Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.


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Embrace Kindness

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What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? What do you want to accomplish this year? Are you prepared for what needs to be done in order to see those goals realized?

On New Year’s Eve my daughter and I set fire to the things we didn’t want to carry into the coming year. Emotional burdens and hurdles like anger, negativity and past hurts. Some things did seem to evaporate in the smoke from that little garbage pail fire on the back porch, while others are going to take a bit more work – but still – the thought is the same. We no longer need to carry the things from the past that hold us back. We need to shed those things in order to see a brighter future.

At the same time, we wrote down the things we wanted to do more of in the coming year. Some may call them resolutions, I just like to think of them as the things that will help me to become the person I really want to be. My daughter had several wishes for herself in the coming year, but to me, one of the most powerful was the little statement she wrote above.

Embrace people’s kindness.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? How hard can that be? Truth be told, how many of us are free to embrace the kindness of others in our daily lives? I’ll bet it isn’t as often as you think.

Too many times we refuse the kindness someone tries to show by the gift of their help. We tell them, “Oh, you can’t do that, it’s too much!” Or we see simpler things as something we should be able to do for ourselves. “Oh, no, I can do it, but thanks for asking!”

Sound familiar? It’s hard to accept help, isn’t it? But by offering help, those people are extending kindness.

My daughter knows she has a difficult time accepting acts of kindness. She doesn’t like to be complimented, she doesn’t like to accept help, she doesn’t like for anyone to do anything for her because she then sees herself as a burden.

Accepting kindness is a way to be vulnerable and open yourself up to others. This can be terrifying. Vulnerability is scary. I know. But as humans, without that vulnerability, without opening ourselves up to others, we lose the very connection that makes us human. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give up on that. Are you?

I believe that this very simple thing has the power to transform lives. It can be easy to show kindness to others, but accepting it in return is the the difficult part. Choose to allow kindness in, and I imagine you will start to see the world, and yourself, differently.

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Writing is the Most Amazing Difficult Thing you will Ever do

I was on a good roll with the editing of Finding Home. Life happens sometimes though, and the writing time that gets set aside each day finds itself being pushed aside. That being the case I’ve gotten very little work done this week. I sit here tonight staring at my WIP and thinking of how far I have to go. I read a bit and cringe thinking how awful it is. But you know what? It’s on paper. It’s out there. I can work with it. And it’s there because I started.

Starting is sometimes the hardest part of writing. It was especially that way when I first began to write seriously. I was so afraid to put pen to paper, thinking what if this idea turns out to be garbage? What if it isn’t good enough? What if it isn’t what I envision it to be? All those thoughts racing through my mind threatened to stop me in my tracks before I even began. But then I realized that yes, it was going to be garbage and that was okay. If you are going to learn to write, or if you are going to hone your craft and get better – you must write. It’s okay if those first works never see the light of day. If they help you to find your voice or teach you discipline or help you to get better – those awful first works serve their purpose.

I’ve  said before I do not believe in being an “aspiring” writer. If you are putting pen to paper (or keystroke on screen) then you ARE a writer. Published or not doesn’t matter. If you write you are a writer. Own it. Be proud of it. Just make sure that before you put your work out there that it is the best work you can do. Make sure it’s something you can be proud of. And if you ARE aspiring; if you have not begun because you are afraid that the idea in your head isn’t going to be good enough – you are only hurting yourself. We write because it is a passion. We write because words and worlds consume us and demand to be recorded. We write because to not write is agony. Writing is hard. Writing is hell. Writing never gets easier because with each new first draft you begin at the beginning.  As writers we are just twisted enough to enjoy the torture.

Do you know what? That first recorded idea ISN’T going to be good enough. But what are you gaining from never writing it? You can’t move past that first bad draft and become the writer you aspire to be if you don’t write. It’s as simple as that. To improve you must practice. You must write. Write the drivel. Don’t be afraid of it. Write it and move on to better things.

And that first draft? A first draft is always just that. A first draft. Its supposed to be awful. You aren’t human if it isn’t! But that first draft introduces you to your characters. It gets them out of your head and on the page. Learn from them. Let them tell you all their secrets. Get them all down. Then you get to decide how to deal with them. Second drafts. Third drafts. Fourth drafts. Each one gets you closer to the ideal world you created in your head. Don’t be afraid of writing garbage. Don’t be afraid of the first thing you ever write being crap.

