Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

It's a beautiful day so far...

Last night I could hardly sleep. Even though I was tired, I felt excited about today, and just the season in general. Light from the full moon poured silver through the open windows along with the melody of cool autumn night air and transformed our home into an extraordinary space.

With a little juggling this morning, we got two girls into costumes and to their schools on time, and I made it back for the start of the day costume parade. It's my last year as an elementary-school mom, and it was great to stand on the playground, snapping photos of B with her friends, chatting with my friends, and the moon still hovering in the morning sky.

Still to come today - pumpkin carving and putting on other costumes. Friends and family coming to share dinner with us and then trick or treat throughout our neighborhood. Lots of candy and flickering candlelight and the dark October sky. I always like October but I have to say that this is the best one ever.

The spirits move in autumn, along with the winds. This year, that energy has been extremely powerful again.

A good day to you and yours and wishes for all the transformations and regenerations that you desire.

From Truman Capote -

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make. ~ Truman Capote

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Something has just occurred to me. It may be that you are in the habit of reading this blog to get a little dose of busyness and cheer. That's my usual MO, after all. With just a sprinkling of moodiness and a nod towards the literary to make it interesting.

So perhaps the last month, as I alternately sulked and ranted hasn't been the best reading experience. Sorry about that!

I know that I have a variety of sites I check in with during the day, when I just need a little mood lift or a bit of intellectual stimulation. (And apparently cute kittens are a thing?) So if I've let you down lately, I promise to reform.

The bottom line is this: for all my worrying and for all the struggle, things turned out OKAY. Things turned out great actually! In the end, everything does work out. Things get better; problems get resolved. Hope and love continue. Sure, maybe it doesn't all work out the way you planned, or even the way you hoped it would, but it does turn out pretty okay.

And the world continues. Often beautifully.

One of the lovely tasks on my to do list right now is sending out thank you emails and cards to my many friends. Throughout all my ups and downs, there were people who stood with me and gave support in a wide variety of ways. Even you, readers, by taking part of this journey with me. I count you among my dear friends. I even count this blog as a friend. It is there for me, unfailingly, and always provides a place to express, to consider, or to celebrate my life.

And that's a very good thing, isn't it? : )

All Joking Aside...

Last week, the girls and I were in Barnes and Noble. Despite their protests, I stopped at the seasonal display of picture books.

"I know you're too old," I said. "This is research. I have to keep up with what's out there!"

I picked up some horrible Halloween board book. The title thankfully escapes me, but I remember something about a lumpy pumpkin. Which sounds way cuter than the book was.

"How is this even a book?" I was disgusted. "It doesn't rhyme, there's no regular pattern. It's not even cute!"

"Hey, Mom," chimed in my oldest daughter. "How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?"

"I don't know. How many?"

"Four. One to change the lightbulb, and three to stand around and say, 'I could have done that better.'"

Okay, okay. Point taken...

Writing Class

And while I'm thinking about writing...

I got other great news this week. I got into the online writing class I wanted! Someone had to drop out so I got first choice at the spot and gladly accepted. It's the Memoir class too which is absolutely perfect.

Just the night before I had been thinking that I had a lot of events to write my way through recently. Now I'll have some prompting and some accountability over the next seven weeks to make sure I stick with it.

That's good, cause I'm sure I've got a lot to say.

Day Before Halloween Calm

Good morning!

Tuesday today, and a good day to get a variety of things done. A friend texted this am to ask what I'm doing today, and I said, Making lists to split the hours between errands, yoga, and work. Yay.

After all the prep and the big party on Saturday, it almost feels to me like Halloween is already over. But it's not so there are a few more preparations to make today. I'm going to Target next to return the unused decorations and to lay in a few more bags of candy. Because it's a midweek holiday, I'm expecting more trick or treaters than normal. Usually if it falls on a weekend, people are more busy with parties and don't hit the neighborhoods as hard. We'll see.

Family friends and my parents are coming over to carve pumpkins with us, then share a meal and trick or treat. I probably should pick up some little gifts for our closest neighbors today.

I keep thinking of more and more things - both big and little - that I can actually do now! My informal list is up to five or six dozen things that I was inhibited from before. Even putting up decorations seems easier and less scary! Plus now I really do have to make some decisions about my professional writing name and platform.

