Tag Archives: goals

28 Day Jumpstart ( Day 8)

fit girls

About a week and a half ago, I was messing around on Instagram (Sometimes I find myself scrounging around there when all the good stuff on Facebook has been exhausted) and somehow or another, I stumbled upon an entry about the Fitgirlsguide plan. Maybe I had seen it before, I don’t know. But on this particular day, I must have been especially bored, because I started searching all the tags for this program, and it must have been early in the morning, because after very little thought, I purchased the “starter kit” plan, the 28 day jumpstart. I generally only impulse buy very early in the morning, or, on rare occasions, late at night. Anyway, if you are curious about it, you can check it out here:

fitgirlsguide 28 day jumpstart

I downloaded the e-book, read through it, and thought “Hmm…I might actually be able to do this.” The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was something that would really help me- and trust me, my own best efforts were falling a little bit short- lose some of the weight I was so bummed out about carrying around. So, last Sunday, I went to the grocery store with my little grocery list (included with the plan) and I bought all the suggested items. I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of cheap “tupperware” (it’s early, I can’t think of another description except “plastic food container thingies”), and that night, I actually prepped my food.

Now, here I sit, a week later, and I want to tell you a little not-really-a-secret secret: It was actually pretty easy. And I lost a little over four pounds. In a week. Did I mention it was easy? I’m not sure how much about the plan I can actually reveal, as it IS a pay for the info kind of thing, but here is what it consists of- a healthy, yummy, easy to prepare, weekly menu. The aforementioned grocery lists. Daily home (no gym required) exercises. And lots of sound advice about attitude, drinking water, loving yourself, and having fun while changing your lifestyle, rather than viewing it as a horrible consequence of enjoying food.

Here is what I have learned in the past week:

  • I eat a LOT more often than I am hungry, just because there is food available. I snatch bites from my kids plates because it looks yummy, or finish their food because it’s there. I sample whatever is on the counter in the kitchen at work brought in to share. I eat when I am bored. I eat when people I am visiting with are eating. I eat because food tastes good and it is there. I was eating WAY more than I realized before.
  • It doesn’t take as long as I thought to prepare healthy meals for myself. As a matter of fact, if you have all of the ingredients on hand, it’s cheaper, faster, and leaves you feeling MUCH better than running to McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger.
  • I DO feel like an idiot working out on my living room floor, but much less so on day seven than I did on day one. And there is something very gratifying about knowing you are doing something about your weight, no matter how stupid you feel.
  • Not only was I eating much more than I realized, but my eating choices- even when I thought they were good- were much worse than I realized. I wasn’t eating the correct portions, and was allowing myself WAY too many extras. Hence, the reason I wasn’t losing weight the way I thought I should be.

Having said all of that, I will tell you a couple of other things that happened last week. One of them is that I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly- the first three days I was perfect with the food, but on day three, I was supposed to meal prep again, and I just didn’t want to. So, instead, I prepared either the exact meal, or a variation of that meal each day.  I made the shocking discovery that a sandwich can be absolutely fantastic without mayo! Who knew that? Not me. A little whole wheat pita with mashed avocado and turkey, onion and tomato? On POINT. So delicious.

I stayed with the basic ingredients I had purchased, I stayed within the basic portions recommended, I continued to track my calories on Myfitnesspal, and I did the exercises, every single day. Most days, I even did extra. And the results have been fantastic!

The only thing I found I could not, would not, did not want to do was this: I am not giving up the cream and sugar in my coffee. I tried it for one day, and all I can say is- Fuck that. No. So I compromised by drastically cutting back on coffee, adding only two tablespoons of fat free half and half per cup, and one tiny teaspoon of brown sugar. Because, lets be real here- I’m trying to be healthy, happy, and lose weight. Giving up my yummy coffee would not make me a happy girl.

So, that’s the scoop! The plan costs only about 25 bucks, and the groceries (for one person) have cost me about 70 dollars a week. This is a GREAT program for anyone who needs a little structure, and who is just learning about eating healthy, correct, portions and proper exercise circuits. I have learned more for this 25 bucks than I have learned in six months (and way, way more money) from my personal trainer at InShape. He and I are going to have a few words tonight!