Sometimes we all need reminding that we really don’t choose the writing life. It chose us long ago. Sure, we can ignore it. We choose to sit down and empty the words onto the page, but I think we do so more because it is a compulsion than a choice. Those years I spent not writing seemed hollow. I was ignoring the very real call of what I was meant to do. I was born to be a writer, but I will never get to be the kind of writer I wish to be unless I do one simple thing. Write. With each story, with each new draft I hope I get just a bit better. I hope I learn something new about myself every time I sit down at the computer or sit down on the back porch with a cup of tea and a pen and paper.

I’m not where I want to be. Not by a long shot. I have much to learn. But I won’t learn it unless I dive in and do it.

So today I’m telling you to write. Just write. Don’t worry about how it’s going to turn out. Don’t worry about it not being what you envision. Just get started. Write.


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Independence? I’m Not Ready!

Time. It just keeps moving no matter how much you wish you could slow it all down. And slowing it down is exactly what I want to do right now. Our lives are full of constant hurdles, struggles, victories, joy, pain, work, pride and regret. Sometimes we feel like we are just bouncing and jostling along going through the motions, and other times we get to live – really live – taking in the moment frame by frame and savoring it. I wish I had more days like that.

I came to the realization a while back that my life was my own and I only had to live it on my terms. I decided to live with joy and gratefulness – free from the people pleaser I had always been and free from the stress that surrounded me. Now this worked to an extent. Of course we always are going to have some stress. There is always going to be worry. For me, most of that worry came from always worrying about my daughter. With anxiety, depression, self harm, and suicidal thoughts, I could never get too comfortable. Even when things were going fairly well, it wasn’t going to be long before a crash of some kind occurred. Still, we had our good times. Lots of them. I have the most amazing daughter ever and I love her with all my heart. We have always been exceptionally close, probably because of what she has gone through. She’s always been attached to my side, sometimes experiencing separation anxiety just going to school. She’s nearly fourteen and we have always done everything together.

Lately she has been working on feeling better. Really working. She’s also working on gaining some independence. I’m proud of her for that. Really I am. We would spend every evening together, either watching a movie or playing a game, or even doing separate things, just sitting side by side while we did them. She never wanted to be far from me, and never even spent time in her own room. Her bedroom is probably the least used room in the house. She was rarely in it. She didn’t even want to sleep alone until fairly recently.

So as she works on independence, she is spending a lot of time on her own, in her own room, doing her own thing. I think it’s great. She draws, she listens to music, she reads. By herself. Every day.

At first, I could only think of all the writing time I was having. Wow! My evenings were so quiet! I could write away for hours! Yay teenagers! But you know what? Deep on the inside I’m not coping very well. I feel like I’ve gained a teenager overnight. Don’t get me wrong, we are still close and probably spend more time together than the average teen spends with a parent, but it’s so different not having her at my side every second. I miss her constant babble while I’m trying to write. I can’t even concentrate with all this quiet!! I’m proud of her, but at the same time – okay I’ll admit it — I MISS her!!  She’s right here…but she seems so far away!

I know this is not a problem. This is actually a very good thing. For seven years, she has suffered extreme anxiety. For several of those years she could not even go in the bathroom by herself. She would not go in a room I was not in. She would panic if I got out of her sight for a second. She had to follow me around the house if I went into another room. She couldn’t go to sleep overs, and she couldn’t have kids over. I worried about what was going to happen as she got older. I knew she would eventually have to branch out on her own. And now that she is, I’m ecstatic. Really I am. But there is that selfish part of me that hates it too. I want so much for her. I want her to be able to go and do and be anything she wants. I want her to follow her dreams and her heart wherever they take her. Yet I sit here tonight having a really hard time. She’s right in her room on the other side of the house – and it seems a million miles away. Silly, huh?

So I have work to do. I have that draft I’m still working on, and some articles that need writing. I have a website I’m supposed to be making for someone, but I’m sitting here like a lump feeling lonely. What’s up with that?

So maybe I want to freeze time just a bit. Maybe I want to enjoy my girl a little longer because I fear she is growing up fast now. She goes to high school in the fall, and I’m afraid time will really start whizzing by then. I’m excited for all that she will accomplish, and a bit sad too. I’ll get over it. I’ll be okay. I know a thousand parents before me have felt the same way.

Writing has been slow lately. I’ve wanted to re-write my novel from somewhere just past the middle, changing the events and the ending, but I’m having a hard time concentrating on getting it done. The story is still a good one, I guess it’s just the effects of life. The busy days, the time spent handling my daughter’s anxiety and depression, the nearing of the end of the school year – lots to do and lots to think about.

