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Archive for the ‘Breakthrough’ Category

It’s the year’s end, which means it’s time for me to look back and see if I did everything I set out to do 365 days ago.  Why make you wade through a profound reflection when you’re probably chomping to get to the meat of the matter?  It’s time to dust off the resolution list and see what can be checked off.

1.  Write a great book.

Ugh, let’s start with the proverbial kick in the balls.  It was a rough road for my writing career.  2013 left me a little more mentally hurt than I thought and my imagination took the brunt of it.  I wrote a few words here and there, but I was no where near a book.

2015 looks better for this.  I’ve done some soul cleansing and mind stimulation through meeting people, reading again, and surrounding myself with artists (in concert, of course.)  These things have given me new life in this realm and I’m re-committing in the new year to meet this goal.

2.  Take a picture every day for the year.

Check!  That’s right, I did it.  Some days it was hard to pick the best photo.  Capturing the blue waters in Mexico, the energy surrounding The Airborne Toxic Event, the excitement from meeting Fitz and the Tantrums, the awe in the Chicago skyline, and any other incredible memories I had this year was more difficult than I thought.

Here's a small sample.

Here’s a small sample.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, there were some days where I was desperate for a photo at eleven o’clock at night.  Usually it involved me waking up one of my kids for a portrait or capturing the first thing to grab my attention in my living room.  I was also challenged in uploading the picture each day.  Some days I took the photo and forgot to post it.  Not to mention my difficulty in keeping on the correct day number count.

I’m pretty darn proud of the fact I stayed with it all year.  Who knew I could have that kind of attention span?  I also have 365 incredible memories documented in pictures on Instagram to show I had a pretty good time.  Feel free to live through my year again.  I know I will.

3.  Break through doubt.

It was an interesting experiment to have a blog post around doubt on the 5th of each month.  I think we all know I struggled meeting my deadline to have it up on the blog by the 5th.  What’s new?  Sometimes inspiration doesn’t come on a timeline.  Looking back, I’m glad I did it.  It made me re-think through some things I took for granted about myself.

It started out with what I thought it would be.  Stories from other people guiding us with ways they overcame their doubts.  In a few months it evolved into something where I looked internally.  I tried new challenges to prove to myself I have to take a step to start a journey.  I faced the harsh reality about still having a broken heart from my personal tragedy and I evaluated the importance of being brave with love, even when it hurts.  The feature became so much more than I thought it would.

I may still have doubts in my writing adventures, but there’s less insecurity about being fearful to try.  Because I came to realize confidence is all a state of mind.  And it’s worth fighting through the fear to get to the place you’ve always wanted to go.

4.  Send a cookie to The Airborne Toxic Event.

Done!  Twice!  Actually there was no need to send. I chose to hand deliver.  I didn’t get the personal request I think I may have been looking for originally.  Although I did get an Instagram shout out from Anna Bulbrook regarding liking the IO the dog cookies.  Oh, what does this happen to be right below?

anna insta

This put renewed wind in my sails and I fired up the oven for their Fall tour.  In San Francisco I delivered a package to Ms. Bulbrook’s hotel.  (Don’t be freaked out.  I was staying there too.)  From San Francisco, I focused on making another set for Hoogie from the support crew and those were delivered in Seattle.  Both sets garnered thank yous and checked off this resolution as completed.

HooGie

5.  Host a Delish open house.

The lessoned I learned about making a resolution around a business I have with a partner is get the sign off from your partner before you start making resolutions.  Bestie was horrified when she heard my plan last January.  I might have been a little over-excited in my resolution and needed a bit of grounded reality.

However, Delish did have forward progress and we’re happy with the strides we’ve taken.  We hope to have even more success in 2015.  I’ve learned it might be smarter to keep my resolutions to my personal goals versus business ones.

There you have it.  My year completed.  This list doesn’t take into consideration all the additional awesome happenings that didn’t have resolutions around them.  You might get the drift if you check out the Instagram pics for the year.  2014 kicked ass and in 2015 I plan on taking some more names.  Those resolutions are coming up soon…

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Breakthrough: Am I Confident?

