April 10 2017

Coffee Chat Monday

If we were having coffee I’d tell you…

September 19 2016

Week 3 of Finding Water: A Sense of Support

finding-water-julia-cameron-960x288Uncovering a Sense of Support
Critical to any creative journey is sense of creative support. You must practice discernment, weeding out that which does not serve and watering the shoots you want to foster.  This week’s tasks invite you to consciously interact with those who are positive on your behalf. Reaching out to others for their belief, you will also reach within and steady your personal confidence. If you had the faith what might you try” This week’s explorations will lead you into knowing your own mind.

When I first saw this chapter (my first attempt at Finding Water), I wasn’t thrilled about it–this time, however, things have changed. Cameron talks about having a network of friends and family there to be supportive. She calls these supportive people in your life Believing Mirrors. Accordingly, they reflect back to you the beautiful being that you are when you aren’t able to see it yourself. And through their own beauty they inspire you and speak the words you were thinking, but hadn’t formed yet or the words that you’re afraid to say. In turn, you will reflect the amazing creative beings that they are and that you are yourself–without having to actually work hard at it, which is what we do when we’re doing it alone. In a group setting, this multiplies. Cameron states that “creativity occurs in clusters,” and I agree with her. Over the past month I’ve found this to be true myself.

This week has been chaotic, especially the weekend. I’ve been busy with family, as well as personal and creative projects. I missed doing Morning/Evening pages more than once this week. I had to split my Artist Date into two different things because of time and obligations, but I ended up having much more fun than I might have had I just done what I had originally planned for my Artist Date. For more about what I did for my walk and my Artist Date I’ve included the video for this week.

Truth is, with each passing week I’ve realized that 1. I need to prepare for my Artist Date better. 2. I need to make the time for my Morning/Evening pages. 3. I need to ask for help more. I know that things are getting better, I can feel it inside and out, but it’s slow going and I’m not the most patient of people–What? Me? Nope, I’m not. It’s one of my flaws.

I prefer to do things on my own, I don’t like asking for help, nor do I like feeling like I’m not able to do things myself… so asking for help is difficult, but not impossible. Over the past few years, I’ve had to ask for help from family and friends much more than I wanted but it helped me, and made me feel good–I have people I can ask for help. Over the past month, I’ve realized (thanks to our group, Destination Me) that I am not out here alone, and it’s alright to ask for help. 😀

Overall, this was a much better week, and a much better experience, than I thought it would be. Now, I’m off to address thank you cards.

August 23 2016

Commonplace journal and an Omni journal

Notes and art from my Omni Journal
Notes and art from my Omni Journal

A commonplace journal is a book that you put information in, where you compile knowledge, ideas, facts, quotes, anecdotes, observations, and information. It comes from what used to be known as commonplacing, or a commonplace book, which is “the act of collecting ideas and notes in a single place, ” thus, commonplacing.  Many famous people such as Auden, C.S. Lewis, and others had Commonplace journals. They’ve come back into style, though I’m not quite sure of why they ever stopped being in style, or if maybe they just weren’t talked about much until the past few years.

P1000243
“A gray day” journal page

I have always combined things like quotes, notes, facts, etc into my regular journals. I never knew there was a special journal for those things. But as you can see from my journal pages I combine a number of things onto my pages. From what I’ve found out, that is also called an omni-journal.

An omni-journal is a journal that contains multiple elements, or “of all things” (which is the definition of omni) so it would be a journal of all things: bullet journaling, art journaling, sketch your day, illustrate your day, scrapbook style journaling… And it could also include what you would put in a commonplace journal.

Real Life page from my OmniJournal...
This is Real Life page from my OmniJournal…

Since my journal is a combination of the primary definitions of a commonplace journal and an omni journal I was trying to think of a term that captured it without using the term Omni Journal, which is described here on this blog post and in Yippie Cahier’s YT video. I came up with the term Comni-Journal, but I still like “Omni-Journal” better.

Real life page from my Omni Journal
Real life page from my Omni Journal

My Omni-Journal has bits and pieces of everything in it, from my ideas, musings, knowledge, quotes, pictures, drawings, art, ephemera, to-do lists, observations, facts, anecdotes, plans, and more.

