What Holds You Back?

The excuses are abundant . . .
no time
no money
I’m blocked
no ideas.

But they are  just excuses.

What really holds you back from achieving your dreams? From changing your life?

I’ve been  thinking a lot about this question, and have come to the conclusion that there is only one thing holding me back.

The Culprit

The Culprit

At 4am

At 4 am
Darkness is
inevitable.

Not the literal darkness
of a world at rest–
for that is hard to find
as the lights of technology
bleed through
a constant reminder
of human vs. world.

This is the darkness
that leaks out of nightmare
where painful reality
joins forces
with the creatures who hide inside
gnawing at sensitive spots
until your mind screams wake up
or stay in a land filled with
creeping mists
oozing their chill
across the floor
while doomed faces
threaten you
with the failures
of your own mind
and the reality of a world
which prides greed and cruelty
over community
We all pay the price
When we wake into
the inevitable darkness of doubt.

Post-Partum Blues: Giving Birth to a Novel

Tweeting the birth of a novel

I tweeted that this morning.

I announced it on Facebook as well. I received a lot of likes, and suggestions for how I should celebrate (many of which included alcohol and/or a massage). One of my friends wrote, “Congrats! How long did it take (don’t say ‘my whole life’)? Do something nice for an old person, to please the gods.”

ME: I won’t say my whole life. The idea for this story has been years in the making, but I officially started working on it in March 2012.

HIM: Excellent, lots of wonderful things gestate in about nine months! I sometimes think it never gets better than this very moment, the afterglow of the first draft. Bathe in it like I know you will!

ME: LOL, I didn’t even connect that it was nine months, but I on twitter I said, “My novel is born.” 😛

However instead of bathing in the joy of the completed draft, I seem to be wallowing in the doubt-filled craziness of what happens next.

When I brought the infant Sarah home, I remember looking at her and thinking, “what do I do now?” She was so tiny, I thought she’d break. I didn’t have that instant bonding moment that some mother’s claim. I mean, sure I thought she was a precious miracle, but  falling in love with her took a while. Struggles with breastfeeding that led to me pumping milk every two hours, so she could be bottle fed with mother’s milk until she was able to get enough the natural way,  made me feel more like a cow than a mother. Nathan was better at diapering and bathing her, because he’d had experience with his sister who is 13 years younger than him. I thought I was on my way to being the world’s worst mother.

Sarah_1

I felt lost in the confusion of what happens next. What do you do to give this tiny creature a healthy, loving, wonderful life? Sometimes I still ask that question, whenever I face a difficult moment of parenting or one of the new challenges come along as she gets older, smarter, and more and more independent.

But, the thing is, even with the doubts and fears that come with parenting, I know that she will go out in the world. She will be recognized for everything that makes her special–her intelligence, her kindness, her beauty, her creativity. She will, someday, become someone in her own right, and go on to do amazing things.

Close up of Sarah

When you give birth to a book, what happens next?

I have to finish the course that was associated with the beginning off this novel. My final assignment asks me to:

  • fill out a publisher (or agent) choice form
  • write a cover and a query letter
  • write a synopsis
  • My instructor also requested I send him the next chapter.

Basically, I will have created a complete submission packet, and will get feedback from someone whose been there, done that.

After that, I’ll need to edit and really make sure the manuscript is as strong as it can be before I send it out into the big, bad world.

I’m terrified. Since I’m still not 100% sure what genre this book is (although I’m pretty sure it is a New Adult novel) I don’t even know where to start looking for publishers. I’m waiting on the newest book of publishers provided by the school, in the hopes that it might contain listings for those who are embracing the New Adult genre.

Or, should I look for an agent instead? Somehow that feels right, but how do I know for sure? How do I find the person who will be willing to work with me?

Is my written child strong enough to be sent out into the dark, scary, competitive world out there?

I always get that what next sensation after finishing a project. I just wish I was better at celebrating first.

How do you feel when you’ve completed a project? What do you do to celebrate a job well done?

Learning to Love Yourself

I just found out that someone here really does not like me, and has warned her daughter to stay away from me.

I’ve never had this happen before. I mean, I’m sure people have not liked me, but I’ve never had children warned away from me.

Ever.

I think it comes from a moment last summer when I was walking the dogs with Sarah and this girl. They asked if they could hold the leashes and I let them. Then someone stopped to discuss something with me, and the girls got too far ahead. Some smaller dogs came out, my dogs got away, and chaos ensued.

