Project Finish Line: The Definition of Success

Welcome back, friends and few readers I have remaining! I am a neglectful blogger as of late, but rest assured this is the one time you’ll hear the words “It’s not you, it’s me” and have them be 100% fact.

My life, like yours, is very full at the moment. Full of challenge and tragedy, fear and frustation, new friends, great joy, travel adventures, new pursuits, old habits, a bit of wine, and lots and lots of coffee. I have no idea what the purpose of all this beautiful madness is, but I keep doing it and am learning to have fun with it where I can. 

First let me share some joy (coupled with frustration!): I am a size 8 (at Express; F those other designers). In six months I lost 20 pounds (and put 5 back on), 2 sizes, and gained health, strength, a teeny tiny bit of speed, a dash of motivation, and the ability to simultaneously breathe and run. 

My book is in it’s final editing stages, and my finances are still a nightmare. Ha! But the beat goes on, and I consider my accomplishments, though requiring of consistent and ongoing dedication and effort, a success. It’s all about the continuation of the process, the journey. Keeping taking those steps forward, and you will continue to meet small victories. Or at least maintain those you’ve achieved. As an overachiever and perfectioniast of sorts, it’s often difficult for me to truly celebrate my succcess, because until recently i’ve measured success only in terms of that which can truly be metricized (not a word, but should’t it be??) – what can be counted, compared, weighed, etc. 

But then I went to Saint Louis at the end of February and sat in my Harvard National Preparedness Leadership Institute training session and was introduced to a different and, I think, much more healthy definition of success. 

The doctor facilitating the session asked us all how we would define success in our own words. Across the room I and some of my colleagues immediately went to career, income, accomplishments. Others cited family, love, the successes of their children. And why wouldn’tw we? We have people who depend on us, adventures to take, and bills to pay. Success is ensuring all of those things can happen without straining resources too much yes?

Perhaps. 

Or perhaps not.

The doctor relayed the greatest definition he’d every heard from one of his class participants, and I’ve stolen it and am sharing it here today. If I knew the man’s name, I would happily credit him with his genius. Alas, I do not, so if you’re out there and reading this, kind sir, my hat is off to you and I welcome you to leave a comment and claim your (limited on this blog) fame. 

I’m going to share this exceptional peace of wisdom with you now. No, no – don’t dive right in. Stop for a moment to prepare yourselves to have your mind utterly and irrevocably blown. Stretch a bit, take a few deep breaths, get a glass of water if you like. I’ll waith. This is important. 

Okay. Are you ready? Here it comes. 

The definition of success is that no matter where you are going, you can’t wait to get there. 

Did you get that? Simple, right? 

And yet how profound. 

Think for a moment about the last three places (phsyical or not) that you’ve been today. Work? Home? Grocery store? On a date? To the gym? To a movie?

Were you excited to go to those places? Why or why not? If you were, great! I’m so happy for you! 

But if not – IF NOT – then why did you go there? Well, groceries are required to live. Fair enough. But did you buy wonderful, healthy food to make a fantastic and cost effective meal? Did you engage your kiddos in cooking with your, or did you revel in exporing necessary culinary arts on your own like a closeted Emergil Legasse? Did you say “BAM!!” when you added a dash of spice or a pinch of flavor? Did you  laugh at your own ridiculousness or listen to music you loved while you did it? Did you use a recipe or a kitchen tool handed down by a relative or call up your mom/dad/grandma/best friend to ask about their recipe or reminisce about the time you did the thing at that place while you at the one dish?

Or what about your job? Do you spring out of bed in the morning and rush to get to work because you were excited about soe project or person? To be honest, I don’t springs anwhere before 10:00 AM and at least 16 ounces of coffee, so no worries if not.  But did you at least not have to pull yourself out of bed by your own hair before getting to work and sitting in the parking lot breathing just to force yourself to walk in the door? Come on – we’ve ALL had THAT job. And perhaps there’s just no getting out of it because of adult responsibilities and obligations – I get that. I get that in the most painful way. Are you doing anything to make it better? Do you at least enjoy the peolpe you work with? Hell, do you even get off a little on pushing your boss’s buttons if nothing else? I love my boss, and even I enjoy getting him gassed up – just cuz I can. πŸ˜‰

What about home? Do you love, love, love your single life? Thre freedom and independence to do what you want to do when and how you want to do it? Or are you jazzed to go home to your family?  

