Plot Twist – Your Life Dreams Change…

Yesterday morning, I woke up to a rainy foggy July 4th day.  After having family and friends over the day before, I was in no hurry to get out of bed.  A decadent lazy morning where I didn’t have to be anywhere except to pick up my dog from the kennel.  These are mornings I love to read, or scan social media or nap or maybe even daydream.

My thoughts turned to my writing. I haven’t been writing blog posts in the frequency that I once did, mostly because my life is quiet at this time, I’m not dealing with any major issues, I’ve explored all the other things I felt were relevant to share.  There is only so much one can write about their life and its challenges.  Then I thought I should work on my novel which I haven’t touched in a month.

Then I started thinking do I really want to write a novel? It took me ten years to finish my degree but I never quite quit on it.  Life’s challenges had made it more difficult but once I finally got the space and time to finish, I did it.  The one thing I understand about myself is that when I truly want something, I will keep persevering and pursuing until I finally achieve what it is that I want no matter how hard it is.  Which made me think, then if I am not really fired up and writing with all the time I have free now that my college classes have ended two months ago, is it truly something I want to do?

When you have a bit of talent to write, what do people tell you? “You should write a book and get published.” Or something to that extent.  That’s what writers do. Isn’t that the end all be all goal of a writer?  To write that bestselling novel or non-fiction book?  Make a lot of money, get famous, go on book tours, talk shows, and the like.  Sounds glamorous doesn’t it?   I used to think that I wanted that life.  I follow some of my favorite authors on social media and they post what they do during their day, their book tours, their meetings with editors and so on.  They fly here and there, go on cruises with their fans, some spend time in libraries and bookstores doing readings and book signings.  I read their posts and think well that’s nice but have no desire for that kind of life.  A good portion of being a successful writer is marketing your book.  That part bores me to death.

What would happen if I let go of the dream of becoming a best-selling author? The first question I had yesterday was is becoming a best-selling or successful book author really my dream?  I know myself, if it was, I would have pursued it and made it happen or in the process of making it happen.  I would have networked with agents, joined writing groups, writing organizations and attended writing classes or workshops at a higher level.

I used to think that I was afraid of rejection but when I read books, I find myself thinking my writing is as good or better than this writer (my opinion of course!). I’m not some great writer of prose with elegant sentences and flow but reading what is climbing up the New York Times best seller list, a lot of those authors don’t have that rare talent either.  They write what sells, what people enjoy reading.  There are books on formulas on how to write to get published, etc.  That seems to take away some of the joy of writing to me.

Obviously I’m not wanting to write to make money. Sure I wouldn’t turn money down but I write because I love writing.  If I have to write in a very specific way to sell it, then I might as well clock in at 8 a.m. and clock out at 5 p.m. just like any old job.  That’s all it would be.  The creativity and sheer joy of dreaming up an entire complex story complete with characters I bring to life would no longer exist and therefore the reason I write would be gone.  I write for my own enjoyment.  I always have.

I suppose that means that maybe the dream of being a best-selling author isn’t my dream at all. It’s just what a writer is supposed to strive for, what makes sense to everyone else.  Getting published on a large-scale is the benchmark of a good writer except I’ve read plenty of books and thought, ‘How in the hell did they get published?  This is awful’. Publishing is simply a business.  Just like any place you work, it could be who you know or what you are willing to do and bend for to get what you want.  Which is fine.  I am not criticizing it but I am starting to realize, maybe I need to rethink my dream.

When I thought about letting go of the whole publishing a fictional novel idea, I felt a weight come off of my shoulders. This doesn’t mean I may never write a book, just maybe what I am writing isn’t the right thing for me.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of writing my blog especially when I write about something particularly difficult for me and someone comments to be how it helped them or made them feel less alone or it gave them information on how to seek help.  That is way more satisfying than the few times I have become published on a smaller level.  I need to think about this, listen to this aspect.  When you first get published, even on a small-scale, it’s exciting and by the next day, the excitement for me was gone.  I don’t go around bragging that I published in this or that.  Not that I really have anything to brag about.

