Slow to Rise…

When there is sun, I rise with the dawn. Winking at it as tendrils of light as they weave their way into my room.  Mornings are a time of silent reflection.  No, that’s not right. Mornings are peaceful. They are quiet and time seems slower.

I can coax my brain into focusing which is why even with my love of mornings, it is hard to get myself up. If the snooze button wasn’t on my phone, it would broken by now. When  my feet finally hit the floor, there is usually only one other person awake.  We say morning because who knows if it is going to be good or not.  I get my coffee, maybe a spot of breakfast and listen to the radio.

NPR is my drug of choice. During the summer, I listen all morning and well into the afternoon.  The only break walking Luke.

Luke knows my routine well.  As I write, he has parked himself on my freshly made bed.  He will wait napping on and off until I get my shoes.   He is a most patient pup. img_0966

Often I see things comparing morning people to night owls.  My mornings help prepare me for the day.  I wasn’t always this way. More than a decade in education has transformed my relationship with the dawn.

According to a 1998 study, cognitively I am doing just about the same as my night owl friends. Although, they may indeed be wealthier.  Another study in 2012, pointed to them being more prolific lovers, but also having a tendency to have more bad habits like smoking and drinking.  You can read more about larks (morning people) vs owls here.

There are a lot of articles talking about the benefits and success of larks.  Contrary to the mythology of morning people, I don’t jump out of bed with a spring in my step.  I am not always chipper and coffee is my fuel of choice. I am not healthily, wealthier or wiser for my morning habits as Ben Franklin predicted.   It just works for me.

Good friends function quite well as night owls.  The early morning or late night depending on your point of view are perfect for them to work uninterrupted.

What works for you? Do you thinks larks are better than owls or vice-versa?

 

 

 

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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The most dangerous and powerful stories are the ones that we tell ourselves about ourselves.  Our self-talk can lift us up or take us down.  We sometimes tell ourselves stories about how others perceive us.  We tell ourselves that we know what they are saying about us. And for the most part we are wrong.

Sometime back, I took a series of classes on meditation and mindfulness.  This was my first steps into looking at the stories I was telling myself.  Shockingly, they weren’t all good. Some gave me false pride, others put me down.  After every heartbreak, I would swear that I would never love again or that if I just reached out and talked to them I could coax them back into my life.  This for the record, only worked twice and in both cases it wasn’t good for anyone involved.

By far the most dangerous ones, I’ve told myself are the stories about how much work something is going to be or not be.  In the latter case, I assume something is easy and then I am mired in self-doubt when I get stuck or it turns out to be the latter.

As you know from my previous posts, I am list kind of person. I write lists to keep myself motivated and on track.  Somethings are harder than other.  Those items are the ones that are necessary but rile my anxiety.  Anything that involves making a phone calling or asking someone for something/help will generate a story that only feeds my anxiety.

It is those stories that we tell ourselves about how much work or how awkward something is going to be that are dangerous.  We delay and don’t get what we need to get done which sends us into a negative spiral.

A lot of us complain about adulting. It is a word that some people snicker , others chastise people for using it and some embrace. One of the reasons, why so many of us complain about it that we weren’t prepared for adulthood.  We weren’t prepared to deal with the thousand things that happen in a day at work then to come home to more work.  We didn’t really pay attention to all the things our folks did to make our world work, if we had responsible folks which some of us didn’t have.

We didn’t realize that our folks were just as lost as we are at times.  They just didn’t tell us.

There were twenty-six items on my to-do list this morning.  Six of those things were stress inducing.  I’m now down to to only three items. One of which is a shower that I will get after walking the dogs this evening.

Those six anxiety/stress inducing things involved telling a friend I couldn’t do something, chores I had been avoiding and asking for something.  Everyone of them is done.  How?

Well, first, today was a good day. I slept over eight hours last night, didn’t have to leave the house and I’ve been in comfy clothes all day.  The last several days have been good as well.  I’ve talked a lot to my sweetheart about his anxiety lately and it has helped me to look at mine.  So, I put them on the list, starred them and then looked at them.  The chores needed doing so I spaced them out. The asking and telling, I asked myself what as the worse that could happen.  And then did it.

I’m a storyteller.  We are all storytellers.  It is time that we took control of the superpower that we all have and used it for good.

Love,

Lu

The Travails of Travels

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The second day of travel came to a close with us no where near France.