Check it out, kids! I will post again about this next Monday. Have a great week!

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Almost Half-Way Check In ( 40 Things in my 40th Year Update)

So, I sat down this morning to check out my progress on the whole “40 things in my 40th year” list…and discovered, much to my horror, that A) I haven’t written a blog in TWO MONTHS?! I knew it had been a while, but not two months! That is really, really bad. I don’t even have an excuse. I just haven’t been writing. Lame. B) That October is five months since my birthday, which means almost HALF my year is gone! Holy Shit! Where the hell does time go? and C), worst of all…I haven’t done nearly as much from the list as I thought I had.

There is some good news though! I have actually accomplished a few of the things on my list, and several more are on the horizon. Let’s run through the list real quick like, shall we? Okay, here goes:

1.) Stop being so lazy: I think I may have actually overcome this life long demon of mine. Look, I will never be the most clean, neatest of the neat, girl on the planet. That just isn’t who I am. But I have made some real strides. I also got a roommate who does dishes, so this helps. But my overall laziness does seem to have improved, judging by the way I seem to run my ass off from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I collapse into bed every night, anyway.

2.) Makeover, as in, get one: I can’t decide if I did this or not. Technically, I did not get a makeover. I did, however, have some extremely awesome pictures of me taken that make it LOOK as if I did have a makeover, so I feel as if I satisfied that requirement. If the opportunity comes up for me to have a real makeover, I will jump on it. If it does not, I am not going to worry about it.

3.) Essay published in the Sun: This one would be so much easier to accomplish if I were actually writing. Which I am, right now, obviously, but this is the first time in a good, sad, while.

4.) Mud Run: I am doing this next weekend. I am so excited! If you have a second, check it out- it’s called the “MS Muck Fest” and it is a huge, muddy, fun obstacle course! Yay!

5.) Meet Justin:  Don’t get me wrong, I still would love to meet Justin…and his lovely new girlfriend, LOL. And I would LOVE to go to Canada. But this has fallen lower on my priority list. You know how it goes.

6.) Get a literary agent:  Sigh…again, I am so removed from my writing right now. I have had so much work to do in other areas, but I need to make time for this. It’s what feeds my soul.

7.) Go to a literary convention: I’m sensing a theme, here.

8.) Visit Glass Beach in Ft. Bragg: I actually  did this one! Can I just tell you something? That beach is TINY. The glass is incredible, but the beach is the size of a large-ish living room, and it is FULL of people. I didn’t find one memorable piece of glass there, sadly enough. I would still go back, but definitely NOT on a weekend. 🙂 Done, and DONE.

9.) Alcatraz:, 10.) Dance Lessons, 11.) Passport: Not Yet, Nope, and NO.

12.) Finish all Twelve Steps: I am still on step one. But I am working on it!

13.) Foodie Event, 14.) proposal for non-fiction book, 15.) hypnotism, 16.) writing class, 17.) jewelry class, 18.) hike soberanes, 19.) surf, and 20.) Hot springs : Nope, not even close, still possible, no, looked into it, but class was full, totally going to happen, not yet, and totally forgot about this, respectively.

21.) Camping, 22.) quilting: No to camping, and it doesn’t look too good at this point. And quilting? Hey, that is still possible!

23.) Leave California Twice, preferably from different directions: Well, I am going to Hawaii next month, so that is one. I just need to squeeze in one more trip, which shouldn’t be too hard!  Maybe I will finally make it to Oregon to see my buddy Brian.

24.) Ferry Ride: How hard could this be? If I can’t get this done in the next seven months, I am truly hopeless.

25.) Attend a live sporting event: I don’t even know why I added this one to the list. I don’t care about sports at all…although, honestly? I wish I did.

26.) Meditation: I have improved leaps and bounds in this one. I am so comfortable with meditation now, and can see the difference in my life when I am doing it consistently. However, this being a “practice”, not sure how I can ever complete it. Lets say my goal, while ongoing, has been a success!