Just got interrupted by a call from the Title company. He's trying to clear the title for our refinance. The appraiser was here yesterday. Assuming I can get motivated to pull all the docs and financial records together this week, we should be moving ahead pretty soon. The title guy needed to confirm our data. He also wanted to know about a 2008 judgment against me, which of course, isn't mine. That's the bad part of having such a common name. With this tough economy, so many people have defaulted on their bills that we get contacted ALL the time by creditors looking for people with names like ours. Sometimes it's nice having a common name and sometimes you need to stand out from the others!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The First Week of a New-Old Life

What a weird weekend! I am still trying to wrap my mind around everything. What I mainly feel now is a huge flood of relief and a sense of the surreal.

The friends I've told so far are all overjoyed for me and expect me to be celebrating. But I haven't even opened the champagne. All I'm doing so far is being very slow and deliberate, sticking to safe routines. Friday was really a draining, stress filled day. Although my mind knows that this is very, very good, my body had a whole panoply of fear-PTSD reaction just from being back in the same physical setting. The circularity of it all was eerie.

I keep thinking of things I am now able to do, just more and more little freedoms, and oddly, it just makes me realize how very oppressed and fearful I was on a daily basis. Like I said, it hasn't fully sunk in. I'm almost afraid to trust it too quickly.

I intentionally let my older daughter plan a Halloween party for Saturday night. Her first teen party, but girls only. Just gathering her peers for fun. I figured if I was depressed it would take my mind off of it, and if I was happy, then a party would be great. So as it was I had the wonderful, pressing needs of prepping a party to give me activiy and routine and social expectation while my body has sort of processed all of this.

I just got back from taking the court paperwork to the official agency, and I have to jump through a few more hoops and then there will be some delays in processing, etc. But I don't think that will matter much -- my life was able to move along pretty smoothly before -- and I have papers to carry with me to verify that I am indeed free!!

Again, thanks so much. In the end, the support I received did help quite a bit with my emotional stability. I'm probably going to wind up taking down all of my posts related to these issues - erase my own traces of my past  - although that's only a small percentage of this blog so it will be here. As I move forward. Slowly. And carefully.

But gladly! : )

Friday, October 26, 2012


Well, it happened! It was a challenging morning, but it could not have gone any better. After the airport-like process of beige waiting, we sat in the remodeled, wood-paneled county room to find out that my future is open to my own designs.

I am FREE!!!!!!

No more lists, no more past. No more recriminations, no more restrictions. No MORE LIMITS!!! I can go where I want, when I want. I can talk, I can help, I can travel. I can wander in the park, where I guarantee you I will be this week again after such a long absence!

My hard work and responsible behavior of the last decade has paid off. My youthful mistake is finally behind me, and from here, my future looks like a much more welcoming and possible place to live in. It's been an arduous path over the years, and slogging through it has been far from easy, but now, now I have reached the destination that I hardly dared to hope for.

Thank you for all of your support -- thank you to all who believed in me and gave me the chances and the hope I so needed!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Oh my heavens.

I'm actually working again. Actually able to put the words on the page, and send the pages off to clients. It's the first time I've been able to work in a month, and it's definitely helping me feel better by being engaged in something intellectual and outside of myself.

I have a new trick. Realizing that the intellectual focus of writing probably depletes or unbalances my brain chemistry, now when I get tired, I open up the files of our photos and look back at scenes of fun things I've done in my life. I read yesterday that even calling up a happy memory stimulates serotonin production.

Now I finally understand why so many workers spend time at their desks looking at videos of kittens playing. I mean, cats are cute and everything, I like them, but I never got that as an interest before. But it's probably recharging their wiring somehow, isn't it?

People, and life, are endlessly fascinating.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Life and Dreams

Here's something I've noticed about my schedule. If the slightest bump or extra task gets thrown like a monkey wrench into the running works of my daily routine, it grinds things to a halt in some area -- usually my computer work or my writing since those are the least time sensitive and daily survival based uses of my time.

So, I've had to add in visits to a sick friend, plus the girls' shortened day schedules for the last two weeks, plus some mood disorder, and I haven't kept up here.

It seems that the slightest stumble in my work path sends me reeling forward with such momentum that it is days before I completely regain my balance and get back to a routine. That happens time after time, and I really don't know what to do about it except keep stumbling forward and gaining my balance.

With altered schedules, babysitting help for a friend, cleaning around the house, getting my car into the shop, keeping up with my yoga teaching, and doing extra care with my own kids, I am shocked to see that it has been more than a week since I have even touched my computer. How can that be? I always feel that I am just about to get to it next, and then something else comes up and something else and then sleep and then wake up and get the day started... and...whisk!... days pass.

Even now, during my "work" time, I've had to spend almost two hours at my desk sorting through mail, paying bills and balancing out our accounts to be sure that we are on time with everything. It's a little bleak, too. Yikes.

