When your dream chases YOU…and you run away screaming like it’s Freddy Kreuger

Wouldn’t it be romantic and wonderful if you and your dream could prance and frolic in a field of flowers, laughing and singing like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”? It would put a flower behind your ear and tell you you’re beautiful, even when you don’t meet a deadline or happen to be too busy to focus properly. It would massage your aching feet and make you a cup of something delicious and say it’s with you till the end, for better or worse.

Goddamn you Julie Andrews.

*Takes off reality filter*

You’re on your third cup of Bailey’s and coffee, staring bleary eyed at your computer. The insipid cursor is taunting you, winking in and out of existence and echoing like the steady TAP TAP TAP of a school master’s expectant shoe on a sterile linoleum floor. (Yes, it makes noise if you stare at it long enough). Your fingertips are numb from counter-tapping on the desk, attempting to inject a melody against the TAP TAP TAP; trying to drum up inspiration.

It’s 2:36 am and you have to be to work at 7:00. Something falls in the kitchen and you startle so badly you slosh your coffee, your body jerking awake, ready to leap into action. OKAY! You’re awake again! Your fingers tap tap tap on the keyboard for a while and then stab the back space button in annoyance. This happens for perhaps half an hour more. Ridiculous. This is getting you no where. It’s time for bed and you can continue with fresh eyes when the sun is out again.

Your blankets greet you warmly, tucking around your shoulders and snuggling up to your back. Your pillow cradles your aching head and its feathery fingers reach out to pet your hair and relax the nerves. You close your eyes and sigh deeply. Time to shut up and shut off….

*poke*

You twitch and open one eye and survey the room. Nothing but darkness and the familiar shapes of  your furniture. Must be a muscle spasm. You curl your body in on itself and pull the blankets up higher. Sleeeeeep.

heh heh heh heh heh…..

WHADAFAQ? Your ears sharpen in the yawning silence and behind your eye lids, your eyes rotate spastically, trying to catch the sound again. Surely this is sleep deprivation. Your body is trying to keep you awake for a fourth wind. It can’t let go. So much to do and too much worry. You try deep breathing. In two three four. Hold for seven; let out for eight….

JessJessJessJessJess……..

It’s not real! You are still as you can be, devolving back to kindergarten where all children know that if you lay like a dead person, the monster can’t find you. You’re afraid to open your eyes. It’ll go away. It always does. You’re freaking out over nothing.

*poke poke*

OMGOMGOMG!

*POOOOOOOKE* hehheheheheheheheh….

DEFINITELY NOT A SPASM! OMFG it’s FREDDY KRUEGER! Its FREDDY!!! Or Jason! No, not Jason! It’s PREDATOR!!

You throw back the covers and stand on your bed in a crouching position, piercing the void with your suddenly superhuman sight. You grope for a weapon; you grab a chewed up pen from your night stand. Your spine feel likes its electrified and your leg muscles tremble, waiting for another poke to prod you. Waiting, waiting…

Nope. Nope nope nope you’re not waiting. You make the snap decision to move before it can get you, leaping off the edge of your bed (because the carpet has turned into lava and you can’t touch it or you’ll die) and landing as close to your doorway as you can before stumbling through and slamming it shut, locking the monster inside. You run back to your desk chair and you put your feet up onto the seat, pen in hand and now armed with your still hot coffee.

It’s a small eternity of you waiting and watching before you feel safe enough to turn your back to the door way. Since you’re up again and clearly not going back to sleep any time soon, might as well work. You feel a warm breath against your neck and you shudder.

Jeessssssssssssssssssssssssssss.…………………….

You’re doomed. That’s it. Game over. You can sleep when you’re dead, which might be sooner than you anticipated.

An invisible pair of hands grips your wrists and plunks them down on the keyboard and you feel like a puppet being manipulated. First it stabs your index finger down, and then your pinky and then middle finger of your left hand. You squint and try to make out the words you’re involuntarily typing but after a while, you give up and give in to the compulsion. The breath is still at your neck and the weight is on your hands for hours, TAP TAP TAPing away, showing that cursor whose boss.

When you come to, the sun is out, it’s 6:30 am, and when you look at the screen, your word count has jumped up 6k and HOLY SHIT it’s actually GOOD. You look around, neck sweaty, muscles tight. At some point, you were fed because there’s an empty Cheez-it bag to your left and a glass of juice you don’t remember pouring to your right. (Is that juice?)

You turn in your chair and stretch, your eyes gritty from strain and deprivation. When you stand, for a split second you see a form in the shadows and your body spikes with alarm. And then you shake your head because you swear you got the impression that it winked at you and saluted before drifting away and releasing you from its thrall.

And you smile.

