When You Finally Realize

My excuses are a myth

My resentments homemade

All the things I thought were holding me back

Turned out to be only one thing…

…Me

 

 

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New Moon – Time for a Life Update

New moons symbolize new beginnings and change, so they seem like the perfect event to provide updates on how my life has been going.

It’s been a little over two months since I first started blogging and trying to document the changes I was making in my life. And since I’m not very good at providing a day-to-day narration, I figured I would let you guys in on some more details here.

 

Blogging & Writing

My biggest accomplishment my first month in, was that I was still blogging. I was still coming back multiple times a week to yell into the void of the internet regardless of likes and views and readers. And two months in, I’m still going. This is all for you my handful of followers and visitors!! But really, it’s not. My blog is mostly for me. And I do have to remind myself of that often. This is really more of a public journal (likely with a little more discretion than what I would put in a private journal) to keep myself accountable and get some thoughts off my chest.

And while I’ve written number of blog posts and even a few poems, I’m still irrationally afraid to work on my book idea. I have so much self-doubt for some reason. I’m hoping I get over it. I know I just need to write every day and start putting words to paper (or screen) but I’m still as full of excuses as I ever was. Which leads me into my next subject…

 

The Artist’s Way

For over four weeks now I have been working through the 12-week program outlined in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I’ve been waking up between 6:30am and 7am every day (even on weekends) and sitting down and writing three handwritten pages of freefalling thoughts every morning. (That’s 84 pages and around 21,000 words… Imagine if I had put that into something publishable *face palm*). I haven’t missed a single day. And I love sleeping in, so this is an impressive feat for me. Although, there are some great perks to waking up. Hear me out for a second… I am in no way a morning person, but to make things easier for myself, I have put myself on a sleep schedule so I’m not still going to bed at the same time even though I’m waking up earlier; and I’m actually starting to get used to the schedule. I have more hours in a day and seem to feel less tired since apparently my body loves being on a sleep schedule. Maybe I’ve even improved my adrenal fatigue problem? Hopefully. Way back when, I watched a YouTube video and the person was talking about how hard it is to change habits: She compared it to waking up 10 minutes earlier when you don’t need to. And here I am waking up earlier when I don’t really need to. If the first decision in my day is not to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep, it seems like a good start to the day.

I’ve also worked through a lot of exercises in the book. I don’t know if I’m feeling more creative necessarily, but I am feeling more accomplished. With more energy, I’m getting more things done; checking things off of my to do list that have gone untouched for too long. And going through exercises where you examine your life in a little more detail seems like a good idea. It’s nice to put thoughts and hopes and dreams down on paper and delve into the “whys” and “hows.” It’s intimidating but I think it’s important to sit down with yourself every now and then and ask yourself what it is you really want. Even if you’re not sure what the answer is…

 

Health & Weight

While mental health is super important, obviously physical health is too. I haven’t weighed myself since August 21st and I was a little scared when I stepped onto the scale this morning. What if I hadn’t lost anything? What if I’d been putting in all this effort for no results? I know it’s not all about the scale, which is why I haven’t weighed myself for four weeks, but society puts so much pressure on weight and BMI, that it’s really hard not to care. I’ve tried to look for non-scale victories, but I’ve been so conditioned to care about what my number is. But having more energy is a definite win. So I try to focus on that. Especially considering I didn’t go on any drastic diets and didn’t change my activity too much. Instead, I looked for a sustainable way to be healthy. And trying to not eat carbs or trying to run 3 miles every day just isn’t sustainable for me. And because of this attitude, I knew that results weren’t going to be as big as they were in the past. There’s some guideline that says losing 1-2 pounds a week is sustainable. But it’s so great when you can just loose huge chunks of weight, especially in the beginning. It’s nice to see progress and have that motivation. The number on the scale has worked very well at demotivating me in the past, but I feel like I’m on the right track now. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

So when I stepped on the scale this morning I was okay with the number. It wasn’t huge, but it was healthy, and it was in the right direction. Any progress is a step in the right direction. I don’t know why I’ve decided to share progress photos with you guys since there’s basically no difference in one month (I say one month because my first month I did basically nothing to improve my physical health). But according to the scale, I’ve lost eight pounds in four weeks. I’ve also lost an inch off my biceps, an inch off my stomach, an inch off my hips, and an inch off my calf. You can’t tell in the photos but it’s true. So without further ado, here’s the photos. This is not one of those “find the differences games” – the reason they all look the same is because basically nothing has changed.

