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photo 2 (3)I’ve been talking for what seems like forever about getting a new place to live that better suits me. This year, I listed it as one of my main goals.

Truthfully? I only half-expected to make it a reality. I’ve been talking about wanting it so long and not being able to make it happen that I only half-believed that I’d actually be able to pull it off.

That unbelieving half has to eat her words, because in June, I am moving to a new place! It has two bedrooms (instead of one) and two bathrooms (instead of one). My  books and writing desk get their own room again, and guests won’t be subjected to my hair product arsenal when they need to visit the facilities.

Other happy features include:

  • washer dryer connections in a closet hidden off the kitchen instead of in the living room
  • single-story structure = all the benefits of a ground floor apartment with none of the drawbacks
  • a real neighborhood – no student housing structures
  • closer to my sister, my church, my grocery store, and walking distance from the north branch library with its book sales and bookshop (so I’m expecting the extra few miles to work will actually balance out)
  • city trash and recycling bins – goodbye, dumpster life!

I know my move-in date is well over a month away, but I’m so excited I’ve already started packing books.

 

 

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I sometimes feel like my table as seen through a glass. All my marks show, even the ones that should have been sanded smooth a long time ago.

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Marvia Davidson has prompted us to write about authenticity today. That seems like something I’d like to talk about. After all, my word of the year is “true,” so that goes right along with it.

So I set out to make a list of things that are true about me, but I only got to three.

Who am I? I am…

…an idealist. I worry a lot, and critique a lot, but that’s because I see in possibilities. I see how good things could be. If only. Maybe. Hopefully.

…an information sponge. I’m incurably curious. In personality tests, I test as intuitive, but I feel like I’m cheating. I’m not sure it’s so much intuition as it is an abundance of information lurking in my brain. It just looks like intuition because I easily see connections and patterns, and I’ve already followed them down the rabbit hole while others are still defining the problem. Or maybe that’s really what all intuition is – gut feelings based on experience and knowledge.

…efficient. A coworker once told me that I get more done in one hour than most people get done all day. I teased that he should mention that in front of people who could give me a raise (kidding/not kidding), but I was happy that he noticed. I like that I can finish tasks quickly, and it frustrates me when I can’t. I frustrates me when my marks show.

Some things can’t be rushed.

I looked back this morning at goals I’ve set in the past. I found my New Years Resolutions from January 2013. They were interesting:

  1. Stop being such a jerk (it was after an election year. I have opinions and can sometimes be mean about them).
  2. Stop participating in Facebook drama (see #1, with the special note that opposing racism and misogyny does not count as drama. Drama is useless; speaking up is important.).
  3. Stop the compulsion to fill up every minute.
  4. Stop saying “Yes” just because I can’t think of a good reason to say “No.”
  5. Stop making excuses.

At the end of the year, I marveled at how far I still had left to go. Three years later, I see progress, but I still marvel at how far I have left to go.

Being who I am is easy. It didn’t used to be. I used to get so wound up about it. I don’t get so wound up anymore. Thank you, 40s (younger friends – it gets better).

Becoming who I want to become is s.l.o.w.

I make plans for a year and work on them for five. This offends my efficiency. It also allows for more in-depth information-gathering.

I am both-and, not either-or.

 

I am linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday. Join us?

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Happy packages from Maggie!

This post may seem disjointed. Welcome to where I’ve been recently.

These last few weeks have been busier than usual, and I’ve handled it in my own stellar way – freak out, get sick, and cancel everything.

On the one hand, I’m pleased that I chose to say no instead of powering through and keeping my schedule packed when my body needed to rest. On the other hand, if I could make better (i.e., more life-giving and less exhaustion-producing) scheduling choices before I freaked out and made myself sick, that would be awesome.

No is important sometimes. But no is not always the best choice for me. Sometimes, what keeps me from getting to the freak-out stage is remembering that I’m not actually alone.

I live by myself, so if I want to engage in supportive relationships, I have to make an effort to do so. I’m not talking about the being-mentally-present effort that all relationships require. I mean actual physical effort. To be social, I usually either have to put on my shoes and leave the house or bring the people to me.

There are exceptions. Maggie is in Houston, and Michelle is in Fort Worth (ish), and we usually text on a daily basis. We get together when we can, but that doesn’t happen very often. We text about TV but we also talk about life stuff. It’s an easy way to keep in touch. Maggie and I have started reading books together again. We’re currently working on all Jen Lancaster’s (or JenLan, as we – and probably no one else – like to call her) memoirs.

