If I had to sum up the past several weeks of life, the one word that best describes it would be whew. That’s less of a word and more of a sound, but since I’ve been moving at light speed since mid-March, whew it is.
That’s also a great way to describe how I feel about the fact that it’s already May! Anyway, I have a lot of things to get straight this month, but I’m trying to be careful about overwhelming myself. Joining in on the monthly goals linkup hosted by Drea from The Drea Daily was high on my priority list, so it’s time to get my goals for May out in the open already.
Travel to DC
For the past couple of years, my best blogger friend and writing partner Andrea at Be-Quoted and I have discussed meeting up ever since we met online via Britni Danielle’s The Write Pitch course. After endless emails, texts, tweets, online chats and phone conversations, it’s high time we met in person. The goal is to travel to DC where we can finally connect in person. This is already in the works, so I feel confident it will come to fruition.
Get Some Friggin’ Rest
To put things in perspective, I haven’t spent a full two weeks in a row at home since early March. Since then, I have literally been all over the globe from Atlanta to Mexico to Tokyo. With freelancing though, I no longer have the luxury of paid time off, so before, during and after some of that globe-trotting, I was working, and I still haven’t given myself time to recover because…more work. Clearly, my work-life balance is all out of whack and I’ve just been doing way too much. Before May 31 arrives, I need to designate at least a couple of days to doing absolute nothingness. Wake up. Breathe. Eat. Dassit.
Annual assessments have always been routine for me. The only issue is they typically leave me bemoaning the days I wasted and wishing for a time-machine to put the past 365 days to better use. However, there was a major shift this year in my attitude that propelled me to make a vision board in January.
I’d heard people discussing vision boards before, and while I’ve always been one of those people who make new year’s resolutions, it still sounded like some pseudo-spiritual propaganda. Like, really? All I gotta do is tack my goals to a board and they’ll magically manifest? Mkay.
After giving it a little more thought, I realized that a vision board simply reinforces the fact that people tend to be drawn to things they want. If a late-night Wendy’s commercial can lure folks to the drive-thru, why can’t a board that advertises personal dreams and goals essentially do the same thing?
HAS IT WORKED FOR ME?
Well, the better question is whether I’ve allowed it to work for me. 2013 ended on sort of a high note professionally, but personally it was one of the darkest, lowest moments of my life. Therefore, I decided that 2014 had to be better.
I had a ton of stuff on my board, but here a few successes I had this year that really stood out for me:
Day 11 of the Imperfect Blogging Challenge highlights the importance of quotes. My favorite is:
“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront; you cannot confront what you don’t identify.”
This quote infiltrates my thoughts and actions each and every day. For me, it represents a simple, three-part equation that leads to personal growth. To fully explain what it means to me, allow me to break it down into two parts.
“You cannot conquer what you don’t confront.”
I think about this when I find myself constantly complaining about the same issue or when someone vents to me about something that’s been nagging them forever. Talking through it, around it, and about it is like covering a bullet wound with a band-aid. Much like the bullet, the problem won’t vacate the premises until its located and removed with surgical precision. If not, it is guaranteed to do potentially irreparable damage to whatever surrounds it, be it friends, family, jobs or health. Focusing on the first half of the quote drives home the importance of nipping a problem in the bud before it snowballs out of control. I’ve been duking it out with some pretty durable self-doubt lately and simply writing about this quote is shedding a little light on how I’ve been breathing life into my ongoing dilemma.
“You cannot confront what you don’t identify.”
How can you resolve an issue if you don’t know what it is? Oftentimes, I annoy myself to no end with over-analyzing, but in the case of identifying the source of an issue, this trait serves me well. It encourages me to dig beneath the surface for more clues. Sometimes this comes in the form of writing down my problem then reading back what I wrote. And as weird as this may sound, lately I’ve begun keeping video diaries. They’re definitely for my eyes only and the probability of them winding up as a YouTube soliloquy is absolutely zero. So while I may cringe at how the camera magnifies that huge zit or how badly my hair needs a trim, watching these videos of myself also increases my self-awareness and sometimes what I thought was a monumental, irreversible issue really isn’t. Continue reading
Growing up, several disappointments caused me to construct a wall around myself to dull the impact of any future letdowns. For a long time, that wall was my Employee of the Year, never calling in sick or sleeping on the job. I programmed myself to believe that happy times were earned by bad experiences and if something good were to happen, then impending disaster waited around the corner for me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. But what I thought was a stealthy source of protection actually dismantled my ability to embrace blessings and happy moments in my life. This may sound insane, but I’ve come to realize that I’m addicted to struggling. Yep, the support group, 12-step program type of addiction.
