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.
I usually think these things are kind of cheesy, but then I saw a woman who has been filling these out for about a decade and I thought it could be kind of cool to look back on. Sooo, here it goes.
1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Made a decision I was certain of.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Um I did not keep most of my resolutions. One was to write a little bit every day, which amounted to random days of writing a lot and then most days writing none at all (besides at work.) Another was to lose weight. I did that one! Yay. I didn’t lose as much as I wanted, but I did lose 35 pounds. So that is happy. A third was to read more and write reviews of those books. I read a little less than average and wrote almost no reviews. Maybe I should resolve the opposite of my goals this year.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One of my best friends Latisha gave birth to cutie Elliot!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
My Uncle Les died in August and my friend and former co-worker Bruce Beck died in April.
5. What countries did you visit?
I visited Canada, live in the US and also visited Texas (let’s be honest… it’s kind of its own country right?)
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
I would like to have confidence. It is slowly growing, but I often feel paralyzed while trying to write and most of it is lack of confidence.
7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Probably none this year. And I’m glad. Most of the year was not that good.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Making an actual decision and pulling myself out of one of the worst depressions I’ve had. I think I did it without making everyone too miserable. Sorry for the grouchiness though.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being accepted to several programs I applied for. Bruised ego ensued.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had one of the worst colds I’ve ever had — I actually lost my voice– but other than that it wasn’t such a bad year. Just the typical migraines and such.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Imitrex! Ha. Really, really helps migraines. It really changed a lot for me.
12. Who merited celebration?
My baby sister, Steph! She got a really fantastic job and just all around has had a good year. I’m really proud of her.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I’m thinking I shouldn’t talk about this on a blog…..
14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and bills
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The chance to visit Texas in November and visiting Oregon in August.
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Not sure. I don’t listen to music that much.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier. Much happier
b) thinner or fatter? thinner!
c) richer or poorer? hmm how about less poor?
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I had done more writing and I wish I had gone on more hikes around the Peninsula.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Work. I worked way too much unpaid overtime and much of it was unnecessary.
20. How did you be spend Christmas?
It was low key. I talked to my parents, sister and grandparents and opened gifts over the phone with my parents. Then Heather and I opened gifts and made a Mexican meal for Christmas.
21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
No. Unfortunately no suitors showed up this year.
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favorite TV program?
LOST!!!!! It was the very last season of one of my favorite shows of all time.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Not really. I think I’ve done pretty well letting go of that sort of thing.
25. What was the best book you read?
Pat Conroy’s “My Reading Life”
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Susan Enan’s “Bring on the Wonder”
27. What did you want and get?
An iPhone thanks to Dad!
28. What did you want and not get?
A new laptop. Macbook Air probably. In time I’ll get one.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Chronicles of Narina: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28 and I went to Victoria, went out to dinner. It was pretty low key but I enjoyed it.
31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If I had been the winner of the $380 million lotto ticket! haha.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Improving? haha. I learned a lot, but with the downward trending weight (yay) I am putting off reinventing my style until I discover what my body will end up looking like.
33. What kept you sane?
My family and friends.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
None really this year.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Love to talk about it… but I really shouldn’t since I’m a reporter.
36. Who did you miss?
I missed my friend Mark a lot this year. I miss all my friends and family that are far away, but I feel like I make a good effort to stay in touch.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
Hmmm there were several. Even though I knew of my “birthday buddy” Olivia (Jen Ven’s daughter) in 2009, I only got to meet her this year… and she is adorable. I also got to meet Elliot (Tisha’s baby), who is one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. And Hannah (Jennifer’s baby) who is obviously smart and sweet even through her shyness. As far as adults it was really fantastic to meet Kira and Kaila, who are the wives of two of my childhood friends. Both of them were breaths of fresh air and very delightful women.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
Sometimes it takes complete failure at what I’m trying to hard to do before I’ll even attempt what I want most.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Hate me today, hate me tomorrow, hate me for all the things I didn’t do for you. . . ” haha, well that really only sums up the first 3/4 of the year, the rest was pretty OK.
The passing of one year and beginning of a new always makes me sentimental. This year has been so full of ups and downs. On one hand, I’m glad to see it go, but on the other I know that change is on its way and that is a little scary. I’ve been writing a lot lately. I’ve made significant progress on one of my book projects. I wish I could say that I had 50 or even 25 pages, but alas, I do not. I’d like to submit the first 50 pages for a contest, which is due by Jan. 15 so I’ve been working really hard. A combination of overwork, laziness and total frustration with my computer keyboard has been delaying me. Little pieces of dust are in the keyboard and so the A, D, T and various other keys don’t want to work. It takes considerable pressure to make the keys work, thus making my typing about 1/3 as fast as normal. 😦 boooo. I suppose I should just go to Walmart and buy a cheap keyboard that I can hook up via USB or something. That would help. In fact, I think I will do so tomorrow morning.