So tonight I’m looking at all the work I have to do, but I’m just feeling kind of blah. So I’m going to take a moment and selfishly wallow in my solitude, and then I’ll get a move on.

 


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Don’t Aspire to be Something. Be it.

Being a writer is awesome. Next to being a mom, I’d say it’s definitely my favorite thing. I love how things changed the day I decided I was no longer an “aspiring” writer. No more dreaming, there was only doing. I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Every writer chooses their own path based on what they want to gain from writing and also from their own personal experiences. Being a writer means different things to different people. Writers are as diverse a group as anyone else.

For a long time I thought of myself as an aspiring author, because I wasn’t quite “there,” wherever “there” actually is. With the help of others (many of them being amazing writers I’ve had the good fortune to get to know, either in person or online), I learned that I wasn’t “aspiring” to be anything, I already WAS.

My writing has changed along the way. I’ve changed along the way. My goals have changed along the way. That’s a good thing. With any career you reach forks in the road and you have to pick one. You don’t get to see what will happen down each of them, you just trust your instincts and choose. You keep going til you reach another fork then you make another choice. It’s the journey.

I’m lucky to have had some articles published recently. It was something I applied for on a whim, and it’s been an incredible part of my journey. I get to write about something near and dear to my heart (ADHD), and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’m always reluctant to reach out for opportunities like this, always that little part of me that still feels like I’m learning, and so have no business applying. Another great choice I made once I got rid of the “aspiring” author kind of thinking.

I reached a point last month where I just felt stuck. I wanted to write – had so many ideas for things I needed to write – and yet it was all becoming difficult. I’d changed my priorities, reshuffled my projects, and yet something was still off. I needed to get to work on a project that had once had potential and had garnered some interest, but now I wasn’t so sure. I needed to shake things up, separate my work life from the stresses that were in my personal life that I thought was causing this lack of inspiration. So I signed up for a writing course.

I love writing courses. I’ve taken a few over the years, whenever I could. I love learning about writing, gaining new insights, seeing things in a new light and becoming better at my chosen craft. There is always something you can learn from someone else. Always.

I obviously love to read. But let’s be completely honest. A single parent with ADHD and Anxiety, parenting a child with ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and Depression, while trying to shuffle a day job and a freelance writing career- it now takes me forever to finish a book where I used to go through them like water. One of the first tasks I was given in this writing course was to read roughly twenty books in different sub-genres of the genre I was interested in. There is also a reading form to be filled out for each book. It was just questions to be filled out on the plot, the characters, ect.

At first I just thought, twenty books? It will take me a year. I’ll never manage it. I knew the reason for reading the books. I knew filling out the forms for each was a learning experience. You study literature to create literature. You learn all you can.

Then the craziest thing happened. I picked up the first book and read it in three days. As I took notes on my form along the way, then sat with it when I was done and filled it all in, I couldn’t wait to reach for the second book. By the third book, that form was my best friend. I knew that dissecting these books was helping me to become not just a better writer, but a better reader. I was reading differently. I was a more active participant in the book. I had definite opinions. I was enjoying them more.

Funny how a writing class and a reading questionnaire have transformed how I read. I believe I’m getting more out of the books, just because I’m looking at them differently. I’s hard to explain, but I’m enjoying becoming a better reader. I’m enjoying learning what other authors can show me through their work. I always thought I was an active reader. I always noticed things, would copy down bits I especially liked as well as bits I didn’t. I’d try to look at the work from several different ways. Maybe I just wasn’t asking myself the right questions while I was reading. Maybe I just wasn’t asking enough. Either way, something has kind of clicked with the way I’m reading. Maybe it’s just because I’m more mindful, knowing I will have specific questions to answer when I’m done.

I have a few projects of my own still on hold. They may be there for quite some time, but I’m okay with that. When the time is right I will be able to work on them. I’m trying hard to concentrate on one specific goal right now and work toward it. Even if it doesn’t work this time around, doesn’t mean I’ll quit trying. Writing is my life. It’s part of me. And it’s my job.

It’s Sunday. It’s my one day off from my day job. I used to spend it cleaning and doing laundry and all the other things that got pushed aside during the week. Then I decided no more. Sunday wasn’t made to play catch up. And today? Today is a gorgeous, warm, breezy, bright sunshiny kind of day. I haven’t scrubbed my porches yet; haven’t tackled those spring cleaning chores, but that’s okay. I spent an hour this morning cleaning out the garage, and now, I’m sitting on my front porch, getting ready to tackle some studying, and then some reading. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend it.

