The Art of Being Lost

My Morning Pages reveal that right now I feel lost.

Morning Pages, if you don’t know, are a creation of Julie Cameron from The Artist’s Way that asks you to write three-pages every morning.

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Occasionally colorful, more often than not Morning Pages are negative, fragmented, repetitive or bland. Good!  Worrying about your job, the laundry, the weird look your friend gave you – all that stuff distracts you from your creativity. It eddies through your subconsciousness and muddies your day. Get it on the page first thing in the morning and move on with your day with a freer spirit. (Julia Cameron)

I have several journals full of morning pages, but I had stopped the practice for many years. This move, and the resulting reevaluation of my life emanating from it, made me think that perhaps Morning Pages might help me figure it all out. In typical fashion, mine of run from the mundane to the bizarre, often hovering in a zone of negativity and frustration. I repeat myself endlessly, and sometimes whine in such a nauseating way that I don’t even want to listen to myself. My morning pages are filled with bizarre dreams and my feeble attempts at interpreting them. Occasionally I write a positive entry, and I always try to end on a positive note, but mostly I just try to allow my subconscious to vomit its garbage onto the page, in the hopes that it might lead me to a creative act or better understanding of myself.

It worked this morning, as I realized that I AM LOST!

My feeble attempt at trying to express this visually. The green represents the woods all around, aka more opportunities to get lost.

I literally get lost almost every time I leave the house, but that’s not what I mean exactly.

I am a lost in a sea of words. I try to write, but I am not sure what I should be writing about. Yesterday I tried to create a more substantial post than my announcement about being reconnected to the world of social networking, and my attempt was so nauseating and full of babbling nothingness that I gave it up as a lost cause. I question every word I put on a page lately. Should I be spending time here or focusing on trying to create HubPosts which might miraculously make money? Should I focus on fiction and poetry, where my dreams lie, or should I continue to explore randomness through my blog posts. Why am I writing at all?

See, I’m lost.

I am lost in my search for my bliss. I keep claiming that I want to reinvent myself, and create the career that will make my days sing. Yet, I apply for jobs similar to what I had before, and then when I get them I live in fear that somehow I will make a disaster of it. I know that my feelings today stem from me starting to teach tomorrow, and worrying that I will be good enough and do what the company that has hired me is expecting.

I am LOST.

My only hope lies in the fact that I am on a journey, and that I don’t need to know my destination. Perhaps being lost is part of the steps I need to find myself and my voice. Only time will tell.

Or perhaps my true talent lies in the art of being lost.

What do you do when you feel lost?

Post script: In a blazing example of true idiocy, Mark over at The Idiot Speaketh asked me to make a guest post the other day. I managed to become unlost enough to provide, so please check out my post called “Confessions of a Female Idiot” 

I Am the Best . . . But

Do you ever do that? Do you ever try to list your accomplishments or say something good about yourself, only to qualify it five seconds later? I realized yesterday that I do it all the time and it needs to stop. It is affecting my ability to create the life I want, as I discuss in this post about writing resumes.

What do I mean by qualifying? Well, here are a few examples from my own life and warped brain:

  • I wrote a complete young adult novel . . . but no publisher has picked it up, so of course it can’t be good enough.
  • I finished my doctoral program in three years . . . but I don’t have a tenure track job or a title, so I must be a failure. I am just not good enough.
  • I am a talented writer . . . but there are so many bloggers who get more hits than I do. I have never been Freshly Pressed. I must be doing something wrong. I am not good enough.
  • I am a creative and talented director . . . but I don’t have the right attitude or that mysterious drive to make a huge success in the professional theater world. (This one is more a justification of myself, when in reality I am simply scared). You guessed it . . . I am not good enough.

ENOUGH! I’m driving myself insane. I don’t want to be that kind of person. I want to be able to embrace my accomplishments and be proud of the person I am, without caring how it looks to the rest of the world. I want to feel and believe that I AM GOOD ENOUGH!!!

