Ghetto Limousine. Mover. Sanctuary. Freedom. Not the best on gas so it won’t be a state travel vehicle unless I win the lottery but really, that’s the only down side.

Even more of a shocker…I found it on CRAIGSLIST.

*Pauses for reaction then squeals happily* I KNOWWWWWWWW!!

Craigslist is a cesspool of trolls and scammers so I knew I had to tread with caution. I found a few trucks I liked and I kept my eye on them while I waited for my tax return to come in. I warred with myself over the prudence of getting another vehicle. Yes it was convenient for errands. I was usually stuck cramming them either on the weekend or after work at 10 pm because during the day, I had no transportation. (Thank gawd for Winco, which stays open 24/7). Besides that, I knew the truck would give me peace of mind in case of emergencies like someone got sick or a friend needed a ride.

But then there was the downside of having to pay for two of everything now with two vehicles. Two registrations. Two insurance policies. Two tanks of gas a week. Two mechanics bills. Plus I had never used so much of our tax return on one thing before. I bought the truck for $3000. That could have been money for braces and replacement teeth and savings for my girls’ college funds! It felt wasteful to spend so much on something just for me and I went back and forth a lot over the last two weeks.

More than any of that though was the pure shining thought of “I ACCOMPLISHED MY GOAL.”

My plans nearly always fall through. Bad planning or no motivation or whatever. But after I blew up my life last May, everything shrank down to one single goal: get a car. That was it. Survive somehow and get a car. And I did it. All on my own!

I found a listing for a red Toyota 4runner on craigslist and saw that it was close to me, only two towns over. It immediately stuck out to me because there was a whole paragraph about the car rather than just the specs and a price. The seller sounded friendly and honest and so, with sweaty palms, I texted him. Normally on craigslist when you text, you don’t get a reply back for about a day/week so when half an hour later I heard my phone beep with an unfamiliar text, I was shocked.

We made a plan to meet up that Saturday so I could check things out. I was so nervous I brought a small army with me. My husband and kids as well as my Uncle Steve (a mechanic all his life) and my cousin/bestie Rebecca (also a mechanic). I wanted to know that logic and careful inspection matched my gut instinct; that this was a good deal. I had a GOOD feeling about this truck and about the guy.

Also, it was raining, which I see as a purification and a blessing.

When we pulled up, I was taken aback when the guy came to meet us. He was a dead ringer for Alec Baldwin. I shit you not. Piercing blue eyes and everything. AND! He’d know my Uncle Gary (ANOTHER mechanic who owns his own garage) for 20 years!!! Everything was Kismet about this meeting. I felt immediately at ease. The guy was forthcoming with information and my Uncle went over the car with a fine tooth comb. The right front blinker was out. Eh. Easy fix. There were little cosmetic problems like the paint was peeling and some bondo had been applied at some point over a bump that was now coming off.

I didn’t care about cosmetic. I preferred older roughed up cars because it’s less of a heart break when (not if) I bang into something and dent it or scratch it. Gives it character! Yeah!

More and more as I stood and looked at it, I knew it was going to be mine. Despite my husband’s urging to get a car with better fuel economy and everyone’s insistence that I didn’t need a truck (they don’t KNOW that), this was my truck. MINE. It was the culmination of years of being trapped at home, of walking from the grocery store with two gallons of milk, of not being able to go on fun trips because I didn’t have my own transportation.

And it was the ONE THING I had planned on; my singular focus.

I still marvel at my truck every time I walk out to get in it. I’m paranoid about every sound it makes and I pay careful attention to the gas gauge and the mileage. I’ve vowed to take better care of it than my previous cars (the ones my HUSBAND drove 90% of the time). I will learn about car maintenance and put fluids in regularly and detail it every month. I’m going to get new window decals for it to personalize it and get a first aid kit and rags and a funnel and a jack.

I’m going to take a trip one of these weekends to some place I’ve never been, just to say I did it, on my own, in my new truck.

My old man Truck. I’m calling him Marty Baldwin. Most cars are girls I suppose (dunno why) but I have yet to find a reliable male to service me. Hopefully this one pans out.

 

 

 

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The little Writer that Could

So I’ve been going at this whole blog thing for a good year now. YAY ME! Wait, has it been over a year? Has it really almost been two years? Nahhh. Maybe? I’ll have to check on that later. I took a break in the middle to ruminate on my depressing life and schtuff hit the fan but I came back, like a beaten but loyal dog. I guess that really says something about me since I never stick to ANYTHING.