Do you love to work out or read or watch movies or do brunch and happy hour, or even just walk the neighborhood?

I know for many of us these little luxuries are just that – luxuries. And how do you get excited by a life that you feel you’ve somehow just ended up oin? How can you feel jazzed to go to a job you hate to pay bills you can barely afford (or can’t afford at all??) to support a family you can’t stand? Letls be honest – some of us have those. So how is succes achieved, by thie definition here, when you hate your life and feel trapped in it?

Well that is the million dollar question,isn’t it?

Here’s what I’ve come up with: small changes over time. And consistency. 

I’m NOT an expert, and I have no advice. I’m just as fucked up as the next guy. In fact, proabably more so. I can only tell you what I’m doing to acheive this measure of success. Figure out what I want, focus on it, and make small, manageable changes consistently over time. 

Earth shattering? Probably not. But I’m open to suggestions.

 

Next time we’ll lighten it up a bit and go DIY. I have three completed projects I need to post, so stay tuned…

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Project Finish Line: Has it Really Been a MONTH???

The last time I had ten seconds to myself that weren’t occupied by some other pursuit was two weeks ago, and I haven’t posted at all in regards to Project Finish line since January! Yikes!

So, let’s get caught up, kids. 

 

Goal 1: Size 8/145 pounds

Business travel gave me one helluva setback. I went from 149 (so close!!!) all the way back up to 153. Amazing how taking it off requires Herculean efforts, and putting it just requires a box-to-mouth Donut Curl. It’s entirely unfair. Fortunately, one week back home eating somewhat more intelligently and hitting the gym a few times has me at 151.2. I’ll take it. And I’ll try to remember the progress loss the next time I feel like a cookie might be an okay breakfast. 

Thank all good things in the universe for Chris Powell and his carb cycling! Seriously people, if you haven’t checked it out by now, nothing is working for you, and you’re like me an need immediate results to stay motivated, you must try Carb Cycling! Please at least just read about it here. You’ll thank me. I promise. 

 

Goal 2: Write a book

Done. Well….sort of. I wrote it. I’ve made some changes on screen, and as I said previously I have no printed all 212 pages and am slowly setting to the task of some hardcore editing. Alas, I have no red pen – or green, as was the favorite of my journalism teacher in high school – but I’ve gotten through a whopping three pages, so blue must be acceptable. 

I’m wondering if there’s anyone anywhere who would be willing to do a seondary edit of it. After a while you have read something so many times, you stop seeing the mistakes. But there was an excellent piece I found online about editing by writing your books four times. Check it out!

 

Goal 3: Pay off debt 

This has proven to be quite a bit more difficult than I’d hoped. Following the drama of emergency dog abominal surgery, a broken car, and some unexpected medical expenses, it’s going to take well over a year to get where we need to be. BUT – we completely paid of a dishwasher, and are now very close to doing the same with a small amount of student loans (under $500), and then we move to the big time: CREDIT CARDS. Two of them. Totaling more thousands of dollars than I’m willing to admit. Under twenty but over ten, and it makes me exceedingly uncomfortable. 

 

But on to more fun things! 

 

I have nearly a week of solo time (hubz is out in Miami DJing during the annual Winter Music Conference – so proud!) over which I’ve also taken some PTO. The goals of Project Finish line will, of course, be a focus, but so will some long-time-coming DIYs I’ve been dying to finish! Check it out: 

DIY 1 – A reading nook, or what I’m also calling my Cone of Silence. The idea being that, when in the cone, leave me alone. πŸ˜‰ I’ve been inspired by these coupld of pics on line:

     

This chair will be the foundation of said nook: 

I have vaulted ceiling, so I’m imagining translucent curtains with white Christmas lights, and perhaps some kind of additional color and shine involved. Stay tuned…

 

DIY 2 – Seriously, my wine rack. It’s time to get it done. Two years in the making almost. Ugh. DOING THIS! 