Ultimately, my denigration of self really comes down to my concern about how others might judge me. When I went for my doctorate, I had no real intention of entering the academic world and becoming a star professor. As a matter of fact, I really got the doctorate kind of as a fluke (not to diminish the hard work or commitment that it takes, but the choice to pursue the degree had less to do with the degree and more to do with my stubborn pursuit of education and achievement). So why, if that is true, do I care that I don’t have the job or title?  Or, to quote from Fortytude “Why do I . . . allow myself to be undermined by the very values I choose not to ascribe to?” (Brokaw 7)

The answer lies in the assumptions I make about what other people expect of me. I don’t want to disappoint anyone and I want to live up to expectations. Yet, I constantly demean myself and perceive myself as a failure because I cannot claim the exact picture of “success” as dictated by society. I don’t have a title. I don’t have the money. I have a few awards, but nothing “big.” I don’t even have a real job at the moment.

Here is a reality I don’t often admit: I am the only person who has the right to be disappointed in anything I have done. I am the only one who should judge whether or not I have accomplished the goals I have for my life and myself. Have I disappointed myself in some areas? Of course. Who hasn’t? But, I have also surprised myself in others and achieved many things that I never imagined I could. Why can’t I simply say that without any qualifications?

So today, I hereby declare. I am, indeed, GOOD ENOUGH !!!

I want you to believe you are good enough too. I want everybody who reads this to list below something about yourself that you have every right to be proud of . . . no qualifications. Let’s celebrate ourselves for a change, and not diminish ourselves. Are you with me? Well then, share your victories below! I can’t wait to read them.

One more thing, as I was driving to meet with someone who could help me embrace my accomplishments on the page at least, I heard this song and really listened to the lyrics. I am writing the story of my life as we speak, and that life is more than just good enough, it is fantabulous!

Today I Dislike Words

Yes. Me. The person who manages to post despite having no regular access to internet (STILL). The person who sometimes posts multiple times in one day. The person who loves language and plays with prose whenever she can.

I HATE words.

Not all words, just certain ones that torture me by their existence, by their meaning, or by their elusiveness. I dislike words that seem determined to defy expectations and deny me their use.

What kinds of words do I mean? Here is a sampling of the words I currently despise:

I dislike all words that describe people’s abilities on a resume, because I do not know how to use them properly. Am I a manager? Am I a teacher? What makes me an excellent communicator or a creative thinker? How to I explain the multiple roles I have played in my life, and the skills that each of those roles require? How do I keep it all down to one or two pages, showing the qualities that make me a viable candidate for projects of all kinds.

I no longer understand the meaning of those words.

I want to change the meaning of words. I refuse to discuss progress any more, but rather talk in terms of movement. I am moving, in many directions, to get to the next step in my journey, not to achieve a specific goal. Success and failure cannot define me, as they are relative to the eyes of the beholder. But what words can I use to replace them?

Today I feel defeated by the limitations of language. Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wish words meant something different? 

Perhaps today I need to express myself in something other than words, to help me move from this:

to this:

Perhaps it’s not the words that are the problem, but my inner critics  (this link is to a Hub Post about them) who seem to be screaming loudly in my brain at the moment.


The Flavors of Fall

Autumn has always been my favorite season. The change has only just begun, but it never fails to create a feeling of excitement and awe in me. I don’t know exactly what it is about the fall. Perhaps it is because even now it seems more like the beginning of the a new year to me then January ever does. I grew up celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in the fall, but it’s more than that. The fall means a new school year, with new things to learn. The fall means new clothes, especially the beginning of sweater weather, which I love. While the fall technically represents the dimming of life, as the leaves fade away, to me it merely represents continuation and change, because though the beauty fades it will return again next year.

I thought I would share some of my favorite things about fall with you. I love the smell of cinnamon and apples, of pumpkin pie and leaves on the ground. I love the colors and the warmth, the blue of the sky and the ever-changing leaves. Here are a few images of the beauty and flavors of fall.

Happy Fall and Happy New Year everyone! May the sweetness, warmth, and color of this season fill your life in the coming year.

Life Update: Painting Progress, Evil Internet, and Other Foibles of Life

As you know I have been waiting for home internet to make my life a little easier, and it was scheduled to go on-line on September 13th. But NO . . . that would simply be too easy. We are not 100% sure what the problem is, but I still have to wander from coffee shop to book store to library to different coffee shop in search of the perfect internet connection.