So now, it seems, my dogs have been labeled as bad dogs and I am a bad, untrustworthy parent.

I know I made a mistake, but it was an accident. Or am I supposed to be perfect all the time?

Anyone who meets my dogs would know that they are sweet, gentle souls. They just have power and like chasing little critters. In other words, they are dogs.

Smiling puppies.

But this isn’t about my dogs. It’s about me.

I don’t like being disliked. It leads me down a dark path. I start searching for what I did wrong. I start blaming myself. I start disliking myself, because of course it must be my fault.

Even though I know that sometimes people simply do not connect, for reasons beyond understanding. In the same way, I know that sometimes the opposite can happen, when you meet someone and feel an instant connection with that person. Friendship forms in a few moments of time.

That just happened this past weekend too.

Kimberly, Harper and Sarah. New friendships formed in the car and in the pool.

Why can’t I focus on that rather than on the negative relationships? I think it stems from the insecurity I’ve faced all my life, when I’ve always felt like I was on the fringe of groups, never truly belonging. It stems from my struggle to not worry about how others view me. It stems from my inability to truly love myself.

I recognize that as a problem that I am slowly changing. It is not easy, but I will succeed.

Call me corny but today I need a little positive message from Whitney Houston (RIP).

My Fatal Flaw

I think too much!

Thinking is getting in my way of accomplishing anything.

Why is this a fatal flaw? Because my thinking gets in the way of my doing.

Every day I read another story that makes me think, “Why is this world so insane?” This morning I started crying after reading a story about Trayvon Martin, shot and killed by someone who has not been charged, even though it sounds suspicious and like racial profiling.

“Why is our world filled with so much hate?” I thought. But, my thinking led me nowhere.

Every day I hear about more of the craziness of this upcoming election and the War on Women and the possibility of war with Iran and so on . . . and my head begins to spin with all the thoughts in it.

I can’t silence the thoughts.

The more thoughts that creep into my head, the less capable I seem to be about getting anything written or doing anything. I just sit and think, and think some more.

Today, in a feeble attempt to get out of my head, I went for a walk, carrying my weights in my hands for extra exercise. That helped, as I did some arm work walking down the street and counted in my head, only alert for cars coming so I didn’t look like a complete fool. You can’t think when you are counting and trying to avoid embarrassment.

Tired of that, I put my weights in my bag and kept walking, trying to focus on my steps and the conversations of the birds around me.

A car pulled into a driveway in front of me. It looked like my friend Jackie’s car, so of course my thoughts wandered to missing her and wondering how to make new friends here. As I approached the driveway, I noticed men in suits walking back to the car. These were older men, probably in their 50s or 60s. One of them approached me and offered me an invitation to a “celebration of Jesus’ death” including a nicely printed pamphlet.

Yes folks, the Jehovah’s Witnesses managed to find me even when I wasn’t home.

This, of course, led me to thinking about how so many of the problems of the world come from religion. They come from the desire for people to THINK that somehow we are special, unique, designed by a higher power to fulfill a specific purpose, one that makes us superior to everything else on earth.

As I was thinking these deep thoughts, a gray creature crossed the road in front of me. I stopped and tried to quickly and quietly pull my camera out so I could get a picture. The creature turned its face toward me, saw me in the distance, and casually walked away before I had my camera fully out.

I think it was a gray fox.

Urocyon cinereoargenteus, Panama English: Gray fox

Urocyon cinereoargenteus, Panama English: Gray fox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I walked up to where the animal had been, hoping to see some evidence and be able to get a picture. Nothing. As I turned away, my friends the JW’s pulled into the driveway near me.

“Is this your house?” They asked.

“No, I was just trying to get a picture of something I saw. I’m not sure what it was.”

“I had to buy a camera because we saw a turkey vulture,” the driver said. “How often do you get to see one of those?”

We talked for a few more minutes about seeing animals in nature, and the fact that this mysterious creature was heading over the ridge toward this man’s house. We did not discuss Jesus.

“Don’t get eaten,” I joked as I wandered along my merry way.

As I continued to walk, with my camera out and ready for anything I might see, I realized that for a moment I wished I were that fox, or one of the birds that seemed to be having delightful conversations all around me. They weren’t worried about women’s rights or religion or racism. They didn’t think about whether or not they were successful, or were talented enough to write a book, or would ever feel like they were achieving their goals.

The fox’s life is simple, I thought. Eat, drink, find places to be safe. Kill or be killed. Lie in the sun, or curl up in a warm den. They don’t have to think all the time.

