Friday Night Writing

a4e2a8df-52f2-44ef-9833-947f065357c9
A very unhappy writer sick for the third week in a row.

First Friday in weeks that I have been home.  First Friday in weeks, I haven’t been sick although truthfully, I am not completely well yet.

My first thoughts on this evening entailed going to bed early and rising in the morning with intent.  Instead, I played some Fallout Shelter, practiced my Spanish and tried to see what dog I would be on Facebook.  The results of that particular quiz will not be shared.

There is writing to be done. Writing and editing that has been on my to do list for over a month.  Writing, I want to do, but somehow whenever I sit to do it, something else always pulls me away.

My favorite pair of boots died, today.  The soles are coming falling off.  Some glue may fix them.  There is money to replace them.  Funds that my brain says should go else where.  My mind was considering all the sensible options when the phrase “Fuck my life” popped into my head.  I’ve heard it more than a dozen times something goes wrong and suddenly everything goes.  My shoes aren’t a big deal. The deal comes in the fact that I just played off a credit card, this is the second pair of boots that have suffered damage this week that will be need to be replaced, along wit some other expenses another new set of boots would drip the budget in red ink. Combine those thoughts with the ones where I am no good at my job, a fraud who is about to be found out and dozen more demons poking around in my noodle.  It would have been easy to say “Fuck my life”.

Not justified, but easy.

Easy to think that everything is crap, because life has a way of doing that just like my cold turning nasty and spending that couple of weeks sick.

Life is still pretty good. Actually, it is damn good.  While I am not where I want to be and far from accomplishing my goals and dreams, I am a good place. A place, where I can write on a Friday night undisturbed.  A place where I can make mistakes and work way back to where I want to be from where I am.

 

Advertisements

Sick

We’ve all been there.  Runny noses, stuffed up head so stopped up you are sure you are going deaf in one ear and a cough intense enough to give you a six-pack.

A day or two and you are better, right?

Three weeks in and I am tired of working on my abs and ready to move through to the next level of healing.  The almost well, but a little tired.  The normal day to day moving back into view.

Sickness.  We never give ourselves enough time to heal.  We never let ourselves just be in the moment.  We seek wellness like it is the key.  When we are well, we can do anything. When we are…

Well.

It is a trap.

We wait for the perfect time to start working on our dreams.

And that perfect time was yesterday.

Begin today.

Start now.

Do the thing.

Seriously, do it.

Do it.

 

 

Becoming….

Recently, I read “Becoming…” by Michelle Obama and it has helped me to not only see the former First Lady in a new light, but look at my own story with less judgement and more honesty.

How did I become a woman who not only embraces her curves but also her gray and silver hair?  How did my fourth decade on this earth become the one where I feel more at home with myself, my past and my pain?  How did I become a person who takes selfies at the gym?

One blog isn’t going to answer that question.   Ten blogs won’t, but that isn’t the point. Becoming or being my true self isn’t about reaching a mystic destination.  It is about excepting where I am, where I’ve been and working on being the best version of myself.  My New Year’s blogs were about goals.  Goals are about getting closer to the version of myself that I wanted so many years ago.

There is a TED talk about being the person that you needed as a kid.  I am not sure the person I was then would have had the strength to listen to who I am now and who I am becoming.  So much of my life has been defined by lost.  Something I learned to do from those around me. The lost of loved ones, a home, innocents and so on.  It is a long list.  I don’t know if she would have been able to conceive of actually living life closer to her Aunt Judith’s life than the one her mother and grandmother lived.

I love the life I have right now. I love going to the gym after work with my little brother. I love living in a house where we eat dinner together several times a week and walk the dogs around the high school track.  I love waking up and being able to see the mountains.  I love how the moonlight touches the corner of bed at night and how even though depression and anxiety are still deeply entrenched in my psyche, I am better today than I was last year.

Last night, I challenged myself to write a hundred words on the current project after having spent the last three days sick.  I did it and a bit more. Today, I went to the gym without my little brother and pushed myself to complete our normal routine.  Tomorrow, I am not sure what I am going to do, but I will do something.