With the complications, I struggle even more with the highs and lows, because I cannot get into a regular routine. Yesterday I felt like I couldn’t even get words on the page, so instead I forced my brother (Taochild to many of you) who had spent the night after babysitting for me to help me paint Sarah’s bedroom. In fact, I’ve held him hostage so he can help me finish the room today.

Meanwhile, I have made strides toward something. I’ve written a few Hubs, and allowed advertising. Even if you aren’t interested, if you could click on those ads for me if you read my Hub posts that would be nice (and I am happy to do the same for you someday too). I also actually have an interview coming up for that Saturday morning teaching gig, so keep your fingers crossed.

That’s the update! I’m sorry I am so behind on reading other’s blogs and commenting, but one of these days I will return.

Playing With Time

Have you ever noticed how much time controls us? Time, a concept created by man to create order in the universe, has become a torture device. If you take a moment to look up time in the dictionary, you will discover more than a column of definitions and uses.

Time guides when we get up and when we go to bed, when we eat and when we work. For people like my father, who is slowly losing himself to the past, time is the endless torture of the commercials, which interrupt his programs and make no sense.

Today I sit in wait for the delivery of a washing machine and a dryer, and I have no control over the time they will arrive. For weeks, I have been waiting for my internet to become accessible at home, only to discover that my waiting was in vain, as some ridiculous problem with the modem has delayed access once again. Now, I wait for the new modem, and time passes slowly.

I have only been here two weeks, and I know that it takes time to find employment or create your dream. It takes time to settle into a house and meet people. It takes time to learn your way around so you don’t get lost every time you leave the house. Everything takes time, and yet time seems to move simultaneously too slowly and too quickly for me lately. When I get lost in what I am doing, the morning flies by, and the next thing I know I have to be home to meet Sarah after school. Yesterday, when I took her to her first dance lesson, she wanted me to wait, but that was 90 minutes of time where I would have nothing to do (as I forgot to bring anything with me to work on in the rush of getting out the door and to her class on time).

Time seems to have a sense of humor, as it makes no sense. A minute can feel like an hour when the words don’t flow or when I am waiting on someone or something else. An hour can seem like a second when I am lost in a project or having fun.

But sometimes now I’m unsure how to fill my time. I am not earning money at the moment, so any moment I take that is full of pleasure seems like a waste of time when I have a list of “should dos” hanging over my head. Yet, the time I spend with my family, or pursuing passion, or just dreaming and doing nothing seems to be the most enjoyable time for me at the moment. The time that I take to make my home feel comfortable and become a place where I want to spend time seems valuable, and at the same time, it seems like it is taking too long. I want it done now.

I’ve declared my independence from a traditional work structure, seeking to create and form a career that fulfills me and uses my time well. But how do I declare my independence from the vagaries of time?

How does time control your life, or have you mastered the control of time? Discuss in the comments below, as I have nothing but time to answer. ;)

Highs and Lows

Yesterday I was on a high, single-handedly conquering the world and changing my life one word and blog post at a time.

Today I feel like crawling into my bed and hiding under the covers in a fetal position.

What happened between yesterday and today? I simply don’t know. I got so much positive feedback for my hub post yesterday, that I felt encouraged. But today I doubt my words and don’t know what to write about.

I know what’s happening. It is the entrance of the demon depression, or the ugly critic of my life. The creature that dwells inside of me cutting down my efforts by telling me I can’t do anything.

But this time I refuse to let the Inner Critic win. I am going to keep working toward the highs, while gracefully moving through the lows. But, I could use your help.

I picture a group of wonderful blogging buddies leaping to their feet saying,”I’ll help you Lisa! What can I do?” Perhaps that is just a figment of my imagination, but it sure gives a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

So what can you do? Well, you can help me come up with Hub post topics. What questions do you have about “Reinventing Self”? What would you like me to explore to help you on your own journeys? Or should I pursue a completely different topic?

You can also help me by following my Hub as well, and perhaps clicking on some of the ads.

Or maybe I am asking too much. I guess the thing that you can do to help the most is keep reading and keep writing and keep being the wonderful community that you are.

Now I have to try to get back on track, and get this roller coaster back in the right direction.

 

 

Here’s the link to my next attempt at a Hub post.