 

Arts & Crafts

Because I have more energy, and because I have been waking up earlier and trying to limit bad habits like watching too much TV, I have gained a lot of extra time to get things done. Extra time, along with a boost in energy has helped me to complete a number of little arts and crafts projects that I’m proud of. In case you haven’t checked them out, here are some links to my creations over the last month:

Going Away Gifts – Candy Jars

New Baby Gifts – Custom Onesies

How to Make a Box Cushion

Going Away Gifts – Signed Umbrella

 

Goals

Of course there is only so much time in a day and there have been a few things that I wish I had spent more time on. So these are still things that I’m hoping to improve upon over the next month. Hopefully I have some more good news to share with you all during my next update.

  1. Writing – I would really like to start writing my book. It’s time to quit talking about being afraid and just face my fears already. I need to quit taking myself so seriously. I can always go back and edit, right?
  2. Blogging – I want to just keep blogging; regardless if people are reading or not.
  3. The Artist’s Way – 4 weeks down, 8 weeks to go.
  4. Health & Weight – I just joined a competitive volleyball team this past Sunday and all of my muscles hurt, but I’m excited to bring this back into my life and get a little extra exercise. I would love to lose some more weight, or at least some more inches.
  5. Playing the Guitar – I’m really hoping to take a video of some guitar playing this month for you guys. It probably won’t be good, but at least it will help with my accountability.
  6. Learning Spanish – Although Duolingo is making a resurgence in my life I probably need to put more effort into this.
  7. Drawing – I’ve done a couple of drawings lately in my sketch book that I may share and I plan on doing more. Plus, my online Udemy class should be some good motivation.
  8. Arts & Crafts – I have a whole bunch of supplies sitting on a shelf for projects that I had planned to do one day. I’m currently working on a lot of unfinished ones (ones I started but lost motivation for) but it would be pretty awesome to start tackling some of those “never started” projects.

 

I think that’s all I have for you guys, so if you’re still reading at this point (after this lengthy update), thanks for sticking around and talk to you soon.

Giving Up Reading for One Week – Day 5

The most dominant thought running through my head when I first started this was “I am about to discover just how boring my job is.” And I was 100% right.

I don’t consider myself a very jealous person but one thing I do get jealous of is people who love their jobs. People who can spend hours lost in their work only coming up for air when their bladder can’t take any more pressure and pain. Or their stomach is slowly consuming them from the inside out. I’m jealous of people who get live in their flow and get paid to do it.

Living in the flow is amazing. Magical even. How hours and time can just disappear because you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing. I’m not unfamiliar with the experience but it definitely doesn’t happen as often as I would like. And while maybe it used to happen in my job when I first started, any moments living in flow happen outside of work now.

I never realized how much time I kill a work. Especially during our off season when things just aren’t as busy. And when you can’t kill time reading articles on the internet or listening to podcasts or YouTube videos, how do you kill time?

I’ve been choosing writing, Duolingo, and online classes as my new time fillers.

  • I have a page downloaded from the internet with 365 days of writing prompts. These have definitely helped and a couple of poems have come out of them, but I find them tedious after a while. And I’m still too intimidated to work on anything real… Blogging is another good time filler though. But how many posts can one person really make before chasing away readers?
  • Duolingo is another great option. Learning Spanish has fallen of my list of priorities lately, partially because I don’t foresee traveling anywhere where I need to speak Spanish in the near future. Duolingo is a great little way to practice Spanish without a lot of effort. Plus, you can turn off the sound features and just work on vocabulary and grammar without doing the listening and speaking exercises.
  • The final time filler I’ve been using is an online class. Udemy was having a sale so I decided to sign up for a digital art class. While TV is discouraged during this week of no reading, I think instructional videos are a nice loop hole.

These things have been great little lifelines. Some of you may be wondering why I don’t just ask for more work? Because anything I’m going to get is going to be “make-work” work. And if I take it on now, I’ll have to keep doing it even when things pick back up again. I don’t want that shit work on my plate.

 

The weekend was way easier. There were all kinds of things I could fill my time with outside of TV and reading. I played a whole bunch of volleyball, went to dinner with a friend, went to a science/art festival close to my house (below are some videos and a photo of some of the exhibits), sewed on a whole bunch of buttons onto clothes (a task I had been avoiding forever), made granola, made muffins, walked my dog… All kinds of things. But I can’t do those things at work and look like I’m doing work.

When I came home on Friday I was anxious. I love reading and I had a long day on Friday trying to think of other ways to fill my time. And after a long week I enjoy decompressing with a good book or movie. And those were off the table.