I’ve been experimenting with different styles of journaling, with different types of journals and different types of paper. The one thing I keep going back to is the combination of things, a little bit of everything goes into my journal pages. I can’t seem to help myself.

I’ve been asked about my Omni-Journal quite a bit lately. I’ve posted pictures that are from older journals, and from my current journal. I can see the difference. But if you look at what I did for this year’s mini-cation it’s quite a bit different. Not that one is necessarily better than the other, they’re just different. and I’m alright with different.

Here are this year’s:

P1000256I can see how far my journaling has come now that I’m adding bits and pieces in. Today, in my Omni-Journal I wrote notes about this blog post. I’ve also written notes about YT videos I want to make, jotted down recipes, quotes, brain dumps, mind maps, etc. I have also done a bit of bullet journaling in my Omni-Journal. I don’t limit myself as to what I put in there. Don’t get me wrong, I have a journal specifically for brain dumping, an insert for collections and one for daily tasks, as well as a few for other specific things, but my Omni-Journal is the catch all for almost everything.

Here is the last of my pics… A bit of my favorites from last year and this year…

July 14 2016

Project Me-Me, Myself, and I

Back in April I talked about taking back my life. Losing weight, getting healthy and fit, working on me. As a matter of fact, I’ve been slowly but surely working on me for about seven years now, it just started in a different manner. Back then I didn’t need to lose weight necessarily–get more fit, actually, but I needed to heal from a break up.

My inspiration page...
My inspiration page…

I started things out small back then. But I’ve amped things up a bit now. Not only do I have a TN (traveler’s notebook just for Project Me, but I’ve been working on it daily. Now, thanks to Jenny Penton and her planner perfect method and Project Me, I’m concentrating on three areas: Mind, Body, Soul.

This quote by Maya Angelou sums most of it up:

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, and some humor, and some style.

Maya quote done by me...

Since joining Project Me with Jenny Penton of Planner Perfect the beginning of July, I have started working on me even more. I’m working on my mind, body, spirit/soul. I’m delving deep into and underneath the surface. It’s so much more than just a project, it’s about being a work in progress, and yet living in the present, accepting yourself and loving yourself, but working towards improving your life, your “self,” at the same time.

My whole life, I never felt good enough, like I couldn’t do anything right. I also had abandonment issue because my father died when I was young, too young to really understand what death really is/means, and yet old enough to understand that everything changed overnight. I went from being an outgoing, fun loving child, to a mostly solitary, introverted child. I kept it all in. I read voraciously because reading allowed me to escape. Later on, I wrote voraciously. An avid reader and writer, who doodled cartoon figures, landscapes. I was creative. It was an outlet.

As an adult I still do those things. At least now I do all of them. But for many years I didn’t draw or paint. I didn’t pursue fiction writing, though I did write poetry, And deep down inside I didn’t believe that creating art, writing books, and other “creative” artist type jobs were going to support me, that I wasn’t talented enough and I’d end up the proverbial “starving artist.”

artist's way“The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron helped me come to terms with my creativity, with thinking of my writing as my job, and my art/journaling/reading/photography as my hobbies, and yet all are my passions. I could spend an entire day reading or writing or creating art, so I combine them and divvy up my day so that I can do all of those things. I’m still working on the routine, but it’s getting there slowly but surely.

Project Me will be ongoing, and I’m super excited about it. I’ve made progress in just 2 weeks.

DSCN0102With my daughter’s help, I made homemade bread Tuesday. This past Sunday I went to the beach, 2 hours away, with my daughter and grandson and had a blast–I got out of the house, spent time with family, relaxed, had fun, and took a daycation. 😀 I’ve also been slowly getting rid of things I don’t use, are broken or torn or worn, and slowly purging a few things, which means I am slowly getting more organized.DSCN0086

I let things go for too long when I was ill, in pain and needed surgery. Once I had the surgery, I tried do much too soon, and had to spend  time healing again. I’m trying not to do that again–not to jump the gun and try to do a major project like cleaning and organizing my whole writing room in one day, or painting a room in a day. I’m still in pain, but I’m working through it slowly. Exercise like walking, beginner yoga, stretches, cutting the grass (with a push mower) and the like are helping.