Revealing My Strengths

My commitment and search to reinvent myself has begun more seriously now. I’m taking steps toward earning a living, creating employment, and understanding myself better so that I am not just doing a job but embracing living and working in the most fulfilling way possible. I’m not going to go into too many details here, as one of the steps I took in this direction involves writing post for HubPages, a place where I could potentially earn some money off of my words.  I wrote my first post there today. Check it out.

Don’t worry though, WordPress is my first blogging home, and this community is very important to me. This the place where I can write, and explore, and dream, and vent, and complain. This is the place where I laugh and cry, and share all of the craziness of my life. This is the place where I have made friends and connections that have given me the courage to take this bizarre journey that I am on, a journey into finding my strengths and creating a life full of joy.

What exactly are these strengths, you wonder?  Well, this morning I took the on-line survey from Strengths Finder, to find some eerily accurate descriptions of myself. I’ve only skimmed the surface of what the analysis has to say, but to break it down in a few bullets, some of my strengths include:

  • Thinking and discussing ideas with others.
  • Being innovative and facing challenges creatively.
  • Learning new things and searching out the knowledge I need to successfully (and creatively) face my challenges.
  • Willingness to work hard, but apparently I work harder when I get recognition for the work I do. (I’m not sure this is true, but I do know that I get frustrated when I have worked hard and get no recognition).
  • Gathering information and reading.
  • Apparently I have some skill with words and writing. (Tee hee hee)

So what does all this mean? I have no idea yet, but it is an interesting journey.

 

Tomorrow I should have regular access to the internet so I will be back to commenting and responding to your comments. I’ve missed you all!

From Floods to Fairies and Future Possibilities

Thursday dawned with good intentions. I was going to explore the area a little more in search of a coffee shop/book store that looked ideal for my needs. I was going to do a little job searching and take advantage of that coffee shop internet. At home, I was going to work on strengthening my resumes and perhaps unpacking some more or painting Sarah’s room.

Then came the deluge.

It had been raining much of the night, but it seemed to come down harder in the early morning hours. Just before Sarah set off for school, I suggested to Nathan that we might want to check the basement for water since our landlords had warned us of the possibility of minor flooding.

After soggy Sarah climbed onto the bus, Nathan went down to check.  ”Oh, I see a little water,” he called up. “I’m going to vacuum it up!”

A few minutes pass. “CALL THE LANDLORDS! I CAN’T STOP IT!”

I call the landlords, and as I do, I glance out the back door toward the deck, to see water pouring downhill toward us in three glorious (though small) cascades.

Our personal waterfalls

Then I headed downstairs to find water spread across the entire lower level, reaching up to my ankles. Nathan was desperately moving boxes onto plastic tubs to protect them. The garage that contained most of the boxes still waiting for unpacking, although not completely covered had several large puddles. You could see where the water was pouring in through various cracks and it was incredible.

We managed to get all the boxes up. Most of them contain the books that I can’t unpack without more shelves. Thank goodness we brought extra plastic tubs.

Then we began using a wet vac to suck the water out. The vacuum held 9 gallons at a time, and before our landlords got there with a sump pump I’m sure we had sucked out well over 100 gallons, with little to show for it. Sump pump in, we kept sucking, and the landlords went and bought a second sump pump. Eventually Nathan had to get to work, but we kept plugging. The rain stop and the sun made an effort to come out. Finally, about 4 hours later, we left the dehumidifier to battle whatever moisture remained on the floor and called it good.

After that adventure I lost any enthusiasm, ability, or even focus to allow me to concentrate on achieving the goals I had set out. I wasn’t going to look for the coffee shop with road had puddles up to the bottom of my car. The boxes looked overwhelming, and my resumes are intimidating. So what did I do?

I painted.

Before we left Colorado I had a sudden urge to oil paint. I’ve never oil painted in my life, and never had any training with oils. I painted two pictures, well one and a half. The first I call “The Dream Home”, and while I don’t love how the tree came out in it, I think it was a pretty good first shot.

I’ll have to add a picture of it later as I forgot to take one and load it onto my computer.

The half painting was something I was calling “Fairy Home” and I had only gotten so far before I got intimidated and stopped. When we unpacked art, we found this painting, and Sarah said, “I like that Mommy. When it is done can I hang it in my room?”