In December, I finally had my first paid piece published on xoJane and Clutch. Looking through an old list from 2010 reminded me that this goal had been a long time coming. But I barely acknowledged the fact that I accomplished my goal because I was worrying about hypothetical backlash from my family and inconsequential opinions of complete strangers. I couldn’t resist manufacturing a struggle instead of simply enjoying my moment.
Before I quit my 9-5 to pursue writing full-time, I envisioned my last day on the job as a par-tayyyy filled with celebratory Tuaca shots that would leave me doing carpet angels in the middle of my living room floor. Instead, my struggle mentality lured me into stressing over whether I’d be able to make a living writing and wondering to myself how long my husband would support me before this idealistic “chasing my dream” notion got old. Continue reading
Quite often the sheer act of existing feels downright overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up and before my eyes adjust to the morning light, a never-ending to-do list sidles into my mind and sprints off towards a mirage of a finish line. If you ask me, that’s just too much pressure before breakfast. At that point, I want to do nothing more than drift back into a peaceful sleep where deadlines, bills, emotions or any other concern that’s popular amongst the living mean about as much to me as a crack in a sidewalk.
But life beckons, and I eventually roll out of bed, sometimes sliding down the side of it, other times sitting up with an attitude and a curse word forming on my lips. It is then that I realize how badly I need a stunt double. Since Texas is a day’s drive from Hollywood and my house isn’t a movie set, I’ve decided to settle for the next best thing: an alter ego.
Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski. Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines. Eminem has the maniacal Slim Shady. And Lady Gaga has Jo Calderone. Now, I’m not sure what in the hell she needs with an alter ego because she seems to be quite the handful all by herself/selves, but that only confirms that having a little spare personality buddy can’t hurt. And finally, if Beyoncé has an alter ego on her payroll, then goshdarnit, so can I. I’m far from a member of the Beyhive, but there’s no doubting the benefits that the Sasha Fierce transformation hath wrought upon her life.
Far too often we focus on the things that make us upset or piss us off. Thanks to a SITS writing prompt recommended by my fabulous pitch partner and fellow blogger, this post is dedicated to the things that made me smile this week. I must admit that I had to give significant thought to this question as I’m accustomed to having a dreadful glass half-empty viewpoint on most situations. Sadly, I can fire off a list of stuff that angers me with little to no contemplation. But the good thing is I’m in the process of changing that, starting with this post! That said, here are a few things that happened this week to turn my frown upside down:
1. Making progress at a new writing gig: Twice a week, I’m responsible for posting at least three entertainment related articles. Usually, I pitch to my editor, then post, lather, rinse and repeat until I have three write-ups. But this week, I finally managed to simultaneously pitch all three article ideas and have them accepted at once. Sounds like a small feat, but hey, it made me smile and relieved some pressure. Also, yesterday was the first time since I started this gig that I felt completely in a groove where my writing is concerned. I feel like I’m recognizing and developing my unique writer’s voice and constantly creating is a true testament to the mantra, “Practice makes perfect.” Continue reading
This is the one time I wanna be like Kim (pictured in gold)—no longer a cast member.
So today, I’m pissed and totally over the work drama, so let’s skip the fancy intro and get right to it. Here’s a list of seven ways jobs make their employees feel like they’re on the set of a sleazy reality show, only the lighting isn’t flattering and workers aren’t getting the hit singles, paid club appearances, Christian Louboutins and fresh sew-in weaves in exchange for their troubles.
1. Ain’t nobody f*ckin’ with my clique, clique, clique…: Ahhhh, cliques. The delightful dollop of people who consist of a lumpy, co-dependent, shit-talking mass of conjoined humans. They tend to share a brain, so it’s no wonder they don’t take too kindly to outsiders. They routinely convene about when and what to think, and the unfortunate soul who manages to permeate their wall of nasty judgments and constant gossip regrets it immediately and hopefully has the wherewithal to retreat just as quickly, lest they wish to give up their souls to the devil in exchange for the coveted honor of “fitting in.”