 


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Writing Between the Lines

I was pretty excited in January to kick off the new year full of writing projects and goals. I’m still pretty darned excited. I realize though, if I’m going to succeed in meeting these goals I have to narrow my focus and have a real plan.

Life throws curve balls, and sometimes I feel like I’m constantly being hit by them. Right now I’d say I’m pretty bruised up. I’ve nothing to complain about, not at all, I’ll just say I have a lot to deal with. Life is just seeing how much I can handle right now. Somewhere in my imagination I see a twisted, evil little storyteller, holding his nub of a pencil, scratching away in a tattered notebook, blood shot eyes gleaming while he hoots and chortles with glee murmuring, “Let’s see what she’ll do if I throw THIS at her!” MUWHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA. I believe he’s drooling just a little.

That pretty much sums things up.

Priorities. I’ve had to make some choices, and my writing usually takes the brunt of those choices with less time to dedicate to it. But it’s all okay. I still have my goals for this year, and things are happening in the writing realm. Good things. I’m just a wee bit behind for the moment.

When life gets in the way it forces me to take a good look at my writing routine and how I try to do too much at one time. There are only so many hours in the day. There is only so much of that time left after my host of other obligations. Shuffle. Prioritize. Re-shuffle. Begin again.

As much as I love my current project, I’m putting it on hold. The first draft can wait, and honestly it may even be better for it. I KNOW what I want it to be. I have the puzzle pieces. Some time may actually help clarify how I want to put them together.

I have the first draft of another novel sitting on my desk. It’s collecting dust because it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted. Not exactly. Even for a first draft it lacked…ooomph. But I need to get back to work on it. It had distinct possibilities and was something I was working on for a specific market. One that the door to will not stay open forever. I need to get my foot in that door before it closes.

While reading a news article today I was blinded by the idea for the last short story I will need for the compilation my daughter and I are working on. My first impulse was to grab some paper or reach for the computer and begin this story. Instead, I jotted some notes and tucked them away. That story is going to have to wait its turn.

So now I have my writing priorities. First is to get working on a second draft, and then as many as is necessary to get a certain novel done and ready to submit it to where it needs to be. Then I will write the short story. Then I will re-write and edit the book of short stories. After that I will finish the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on.

And with that, I’m off…


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New Project Excitement

The first draft of the novel I wrote in November for NaNoWriMo is safely tucked away breathing before I start on the second draft. In the meantime I’ve begun a new project. This one promises to be an adventure, full of ups and downs, tears and joy for me as a writer. I have grand plans for this book – I see it through rose colored glasses of epic proportions. I know what I want it to be, I know how I want it to sound, I know the essence and the feel of it; now I just have to see if I can deliver.

As far as first drafts go, I’m extremely pleased with what I have so far. I’m only about 8,000 words in though, so that is subject to change rapidly. This book is near and dear to my heart, and has a lot of special meaning to me. Although fiction, it contains some real life mysteries that I’m taking artistic license with and coming up with my own answers. Some of the characters are straight from imagination only, and some are loosely based on people I’ve known. Some I’ve taken traits from several people and rolled them all into one character.

Maybe that is the way with writers whether intentional or not; to mold and fashion characters from our own roster of familiar faces. Some of the scenes in the book will be taken from things that really happened, but it is fiction, a web of stories brought together by a few strands of truth.

I have a feeling this story is going to tear at me, turn me upside down and leave me raw. I’ll even say I’m looking forward to it. I believe it needs to. I think only when it rattles me and forces me to dig deep within myself, will the story come to life. If I do my job correctly, the resulting product will be worth the pain of creation.

I have much I want to accomplish with my writing this year. I think I’m off to a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

 


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Bye Bye Summer

I spent a lot of time this summer doing nothing much at all. I went to my day job, and spent time enjoying my daughter and just..well…just being. We watched an insane amount of Netflix, read some books, created some art (okay, my daughter mostly created the art…) and took an amazing trip together. I spent much time with my mother, as she has not been well, and while the days flew by because of all the extra running I was doing for Mom, and all the checking on her, it was still good to take that break from everything else in the world. I got to totally unplug for a week, but the rest of the summer I was able to greatly reduce my time in front of a computer screen. It was nice. I’m kind of glad it’s over though.