But I did start this blog because I want to be a published author and that is still my end goal, even if life throws wrecking balls in my way. What’s life without a few random steel balls blowing through your path, am I right? (You’re welcome for the ear worm.)

Wow. That’s actually a good analogy for what I wanted to write about today. Wrecking balls in writing. I’m taking the next step!

Lemme ‘splain…

See, I’ve gotten over the initial fear of failure that had hindered me when I first started this journey. I was afraid of people not liking my stories or not caring what I have to say. I was afraid of not sticking with it, of giving up on it, of being WRONG about what I wanted. Not so much anymore. I’ve gotten used to writing on the blogosphere and putting my vulnerable self out there.

I’m starting to settle into a writing voice that sounds somewhat like me. My entries have mostly been consistent in that department though someone else would have to tell me yay or nay. I can’t really judge that for myself yet.

I’ve even gotten a little writing routine down for myself (a friggin’ miracle if you knew me at all). Get up, get kids breakfast, sit down and start an entry, get first daughter on the bus, come back for another twenty minutes and write, then walk second daughter to school, then come back and finish. I try to write until at least 10 am. Even more amazing is that I start to get anxious when I can’t write any given day or a miss a blog entry. It feels like back sliding and that cannot be permitted!!

I had never written a short story before and now I’ve written a dozen or more. I’ve even written ongoing stories, divided into parts. Bonus too is that I write stories I actually ENJOY re-reading. (That almost never used to happen.)

There are all mini goals I had set for myself early on and I’ve met them. I’ve gotten used to them and they no longer intimidate me.

Now it’s time to ramp it up.

What brought this on? Fame and money did of course. “Published” is the name of the game remember? NO, I’m kidding! Actually, I read an article on pinterest about writing (what else?) and I realized that I needed to break past the comfortable once again. The article talked about putting conflict in stories and using character development to solve their problems. Conflict sells readers. I am NOT a confrontational person by nature so this is a goal I know I’m going to struggle with.

I mean, I don’t enjoy reading stories with no conflict, obviously. Boring! So why would I write them? It’s one of those things I think takes time to develop in a writer brain. How much is too much? What conflicts are relevant to plot continuation? How does one narrow down the infinite possibilities to make a great read? My brain aches just thinking about all the details. But I’ll do it, dad gummit!

Another thing I really ought to start doing is outlining. I thought to be a complete panster writer before, just punching keys willy-nilly and letting the characters tell the story. But that doesn’t work because of the aforementioned problem of being a pacifist. And the fact that I get so lost in the details I completely forget why I’m even writing the story. I lose the forest through the trees. So having an outline, even a basic one, will help me keep track and remind me of the big picture.

To help with this situation I’ve decided to ramp up my iPod Shuffle Short Story or “iPod S.S.S.” entries. These are blog entries you might’ve seen sporadically on my page where I put my iPod on shuffle and write down the first 5 songs that pop up. I’ll analyze them, write down thoughts and feelings and then come up with a story for them, using the Plot Structure diagram to write the story. It stretches creative muscles in the way that I don’t like using clichés so trying to make a story that’s outside the box is a double challenge.

The next goal I want to set for myself is to be on my Facebook bakalove page more often to get a wider reader base. I mean, I literally only have to cut and paste what I write on WordPress over onto Facebook but I find that task exhausting some days. Probably cuz Facebook is exhausting with all the drama. And it sucks me in for HOURS catching up on all that I missed and IMing friends. Bleh.

It’s gratifying to know that I was right about the most important thing: The Journey. It’s rare that a person can write a best seller right out of the gate but it happens. The rest of us have to toil and do the hard work and sharpen ourselves against the stones of adversity before we can even THINK about publishing. We’re so vastly rewarded by this though! We’re building a solid foundation of creativity and logic so that we may succeed in any writing endeavor we choose.

We’re the Little Writers that Could!! CHOO CHOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I’m more glad than I am frustrated by my progress I think so it’s with a happy heart I end this blog. To be able to reflect on my progress, meet my goals, and make new ones is very humbling and encouraging.

I hope your goals are within reach as well! Keep chugging little Writers! ;*

Don’t be Dull Jack! Be a Game Changer!

Change is never, ever, ever, EVER easy.

In my limited experience I’d say it’s the hardest thing a human has to do, whether it’s willingly or not. We are creatures of habit; sheep, in a way. We like being comfortable and having things at the tips of our fingers. We work and strive for these things all our lives, ruining our bodies and grinding down our spirits to make sure we, and future generations, have ample enough to be happy.

Go to school to get a job.

Go to the job to get the moneys.

Go to the store to spend the moneys.

Save moneys if you can.