2. Bullies: Quite frankly, I don’t buy into the notion that adults can’t be bullied. Just like they appear on each cycle of Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model,” a narcissistic, sociopathic bully seems to be a workplace staple. I’ve dealt with my fair share of them, from an alcoholic, racist judge who thought it was cute to unplug my automatic stapler each time she passed my desk, to other co-workers who took more pride in delivering stare-downs and partaking in feverish whispering sessions than they did in actually working. Just like aggressive playground tyrants and reality show jerks, most of the in-office offenders don’t stop unless their targets knock them flat on their asses, whether in the form of an official complaint or a nice-nasty tongue-lashing. (Full disclosure: Both methods have worked for me. There are other methods, but…nevermind.) Continue reading
Although life taught me early on that procrastination could lead to unfavorable results, the lessons of the past still haven’t kept me from dashing out of my front door with 10 minutes to get to work on time, hairbrush in one hand, breakfast in the other. It seems that no man, woman, or child can curb my relentless addiction to waiting until the last possible minute to handle my business. But one dirty little motivator always manages to get me back on track when I least expect it. ‘Tis true that I can be motivated by shame.
Exhibit A (as if anyone needs convincing): My 11th grade government teacher. Mrs. B**** tasked us with creating a presidential campaign slogan and including it on design for a pin. My slogan was a creative play on my first name, but my design left a LOT to be desired. I knew this heading into class that day, as I had struggled to complete the assignment out of sheer laziness and oh–here’s that word again–procrastination. I sheepishly handed in my paper and eased into my seat, prepared for a lecture, but what Mrs. B had in store for me would stick with me for life. Continue reading
Since my first job at the age of 16, I’ve always maintained a pretty solid work reputation as someone who excels and is extremely reliable. At home, on the other hand, I’m ashamed to confess that I suffer from a semi-permanent damsel-in-distress status. Hours of deep thought went into finding the cause of this phenomenon and I finally found the answer: My husband makes me lazy.
Seriously, he’s to blame. At work, I know the answers. People ask me stuff. But somehow, when I cross that threshold and see him standing there, my brain silently packs its bags and vacates the premises. I suddenly have no clue how to do anything and the tiniest problems plague my empty head until I resort to wailing his name from the opposite end of the house, perfecting the sound of distress like only a wife could. Aside from lifting heavy stuff, killing scary bugs and giving me advice on everyday dilemmas, I’m ashamed to admit these are some of the other things I ask him to help me with:
My elementary school memories mostly consist of dense fog, but there’s nothing like a favorite teacher to penetrate the clouds and shine light on the past.
Enter Mrs. Brooks, my awesome yet fear-inducing first grade teacher. A tiny, sharply dressed woman of about 50, she frequently peered over her glasses to issue mean stare-downs and threats. Her powerhouse tendencies kept students and colleagues in line. My mom credits her for arguing my case against the stubborn principal, who initially refused to skip me up to her first grade class. Thanks to her efforts, I only spent two weeks in kindergarten.
She had an unrivaled passion for education and ran an unbelievably structured class. One day while reviewing a set of math problems for an upcoming test, her eyes narrowed as she zeroed in on her target of the moment: class troublemaker, Terrance. Oblivious to the impending doom, he feverishly chatted with his neighbor.
“Terrance if you don’t stop talking I will pulverize you!” she roared.
That got everyone’s undivided attention. Holding the gaze of a now-shivering Terrance, in one hand she wielded ”Brown Sugah” the long, masking tape-wrapped yard stick we would all come to fear. She waved it about, asking who knew the meaning of that awful sounding word. We gave her a collective blank stare, but we left class knowing the definition, the spelling and how to use it in a sentence.
I went home that day repeating both words over and over, allowing their significance to sink into my 5-year-old brain. Soon, I connected the dots: I’d better not procrastinate on my studying because if I got a bad grade, Mrs. Brooks would pulverize me. 1 +1 =2. Simple enough. Continue reading