It’s the last breakthrough in my year long exploration to get past doubt and insecurity.  (Of course, I’m late.)  Interestingly enough, I happened to travel to my hometown over the holidays and met with a lot of my high school friends.  We exchanged stories about shenanigans, sneaking out, and some of our best memories.  Things were going along swimmingly until I was completely caught off guard when one close friend said, “you were always so confident.”  After I picked myself up off the ground, I rationalized I heard her wrong.  She couldn’t have been talking to me.  Or about me.   Then another friend commented on how I always had my shit together.  The theme continued throughout the night and left me wondering if any of these people knew me at all.

Sorry high school besties, it was one of the only high school pictures I had on my computer. Please don’t hate me.

For the next days I mulled over how they came to the answer I was confident.  I was pretty sure I shared with them my insecurities about only being looked at as the “just a friend” girl.  You know, the worst title to ever grace any teenager.  Boys passed by my “great” personality for my friends with thin bodies and pretty faces.  How did they not think this would have a giant impact on my confidence?  My self-esteem stalled.  I reinforced it by never putting myself out there in a real sense.  Sure I was outspoken, but only on superficial levels.  It was a pretty transparent act in my mind.  How the hell could they think that was confidence?

So I asked.  I started one-on-one conversations to get a better understanding.  Maybe I would find something to be applied today?  Some trick to conjure when putting my art out there.  What lead them to believe there was confidence ahead of my self-loathing?  The overwhelming answer landed on being an extrovert.  My outgoing personality, meaning being talkative and assertive in plan making led people to the conclusion I knew what I was doing.  That was it.  No authority.  No credentials.  Just a fake it until you make it.  And without really ever needing to “make it.”

I laughed.  I laughed for days.  I think I’m still laughing now.  How could it be that easy?  Believe in it and that makes it true?  Such a simple concept.  Ridiculously ludicrous.  So if I truly believe Mikel and I are going to be BFFs, he’ll start texting me?  We’ll barbecue on the weekends and he’ll braid my hair while we brainstorm through my next novel?  (Okay, so this paragraph took a disturbing turn in my fantasy.)

Who’s to say this couldn’t happen?  How many times do we let self-doubt talk us out of taking chances?  For standing up to the stuff we believe is important.  For telling people they matter even if they think we’re weak?  What if I did believe we could be hair-braiding buddies.  Maybe I wouldn’t fall into my TATE-Tourettes pattern.  Maybe I would stay a calm, rational person who could sustain a longer conversation than “you’re great.”  Mikel may mention he just learned a crazy braiding technique and has been waiting for volunteer with dyed red hair.

It’s a great idea.  I’m not sure if I believe in it yet, but I want to.  Believe in myself and confidence will follow.  Soon the two will meld into each other and I won’t be able to determine which came first.  Start leaving my exposed heart on the table?  Because isn’t that what art is at the core?  Maybe someone will care for it and choose to nurture the relationship I trusted them with.  Or they may decide to plunge a butcher’s knife right through the middle.  (Which only says something about their confidence, not mine.)

Either way, I was the brave one who put it out there.  I was the one who followed my dream and didn’t let fear hold me back.  I was the one who was confident.

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Cheers to confidence. Drink it up. And be merry!

 

 

 

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Holy fuck, I’m forty.  I’m sure my mother is cringing right now as she reads that statement.  Not for the fact her youngest daughter is “over the hill”, but more that she wasted so much money on my English degree for my writing to rely on F-bombs.  She doesn’t understand there is actual shock behind the realization I’m middle-age.  Which aptly earned a good-hearted and earnest “fuck.”

I’ve passed the hump.  The mystical line where “so many opportunities” lived on one side. Now I’ve traveled to the harsh reality of “this is the life I chose.”  It’s been a difficult process for me.  I’ve had lovely people try to be supportive by reassuring me “it’s not so bad.”  People recollecting their best forty-something stories.  They laugh and smile because what else are they going to do?  They could say the worst sentiment ever, which is “it’s better to turn forty than not turn forty.”  Ugh, seriously people, I’m not that self-pitying.  Or maybe I am.