27:) Treat my body kindly: Well…tomorrow, I will have not smoked a cigarette in 100 days! And I am watching what I eat, and I hired a personal trainer. I meet with him weekly, and hit the gym 4-5 times a week. I am weight lifting, and doing something active almost every single day. So, yes, while I have a ways to go, still, I am definitely doing what I set out to do here. Mission accomplished!

28.) Going outside in inside clothes: I have tried, I really have. But I am not going to lie…I am that girl. I will go to Save Mart in the clothes I slept in if I am out of coffee mate. I just don’t see what the big deal is. Sorry, Holly. 😦

29.) Go to Gilroy Gardens: Okay, so I totally did this, AND I bought season passes, thinking I would be saving big. The only problem is, I only went once. I Still have a month left on my passes, but next year? Yeah, I’ll just pay as I go (if I do…it really is pretty great, though. And beautiful!)

30.) Halloween Tour at Point Sur Lighthouse: I forgot that I wanted to do this, and I am going to look into it right now! So excited!

31.) Five Museums:  This is still going to happen.

32.) Write EVERY DAY: OKAY, ALREADY. Listen, it is just stupid that I am not doing this. I really can’t get around it. The remainder of this year, my writing will be first and foremost. It may not all be occurring here, but it will be occurring, this I swear.

33.) Connect with family: This is a funny goal, not very specific. I will tell you this- the work I have been doing on myself has allowed me to make great strides in my relationships with the people closest to me. Especially my mother and my older daughter. I am experiencing much less friction in my relationships with the people who know and love me most, and that is huge. Perhaps now the circle can begin to widen.

34.) Kindness, Empathy, Non-judgement:  I am getting better. This will be a life long effort. I am good with that.

35.) Garden: There is still time. I didn’t hit it last spring, but I can do it next one…and I will!

36.) Make my Home look Inviting and Good:  I would say that, yes, this has happened. Did I mention I got a roommate who does dishes? She’s amazing! The house looks great!

38.) Have a party!: This happened. Last weekend. And it was a HUGE success, if I do say so myself. I had at least 30 people here, not counting kids. It was a blast. 🙂

39.) Learn to BBQ: I am beginning to lose hope, you guys. I mean, I am a native Californian, who lives by the beach, no less, and not only do I not know how to BBQ, I don’t even own a grill. I feel like my card is going to be revoked.

40.) Say Yes More: I am not sure in what way I meant this when I wrote it originally. But knowing me, I meant saying YES to life, and to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Saying yes to vitality and joy. Yes, Yes, Yes! And you know what? I think this has been a wonderful year for all of those things so far.

So, this is where I am so far. I hope to keep plowing through. I hope that I can mark them all off…but even if I can’t? Hey, at least I am working towards a life filled with great experiences. At least my mind is working on some goals.  And knowing where I am now, I can really fine tune and focus on what is ahead!

I hope to see myself here much, much sooner…it’s been too long! Have a wonderful Sunday

Who The Hell Are You, And Why Have You Come Here?!

Me and the daughters in question.
Me and the daughters in question.

A little while back, I signed up to do the blogging 101 thing through WordPress, which is kinda weird, I know, considering I have been blogging for a pretty long time now.  The thing is, I just sort of jumped into it blindly (the way I do most things) and thought I would figure it out as I go…and I have, pretty much. But…you know…my following could be better (maybe my WRITING could be better, I don’t know) my stats could be better. I could be more consistent. Anyway, I wanted to see what I had missed and what I could do better, and maybe connect with some other bloggers.

Of course, my life picked the day that the assignments began to sort of go off the tracks. So I have decided not to let that deter me. I am going to try to catch up with the three or so assignments I have missed, and carry on. Writing in hugely important to me, and I need to make time for it (in all its wonderful forms) in my life the way I do everything else. Okay? Okay. Here goes:

My name is Courtney, and I am a single mother of two kids (thirteen years apart), both of them beautiful girls. One a teeny little thing, the other a young woman, now. I often write about my kids. I am also in (and sometimes out) of recovery, as in, twelve step, have a sponsor, know a lot about drugs…yeah, that kind of recovery. I don’t repo cars for a living, not that kind of recovery. I write about that quite a bit. I am a big dreamer and a deep (some might say over) thinker, and lots of times I write about my hopes and dreams for the future, or just my feelings. I have a big, sick sense of humor, and sometimes I am funny.