About me: My Truths...
About me: My Truths…

Anyway, Project Me is about working through some of the false truths, re-writing those false truths into authentic truths. It’s about making yourself a priority not an afterthought. It’s about nourishing your mind, body, and soul through affirmations and positivity. It’s about re-writing, “scripting” your life to make those goals, to be a happy, authentic, positive, productive, healthy (mentally and physically) person.

This is what Jenny said about Project Me:

We are going to take the time to love, nurture and care for ourselves. We are going to devote some time to identify who we are outside of the roles we play, find our talents…

So far, #projectme has helped me tremendously. Not only am I scripting my days, drawing and painting, reading, writing, purging things I don’t need or are torn/worn/too small/etc and organizing what I do want, and cleaning the house more, but I am happier. I wake up in the morning with a “hello morning” attitude. I am going to bed with a “it was a good day” feeling. And I am exercising more, finding ways to exercise even though I am in near constant pain (still). A body in motion stays in motion, I remind myself when the pain gets to me. I am also eating healthier, and on the road towards eating even healthier. Looking up new recipes, finding ways to cook things so that we are eating way less processed food.

Don’t get me wrong, I probably won’t be making my own pasta, but I can buy healthier pasta. And next spring, I want to plant a garden. That’s right. I’m so serious about it, I’ve been researching how to plant a garden for a “beginner.”

Does any of this have anything to do with my writing? Yes. Writing is a mostly solitary, sedentary profession. I get up and take breaks, real breaks now. Breaks that involve cleaning, preparing meals and cooking, art, reading, working on pages in my project me notebook as well as my other journal. I’m also stretching first thing in the morning. What I call my 15-20 minute stretches. I then write for 15-20 minutes–morning pages, a brain dump, whatever you want to call it.  Within the first hour of waking up, I’ve greeted the morning, made coffee, stretched, written, and gotten dressed and am preparing for the rest of my day. Two blocks of time during my day are for writing. Morning and afternoon/evening. I split it up because I need a mental break so I don’t get burned out, and because sitting for such a long time isn’t good for me. I’m producing more words and the words are better. And, I’m no longer beating myself up if I take a day off from writing to do something important like go to the beach with my daughter and grandson.  That’s a great thing. 😀

July 9 2016

Cha…cha…changes

One of the best things about being a creative person is that I’m all into learning new things. From reading different genres, to trying new recipes, to DIY home projects or DIY beauty stuff, to reading books about self-improvement or creativity or spirituality or how to be more creative. BUT, what I haven’t been very good at, at least not in some areas, is follow-through.

Take this blog, this website for instance. I spent money to have my own website, to have it hosted, and yet I haven’t been blogging regularly. I used to blog every day. THEN, I started posting videos on YT and the blog sort of took the back seat. Why is that? I wondered.

It felt a bit repetitive, redundant to say the same thing on the blog post that I was saying in the video. It is a lot of work to maintain both.  All of the above are truths but they are also excuses.

About me: My Truths...
About me: My Truths…

I don’t owe anyone an explanation, not really. The blog is more for me than anyone else, especially since I don’t have that many followers, not like I did on my old blog, but at the same time I feel like I should say something, which says a lot about my character. About who I am, how I am as a person. I often feel the need to defend myself. Like I’m not good enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough. Not…you get the drift.

Back in April I decided to make some real changes. I called it “Taking back my life.” I did well with some things. I have lost 10 pounds since April 15th. I’ve been exercising more, trying to make better food choices, better life choices, like eating healthier, meditation, walking, and eating less (portion control).

From Designs by Planner Perfect, by Jenny Penton
From Designs by Planner Perfect, by Jenny Penton

I’ve also signed up for #projectme with Jenny Penton’s #plannerperfect, and I love it. Such a great group of supportive and inspiring ladies. I feel really good about it. But most of the work to “take back my life,” is about making real changes. It’s about letting go of negativity, letting go of false truths (as Jenny said), and being my authentic self, opening myself up to and using my talents, my gifts.

I’ve been thinking about what those talents are. I am a natural giver. A natural helper. I am also a creative person. My passions are reading (books) , writing, art (watercolor especially), journaling, life, love, family–my grandson is so amazing. Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you’re talented at it though. I’m a decent enough writer, but I’m no Shakespeare, Vonnegut, Poe, Stephen King, Jim Butcher, Nora Roberts, or Bradbury (and yes, I’m a fan of all of those–I told you read a variety of genres). I’m a halfway decent enough (amateur) artist, but I’m no Danny Gregory or Jane Davenport.