Dreams aren’t romantic. They’re goddamn scary MoFos and they come at you like Hell Hounds when you’re least expecting it. They mean well though, you see, because they want to come alive too. They want to live and breathe and take shape and because YOU are their vessel, they have to push you past your comfort level sometimes. Only the really good dreams do this; the ones that hold on to you like a dog with a bone.

The dreams that chase YOU are the ones you need to keep close. Those are the ones worth not giving up on.

(This is a true story from the life and times of Jessica Jordan.)

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It’s coming….Winter is coming

How did it get here so fast!? How could I possibly have ignored it’s looming presence for so long?!

Is it some deep psychological need to bury my head in the sand every year and hope it passes me by like an Egyptian Plague from the Bible? Is it fear that blocks the self-inflicted mental and emotional exhaustion imminent in the month of November? Or have I really been so distracted with other deeply frustrating crap on top of sleep deprivation that I simply didn’t notice the date on the calendar?

(It’s probably the first one. Just sayin’.)

Okay. Okay. Lets say it together folks….

 

 

Rip it off like surgical tape on leg hair…

 

 

NANOWRIMO

 

*shudder*

National Novel Writing Month. I can’t decide if this reaction is from pleasure because I’m a masochist or genuine cringiness. A month of pure writing. Of deadlines, goal-setting, hair-tearing, possible crying, freedom, imagination, accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s the best and worst for me.

NaNo is a glimpse into an author’s life, for any of you who aren’t writers. 30 days of angst, pure creativity and harsh reality. You should try it to get a taste. It starts with an idea. Bright, shiny, maybe a little outrageous. Something you haven’t read before, or thought of before. It latches onto your mind and you poke it to see what squirts out. A unique character. And amazing setting. A flash of the most perfect plot you’ve ever seen. It only takes one thing to get you hooked. A creative drug you will chase the rest of your life.

So you start to massage out this idea. You roll it out like dough in your mind and take some cookie cutters and outline some shapes and patterns. November 1st is coming and the pressure to have SOME SORT of direction mounts. But it’s okay. Just a basic outline because you know that your characters are going to run the show as soon as you get into a groove. They’ll take you in unexpected directions and you can ride their coat tails into plot and pacing perfection.

Protagonist you love? Check. Antagonist you love to hate? Check. Quirky side kick? Check. Love interest? Ehhhh we’ll see what happens there. Basic plot outline and a vague idea of the ending? Let’s hope so! October 31st, 11:59….GO!!

Week 1: Easy. The words are flowing like milk and honey from your fingertips. You post on the NaNo forums and update your word count proudly. You earn badges and maybe even donate to get the fancy halo on your profile picture. You help others with their novels and maybe even join a write in. You’re doing great! Everything going to plan!

Week 2: Okay, a little harder. Kinda like eating a second slice of cake at a party. The first one was delicious and sugary and wonderful. Second slice is harder and you feel yourself start to slow down and get sick. Your eyes stray to the dreaded word counter more and more. Your brain starts to wander to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, getting a second cup of coffee, laundry, walking the dog…anything else.

Week 3: Suddenly your bright shiny idea looks like sludge. Crap that you’ve seen on thrift stores shelves a million times over. Your protag isn’t unique enough. Your antag isn’t nasty enough. Your ending is dull and lifeless. Life sucks in general. You want to quit. You’re 5K words behind and you feel hopeless. Sitting at a keyboard looking at the blinking bar not moving. You mentally table flip.

Week 4: You find the time and energy to catch up the word count. You know it’s filler. Unnecessary scenes and lengthy dialogue just to get words on your counter. You add in characters for fluff. You take the setting to some place new to give a breath of fresh air to the plot. Maybe you add in ninjas in desperation. But you’re dragging yourself over the shattered dreams from week 1. Just get a novel down. Get 50K. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written. You can’t edit nothing. NO! DON’T THINK ABOUT EDITING! That’s a death sentence!

November 30th. You “Select All” and “Copy” your shitty manuscript. Shamefully; hopefully. NaNoWriMo.org, you “Paste” into the “Validate novel” box and with your heart beating fast, you click the button. And there it is. 50K+ words in a month. You made it. You’re a 2018 Winner! The accomplishment of setting a goal and actually finishing is yours to revel in. You have some semblance of a novel. You created something from nothing. BE PROUD. Get that Winner t-shirt. Eat the ENTIRE pan of brownies.

December 1st. Now go sleep for a week and binge-watch Supernatural on Netflix.

I promise you this is not over-exaggeration. Every single November this happens to me and millions just like me. Sometimes, like last year, I don’t even get past week 2. I think I’ve only won once actually. But the point is that I don’t stop trying, as much as I dread the ending days in October.