My blog is not super focused on one subject, and that is something I am trying to decide if I want to change or not…part of me likes it as it is, and thinks maybe I should start a separate blog that has a theme, (i.e. parenting in recovery, or something like that), part of me thinks I barely have time for this blog, so maybe adding a whole new thing is not such a good idea. I don’t know.  The jury is still out.

I am hoping to connect with other writers like myself- people who view parenting (and life) with humor. People in recovery who are so grateful for their lives. People who believe in the power of setting goals and having dreams. People who write about all of that stuff. 🙂

Well, I have to go to my real job now. Expect several more (extremely short) blogs such as this from me in the very near future. I am committed! Have a beautiful day.

The Other 20!

Life-is-pure-adventure

Good morning! I am back with the other twenty things I feel compelled to accomplish while the age of 40. It occurs to me that this would have been an easier task had I started at 20 rather than 40, but then I may not have as many things to put on my list, right? As it stands, the ideas are coming at me so fast now that twenty more seems rather paltry. However, I have to keep in mind that most of the things on my list are going to take time and planning- marking them all off my list is going to take a lot of (fun) work!

I’m just going to jump right in! Here goes:

21) go on a camping trip that doesn’t totally suck. We’ll see if this is even possible.

22) learn how to make a quilt

23) leave the state of California at least twice, preferably in a different direction each time.

24) ride a ferry to an island

25) attend a live sporting event.

26) really fine tune my meditation practice

27) treat my body as kindly as it has treated me all these years.

28) never go to a public place in private clothes (ie, pajamas), not even once (this one is for Holly Nutt. LOL)

29) Go to Gilroy Gardens ( writing Holly’s name made me think of this one)

30) Do the Halloween tour at the Big Sur Lighthouse!

31) Visit no less than five museums

32) Write every single day for no less than 30 minutes.

33) Make a solid effort to connect more with my family, the ones who DON’T live with me.

34) Practice kindness, empathy, and non-judgement every single day.

35) Plant a garden in my huge, awesome, back yard.

36) Do my very best to make my home feel inviting and look good

37) Get rid of the clothes that do not fit me.

38) Have at least one party- this is a total phobia of mine, and it is HIGH TIME I get over it

39) Buy, and learn to use, a barbecue. You are 40, for the love of God.

40.) Say yes as often as I can- I am not getting any younger!

Oh my gosh, I am just so excited about the direction my life is going. I will definitely be keeping you all posted on where I am at with my list. Wish me luck. The clock is ticking!

Have a beautiful, wonderful, exciting, lovely day. 🙂

40 Things for 40 Years

Jack-Kerouac-Life-Vast

Before I go even one step further, I must give credit where credit is due- this idea was actually shared with me by my good friend Jennifer Paddack-Hyde, whom I hope is not angry with me for missing her birthday party (sorry, Jen.) She has been doing this for a while, I guess, and it somehow involves scrapbooking. I am not going to be doing the scrapbook thing, but I am a big believer in writing down specific goals as a way to actually get to them. So, thank you Jen, for the great idea!

Today is the last day of my life that I will ever be thirty anything, the close of a crazy, but definitely worthwhile, decade. I have a lot of respect for what happens during ones thirties- it is a beautiful time for most women. You girls getting close to thirty, starting to panic- don’t! The thirties are like the twenties, refined. All of that leftover teen angst and self-consciousness leaves you, and all of the beauty, most of the metabolism, stays. Do not fear your thirties. They are good. It is with deep love that I bid my thirties farewell. They were good years.