However, just because I’m not as talented as (say my idol) Stephen King, or Danny Gregory, doesn’t mean I don’t have any talent. I can hone my talents. Get better. I can find my “niche,” my gift and use it, utilize it, and perhaps one day get paid for it. I’ve seen people find their forte their niche, and before you know it they’ve got an Etsy shop, then a website instead, and they’re using their passion and their gift (talent) and instead of just “working” they’re getting paid to do something they love.

My inspiration page...
My inspiration page…

One of my truth’s, I’m writing my novel series for me. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of a (my) family’s curse. I grew up hearing about the “Burgess” curse and the idea has always been in the back of my head. So I’m writing a book about it. While the book is based on a truth, it’s a fictional book. It’s not like I could/should/would give my novel’s family the surname Burgess (which is my real name, well it was my surname is now my middle name), though I have seriously thought about it. Instead I’ve went with my father’s (my daddy) first name, which also happens to be a surname–Milton. It works and I like it.

I’ve also been thinking about drawing/painting the cover myself. Hey, I can watercolor halfway decent, and I love drawing and painting with watercolor. But more than that, I wouldn’t have seriously thought about creating the cover for my book myself until I started working on “taking my life back,” and on #projectme.  I might have entertained the idea briefly, but I would have second guessed my capability to do it, my talent…and I’d have talked myself right on out of doing it.

I’ve been slowly but surely working on becoming a morning person. I’ve also been working on being more confident, and less negative about myself. I won’t lie and say I don’t have self-doubts, I do. But each day, those self-doubts are less and less.

Now, its time to work on my novel.

April 5 2016

Finding Balance with writing and life

Camp nano 2016Camp NaNoWriMo. I can’t believe it’s already April 5th. It seems like just the other day I was preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo. Now there are only 2 days left in the first week. WOW!

Yesterday was definitely a Monday. Almost everything that could go sideways did, and yet out of the topsy-turviness of the day I ended up spending time doing something that I really needed to do–spend time with my grandson. Truth is, no matter how well you plan your day, sometimes life throws a curve ball and you can either catch it and throw it back, catch it and roll with it, or you can drop the ball…I chose to catch it and roll with it, which was hard to do at first.

My Daddy
My Daddy

Yesterday also marked the 41st anniversary of my father’s death. No matter how many years pass, on April 4th I feel like a seven year old child again. The grief, pain, sadness, and overwhelming feeling of loss has never went away, but dealing with it is easier. However, it is never easy. I took the picture of a picture of my father from when he was in the Army–he was young in this picture, and young when he died–at the age of 31.

My plans were to spend the day writing, art journaling, cleaning, taking a walk, having coffee, grabbing a quick bite to eat and reading, and then to go back to my writing. That did not happen. Not all of it, anyway. Though I am not happy with my word count for yesterday, or the lack of journaling my day, or the lack of cleaning…I did manage to get a few things done, plus I spent quality time with Mr. Rockstar and my daughter Ria, as well as with my grandson Mr. Viktor.

Viktor pretending to be a pirate on a pirate ship.
Viktor pretending to be a pirate on a pirate ship.

That’s what it’s really about…the moments. Small ones, big ones, happy ones, sad ones. No matter how old I get I will always miss my Daddy. I’ve been blessed to have had such wonderful parents. My Dad (stepdad) is an amazing person and I am so grateful that he came into our lives. He’s been a rock, a blessing, a role model, and a great parent, though he never tried to take my Daddy’s place.

I can boost my wordcount today, but if I hadn’t taken the time to have lunch with my husband and daughter I’d have missed out on that time. If I hadn’t taken the opportunity to pick my grandson up from daycare and then to have a snack and then go outside and play I’d have missed that time with him–time I couldn’t replace or make up for.

I also missed some time to write on Saturday in order to go to my parents house to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. My daughter and worked hard, my daughter especially, on clearing the grass and planting roses, putting rock down, etc so my mom now has her rose and rock garden. 😀 (I’ll have to take a picture of it the next time I’m there.) But I made up for that writing time on Sunday night. Now it’s time for me to get back to writing so I can make up for yesterday’s word count.