The bad news about my car is that the transmission is leaking and the engine mounts all need to be replaced to the tune of about $800 or the engine will eventually dislodge. The good news is that the transmission is under warranty, and in removing it to repair it for free, it exposes the engine mounts and cuts the cost of labor so that repair is down from $1,200. Yay? I suppose it's more good than bad. At least my car should stop shaking when I drive it.

I've had odd dreams lately. For the last few weeks really. Vivid dreams, sometimes nightmares about fire or losing someone. My sleep has been restless. Then I wake up. Morning again.

I don't know. My brain sorting through general anxiety? Working through remnants from the past? Trying to make sense of the confusion of it all? Maybe wondering if things could have been different somehow. I'm tired of feeling confused.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Persevere, Just Persevere

It's really been an up and down month for me. Yesterday, I let a misunderstanding with a friend really throw me into the pit of swirling negative emotions. I'm not sure why it was such a trigger for me. Maybe I felt a bit blindsided -- or maybe I felt underappreciated.

She's not been the best of friends to me; usually the giving runs from me to her, and rarely the other way round, so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that she was willing to be critical of me.

What I was surprised by was the strength of the anxiety that hit me and how completely unmoored I felt. I had nightmares, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, worthlessness, obsessive thinking, self-doubt and defensiveness. All of this running through my head on the big day of the nonprofit conference, where I needed to be at the top of my game, project good energy, and network my way to future employment. I didn't like the way my thoughts felt at all; I tried my best to see them as only stories and to stop them or change them.

In the meanwhile, I did a surprisingly good job at the conference. While the ooey-gooey center of me just wanted to run home to bed and snivel below the covers, my polished exterior sat in trainings, took notes, smiled, asked questions, made jokes, chatted with complete strangers and handed out business cards. I even generated a list of pertinent topics to write articles about for my upcoming business website. So it was a hugely successful day. Mostly it was successful in that I didn't quit and I didn't cave in to the internal pressure.

Today, I took it easier. I had a nice visit with a true friend, and she was appropriately indignant on my behalf, validating, protective and loving. I feel ever so much better. I also see that I am still here, still going, and still working.

If she wants to take it back and be my friend, fine. And if not, fine for that too. I do have loads of other people in my life.

So, there.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Friendship Trial

My friend just called. I answered because I thought it might be an urgent situation, some sort of emergency with her kids. It was an emergency but just that she had a free hour in middle of day and was feeling super depressed. She's been trying to get back in touch with her ex-boyfriend and start the crazy all over again.

It is really hard to love and support her through this. I'm like, You were miserable. You have to stop. I mean how many times can she create the same situation to suffer through? Even I, even I with my tendancy to hold on to the past and my obsessive brain, even I am moving my life forward and transforming the nature of an older past into something more healthy and different. You can't just keep going back to a situation that didn't work for anyone and trying to revive it -- you have to either drop it or change it, right?

So, my sympathy for her is tempered with impatience. Plus I really needed to get back to my work emails!! After 10 minutes or so of unloading, she thought to ask, Where are you?

When I said I was working at CBTL, she actually said, "Oh, okay, good. Then I'm not interrupting anything important."



As always, giving the difficult feelings permission to be has helped them to abate. After a busy, but good, day yesterday, I awoke this morning to a simpler day, and finally, less of a sense of oppression and dread. It's the first morning in more than nine days where I didn't have somewhere to get to, where I wasn't committed to several tasks, and just the having the space of a few hours to be calm helped to lighten my heart. It's very unusual for me to feel down for a long stretch at a time; usually there's a little spark of hope, of lightheartedness that kicks in, and warms me up. The pilot light of resilence clicking back on and building up a little flame. Usually, I find some humor in the day, and something to enjoy, and then I'm fine. So it worried me a lot lately that while I wasn't extremely low, I was so flat for so long.

But now... now, today, I do feel much better. I have some clearly productive things to do, and that always cheers me. I've registered for an intensive nonprofit conference that will take all day tomorrow. While I know it will be tiring, I also expect to be inspired by spending hours in trainings with hundreds of people in the same field.

Also, just this morning I was thinking about my writing teacher and missing his critique voice. Then I got the email that two new writing courses are starting in a few weeks. Even though money and time are tight, I think I'll sign up for both. It's always true for me that I produce more writing if I am busier and have more to do, rather than the reverse.

