Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life Journaling: Derailment

Sometimes, you spend your whole week getting ready for a last minute trip to So. Cal. for a funeral and end up at home doing a three day juice fast instead. The hows and whys of your life's derailment are a big steamy pile of what the hell just happened.

You remember spending a mad forty-eight hours packing and ironing and running all the errands. You are not sure you ate, however you know beer was involved. Clearly, you remember packing up the car and shoving all four kids into it. You remember getting on the road and hitting up a gas station. But after that, things get dicey.

The battery light went off on the dashboard. The car died and was jump started, leading to a sweaty drive across town with the A/C off. Things get even more hazy as there was a tense discussion about what to do next. There is a vague memory of holding a flashlight so your husband could tighten a blot on your newly bought alternator and at one point you remember standing in an auto shop holding a dirty battery whilst wearing mix-matched socks and crazy eyes.

Then, there was thunder and lightening and a flash flood warning that reached across three States. Suddenly, you wake up. You are living out of a suitcase, but you are home. You are hungry and a bit confused and you decide the best thing to do is not eat for a few days.

Because that's what makes sense. Am I right?
As last weekend unraveled right before my eyes, I realized how similar it was to the last year of my life as a writer. As I have struggled to take myself seriously and find the diligence and fortitude needed to keep myself moving forward, I realized I have two options on this road to publication:

A. I can beat myself up over being derailed.


B. I can accept it and move on.

For so long, I have been beating myself up. Unhappy with my pacing and focusing on the derailments, I have stalled. Life happens. It just does. There are many detours that will come along. But that does not mean we cannot continue forward, it just means we must be even more determined than before.

As this month of hard work and many a sleepless nights comes to an end, I am determined to keep my eyes focused forward, not on some obscure end result, but on the task at hand. One baby step at a time.

The task at hand, my friends, is to query. However, this time I realize the real challenge is going to be learning from the rejections, moving forward, and trying again.

Because in the indelible words of The Shins:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Life Journaling: Confidence

Confidence is a fickle friend. An overconfident person can be blinded by their brilliance. Unaware of their limitations, they are often lead astray by their ignorance of their own short comings. However, a lack of confidence can be more damaging, leaving a person stuck in an emo funk of nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I'll go eat worms.
I'm honest enough to admit I'm one of the least confident people you'll meet. Now, this doesn't make me antisocial. Hell, I'll talk to a wall if it's interested in having a conversation. Please understand, I'm a somewhat health, socially functional member of society (for the most part).

What I am saying is when it comes to my life as a professional anything, I've got a case of the emos and I've got it bad. I downplay not only my strengths as a writer, but also as a individual. I assume I'm annoying and burdensome to others and tend to shy away from asking for help or offering help. All too often, I allow people to walk all over me taking without giving a single thing in return as they flush me down the toilet without a backward glance.

It ain't pretty. Frankly, I'm over it. The more I ponder the situation, the more I realize believing I'm the only person stuck in this never-ending cycle of self-loathing is cocky and ignorant. This belief that I am NOT alone and there are others out there dealing with this same lack of confidence only strengths my desire to get over myself.

To that end, I've been attempting to:

1. Acknowledge my negative attitude toward myself and create a positive one. 
This hasn't been done on my own, but with the help of the lovely Angie Richmond (aka life coach of amazeballzness). What appears to be a simple task has rocked my whole existence. For example:

Negative: I'm a burden to others and I shouldn't bother them. 
Positive: These are my friends and they genuinely want to help me.
Furthermore, by asking for their help, I am showing them I trust them.

Simple yet powerful.

2. Cultivate the healthy relationships in my life, while weeding out the diseased ones. 
This is easier said than done and it's taken me a long time to say no to unhealthy relationship. However, it's a MUST. These relationships are not only ones in the "real" world, but online as well. I don't want friends who puff me up with inflated praise. Yet, people who are only interested in using me for their own ends have got to go.

3. Stop over-saturating myself with the opinions of the professionals.
It is one thing to take the advice of well meaning and helpful professionals [and it's important, PLEASE don't get me wrong. Listen to the professionals!]. It is another thing to let it hold you hostage in a never-ending cycle of OH MY GAWD I'M DOING EVERYTHING WRONG. I have got to stop panicking every time I see a tweet from an agent talking about things they find annoying in their slush piles. Furthermore, I have to start trusting in my own opinion and the opinions of those around me.