Now, looking ahead, Just at the brink of this next decade, I can tell you one thing for sure- this is not at all what I thought forty would look like. I am more excited than ever about my life, and best of all, that excitement has some experience and knowledge behind it. If my thirties were the time of gaining faith and confidence in myself, the time to learn who I really am and how I operate, I think my forties will be the time of putting all of that knowledge into action. What I feel is true is that there are no limits. That anything is possible. That this is the good part. And let me tell you, this girl is ready to jump in.

So, I have decided to make a list- Forty things I will do while I am forty. Some of them will be harder to achieve than others, but I have tried to stay reasonable. Also, I may only be able to come up with twenty today. I already have several rolling around in my head, but it is five o’clock in the morning. Give me a small break, okay? My intention, of course, is to document them for you here, so that, not only can you live vicariously through me (hahaha), but I can be accountable. Having said that, you all know how my intentions often work out. Shut up. I am doing the best I can. I just cannot seem to stop lying today, can I? Sigh. Okay, I do the best I can most of the time. Some of the time, I am just lazy. Without further ado, here they are:

1) Stop being so lazy ( will figure out later how to quantify and monitor this)

2) Get a real, awesome, professional makeover.

3) Have essay published in The Sun

4) Do a mud run

5) Meet Justin. I want to see him in real life (no one else needs to understand this, though a few of you might). He can totally wear clothes.

6) Get a literary agent

7) Attend a literary convention

8) Go to the glass beach in Ft. Bragg

9) Visit Alcatraz

10) Take dance lessons

11) Get my passport

12) Work all Twelve Steps to see if anything actually happens

13) Go to a swanky foodie thing

14) Submit a proposal for a non-fiction book idea. The worst thing they can say is no, right?

15)Try hypnotism.

16) Take a writing class for fun.

17) Take a jewelry making class for fun.

18) Hike Sobranes

19) Learn to surf

20) visit the hot springs in Sierraville. Love that place!

Okay, like I said, 40 is a lot to come up with in one sitting. Watch for part two! I have to clean my living room before my beautiful mommy comes over later. Oh yeah! Please, if you have any ideas that you think I might like, please feel free to let me know!

Have a great day!

Today

today

I am a grown woman. I have been through, and overcome, a lot. I am still not where I would like to be. But today, I am going to relax. I am going to do all of the things I need to do, like I always do, and it is going to be enough, the way it always is. I am going to stop beating myself up, and when the haranguing in my head starts, I am going to shut it down.

I am not even close to perfect. I never will be. Today, I am going to get over it. No one else is perfect, either, and if I ever got to be…well, it would be pretty lonely, wouldn’t it? I am flawed and immature, uncertain and conflicted about what to do next. So what? I am also hilarious, strong, curious and thoughtful. I am pretty great without changing anything. Today, I am going to appreciate my hopes of improvement without being tortured by them. The battle that goes on and on inside of me is wearing me out, so I am waving the white flag. Fine. I’m a fuck up. Whatever. Can we move on now?

Today, I am going to make the most of everything I have, instead of worrying about what I might run out of, what I don’t have, and what I will do in the event that I need something I can’t get. I will enjoy things the way they are instead of being upset that things aren’t going the way I had imagined them. I will like myself, instead of feeling disappointed. I will give myself credit for everything I do rather than scold myself for the things that I don’t.

Today, I am going to stop looking for happiness, and instead, just be happy. Everything doesn’t have to be so HARD. Life can be different, messy, weird…and still be wonderful. How many hours have I thrown away on worry, how much joy has been lost trying to meet an expectation? I am over it. This is the only life I can live right now, and I want to enjoy it.

I am me, this person, right now. There is no way around that. It’s very simple, yet I have made it into something difficult, as I tend to do. Today, I am letting it go, for my own peace of mind. Lets see if the sky falls, or the world stops turning. Somehow, I think it will be fine.

Happy Monday!

I know, I know- this is not a popular sentiment.

monday

Mondays are the days when we must drag ourselves out of bed at an unreasonable hour, and suit up for jobs that may or may not be sucking the life right out of us. We have to deal with our ungrateful children at ungodly hours, and make them do things THEY don’t want to do, while simultaneously preparing to do things WE don’t want to do. Life is tough.