 

January 27 2016

Choosing to live… creatively

Since I started re-reading the Artist’s Way last week, several other things have come up that have shown me that starting the 12 week process is the right decision.

embrace struggle

Living creatively is and isn’t a choice, at least to me that’s how it feels. I am a creative person. Being creative, whether it’s DIY home projects, writing, creating art, journaling, art journaling, scrapbooking, poetry, reading, or photography is just who, what, and how I am. It’s a big part of how I’m wired.

As an INFP, I’m optimistic, open-minded, empathic, creative, introverted, passionate, enthusiastic (especially about creative things), resilient, dedicated, and intuitive, but I’m also too idealistic, impractical, too altruistic, I often don’t see the forest for the trees, I take things too personal, and I’m reserved, cautious, and self-conscious, which makes me hard to get to know.  I was born to be a writer, a creative person, some type of artist. I was born to help others. At least, that’s how it feels to me. Yet I know, now, that I tend to over extend myself. I tend to get overwhelmed and stressed out–and I do that to myself, usually.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All of these things are part of why I made the decision to start the Artist’s Way 12 week “program” again. After my video went up about what I’m doing and why I got several comments. The response the video touched me and I thought, “Burgess, it’s time to do a giveaway. And you’re going to give the Artist’s Way to someone. So this Friday I’m going to draw one of the names from the people who responded to my video about the giveaway and send that person their very own copy of the Artist’s Way.

I’m going through a few things right now, one of which is being SICK! I feel like Death came calling and instead of taking me She just touched me with her Sickle and said, “Nope, just wanted you to see how it feels to be Death for a while.” Two, finding balance in your life is hard. No matter how much I try to take my writing seriously, so that others will as well, someone or something always tends to say or do something, or something happens, that makes me question it. It’s not a “real job,” or “writing/art isn’t going to pay the bills/isn’t paying the bills,” or “since you’re not working, could you…”. Then the negativity I already feel, the self-doubt and lack of self confidence rears its ugly head even higher and just laughs at me, and I feel like giving up.

its impossible

Depression is an ugly beat. When combined with anxiety it’s even uglier. A depressed person helping a depressed person is like the blind leading the blind. An anxious person with depression helping someone else who also has anxiety and depression–I’m not sure of what to say about that… I do know that I have to take a step back from the negativity, and be my own authentic self, and stop letting the anxiety, self-doubt, insecurities, and other things rule my life. It’s time to me to choose to live my life creatively, to live my own life, to stop people pleasing, to stop doubting myself and hold my head up high, and to take the bull by the horns and say, “I got this shit!”

I’m a writer. I have a real job, even if I don’t get paid for it yet. I am working on my novel. I am also living my life creatively. I spent over twenty years working in a field I hated but paid the bills and helped me provide for my children. Now that I don’t have to do that, I’m finally doing what I was meant to do. I’m probably going back to college, hopefully this summer.

It’s going to be hard, especially adjusting to all the changes, and for the people in my life to adjust to all the changes, but I have to do what is best for me.

Trust your own madness

Category: Anxiety, Around Here, Creativity, Family, Goals, Life, Living a Creative Life, Self-Doubt, The Artist's Way, Writing | Comments Off on Choosing to live… creatively
December 22 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Come again another day… Here in South Carolina we’ve had more than our fair share of rain this year. Today is no exception–it’s raining like crazy outside. My street is almost flooded–the right side is one big huge puddle, and the intersection is going to washout again if the rain doesn’t let up soon–they just got it fixed a month or so ago after the flood washed it out.

My Christmas shopping is done. I’m anxiously awaiting the last of the presents to arrive today and tomorrow via UPS, thanks to Amazon Prime I was able to get a few harder to find presents for my daughter and husband. Last year I said I wasn’t going to wait until December, but I did that exact thing this year. However, next year I am going to start shopping in August so that all I’m searching for in December are the stocking stuffer type presents.