I’ve written this blog ten times over.  Sometimes I choose to highlight all the fun I’ve experienced this year.  Other times I want to talk about the stuff I still plan to do.  Both come off as trying to prove to myself that this isn’t so bad.  I’m living the life I want, right?  What more could I want?  (To be thirty again, that’s what.)  I’m grabbing life by the balls and playing by my own rules.  I’m cliché-ing this blog to death without any apologies.  This is living the dream, right?

I’m not sure if I’ve always been this worried about forty or if I’ve worked myself into a tizzy for blog entertainment.  If the latter, I didn’t do myself any favors.  Here I am, with the day facing straight on, and I lack the grace many have shown when their day arrived.  Maybe they weren’t poised, but they didn’t take to a blog to write about it.  Or maybe they did and I missed the link.  Go ahead, console me and put it in the comments.

Most wonder why?  What’s my problem with getting older?  Honestly, I’m not really sure.  I guess I never really thought it would happen.  Somehow youth goes on indefinitely even though I love all the things that have come because of age.  Having an eleven year old son would be awkward if I followed it up with only being twenty-one myself.  Traveling to Mexico, San Francisco, and Seattle never would’ve happened on my twenty-something budget.  Rocking mature friends who are normal enough to hold jobs, smart enough not to get arrested, and daring enough to put their noses on strangers wasn’t always something I found in my early thirties.

So if I have all that, why do I hate this number?  Maybe because then it’s over.  I won’t be wondering what it’s like to be forty because it will be what I am.  I’ve celebrated with parties all year long with the excuse of this milestone birthday, with even more spectacular events still to come.  Really what I’ve discovered this year is turning forty has encouraged me to be fearless.  To not put off to tomorrow what I should have done yesterday.  Visit old friends.  Tell people they matter.  Dare to keep chasing a dream.

In fact, I now finish this blog with the day already here.  I’ve been humbled by the love shown to me today.  Bestie threw an outrageous shindig at our office.  (Seriously, it was so spectacular I shocked her with a hug.)  I’ve received birthday wishes from long time friends and friends in far away places.  And I ended the night with a small home celebration where Hubs covered every counter with confetti while the kids blew party horns.  It’s these things which give me pause, to enjoy what forty really represents.  It symbolizes all the wonderful people I’ve met, the terrific adventures I’ve taken, the soul-filling family I’m blessed with.  I will be lucky to have the same reflection when I turn fifty.  Because turning fifty is better than not turning fifty, right?

This is 40 year old me. (Early in the morning.)

 

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A few weeks ago I lived a TATE fan’s dream by attending their three night show in San Francisco.  Each night highlighted one album.  Little did I know the three nights would be a progression in growth not only in sound, but in maturity as well.  Maybe I got the idea after reading a terrific article on their third album.  It sang me a little more than literary lyrics.  I walked away with an understanding that turning forty might not be so bad.  (Which is a good thing since I’m only a month away now.)

Bestie and I started the debut night arriving thirty minutes before the show and being sent to the end of the line.  The back isn’t so bad when you know you’re standing in the priority entrance line.  The “Fronts” had already worked out all the entry details about how priority entrance worked.  Bestie and I mingled with other fans, talked about where we’d traveled from, and how many shows we had notched on our belts.  When the doors opened we landed a few rows back from the “Fronts”-lined stage.

20140918_200936Our back-of-line mates were hella sports about playing my immature games.  We touched noses to unsuspecting fans, ordered impulsive and expensive drinks, and kept it rowdy right up until the band walked out on stage.

Then it was rocking out time.  Singing, dancing, and jumping ensued.  We felt invincible until Mikel jumped from the stage.  The crowd surged in every direction. I pushed against anyone to hold my ground and keep from falling down.  I swayed back and forth in great fear of succumbing to the faceless mob and being trampled to death.  Bestie was lost eight rows back.  The crowd seemed so big in that moment.  Faceless people willing to step on your back to get a little more for themselves.  Maybe a little innocence was lost.

