I believe this picture represents the interesting internal struggle I had negotiating with myself these last few weeks. It's felt like an impossible journey to a destination I couldn't really see but I was positive bright blue skies waited for me once I "made it".
Besides deciding to plow ahead with my new book, and promising to stay on top of my blog posts, I switched jobs. Should it have been a surprise that my life would become chaotic? No. Did I think I would be able to handle it? Totally. Was I on the verge of a panic attack a week later? Yes.
I wish I could say I found a way to handle the changes overnight through yoga but it was not as simple as that. It took some cold hard negotiation with what I saw as my ideal self over a four week period. I started out small with simply making it my priority to get to bed on time. This proved to be a monumental first step and took me about five days to achieve (stress was making it hard for me to fall asleep). Then slowly I began to work my way up from that.
I have since met my ideal self halfway where I dedicate at least an hour every day for writing, stay on top of housework and find time to bake. I've had to come to terms with the fact that my new job does not give me the free time I once enjoyed.
I've had to relearn that I cannot do it all. This is where negotiation comes in to help determine what you will spend the precious hours of the day on. Negotiating with yourself is difficult because you are so tempted to just do what you want and not what you need to do. Worst of all is that you know exactly what buttons to push with yourself. So as cliche as it is to say you can become your own worst enemy.
I have managed to go from feeling overwhelmed and stressed to feeling like myself again. It's funny how seemingly simple things (like a new job) can throw your world upside down.
However, I should note these last few weeks have not been a solely negative experience. I've learned that cooking is how I unwind, that spending time with friends is more therapeutic than a massage and most shockingly of all, that I can skip out on TV and still survive. I've traded free time for a more fulfilling job and my lifestyle has had to adjust accordingly. More importantly, I gave myself the time to get used to these changes (note: slow and steady wins the race).
To those out there who are also struggling with similar problems please know there is always hope. It will take some hard work and internal struggle but you can find a solution - it just takes a bit of negotiation.
I was waiting to see this movie for nearly a year and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.
I truly enjoyed the wit, the characters and the plot. I only wish that the movie was longer as it only has a run time of just 1.5 hrs. Even my husband who usually falls asleep during period dramas managed to stay awake and the movie even got a few laughs out of him. This is glowing praise.
I'm happy to add this movie to my small collection of movies and shows that I re-watch over and over again. Currently, I have the White Queen, Pride and Prejudice BBC mini series and a few others. I don't usually buy copies of movies or books anymore. Subscription services like Netflix and Scribd have eliminated the need for it but for those few favorites I am happy to splurge so I can have them on hand whenever the mood strikes me (which seems to be often enough to justify the purchases).
So if you love period dramas make sure to check this one out!
It’s hard to even write this.
Today was one of those days where I piled on so much work and expectations for myself that I was practically asking for trouble. First, a pipe burst and the water had to be shut off for a few hours then my internet crashed. I realized I was behind schedule on a project and to top it off I was reminded of a dentist appointment the next day. My over-dramatic self was sure the world was crumbling down and I was feeling anxious about every little thing.
As I was deciding between screaming and climbing into bed for a nap, I started laughing.
Then I went into the kitchen got out some flour, sugar and eggs, etc. and began baking a cake.
By the time this was done I had to run to the closest store for a bathroom break and proceeded to buy myself an ice cream. I know I tend to be a negative person but today I just dropped my expectations and took on the day, letting the negativity roll off my shoulders with a shrug.
In the evening, we tempted friends over with cake and ended up playing board games (the water was also back on!). A day that had started out causing me so much anxiety ended in laughter.
Lesson Learned: Roll with the punches.
I've always written in third person but as I set out to begin my new book I had the overwhelming desire to write it in first person. Through my research I got to know the main character so well that I felt myself imagining what she might have been thinking and why she behaved in certain ways. Writing in third person just felt wrong.
So after debating with myself for a few days I decided to take on this challenge. My goal is to build the world around my character while also providing a very personal view point. As I said I generally prefer third person but I know that first person novels can be just as powerful and engaging.
Perhaps, this will be a flop but I’m happy to try something new and trust my instincts.
