Sunday, September 16, 2018

What's the headline of your life right now?

What a week… nothing like a 50-hour work week covering a storm that may or may not impact your life to make you feel grateful to have a day off to be with your family. I had a laugh earlier in the week with a new co-worker who mentioned that she had hoped the hurricane would affect our area, so she could experience what it’s like when we have to stay at the station until the storm passes—the idea of spending the night at work with her co-workers seemed exciting. We quickly explained that two of the worst words to hear at work—after ‘you’re fired’--are “slumber party,” but some people must to see things for themselves to understand.

And then there are some people who have all the evidence right in front of them and still don’t see the full picture. Take the recent Time Magazine covers for example—you know, the ones with the photo of a teacher with the caption that reads, “I have a master’s degree, 16 years of work experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay the bills. I am a teacher in America.”  Or “I have 20 years of experience, but I can’t afford to fix my car, see a doctor for headaches, or save for my child’s future. I am a teacher in America.”

The article goes into the reality of being a teacher in America from working long hours, losing benefits, paying for your own supplies, losing control of the curriculum and no help in classroom management.  As the wife and the sister of public-school teachers, I see this up close every day so it’s no big surprise. But I guess there are people out there who just don’t see the truth of our education system or feel the need to blame it on others rather than work to fix the problems. So, you have to put it on the front of a major magazine to try to get some people’s attentions; but even then, will it make a difference?

I’ve never understood how some people can have all the facts right in front of them and still not see the bigger picture; not see that they are not treating people the way they should. But, I know I can be guilty of not seeing the truth sometimes.

What if we all got to write our own Time Magazine covers? Would anyone be surprised to read them? Sure, most of us could probably write something about how we are overworked, underpaid, and forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet—I know I am.

But what would people write about us? What would your kids write about you? What would your husband write? Your friends? Maybe it would go something like this: “I work hard all week and my wife only points out the fact that I didn’t make the bed, or I was too hard on the kids.”

Or, “I work hard, I’m honest, I do my homework and my mother is still never happy with my grades or my friends.”

But these are just what we could guess—sometimes the reality of what others think about you is so far removed from your own reality you can’t imagine they would have something negative to say about you.

But even though we know the truth about how we are treated, we are mostly afraid to write those headlines and be honest about how we are treated—whether we are mistreated at work or in our personal lives by people who are supposed to love and accept us.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit you’ve allowed someone to treat you so poorly and sometimes we don’t know how to get out of that toxic relationship. Sometimes it’s hard to write those headlines, but it’s probably even harder to read those headlines and know in your heart that it’s about you--and it’s true.

You don’t always need to experience something to know it’s true—you don’t have to be a teacher to know they are mistreated, and you don’t have to hear someone tell you that a slumber party at work is a really bad idea.

But sometimes you need to write that headline and let certain people in your life know they are mistreating you. Or write that headline to claim your shame or write that headline to own the circumstances in your life and know you are not alone. Maybe if we all spent a little more time reading those headlines instead of writing stories we feel are true, we’d be a little closer to reality and little more accepting of others. But in the end, it doesn't really matter unless you're willing to accept the truth that's be put in front of you. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Broken plates, missing pieces and revisting old feelings

Ok, so far so  good keeping with my new writing schedule for the second week.

It’s funny because I’ve been going through some writing I did about 4 or 5 years ago that I felt was really good, and now I’m thinking it’s crap. I guess that’s normal. I think we all do that in some ways.

Like when I look back on old photos of myself and I remember feeling so fat or unattractive when the photo was taken and now I think, hey, I looked pretty good—sometimes vice versa. Or when I think about getting really mad at someone--then I try to remember what I was even mad about. But at the time it seemed like a big deal. I guess we all have those stories.

Hindsight is 20/20? Maybe? Or maybe hindsight on top of more hindsight is what gets us closer to 20/20.

I’ve looked over some of my old blog posts and realize some of them were very rant-like. I had so much anger in those days—and rightfully so. I look back on those days and wonder how I kept everything together, but I also look back and remember how I thought I had moved past my anger and was healing. Sometimes I wonder if I did lose a piece of me? Something small or maybe even lots of pieces?

I look at my daughter now—she’s so fierce and seems to have the world at her feet. She’s much fiercer than I was at her age. But looking back, I know I had that sort of confidence, I just lost it many years ago and have never really gotten it back. I had glimpses of it from time to time but never the real thing. Never that sense of “I know without a doubt that I am 100 percent right about…”

It’s like as if I was this perfectly intricate beautiful plate when I was a little girl and slowly, over the years that plate was chipped and bumped and eventually dropped and shattered and then put back together over the years with some rough edges and uneven patterns but never the same plate. But over time, some of that smoothness and delicate features have returned and some spots look completely different but somehow healed and strangely unique and beautiful. And now I can look back and wonder what I can do to make some more of those rough edges smooth again—and not so angry or hurt or insecure.

