On writing, blogging and validation

For the past couple of months I have been running hard and running fast, so much so that for a moment I lost my way and allowed the outside chatter of others to drive my internal dialogue. This past week the situation came to a head as I allowed myself to start wallowing in the type of negative self-talk that is frankly harmful, I started comparing myself to others and of course when I found myself coming up short because I am not like so and so, I failed to see my own self-worth and power.

Last night I went to bed and for the first time in at least a month, I allowed myself the luxury of a solid eight plus hours of sleep, and sleep didn’t let me down. Upon waking this morning and taking time for a slow and deliberate meditation session instead of the rushed sessions of the past few months, I was rewarded with the clarity that I so desperately needed to claw my way up and out of this funk.

The desire for more is not always a bad thing, it keeps us going, and it gives us goals but sometimes that more is not the more that we need. Sometimes in life we are the architects of our journey but sometimes the journey lays itself at our feet and the universe directs our feet. That would be the best way to describe my professional life. I didn’t choose my path so much as it chose me and for some reason I can’t even describe, I am very good at what I do. I enjoy my work, it fills me with joy despite the challenges and this week was one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced professionally as I found myself embroiled with local bureaucrats fighting for the life of my agency. Yet passion and unnamed forces corrected a wrong and simply used me as that vehicle to affect change. Instead of being proud though I have been anxious, anxious because I want so much more and today I found myself asking why?

When I started writing professionally and later blogging, I initially did it because it filled me with joy, then somewhere along the way as the very nature of blogging changed from being about the writing to being about the business, I wanted in on that too. The thing is and I have shared in this space before, I am not a commercial blogger. The tales I share in this blog simply do not lend themselves to ever becoming part of the BGIM brand. How do we commercialize a woman growing up and finding herself on the cusp of middle age? I know this yet I still want to be like the cool kids, funny thing is I have never been one of the cool kids. In many ways my blogging career reminds me of the 3 years I spent in high school before I decided high school sucked. I never had a clique, a true place of belonging; instead I wandered from group to group, getting along with the popular kids, occasionally being allowed to participate in their parties, yet never being one of them. I could hang with the stoners, the geeks and all groups. In high school that trait made me feel lonely yet as an adult I have found the ability to get along with many different people to be an asset. In my current position it’s the key to the growth my organization has experienced and I say that as a statement of fact, not to toot my own horn because my horn is just a horn.

Yet when I stopped thinking of myself as a writer telling my story, living in my truth and decided I was a blogger, that’s when shit started getting funky. As a writer I did  not compare myself to others but as a blogger I do, recently I found myself fretting because a PR person wanted to know how many hits do I have a month. My stats are low, they fluctuate between 3500-5000 a month, compared to bloggers I know who are only 6 months into the game yet pros at using SEO and thus far average 100,000+ a month, my stats for someone who has been slogging away for years are a disgrace. Yet why am I allowing that to define me? Because I stopped listening to me and trusting in my journey.

I only speak for myself in this space but the truth is good writing and good blogging are two different things. Some can do both equally well but the truth is many of us don’t, I am not a bad writer but I am a bad blogger. I don’t have the energy or inclination to control my words to become something softer and lighter that will result in financial growth and in today’s blogging world, the bottom line is all about building your brand. To build my brand would mean stuffing me down and I am too old for that shit.

For the past few weeks I had been planning to attend the BlogHer conference; however the universe decided that what I was planning was not to be. Despite buying my ticket for both the conference and the transportation to get there, almost all my plans for lodging have fallen through; sometimes paying attention to the signs is a good thing. Sometimes you see what you think is the perfect pair of shoes but they are a half size too small, they are so cute you have to have them. Yet when you wear them out the first time instead of looking cute and getting the compliments, you are in excruciating pain and you ask yourself why the hell did you buy those shoes? Instead of the joy you thought they would bring you, they bring nothing but pain.

I have no idea where my writing is leading me, but it’s clear where it’s not leading me and as hard as that is to accept at times, truth and reality are what they are. In the end this may be nothing more than a joyful hobby and that’s okay too. Not all things need to be more, sometimes less is okay. I know though that at this point rather than seeking outside validation, I need to let the joy I get in simply putting these words down be my reward. Not many people have a career they love and a hobby they enjoy, and sometimes greed really is bad.  If extra money is what I need then a second job may be the answer rather than destroying myself and what I love.  For now I love this quiet space and while I am happy for all my readers, if no one read this I would still write it…hell I blogged/wrote for a good year and never reached 50 readers, so why start now letting the numbers change me?

On that note, too bad I wasted almost $200 for a conference I won’t be attending but the lesson learned was worth the waste.

 

 

Acceptance and gratitude…what 2011 taught me

Looking back over 2011, this was the year where I got serious about doing the deep soul work that you try to put off but eventually realize you have to do if you want to grow. I have always struggled with gratitude and acceptance, like so many it’s easy to take what I have for granted and want for more. Yet early this year it hit me that in my search for more, I am missing my life; instead living life through the eyes of the want monster and comparing myself to others.