In other news, I was craving Indian food today and was so happy when I found out my local restaurant delivered that I nearly cried.
C'est la vie.
Reaching the destination - a word interchangeable with goals, milestones, places et cetera - is always bound to be satisfying. You've done it! But after that fleeting moment of satisfaction has passed you are left chasing the next thing. The following is a typical scenario, one that I found myself in too. You have just graduated high school, now you are off to university and once that is done your sight is set on finding a job and starting a career. The benefit of thinking and behaving this way is that you will always be pushing yourself to accomplish more. However, once you hit all these goals and milestones in your life you may find that you are left feeling unsatisfied or looking around for what you should be doing next.
It is easy when you are young and just starting out but what happens after you have entered the workforce? Marriage, kids, traveling? That's great. Whats after that? Do you see the problem that develops? Also what happens when things do not go according to plan? Are you ready to deal with the consequences? I am not talking about the very real risks of say not finding a job right away with bills pilling up or facing the fact that you don't have what it takes to be a lawyer, or a doctor. I am talking about the emotional consequences. The sense of failure and the confusion about what will happen next. Being flexible and realistic is always great but I think a dash of ambition and striving for something that seems out of reach at the moment is needed too.
I think a better solution is for us to find ways to enjoy the journey that may or may not lead to the destination we've imagined. I ended up specializing in Risk Management in university. A few years later here I am writing and working on my blog, working at a job that isn't exactly in my field. I always hated it when people asked me what I had studied and what I was doing now. They didn't quite match up. I felt like I had failed. Since I love what I do now I had been looking back at the four years I spent getting my degree with frustration and annoyance. Why had I wasted so much time on something I may never use? It wasn't until my husband had pointed out that not only was I being ungrateful but I was looking at it all wrong.
I had gained so many experiences during my time in university, from meeting new people, to experimenting with baking and other new hobbies. The list is endless. On a more practical level, I also gained important skills from the courses I took as well as a new perspective on business and life in general. This should have been obvious to me but it wasn't at the time. Other times when I had been focused on the destination have included freaking out while traveling that we are late, worrying that the weather will ruin everything, and wondering if I will be able to reach my goals in the future. Clearly, I have never been the one to focus on the present and appreciate the journey.
That has all changed in the last year or so when I was forced to slow down and take a deep breath. Moving across the country was never in my plan but it happened. Since I apparently have no skills at predicting the future I thought to myself I might as well enjoy my work and day to day life. So I'm no longer walking around with my To Do List, watching the clock while I frown as I rush to try to accomplish everything on "time". In a way because the pressure is off and I have silenced that nagging voice in the back of my head I have been happier. Everything can be an opportunity and a chance to learn.
I have learned that sometimes it is not your life that needs an overhaul but simply your perspective on it.
I was part of the large group of people who flocked to book stores at midnight waiting to get my hands on the latest Harry Potter book. Out of all the books I read as a child/young adult the Harry Potter books were my biggest obsession. For a long time, I would re-read the books I had over and over again prompting my father to worry about this unnatural preoccupation with the magical world.
But all obsessions fizzle out over time.
It has now been 9 years since I last read a Harry Potter book and over 12 years since I was obsessively immersed in the universe J.K. Rowling created. I have forgotten why I loved the series so much and what drew me into this series.
A while ago, I decided to re-read my favorite book series (or standalone novels) that I read when I was younger and remember fondly. I know that some books I remember solely because of nostalgia and will no longer enjoy but I also fully expect to come across books that have withstood the test of time.
The Little Things I forgot
I thought I knew the books so well that there couldn't possibly be any surprises in store for me when re-reading Harry Potter. Boy was I wrong!
"...Dumbledore had swapped his pointed wizard's hat for a flowered bonnet..."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, pg. 203
"...Mr. Weasley had thrown himself at Mr. Malfoy, knocking him backwards into a bookshelf."
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pg. 63
There are plenty of other examples but they definitely surprised me and gave me a little laugh.