So maybe some of those small pieces are missing now, but it doesn’t really matter if the plate is back together--and I know those pieces had to go away in order to rebuild and get to where I am today.

Today I look at my daughter as she plans to head out to cover a story for her journalism class; camera in hand and press pass tucked into her back pocket and wonder what she will have to go through in life and what small pieces she will be missing when she’s my age. But I hope she can find a way to make peace with the hand she has been dealt and stay close to that confidence of knowing where she is heading and why.

Because in the end, it doesn’t matter that those small pieces are gone or that at some point all the pieces ended up on the floor in a scattered mess. What matters is how we chose to piece ourselves back to together again and what pieces we decided to keep or throw away or maybe even make better.

I know on some level, I had to be shattered into pieces. And on another level, I’ve had to be constantly bumped and chipped again in order to rearrange those pieces to let go of the anger and the hurt and find my confidence again—and push myself to do the things I know I need to do in order to not only fix my pieces but to heal the relationships around me—even the ones that I wish I never had.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

What am I waiting for?

It’s been way too long since my last blog. I’ve got to get back on track with my writing. Part of the problem is my “new” schedule. But it’s actually not that new. It started more than a year ago, but it has changed my personal life more than I like. But actually, that’s another excuse too.

I have to be at work at 4 a.m. so that means I have to go to bed about the same time my family is just starting to wind down from the day. I don’t feel like I get to spend enough quality time with them so I usually spend my weekend hours with them as much as possible.

But that’s just another excuse too.

I liked starting my job because at the time I was already awake at 4 a.m. tossing and turning and trying to figure out how to pay my bills. So, you’d think a new job and schedule would solve my problems and I’d really be able to give more of my time to my writing.

But it didn’t.
I came up with more excuses and got further away from my own writing. And now I can see a big part of me slipping away—actually, it’s probably a lot further way than I want to believe.

I’m talking about the part of me that is creative—the part of me that uses my talents so I can feel like I am a writer and that I am doing what I was intended to do. Focusing on those weekly blogs that brought me closer to others who could relate to the truth about myself that was slowly starting to unfold as I found the courage to write more and be honest with others.

I think making excuses and allowing our true potential to slip away happens to a lot of us. And I don’t think you have to have kids or a spouse to have that happen. I think it’s hard for anyone to really stay focused on the prize and keep moving in the right direction without finding distractions with life.

But this week, I looked around and realized I’m not anywhere close to where I want to be in life. And I’m not talking about my personal life—I’m talking about the whole reason I decided to become a writer.

I don’t necessarily want another daily job to pay the bills, I just don’t want to do “this” for the rest of my life. And by this, I mean what I’ve been doing every week for the past year and I half. I punch the clock and walk out and then I usually meet someone for an interview for my freelance work—that’s something I actually still enjoy doing and it makes me feel like I’m still a writer of sorts.

But on days when I don’t have freelance work, I usually go to the gym before picking up the children from school and then it’s either home to make dinner and help with homework or take someone to an  appointment and drive and pick them up and then to bed and then the next day it’s the same thing… over and over and over. It’s not bad—it’s just not where I want to be in life.

About a year ago, I had coffee with a friend who was doing something similar to me in his career. And he said he realized as he was driving to another assignment for work, that he absolutely was not living the “career” life he wanted to live. And right there at that moment, he decided to change the course of his career and just go for it.

Things like that don’t happen overnight, obviously. But things like that never happen if you don’t do something to change.

I’ve looked around at other job options, but I realized this week, it doesn’t matter what job I have and my schedule—what matters is the only job I really want to have is to be a writer and to know that’s what I do for a living and right now, that’s not what I’m doing. And if I continue to ignore my blog and my work on my book, I’m never, ever going to live that life—ever. And that’s not OK with me.

Why go through everything I’ve been through only to come out and say, yeah, I’m working on my book…I just haven’t finished it yet. But I’m going to…

I’m going to.

Am I?

I had the chance to meet Stephen King several years ago and hear him talk about writing. And he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever been given—if you want to be a writer, then just fucking write. Don’t overthink it. Don’t waste time worrying about it—just fucking write.

It seems simple enough, so why am I putting it off? What am I waiting for? Seriously, what am I waiting for?

A lot of people have bucket lists. I don’t have one. Sure, there are places I wouldn’t mind traveling to or adventures I could take, but I’m very satisfied with the life I’ve already lived and the places I’ve been. 
But there will always be something nagging at me if I don’t get back to writing on a serious level. I’ll have to live the rest of my life always saying, I’m going to… I’m going to…I’m going to… and well, that just isn’t good enough for me anymore.