But most showing up requires…well…showing up.

It doesn’t have to be an organized event. I like going to people’s houses and having them over to mine. I like reading in the wine shop on the square. I also like listening to live music and browsing bookstores.

I don’t mean for this to sound like a personals ad.

I want to do more than go through the motions of my day-to-day schedule. I want to be show up mentally and physically, and I want to have the energy to do so. Honestly, I’m afraid that I have forgotten how to do that in a way that is energizing instead of exhausting.

But I am still trying.

I am linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday. Even though it’s Thursday. See? Disjointed. Hurry up, Spring Break.

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For much of my life I have often been treated like the smartest person in the room. Whether or not I have been said person is highly debatable. But even when – especially when – I know I’m not, I like the challenge of this expectation. It motivates me to dream big and set go-for-the-gold, be-all-you-can-be, insert-your-favorite-inspiring-cliche-here goals. And can I meet them? Of course I can. I’ve been told my whole life that I can.

The downside to this is that I tend toward perfectionism. I can set ten lofty goals for the year, meet nine of them, and still feel like a complete failure because I missed one. That means I can’t be the smartest, because the smartest would not have missed that tenth goal. That one will haunt me. I will miss sleep over it. I will write long, whiny, navel-gazing blog posts, most of which I won’t actually post (you’re welcome), about it.

But that feeling? It’s not the truth. And I’m writing about it today not just because I need to hear it but because maybe you need to hear it, too.

Meeting goals – any goal – is not failure; it’s progress. It’s growth. It’s not losing ground or even remaining still; it’s moving forward.

[This is not to say that if you don’t maniacally set goals like I do that you’re stagnating. I’m sure you’re growing, too, even if you don’t have a compulsive need to document it.]

So when one of the activities in Beth Morey’s Your Fearless Year 2016 was to list twenty achievable but big and fearless goals, I was equal parts excited and scared to commit to that much of a plan. Okay – four parts excited, one part scared – my love for this list is pretty big. I’ve mentioned some of these already this year, but they’re all important to me.

The list:

 1. Get a job (or a way to generate income) that is better suited to my strengths.

2. Move into a house (or again- a place that is better suited to me).

3. Finish a complete rough draft manuscript of at least one of my current works in progress.

4. Submit at least ten items (articles, poems, flash fiction, essays, or the aforementioned manuscript) for publication.

5. Read 100 books.

6. Start a newsletter.

7. Launch my writer website.

8. Choose and use social media outlets better (more coming soon on this).

9. Showcase coffee picture project in a public way (calendar? Book of poetry? Step one – choose a medium.).

10. Replace one worn-out or not-really-me item at my house per month. Late December/early January was a three-for-one deal – bedroom curtain, shower curtain, and a WIP shelf. I think the shelf is my favorite:

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11. Send holiday cards with a picture I’ve taken myself.

12. Take a trip for fun.

13. Take a dance class.

14. Try one of the new crafts that my crafting friends have been inviting me to try.

15. Throw my Hemingway party (food that is simple and good – like Hemingway’s prose – and drinks laden with booze – like Hemingway).

16. Learn to speak better Spanish.

17. Find (or make) a place to play piano on a regular basis.

18. Go on a date.

19. Participate in a Couch-to-5K program (projected start – late May with a race on July 4th).

20. Take a cooking class. Possibly knife skills. Or cake decorating. Or overcoming chicken phobia (is that a thing that people teach? Because it should be.).

So there they are, and here’s to making progress.

I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson for Real Talk Tuesdays. Join the conversation!

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photo (58)It’s arrived. The push back.

Every year when I make resolutions or choose a new word for the year, I start out optimistic. I am looking forward to the year. I am excited about what it might bring or what exploration of this new word might teach me.

Then comes the push back.

It came early this year, which was to be expected, I guess. Choose a word like “true,” and one should expect all sorts of “yes, but…” and “…not yet” to show up.

I see in possibilities. Possibility is where I’m happiest. It’s hopeful and shiny. It’s like my empty coffee cup, waiting for the French press to be ready, telling me that the glorious nectar of the bean will surely soon be mine. There’s a lot of true – about who I am and who I’m becoming – in possibility.

There’s also reality, and sometimes it pushes back so hard that it packs down the bricks in the wall it’s building.