And, I got a bit of cheerful news that has helped me to feel less anxious. It does seem to be okay to believe that overall things are going to be okay. And that's what I want to hold on to.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Am Feeling So...

tied down
persistently discouraged
afraid to keep hoping
angry for not being better
impatient with myself
hungry for change
sick of school/schedules/errands
taken for granted
loaded down with the details
insecure of my ability
determined to do better
afraid to stop striving
sick of money
sick of expense
sick of obligation
tired of feeling off target
wanting to relax
wanting to just be
so close to being/getting/having what I want
untaken care of
ahh- fuck it

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Whisk of Time

Usually, on Fridays the week is winding down. I feel a bit more spacious and slow as I move through my day. Often by Friday morning, my keyboard is simply calling me, and I plant myself before it and become lost in my own world of words.

But, today, I have made promises to a friend. She's had an unexpected medical crisis and is just home from the hospital with a long convalescence ahead. As a good friend should, I have offered food and support. So today I need to drive to the market, come home, assemble dinner offerings, and drive them to her house. I know it will take most of the day. It's a good thing to do. I'm so glad she's okay. And she's a delight -- I will be glad to see her.

But in the meantime, I have made the terrible, terrible mistake of not leaving my house right away. I have sunk down before this screen and opened my windows to the world and self. And now, I really don't want to go. How I long to simply stay here, to simply stay in place and write! How I resent the so many other errands and tasks that compete for my time every day.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Still Scheming

I want to own my own life. I want freedom!

I'm tired of owing. I want to stand on my own two feet, to own what's around me, and not to owe any money to anybody.

I want to be debt free in five years. I'm willing to work hard and cut back and do what it takes. I'm willing to be patient. But I am serious, here. I want to own my house, not have outstanding debts, and be able to fund college for my children.

Five years.

Not that long really. I have lasted through longer stretches than that in my life already.

Okay, I'm forced to refinance our house right now because rates are so low. We lose money if we don't refinance. That has forced me to re-examine all this. I wish we had the money to just pay everything. But we don't. We haven't been saving. We have been living and thriving and enjoying. But that hasn't helped the bottom line of finances.

Soooo.... best strategy from here is to simply stick with all of our payments as currently scheduled. Yes, they are annoying and they are onerous and they take most of our money. But in about 4 and a half years they will be done. In the meanwhile, my income will increase dramatically as my businesses take off. And that needs to be earmarked for saving FIRST. As long as I do that, we'll be fine. Within five years, we can agressively save enough to pay for this house and get college started. Especially if we maximize the girls' educations by pushing into early community college classes and scoring on AP exams. They could potentially finish their first two years before high school ends.

It's a challenge to make this kind of commitment -- it's new territory for me, something I haven't traditionally been that great at. But I haven't been that awful either, so I'm encouraged that I can grow and change. The rewards are clear. Because, really, I really, really want to be free!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Contentment and Age

Today is devoted solely to doing things that I enjoy. Things that make me feel good about myself and life. I've continued my streak of planning and scheming. I find that the best antidote to feeling a bit blue is to shake yourself out, look around you at all the good things, and then make plans for something to enjoy about the future. That gives something to appreciate right now, and something to anticipate in the future.

Just like the best antidote to feeling sorry for yourself is to get out and help other people in need. It's a wonderful dose of perspective.

So far today I have shared toast and tea with my lovely hubby, helped the daughters on their way into the day, driven to schools, walked the labyrinth, watched a guilty snatch of Mad Men (I am up to Season 2 - only five years behind the cultural curve now!), read the paper, tidied the house, cleaned up the older girl's bedroom on the premise that I simply can't take it anymore, taken myself out for my favorite cafe breakfast, and worked in the sunshine on my writing. AND I have started a story.

I decided that I need to just get going with my children's writing. I've been musing and planning for a bit but now I think I need to just pour some words onto paper. Even though they're not quite right, if I get them down, it's something to work with. Then I can draft and revise. And it may be that the characters and plots sharpen up simply by writing them. The stories are so short that it's silly not to just write them and then write them again.

The rest of the day promises to be very pleasant as well. I've been very low key about the whole thing, and haven't really told my friends about my birthday. Some have remembered all on their own, and sent greetings which is very lovely. I just didn't want anyone to feel obliged.

I'll pick the girls up soon then we are booked in for pedicures. And I'm taking them to a silly Halloween movie. Then S is meeting us for a nice dinner out, and we'll take cake back home where a satisfying stack of gifts awaits. Thanks girl-children!! (B grabbed S by the hand and practically dragged him out of the house to go shopping on Monday evening.)

Goals for the Year - designed to create satisfaction and anticipation:

1. Transform and release 44 pounds of weight (and accumulated stresses) - Exercise every day with yoga, walking, or pilates - Bring all measurements under 44 inches.