But what if- and bear with me, here- what if, instead of being all pissy and moany about it, we decided to be grateful. Grateful for our jobs, because we have them, and grateful for our ungrateful children. Because they are healthy and perfectly imperfect, and because, really, who would you be without them? Gratitude for our messy houses and disgusting pets. Gratitude for the hot water in our shower, and the coffee in our cups.

Every day of the week, I begin with the intention of doing my absolute best that day, no matter how I feel. It doesn’t always work out, but I mean for it to. It gives me something to shoot for. It gives me a baseline to come back to, when I feel a bad attitude creeping up on me.

Wherever you are, if you are reading this, you are blessed. You are doing something right. You may not be living the life you imagined, but the life you ARE living is good, and filled with possibility.

So, Happy Monday! Make it a great one.

A New Phase

 

 

For some odd reason, I had it in my head that phases are something we go through early in life, then we grow up, and we become these solid, stable, unchanging, humans. It’s kind of unfortunate, and has caused me all kinds of unnecessary grief, that I am only now realizing the truth- that change truly is the one constant in our lives, and phases are a natural, healthy part of that. You see, I thought I was some kind of failure for my sense of unrest, my need to do something else, be different, want more. I guess I thought this was a symptom of unhappiness of something.

As I wrote in my last post, the realization dawned on me, recently, that, for me, not only is this desire natural, but it is a survival instinct. When I am still for too long, when I am bored, and not reaching for the next thing, I am in danger of self destruction. Now, I am not saying that a little stability is a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. I have had the same job for almost seven years now, have lived in this house for nearly three, and in this area most of my life- I do think it’s important to have long term friendships and ties to things. Especially if you have children, I suppose (although we moved like crazy and I liked the adventure, personally). But within that stability, if you have it or want it, it is totally normal to experience, and hopefully embrace, change. It is okay to go through new phases all your life. As long as you aren’t shaving your head and joining weird cults every six months, hey! Live your life.

I have been through a whole lot of change over the past few months. I think I was stuck in quite a dangerous rut for more years than I want to think about, and then, when I finally got the balls to open up the door to my prison cell and walk out, all sorts of things happened. I went into this manic-joyful phase that was wonderful to experience, and clearly a joy to behold ( per my friends), but it sure was a bummer to find it flickering out so soon…

The good news is, it didn’t completely disappear- which is to say, I didn’t wind up back down in the dregs of the rut I had been in, thank goodness. I found myself in a phase of just wanting to fill up my life with as much fun and good times, good friends, as much living, as I could. So I did this for a while, too. I ate out a lot, and did so many awesome things, and it was great. It was also totally exhausting.

So, after sleeping away two entire weekend days, I find myself here. This new phase looks to be very useful indeed. I think I will call it my “fine tuning” phase…you see, without me even realizing it, the last few phases I mentioned above were all extremely telling. They left me with some really important knowledge- what I know for sure I do not want, how I want to feel, and what makes me feel alive. I learned that I must have balance, above all things, to sustain happiness, and that too much of a good thing is definitely not such a good thing for me.

Going forward, I have a tentative plan- I will continue to meditate daily, and walk my dog, because these things unfailingly make my day better. I will try to be as faithful with prayer, because it fits, although I don’t always remember. I will continue to strive towards order and neatness in my home, no matter that it feels like I am fighting a losing battle- it makes me feel better when the dishes are done. I will continue to work on this blog, even if I just can’t spend a lot of time reading everyone else’s blog, and I never ever build a gigantic following. That’s not really why I do this, anyway (although it would be nice, I am not going to pretend otherwise). And I will work on my new book every morning, until it is done.

I will keep spending time with my friends, and planning things that sound like fun, and I will continue to nurture new friendships along the way. But I will always leave time for myself in there, plenty of it, and time for my children, because these are the most important hours of all for me- unscheduled, empty hours, we can fill with whatever we want. I will work on balance. I will lay the next stepping stone in the path…and eventually. I will get to that place I am seeing in my mind. I intend, however, to enjoy every inch of the journey.

Have a wonderful day.