I like the routine the school year provides. While I am always ALWAYS sad to see my daughter return to school and know I am going to miss hanging out with her every day, being in a routine is somehow soothing. I had high hopes of still carrying on with a revised summer routine, but things being what they were, I didn’t get very far with that idea. Summer was great (minus all the worry over my mom), but now it’s kind of time to get down to business once again.

First, I want to take some time to just be grateful. I am so thankful to have the life that I do, and to be surrounded by the people I am. I have been very lucky (yes, lucky is sometimes the only word I can use to describe it). I have been able to work a day job where I am not only surrounded by people I love and respect, but a job that allowed me to be home during times when my daughter needed me the most. I was able to care for her emotional special needs, as well as her physical needs when those things were more important than having the material items we could have acquired if I’d had a “career” and more money. Sometimes it has been extremely difficult – but it is hard for everyone sometimes. There were times when I feared I was spending more on counseling costs and medications than I would make in a month. Sometimes I did. But we always managed. We always got through it. Sometimes with help from people who loved us, and I was grateful.

I wouldn’t trade a day. I would never trade being able to be present when it was necessary for any career in the world. I am at a place where I am happier with myself than I have ever been. I am blessed to be writing again and I am enjoying the journey I am on as an adult; the adventure of discovering who I am and who I want to be. It has been an interesting road from overprotected child, to awkward and bullied middle schooler, to more awkward and socially anxious teen, to a young married woman (not much more than girl), to severe social anxiety disorder, to miserable wife, to mother, to a diagnosis of ADD to go along with my anxiety disorder, to finally having something worth fighting for, to being divorced and terrified at 35, to learning and growing over the next eight years, changing, evolving, and finding my inspiration, my light, my worth and my value. Being a mother was the best job I ever had, and it was more rewarding than anything I could imagine, but I also knew there was more to me to be discovered. I’ve loved the changes, the freedom, chance to evolve and grow. My daughter and I have a close relationship and I love our life together. Sure, I wish with all my heart that she didn’t have to contend with the things she has had to fight, but together we will always overcome.

I love chasing dreams. I love writing because I CAN. I love sitting up all night reading a book if I want. I love being able to do what I want when I want. I love chasing whims, deciding I want to learn about something and then spending all the time I want learning. I love the conversations I get to have with my daughter about life, spirituality, the future, history, ethics, politics, morals, and the arts. I love my daughter’s curiosity and sometimes we spend entire evenings lost in debate, or doing research on some interesting topic. And sometimes we spend hours watching mindless television shows and eating ice cream. I guess my point is that through all our ADHD chaos, through our clutter and forgetfulness, being an adult isn’t half bad. I fought for the life I wanted, and while it may not look like much to an outsider, it’s mine, and I am so thankful to have it. I like my day job while most of my peers have “careers.” Most of all I love being a writer. I love the fact that I’m moving into the copywriting field and I am so excited to begin that freelance phase, getting to do what I love. I guess all I am really saying, is that life is good. There are things I still want to do, and I believe I will do them. There is something to be said for being satisfied; to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be content, knowing you have become a person you like.

There will always be ups and downs. There will always be tough days. I’m okay with that. I am okay with who I am, and that is, perhaps, the most vital thing I have learned after all these years. I do not have to please everyone. I do not have to seek approval from others to feel good about myself. I can let go of the toxic people in my life without guilt. My circle may be small, but the people that are part of it are people that love me, flaws and all, people I value and trust, and that is no small thing. I am truly grateful for each day I get to spend on this earth, learning, growing and striving to be better than I was the day before. I am blessed beyond measure.

And what does getting back into routine mean? It means I finally get back to work on the short story compilation. I’m hoping to have the rough draft of the entire thing finished in about four months. Then it will be on to the rewrites, editing and getting a release date hammered down. I also have another contemporary novel in the works, but I am trying very hard to give my attention to the story compilation first. THEN I have another, much bigger project in mind, that I will need lots of research for. Right now it is a lofty idea, one that keeps floating in and out of my consciousness, teasing me with all the ways it COULD go, but knowing that it will be there when I get ready to tackle something entirely ambitious.

I should be back to more regularly scheduled blog posts – both here and on ADHD Kristi & Co. Summer may be over, but fall is fast approaching, and it’s my favorite time of the year. People say spring is a time for rebirth and a fresh start, but I always seem to find myself blossoming in the fall.

Don’t take this life for granted. Never stop living and never settle. Keep learning, keep looking for things that inspire you to be better. Don’t be afraid of change – sometimes it’s painful, yes, but growth is always worthwhile. I hope I never stop striving to become a better version of myself.