Lots of Pinspiration of this project out there, and I have all the wood, stain, tools, etc. Just need to get my @$$ in gear. 

 

DIY 3 – A wine bottle light fixture for the dining room. The only thing lacking here is some electrical wire, fire proof wire coverings, and bulbs. Oh, and my spouse’s faith that I can install it without A) killing myself, B) burning down the building, or C) both. It will be something like this, but with wine bottles instead of mason jars: 

 

I will get pics of each project step-by-step and share them here, along with the super easy, lazy-girl’s way I recovered my black, white, and purple chair shown above. 

I also may be painting the master bathroom blue and grey above some white bead board. We’ll see how motivated I get. I mean, at least ONE of my days off should really be a day OFF, right??? Is that how it works??

That is a TON of DIYing in five days. I may have to call in reinforcements! 

Project Finish Line: The Beat Goes On

Just over two weeks ago I broke the sad news of the Eurotrip getting pushed to the back burner, but I am who I am which means I don’t give up. Much like a bulldog on a bone, I’m just going to keep at it until I acheive my reward. 

So here’s where things stand:

We are on a serious budget with the aim of paying down aaaalllll the debt with the exception of our home and rental property, and my OUT-FREAKING-RAGEOUS student laons. May the universe bless my guy for taking on a woman who will pay stupid amounts of money for advanced education. This is our first month, and it’s definitely challenging, but fortunately I am married to the world’s most patient and indulgent man. We can do this. 

I’ve figured out that I just have to print my book – yes, all near-200 pages – if I’m going to take a serious stab at editing it. It must be all the years of Journalism in high school that makes me incapable of taking the editing process seriously without visualizing it with red (or green, like my teacher at Greenway HS) pen scrawled across the text. I just need the manuscript to look bloody and used to be satisfied that I’ve suffered as much as I need to through the creative process. So printing shall occur this week, and thus shall begin a committed editing process complete with adequate suffering and frustration. Ahhhh, that feels better. πŸ˜‰

Now, abut that Size 8/145 lbs. I’m sloooowly getting back on target. I weighed in on Saturday at 152.6. And I compared these two pics of myself by pure coincidence and can see that I HAVE, in fact, lost some of my chub, and at least toned my arms a bit. 

 iPhone Download 8-15-14 045Project_Finish_Line_Week_6_1572_lbs.JPG 

What do you think? Have I made any de-chunkifying progress? 

Yesterday I ran a mile and then did some strength training in the AM and felt INCREDIBLE. Today I am slightly sore, which actually makes me feel quite accomplished. Guess I need to suffer in all things to feel I’m making progress. ha! 

The nutrition part has been the hardest, but I’m getting back into my committed Carby-cycling to keep moving in the right direction. I also plan to get more committed to running – okay, jogging is more the term, but it’s still moving faster than all the people on the couch. πŸ˜‰ I want to learn to love it as I did for a brief period in the military. I think it will also help to lose some more weight and tone muscle if I can kick my workouts up a notch. 

I was next to a hardcore chick on the treadmill last week who was doing this sort of running side-lunge move, interval sprints, walkling lunges, distance running…She was a beast. Of course part of me wanted to hit the Emergency Stop button and send her hurdling headfirst over the front of the treadmill due to an extreme annoyance brought on by envy, but I couldn’t help but give her a silent applause when her irritating ass moved on to her next workout. Bravo, Crazy Treadmill Show-off Girl. Bravo. I may not be there today, but you and your endlessly rage-inducing perky fitness have inspired me. Now pat yourself on the back and then go eat something. πŸ˜‰

Although this blog is super helpful for keeping me accountable and tracking my progress, I have no doubt my self-indulgent ramblings can be tiresome, so I hereby pledge to start posting a weekly non-PFL post. I have two DIY projects to share (super awesome if I do say so myself!), and I’m sure can easily find something to rant, rave, deconstruct, or otherwise have an opinion on. It may or may not be insightful, but it shall be an opinion nonetheless, and likely laced with my brand of sarcasm and humor. 

In the meantime, here’s a little teaser of an upcoming DIY – a Pallet Wine Rack done the lazy way for procrastinating “use what you have” types like me. I promise – it gets prettier!

