things I’ve learned in the past few days

  1. People–myself included–like habits. Especially those that revolve around food. Disrupting planned dinners throws everyone off.
  2. People in their twenties are self-absorbed. So said one friend. Fortunately, this statement was deftly deferred by another friend saying, “oh, he means, you’re like a sponge.” Thank you.
  3. What was is not what is. The comparisons are interesting but not helping my conscience issues.
  4. There are some bonds in life that can never be broken. Regardless of contact or communication.
  5. Not eating meat is not that hard at all. (My favorite find of the last two days: Ahi tuna burger! Yes, in a patty. And yes, it was amazing!)
  6. Good moods breed better good moods. And even when I’m tired and worn out, most of that is not diminished.
  7. And finally, those plastic water bottle things. They can shatter. Yup. If you drop a plastic, Neoprene water bottle that you bought in Gila on a ceramic tile floor–shatter, shatter, shatter.

periods of reflection

I took a reflection day yesterday. Oddly, a few years ago I would have said that I took a day without people. Which is still true. But I realize now that this is just a part of who I am. I need people and I love the people in my life, but I need me, too. This is a huge step for me. For one of the first times every I realize that it does not make me weird or selfish to just need some space alone.

I wanted to remember something. I wanted to remember all of the days, the hours, the years that I spent unhappy. I wasn’t miserable, but I definitely wasn’t happy. I wanted to do this for a very simple reason. I really want to appreciate the joy that I feel right now. I am literally just in a good mood. And there’s nothing “special” that makes it happen. I realize, though, that when I’m in such a good mood any little thing makes me happy.

I’ll start with the heat. It’s hot. It really is. It feels really good to me though. It warms all the way down to the soul. And I did take a walk in it. It’ll be gone soon so I wanted to embrace it fully.

Class. I’m enjoying this immensely. It’s fun for the first time in a really long time. And I appreciate that I can get excited about it and that I can leave feeling happy about the experience I’ve just had.

Work. Ugh. Yes, work. Even that I am enjoying. All of it. The photography, the math writing, and the normal writing. It feels good. I feel very productive, even though I really know that I can’t keep up this pace.

Family. Love them. Love them. Love them. Simple as that.

Friends. Each for a different reason, but two very specifically tonight. One who asked that I be looked after. And one who has followed through on that in every sense of the word. I appreciate the genuine caring and the shared smiles. It’s most certainly helping to ease a major transition.

I think there’s going to be a long period of reflection soon. I can feel it, but I’m excited for that, too. Just for the chance to remember all of these little things that make me happy.

“The War of Art”

I was given the Steven Pressfield book, The War of Art, as a gift. It was an amazingly inspiring, and yet quite easy read. I read it so fast after receiving it that it didn’t even have a chance to make it onto my “Currently Reading” list. I have found that as I go along with this plan–or lack of plan–I am greatly comforted by other people who have had the exact same experience.

Pressfield even describes this as he says that once you make the commitment to your destiny, you start to meet people who you would have never met before. I also think it has caused me to read things that I wouldn’t have considered reading. I was never really big on self-help books, but now I find that these self-help books for writers about writing are quite magical.

Each one of them describes THAT moment, where presumably rock bottom has been hit in some regard, and two things happen:

  • there is truly nothing else left to do but write or consider the possibility of a lifetime of unhappiness, and
  • you suddenly realize why and how so many things that have gone wrong in life went the way they did.

It absolutely feels like magic. It’s like in The Alchemist, when it’s declared that when you go after your dreams, the entire universe conspires to help you. Because it really does. Everything suddenly goes right in one fell swoop.

Another thing I really loved about Pressfield’s book is that it went back to a conversation I had about being a “pro.” And it’s not about the money. I remember having this conversation with a friend of a friend about the draft of my first novel. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I considered the victory to be finishing it. Even if it never sells a single copy. It was my catalyst. It wasn’t about anything other than me learning that I could and that I would be helped along the way if I did.

It’s the reverse of what we think it is. Amateur vs. Pro. The amateur writes because she thinks that one day she’s going to make money. She struggles and gets help to produce a product that she thinks the public will buy so she can live off of her words. And that was my concern with myself. It’s the same concern I had for myself about being a teacher. I got a master’s degree not to make more money, but to be better. To perfect my art. To be what my students needed.