I don’t feel I have to prove anything to myself or anyone else any more regarding my writing. When I was younger, I used to visualize my bestselling book in the window of a book store, my name as the author in bold print and all the people who ever doubted me, made fun of me or were mean to me would then look at me at wonder and awe.  At forty-six, I really could care less about those people now.  Maybe when you are younger, you feel as if you have to prove to yourself and everyone else you are good enough, better even.  Mid-life, you generally don’t care what people think about you so much.  You know by now that everyone is about the same.  We all have the same general insecurities about ourselves even those people in high school that seemed to have it all together.

So now I need to think outside of the box. What is it I really want to do? Write about?  Write for?  It may come to me now and it may come to me later.  I’m just going to follow my heart and my gut instinct about it all.  I’ve spent way too many years ignoring it and spinning my wheels, wasting time.  That doesn’t apply to just writing but most things in my life that haven’t worked out so well.

It is a relief to just let go of something that must not really matter to me, becoming a best-selling author or at least a well-known author whose book shows up somewhere on one of those lists and bookstore shelves. I didn’t have designs on being the next Nora Roberts or James Patterson, anyway.  Which again, is proof that maybe my dream wasn’t quite right for me.  That’s the cool thing about mid-life, you start stepping back and figuring out what you’ve been doing not for yourself but because you thought you should do it for whatever reason.  You start finding the freedom to just be yourself.  Do what you want.  Do what you love.  Yes, there are still those pesky bills and responsibilities but it is truly like getting a second chance or second act.   You just may have to go about your dreams in a less traditional route.  Or find you have new dreams.  It’s actually quite exciting.

Getting older doesn’t automatically mean you have to give up and not enjoy your life. Wear polyester pants with elastic waistbands in pastel colors with a matching jacket (unless you love this look) and letting your hair go grey as you rock out your last years on the front porch or recliner watching The Price is Right.  Because your kids have grown doesn’t mean your life is over either.  It’s a bit of a shock at first when your life quiets suddenly but you will find your happiness and a new type of relationship with your children. I had a bit of an adjustment period that was not enjoyable at all.  Now, I love my girls being older.  We hang out and do things together.  It’s a lot less pressure for me because I don’t have to monitor every move they make.  They’re adults now.  It’s freeing for me.

I don’t know what my next step will be when it comes to my writing but whatever it is, I am going to make sure it is something I truly want and love. No more “should do”.  I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me.  Maybe something that encompasses my love of traveling locally, hiking and biking.  That is definitely something I love, I could easily incorporate my writing into maybe narrating and providing information on the places I discover and love. I love adventures.

Till next time and thank you for reading my blog! Hugs!

 

Smart Phone Zombie

Hi I’m Laura and I’m a Smart Phone Zombie.  

The other night, my husband and I went out for a casual dinner five minutes from our home.  Two minutes into the five-minute drive, I impulsively reached for my iPhone only to find the pocket in my purse empty.  A moment of panic hit me until I remembered I had been charging the phone on my bedside table.  The phone wasn’t lost but I felt as if had left my arm at home.  A limb was missing.  Once my heart rate and breathing returned to normal, I thought that is a ridiculous response to something I had once not even owned.

There was life before cellphones, I remember it.  Where people left you messages on a machine that took tiny cassette tapes.  The internet was something in the future and not the lifeline it has become.  So I took a deep breath and thought it’s only for an hour.  Dinner with my husband without my face in my phone was relaxing.  I wasn’t trying to split my attention between him and the cute cat videos were on Facebook.  After dinner, we got ice cream and took a drive out in the country as the sun was starting to set into a perfect summer night.  Since we bought a house eight miles outside of town, we like to drive out to see it, oh about every night.  As if stalking the place will convince the current residents to get the hell out so we can move in earlier than Labor Day weekend.  But mostly because we are trying to make the transition real in our minds and well, we like looking at our future abode.

