My mom brought up a phrase the other day: “Surrender the Outcome.” In many ways this is a theme that has been repeating itself to me frequently lately. It kind of started the day I gave the $10 to the woman on the streets of Seattle just before I left. I saw her with the sign begging for help long before she saw me. I watched her and saw her look of desperation, but there was no doubt that she also could have been addicted to drugs or an alcoholic or something. I knew right away that I wanted to give her something, but I checked my thought process first. I’ve seen many people I know hand money to people and demand that they use it only for food or shelter, not drugs. Naturally I didn’t want her to go buy some meth, but when I handed her the money I let go of the outcome. I detached. I did what I could and hopefully her daughter slept in a bed that night.
I’m not usually very good with this. When I would write a story at work, sometimes I would lie awake all night worrying whether my bosses would like it or whether my sources would be mad in the face of negative publicity. I never let my worries affect my story–the truth always won out, but sometimes I would make myself physically sick over the thought. It is really such a minor thing to think about and worry about.
Some things, I guess are easy to surrender the outcome. We all throw out smiles to strangers on the street every once in a while. If they don’t smile back or give a strange look or turn away the outcome affects us for only a short time — if at all.
But it becomes more difficult in other areas. When I would go for job interviews I would make myself ill the night before and after the interview until I heard one way or the other on a job — even if I had decided I didn’t want it. I was incapable of surrendering the outcome. I can only imagine what it would be like to be a parent. Surrendering the outcome of years of parenting and love seems nearly impossible.
This week I was thinking, though, that surrendering the outcome, detaching from what happens next is the only way to remain sane. I’ve heard pastors and politicians and celebrities all vocalize the importance of the outcome. But my belief is we have no control over what happens next. My dad used to say to me in school (when I was freaking out over some quiz or test) “All you can do is all you can do.” I suppose sometimes we question whether we did all we could, but I’m trying to teach myself to let go. To do my best and do what I know is the right thing and release the outcome. I can’t control it anyway.
I’ve never been big on entering contests. Yes, I have been obsessively entering contests to win a Kindle for the past, oh, year-and-a-half. But in general I skip them. At drawings at church functions or social functions I never seemed to win. One time at a women’s retreat everyone but two people would be drawn from a basket. I was one of the two. Haha. At another women’s retreat everyone got a prize. I won a haircut at a barber shop. Again haha. But I recently entered Weight Watcher’s Inspiring Stories contest. I think it is a great contest and I have no clue what my chances are at winning, but I felt a boost of self-confidence just taking the pictures, writing my story and entering. I only wish I had more words (we were limited to 400). I guess a writer always needs more space.
The prize for the contest is $5,000 for a new wardrobe, a trip to NYC and a fashion consultation with Tim Gunn.
But overall, it doesn’t matter all that much whether I win the contest or not. I can’t even believe how much I’ve changed over the past several years. I think I know where I am going long-term. I am enjoying my current job and posses more self-confidence than I have in a long time.
I was recently listening to a seminar through Martha Beck’s program and it was talking about the “everybodies” in our lives. As in “everyone will think. . . .” “everybody agrees. . .” Of course, we all logically know that everybody in the whole world doesn’t agree on whatever the subject is, but there are groups of people who form our thoughts and feelings on what “everybody will think.”
I am still not sure exactly who forms my “everybody.” I’m still thinking about it. But I do know a few. A few surprises and a few givens. What I recently realized, though, was that was what was going on with the writing I’ve been trying to do. Wondering what “everybody” will think or feel about it. Wondering whether my group of everybodies will approve. I’ve always been a people pleaser and I was trying to do so in my writing. So for now I’m going to just write whatever I want and maybe I’ll never show it to anyone, but I think giving myself permission to keep it a perpetual secret will help. Likely some will not like it if they were to read it. But I’m trying to let go and just please myself and find my own writing voice. It seems like another big change for me. Though not outwardly visible it is a change for my internal thought process.