Differences From the Movies
Obviously, there are more details in the books. You get to spend more time with more characters in the books and learn more tidbits about the world. For instance, in the movies it always seems as though Harry, Ron and Hermione are on their own but in the books they are constantly surrounded by other friends too. When they get detention in the first book Neville is with them something they omitted in the movies. So I would argue that you can get a lot more from the books that the movies don't have time to delve into (this is usually always the case).
Things I Never Noticed
There is a lot of bias and discrimination. Teachers constantly favor certain students or punish those who have done nothing to deserve it. There doesn't seem to be any set rules for doling out punishments and rewards. These punishments can even include poisoning pets (Ex: Snape to Neville's toad) or sending off unprepared students on dangerous tasks (ex: searching for what was killing unicorns in the forest). It also seems that everyone has ganged up on Slytherins and decided they are evil from the get-go. All of these things raised many concerns and questions that had never bothered me before when I first read the series. Thus, leading me to conclude that between the discrimination, dangerous creatures, etc. Hogwarts is not the safe haven I thought it was but rather a dangerous place.
Magic might be amazing but there are many aspects of living in the wizarding world that would no longer appeal to me. For instance, I would not trade my smartphone for an owl (emailing/texting is much more efficient). Nor, would I want to go back to writing with a quill and ink on parchment. Of course, the books are set in the 90s so I am not surprised some of these issues were skimmed over/irrelevant at the time. But I do realize how outdated some wizard technology is.
I was quite surprised to find I could still enjoy this book series after so many years (and upon re-reading them so much). Of course, many adults read the series when it first came out too not just children. So, I would venture to say they have definitely withstood the test of time. Of course, I have small grievances with some of the books but overall, I loved revisiting the world of Harry Potter.
I have come to the conclusion that having a lot of time on your hands can be dangerous. With nothing else to occupy my mind it has turned to sulking and reminiscing about the past. Most recently, I have been thinking a lot of about friends. Having moved across the country I left a lot of them behind so this tangent has not been surprising as I watch myself drifting away from yet another set of people.
It's funny to think that now almost everyone is a quick search away. It is so easy to reconnect with people you haven't spoken to in years. I am always tempted to do this. I will be looking at old photos and remember the good times I had with someone. But when it comes down to sending them a message I stop. In truth I have nothing to say expect that today I was reminded of them. We no longer share common interests except that back in the day we used to play, go on trips, go to parties or watch simply TV together. This is what stops me from sending that message - why try to hold on to something that is no longer there? Why attempt to revive a dead relationship? The nostalgia tempts me. The rosy memories of happy carefree days tempts me. But these memories are not entirely accurate. They tend to omit the fights and the things we disliked about the other person. It is better to let sleeping dogs lie. So instead, I hoard my memories, letting them exist untainted by reality in the back of my mind where I can cherish them.
I am not being passive about this but rather realistic as I have come to realize that friendships as well as all other relationships change over time. Some are just not meant to last forever even if right now you cannot imagine your life without that person there. As someone who has tended to take friendships for granted in the past I have changed. I value the friendships I have held on to and the new ones I have made more than ever. I am also more careful about those I let into my life. I will always cherish the memories of old friends.
- I am jumping into a new novel - doing preliminary research at the moment
- Some more Free Fiction is coming your way
- & more blog posts!
Last night, I had a dream that I was in a speeding car racing down an empty country road. Before I knew it I was heading to towards train tracks and the bar was down. I had two choices: step on the gas or hit the brakes.
I stepped on the gas and barely avoided getting hit by the oncoming train. I tried to slow down but no matter how hard I tried I could not get the car to stop. I was coming up to a city and I could just imagine the mayhem that would ensue. So I did the only logical thing I could think of and crashed the car into a building to avoid disaster.
My heart was racing when I woke up and I felt as though I was struggling to catch my breath.
This was just a dream but I cannot help but think of how much it mirrors my life at the moment. I have been jumping back and forth between several projects. Some nights I get only two to three hours of sleep. Somehow, I repeat this day after day. When I try to give myself a break I find I cannot relax so I just continue working. But we all have a breaking point and I fear that I will end up crashing - literally this time.