Future_DIY_Pallet_Wine_Rack.JPG

Oh, you lucky little readers you! πŸ˜‰

 

 

Project Finish Line: Shit’s Getting Real

Why is shit getting real? 

Because one of my three goals has proven itself to be in the stage where I can settle or dig deep. 

Not an ounce came off this week. Not. Even. One. 

   Last Week’s Weigh in

This Week’s Weigh In

Yes, yes, I know – it’s the holidays, we’re all eating a bit more crap, and thank goodness I didn’t gain anything. 

But that’s where goals get into trouble – they get into trouble at the place between comfort and complacency, the place where you find out if you would prefer something to change or you demand that it change. For me, it is time to recommit to this self-imposed challenge, to not accept mediocre but require my desire to be reality, to dig deep and through relentless focus on the execution of my goal believe in the sheer force of my indomitable will to succeed. 

When you see results like this after three months, when things look just fine, how do you recommit?

Remember me mentioning in The Genesis that I looked like a pork loin in shrink wrap in one of my Goal Dresses? Well…this is Goal Dress 1. With room to spare!

I decided to see where my Goal Dresses were fitting. Goal Dress #1 zipped up so effortlessly I nearly busted out the pom poms and threw myself a victory party!!!

But wait. 

There was still…(cue ominous music)…Goal Dress #2. 

Goal Dress #2 was worn in my tattoo & piercing shop days where I was the illustriously titled Shop Girl (read: clean, organize, fetch coffee, look pretty, use cleavage as the primary accessory, flirt shamelessly, and sell, sell, sell). This was sometime between 21 and 22 years old. 

And 20 pounds ago. And it was extremely form fitting even then. 

So on it went. 

Well…let me be clear. On it went AFTER repeatedly buttoning the screaming buttons; on it went after buckling the belt in such a way that said buttons were less likely to pop off and imbed themselves like shrapnel in one of my dogs; on it went after sucking in certain parts of my voluptuous anatomy and standing in such a way that I could stand in the mirror, snap a selfie, and not run back out of the room to cry into a gallon of ice cream. 

And the results were thus: 

It’s on. That’s progress. But progress is NOT the goal.

Not as flattering from this angle. A little more real. And it wasn’t all that flattering in the first place. Eek.

Yep. THIS is how you recommit. 

You remind yourself that, although we are all beautiful as we are at any moment in time, there are few fashion statements accentuated by fat rolls – back fat, belly fat, that wierd fat that somehow gets stored as psuedo-chicken wings right under your armpits and above your bra strap…

Goal Dress #2 WILL FIT AGAIN. But it’s gonna need some help. Like…at least another 10-shed-pounds of help. 

Adequately inspired, I knew I needed help. How can a girl sculpt quickly? How can we shed fat when we, the fairer sex, are intended to store fat for some mysterious childbirthing purpose? I’ve been at this for three months and am only averaging 4.5 pounds lost a month (that 1-ish a week for those keeping track). What’s the secret? Is it diet and nutrition? More cardio? Less? Weight lifting, dirnking more water, endless crunches, zero carbs, no fat, body wraps – what?!?!? 

So I went to the font of all knowledge to ask my question and throw myself on the mercy and counsel of – you guessed it – social media. 

Thus far I’ve heard: more cardio, do situps, keep eating healthy. 

Ugh. 

Fine. 

I’ll get through this week as a holiday slacker (though a gym-going-mostly-healthy-eating-slacker), because I also believe goals need to incorporate a dose of kindness and reality in order to succeed, and then I’ll buckle down even harder and strive for 2 pounds lost per week, only one controlled cheat day per week, commit to 5 days per week in the gym, and add a sixth where I can. Honestly, five is hard for me given my job, but this WILL happen! I want my body back!!!

That’s where I’ll leave it for today, kids. You’ll be hearing from me again soon as I have the week “off” (off meaning not in the office, but on call and chained to my email as always…), and thus I hope to provide a sneak preview to my inaugural novel. 

I may also be sharing a bit of information on a fourth goal added to Operation Finish Line…

Here’s wishing you success in anything you wish to acheive. 

Project Finish Line: Finish Line Friday! (On Sunday)

How can a Finish Line Friday be on a Sunday, you ask?