When I was a freshman in college I was obsessed with the band “Lifehouse.” No, seriously obsessed. I listened to their music all the time including at night when I was sleeping. One song in particular was my favorite. I’m not sure why this song never made it “big” like some of the others because it really is a good one. The chorus goes like this:
I am falling into grace
To the unknown to where you are
And faith makes everybody scared
It’s the unknown, the don’t-know
That keeps me hanging on and on and on to you
For a few months I felt like that. Like I was falling. It is hard to describe more effectively but I made the decision to quit my job at the Peninsula Daily early this year in order to pursue whatever career is out there. Some people didn’t understand this decision — quitting in such a bad economy doesn’t seem like such a good idea. And everyone has an opinion about what I should be doing. How I should be spending my time. One of my goals is to do some more writing. I haven’t said that publicly, really. I tend to panic with too much pressure and it seems like all eyes are on me sometimes. People who I have told are constantly asking me how it is going. I can’t describe what it is like to sit down and feel all the disapproval or high expectations. I suppose this is why a lot of authors have trouble with their second work. So many expectations. But back to my story. So from the time I made that decision I felt like I was falling and falling. Not in a bad way but in that sort of “rush” way and that way that gives a burst of adrenaline. I was completely at peace. I knew everything was going to work out. When I was in Cali visiting my cousin Deana I couldn’t find my prescription sunglasses. I had no idea where I left them or where I could find them. But I wasn’t worried at all (those of you who have seen me lose my keys know that this is not my normal response.) I was sure that they would show up. And they did. I also wasn’t very worried about finding a job when I got back to Texas. I was sure something would show up. And sure enough something did. But something changed along the way. At first I was writing and exercising every day. I continued to go to work and juggle everything but I was at peace. I still had that sensation of the wind on my face and falling. I never felt like I “hit the ground” or anything, but somewhere along the way I started to panic again.
I feel nervous and a little scared about my future again. I am obsessing at night and worrying about everything. I haven’t written or exercised in a month. There is this exercise in a book I read once where you envision what you want to happen. You work very hard to imagine every single detail. You go as far as to write it down and cut out pictures and make a visual of it. And then you say “It’s done, thank you.” And you don’t put up your visuals or look at your writings. You forget about it. You let go.
I’m not exactly sure how to let go. I’m such an obsessive personality that I do tend to worry and obsess a lot. But even though I doubt whether destiny exists or not a lot of the time, I have such a sense of purpose about this year. I do believe things will work out for the best. The verses of the Lifehouse song go like this:
This doubt is screaming in my face
In this familiar place
Sheltered and concealed
And if this night won’t let me rest
Don’t let me second guess
What I know to be real
Put away all I know for tonight
And maybe I just might
Learn to let it go
Take my security from me
And maybe finally
I won’t have to know everything
I got nothing left to defend
I cannot pretend
That everything makes sense
But does it really matter now
If I do not know how
To figure this thing out
I am against myself again
Trying to fit these pieces in
Walking on a cloud of dust to
Get to you
So I think I’ll let go of all my doubts and fears and uncertainties. Not sure how exactly, but here goes nothing. Maybe I can get that falling feeling back for the rest of my life.
So this weekend I found several boxes of my stuff stored at my parents’ house. I didn’t even know they were here!! From the time I was a small child I wanted to be a writer. I fiddled with tall tales, poetry and “chapter books” (those were really more like sentences on separate pages, but ya know!) Here are a couple of poems I wrote when I was 8 and 9. Clearly I was obsessed with the sea for some reason haha. I don’t think I did too bad for a small child! I’ll scan some of my books and post later but for now enjoy the poetry!
At Sea by Paige
The water on the rocks
The seagulls in their flocks
Pew, I smell someone’s dirty socks!
That’s at Sea!
The sailor calls “Land Ho”
Listen to the water flow
This is how the children go
That’s at Sea!
Splash goes the whale
“Stop it!” Said the man who brought the mail
“Look at me sail”
That’s at Sea!
Look at the dead crab
I fed my horse on shore
Look at the led in the pincel [sic] in the sand
That’s at Sea, Sea, Sea!
The Pilgrims by Paige
They sailed across the deep blue sea
There were more than three
The pilgrims they were called
Finally the sailor called “Land ho”
Everyone started to glow!