……………

Okay good. So I’ve discovered the purpose of life. To be sheep! Beeeeeh!! Beh!

Weeeeelllllll what if you don’t want to be sheep? Yes being able to provide for yourself and your family is an amazing thing and you should feel proud you stuck with it. A lot of people don’t, choosing selfishness over responsibility. BUT. Where are you in all this? I asked myself that a lot over the last decade. It wasn’t until recently that I was able to really pursue it though. I finally had enough of being a sheep. So this is a rough draft of the process I used to help plan my course of action.

The first step is recognizing you don’t ONLY want to be a sheep.

The second and immediate step to take after that is to STOP the guilt from getting the better of you.

You deserve to be a person in the midst of your survival. You may not be able to be the multi-million dollar karate master movie star of your dreams but you can certainly say, collect memorabilia or take lessons at a dojo. Simple, small pleasures that make you feel different from the monkey pressing the same red button everyday for eight hours. And remember, DON’T let yourself feel guilty! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. You earned this!

Step three is, after you start to feel a bit better about yourself, to identify the thing you want to change the most. Write down only ONE THING, usually the first thing that comes to mind. Do you want to lose weight and be healthier? Do you want to stop being such a judgmental person? Do you want to get a better job that requires more schooling?

Step four is to make a list of things you can do to possibly help change that goal. Break it down. Buy less fast food. Pay people more compliments. Start looking at online schooling. Start eating whole grain bread. Give money to a homeless person. Ask a banker about school loans.

Now I want you to take that list and find the simplest, easiest possible thing you wrote down. Circle it in your favorite color marker. That’s your starting point. Go out and buy your bread. Tell your cashier at the check out line how pretty her make up is that day. Look up classes at your local college. Also, make yourself a list of little rewards alongside your circle that you can pick from when you succeed. Don’t want to be a dull Jack right? We’re working to step AWAY from this mentality!

Some goals may need to be sustained through a monthly cycle. Psychologists say it takes at least six weeks to break a habit so if you’re going for something like a healthier life style or a personality change, you’ll need to make a small goal you can reach for that as well. Mine was “weekly but for two whole months” that way the amount of time was sectioned into smaller bite-sized chunks. Now if I happened to fall off the wagon, it was only one day of one week. Easy to get back on!

(Also, give yourself some slack if shit happens, like the flu or you lose your job or you’re having marital trouble. A person can only take on so much. Just don’t make it an excuse not to try to get back to it. Be your own self-moderator!)

Step five: make a simple chart or calendar to keep track of your daily successes/slip ups. It can be different colored dots on a every day calendar or brightly colored stickers on a special monthly calendar you bought especially for this change. Give yourself a pat on the back and a small reward for reaching your goal.

Step six: after you’ve completed your new mini goal, add another small thing from your list on top of it. Buy whole grain bread AND 2% milk. Pay compliments AND show one act of kindness every week. Register for enrollment at the local college AND make an appointment to see a school counselor.

Change, in order for it to become natural and permanent, needs to be SLOW. It’s frustrating as hell, I know. It will never go fast enough for us because humans like having comfort and ease at their fingertips. We’re the Instant Gratification Species. You need to not lose sight of Why you’re doing the change in the first place though. There was something fundamentally off about you (so you think) that you didn’t like so you’re trying to change it. Long term sustainability is the goal here, which is why most diets and fads don’t work.

For sheep, it’s hard to sprint for long distances. That’s exhausting on many levels! However–

–that’s Step seven. DON’T lose sight of your WHY.

“The greatest injustice a human can do to himself is to walk down a path he chose, forget why he is walking it but continue to walk it anyway.” ~

(I think that’s a Paulo Coelho quote. I read it somewhere recently and I’m sure I got the wording wrong but I can’t find the exact quote anywhere. Paulo has a LOOOOOOOOT of quotes X_X)

So there it is. My game changing plan. I wrote this because I was going to relate it back to writing somehow but I realized I didn’t need to. It already had.

This method of action for me is the reason why I’ve been writing so much. It’s one of my mini goals, to write a blog entry a day; a result that I’m proud to say is from the seven step program I figured out–ON MY OWN!! No self-help book needed! And if you knew my scatter-brain with any sort of intimacy, you’d be applauding right now. Seriously, it’s like a hummingbird in spring flitting from flower to flower. Frenetic and brightly colored Chaos.

Share what you think/feel. Comment box is wiiiiiiide open for your use 🙂 Thank y’all!

Goals, WTF? A look forward and back

Goaallllls! Oh GOAALLLSSSS!! Hey goals, Where the F*%k are you??! Olly Olly oxen free!!!!