I have become… no, I am becoming the person I needed to be when I was younger. The one that pushes through the mental muck and finishes what she started.   I do it little by little, with a plan, but also with a mirror.  One that reflects the whole me not the me that I want to be or the me that I fear I am, but one hundred percent me.  The good, the bad and the depressed.  All of me including the scars is beautiful.  And it is that me that isn’t going to stop working towards her dreams and goals.

I may get sidetracked by cold or by a hectic day at work. I may given into my personal demons from time to time.  Still, I am not going to stop working or becoming.

Thank you for reading.  Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Love,

Lu

Remembering Papa

Today, one year ago in the early morning hours in Florida Hospital Orlando, Papa ended his fight.  He was 71 years old.

Here is the obituary that I wrote for him. It wasn’t published in his hometown paper. A shorter more mundane version was published.  Momma didn’t think his Pennsylvania family would get it.  She was probably right.

13015292_827551220683527_6139950154635756402_nDennis “Papa” Teets 

Dennis “Papa” Teets died in Orlando, Florida on January 8th surrounded by his family at the age of 71.

He is survived by his mother, Beatrice, sister Cindy, his brother Dale, his wife, Patricia, son, Eric, stepchildren, Katherine, Marie, Frederick and Lucinda, grandchildren, Fredrick, Thomas, Emma and Anika. He is preceded into death by his beloved cat, Rambo.

He was born on April 14th, 1946, in Uniontown, PA. It was said when he was born, you could see the devil in his eyes.

He proudly served in the U.S. Army and spent a career working for the GSA. He was a slayer of demons and rescuer of damsels in distress, unless ocean waves were involved.

He wasn’t a perfect man. He didn’t always have the right words, but he loved his family and hated when he hurt them.

His family was his world. He liked to cause minor mischief reserving major mischief for leap years or when no one was looking. No one was good enough for his daughters and he always wondered where the second half of their skirts went to.

On August 3, 2018, he was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery .

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Plan.

Actions are votes for the type of person that you want to be.  I heard this on a newscast on New Year’s Day. The brief interview was about how to make your resolutions a reality.

Small actions leading to better habits was the gist of the conversation.

If you want to lose weight don’t think about the weight but what a person who loses weight does and then do that.  Think about  what a person who has achieved that goal has done and basically what would they do.

What do you want to do? What does a person who does that thing do? And then do it?

Simple… yes…

Hard at the same time.

What if you don’t know what the person you want to be does? You have an idea, but so much of it is still a mystery. You see the outer shell of that world not knowing of what is underneath.  Social media is great for giving us peeks into other people’s lives. Those peeks however are cultivated ones designed to let us see more often than not the best parts of their lives.

The lense of social media can be deceiving.  Everyone else seems like they seem like they have so much confidence.  You might be afraid to even try.  Mistakes are going to happen and very few actually completely stop you unless you allow them to do.

You might ask questions or advice from experts and be disappoint when the advice is vague or seems just out of reach.

What if you are already doing it, just not at the level you want to?  What if it still all seems overwhelming?

My advice pick somewhere and start.  The TV expert d’jour stressed making small changes first before trying bigger things.   And he isn’t wrong.  You still need a place to begin.

When I was a young, I would often clean by piling everything on the bed and putting things away from there. The mound of stuff was always overwhelming. The idea in my young mind was that I couldn’t go to bed until such time as everything was off the bed.  Often because I was not a neat child it would be over my head.  I would scan the mound for the easiest thing to put away.  Dishes to the kitchen, laundry into the hamper, toys and books arranged as I went. It got better.  The mess would return, but I had a strategy  to get take care of it.  My teenage-self just learned to either make a nest out of the junk or push the mess on to the floor on the opposite side of the bed from the door so my folks won’t see.

I want to be a better writer.  I want to write more constantly, publish multiple times a year and have writing expenses match with writing income. Currently, those two figures do not agree. And, yes, there are expenses that however is another post.