When friends couple off or get married, I’m about 90% happy for them and 10% lonelier (hey – progress – those percentages used to be switched). Lonely likes its protective walls.

When people I respect and love say “liberals” like it’s a dirty word, revealing the limits of their respect and love for me (the dirty liberal), I add more bricks around the parts of myself that their vitriol has taught me they can’t accept.

When I give more to my job than my pay grade warrants but can’t quite find a tangible reason why I bother, I want to build the wall higher.

[Aside – to a GenXer, “tangible reason” = “promotion and a raise,” not just a pat on the back. I can pat my own back, thanks. Match those words to some cash. Or at least a bathroom break. Maybe a taco.]

When I write and write (and revise and revise), and it’s still not enough to be the thing I’m doing with my life, I want to make a little brick cubbyhole, fill it with pillows, and take a nap.

I like my walls. They’re comforting and familiar. They say nice things to me and smell like rain. They tell me I’m right. They tell me I’m pretty.

Then true comes along and whispers, “Tear them down.”

So that’s how beginning is going. *sigh*

 

I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday (heh – how about Thursday?).

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Shoes - Anne Klein

When asked what my favorite part of my body is, my typical response is “my feet.” I was admonished once when I said this, because the person didn’t know me very well and thought that I was just answering that way because I felt bad about the rest of my body. Never mind that 1) if she didn’t know me, why was she asking me such personal questions, and 2) was she implying that I should be ashamed of the rest of my body (?!), because rude. But I responded to what I hoped was the heart of her comment and said that no, I just really love my feet. I love the way they curl and stretch. I love that they support me – literally.

Also, my feet are super cute. I mean, Anne Klein gets part of the credit of the picture above, because that’s a badass shoe, but let’s be honest – most of the adorable in that picture is what’s inside the shoe.

(Also…I miss those pants. I wonder what happened to them?)

Lately (meaning, in the past year), though, my feet have been a source of both physical and emotional pain.

I don’t typically view getting older as a burden. When I turned 30, I didn’t joke that I was turning 29 again. When I turned 40, and people told the joke for me – “So 39, part 2? Har, har” (again…rude) – I corrected them with, “Oh, no. I am 40. I have earned every year, and I am proud of it.” And that’s generally true. My life does not look like what I thought it would look like at 40, but I have to take into account that it was a 20-year-old me making those plans, so…grain of salt. I might have been a smart 20, but I was still 20, and there’s only so much perspective one can shove into that short a time spent on the planet.

But my feet feel the burden.

I crawled out of bed this morning, and my feet told me how long they’ve been walking. I limped to the living room to stretch and get a towel out of the dryer (because I’m managing to get out of bed early enough to make coffee at home, but not quite early enough to complete a round of Pilates, but I want my body to get into the habit of going to the living room first. Baby steps.), and it took longer than it has before to get the kinks out of my feet. On the surface, this does not seem like a big deal.

But in my soul, it is a very big deal.

I’ve watched beloved older friends and family lose mobility. I’ve watched them slow down and not be able to do what they were able to do before. Even though I know this is the normal way that life goes, it feels like a betrayal.

I feel like their bodies have betrayed them. I feel like mine is starting to betray me. I’m mad about it. In every other area of my life, I am 20 years better than I was when I made those goals. It doesn’t seem fair that my body is not keeping up. I want it to be able to do the things it did 20 years ago, and I want it to do them just as quickly. I want to double-up on efforts to fight this inevitable decline. I want to bombard it with vitamin-rich foods and lots of activity (that’ll…teach…it? I’m not good at threats.). I am willing to work at it twice as hard as I used to have to work at it. I just want my body back.

That, however, is probably not the way things are going to go.

This morning reminded me that I need to learn to live in the body I have this decade, not the one I had in decades gone by. As much as I want to demand that it adjust to me, I need to adjust to it.

I find this necessity supremely annoying.

I probably can’t stop the aching altogether. But I can listen to it. And listening to it will be good for both body and soul.

I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday. Click to read Marvia’s post and join the conversation.

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“The truth is a vast thing. I see that now – just how much truth there is. Where would we even begin?”

Root – Person of Interest

 

My word for 2016 is “true,” and it is indeed a vast, vast thing. I made a list of 20 goals as part of Beth Morey’s Your Fearless Year 2016 mini-course, and every one of them falls under some aspect of uncovering, discovering, or staying true.

And ever since I said yes to this word, I’ve had this song running through my head:

 

But that will go away soon. I hope.