Caution: the following is a depressing bitchfest about my life. But it’s an honest summary from a trapped housewife if you’re curious or have ever been here. 

I had goals once. Right out of college. They were glowing brightly in my minds eye and my path for the next ten years was loosely laid out. I left in plenty of wiggle room for disasters, travel, surprises, changes and opportunities. It was pretty basic too; nothing special or different than any other college grad.

Get a car and a part time job

-Go to college for Interior Design 

-Gain enough experience with a firm that I could start flipping houses

-Travel around the USA flipping and discovering awesome places and gaining life experience

-Maybe get married and travel internationally

-AVOID KIDS

Not too far-fetched right? Back in 2006 it didn’t seem so.

But then I got a marriage proposal to which I didn’t actually say yes to but then found out I was pregnant so yeah, of course I’ll marry you!

And then found out I had to move out of my mom’s house while four months pregnant the same weekend I was getting married and going on my “honey moon” (camping for three days). It was all we could afford.

I felt I’d been back slapped by the Universe at this point.

I tried doing the online college interior design thing while pregnant, hoping to be able to swing a routine around the baby.

I learned a costly mistake: I can’t do online classes. I have zilch self-discipline that cost me thousands. Yay life experiences? And then I got pregnant with my second child and had her ten months after the first, in my second semester of college. By this time I’d accepted I was doomed and gave myself over unwillingly to a life I forced myself into. I quit college and paid off my loans with taxes.

Then I just survived.

For the next ten years I didn’t give myself any goals. What was the point? I was the reluctant mother of two children, one of them autistic, and wife to an irresponsible husband who hated his work. Luckily that changed but we still lived on food stamps and government housing for the next ten years. My motivation was hanging by a thread and my marriage was falling into shambles.

And you’re reading this I bet and thinking, is there a point? Sounds like a big ol’ bitch-fest. (I did warn you.) There’s a point though, I promise. Well, a question really. A pointed question and here it is:

What kind of goals am I allowed to have? 

Me, the mother of two girls, the wife of ten years to a man I no longer love, and a woman with zero experience working to support my own life.

I keep getting asked by my husband, “What do you want? Where do you see yourself in ten years, in twenty, at the end of your life?” And I look at him like, “what do you expect me to say? I’m a wife and mother. It’s selfish to want anything else.”

What I’m really saying is, “I want independence, a life free of the burden of marriage, and to be happy doing something worth while.”

I sound like a dick and I’m basically being called one for wanting to end my marriage and break up my family. It’s “Unrealistic” apparently. (You have to understand that I live in Southern California on the coast which means I will NEVER make it on my own because the price of everything is way out of my meager budget. Independence here still means I need roommates; ones that can tolerate kids since there’s no way I’m forgetting my girls in the middle of all this.)

So I ask again, What goals am I allowed to have?

I thought I was playing it smart by replying to this with things like:

A truck (in case I need somewhere to sleep)

-A job or two

Annnnd that’s it for immediate life goals. Easy manageable goals; something even I can’t screw up. Of course I still have the bigger, less easy to obtain life goals like:

Becoming a traditionally published author

-Buying my own house on some land

-Adopting a Pit Bull from a shelter

Securing a financial future for my children

And I’m working on those goals! I am writing in my blog again, training myself to sit down and make writing a habit. I am getting my credit scores back up by applying for credit cards and making payments on time. And eventually I want to start volunteering again at my local animal shelter to quell the need for doggie kisses.

Is it so bad that these are my goals? Is it not enough?

Seriously, is this stupid? I need someone else’s opinion other than my own or my husband’s because we’re both entirely too toxic right now to see clear. Is there a book I can read that deals with this? Is there advice from wiser and more experienced readers I can contemplate?

I am so lost. I’ve never done this before. Haaaaalp.

“As the world falls down…”

I feel a little like the junk lady from Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.

You know, the one who lives in the junk yard and carries all of her most prized possessions on her back? The main character, Sarah, falls into Junk land after realizing the beautiful ball she’d been dancing in was really a cage and there were more important things she needed to do. Once the dream bubble was popped, the Junk lady started piling on thing after thing onto a confused Sarah, trying to make her forget her purpose.

That, right there, is where I am now. Freshly fallen from dream land and straight into the jarring reality that my cage couldn’t contain me anymore. I feel the need to grab up my most comforting things to armor myself in the harsh world. I make a blanket fort and stay perfectly still so the monsters won’t find me. Childhood toys, favorite books, art supplies, movies, clothes and jackets and make up…all weight distracting me from the main issue, which is…

WHAT DO I REALLY WANT?