I used to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year so many things are happening already, that I’m just trying to keep up with what is already happening — oh and also try to keep my room cleaner! Ha. I was doing much better than normal until Christmas, where my indulgence, as usual, led me astray. I do have a plan and I think it will be good. If you are the praying type, I would appreciate prayers or positive thoughts or whatever way that manifests for you about my writing. Penning a novel has always been a dream of mine, ever since I could read! Making books and telling stories is ingrained in me and I feel a sense of purpose that I don’t feel in anything else. There have been bumps. I have been thinking back on my writing time though and I realized that the only people who have ever disapproved of my writing were not people that I really admire or respect. They are also not people who have been privy to my fiction writing. I’ve usually had support in that area. It is so hard to judge, though. I let friends and family read my stuff, but I can never tell if they are just being nice or if they are too biased or if what I send is really good. I suppose we’ll find out. I believe in the stories I’m telling. They are as good or better than much of what I’ve read lately — but I cannot tell if my writing is worthy of the stories. I suppose every writer wrestles with such things.
With the coming year, I also realize that it is my 10 year class reunion. I’ve always wanted to go and cannot wait to see where everyone is — even people who I’m sure don’t remember me! But it also brings a sense of sadness. I’m not sad as many of my friends (*cough, cough, cough* Louie *cough, cough, cough*) about “getting old.” But I am sad to think about Mark not being there. I’m sure he never knew how much I valued our friendship, but I hope that he does now. Even though he won’t be there, I hope that in spirit he will be. It is also strange to think about how different I am. I feel a little bit like the high school me has slowly vanished. There are similarities, of course, but I am so vastly changed that I hope people still recognize and like me. To those I love, thanks for sticking with me through one of the most difficult years of my life — I’m sure that I was not always a joy to talk to or be around. I wish the very best for all of you.
Beijos! (as they sign in Brasil)
I’ve been thinking about the nature of happiness lately. I have had my bouts of depression, and I suppose I never have felt fully satisfied in my life — I think that gives me the drive to pursue the things that I really want. My life is far from where I hope it will be eventually or even in a year from now — but I know I’m getting there. However, I do know several people who seem bent on unhappiness. No matter what they exude an atmosphere of unhappiness and usually anger. I often wonder if the possibility of happiness exists, and these people simply are bent on acting out, or, perhaps, they are doomed to unhappiness. In the latter case I wonder if I’m somehow destined to be on a roller coaster of emotion at the lower end of the scale. It does seem I can somewhat choose how to feel, but not to the degree that I wish.
On the other side, on my vacation with my parents I encountered long-time family friends the Nobles. Sue especially always seems so happy and easy going. This trip I met the two older boys’ wives. Both girls are beautiful outwardly, but they both exuded a happiness that glowed. The whole family speak of God frequently but without the condemnation or preachy-ness that so frequently accompanies such talk. I, of course, don’t know if they are all truly happy all the time. I just know that in the few hours I spent with them, and the time I’ve spent with the Nobles in the past, there has always been an air of joy and peace.
I admire the happiness and continue to strive for it. What are your thoughts? Is happiness truly a choice? How does one overcome a sort of low-level depression? Is it all brain chemistry or is it all circumstance or is it all just destiny?
This weekend I visited Clallam Bay Corrections Center. I’ll share my story from this visit when I’m finished with it. However, it reminded me of the last time I visited the prison. That was in 2008. I was with group of media that was the first allowed in the “Intensive Management Unit” (AKA the maximum security part of the maximum security prison.)
There were two women on the tour — myself and the reporter from the Seattle PI. As soon as we walked into the unit the yelling began. It never did calm down. I think some of the men were yelling just to yell. Others were yelling vulgarities. Still others began stripping down and pressing their near-naked bodies against the narrow windows, which mercifully ended about waist high.
But that stuff I expected. I expected to see some guys who were “normal” and looked like any guy I might meet on the street. I also expected the guys with tattoo sleeves and shifting eyes while speaking of their “former” gang activity.