The pilgrims they were called
They met an Indan [sic] named Squanto
Who showed them how to make plants grow
The pilgrims they were called
The winter was very hard
The men were to guard
Their famalies [sic] from the times of hard
Yes, the pilgrims they were called
This last week I was thinking about when we were first living in Brazil. Steph would often come in my room, climb on my bed and wake me up very early in the morning — as in at the break of dawn. One particular day she was jumping on my bed up and down and up and down and was begging me to go ride horses with her. I was groggy (I hated mornings after all) and said, “Hey, I was having a dream about horses” (and I was.)
“Tell me the story!”
So I told her a long and winding story about a bunch of wild horses we had captured and were training at Agape. Just at an exciting part I cut off and said, “But then you woke me up.”
“Go back to sleep! Finish the dream and tell me the rest!!!”
I laid back down blissful that I would get a little bit more sleep, but it wasn’t maybe five seconds later before she was shaking me awake, “Did you finish it yet?”
So I made an ending to the story, and we played something, but I don’t think we went to ride horses that day.
I wish I could remember all the crazy stories I used to make up for my little sister (back when she was both my “little” sister and as she always will be my younger sister.) I’m sure they were hilariously bad, but it would be fun if I could remember.
My very first memory (that I know of) is of going to the hospital to see Stephanie on her birth day. 🙂 Today, July 31, she is 27 years old and soon I will be 29. (When we were little kids she used to believe she would “catch up” to me in age, because briefly we were only “one year apart” until my birthday in September.)
My grandma took me to see her in the hospital and I got to hold her for a little bit. We had to sneak in because in those days children were not allowed on that floor of the hospital. I think back then I thought Stephanie was something like a new toy that I would get to bring home that was “mine” and at times I was quite bossy with her, which isn’t really my nature.
On her 27th birthday, I hope the very best things for her, that all of her dreams come true and that life brings her good things.
I love you, chickadee.
I just finished reading “The Fountainhead” — this isn’t the blog for my review, which I’ll do on my book blog later when I have the energy to retrieve the appropriate quotes and such. But reading a book so full of symbolism made me begin to look at my own life. Already I had been contemplating the idea of possessions as symbolism. Many people remember me for my massive numbers of books. I liked that. I would not get rid of a book that I had read or intended to read. My bookshelves were stacked two deep and I had more piled in my room and more in boxes. When I started thinking about getting a Kindle for the first time I resisted. Part of it was the tactile thing the feel, the smell of books. But part of it was missing my library. And I began to ask myself what did it symbolize to me? I was disappointed to learn that to me it was more of an ego thing than a love thing. I do love a great number of my books, but I was holding on to a great deal more than the ones I loved — ones I never intended to open again partly because it created a greater library. It gave me the image of a reader. I am a great reader, but my library said nothing about me, so I got rid of probably 4/5 of my library, keeping only those that I truly loved or at least respected. Now I think if someone looked at my library they might have more of a sense of me. A symbol of what kind of reader I am. (Although I have currently loaned out three of my favorite books. . . haha.)
I was also thinking this weekend about another kind of symbolism and me. The messiness that once plagued me. Since arriving home I have kept my room perfectly tidy. It hasn’t even gotten a little messy. But many of my friends and family can attest that wasn’t always the case. I am often teased about this (many times because I used to make fun of myself for it — mostly out of my own shame. I guess I thought if I laughed first it wouldn’t hurt as much when they laughed.) But the messiness, I’ve come to believe was a kind of outward example of my own inner messiness. One time a friend of mine in Brazil said that to me and I was furious with him. I thought, “No, sometimes I’m just messy.” But I think my fury was just an acknowledgement of how right he was, at least in my case. Right now I am at peace. I am happy with where I am. There are things I still struggle with, of course. Life is never a cake walk. But I feel like I am following the path I am supposed to. I’ve never been at peace with my place in life before. I’ve always struggled before. I’ve always felt in turmoil as if being tossed about by the ocean. So I suppose it is no surprise that my space reflected that. People still tease me about my former messy way. I suppose they don’t know that I’ve changed. It has only been a short while, after all. And those memories, even just of the mess, are painful. Maybe someday, I’ll figure out a way to ask them to stop the mockery.