Our flight to Paris has been delayed by nearly three hours.  So, we sat and waited for our third companion to join us and decide where we shall use the voucher that Air France gave us.  It was nice of them to make sure that we had something to snack on at the airport.   They were able to explain the glitch with the on-line system lead us to believe for five or six minutes that our flight had been canceled all together.

My travel companion is far more seasoned than me took it in stride so I was able to do so as well.  Little did we know that the three hour delay was the first of our hurtles or we would end up taking off nearly four hours late.  This gave us less than an hour to get our bags and get to our train.

Needless, to say we didn’t make it and although the person at the Air France counter at Dulles said they would at least compensate us, we didn’t find them helpful in the airport.  They were polite and apologetic, but we had different expectations of what they meant when we talked to them at Dulles.  One thing to remember when traveling abroad is that the customer is not always right.  Rules and regulations are explained so if you aren’t used to reading the fine print you might want to before you go.

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Our train tickets were no good to us as the train left the platform three minutes before we were able to get there. Our tickets were not transferable or refundable thus began a mini quest to get new tickets. There are tickets that can be transferred or refunded, so shop carefully.

Europe operates on the chip and pin system meaning that even if you are using a credit card you need both to complete some transactions.  The train ticket kiosks require this. Our first two transactions were denied.  Thankfully, someone told us what the problem was and we were able to get the tickets.

Operating on one hour sleep, we were stranded at the train station attached to Charles De Gaul International Airport for six hours.  There was an alternative route that would have saved us some time. We could have gone into the city center and then taken a train to Lyon from there.  More research would have told us this, but on one hour sleep we just did our best to stay awake and hydrated in the heat of the train station.

That is another thing to note that people in Europe or at least France don’t have the same reliance on air conditioning so housing and hotels with it are few and far between.  In the places where it use, it won’t be ice cold like it is in the states.

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Once on the train which was clean and very fast, we were able to sleep a little more and take in glimpses of the countryside.  France is really beautiful.   There was less trouble picking up the car as we there six hours after the time we had scheduled.   One issue we had that was not the fault of the rental company was that we couldn’t contact them because we failed to put the country code in when dialing them.  We had made sure that our phones would work in Europe, but none of us through about how dial a number from a U.S. based phone.

We were in our car and on our way as the sun was setting.  We made it  around 11 o’clock at night, right in time for a record setting heat wave to hit.

 

 

 

Writer on the go

This morning, I woke up in a strange room in a city that neighbors the one I grew up in.  As my traveling companion slept fitfully in his bed, I moved through the room making coffee, showering, reading and doing my morning exercises.  The nervousness and tears that had marked my first day of travel were gone; now it is onto the adventure.

An adventure that as a writer  feel compelled to chronicle.   This is my first vacation in over a year, the last being a weekend trip to Sanibel, Florida, with a dear friend after the death of Papa.  It was a healing trip, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico washing away some of the stress and agony of loss. More than a year into my new reality, I know that there are no waters that can wash away sorrow and grief, only waters that can comfort and refresh the heart and soul.  I still miss Papa, he would have worried about me taking such a long trip.

Sanibel, if you have never been, is a small island off the west coast of Florida. It is known for its peaceful beaches and for the prodigious amounts of shells that wash up on its shores.  You can find 250 different types of shell on their more than fifteen miles of beaches.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit three times and each time brought with it a sense of serenity that just speaking the name of the island in my mind brings me joy.  Each time, I have gone I’ve stayed at the Sandpiper Inn, a colorful and very affordable spot on Donax street.  It is a quick walk to the beach to collect shells from there and they have bikes which are free for guests to borrow.  It was truly delightful to hop on a bike and ventured off to breakfast.  There are over 25 miles of bike paths.

The best and strongest memory of that trip was driving over to Captiva and renting a boat for the day.  We sailed around the bay for a couple of hours and were delighted when a dolphin joined us for a bit.  We sailed back and forward trying to follow him only to realize that he was playing with us.  It was absolutely marvelous.  The experience of a lifetime.

Now, in a few hours I will be boarding a plane with two friends heading to Paris where we will meet two more friends for another experience of a lifetime.  One of those friends is the same extraordinary soul with whom I went to Sanibel.

My heart at this moment is light. I know worry will return.  For now, I am delighting in the adventure ahead as I look out the window towards the towers of Dulles seeing the tips of airplane tails among the trees.

Au revoir mes aimes!

Friday Night Writing

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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.

 

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

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.