What I didn’t expect was the feeling of being there. I spent about five hours in the prison, visiting all three levels of security and interviewing about 15 people including about six prisoners. The prison felt heavy. I don’t have a better description for it. The anger, frustration and charged emotions were overwhelming. By the time I returned home, I was exhausted. Being such a naturally solitary person, I had never understood what would be so bad about being in jail (besides the danger one encounters of course.) But that day I understood. It is the feeling, the knowing there are so many walls and rolls of barbed wire. The negative energy emitting from every person and thing around you.
After that trip I considered how crazy isolation can make a person. Even the self-imposed isolation I created for myself for a while had a detrimental effect. Perhaps in a way I was imprisoned myself. There are still some areas that I think I trap myself. My fear or lack of preparedness or tight grip on the past or even procrastination sometimes imprison me in “impossible” situations. I was on the phone with someone the other day who I was suggesting alternatives for the paths that might be taken in life. There was a “but” at the end of every path, trapping this friend in a life with no possibilities. I do this too sometimes. I shall try to think outside the box. Or outside the self-created cell at least.
I remember reading “Life with Father” when I was a kid, perhaps before I could actually read. I’m not really sure if I read it or if it was read to me. The antics of the father in the book were pure hilarity. And sometimes relate-able for my sister and I as we had our own jokester for a dad.
I remember one April Fool’s Day when we found a note on the counter. It said we were grounded from our bikes, outside and the TV. During spring break. I think Mom was more upset than we were. After a tearful conversation with Dad while he was at work (I was POSITIVE that I had not left my bike out the night before) he told Steph to pick up the paper. Underneath the fold it said April Fool’s Day. We were “got.” I have to say that the Cosby Show episode where Cliff declares that the family can’t get him rang very true for us. We never could get him quite as good as he got us.
Dad’s outgoing and enthusiastic nature also contrasts with my own quiet and introspective personality. Frequently I would have rather stayed at home and read a book, slept or something else than go out and do whatever was planned for the day. But sometimes it was a requirement. I’ve had more experiences than many people who are many years my senior. So it has helped me grow.
Another thing I’ve always appreciated about my parents are their lessons in both practicality and in character. I have to say that I do have some credit card debt. This is despite my dad’s constant saying that it is “plastic from hell.” I have to agree with him. Though I still believe that the debt I have incurred wasn’t done from a consumerist angle. It has been generosity that has been my downfall. And perhaps that balance of giving is something I still need to work on, but I think that both my sister and I have that ingrained in us. We want to help and give to those we love and to those who are in need. That isn’t such a bad thing. Though we’re learning to balance that with our own needs.
I love you, Dad! For a writer I’m pretty terrible at saying the words very often. I’m shy and introverted about my feelings, but I believe and hope that everyone knows how much I love both of my parents. I’ve always been sort of amazed how seamless it seemed when Dad adopted my sister and I so many years ago (I bet he knows, but I never can remember exactly. . . 21 now? I think that is close.) I have never doubted his love not only for me but for our family. As an adult who covers some of the most horrific things that families do to each other, I can’t say how unique that seems to me now. And how much I appreciate it.
I also have always appreciated that Dad has never been the kind of dad who had trouble saying “I love you” or to demonstrate affection. He’s always been supportive and caring and sometimes I don’t even “get” TV shows very well because the emotionally and physically absent father is just not in my comprehension.
On this day of honoring fathers, I also often think of my biological dad, Steve. I wish I had more memories to share of him, but the only possible memory is possibly just something my childish mind made up years ago. It isn’t even really a memory but an impression of being spun around in a circle under my grandparents’ living room fan in a game of “airplane.” Maybe it never happened. I don’t know. Although I had less than two years with him I also love and appreciate him. My grandpa, his father, frequently told the story of them sitting on the porch watching me be a toddler and Steve turning to him to say, “Ain’t she something? Ain’t she something special?” I do wish I knew more stories and things about him. I’ve always been kind of shy about asking. Weird for a reporter, huh?
I am so grateful for all of the fathers in my life. I couldn’t have asked for better dads. And my grandpas are all such good examples. They all have such good qualities to offer in teaching how to live my life.
The other day I was talking with my sister, Stephanie, about our future careers and husbands. We were marveling at the example our parents set. It gave us the impression that having a loving and fun relationship is possible long term. That marriage doesn’t end up boring or out of touch or bitter as so many television examples are. And Dad loves his job. So we pursue our own “big dreams” and our own lasting loves. It makes it challenging because we aren’t expecting to fail. But teaching us to pursue our big dreams is never a bad thing right?