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On the second night we chose enjoying a nice dinner together versus standing eight hours in line to be with the Fronts.  We fell back in line with our same friends from the night before.  Each of us wore a little more knowledge and exhaustion about what to expect.  I expanded the mingling circle to capture some of the Fronts we’d met throughout the day.  The doors opened and we grabbed a closer position than the night before.  We focused on building relationships with the fans to make the most of the evening.

When the show was about to start, Bestie and I agreed to hold our ground.  We recruited young girls behind us to keep the area locked down to keep the wild children from our ruining our night.  The band delivered an epic show.  Maybe they’d learned a little something from the first night.  Or maybe I understood to enjoy every minute because the fun wouldn’t last forever.  When Mikel jumped into the crowd he landed in our laps.  The surge pushed from behind and we stood fierce.  We didn’t get split up or scream uncontrollably in his face.  I even showed great restraint and didn’t grab his ass.  We waited for the crazy to pass because we knew it would and enjoyed the experience for what it was.

The music boomed with high energy the whole night.  I stopped caring what I might look like in the end and enjoyed my groove.  I sweated into a disgusting hair mess and wore it like a badge of honor.  The night was for us20140919_215421

The last night was a little melancholy.  The end was near and we could all feel it.  We reminisced about the two previous nights and picked our favorite highlights.  Bestie and I chose not to crush it in the pit.  Instead our plan involved finding seats in the balcony.  Doors opened and we said good-bye to the Fronts.  We went our separate ways and found the best seats in the balcony.  We sipped drinks without any spilled down our backs.  We sat comfortably instead of jockeying for another inch closer to the stage.  We appreciated our Front friends from above and waited for Airborne to take the stage.

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The balcony brought a completely different experience than the two previous nights.  The music wasn’t as loud.  It didn’t pump through our nerves and force a wild dance.  The stage was distant, but  I could see it all.  Instead of having to focus on one or two band members at a time, I could see how they all worked together.  The light bulbs didn’t flicker, but instead streamed to the back wall and danced across the places they landed.  At times I yearned to be back in the pit, covered in sweat, and experiencing the music in a physical way.  Wishing to have done something a little different or maybe even more daring.  This seems to always be the case when a conclusion is around the corner.

The concerts reminded me it’s okay to get older.  Each night and album highlighting the changes from the band’s experiences and travel.  Once naive songs about a boy missing a girl have turned into meaningful prose about mortality.  It doesn’t mean the music is bad.  In fact, some of my favorite songs are from the second album.  They even played a song from their upcoming and I couldn’t be more excited.  Maybe this is the push I needed to remind me turning forty might not be so bad.

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It’s come into my consciousness lately that we are expected to hide our heartbreaks.  This might seem contrary to popular belief with people airing their dirty laundry on Facebook or the musician who creates a best-selling album based on it.  I’m talking about something different.  A little more personal.  (Although the musician might say it’s the same thing.)  I mean the crushing pain from loss where you wonder if you can ever get up again but are to remain stoic on the outside.  It seems we’re shamed for giving love a chance and we curse ourselves to never speak the topic when it fails.  Even more, we are never to admit how much it hurt.  How much it changed us.  Detoured us from one path and started us down another, for better or worse.  Today, I’m breaking through that old idea to explain why we must change this perception and embrace our relationships.  Heartbreaks and all.

Aren't we all so good in the front row with our hands in our laps.

Aren’t we all so good in the front row with our hands in our laps?

My daughter entered 4th grade this year.  I’ve been especially dreading this grade because it marks the pivotal year where my best friend in the whole entire world turned against me and broke my heart.  I didn’t know to call it “heartbreak” at the time.  Instead I thought she was a monster who tormented me for pleasure.  I cried for the loss.  I seethed with anger for being so stupid.  I never admitted how bad it hurt to other people because I didn’t want to look like the fool; labeled the one who cared too much when she obviously cared nothing at all.  Even the other night this girl, now a grown woman, showed up in my dream.  (I haven’t spoken to her since about 4th grade.)  In my dream she said “I always thought you hated me” and I could only respond, “I do.”