Writers have to hustle.  They have to generate multiple streams of income.  One thing I learned early on from selling my book on Amazon, was that you don’t get paid right away. I knew this from other author friends, but the reality selling a few dozen books and not seeing the money for three months was eye-opening. A couple of times, I was surprised when there would be extra money in my account.

So small habits will I be incorporating into my life to learn that hustle?

  1. Learn the business side of writing – the small thing I can do with this is keep track of how many books I’ve sold and where I’ve sold them.  In the beginning, I was great at this until it came to the point where I was selling physical copies on my own.  I lost track there.
  2. Write on a schedule.  Set a schedule and stick to it.  This takes a lot more planning than you would think.  Wednesday, it meant writing right after coffee since I made plans to spend the day with my sweetheart.  Today,  it meant craving space out either before or right after work. Maybe both depending on the goals.
  3. Examining what my goals are and defining success.  How will I know if I am a success if I don’t define it for myself.

Where are you going to start on your goals? What little habits are you going to incorporate to make things happen in your world? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.

The Writer and Failure

Failure is as constant as change in life. Fear of failure is even more constant.

We’ve all failed countless times.  The hoilday season is no expection. New Year’s comes and there is a push to evaluate our lives.  Vague proclamations abound as many promise to lose weight, get their financial house in order and perhaps finally learn how not to burn water.

Writing and failure are good friends.  The last three years I have sturggled to complete a second book among other things. In the course of those three years, I have made my own vague proclamations on how to solve the problem.  And each and everyone of those proclamations has led to more failure.

Sure, my personal and professional life in those interving years has been topsy-turvy to say the least. In the end, as a writer, I need to write and finish those projects.  Author, actor and Space Mom, Carrie Fisher, said that “Mistakes are a drag, because you get in an area of regret and self-pity.” She was right about that and so many other things.

There are many things I admire of Fisher.  Her openness about her mental health issues, her blunt honesty and her creativity which serve as a more lasting legacy than the character that made her so famous.  She also didn’t give up, at least not for long. She keep moving forward in her life.

In 2018, my Papa died, my longest romantic relationship imploded and I initated a move away from the life I had built for eighteen years in Florida.  When from living in my own little rental house to a bedroom in my godfathers’ house.  I went from having my best friend across the street to hundreds of miles away from him and the rest of the support network that had keep me going.  Sounds like a bad year?  In reflection, it hasn’t been a bad year at all.  To be honest, while some truly awlful things happened, this year has helped me work out the need to make better plans instead of just saying I have a plan; making a plan.

Make the plan, make several plans and organze yourself so that you can put those plans into action.  And when they fail which evenuatally they will fail, evaluate them from a safe distance.  Step back and look what what you planned to do and what you actually did.

I made a plan a month ago to write two pages a day. Two pages a day and by the end of Feburary my next book would be finished.  It worked for two weeks and then I started drift off course.  The only way to get back on course and stay that way was to step back and look at what I did versus what I planned.  The plan to begin with wasn’t really a plan. It was an objective or a goal.  Plans involve steps. I hadn’t made any because in the eurphoria of the idea that I could do the thing, I was doing the thing and celebrating that I was doing the thing.  I wasn’t working working on how to keep doing the thing.

Failing to plan, is often tossed around educational and business settings as planning to fail.  In more than a decade as an educator, I have heard this phrase so much that my eyes automatically roll to the very back of my head when I hear it.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t true and I had done exactly that; failed to plan and thereby planned to fail.

So, I am back at the drawing board for getting the thing done.  This doesn’t mean that I am starting over again.  My planning slate is not a clean slate, but one that has been cleansed on self-pity and deprecation.  I didn’t fail to accomplish my goal due to being stupid or a horrible writer. I failed because let my fear of failure, desire not to miss out on things and a bad plan delay (not stop) me.