So I decided to finish it. Please be kind:

Finally I closed Thursday down to crawl into bed exhausted and unsure after what seems like another in a series of chaotic events in my life.

But Friday began a new day, with a dry basement, internet access at a good coffee shop, and plans to go to a huge antique sale for the afternoon. Of course, first we had to deal with the bureaucracy of registering our car and getting our driver’s licenses. I won’t dwell on that, however, as I am sure we have all had our horror stories–and this one was comparatively benign although annoying at the time.

As I waded through 130+ e-mails and realized I could not catch up on all the blogging friends and other business, I found a miracle. A potential job teaching kids acting classes on Saturday mornings at a professional theater in Boston area. I jumped on it, quickly wrote a cover letter and sent off my resume. Who knows what will happen, but it was a positive step. Then I embarrassed myself by e-mailing something to a fellow blogger that was purely the fiction of my own mind, but I won’t go into that either.

Today I registered Sarah for dance class and was talking to the owner of the studio. As I did, I decided to take a leap, and told her about myself to see if she might be interested in using me in some capacity. Another miracle, she said “Yes!” It is all tentative and talk right now, but at least I put myself out there.

So, through floods and fairies I finally feel like I may be moving forward.

Care to join me in a ROAR of VICTORY?!

The Pros and Cons of a Coffee Shop Office

Starbucks logo

Image via Wikipedia

I am currently sitting in my local Starbucks. Now, of course, I would prefer some other coffee shop, but since I seem to have the innate ability of always choosing the wrong direction lately, I figured I should not take the chance of getting completely lost and stuck with the coffee shop nearest Staples, where I just spent lots of money on office supplies.

Did I ever mention that I LOVE office supplies?

Borrowed from http://mrschu81.wordpress.com/

 

But, I digress. Sitting here, and making my office a coffee shop got me thinking about the pros and cons of using a coffee shop as an office. Actually the demeaning and judgmental glance of the perfectly coiffed businesswoman that said with a screaming silence “You are so unimportant!” made me think about this.

Now before you go telling me I shouldn’t worry about what other people think, especially since they don’t know my story, I know that. The look just made me think about the role of coffee shops in our society, and my  purpose of using one.

My purpose is simple, I needed access to the internet. I could have gone to the library, but I keep forgetting to bring proof of residency to get my library card. So here I am, chai latte by my side, curled into a comfy chair and watching the world of the coffee shop.

Why would that woman give me that particular look? There are plenty of other people sitting here working on computers. I am not alone in turning this into an office.

I think it is because of my appearance. No, I’m not horrendous, but today is a rather gray and rainy day. Since I knew that my day would consist predominately of more unpacking, some painting, lots of organizing, and work on the computer (as well as perhaps some editing), I dressed for comfort. Sweat pants, old t-shirt, even the comfy bra that lends little support (sorry guys). Then I realized that I was out of black ink for my printer. I had to make an office supply run! I just had to! ;)

I didn’t bother to change, so I sit in my comfy clothes working on my little mini Dell.  So basically I look like a woman who has nothing better to do all day than sit in coffee shops and pretend to work.

But the thing is, I’m not pretending. I had over 100 e-mails to sort through because of my lack of access to internet. I am so behind on reading blogs and responding to comments that I don’t think I can catch up. My apologies to anyone who feels ignored, I think I am just going to have to move forward and not try to visit the past. I especially want to apologize to those of you who have recently (and surprisingly) subscribed to my blog, as I just have been too overwhelmed to deal with anything. I promise I will be better once I can use the internet regularly.

Again I digress. I am supposed to be exploring the pros and cons of a coffee shop office, so here I go:

Pros:

  • Access to free internet
  • Warm drinks and edible goodies (which I am avoiding for the time being)
  • A variety of music
  • Great people watching
  • Comfy seats when you can snag one.
  • Views of the outdoors.

Cons

  • Can be noisy, and other people’s conversations can be distracting.
  • If you forget something (like today I forgot my mouse) you are stuck.
  • Rude business women with judgmental looks.
  • In Starbucks, the coffee always smells to acrid, so I prefer a yummy smelling shop.
  • The temptations of the above mentioned goodies.

What are some of your additions to this list? Pros? Cons? Discussion?