I never said I was cool.

I never said I was cool.  Check me rockin’ the flower dress and pink bow.  (For the record, we were just friends for everyone who knew my date.)

 

Is it worse with boys?  I think it amplifies the stupid feeling factor.  I never questioned my 4th grade friend, whether our relationship was all a lie.  I knew we were friends at one time.  Even after it ended badly.  With boys (or girls if you swing that way), sexuality brings in an even more crippling silence.  Did he ever feel anything?  Was he only using me?  Was it ever real?

My smokin’ hot and super cool single lady friend fell in love.  The boy seemed to love her too.  He made promises.  Then he took them back.  It hurt.  She hurt.  She doubted herself for even giving love a chance.  She mentally punished herself for being stupid enough to believe him.  It was easy to see reality from my point of view.  I know she’s worth loving even though she didn’t believe it in the moment.  I wrote her, “You were great when you were honest, vulnerable, and raw.  When you opened yourself to love him.  You’ll be great again.”

She was brave to love.  We all have been if we’ve dipped our toe into that murky water.  We put ourselves out there to care for someone deeply without regard to how bad it could hurt when taken away.  We should be proud.   We shouldn’t be scared to share our heartbreak.  We might be daring with our trusted friends, but why stop there?  Why not admit it if the conversation comes up with acquaintances?  Instead of avoiding eye contact and pretending like our past didn’t really mean anything, we should tell people, “I really cared for someone and they broke my heart.”

Photo booths were always to be shared with someone meaningful.

Photo booths were always to be shared with someone meaningful.

A harder question is should we tell the heartbreaker?  Could we tell the originator about the pain we created?  (Because no side in a relationship is void of responsibility.)  I know I have a problem with this.  It’s a power problem.  I don’t want to feel like the chump all over again.  Maybe he/she has a wooden heart mounted where he/she notches each crushed soul.  My attempt to save face by never admitting the importance of the relationship does the exact opposite of my intention.  I’ve made myself a victim by being embarrassed about something I should be very proud.

We shouldn’t forget it’s their story too.  Maybe they gave up rights to it when they stopped calling, but can’t we be the bigger person?  Wouldn’t it be a great if we told people they meant a lot to us even if it didn’t work out?   Although I’m pretty sure I haven’t broken any hearts, if I did I would want to know.  Even explain it really did mean something special to me as well.  We both were impacted by the relationship we once shared.

Don’t think I’m keeping this purely in theory.  I’m taking action.  I’m telling past loves, where we lost touch or had a falling out, about how they helped me discover the person I am today.  Being honest about how much the person meant, even if I meant nothing to them.  I’m not going to search anyone down with some kind of heartbreak hit-list to scratch off one name at a time.  But if I ever run into my 4th grade friend and she asks if I hated her, I’ll let her know it was quite the opposite.  I loved her and she broke my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

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This breakthrough post comes at a difficult time for me.  Last year on this weekend, I was living it up at my annual writers’ conference.  I met amazing people, got excited for my writing project, I felt unstoppable.  Until I returned home.  Twenty minutes after I walked in the door and finally stopped gushing about the unbelievably good time I had in Portland, Hubs broke the news his mother committed suicide.

It’s hard to describe moments where your life turns upside down.  Luckily our minds shut away pain to avoid reliving its intensity.  I remember not being able to breathe.  Barely hearing as Hubs went through the events from the weekend and how he’d found out earlier in the morning when two detectives arrived at our home.  I replayed the day before I left for my trip when I worked out the details in my mother-in-law’s living room.  She was picking up my children from daycare in the early afternoon to spend the afternoon with them.  It was that thought that snapped my mind back to the present.  My children.

Hubs hadn’t told them.  They were squealing behind my closed bedroom door asking me if we were done so we could play together.  My heart cracked so deeply my chest physically hurt.  Hubs and I agreed to wait until morning to tell them.  We plastered on fake smiles and walked out to crush them with hugs.  Their happiness only hurt me more because I knew I was going to take it away in less than ten hours.  We put them to bed.  I called my bestie, my mom, and my sister and sobbed out the words.  They were all aware how difficult the previous year had been after my father-in-law died from his battle with COPD.