I opened the car window and let the warm air rush in over me.  Closing my eyes, I could determine the different crops in the fields by the smells as we drove past.  Hay, corn, soybeans.  Spending my earliest years on my paternal grandparents farm in Bumfuk, Missouri, schooled me in the smells of the country.  Cows, chickens, hogs.  These are the reminders of the best memories of my childhood.  Running free over all those acres with my cousins was always a grand adventure in otherwise tedious growing up years with an alcoholic parent.  I had been missing this on all our other drives.  Because I had my head down and my mouth gaping open like a zombie.  Uuuuggrrrhhh…  That’s probably how I sounded to my husband when he’d talk to me or ask me a question to get my attention.

So the next day, I put my phone in a drawer and left it there several hours.  It’s an addiction, much like cigarettes, I found myself wanting to go into the bedroom and retrieve it.  Like for a smoker and you just ate a satisfying meal, but you are craving that nicotine with a vengeance.  As a former smoker, I know what this is like.  You are a slave to an object.  Cigarettes I finally quit.  Now I have to find a way to live with my smart phone as well as my tablet as I can’t completely give them up like smokes.  Tonight my phone has been in the drawer so far for 2.5 hours (who’s counting?) as I’m on mandated hiatus until bedtime around ten p.m.  I keep wanting to go open the drawer and peek at the screen like an anxious kid waiting for homemade chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven.  It’s pathetic how addicted I am.

I am writing this post on my tablet but I am only allowed to open my WordPress app.  I have to ignore the numbers by my text message balloon icon and my mail.  Whatever is in there, has to wait. No peeking at Facebook either.  I have to admit it is really hard.  It only takes two clicks to cheat.  The other day I was watching a movie my cousin suggested called Local Color about a young artist who mentors with an older Russian artist.  There is a scene in the movie where the young man is painting outside, plein air, and the neighbor woman comments on his painting.  He remarks that he isn’t living up to his potential.  For some reason this statement has stuck with me.  I’m always focused on goals but not really my potential which maybe is part of my problem.  Was I living up to my potential?  No.

One of my passions is writing but outside of this blog, a few articles and stories published, at forty-five I haven’t truly applied myself.  I’ve finished one novel rough draft but can’t stand to go back to edit as the story drags too much.  I’m on my fifth or sixth rewrite of my current novel.  In my mind unless I have perfect conditions to write or maybe I have too much going on, I really don’t write much or pursue my potential.  My smart phone addiction has a lot to do with this.  It distracts me from being productive in so many ways.  My addiction is also a good distraction from working toward my goal of publishing a book, exercising, finishing that home project and the list goes on and on.

We only have so much time in this world.  I realize that I waste a lot of my precious life to my addiction.  After that phone-free drive the other night, I realized I was actually calmer and happier.  While it is important that I am available if my daughters or husband need me, I don’t need to be a slave to the electronic brick.  It’s past time to put that down and get back in the game.  I hope I can find a happy medium of having my phone and not missing out on life or not pursing my passions in life, developing my potential.  I’ll post an update soon…  

There’s a blue moon tonight.  Smart Phone Zombie Out.

Setting Some Goals – Getting Focused

With my 45th birthday today, I’ve been in a self-reflective mood all week.  Before, birthdays were fun occasions to celebrate and have cake or dinner out and get a few presents.  When you’re a kid or under forty, birthdays are different than they are once you cross the 40 threshold.  They start becoming reasons to start reflecting on your life, what you have accomplished, what you haven’t accomplished, what you might want to accomplish.  At least for me, but I noticed a trend in my friends thinking this way as well.  You have to face the fact that your life is likely to be half over or right at that point.  It starts to feel like you really need to get serious about what you want out of life, your goals and your dreams.