What do the things that mean a lot to you say about you? What about the things that embarrass you?
Well, today I reached a long-time goal of mine. It is not my final weight-loss goal, but it is the goal at which I can become a “lifetime” member of Weight Watchers and for now it is where I will work to maintain. For the first time since 7th grade I am at a healthy BMI. It is so strange. I don’t feel like I ever looked *that* bad, but I definitely was at a point that I felt pretty bad. I’ve lost nearly 55 pounds now. Isn’t that crazy? It almost seems impossible. Almost like I’m exaggerating. When I was yo-yoing I would always say I had lost 10 pounds. Well, usually I had. 10 pounds from something. Maybe I had gained 20 and lost 10 or up and down and up and down until I didn’t know where I was. I had a friend that even teased me once. She said “every time I talk to you, you’ve lost 10 pounds.” After that I stopped talking about weight loss. For a while I gave up completely and that is when I got to my worst, but then since Lyndi convinced me to join Weight Watchers in November of 2009, I’ve slowly lost weight. Sometimes it was 0.2 pounds and sometimes I gained. But this week, with a 1 pound loss I was finally within a healthy range. And I think I look pretty good. If I said my weight here, many women and men would think I was still “fat.” I would say many women still strain to be 110, 115 or so. But I’ve accepted that will not be me. I am muscular and curvacious in ways that my body will not hold up to that kind of weight. It would not be healthy. I don’t even desire that. But I’ll be honest. When I was 12 years old or so and thinking about what kind of body I would want to have when I was a woman, it was exactly the body that I have. I am happy with what I am blessed with. I like the smallness of my waist and the curve of my hips. I even like my muscular legs (even though zip-up boots rarely work for me) But I’ve never had the desire to starve myself to be a waif, or over-exercise to be something I’m not. I am what I am and I’m happy with that. I just want to be the best version of myself, the most healthy one possible. We will see what that ends up being. 🙂 For now I’m celebrating feeling better than I have in years and having the numbers at last reflect that.
What a crazy long weekend. And I mean “long” in multiple ways. My weekend started out average on Friday. I worked a bit from home and then spent some time with my parents. I also read over my friend Adam Gibbs’ manuscript “A Great Story.” And it was great. His project and enthusiasm is inspiring in ways that I can’t even express. Sometimes for me as a writer it is difficult to see other writers so inspired and making so much progress, especially when I am feeling stalled (which I am right now) but I am so genuinely happy for Adam and the manuscript is so enjoyable that there is truly no jealousy. So that is such a happy thing for me as well. To see a friend succeeding.
Then my weekend got crazy. My Grandpa Lloyd fell down in the backyard while outside with his little dog Matt. I think I understood something about swatting at some moths or something. Grandma had her hearing aid out so it took a bit before she found him. At first they thought he was just bumped up and bruised but the next day they summoned an ambulance because he couldn’t even get out of his recliner. Turns out he had broken his hip and would need surgery, but first he needed to thicken up his blood because he had been on blood thinners before.
Then I went to my class reunion. Some might not agree, but I really did think it was a success. I will most definitely help with the planning of the 20th reunion and was excited to see everyone. I looked forward to it very much (as my friends can attest) and it was a lot of fun. I was sad that my little group of friends wasn’t able to make it, but for me I liked seeing all the rest of the people there. What struck me was 10 years ago we were all pretty much in the same place. Leaving Canyon High School. We were all pretty much in the same stage of life. But now we are all over the place. Some of us are married with four kids and some (like me) are single. Some have moved to the edges of the earth and some never plan to leave Canyon. It is fascinating to me to see everyone interacting again. I know that on facebook you can see all these people and find out what they look like and whether your high school crush is married or gained weight or whatever, but there is something even more interesting about seeing this group of people in the same room together. I thought so anyway. Others will disagree.
I slept in on Sunday, Saturday was such a late night for me! And I went to go see Grandpa up at the hospital. Then Monday (the Fourth) he went in for surgery and was out within 15 minutes! Apparently they just screwed the bone together and were done. Not sure yet what rehab will look like for him though. I am glad to be back closer to family so I can go up to the hospital at times like that. Later on Monday was the Pletcher family cookout. I sat at the kids’ table (as usual) and got to talk to Trey.