Because I weighed in on Friday morning and it’s taken me until this fine Sunday evening during a very stressful Seahawks football game to sit down and catch you up. 

This week was another week of life happening – totaled car, late night meetings, trouble with the boss…I’m feeling pretty beat up. Happily, progress towards my goals continues.

 

Goal 1 (Size 8 by August 2015) met with limited success, although one more pound down is one more pound down. Two days in the gym (ugh – so sad), but a decent week of nutrition got me there. And may I please remind us all I started at 167 lbs. My last Size 8 days saw me at about 140-145. Eight-thirteen (what I suspect will be very hard won) pounds to go…

Week 8 Weigh In


Week 9 Weigh In

I’ve also started working on pursuing a passion that may translate into more exercise – Roller Derby! 

When I was a kid I loved to skate (roller blade, really), and the good thing about being curvy is you have a lot of weight to throw around. What better marriage of my natural talents than strapping on eight wheels and…well…throwing my weight around? 

It will also give me a chance to release some pent up aggression and my naturally competitive nature. Perhaps Seahawks football will become less stressful. πŸ˜‰

Now if only the Denver Roller Dolls or Rocky Mountain Roller Girls would get back with me.. 

Goal 2 (Finish My Novel) got little more than a few passing thoughts from me this week. I’m quite stuck as I near the end, but I plan to take the week of Christmas off from work (we’ll see if that means I am actually off or just not in the office), and at least one of those days (and probably a few nights) will be spent click-clacking away on my lap top fueled by the fervent hope that someday I’ll get to print my “masterpiece” and finally have completed something tangible. 

And, finally, Goal 3 (Go to Europe in 2015)…You may recall last week I was feeling a bit unsure of this one. Is it the right thing to do? Shoouldn’t I be 100% focused on paying off debt? Can a girl this buried by loans of every variety and trapped on the hamster wheel of working to pay bills instead of working to live my life truly, in good conscience, spend the next 8 months paying off a credit card just to rack up the charges all over again by taking something as frivolous as an international vacation?

  Southern Europe – Suggested Route

 

I’m still waffling. 

But today…today, I think yes. Today, I think I must take this opportunity before it passes me by and is gone forever like so many other missed chances I should have taken. 

My poor husband got to experience one of my random almost-meltdowns over the stress of our debt – brought on, I suspect, by a combination of holiday expenses, a newly replaced dishwasher, a totaled car, the recent loss of a dear friend, some new personal experiences, and a bad work week – and was subjected (and dealt with gracefully) to a rant inspired by my reading on Dave Ramsey’s book. 

God help the man who marry’s a passionate (Aries) woman who reads.  

In fact it’s highly likely that you’ll be seeing another Emo-series post from me sometime this week, but don’t worry – I’ve got a much less self-indulgent DIY piece coming soon as well. πŸ˜‰

 

So another week down, and many miles to go before I sleep. 

Aside

Project Finish Line: The 8 Week Itch

Having gone back over my calendar I find that I am embarking upon week 9 of Operation Finish Line. 

Like any Type A personality, I was hoping to come here today and tell you that I rocked out on yet another amazing week of kicking ass and taking names on my goals but, alas, it is not so. I am, after all, a mere mortal. 

So here’s the somewhat despressing breakdown: 

GOAL 1: Size 8 

With my Three BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) still lying ahead, this past week was a bit less than stellar. I suppose I can call it my 8 Week Itch, since the 7 Year Itch is supposed to be when spouses start falling off the two-man bandwagon of fidelity (did I mention December 5th was my sixth anniversary? Yipes!), because I did indeed fall off the wagon. 

My post-Thanksgiving high of having lost a pound over the holiday week must have made me cocky, because last week I went to the gym only one time, did not follow my nutrition plan (so says the Oreos, cappuccino muffin, hamburger, fries, shot of Jameson, and…well…you get the point), and I traveled and ate out which always translates to disaster for me. I went from 154.2 last week to 154.4 this week. Perhaps .2 lbs gained does not actually qualify as a disaster, per se, but it is definitely NOT progress. 