4. I NEED to give credit to the opinions of those closest to me.
At some point, while looking up how to get publish online, someone will say to you: So you've written a novel and your best friend and your partner and your dog LOVE IT and think it's fan-freaking-tastic. That's great. It's not. Get back to work.

And I get it. Believe me, I do. However, I think it discredits the positive and constructive advice of those closest to you. Listen, my husband is my BIGGEST critic. He will tell me when something stinks and when he thinks something is good. Oh, the arguments we've had. To discredit his belief that my manuscript is good and publishable makes absolutely no sense. I should trust in him, first and foremost.

Which leads to the hardest of hards:

5. I MUST trust in myself and my ability.
Because this is what it ALL comes down to. At some point, I have to be comfortable with the thought that I believe I am a good enough writer to get published and that doesn't make me an egomaniac or insane or delusional. It makes me confident in my ability and confidence does not mean stuck up or proud or blind.

I do NOT believe I've written the next Pride and Prejudice. I do NOT believe I will be awarded a Noble Bell prize in Literature. However, I do believe I wrote a good book with an interesting plot and a lovely protagonist. I believe a lot of hard work and dedication will not only make it better but get it published.

In conclusion:

Writing is personal. It's challenging. The road to publication is filled with sinkholes and detours. At the end of the day, the one thing a writer needs to believe is that all this, the hair pulling and sleepless nights and aching wrists and self-doubt and panic, is worth it.

I'm confident it is.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Life Journaling: A Story About My Dad

I remember the day my step-mom called me and explained my dad needed to have a procedure done. They'd found a mass in his bladder. The doctor knew it was cancer without a single test. I went with them to the hospital. I held his hand. I hugged him. I told him he would get better or else I'd kick his ass.

We held onto hope. 

That was the last week of February 2012. Or was it the first week of March? I don't remember. It's a blur. On his birthday, March 12th, we got the news, it was cancer and it had likely spread. But we didn't know how badly. They'd have to rebuild his bladder. I told my mom. I told my brother and sisters. I told them our daddy had cancer, but his chances were good.

We held onto hope. 

He wasn't eating. My siblings and I got him a basket. We filled it with nuts and chocolate and dried fruit and juices and books on baseball. He had a catheter. He carried a bag of pee around with him. He was so thin. When I hugged him I thought he might break. He tried to eat, tried to laugh, tried to be normal.

We held onto hope.

I got the call. He'd gone to the ER. The pain was unbearable. His heart was palpitating. I rushed to the hospital. I sat with him. Alone. Me in a chair in the corner trying to stay out of the way of the nurses. Him in a bed, half asleep. Sometimes he'd wake up and looked at me. He'd say: I love you, Bonehead. And I'd say: I love you too, Daddy.

We held onto hope.

They moved my dad to the intensive care unit. The man in the room next door died that day. He looked so alone. The tests started. MRIs. X-rays.  Blood work. Fasting. Heart meds. Pain meds. The whites of my dad's eyes turned yellow. We had our favorite nurses. Our least favorite doctors. We took over the ICU. We hung pictures drawn by my kids and colored in coloring books. My nineteen year old sister wanted to sleep on the floor at night, she didn't want our father to wake up alone.

We held onto hope.

He had a good day. His eyes cleared and he promised he'd do everything he could to get better and we'd all go on a trip to see the Grand Canyon. He smiled and chuckled. He watched baseball and teased us.

We held onto hope.

We got the results. The cancer had spread. It was in his gallbladder, his lymph nodes, his lungs, his brain, and so many other places I can't remember them all. We called our extended family. We told them things had taken a turn.

We still held onto hope.

Tuesday evening. I went to visit my father after settling the kids. I had a few new pictures they'd drawn for their Poppa. The room had become familiar. Beeps. Flashing lights. Tubes. IV lines. But the man in the bed, he was different. He struggled to breathe. His skin like paper, eyes bulging.  I said, "Hey, Daddy. Bet you've missed me." He looked at me as if I were a stranger. I knew-- knew in my very soul...