The new plan involves taking care of myself, allowing for off days and organizing.  It means a return to my infamous to-do list, the use of the Pomodoro Technique ( a timer), listening to my body and treating my writing as the job it is, among other things. Last night, I stayed in to work on editing a short story.   A good and noble idea, then the editor I work with suggest Sunday night, my little brother came home and suddenly I was tired.  

It would have been easy to just go to bed. I didn’t.  Editing was the last thing on my to-do list; the very last thing.  I did it by making a mini plan. It was too late for me to do a complete read through, but it wasn’t too late to look through the comments that my editor and myself have made.  Thirty minutes later, I was in bed with a book after having made a plan for today.

Mistakes, failure and the accompanying fear and reget of them weighs on writers and, indeed, all creative types.  We get caught up in a loop of if I had only done this or that. Sometimes it is about not doing something soon enough.  I hope to be able to say next year that I have as Fisher said “I outlasted my problems.”

What do you think? Is failure a constant or just the fear of failure? What do you do when you fail?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The Writer, the Move and Death

This last year has been rockiest of my life.  In early July 2017,  I wrote about my heartbreak when my relationship of over a decade ended.  By early August, I had decided to move.

It was a long time coming; little of the move had to do with my Ex. He only helped in determining the place.  My beloved fairy godfathers had offered several times to help me move back to Virginia and get settled.   Looking around, I realized that there was nothing holding me back anymore.  Well one thing, telling Papa that I was going.

September came with Hurricane Irma.  My little yellow house, my precious little house survived the night. The power lasted until 5:20 am.  It flickered on and off until going out with a crack. It stayed off for four days, I was out of work for a week while they worked to restore power.

On the second day after the hurricane, I got a roommate and lost my office. It’s a long story and only parts of it are mine.

One causality of the hurricane was my purple PT cruiser.  The hurricane froze the brakes then electrical system decided it wanted attention.  For two weeks, I had to pop the hood every time I stopped the car to remove a fuse.

My incredibly wise sister convinced to go looking for a car.  I came home that day with a new car.   The man who sold it to me turned out to be a distant cousin. (thanks again, Cousin Martin)    Papa was there helping me make one of the biggest purchases of my life. It was one of the last times we went out.  The next time would be my birthday.

26730918_1332491186856192_3940329174071836752_n
Momma, Papa and Me – October 2017

Since May 2017, Papa’s was growing worse.  His cirrhosis which we were lead to believe was treatable was not so willing to be treated.  He was and out of the hospital. The road ahead for my parents looked bleak and was bleak.

My second year as a middle school teacher wasn’t going any smoother than the first year.  Mentally, I was checking in and out at work knowing that I won’t be at the school for another year. Professionally, I had a lot of things to do to prepare for my move. Motivation to move was strong. The motivation to do the things necessary for the move was not.   The paperwork for my new teaching license was left to the last minute.

Eventually all the change meant putting my plans to start a page on Patreon on hold.  I was writing, but not finishing much of anything. I couldn’t see myself asking for me to support my heart if I wasn’t producing it.  Starting and not finishing projects.  My mind was too scattered.  My life was being to be summarized by a series of things that I couldn’t get myself to do.

Thanksgiving came and Papa was in the hospital.  We celebrated our last Christmas as a family and then Papa went into the hospital for the last time.

He passed on January 8th of this year. Momma, my brother Eric and I were with him.  The whole night remains surreal.

img_4296Two weeks after he passed, I reconnected with an old friend. Not only did I have a mini adventure on Sanibel Island, but I am now planning on going to France next summer.

 

June 15th, I moved back to Virginia. Papa wasn’t told I was going. It was an open secret before his death.  Before I left Momma handed a framed picture of Papa to me.  It sits on my writing desk.

I feel at peace here in my new writing nook looking out the mountains. There are walks everyday. The writing routine that was pushed aside is coming back.

I still miss Papa. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the man who choose to be my father.

This Thursday, Papa will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery.  Our family hero will be laid to rest with dignity and respect.  I can not thank my friends and family enough for their patience, love and understanding this last year.  The brightest spots in the year were because of all of you.