I didn’t sleep.  Neither did Hubs.  We laid in silence until we heard the kids wake up.  We knew it was time.  Telling your children someone they saw every day and loved deeply is dead is very difficult.  We’d done it the year before with their grandfather.  Having to explain suicide is something that makes you sick.  And for everyone who is about to be judgmental in asking why we had to tell the specifics, they’re not stupid.  They spent a lot of time with her.  They knew she was very healthy physically.  They knew she was mentally hurting.  They asked us how she died and we didn’t lie.

Mental illness was something my mother-in-law battled her entire life.  It’s no different from other diseases which have no cure.  You work every day to fight the infection and sometimes ask for medication to help.  It’s exhausting.  You need a reason to choose to fight every day.  My mother-in-law couldn’t fight anymore, which is something that haunts the living.

There are so many facets to this kind of story.  I’d never stop typing if I tried to explain all of them.  It’s the reason why a year later I still have not healed.  I didn’t go to the conference this year.  I haven’t been writing.  I chose to stay home with my family.  I cry almost every time I think of her.  I knew I would think of her often this weekend.

My mother-in-law used to talk about the amazing sunrises in Oregon when she was trying to convince us to move here.  “They’re so beautiful, it’s biblical,” she said.  She could appreciate such an innocent beauty even when her mind was edged with darkness.  It’s one of the things I appreciated about her.  It’s the thing I try to remember as I put myself back together.sky

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It only takes a daily acquaintance to tell you she has a terminal disease to make you snap out of your pity party about writing insecurity and turning 40.  Instantly, you cycle through all the wonderful things you’ve done, places you’ve seen, and people you’ve loved.  You thank everything in the cosmos for giving you the time to do it and you start to beg for even more.

After the shock and sadness wear off, you again give thanks for all you’ve been given.  And then you start to list through all the things you want to do.  Instead of whining and wishing for them to come, you start working on them because you’re the lucky schlep who hasn’t gotten a life time limit…yet.  You don’t want to let an opportunity pass you up because no one knows what’s around the next corner.

A couple weeks ago, a co-worker received a not-too-hopeful prognosis which jump-started me to move out of my stagnant state.  Sure, I’d been filling time with busy-stuff at the 8-5 job, baking things, and riding my new bike.  And these are all worthy things I want to keep doing.  But they aren’t the things that fill my heart with accomplishment.

It really hit me when I watched Walter Mitty for the second time.  (It’s one of those movies that reminds you to stop wishing and start living.)  After Walter lost his job, he sat in a coffee shop to write his resume.  He doesn’t talk about his decades in photograph handling which paid all the bills.  Instead he highlights his recent adventures.  Each line tears me up until I’m a sobbing mess because I feel him.  I am him.  I want to list through incredible things.  And if I do, I better get to work.

For weeks, I’ve been saying how I’m going to have my own one hour radio show for a small town station.  Finally, I made a move.  I learned the equipment, got a show name (shamelessly stolen from The Airborne Toxic Event and thought up by a writer friend), and met up with the station manager to go over rules.

I started producing it.  The first show took more hours than I thought it would.  Thinking up something interesting to say was harder than I anticipated.  The pressure after I hit the record button had me stumbling over words.  Record was followed by delete.  More recording.  More deleting.  When I started to get frustrated I remembered this was for fun.  This was about doing one of those things I always wanted to do.  I was filling a dream I never thought I would.  I repeated the mantra “The journey, not the destination.”

I wish it wasn’t something tragic to kick myself in the ass.  The reality is I hope this is the corner I needed to turn at this year’s half-mark.  I want to do more.  I want to feel alive again by taking my one step at a time in the direction I want to go.  Because “wishing” never gets me anywhere.  “Hoping” only reminds me I’m not moving.  And “doing” is the only thing that truly makes me happy.

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