When I was kid, I so looked forward to the little items in my stocking. We usually got things like nuts and fruit, chocolate,  small toys and books, along with a small gift–sometimes mine was a bracelet, a ring, a necklace, other times it was a watch. I remember being so excited one Christmas, I must have been five or six, when I got a Barbie watch that had different colored interchangeable bands. My daddy (who died when I was seven), helped me change the band so I could wear it all day on Christmas. I loved that watch. After that, there was the Snoopy watch, the Mickey Mouse Watch, and then later on it was “big people” watches like a Timex with the glow in the dark hands and numerals. I have a thing about watches. 😀

As I sit at my desk contemplating the gifts I’ve gotten those I love and hoping that I chose the right things–I’m a give-a-gift-that-means-something-or-screams-out-buy-me-for-this-person kind of giver. There have been years when I haven’t been able to give gifts, when I had to wait until after Christmas, and then there have been years when I’ve contributed to buying gifts for someone(s) because someone I love couldn’t afford to buy gifts for their children. Not to mention the years when my children spent four-six Christmases in a row with their dad out of state (we were supposed to trade off holidays, but for a while the only time he could get off, or the only time he wanted to take off, or something, was Christmas  and I couldn’t not let them have a good Christmas, spend time with their dad, even though it meant I was alone for all of those Christmases.

I hated the holidays for a long period of time–being alone during the holidays, or being in a relationship and still feeling alone is a horrible thing. Now that I’m with Mr. Rockstar I feel differently about the holidays. Our first Christmas together we had just moved into the house about six weeks prior to Christmas, and we barely had enough money for groceries (we ate a lot of Ramen noodles back then) but we managed to get one of those really small Christmas trees, the ones that are only about a foot tall, and decorate it with one string of lights and a few ornaments. An honest to goodness Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We bought each other small presents…$20 each, but I remember it being a wonderful holiday. I didn’t care about the amount we spent, I cared about us being together, about starting our own traditions for the holidays, and because of him, and then the next year my grandson was born in July, the holidays were once again a time for celebration.

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, but I see a few birds out and about singing, so maybe the rain is going to let up. Either way, their song makes me feel better, more positive. There’s something about celebrating the holidays with your loved ones that gives  you that warm, fuzzy feeling inside, at least it does for me. I’m glad that I’m no longer a Bah Humbug kind of person about the holidays.

Now I’m excited about Christmas. Spending time with my family, good food, and watching them open the presents that we so carefully chose for them–and it’s not about the amount of money you spend, there were some presents that were in the $20 range that I’m more excited about than some of the more expensive presents.

Category: Around Here, Family, Holiday | Comments Off on Rain, Rain, Go Away…
November 26 2015

Perfectionism, Writing, and Life

Growing up I had one of those mom’s who hovered. She hovered over me when I was washing the dishes, cooking, cleaning, doing homework, etc., and without her ever uttering a word I felt criticized. I splashed too much water when I was washing dishes, I needed to turn the heat down–cooking it too fast, I missed a spot, I spelled something wrong or added or subtracted or multiplied or divided wrong…Some of that is normal parenting, some of it was my mother’s need to do things her way and to have everyone else do it her way because that was the only right way/correct way. (She’s not as bad now, age has mellowed my mother… )

With so much hovering, and backseat cooking, cleaning, etc I ended up feeling like I couldn’t do anything right, that I wasn’t good enough, and that you had to do things a certain way or it wasn’t the right way. As a parent we try to teach our kids right and wrong, how to do things, and even more importantly we are supposed to teach them to find their way in the world and learn how to be a responsible, independent, caring, moral, and successful adult. I figure my mom got most of those right with me, but what she also did was raise someone who was taught that perfectionism, even if it wasn’t called that, is the only way you get things done right, at least in a manner of speaking.

Unfortunately or fortunately–depending on how you look at it, now that I’m older, and my kids are grown, I find myself sounding more and more like my mother, most of the time it’s just in my head, but I often find myself saying, “Don’t splash so much water all over the sink,” or “If you do it this way it’ll save you time, effort, etc” or “If you do it that way it’s going to take twice as long,” or “Why are you doing it that way, you should…” It’s the strangest thing when I catch myself doing it or when one of my children, or my husband, points out that I sound like my mother. I’ve never wanted to be that way, not the hovering thing, which to me equates judgment and criticism.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I am doing it to myself when I write. That little voice in the back of my head that whispers, “You’re not doing it right, look at all of those words you splashed on the page, they’re not right, it’s not right, you’ve done it wrong… [or] you’re doing it all wrong, you should be…”