The birds’ goals were simple, to live each moment, to enjoy the gorgeous day, to find food and/or a mate, and perhaps to sing their lovely songs.

I came back, hoping I had found a sense of peace, a place where thinking did not interfere. But then I began catching up on some reading for this writing course I am taking. And of course, the inevitable happened: my thinking brain and inner critic started saying wicked things like, “You will never be a writer. You could never be as good as this person. This is all just a waste of time.

See, I told you, I think too much.

Maybe I need to stop thinking and go watch some more birds.

Warning of Self-Defeat, 100 Word Challenge

Since I am behind on posting, reading, commenting and everything blog related, I’m “killing two birds with one stone” to give you an update in the form of the Hundred Word Challenge. Please forgive me for going the personal route this time. 

The alarm went off in my head this morning, as I faced the coming day. Not the real alarm, but the internal one that warns me of the potential for defeating myself before I’ve even begun. Today is the first day of this new life, where Sarah is at school, Nathan is at work, and I am creating my own path, carving a career out nothing and everything. The questions hover in my mind. Where do I begin? Do I have what it takes? Will I create my dream? Only time will tell, but first I must heed the alarm and believe in myself.

Struggles in a Storm

Kaboom!

The thunderstorms started early this morning putting an end to my already disturbed slumber filled with dreams of burning houses and a search for something.

Now, don’t get too interpret-y here. The burning house actually makes a lot of sense for a change, as I learned yesterday morning that the rental house we were planning on moving into at the end of the summer caught fire yesterday and there isn’t much left. Luckily we hadn’t started moving anything in and nobody was there to get hurt. I’m taking it as a sign of things NOT meant to be.

Anyway, back to the storm. Now the rain pours down in an unremitting deluge.  A perfect day to read, write and watch movies. That is, if my brain would leave me alone.

You see, I’m back in the land of doubt. I don’t want to be here, but I find myself here anyway. It stems from being in a place where I feel unwanted. It stems from some of the personal struggles I’ve alluded to but haven’t written about. It stems from not knowing what my next project is, and not feeling creative enough to develop one. It stems from my constant concern of what others think of me, rather than my belief in myself and my own abilities. It stems from fear of the unknown, even though deep down I know there is nothing to fear.

I want the rain to wash me clean of fear. I want the rain to nurture me with a rejuvenating bath of inspiration and peace.

But for now all I feel is wet and lonely.

I hope the storm ends soon in more ways than one.

The current view from my cabin window. Rain, rain, dreary rain.

Ode to Insomnia

In the wee small hours of the morning
eyes heavily yearn
for a dreamless sleep

but . . .

a cacophony of voices
argue in the non-silence
of an exhausted mind
awakened by

disturbing visions
of fearful escapes
from menacing fights
full of sharpness, blood and gore
and another dream of escape
through fast-moving water

down

                        crashing

                                         water

                                                       falls.

Spinning tales of fear and worry
making it impossible
for me to return to sleep.

It never fails
a day full of new challenges
and responsibilities
follows a night

of doubts

of fears

of sadness

of despair.

Oh sleep!
I beg of you
please enter softly
whispering words of gentleness
and ease.
Cleanse me
with the rest I need

to face another day.

Photo by Steve Kramer. We all took this little ride.

Battling Boggarts Part II

Riddikulus!” I yell at the form that hovered by me yesterday, but the spell did not work. Why? Because this time the boggart took the shape of myself.

Before I explain, I would like to refer you back to my original Battling Boggarts where I took on a few of the things that torture me and changed them with a flick of my wrist.

But how do you do that, when your biggest enemy is yourself?

As you know, I flew to Seattle yesterday. This is partially a mini-vacation for myself, but the pretense to get me here was to attend a conference called One Theatre World organized by TYA/USA the American branch of a larger international organization. This is the world that I am supposed to belong to. This is the world that my degrees and my passion for theater and its power as an educational and social tool is supposed to be part of my community.

Why don’t I feel like I belong?

The first people I ran into were some of my mentors. They both run companies that I studied and included in my dissertation. I admire both of them for their work and their passion.

When they asked me where I am and what I am doing, I stuttered like a fool. I blushed to say “I’m in Kansas” (remember, many of the locals ask, “how did you END UP here?”) I couldn’t claim my work with pride and confidence.

Why can’t I ? Why am I so hard on myself.

I want to flick the wand at my self doubts and my fears and turn them into something else.

I want my face to be on this woman

Image from Allsorts 2005

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