I have many stories in me that want to be told but I’m a perfectionist. I want a full and complete product to come out of me on the first try. (HAAAAA talk about unrealistic expectations!) The best pieces of advice I’ve ever seen on Pinterest were these:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~ Terry Pratchett

“First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.”~Caroline Mitchell

They are my biggest writing challenge to meet and it is something I’m striving for every word that comes from my fingers onto the screen/paper. I have to embrace imperfection and be willing to commit to taking this turd of a first draft and make it a turd sandwich that looks like chocolate and biscotti.

Commitment sucks. But it’s a cornerstone for a writer. Nano is a small exercise I can do to help that. So, alas, 7 days and approximately 11 hours till D-Day.

Come join me friends. It’s fun!! Haaaa……..

Poor Unfortunate Soul

Passion: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept

I’m beginning to wonder if Passion isn’t a unicorn.

Or maybe a natural talent. Like, some of us have it and others don’t.

I don’t know if it’s cultivated at a young age; being the lucky kid that has parents that expose you to different kinds of things so you can have a chance to find out what you really like to do. Or merely liking something and being curious enough to stick with it and nurture it.

Maybe I’m thinking about the definition too acutely. Maybe I think passion is supposed to be a zealot-like, all-consuming devotion, like those people who give up all worldly possessions and dedicate their life to saving the rain forest.

Either way, I have zero passion in my life. I LIKE writing. I LOVE reading. I really want to lose weight and become a healthier person. I don’t have any strong desire to fight for any charity or injustice. I don’t really care about saving animals going extinct (although I wish it hadn’t come to that in the first place). Laziness beat all these out. Work? Pfffft! Oh, and forgetfulness helps. My short-term memory is shot to hell.

I’m a little jealous of these artists that can bang out books every year or clothing lines every season or produce awe-inspiring paintings for top-notch galleries. What drives you people? It it the love of creation? Is it the memory of a grandparent whose words inspired strength and resolve? Is it the illness of a sibling living life to the fullest while they can?

Why don’t I have this? Did something stunt me as a child and block some fundamental necessity to cultivate passion? Is it a personality flaw? Can it be fixed?

I was never disciplined enough as a child to stick with much of anything, except school and books. I wasn’t interested in anything enough to pursue it wholeheartedly but I was interested in everything. Clothing design. Drawing. Baking. Embroidery. Interior design. Quilting. Guitar. Choir. Calligraphy. Clay sculpting. Mixed Media Arts.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

Can one LEARN to be passionate or is “disciplined” as good as it’s going to get for me? Maybe I have to get through one to have the other? Is it depression submerging me in doubt and I just can’t see clearly? Maybe I haven’t found that ONE THING that fires me up and makes me happy to be awake every morning.

I thought for a second just now that I don’t take pride in anything and that was my problem.

Some people take pride in their homes. How clean they are and how nicely decorated. Some people take pride in their work. Some take pride in raising their families or being a devout (Fill in the blank ______ ).

None of those really apply to me. I’m happy to be able to do these things with some modicum of competence but eh. That’s life. What I do take pride in though, is making things well. Trying a new recipe and it turning out delicious. Seeing something on Pinterest, copying it and making it better than I’d hoped. Being given a task and having the person who gave it be pleased with my accomplishment. Making pretty things for people and getting nothing back.

I take pride in being generous and kind. I take pride in being able to create beautiful, quality things. I take pride in making people happy.

Still doesn’t help me with my writing though. Really, it’s somewhat of a distraction, making all these pretty things. Not complaining. Just saying. Cuz it always comes back to writing.

I thought for sure Writing books was my Thing; my passion; the thing I HAVE to do every day or I feel anxious and shitty and half a human being. Turns out I can go MONTHS without writing a single word! That’s not passion. Is it? I certainly think about writing a lot. I have conversations with my characters out loud sometimes. I write scenes in my head. I funnel my emotions into different scenarios. I make music play lists to guide me through the stories. I think about all the things I SHOULD be doing like character bios and plot lines and back story.

Thinking is good. At least the desire isn’t completely gone.

It seems writing won’t give up on me. Maybe it’s a stubborn as I am, waiting for me to get a grip. As it stands, it’s literally dragging me face down across the glass-strewn ground that is my life, walking determinedly forward. My wrist aches, my heart is dead, all I want to do is sleep and yet…it’s still there. So I ask:

Can Passion merely be the thing one comes BACK to?

Are there levels of passion out there? Some gently simmering for longevity and others blazing strong like the sun for a short until a project is done and then fizzling out? When can I have some? Share the wealth!

For reals I know that to be an author it takes work and time and experience. And practice. And planning (which I’m rubbish at). That Maya Angelou quote never seems to be far from my brain as a reminder:

“When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come’.”

So it comes down to forcing my fingers to move until passion/inspiration/motivation strikes? What a sad existence I have at the moment. But I know that eventually, after my first book is published and I look back, it’ll all have been worth it.

But still…damn. A little heavenly light can shine on me any time now. I’d appreciate the boost ❤

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.

 

 

 

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.