Dreaming Away a Gray Morning…

courtesy of brokensavy.xanga.com
courtesy of brokensavy.xanga.com

If you ask me, daydreaming is a pastime that is sorely undervalued. It seems to me I was scolded for it as a child, and as an adult, it is hard to allow yourself to just sit there, gazing off into space as your head just floats off to wherever it does…There is always something else more important you could be doing, right? That vague sort of guilt at your criminal idleness, when, for GOD’s SAKE, there are dishes that need to be done, you deadbeat!

But you know what? I am putting my foot down, and objecting to all of that crap drilled into me throughout my life, by teachers, by parents, by bosses and, eventually, my own inner critic. Daydreaming was one of the most beautiful parts of my childhood- the elaborate, ongoing games of pretend that I played, the worlds and characters assembled from my own imagination, captivated me to no end. I’m not sure how my little neighborhood friends felt about the roles I forced them to play day after day, but if they had any complaints, I certainly don’t remember. Not that it would have mattered- it was my world, my rules. I never said I was the nicest kid on the block, just the bossiest one with the big imagination.

Through the years, my daydreaming evolved organically into writing- you can only facilitate games of pretend for so long, you know. But even apart from the writing, I think these daydreams of mine have served another, very useful, purpose. Way before “The Secret” ever hit the scene, before I knew anything about “visualization” or any of that stuff, I was imagining my life into being. I am not saying that everything I ever dreamed up, I also manifested into being (thank God! My favorite game of pretend was called “adoption”, where I was an orphaned child adopted by people so rich they owned Hawaii…think “Annie”, with an island, and a kitchen sort of like what the Jetson’s had.), but all of that speculating on my life did allow me to take note of the things I really did like the idea of. Some things fell to the wayside, but some became goals.

About a year ago, I was sorting through some old notebooks. One of them lay open on the bed, and Devon and I were talking about all the stuff I had written…he asked me what this particular thing was, so I grabbed it, scanned through it, and laughed, handing it to him. It was a list I had scribbled out several years earlier, when I was still in Nevada. My goals were listed, small but specific- 1) Pass my CCA exam; 2) Get a fabulous, great paying job at a hospital in Monterey; 3) Move back to the coast, near the ocean, in a cute place with two bedrooms…I think there were more things on the list, but you get the idea. The most striking thing about them was that I had put a timeframe at the top, like “By this time next year”. Somehow, three out of the five things, at least, had happened.

Right now, I am picturing myself in that house again- the big old Craftsman in Santa Cruz somewhere, preferably near downtown. I can see the wide, grand looking staircase just past the front door with the glass panels. I can see the polished hardwood floors, and the big, beautiful rugs that lay on top of them, here and there. I know the kitchen is warm and bright and full of light, and the living room is cool and calm and dark when the day is warm. I see my study with it’s big, oversized, gleaming wood surface right in the center of the room, littered with the debris of a writers’ life- reference books and scribbled notes, a cup of coffee, a jar full of pens. The window behind me overlooks a sunny backyard, full of flowers and leafy things, grassy parts for kids, shady parts for grown ups…

If nothing ever comes of this vision, who will it have hurt to have dreamed it? This scene in my head pushes me forward when I feel like doing nothing, but I could be writing. It gives me a purpose, and something big to work towards. It is the closest thing to stillness I can achieve, daydreaming. And I think it’s something that everyone should spend a little more time doing. What would it hurt?

Shifting Gears, Changing Lanes

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This will not, contrary to what the title so misleadingly suggests, be a blog about driving. Nope, sorry, no cars will be mentioned beyond this sentence. Besides which, it’s been so long since I’ve driven a stick-shift, I’m not even sure I could shift gears if I needed to. Nope, I’m talking about the internal, metaphorical shifting of gears and changing of lanes that we go through as human beings on the road of our lives- sometimes we do this intentionally, sometimes we do it without even noticing (Like when you pull into your driveway and have absolutely no recollection of the drive home whatsoever.), and sometimes we do it because we have no choice- some other “driver” runs you off the road, or you find yourself unable to get around one road block or another. Sometimes you just can’t stand the stretch of highway you are on anymore. So you put on your blinker (although what this would be, metaphorically, I have no idea) and you get the hell out of there.