One by one I have to slough off the non-essentials and pare down my life to what is only the most important basics. I have to decide what that is, firstly. Once I do this, I’ll be able to move lightly and freely in any direction I desire.

Theoretically.

It’s a lot harder than you’d think to pick a thing among all the other things and say, “That. I want that and I’m going to run the gauntlet trying to get it.”

But when can we have it? And what is it supposed to be?

Life has demands you must meet first and then maybe your God has some demands too as well as your boss and family and friends. When is there time left over for you? How, in the midst of all the junk and chaos, are you supposed to figure it out?

…………………

Do you want to know a secret I discovered?

Probably not so secret actually but something I’ve figured out in my study of life.

Adults are really just tall children who have to fake they know what they’re doing for the littler children. But because we’re taught to “be adult” through various levels of schooling and getting a job, we’re supposed to suddenly be all-knowing and responsible while still maintaining some childhood magic so we don’t become too serious.

Add in the fact that a lot of people have to deal with catastrophic situations we’re in no way prepared for like, birth, death, divorce, natural disasters, illness, marriage, and war and we still have to hold our heads up high like a bawss.

Seriously?

No wonder people medicate themselves against this kind of crap.

So what do you do when the world falls down around you? When your delicate cage shatters and you’re standing bare as a newborn babe in the middle of your life? I’ll tell you what you don’t do first because it’ll be the first things you desire. Anything to take away this hungry and glaring monstrosity called Life. I know this because it’s something I did (and continually do) when my world fell down.

DON’T pile on the junk. Whether it be shopping sprees (my biggest vice), food binges, travel (aka running away), sexual affairs, drugs/alcohol, excessive volunteering (also something I’m guilty of), work out mania, over time at work or anything else with potentially harmful repercussions. You’ll get shopper’s remorse, hang overs, even more lost, an STI, a pulled muscle, no sleep and burn out. I mean, worst case scenario, of course. It could be these types of things help you a little to find a direction. It didn’t really work for me but kudos to you if you got something out of it.

What I found worked for me is…..I haven’t found it yet.

Yeah, I know. Anti-climactic. Sorry. I’m not one of those wise, all-knowing adult persons. But I think I’m a special case, you see, because my mind is like a flock of brightly colored humming birds buzzing from flower to flower and never retaining anything for more than a few days before burning it up and repeating the process. A paint splatter Rain Man. Short term memory loss? I’ve never been diagnosed with it but it certainly feels that way. I come up with a plan and it’s promptly forgotten when I see another pretty flower.

So what do I do in the mean time? Here’s a suggestion that I believe to be a step in the right direction. A step away from the junk pile on your back toward something real.

Pick ONE thing to do every day. Nothing big. Something you can do while you watch TV, like stretch your muscles. Or at work on your break, write for 5 minutes about stuff you love to do or want to do or stuff bothering you. Get it all out in a rush. Or pick something you don’t do every day, like brush your teeth for instance, and make it a mini goal. Put it in your personal planner and give yourself a sticker when you complete that goal. (Kids love stickers after all!)

In this new world of uncertainty, you need to create an anchor for yourself that comes from YOU, not from THINGS and it has to be something you WIN at. A small victory you can celebrate with yourself. If it’s midnight and you realize you’ve forgotten to do your mini goal, make sure you can do it right there before you go to bed. Really, it can be that small!

Do you want to know what I do? What my small victory is? I pick three or for positive affirmations for the day and I repeat them in my head every chance I remember them. I AM WORTHY. I AM BEAUTIFUL. I AM GRATEFUL. I AM LOVED. I AM CREATIVE. I AM INTELLIGENT. I CAN DO THIS. I AM A WRITER.

Not “could be”. I AM. I CAN. I’ll even say it in the mirror to myself while going through my morning routine if I don’t quite believe it’s true that day.

Fake it till you make it, right?

It’s working too, you know. Out of this mini goal came an idea that I can’t believe I didn’t have earlier. It’s an expansion of my affirmations, my hopes, goals and flaws. Yes, even flaws (so I can work on them steadily).

I’m going to make myself a Jessica Bible. Or as it’s commonly known, a Bullet Journal. In it will go my affirmations, on the front page, so I will see them every day, first thing. The next thing I feel needs to be in it, second page, is my Dream to become a Published Author. And I’m going to list the whys below it so when my motivation starts to fizzle out, I can re-read it again and again. It’s easy to give up on big dreams like that because responsibility and practicality beat it out of you. But I believe these dreams and desires stay with you even after you believe you’ve given up.

