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

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Work-Life Balance vs. Dreams

Tomorrow, I will go back to the day job for the first time in sixty-four days.  Summer is over for me in less than twelve hours.   Nearly half that time traveling and writing; it has been wonderful.  Next Spring if the editing gods are kind I will have two new pieces ready for publication.

But, my wonderful summer is not what this post is about. It is about balancing work, life and the pursue of my writing dreams or as I like to call them goals.

Education does allow me to have time off even if it doesn’t pay well.  It does allow me to have that sweet, sweet health insurance and believe it or not, a lot of job satisfaction.  I love my daily interactions with students and staff.  There is, however, no denying that it is a hard job and balancing it with a healthy home life is hard.  Trying to figure out how to balance all three is more than a little challenge.

This past year, I have gotten much better at it than I have since I started teaching thirteen years ago.  The biggest thing I did was move away from a life that wasn’t working for me.

The life that I have built in the last year contains a lot more boundaries than the one I had.  I don’t let things bleed into one another.  Work, even as a teacher, stays in the building with a few rare exceptions.  I can do this because I get to work early and organize myself.  I keep a calendar that has both writing and work commitments on it so I know ahead of time when things are going to get tight.

This also includes scheduling time to write, date nights and chore days. Chore days are days that I set aside to work with my godfathers on big household tasks like fixing the barn roof or putting the pool together.  Come to think of it, I schedule a lot of things.

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One of three calendars, I use to keep me on track. 

 

And it works for me.

Why? Because as much as I schedule myself, I also forgive myself if writing doesn’t happen or if the dust bunnies start creeping out from the corners.

I forgive myself if having dinner with my family means that I don’t have time to write before bed. I forgive myself if I get into the flow of writing and three or four other things on the to-do list don’t get done or I stay up a little too late. Or when I get sick and the only thing I can do is take care of myself.

Balancing things can at times mean letting some things have more time as they need.  img_10851-1The beginning of the school year means that for the next month, I am going to be more tired than usual.  It happens to me every year.  I will write about half as much as I normally do.  Any writing deadlines that I have must be adjusted.

Balance isn’t giving equal time to everything, but giving things the time they need and letting go of things you can’t tend to.

What works for you to maintain work-life-dream balance?

 

 

 

Writer – Do Thy Thing

Two weeks in France and I was writing everyday. I am twenty pages and a few plot wholes away from a finished draft of The Devil’s Due. 

I wrote well when I was away from my writing desk.

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The room I wrote in while in France.  

Back at my writing desk for two weeks and I have two pages. Not so good when I was averaging a page a day and a blog a week.

Travel is good for me or at least getting away from my house where I intend to write and settling in to some place I do write.  Next Spring, I plan on spending a week in Richmond researching and writing a new book.

Do your thing.

If you write best at 4:30 am when everyone else is asleep in your house, then get up and write. Or maybe you work best at the local cafe. Where ever you work best, go there and do the work.   Neil Gaiman wrote parts of American Gods on a train going across the country.

Some people have writer’s rooms or corners in their house.   Others go to work early and write in their offices before the hustle and bustle of the day.

I wrote parts of Blood Child on the sofa of a friend’s house.  Whole chapters were composed sitting at the bar of a friend’s restaurant.  They gave me wine and food, in return when things got busy, I ran food and drinks for them.  I miss that place and the friends who tended me to while I worked on my dream.

I’ve written on my front porch and in airports.  Sometimes a new place to write is perfect because it gets you out of your head and lets your creative brain free.

Write where you are inspired or in my case where you aren’t distracted.

In any case, write.

 

J’adore la France!!

I’ve been in France over a week and I love it.  The people are friendly, the countryside amazing and the food unbelievable.

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A beautiful tart from a gluten free bakery in Lyon.

Our little merry band of Americans are making out way across French wine country with relative ease.   Unlike in the states, there are a lot more people here who speak a second language or enough of a second language that we are able to communicate. We have only run into one or two people that didn’t have a word or three of English.  And we were still able to communicate with them either in our limited French or in Spanish.

Yes, that is right, we came to France and spoke Spanish.

We also made friends with the local cats who we have name Monsieur Chat and Madame Chat.  They hang out in the little garden area of the house we are renting.  We have been invited into local wine caves and tasted wine from 100 year old vines.

The first winery we stopped at spoke with us for more than a hour, gave us a tour of how the wine is made and recommend a place to get cheese. They even called ahead to make sure that someone would be there.  The wine was divine. The company was extra ordinary.

Much of our visit here has been guided by luck.  The local cafe gave us the information for a bakery just outside of town where the bread is made in a wood-fire oven.  The bonus to that was that there was gluten free bread as well.  Yesterday, the cafe that we found on google let to a conversation with other patron and another adventure to a completely gluten-free bakery in downtown Lyon.

There has been so much great wine and good food, I am not sure how I will go back to eating the American way.

One of the things that I love about France is they don’t change to suit the tourist, the tourist must adjust to France.  Things in the countryside follow the same rhythm they have for decades.  Breakfast is small, Lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner is lighter and much latter in the evenings. Many shops close for lunch around 12 and re-open at 2.  You can still buy bread from the baker and meat from a butcher.  And there are church bells that ring throughout the day.

Tomorrow afternoon, we make the return trip to Paris and Wednesday is the flight home. My heart and my tummy will miss this place and all of the wonderful people.

 

The Travails of Travels

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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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Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

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.