One of the busiest holiday weekends in a long time — including the ones where I worked!
I’ve tried to think of more eloquent things to say, but really all I can say about the trip moving to Texas is that it was a total blur, a ton of fun and really good for me.
In Santa Monica, Evan, Melanie and I walked along the Pier. In the pics you’ll see a shot of the end of Route 66. I thought that was kind of fun because Amarillo is roughly around the middle of the Route. Now I just need to go to Chicago! I have always wanted to go there. . . Santa Monica is really nice. We went to the Promenade and walked around the shops though we didn’t go in any and buy stuff (um, my car was already full enough, thank you!) Then we headed home. (Well, their home.) Evan had a composers’ meeting so Mel and I went to see a movie — “Bridesmaids.” I fully expected it to be full of stereotypes and basically “The Hangover” for women, but it actually had some unexpected depth, at least in my opinion. I thought the ad campaign was way off (as it often is in most movies these days. . . ) But this quote in particular I thought was applicable to myself at times and to many people I know. “I can’t deal with people who blame the world for their problems. You are your problems. And you are your solution.” (Melissa McCarthy’s character says that at one point.)
I love that quote. A lot of the movie was ridiculous and raunchy, but as I said there was an unexpected depth, I thought. (But maybe I have a soft spot for Melissa McCarthy. I have loved that actress ever since my favorite TV show of all time, “Gilmore Girls.”)
The next day we did Hollywood! We did a hike and then went to the Observatory. Then we went down to the theaters and saw the stars on the sidewalks and handprints. It was very interesting. You’ll see Melanie and I with our hands in the Harry Potter stars’ area. 🙂 It was awesome. After that we headed to their friend Chuck’s birthday party. He has a view of the Hollywood sign from his balcony! It was a lot of fun. Then we headed home (after being trapped in traffic for a while. Poor Melanie was driving and the Star Wars concert had just let out so it was total chaos.)
The next day I picked up my mom at Jerry and Carmen’s and we headed to Vegas! Then the next day we headed out (hahaha just kidding. . . I will give details.)
We stayed at Treasure Island (Thanks to Nicole’s suggestion.) It was a very nice room and had a great view of the strip. If I hadn’t been so tired I might have suggested going down to the pool, but instead we headed out and walked around to do some shopping and just exploring. Neither of us is much into gambling and to be honest both of us get headaches from cigarette smoke so we avoided the casinos. We picked up our tickets to Cirque de Soleil Love and dinner and then walked around some more. Dinner was truly amazing. It really was the best steak I have ever had. It was tender and juicy and just absolutely perfect. mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it! There was other stuff at dinner that was incredible as well but the steak was so incredible that is all I can think about!! But seriously it was awesome.
After dinner we headed to the show that was just beyond words awesome. In something like that there is such a combination of aestheticism, showmanship, talent and creativity that it is hard to fathom how it comes together night after night. Mom liked the skaters best (for those of you who have seen it) and I just couldn’t pick. I kind of liked the slower numbers best because you could see what was happening more, but also the first time the Beatles came out where they were jumping all around was pretty amazing.
The next morning we got up and made the longest drive I made the entire trip. The driving part was only about 9.5 hours, but we lost an hour and stopped a lot so in the end it “seemed” like 12 hours. But it wasn’t all boring driving.
We first stopped at the Hoover Dam. As many times as I have been through Nevada, I have never been over this particular dam (others, yes.) It was pretty awesome, even though they made me open my car doors to make sure I wasn’t hiding explosives (seriously, do I look dangerous??) I was kind of afraid it would all tumble out but thankfully all the luggage stayed inside the car and we were able to drive across the dam. We also saw the HUGE new-ish bridge which is made to bypass the dam. Really incredible how big it is. On the drive back Mom and I started smelling smoke and after some investigation we found out that although we were in New Mexico the heavy smoke was from the Arizona wildfires. Total craziness. Apparently the smoke had already made it all the way to Iowa that night. It might have made it even farther by now because they continue to grow.