Why am I rushing to the finish line? There is no race. I need to remember that this is not a race. Well, it shouldn't be. While I might love my work I have to put it aside from time to time and slow down.
In every career, hobby or project you take on there will be setbacks. From lack of time, money and energy to lack of motivation, competence and doubt. The list seems endless and sometimes I am surprised anything gets done at all. A combination of perseverance and passion gets us through but then I came across a hurtle I had never dealt with before. This hurtle threatened to undermine my determination and tear down everything I had worked so hard to achieve. What shocked me was that this had all stemmed from envy.
As children we heard about the green eyed monster. It was a vile emotion leading to feelings of anger, sadness and the desire for retribution. We were told it was not right to feel this way but of course, we are not perfect and it would spring up in our lives. At the time it was reserved for gifts others received, attention given to your siblings and not to you, or that shiny new toy the neighbor was playing with. Slowly, we became accustomed to its presence - almost numb - to envy.
Walking by the shop window, you spot that gorgeous dress you've had your eye on but cannot afford. You are envious of those who can afford it. You think of all the celebrities, the millionaires, perhaps, even your friends who wouldn't bat an eye at its price. Just as quickly that heavy feeling in your gut disappears and you move on with your day.
We see perfect bodies and wish we could look like that. Immaculate houses we wish we owned. Fabulous vacations you can only dream about. Envy and desire go hand in hand. Companies spend millions of dollars a year on marketing to evoke this type of emotion from you. Luxury brands are in the business of selling you fantasy. After all, that new Louis Vuitton purse will not change your life. However, when you see that advertisement with the perfect model, in the perfect house, you might think to yourself that if you got one too your life might get one step closer to theirs. I have heard of people going into debt just trying to keep up. I have heard of people throwing aside friendships because they could not handle being around those they were so envious of.
Without realizing it envy can translate into stress and that's where the problem began for me. We have an innate fight of flight response to stress in our environment triggered by perceived harm, fear, etc. Rational thought goes out the window. What I had not been aware of was that envy could cause a similar response.
I am not eager to admit how envious I feel towards other writers. Whether, it is their work or successes - I cannot help but think "why can't that be me?". Of course, there are plenty of other things I am envious of. I want that new phone, I want that shiny new car but the envy was not potent. With writing it is different. Ever since publishing my own books I have felt envy's sting far more sharply. It got to the point where I have actually considered throwing in the towel.
Why should I bother trying? I'll never be as good as X. I'll never make as much money as Y.
Why did they get all of this recognition?
All of these thoughts and questions have simple answers but they are no less self-destructive. Especially, when you allow yourself to obsess over them. The point is they have all stemmed from envy I felt towards others. Most of the time my response has been to flee. In the past, I did this with ballet, drawing and piano. It had been easier to just eliminate the cause of all these insecurities - to just give up.
But I cannot. I love writing too much and I do not want to be defeated by this. So I have decided to change the conversation. I will fight rather than flee. I will accept there will always people who are better than me, who have achieved more but that does not mean my accomplishments are meaningless either. I will strive to achieve my goals and will focus on congratulating other people's achievements (rather than grumbling about the injustice in the world). Why not channel that energy spent being envious into something proactive? If you want to achieve anything you have to be willing to put in the effort, to overcome your fear. You might stumble, you might never win but at least you can say you tried.
Envy will always be there but I am done complaining. I will start doing.
Everyone has that one thing they do when they need to relax whether it is taking a bath or drinking a hot cup of tea.
I turn to walking.
A quick walk to the store, through the park or a hike, clears my head and gives me the chance to just breathe. Then the thinking can begin. I work on problems with fresh insight, going over in my mind what I can do and the possible outcomes. Sometimes I just walk to relax.
We all get stumped by a problem - for me it is writer's block. I don't know how to write the next scene, where I want to story to go (even though I have worked on an outline) or I am simply uninspired and am struggling to write even one word.
Getting away from my desk does wonders for my sanity. Dragging a friend along makes things even better. Unfortunately, pressure and stress can only push us so far.
We all need a break.
We all need a breath of fresh air.
Find what works for you.