I write because it’s such a part of me that if I don’t do it, I start to die a little. And I can see that happen in cycles over and over again in my life.

The Pro? The pro writes for this very reason. Because it is what she is meant to do. She writes what she is meant to write. Not what she thinks will make her money. It’s not the “key” or the “trick” or the “way out” of something else. And that explained it all to me. Why everything fell into place so smoothly. I didn’t wait until selling some work bailed me out. I bailed myself out by writing.

And so my war wages on…here with the reason that I got three hours of sleep on Monday night…

so this girl walks into a bar…

…and the entire trajectory of her life is changed.

It seems silly. Strange, even, to say. But it’s so true. And I know it because the girl is me.

It’s not been about the food or the drinks or the late nights of tear-inducing laughter. It’s been about destiny and friendship. The thing that happens when two kindred spirits cross paths in ways that are unexplained. When doors open. When thoughts are revealed. And challenges are issued.

When I was very young, it was very hard for me to say goodbye. It’s not so bad now. I made it all the way home tonight after saying goodbye without crying at all. It wasn’t until now that the tears started to flow.

Probably a little out of selfishness. The friend who has become a sounding board for my ideas, for my frustrations. Who has shared my dreams. Who has encouraged me. Who has pushed me to make the jump that I wanted to so many times in the past six years. Who has watched the first months of that jump and encouraged still as it has been a struggle.

And I’ve known all the while that it would end. I knew it would because at the same time I was encouraging his jump, and his jump is sending him to the other side of the world.

So, yes, there is sadness in me right now. To not see his smiling face every week will be hard. But at the same time, he has touched my soul so deeply and brought about such positive change that I know I carry a part of him within me. So, he’ll never be very far from me. And our pacts, pledges, promises to each other. I know that they will be part of me still.

I hope that our paths cross again. I truly do. But I will say this. My life has truly been changed for the better because of the presence of an amazing advisor, editor, shaman, brother, and friend.

things like work

And umm…where have YOU been?

I think I heard that question about five times yesterday.

I’m just excited that I get to see you!

That one was from my mom.

So, it occurred to me that perhaps I’ve been working too hard. And then it further occurred to me that perhaps my workaholic tendencies (yes, tendencies, not workaholism) have reached new heights bordering on workaholism.

But in my defense, in addition to working what I have labeled should-be-but-aren’t-really-because-the-way-I-do-them three part-time jobs, I have also:

  • Finished First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung. Deeply, deeply disturbing and heart wrenching. Still not quite at the caliber of A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah which made me physically ill, but a very worthwhile read.
  • Not missed a single Dodger game in the past two weeks, including going to two last home stand. This is quite an accomplishment, considering that it’s downright painful to watch.
  • Started watching Keith and Rachel on nightly basis again so I actually know what’s going on in the world.
  • Kept up my running regime.

I officially realized that there are, in fact, enough hours in the day–if you plan correctly, drink a lot of caffeine and don’t mind a little sleep deprivation.

Oh! And the best part of all is that–I’ve got an idea. Two, in fact.

the little engine resurfaces

I think I’ve told this story on this blog before, but it made me laugh so hard on Sunday night. And now that I know that it’s all worked out and I’ve lived to smile about it, I’m happy to report its great success.

So, my father would ask me up until the age of eighteen or so, “What did the little engine say?”

Every time I wanted to quit or I was stressed out, he would ask that question. “Ahhhh,” I would say and look at him, probably irritated, refusing to answer.

“What did the little engine say?” he’d ask it again.

I’d sigh a little.

“I think I can. I think I can,” I would say.

I’m basically working three part-time jobs. There are times, though, when one becomes a little closer to full-time. I saw that coming on Sunday.

“Four days,” I said to a friend over dinner Sunday night. “I can handle four days. I can do it.”

And as I drifted to sleep, I repeated to myself the same thing I used to say to my father. I think I can. I think I can.

But, boy oh boy, has it been an interesting four days. I will say this, though, exhausted sleep is some of the most amazing sleep ever. And I am happy to report that I have  accomplished every single thing that I needed and wanted to in the past four days.

Amazing what the power of positive thinking can do for a person!