Honestly, the word is a little overwhelming. What in the world have I gotten myself into?!

 

This year, I resolve to be true…

 

…to my calling. I will endeavor to act out of conviction and purpose rather than out of what someone requests or thinks that I should do. For example, there is a fine line between being a true support/accomplice to those who are oppressed, and performing for ally cookies like a pampered dog. There were a couple of times early last year when I crossed that line. It was gross. I still feel dirty and appalled at my behavior. I am offended to discover that this self-involved motivation is part of my personality, and I want to avoid such mistakes this year.

You may be disappointed if you don’t see me saying or doing everything you think I ought to say or do. If you know me in person and thus have the benefit of seeing me in multiple venues, talk to me about it.

If you only know me online, I ask you to keep that in mind. What I say, share, and like here and on social media is true to who I am, but it only represents a small percentage of my time. It is not my whole person. It may be easy to assume that if you don’t see it, it’s not happening, but that assumption is usually inaccurate.

Of course, you are also welcome to ask/confront me about it, and I am happy to hear you out. But hearing you out does not automatically mean compliance. I hope that I will not merely pander to your wishes just to placate you and get a pat on the head. Because ick. Please expect better things of me.

 

…to attainable expectations. I have noticed a pattern in which I will start out with completely rational goals. Then something triggers some type of excitement explosion, and suddenly my vision becomes completely irrational.

Part of me really likes this about myself. May I never become so dull and stodgy that even my wildest dreams fall completely within the realm of reason.

Another part of me needs me to calm the hell down and stop being so hard on myself.

A couple of months ago, I took my first Pure Barre class. I went into it eager but relaxed (well, as relaxed as I ever get about new social situations). I was just going to give it a try and see how far into the hour I got. I met some people, and Jessa, who had invited me, showed me around a little.

Then I walked into the class. I saw the barre and the mirrors and watched people stretching to limber up, and two of the gnomes who live in my head – Ms. Perfectionist and Ms. Competitive – perked up. Somehow, they must have convinced me that I was still 19 and a size six and dancing ten hours a week, because that’s the level of intensity at which I started the class.

Of course, about 10-15 minutes into the class, my body revolted and reminded me, “Nope – you’re forty. Here – have some dizziness and nausea!” I actually had to leave class for a while. I came back and finished, but I didn’t get out of it what I could have if I’d paced myself.

I want to have fewer of those experiences this year. I want to be better at setting goals that I can actually achieve. It’s not as if I’m giving anything up. After all, there’s no rule that says I can’t work back up to dancing ten hours a week if I decide that’s what I want. I just need a better assessment of how much work it will take.

 

…to my strengths.  * sigh * This job of mine. Sure, the pay could be a lot better, and the job description could be better defined, but other than that, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. It’s just not in my wheelhouse. I’m competent, but it’s not what I’m best at. It neither excites nor challenges me. I am nagged by this persistent sense that my talents and strengths would be better utilized elsewhere.

I want to find my elsewhere. Maybe it’s a different position in the same department. Maybe it’s in another department on campus. Maybe it’s not in higher education at all. But I want to find it. It’s hard to be truly myself when I spend 40 hours a week doing something that’s not.

 

…to my life in general. In Poemcrazy, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge talks about looking for a place to live – “I look for places made of poetry for me, places alive with history, wildlife and mystery. Then I move in if I can.” Well, she can keep her wildlife, but otherwise, that quote is a punch in the gut. As many things as I like about my apartment and neighborhood (the multiculturalism, the…nope, that’s it), it’s never really felt like home, at least not in the way that other places have. I want to live somewhere I feel at home again. Of course, I have some ideas about how it will look  – a place for a small garden, an area to sit outside with a glass of wine or cup of coffee, an extra room for books – but mostly I just want to walk in the door and sigh with relief instead of resignation.

That room of books needs to have room for some pretty serious writing to get done, too. My writing goals this year center around publication. Something’s getting published this year, even if I have to publish it myself.

 

…to delight. I will always be a student. I don’t ever want to stop learning new things and actively seeking out things that move me.  I want to read 100 books. I might take a cooking class or tap lessons. I might even try PureBarre again, only with the appropriate respect for the work and my current body. I want to embrace music and dance and poetry – as practice, as art, as essentials.

A true life is one that is lived, not just endured.

 

 

Now it’s your turn. What are your goals for the year?

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