What a liberating concept, huh? That at any time in our lives, when the way things are leave a little (or a lot) to be desired…we can do something else. This applies to pretty much any situation, at any point in time, period. Even as I write these words, I feel the part of me that has been molded by the polite and acceptable rules of society going into a panic.  If it had more control over me (and it sometimes does) it would be destroying all evidence of this entire thought process- that’s how nervous the notion of change makes this predictable, safe, facet of my personality. But that doesn’t make my statement any less true. I know that I can change nearly any aspect of my life, anytime I want to, to any degree I want to, just BECAUSE I want to.

I used to know this well, and take full advantage of it, often, when I was younger. Then I got a little more grown up and realized that I wanted my life to look more like other people’s lives. I wanted a better job, a credit card so that I could rent a car if I needed to, cable TV, and more money. So I did what most people do when they wait what they feel is “too long” to settle down- I panicked, and went after the life I thought I could fit myself into rather than the life that fit me. I chose stability, safety, financial security and the chance to finally make my mother happy over the much riskier, less certain life of pursuing my dreams. Most people would see nothing at all wrong with that- as a matter of fact, it’s probably the norm for about eighty percent of the employed population. We put our dreams in the backseat, the closet, or tucked in a drawer somewhere, and we tend to our families, our bank accounts, our dental appointments, and…everything else, first. We intend to get back to those dreams, once things mellow out, or the kids get a little older, or just as soon as this happens or that stops happening. We may realize, one day, that we have been better at keeping our promises to everyone else then we have to ourselves. Some people dismiss their most cherished hopes for themselves as “kid stuff”, and toss them out.

I don’t want this to be my story. I don’t want to give up, or finally have the right set of circumstances to start being who I really am…only to find that it would have been easier, better, more enjoyable, if only I had started way back when.

I don’t really know how to do it. I mean, I know that what I want to do is write, I know that I am a writer, whether I am known to millions of people, or only to myself- I was a writer the first time I scribbled out a horrible poem at the age of seven or eight. I have been enchanted by words, by the amazing, magical way their arrangement on a page could make the most incredible adventure begin, or bring the hidden, inner life of someone to beautiful light, nearly all of my life. But I am very uncertain about how to navigate the path from here to the best-sellers list. No matter how many books and articles I read on the subject of queries and revision, on genre and agents and submission guidelines, platforms and outlines, I still feel unprepared to take the next step. I am starting to suspect that I will continue to feel this way no matter what.

SO! I’ve decided to just go ahead anyway. I am thirty eight years old, and I don’t want to wait any longer to “feel ready”. Yes, I am not brimming with the confidence of someone either totally prepared or completely, blissfully, ignorant, but I doubt I am the only one who has ever felt this way. I am just not willing to let my fear stop me anymore. I am making some very big changes, and all of them are geared towards helping me get to where I want to be. Because I don’t want to live a pretty okay life anymore, and the strain it is causing me, this weird, pervasive unhappiness that makes me feel like such an ass (oh, poor you, with your incredible job, boo-hoo) is heading me straight for consequences I definitely don’t want.

I have mapped out a plan. Part of that plan is to commit to a minimum of two, but a goal of three, blogs per week. I would also like to get back to my original purpose, at least in part, which was to write about navigating the treacherous waters of being a (gulp!) middle aged woman and learning how young middle age really is. Because it really, really, is. So expect to be hearing a lot more from me. And at least a little more of that particular subject, although I reserve the right to also go off on tangents in totally unrelated subjects.

Change can be alarming, and make you lose your sense of equilibrium. Change can be unwanted and painful, hard to get through. But change can also be an absolute necessity, something you might be willing to give up everything- your job, your money, every comfort in your life- for. Sometimes it is not enough to wait for change to come close enough to you to grab. Sometimes you get up off your ass and start creating change right in the middle of your own kitchen. Which is what I have decided to do. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared half to death of what might happen…I’m just more afraid of what can NEVER happen if I don’t try.