Today I went and lifted weights, got sweaty, and WILL go back tomorrow for some treadmill time. 


GOAL 2: Finish My Novel

I am so happy to report that I actually made some progress here! Minimal progress, but progress nonetheless. 

I took a few hours on Saturday to hit a Starbucks, pop open my lap top, turn on some tunes, and add another chapter to my book. I’m so close I can finally see the end in sight!

Endings are hard, though, so I’m definitely not winning any speed-writing contests for this one. 

Should I post a chapter or two here? Would anyone care to read and critique?

 

GOAL 3: Go to Europe

I’ve met with a bit of an obstacle here, but as so many quotes tell us, if we really want something we will find a way. If not, we’ll find an excuse. 

I am now the proud owner of a totaled car; I have enough credit card and student loan debt to make me nauseated sometimes; my paycheck isn’t getting any bigger; the holidays are here (which inlcude the birthdays of my newly-adult niece, and a close friend); my mom wants me to come visit for Christmas; we went halvsies to bring my mother-in-law home for Thanksgiving….lots of really great rationalization for continuing to let the money roll in and out without any real idea of where it all goes. 

But live in a world (read: work in a proefession) where all the sound reasons in the world are just excuses wrapped in pretty paper and sparkly bows. 

I hate excuses. So I will find a way.

 

Overall this Progress Post could really bum you (and me!) out, but I have been reminding myself lately that it is important to learn in the face of adversity. After all, we just had a holiday that was all about being grateful.

My mantle gets dressed up for holidays. However, the giant Turkey balloon (which was later used to make Lolly Pop Guild voices at my dogs and scare the crap out of them!) was from my sister-in-law.

And there is no shortage of blessings, luck, good karma, or whatever you choose to call it, in my home. So I am learning from my setbacks and challenges a few things I have forgotten this last year. Things I think are true of us all. 

Things I Forgot to Remember:
1.  I am super talented! 

Sure, there is PLENTY of shit I cannot or should not do (including but not limited to: having kids, keeping plants, going armed into large crowds of holiday shoppers, or anything that involves prolonged periods of patience). But I also have a lot of love and kindness to share, I’m pretty damn funny when the mood strikes me, I am THE BEST at Thanksgiving (yes, all of Thanksgiving. All of it.), I’m smart a reasonable amount of the time, and I can be very motivating. 

Sometimes I forget that for all my shortcomings and character flaws, I still have strengths. What are your strengths and talents? I know you have so many!

 

2. I am valuable and deserve respect. 

I would love to be beautiful and rich, or be some kind of grand innovator or political figure, but I’m just me. I’m one small person in an unfathomably enormous universe, but I am still just as valuable and deserving of respect as are the other people with whom I inhabit this earth. Perhaps I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, social enough, funny enough, polished enough, or whatever…But I’m trying. I’m trying to be a good person, surround myself with positivity, and give love and humor to those around me. So…let’s all remember that we do those things and be nice to each other. 

And ourselves. 

3. Doctor Suess had it right. 

It’s coming up on Christmas, and though I’m not a Christian anymore I still love this holiday. I found myself with no joy this year for ANY of the awesome holidays from October-January, and I realized it was because this time of year magnifies the best and worst in people – the “worst” part being the reason my joy was waning. 

But as Doctor Suess and his tale of Whoville taught us, Christmas is about so much more, and I plan to live that way this year – even if it wierds my family out a little. Or a lot. 

It’s not about the gifts. In fact, I have no wish list (aside from the goals here), and I want for nothing. I simply want to take some time for myself, enjoy falling snow and crackling fires, be thankful for all that I have, and generally just find some peace. I want my family to be happy, and I want to try to find my own source of happiness inside that I seem to have lost this year. 

See? Already all dressed up for Christmas.

 

4. I’m not every going to be everyone’s cup of tea – And that’s okay. 

I get really wrapped up in what certain others think of me. Even strangers can sometimes screw with my mojo. Why? I don’t know. 

Childhood trauma, family alcoholism, being the baby of the family and always wanting attention, being a typical attention-whoring Aries…call it what you likek, but even the most well-intentiond criticisms get me down sometimes. 