Then on the next day (losing track of actual days. . .sorry) We made it back to Amarillo! It only took about five hours. I was unpacked and organized within two days. I hate the feeling of being unsettled.
I know many people will think that this is the end of my adventure and now I’m settling back into a boring life in the Panhandle, but I feel that this is only the beginning of a year full of adventures. I hope that everyone on the NOP will stay in touch and that I get to catch up with everyone in Texas soon!
I’m now in Los Angeles at Melanie’s! So this is what has happened in the meantime. I’ll have to upload pics later.
I arrived at Deana’s on Thursday and took it easy that night. I was fairly tired still from the drive/all the craziness that was my last week in Port Angeles. I finally was getting over my cough though, so that was good. Deana has two of the most adorable cats ever. So I spent a lot of time harassing them. Haha. On Friday Deana and I along with two students from her church headed to the beach. We went to this cute little beach called Bean Hollow and then stopped at two tiny towns on the coast including Half Moon Bay. The other one I’ll have to look up the name (Deana, I’m sure will remind me :)…)
On Saturday she and I went into the city to go to a Carnival festival with Latin music (including Brazilian.) Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so great so the attendance wasn’t very good, but it was fun and it was also kind of fun to see some Brazilian booths. After that we decided to go downtown and watch a movie so we started walking and decided we’d grab a cab along the way but we never did, so we walked like 3 miles to get there. Luckily the rain held out while we were walking, and we made it there nice and dry. We saw “Pirates of the Caribbean 4.” My one-sentence review is that it is better than the third one and about even with the others.
After leaving the theater it was pouring rain so we ran to Old Navy to wait out the rain, and Deana got some really cute items :). I decided I didn’t need to add to the massive amount of things in my car. Haha. Then we headed home and attempted to watch “Tangled” but we both fell asleep. Sunday I slept in, but Deana had to work so she got up early. I went to the 10:45 service with her which was really good. Everything had a bit of a somber tone because of the suicide of a young woman in the community the week before, but I thought it was handled well in the service.
After church Deana and several other friends headed out to go cherry picking! It was a lot of fun. To be honest I probably have never even eaten real cherries (besides the ones from a jar with all the syrup and such.) But my parents will be surprised to hear that I thought they were pretty good. (Well at least the sweet ones. there were several I took one bite and spit out haha. It was sunny but not too sunny so that was nice too. And Sarah and Becca (I’m not sure how they spell their names) — the two little girls that went with us — were so cute. It was hilarious how seriously they took finding the right cherries.
On Monday Deana and along with her friend Erin went to the Art and Wind Festival. There were supposed to be a lot of kite flying demonstrations but I didn’t really see much of that going on. Maybe we missed it by going in the afternoon instead of the morning. It was the first festival that I have been to that I haven’t’ covered in any way in something like 6 years, so I found that to be delightful! Festivals can be fun when you aren’t tired of them before they even begin! We didn’t buy anything besides food, but just enjoyed ourselves that afternoon. Then Deana and I went back home and took a nap (we were both beat) then we had dinner and some awesome yogurt from the Yogurt Shack in town and relaxed for the rest of the evening. It was really fun because I have been to San Fran several times so it wasn’t like I had to go to the Golden Gate, the pier and all that because I’ve already done that several times. All of that is fun, but it wasn’t top of my list. Mainly I just wanted to hang out with my cousin!
The next day I left at a leisurely hour, got on U.S. Highway 101 and drove down to Los Angeles. I beat Melanie home but Evan was here so we hung out for an hour until Mel got home. On Thursday she and I spent the day shopping and hanging out by the pool reading magazines. Then yesterday we went to Paradise Cove, which is in Malibu, and spent the day at the beach! It is a really lovely little stretch of beach and I managed not to get sunburned (yay!) And what better way to spend a day in California? Today the plan is to head to Santa Monica and tomorrow we will go to Hollywood. Then my mom and I will meet up on Sunday and head out to Vegas! yay. It will be a good trip. I’m glad it has been both fun-filled and restful.
More to come!