Don’t be satisfied with giving up.

Also going into it are achievable goals that I can put stickers next to when they’re complete like finding another job, getting my own car, learning Archery, calling my family more, trying a new recipe every month, blogging for a week/month/quarter year/half-year etc.

Cuz stickers, right?

I don’t know what else is going to go in the Jessica Bible but it will be filled with things that are important to me that I need to remind myself ARE important. And like any Bible, I’ll read it every day until the words are rote for me.

This is my plan to walk across the remainders of my safety bubble. Mom always said I was weird for being able to walk, read and chew gum at the same time without running into anything. Having my nose in a book is one of my favorite things, after all. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Pre-memory: Hope for a Friend

Blog from some indeterminate amount of time from the future:

It’s raining today. Imagine that. Rain in Spring time! It wasn’t like that in California. We barely had seasons, or rain for that matter. What a wonder it is to live somewhere that has proper seasons.

I sit in my cushioned window seat with a mug of milk tea, wrapped in a fluffy blanket and I smile at the drizzle. I love rain. There was never enough of it. It made my hair frizz out like a poodle and I often got colds from all the puddle jumping but it was a small price to pay. Now I’m especially grateful for it because it means the newly planted garden will be watered, the rain barrel will be a little fuller, and I have the chance to snuggle up with my new husband on his old couch, still rumpled from our morning love making.

Rain reminds me of renewal and there’s a lot of new things in my life.

My wedding is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to big changes for me. It was only a few months ago but I unearthed my Wedding Photo Album yesterday while unpacking more boxes from the move and everything is fresh in my mind again. The personalized vows, the luxurious reception decorated in gothic red, black and silver, the dagger and heart pins that represented my past as well as my new husband’s. It was the “showy” wedding where everyone had been invited. Our personal and intimate vows had taken place months before in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Just us, a fire and the night sky.  The one picture we took out there was the first one I placed in our house in the middle of the fire place mantle.

There was a time where marriage to another man seemed ludicrous to me. After I’d messed up the first one and been broken irrevocably apart, I was extremely reluctant to repeat the experience. Who wanted to go through that kind of thing twice? But he wore me down with patience and love and logic. I’d been given room to explore this broken me and do as I wished since I had no children attached to me. I think I came around pretty well and it was on the upswing I’d met my now husband. My ex husband was, well–surviving I guess. We were face book friends and barely that. It was time for me now. Me and him. I didn’t stand a chance against him really, but I appreciate the fact he let me think I did.

Asshole.

I snorted and took a sip from my mug, amused at myself.

“You okay babe?”

I turned my gaze away from the wet outdoors to the dark haired man walking toward me with a water bottle in one hand and a plate of snacks in the other. My blood warmed at the look of his muscles through his black tank and the tattoos peeking out from underneath it. I’d licked and bit every inch of those tattoos. I would NEVER get enough.

“I’m friggin great,” I reply and smile coyly up at him, his blue eyes sparking at me.

“That you are.”

He set a plate of crackers, sausage and cheese on my lap and took the opportunity to capture my lips in a rough kiss. My chest filled up like a helium balloon and made me light-headed. Another new and amazing thing for me. I could have kisses whenever I wanted. I didn’t have to plan vacations around our schedules and drive thousands of miles to come and get them. He was here, with me, in the same room and I didn’t have to leave in x-amount of hours, crying as I pulled away from him into traffic and depression.

“Hey, I love you babe but your 5 minute break has already lasted 20. I’ve been painting the bedroom by myself.”

I pressed my lips together to stifle the giggle that wanted to escape and raised my eye brows in an “oh-so-innocent” expression.

“But look! It’s our first rain since the new garden was put in! I had to be sure the plants weren’t getting water-logged or beat up too badly! I’m protecting our hard work!”

His eyes went squinty on me and his mouth curved into a mock frown.

“Fine, finnnneeeee. Eat then and get your energy back. Looks like we’ll be sleeping on the fold out couch again.”

I smirked.

“You weren’t complaining about sleeping on the couch last night. Or this morning. But maybe it’s because we weren’t sleeping for a long time.”

He rolled his eyes and kissed me again with a satisfied smile, sitting by my legs and popping a sausage in his mouth.

I repeated his actions and crunched on a cracker,  returning to look at the green, beautiful world outside my very first home. MY OWN HOME! A dream come true. Two bedrooms, one bath with a front AND back yard (our number one criteria). I’d be using half the garage for my crafting/writing studio and the second bedroom would be his office. I was like a little kid in a toy store going to Lowe’s and picking out paint colors together and filling our basket with lush greenery. I’d finally have my herb garden! We’d already ordered new furniture and we made plans to go antique shopping for accents and lamps and pictures later that week. He played it cool for the most part but I knew he was thrilled to be sharing this with me.