The exercise is to do this for seven days. And I’ve survived so far. But a bulk of my time was not at work and I’m just not positive that I can do this for two days. Which sounds crazy doesn’t it? But the fact that I don’t think I can make it for another two days makes me think that it’s that much more important that I see this through. Maybe I should just be updating my resume at work… My time at this job is definitely ticking down. My job is adding very little value to my life and I am adding very little value to my job. It’s time to change.

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Not Just Another Story

Time ticks by

Boredom is an itch

I long for an escape

I crave it

To lose myself

To stretch my arms out

And dive in

With no intention of ever coming back

Off to discover new worlds

Where I don’t even exist

I will become them instead

They are interesting

They are exciting

They are alive

In a world of their own

Created just for them

They have friends with long made-up histories

Bonds forged forever in print

There are villains with the worst qualities

But still human

Disgusting but likeable

Complicated

And the adventures they go on

Full of meaning and purpose

The fate of the story rests on their shoulders

How will it end?

Read on

But I’m not reading

I am there

I am them

I have left my own world behind

So I could be in theirs

So I could be them

And forget my own

I am not lost

I am found

The Summer Thief

Autumn is a thief

Working before my very eyes

I might see but I don’t notice

Through the canopy of trees

It sneaks

Leaf by leaf it reaches out

Changing greens to golds

Leaving behind reds and rusts

The change is slow

Subtle

Sandals have changed to shoes

Shorts have changed to jeans

Nights get longer

As autumn steals the day

And wind gets colder

As autumn steals the heat

Leafless skeletons are all that remains

Autumn has stolen the summer

Giving Up Reading for One Week

Could you give up reading for one week? No novels. No stories. No blogs. No newspapers. No articles. No social media. For one entire week.

I’m honestly not sure I could. And I’m even less sure that I can. But that’s what I’ll be doing for the next seven days.

For over three weeks now I have been reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and been going through the twelve-week program and doing the assigned exercises. I’ve been waking up every morning between 6:30am and 7am (even on weekends!) to write my morning pages, I’ve been taking myself on “artist dates,” I’ve been using affirmations, and I’ve been doing a lot soul searching in trying to answer questions about who I am and who I think I want to be. But I think I just ran into my most difficult exercise yet.

One of the assignments for week four is to give up reading for seven whole days. I’m not even entirely sure how it’s possible to give up reading. I love reading so much. I do it all the time. I suck down words like I breathe down air. I’m not even sure I can live without reading – especially if I’m comparing reading to breathing! What will I do with all this spare time?

Here’s Julia Cameron’s reasoning about why reading deprivation is one of the greatest tools you can use to unblock your creativity.

“Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence […] “

“We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static.”

“If we monitor the inflow and keep it to a minimum, we will be rewarded for our reading deprivation […] Our reward will be a new outflow.”

“[…] sooner or later, if you are not reading, you will run out of work and be forced to play.”

“For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.”

It is a fascinating theory. She’s basically implying that by limiting the inflow or words and ideas from other people, which can flood our system, we are able to tap into our own words and ideas and change the direction of the flow; without ideas flowing in, they can flow out instead.

It makes a crazy amount of sense. But it is terrifying as hell. And it’s really strange that it makes me feel panicky. How can the idea of giving up reading be so terrifying? I think it has something to do with the fact that I can’t use reading to avoid things anymore. Cameron is right. Of course I’m addicted to reading. I don’t consider it a bad addiction, but in looking at it from a new perspective, I totally use reading as a crutch. I would way rather get lost in another author’s world than be faced with the prospect of having to create one myself. Even though I love writing too. How does this make sense? Too many times I have delayed doing something because “I need to finish my book first.” It will be interesting to see what happens when that excuse is off the table.

Plus, as part of this assignment, Cameron also suggests giving up TV. The obvious solution to having too much time from not being able to read is to fill it with TV. Watching TV is an amazing way to kill time. But TV is an inflow too. And like so many parents have said to their kids throughout history “TV numbs the brain.” TV is a crutch too. What am I going to do with so much time??!!

Prepare yourself for a lot of blog posts over the next seven days…

Going Away Gifts – Signed Umbrella

So our chorus said our final goodbyes to one of our members who is moving back to the UK last night. And in lieu of everyone signing a card, we all signed an umbrella – which seemed very appropriate for someone moving back to the UK. It was such an easy thing to do and it turned out so great. All you need is a black umbrella and some waterproof markers. I added a few extra drawings to it because I like to draw, but beyond that it is just filled with kind words and lovely goodbyes from a lot of people who are really going to miss her.