2. Complete 44 stories or chapters - Write (mostly) daily.

3. Write at least 4 proposals, LOIs, or applications each week.  

4. Earn $44,000.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Searching My Life

Questions. Always questions.

It seems churlish to complain about my life. I know that I have so much, and so much more than so many other people do. I'm privileged and I feel the weight of that.

But there just seems to be something missing. There is a certain discontent that I carry within me, that seems to be simply a part of me, and not necessarily caused by my actual life or any lack within it. The closest I've come to feeling okay with everything was during Yoga. And for a few other fleeting moments.

And maybe that is simply the way that Life is. Perhaps that is the feeling of groundlessness that the Buddhists speak of, wanting to grasp for something and hold it tightly, but being unable to do so with success.

I don't like it much to be honest. I would actually like to grab on to something and hold it until I feel safe and secure. You know, given my preference.

It seems to me that people pretty much feel how they feel, regardless of actual events. Happy people tend to be happy anywhere. Bitter people are bitter. Even if you gave them their greatest wishes, they would simply sink back into a state of bitterness. They are used to it there, and don't want to leave. I don't know. Does that seem true to you? Does it seem that people pretty much stay as they are?


Hmm. I'm feeling sort of down today. Sleepy and even like I'm getting a cold.

I feel a bit rushed, like I don't have time to work. I think perhaps that's because I committed to sub yoga today and so the unfamiliar time commitment is throwing off my pace. Also, I've gotten busy the last two weeks and I haven't been able to get in to the regular classes I was attending. Undoubtedly that's slowing me down.

It's a good time to check back in with my goals.

Write every day, and have fun with it.
Work every day, only as much as I enjoy it. But try to get good things done with the time I spend.
Take care of all the day-to-day tasks and errands. Check, check. On this day's list - the dinner, the groceries, the bills, and several finance calls. Also need to help the youngest clean her room, and go to gymnastics. Also need to tidy the house. (See, it is quite a bit right there.)
Make a plan for tomorrow. I have a few ideas but no Zing! Sigh. That's probably draining my energy too.

I'm sorta bummed because another big and unexpected expenditure of funds cropped up yesterday. I know that's what money is FOR, but sometimes it just seems like, Wow, will it ever stop? Will we ever get ahead? I'm struggling a bit with it. I know the money has to go into this cause, and the results are important, so it is a good investment. And I need to invest more money this week into my business with the hope of yielding more results there as well. But part of me is resisting and wanting to hold onto the money out of fear and reluctance to spend. Sigh. I know this is what the money is for. I know more money will come. We will work it out. I am truly blessed that I have an income with potential for growth, instead of being fixed. And I have the luxury of time. I have the same 24 hours a day as anybody else, and mine are not committed to a 9-5 position so I'm actually a bit ahead. So okay. I do actually feel a bit better. It's so easy to lose the hope and lose the sense of the way.

I want to do something good in October. In August, I completed 29 straight days of giving. I want October to be like that, but I'm not feeling moved to give again. Maybe I could do something similar but different? I feel like doing something with yoga, work, and writing - something that involves generating and focusing a lot of energy. Hmmm.... ideas?

Writing Advice

In an effort to inspire myself, and also create a sense of community for my lonelier moments, I've been actively seeking out more blogs about good writing. Whether an individual's or part of a commercial effort or a blog community, these blogs consider writing and being a writer and life. I can click to them at any moment during my work day and get a little shot of new information or inspiration.

As part of that, I've been exploring Writer's Digest Online. I've read WD for years, but I never really sought out this component before. I'm really enjoying it. The amount of information just a few clicks away is astonishing. I do feel like I can build a good connection with writers, editors, even agents through their offerings.

The possibility of it all is almost daunting. But it's very clear to me what the main step forward is. Write. Simply write. Every day. As much as I can. About what interests me. Writing advice.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Merry Robin

What do you think of the above as a writing name? For kids' lit. It came to me earlier and I think I sort of like it. It's cute and cutesy and not too far off my name. I've been working with a robin as a writing emblem for a while now.

I read an interesting set of articles and comments through Rachelle Gardner's blog about whether or not writers should use pseudonyms. In my case, I have a few compelling reasons: 1) my real name is very ordinary and quite common, 2) I already run a writing business under my real name and would probably want to differentiate my other kinds of writing, 3) there is already an author out there, very well published under my name, and I would get confused with her.

Also, I like it because it is SO cheerful. That's me - cheerful. The anecdote to bitterness. There's some sort of cosmic balance there, but I sure as heck don't understand it. I would however, just like to say HA!! I am quite good at finding things -- if I remember to look for them! : )