Occasionally comparison can be good, but too often it sucks the life out of us. I have chosen a career path where by choosing to work at small grassroots sized agencies, the reality is a large salary is simply not going to happen. Fact is small agencies rarely have the budget to pay out large salaries and perks. Yet I have been fortunate, my hours are flexible, the type of flexibility that is a blessing when you are a parent who works outside of the home. When the six year old is sick, rarely do I have to figure out what to do, instead I can delegate to a staff member or worse case simply make the decision to be closed for the day. I am fortunate that my office is also a ten minute walk from my house so when the car decides to break down, I can walk to work. I am embarrassed to admit though that too many times in the past I have looked at my professional peers who are at larger agencies or friends who don’t work in the non-profit sector and felt bad about my career. Instead seeing people who can afford vacations, fancy toys and other things that my budget simply does not allow for and pretty much getting caught up in the woe is me dance. That dance sucks!

No, this year I have struggled to stay present in my reality instead being thankful for the blessing of my basic needs being met. Some may say that is simplistic, but all around I see those who are struggling with day to day needs and these are not my clients but friends. When I realized that several people I consider friends are regularly going to the food pantry to feed themselves and their kids, it gave me a reason to pause. I haven’t faced food insecurity since I was a kid, not even when I was a young single Mom did I worry about food. I may have worried about getting out of debt and building a nest egg but I don’t worry about the roof over my head or food on the table.

No, I don’t have health insurance since my employer is unable to offer it and my partner is self-employed but thankfully we have the means to pay out of pocket for routine care. I have to pay slowly but even my dental needs are being addressed on an on-going basis. I have an acquaintance that has identical dental issues and is unable to even afford to pay to get a tooth removed. That gave me pause. When my root canal failed and it was clear I needed to do something, I was able to get the damn thing removed.

Turns out when I am living my life, while I may not have the bells and whistles, I do have what I need and even some of what I want. There are no guarantees in life, so I accept that at this time in my life I am okay. While I have made a lot of progress with gratitude, I admit acceptance and I are still battling. For the past few months, there has been something I have wanted, but it’s starting to look like it’s just not going to happen. Mentally I have accepted it, as painful as it is but emotionally I am still working on it….to quote Bob Wiley from one of my favorite films What About Bob? “Baby step to four o’clock. Baby step to four o’clock.” It’s all about the baby steps.

Just Be

Today is the first weekday in weeks that I am actually off work. Monday night one of my board members demanded I take the rest of this week off and return to work next week. In typical workaholic fashion I spent yesterday handling our social media and working on a grant, figuring I would get ahead of myself since I have 3 grants to churn out by December 31. I love my work and I am passionate about it, knowing people lack necessities bugs me and I do all I can to bring some joy to their lives.

 

A funny thing happened today, I woke up with plans to make the most out of my one child free day since it was the six year olds last day of school. So that means two weeks with the kiddo at home! I love our time but knowing that this year I won’t have the luxury of being off two weeks alongside her, I know there will be some stressful points. Anyway I had my day planned out and well it seems Mother Nature had a different plan as the roads were slick with ice. The Spousal Unit was willing to do the driving so I could run errands but after hearing of numerous accidents and slide offs, it hit me…just be.

 

I haven’t been to either a yoga or yoga nidra class in the past couples of weeks; generally yoga is the glue that keeps me mindful and present. I know when I am sliding back into harmful ways of being when I feel the need to go 100 miles an hour, and I have been going full speed ahead for weeks, not fully present and juggling way too many balls. Part of it is necessity but the other part is simply being caught up on the treadmill of life that way too many of us live on. When simply being fully present and in the moment is near impossible because we are always mentally skipping ahead to the next task. I hate living like that, yet without yoga to put me in the present I fall back into bad habits.

 

So I spent the day accepting that my plans simply were not to be and then the Divine wanted to make sure I really got the message. See, my son aka college kid is coming home tonight. I haven’t seen him since he went back to school at the end of summer, so I am anxious to see my baby, knowing he is truly no longer a baby but a man…I gave birth to him though and he will always be my baby. When I booked his flight some weeks back, I purposely chose a flight so he would get home right before dinner. As you can imagine Mama Bear has been running around sprucing up the house and cooking to make sure his first meal back is a good one. Well my son who has been flying solo since he was 5 years old missed his flight. He has never missed a flight, turns out he misread the itinerary.  It’s a snafu but after a call to his Pops to get money for the change fee, as I type this his flight is in the air. Only thing is it will now be close to midnight by the time he gets here.

 

That means our perfect Solstice meal, won’t be so perfect but it’s okay because I will just be present in this moment, knowing he is on his way. I can’t change it and getting mad or sad does no good.  Sort of like my odd Christmas tree, I’ve been working so hard that it’s only been in the past day I could think about Christmas. Let’s just say that going to the tree lot four days before Christmas does not get you the choicest selection, it’s okay…we have a tree. She is at least 7 feet tall and only cost $20.

 

If you have been running around like crazy, might I suggest that you take a moment and just be…everything will come together. Life is not perfect and our holiday or days don’t have to be either, instead I invite you to join me in enjoying the messiness of the season.

 

I suspect this space will be quiet for a few days unless the writing bug hits me, so I wish you and yours a warm holiday.