I know that part of it is a need for control. a part of it is perfectionism, and a small part of it is insecurity. When someone does dishes differently than you do as long as the outcome is the same what difference does it make how they do them–so long as the dishes are clean it really shouldn’t matter. And yet, every time someone helps me with the dishes or does the dishes I find myself looking at all of the splashed water around and on the sink and faucet, noticing whether they are using hot water (God forbid you should wash dishes in my Momma’s house with cold or lukewarm water), or if you use too much soap or not enough soap…and I cringe because there is the part of me that wants to jump in and do the dishes the “right” way, or to tell them “you’re not doing it right,” or “stop splashing the water all over the place” or something else equally critical. And it’s not just the dishes, it comes up with laundry, sweeping and mopping, vacuuming, dusting the furniture, cooking, or hell, even how you sit on the furniture, or how far or close you are to the television, or driving (don’t get me started on the driving thing, so glad that my dad taught me how to drive and not my mom).

Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a wonderful, caring, strong woman who had a hard childhood, went through the tragic loss of losing a husband when she was only 28 years old with a 7 year old and a 4 year old, and then later on met someone and fell in love, and who said when he was going to marry my mom that he wasn’t just marrying her, he was marrying all of us and he meant that–we were a package deal. But my mom is nitpicky. She’s funny about her home, her domain. She grew up without, and once she became an adult she treasured every single thing she worked for, was given, etc. She didn’t own her own pair of shoes or coat until she was 19 years old and bought them herself, she got hand me downs from older siblings or from the church or from a charitable organization–as one of the oldest of ten kids being raised by a single mother, with an alcoholic father who never paid a dime of child support, my mother became a caretaker and the second in command/woman of the house at an early age. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her, but like all of us my mom has flaws and it seems I’ve either inherited them through nature or nurture.

I have to admit though, I’m harder on myself than on others. I am way too critical of myself. Had my mom not taught me that there are certain ways to do thing, some better some just your own way, and also been taught to think for myself, I wouldn’t have known later on as an adult that I could do things one way and as I got more experience doing it I’d eventually fine tune how I do it so that it was the right way for me, that I could do it the way I was taught but watch how others do it and learn from all of it and find my own way. In practice, remembering that there is more than one way to do things is not as easy as it is in theory though. I can remind myself over and over again that just because I don’t hardcore outline, or just because I don’t write by the seat of my pants, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to write a good, hopefully great, novel. I can remind myself that I might write faster or slower than someone else, or that I might need a story board, or I might need in depth character sketches, but what it all boils down to is finding a process that works for me and fine tuning it so that it works well.

Hearing my mother’s voice in my head sometimes keeps me aware of how important it is to strive to be the best you can be, to do things to the best of your own ability even if it means you have to splash some water all over the sink to get there. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who has an immaculate house, I’m too creative and distracted, not to mention the fact that I function better with color, clutter, and a bit of creative chaos around me, but my kitchen and bathrooms are usually clean and would (most of the time, unless I fall asleep reading or get into the writing zone) pass even my mom’s inspection. However, even though I am creative, distracted, and chaotically clutter and chaos (I imagine a female Linus walking around with a pen and a notebook instead of a blanket) I am also my mother’s child and when it gets to be too much my OCD kicks in and the house gets clean from top to bottom and organized–it might not stay that way for long, because me or my laid back husband will inevitably leave a cup on the end table, or leave our jacket on the back of the chair, or our dirty clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the hamper, or I’ll leave a book  or a few books, or watercolor pencils, or my husband will leave his guitar propped against the couch… Our home is lived in and we’re happy.

I’m grateful for my mother and all that she taught me. That little voice that yells at me to get it right, to do it right, to keep trying until I’ve got it perfect or as perfect as it can get helps keep me striving to do better. I just have to remember that “being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect–it means that you’ve decided to look past the imperfections,” and for me it also means just being the best me I can be and forgiving myself and others when they splash water all over my sink.

August 27 2014

I'd like to tell you a story

We all have a story to tell. Some of us will tell that story with music, some with art, some with poetry, some with a garden, others with photography, and some with the written word. 