Happy wife, happy life.

We had debated for a while about renting first and not going into debt straight out of our wedding vows with a big purchase like a house. I was okay with that. The market was wider for rentals and we could leave without a fuss if something happened. I’d managed to save a little money from my various grants and scholarships and the psychology jobs I’d landed and he’d been working steadily as a grease monkey for a few years at hot rod shops. Not glamorous but I got free rides in sexy fast cars whenever I was in town. We had a little money pooled together to start-up.

But then I had an offer I couldn’t refuse. Right at the tail end of finalizing our wedding plans, I got a call from a publishing agency. A big one. Like, head hancho big wig in literature agency. They wanted to publish my biography as a series of fictional novels.

Yeah, no shit! My jaw hit the floor and still hasn’t quite rolled itself back up into neutral position.

I’d pitched the idea to them beginning of last year and had crossed my fingers as I pushed the “send” button on my computer. I’d dealt with traditional publishers before. Usually it was an agonizing first month of silence, then a depressed two months of zilch and finally resultant acceptance for the next four to six months. When the rejection letter came, I wasn’t surprised or even hurt. It was what it was and writing was a competitive business. Honestly, when the offer came in I had been completely buried in wedding plans and had forgotten about it. I thought it was a prank from one of my oh-so-charming soon-to-be brothers in law. (They’d been saved a skinning. Would have looked funny during the wedding all gooey and red.)

The advance the agency gave me on the books was more money than I’d ever had in the sum of all my working days. I was afraid to cash the check, thinking still that it might be some sort of prank or scam even though my agent cut it herself. I’d witnessed it. But it was enough to send me to the internet and look at the price of buying instead of renting. When I came forward with the idea and a solid list of acceptable properties, I was rebuffed. I looked at him in chagrin.

My soon to be husband had a surprise of his own.

He’d been offered a job at a start-up custom car company in Texas. They catered to restoring old cars and motorcycles, something that he had always wished to get in to. After getting a few stable positions at the garages and getting some experience under his belt, he decided that he was ready for a change. He’d been sitting on the decision for a little while since the chaos of my book contract and my traveling schedule didn’t leave us a lot of face time.

“That’s a fucking awesome offer. You you need to get on that right NOW!”

I don’t know if he expected me to have doubts or play the devil’s advocate for him or what but my complete acceptance took him aback at first. Change had always bothered me and he knew it. Perhaps he thought I’d be overwhelmed or reluctant. But with this, I saw a future blooming before us. There was no doubt in me that this was what we were going to do. Get married, pack up, and move to Texas.

As soon as he had finalized the e-mail to his future employer, I hauled him to the floor and instilled some wicked rug burns on my knees and elbows. Sweaty, light-headed and very satisfied, I laughed and felt happy tears streak down my cheeks. This was the culmination of all the waiting we’d been doing. This was the reward for years separated, for failure and divorce and unemployment. Our lives were about to begin anew.

We found a few fixer-upper houses and flew out to inspect them. I put in an offer on our first pick and we spent our time waiting for the answer to come in exploring our future town and meeting with his company heads. I immediately located all the crafting stores and quickly found a favorite cafe to write in that had amazing hot milk tea and scones. When we got the house and signed our names (BOTH OUR NAMES!) on the dotted lines my only regret was I couldn’t yet attach my married name to the signature.

Now, here we are, in a run down two bedroom that holds all our merged belongings, our shared hopes and future dreams.

“I love you,”I said aloud and brought his attention back to me. “Thank you for being here.”

“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

He raised a paint-streaked finger and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.

“Except maybe the bedroom, painting.”

“Or on the couch, not sleeping,” I answered and laughed when he waggled his eyebrows.

I love my life. Took a while to get here but it’s not about the goal is it? It’s about the journey.

Straw into Gold

I scared myself recently. But first I want to take a brief look back.

In light of the fact that I’ve officially been on WordPress for one year (they sent me a happy anniversary notification), I decided to look back on my accomplishments. I looked at the Pros first.

  1. I managed to stick with something for more than a few months. Yes there were a few weeks where I did no writing but I came back to it. Routine has never been my thing.
  2. I have 26 followers. (THANK YOU!) Never thought I’d get any and I celebrated every time the counter went up.
  3. I started the Mother Project, which means I had to get over my biggest fear and put my writing out there for public consumption. (And my Mother’s.)
  4. I explored myself as a writer and learned a bit more about how I work.
  5. I discovered many people on here that I enjoy reading and have enriched my experiences as a writer and human being.