Most likely you have had to deal with the failing health of a grandparent or parent, maybe even losing them.  For me, I no longer have parents or grandparents.  Actually, this is my first birthday without my mom here to celebrate it with.  Seems odd that the person who gave birth to you will no longer be part of your birthday.  Takes away some of the joy of the day.  Personally, I’m not looking forward to my birthday just for that reason alone.  I’m not particularly one to freak out about getting older or that hides my age.  Most people guess me younger, some days I feel older, it all ebbs and flows as moods do.  Some days I look in the mirror and think hey, I don’t look bad.  Other days, I look into the mirror and think OMG a truck ran me over, I look like hell even though I probably don’t look any different than the day before when I felt good about myself.

But that aside, in my reflection I realized that I have a tendency to go through the motions and not really think about goals in my life.  Honestly, for the most part, I’m pretty content in my life so maybe I don’t set goals because there isn’t anything pressing.  I don’t hate my job and feel I need a new one (okay there are days when I do but not many).  I like my house and we’ve long decided that moving into a new house with a payment four times what ours is today isn’t our best financial move.  I am happy in my marriage, it took two strikes but I finally hit a home run.  My kids are doing well and don’t need me every second of the day.  And my role as caretaker has been unnecessary for about a year.  Outside of my cycling goal last year which I didn’t take seriously until early July, that has been the first time in years I’ve focused on accomplishing something that I had really put forth.  And for the first few months I just vaguely paid attention to the goal.  Actually, I’m not very good at focusing on things for myself as a rule.  Having kids, getting married and taking care of parents, you forget how to focus on something for yourself.

When you are younger, all you do is think about yourself.  What you like, don’t like, what pisses you off, what makes you happy.  Almost everything revolves around you.  Then you have a family, become an adult and it seems to go the complete opposite way, or it did for me.  If someone asked me what I liked, I couldn’t honestly say.  But I could tell you what my kids liked.  I think it’s a normal progression of life.  So now I’m back to the point where I can focus on myself and my life more fully.  So what do I want?

1.  Focus on my writing and take it more seriously.  I have a tendency to brush it off and put it aside.  I’m never going t get published on a larger scale if I don’t start focusing on my passion.  It may not be a job and I may not get famous and make a lot of money but it is important to me.  Every time I think about what do I want out of life, I want to be a writer.  I want to write the great American Love story but modern and realistic.  Not this fluffy crap that isn’t real.  Where the hero is a rich supermodel looking man and the heroine is helpless and needs him to save her (rolling eyes as I even type that).  I want to write something that could actually happen to any of us normal folks.

2. Eat better, lose weight – so I can ride faster and longer and do more things in life.  I have the exercise portion of it down though winter is tough.  But I eat too much sugar and too much crap.  Cut the crap.  Simple enough.  I want to be fit and strong.  I don’t care what I weigh really or what size I am, just as long as I’m healthy and in great shape.  The only reason I want to lose weight is because being lighter on my bike means I can up my average speeds and probably my distances.

3. Cycling goals.  I’ve covered this in another post.  1500 miles + for the season and ride a couple of events.  Metric century possibly.

4. Don’t be afraid to focus on myself.  Not that I become a selfish B but not be afraid to do what makes me happy either.

5. Love even more.  My friends, my family, my husband, perfect strangers, pets, life.  Pretty self-explanatory.

I always stop at ‘5’ as it seems that if I go past that number, I overwhelm myself.  I liked having the cycling goal last year.  I loved pushing myself toward something.  It had been so long since I had challenged myself to do anything.  I’ve already made a list of places and trails I want to hike and maybe that should part of my cycling goal, revise it to say fitness or something.  Goals are a bit exciting because they direct your focus, they give you something to work toward and accomplishing them feels great.  I like to break my goals down into smaller steps/goals.  Then I have little accomplishments along the way.  Because it really is about the journey not just the destination.