Snoopy's book

My story began when I was a little girl. I was fascinated by books. My parents bought me books. I was in love with Snoopy’s book. I wanted a typewriter. I wanted to write stories. I could read well before I started kindergarten and I think it’s because I loved stories.  I’ve passed that down to my children and my grandson who is only two years old will hand you a book and tell you “read.” We’re a bunch of bookworms around here. 

What really upped the ante when it came to my love affair with books was when my father died when I was seven years old. Lost in grief, I turned to books. I could pretend I was a character in the book. Pretend that I was anyone except the little girl who had lost her father. Getting lost in the characters of books wasn’t enough though. I began writing about a little girl who saved her father. Then I wrote a story about a father who turned into a guardian angel. I don’t remember every story I wrote back then, that was forty years ago, but the one I remember the most was about a kingdom of magical people who were hidden from the rest of the world. A little girl loses her father and while she’s picking flowers in a garden she finds a hidden doorway. The doorway leads to the kingdom of magical people and she finds her father there. He is a prince there and he tells her that she mustn’t tell anyone, that it’s their secret. If people knew about the magical kingdom everyone who ever lost someone would come there in droves and the kingdom would no longer be hidden, and the magic would die. 

In elementary school I was in one library or the other all the time. I was the kid who always turned their books in late because I got so wrapped up in the seven to ten books I was reading I forgot when they were due back. My mother fussed about the late fees, but I think she was happy that I’d finally stopped locking myself in my room with a book and was out and about in the real world again. By the fifth grade I was reading adult books like Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, which my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Whittet introduced to us. I was hooked. Mr. King wrote stories like a real story teller and I fell right into the world of the book, like Alice in the rabbit hole. I remember sneaking my mom’s copy of Carrie out of her bookcase and going to my room so I could read it under my covers with a flashlight. Hooked, I tell you, hooked. 

When I was in high school I took journalism and was on the newspaper staff. I loved it. I went to the football games, wrestling matches, soccer games, and other school functions and borrowed my (step) Dad’s expensive Yashica camera and took pictures and took notes and then wrote stories for the school newspaper. I went to the University of South Carolina and toured their campus, including their journalism building. I dreamed of a journalism scholarship. And i got one, but it was only a partial one and things were rough back then (in the mid 80s) and we couldn’t afford the difference so I went to work full time at a bank. I told myself I didn’t need college. I’d graduated from high school, which was more than either of my three parents (my mom, my father, and my (step) dad) had done. I was ahead of the game. Besides, I told myself, I can always go to college later. (The longer you wait the harder it gets…)

I went to college in my early 30s. I didn’t finish. I had to drop out for various reasons: as a single parent I needed to work more hours, or I needed the benefits so they could get braces, or I was having a hard time juggling everything, etc…Back to work full time I went, deferring my dream. I also deferred my dream of writing, not just college. 

Two years ago when my husband (then fiance) and I were writing our vows, he said. “I ought to put a part in there about how I promise to move you and your books for the rest of my life…” and he did. Part of the reason he mentioned it is because he helped me and my daughter move two bookcases into my apartment on our first date. And he moved those same bookcases twice more, including all the books that go in those bookcases… Now we’re in our home and those bookcases, along with the other two I have, have been moved around our home several times and he never complains, just jokes about keeping his vows. 

Now as I sit in front of my computer screen typing this post I am reminded of why it is so important not to give up on your dreams. I’m writing a novel. Yes, I said that. I. Am. Writing. A. Novel. I am pursuing my dream. You’re never too old to pursue your dream(s). That little girl who turned to books out of grief and despair still resides inside me, pushing me forward to write that book. To pursue our dream. I carry her with me. 

There will be people in your life who will try to knock you down, make you question your dreams, make you feel unworthy, and there are those who will support and inspire you. Push you to do more, to do better, to be more. I know, I’ve had both kind of people in my life at one time or the other. I am blessed that my husband is the kind of person who pushes me to do more, be more, and he makes me a better person and still strive to be even better, to push even harder. To be inspired to write, motivated to write, and writing, especially good writing, is hard work, is such a wonderful thing. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you should give up on your dream, don’t let anyone push you to give up on a dream. 

It’s time for me to end this story, the little girl inside me is waving a book at me telling me it’s time to go back to writing my novel…

Carpe Diem

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