Those are like, the TOP 5 but I had to admit I struggled to even get those down. It’s because artists are their own worst critics and in our esteemed opinion, we are never good enough. Trying to shine a good light on our work is difficult.

So I looked at these 5 and sighed. I felt my shoulders droop a little. That’s all? This is what I accomplished in a year? I was hoping I’d be farther along by now. Have more comments, more likes, more interactions. I felt like a shy violet in the shadow of the mighty oaks that came before me. I had to do more. That much was for damn sure. My minimal effort wasn’t enough.

Okay. Okay! I can do this. Let’s find out what it takes! We’ve been at this a year. Let’s take another swim with the sharks.

It was this mind-set that had me venturing into the great gaping Maw that is “Publishing” again.

WordPress has a terrific number of articles about publishing. There are editors here that can give you the skinny on what they want from writers, marketers that tell of their experiences in the industry, authors and bloggers that have been through it, and are still going through it. It’s a great resource. However; with every click, my eyes grew bigger and bigger. My eyebrows lifted into my hairline and I had to bite my cheek to keep my jaw from unhinging.

Apparently, according to the general consensus of the Publishing Maw, a writer could no longer be humble and mediocre. They couldn’t be shy and meek and grateful for being considered. No. Writers had to be Pushers. They had to push themselves to go beyond their borders and push their audience and push issues. They had to be EXTRAORDINARY and STAND OUT and BE ORIGINAL. (Mind you, there is no originality left in the world so go figure.) The market is so saturated with fiction now that editors and agents have to reject almost everything that’s been done before. Vampires? Meh, been over done. Zombies? Soooo over it. Teenagers with special powers? Something else for god’s sake!

So right out of the gate, writers have to spin gold out of the moldy over-used straw that has been used before them. Then, once you’ve edited this snarl of straw into a semblance of a  “good” novel you have to go out and promote it. YOU, the author, have to come out of your cave and start a social media account and promote yourself. You have to get people to review your novel. Get beta readers, hire an editor to polish up your novel and then pitch it to agencies. Most won’t even look at it unless you have a platform of followers over 5K. Then you wait months and months for your rejection letter.

…….Why the hell am I doing this again? WHY do I want to be a writer? It’s goddamned impossible!

I felt the Maw start to close over my head, sinking me into darkness. I scrambled out and ran for the safety of Netflix, ice cream and a fluffy blanket. Now here I am on the morning of my anniversary. I’m mad at myself for not doing more, for not knowing more and being farther along than I am. I don’t know where to go or which direction to branch out in. What more can I do? I was more lost than a wee lamb in a snow storm and I’m ready to table flip this shit and quit.

But then.

But then an interview came into my mind that I listened to recently from Dr. Joseph Suglia, author of Table 41.  A very eloquent and intelligent man with a writing voice that makes the imagination fly on colored wings. I’m making my way through Table 41 now. It’s so different from anything I’ve ever read. At the end of the interview he was conducting, he said one thing that I had forgotten on this journey:

“Write for yourself.” 

And there it was.

The clean gust of fresh air to clear all the smog surrounding me.

Yes, I really would like to make decent money writing and doing something that I love to do. But if I’m not enough without the money, how am I going to handle trying to be enough with it? There is still a lot I have to learn before I’m ready to research publishing as of yet so I’m going to stay far faaarrrr away from that shark pool. I’m going to continue, one foot in front of the other, on this simple road I’m cultivating for myself. So here’s a list of goals I’m going to try to achieve for this next year:

  1. Read more diverse genres of novels (I tend to stick to young adult and fantasy since that’s what I aim to write)
  2. Write more diverse articles. Push myself to write about the things that scare me, or scare others. Confront issues head on.
  3. Join a writing group. I enjoy discussing books and writing with others and I could really use some constructive criticism on my writing.
  4. Add another day of the week to publish on WordPress. Maybe start promoting the books I’ve read or high-lighting a great article and discussing it. Never hurts to give other writers a nod of respect. Plus, sharing is caring 🙂
  5. I’m going to leave this one BLANK. Always room for improvement.

So what started out as a debilitating and dismal day has turned into something a little more hopeful. You’ll probably never read this blog post Joseph, but I wanted to say thank you for the reminder anyway. I’m grateful I’m still on this path, even though I wanted to quit many times. It’s taught me a lot and I know the journey will teach me even more. I’ll try to be ready.