But the thing is, that’s okay. Just like I enjoy super strong Earl Grey with milk, lemon, and honey, some folks like it weak and plain. It is what it is, and I have to remember that the individual preferences of others are not necessarily an indictment of me, but simply an expression of individualism. 

 

5. Happiness comes from within. 

Depending on outside stimuli to find happiness truly is a recipe for disaster – or disappointment. If you can’t be happy in your own company, then why would anyone else? I haven’t found that for myself yet, but…I will. 

 

Okay, so maybe a little joy came from machete-ing a pumpkin (below). 

My dad left a machete behind when he died. It came in very handy for Thanksgiving prep when I encountered a particularly difficult pumpkin. Unforeseen side affect: I want to find more stuff to machete whack!

 

So all in all, not as successful a week as I would have hoped for, but I’ve found that I am dedicated to my goals.

I choose to find the way, not the excuse.

With Fingers Bleeding

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to think of myself as a writer. Perhaps a wannabe writer, but a writer of some kind nonetheless. The first thing I remember writing was a story in 2nd grade about a pony (Yeah, I know – ground-breaking stuff.) for which I won first place prize in whatever it was. Then it was a “children’s” book in 6th grade in which both main characters died at the end.

After that I started on a story wherein my friends (and some people who didn’t want to be my friends anymore) and I were in a band together, and once again someone was on the verge of dying. I never did finish it.

In 8th grade I had to do an essay answering the question, “Do you believe in ghosts,” which my mom said gave her goose bumps. (And, no, I’m not dumb enough to think my mom’s opinion is one I can fully trust. She’s obviously biased when it comes to her incredible people-creations.) Then I hit high school and started taking journalism. I won two first place awards in two consecutive years for pieces I wrote on site in the Editorial category.

Today most of my writing is for work or messages between friends, but I’m also in my third or fourth year of trying to write a novel. I should say I’m trying to finish it. That shit is hard, and I hate it when authors write great books and then just crap out at the end ala Hunger Games.

All that to say that I’ve been remiss in writing as regularly as I’d like on this blog, and with as much passion as I have for writing, I’ve been marinating on why I’ve been such a flake. I figured out that it’s because I actually think I might have a reader or two, whom I’d like to keep, and a lot of things I want to write about tend to be a bit broody. I’m a brooder – albeit probably the most bubbly, gregarious brooder on the planet – and who wants to constantly read depressing, deep, dark, or uncomfortable stuff, right? It’s much more fun to read light, funny, quippy pieces that have Joss Whedon-like wise-cracking dialogue.

Even I think so.

But here’s the thing: I started a blog for me. To have a place to come and sit down at my keyboard and bleed. To channel my inner Ernest Hemingway or simply word vomit until I’m temporarily empty again. There’s nothing more enticing to me than a blank page. It’s like life. You start with nothing, you learn some things, and then you make some choices, and then people are there, and things are happening, and conflict arises, struggles occur, and soon you have a story – comedy, tragedy, mystery, fantasy, erotica, news, editorials, human interest pieces, satire, poetry, love letters, hate mail, journals…you start with an empty white space, and you end with pieces of life in print.

I’d imagine any artists feels the same way about their craft, but in place of oil or clay I have paper, pen, keyboard.

And while my craft may seem straightforward, it’s not any easier to interpret than Michelangelo’s David or Monet’s many takes on Water Lilies and Haystacks. My voice, my intent, my tone, my heart, my true story…we writers all face the same challenges as other artists – how do we inject all of our heart into our work in such a way that it touches people?

Perhaps that is why I struggle to write for RPS(LS). I seek to evoke emotion, yet I also seek to create connection, and that’s not as easy a thing to do when I’m not a crowd pleaser by nature. And I’m also an Aries, horns and hard head included, so I won’t become one.

So, my dearest reader(s?), as I said on the beginning of this journey: you’ll get what you get. And you’ll get a lot of it. So forgive my pigheaded stubbornness, forgive my need to bleed from fingers and little black-and-white keys for all the world to see. But challenge yourself to walk away not with my tone and mood as your own, but with your OWN interpretation.

And know that I blog on prom dress shopping with my oldest nieces is likely forthcoming, and thus guarantees at least a few laughs.