There was no hope. 

He crashed that evening, alone in his room. They shoved a tube down his throat. Pumped him with meds. His eyes wouldn't close. His feet were ice cold. A machine breathed for him. Medications kept his heart pumping. We gathered around his bed. We had to decided what to do. I held my baby sister close to me and watched my fifteen year old brother clutch our dad's hand. My grandmother kissed my father's head, said she was the first woman to kiss him and by God she'd be his last. We prayed. We sang songs. We decided to let him go.


On March 28, 2012, my father died of cancer. It happened suddenly. One moment, he was running marathons and laughing louder than any other living soul and the next he was laying in a hospital bed dead. Before my very eyes, I watched my father take his last breath.

Why am I tell you this? Why have I decided to share this with *strangers* online?

I don't know.

Sometimes, I feel like the cancer that killed my father wormed its way inside me, craving out a little piece of me. Maybe if I let it go, release it into the wild, I can start to breathe again. Maybe I can let go of the guilt. The guilt of him not knowing about all of this. The guilt of living when he's not. The guilt involved with life having continued and it not being unbearable without him.

I naively thought there'd be a day when all this would be a distant memory and I'd have to force myself to remember. But the truth is, I will never forget. The real challenge is living with the memory and allowing myself to move forward without the guilt or the regret or the fear or the envy I have of those who get to share all this with their fathers when I don't.

And as I sit here and cry and type these words, it is my humblest prayer, that these mixed up, morose memories will find a place where they can rest and allow me to move forward. Because that's what my Dad would have wanted, but more importantly, it's what I want too.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When In Doubt Call In The Professionals!

If you've known me for any length of time you might have noticed one of my life mottoes is:


While there are benefits to this type of thinking, there are also a multitude of drawbacks, including but not limited to flailing, screaming, hair pulling, foaming at the mouth, and, in general, chaos.
Now, I'm not knocking chaos. As the mother of four, my wheelhouse is insanity. However, when one is in search of their dreams, Crazy Town might be a good starting point, but remaining there ain't the best plan.

If I'm honest, Crazy Town is my home address. I like it here. It's comfy. Over the last year and a half-ish, I've entrenched myself in doubt, fear, hair pulling, mouth foaming, and loooots of screaming. I'm realizing I need to reign in a wee bit of the chaos. I need a lil rhyme and reason. Thus, it's time I've said:

But how?

I've felt helpless, lost, and stalled for a while now (hell, if I'm honest, for most of my *adult* life), yet the desire to DO SOMETHING has been strong. Even stronger is my desire to write and work toward publication. I long to make my dream a reality. The simple truth is:

I canNOT do it alone. 
I did NOT write my novel alone.
It has NOT been made stronger alone. 
And I WILL NOT get it published alone. 
These are facts.
Not me being emo or silly or jaded.

So, I've called in a professional (God help her!) and procured meself:

Who be said life coach?
This is me basking in the awesome that is Angie, by the by.
Some of you are well versed in the awesomeness that is Angie. Other's might find her name familiar as I have often sang her praises here on the blog. For those who have not met Angie, I shall give you this warning: you ARE a breath away from falling in love. #truth

Over the next month, my plan is to soak up all the goodness I can from Angie and I do so promise to share my journey here on the blog. We started last Thursday and already I have SO MUCH to report! 

From why I chose to work with a life coach to what I've learned about myself along the way, I pinkie promise to keep these posts honest giving the good, the bad, and the not so GRRREEEEAT! 

I KNOW Angie can't fix me. I KNOW Angie can't get my novel published. BUT what I do know is that if I am WILLING to work hard and learn from her EVERYTHING I can over the next month then I WILL be all that closer to achieving my goal. 

How sweeeeet the sound!
Ya dig!


All About Angie Richmond:
A self proclaimed creative, I divide my time between writing, blogging, reading and creating art. My formal education in psychology combined with my desire to help others find the career they love, has led me to explore a career in coaching. I love hockey, adore all things British and can be found singing and dancing in my kitchen while making dinner. I live with my incredibly talented, drum-playing husband, Brandon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (taken from website

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