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Archive for the ‘Don’t Give Up’ 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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A couple months ago a close friend asked me to walk in a 10K to support The March of Dimes.  Without a second thought, I whole-heartedly answered “no way in Hell.”  Devoting a Saturday to more exercise than I require myself during the week was the last thing I wanted to do for fun.

Fast-forward to two weeks before the event.  My bestie casually drops a couple hints about wanting me to join her when she walks the 6.2 miles.  I laughed them off with “are you kidding?” and “I’d rather do a million other things.”  The inside me screamed there was no way I could do it even if I wanted.  Even though I walk a couple miles three times a week, this race expected over triple that amount with no day breaks in between to recover.  What if I cramped up?  What if I embarrassed myself?  What if I didn’t finish?

Bestie continued to talk about how much fun it would be.  “We can make a girls’ day out of it,” she said.  She encouraged me to bring my daughter and planned for pedicures afterwards.  I held fast with my decline until I could hear subtlety in her voice asking me to join her in doing something she enjoyed.  That invitation I couldn’t decline.

I worried about the walk.  I fretted over the fear I would fall over dead and need to be carried off in an ambulance past the finish line.  I joked about the picture of the day being my corpse plastered over the yellow finish line.  Fear and insecurity whispered failure in my ear.  It isolated me by saying fit people couldn’t understand.  They think it’s so easy to take one more step.  I’d already imagined myself bowing out of the race without ever moving an inch.

The week before I decided to take action.  Instead of two miles on my daily walk, I upped it to three.  I was almost halfway there.  My legs weren’t jelly.  My face didn’t explode red.  I did it with little discomfort.  On the weekend, I did another test run.  I walked 5.5 miles around town to see if I could do it.  Around mile 4 my knees hurt, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  When 4.5 came and the afternoon sun overheated my body, I took slower steps.  It wasn’t the pace I kept in the morning, but it didn’t matter.  I was still moving.  Still making progress towards the end goal.

walk copy

On race day we drove to the starting line and received the map.  The route headed up a gradual hill for the first half which meant downhill on the way back.  I started a cautious pace and committed to putting one step in front of the other.  I pushed all the thoughts about not finishing out of my head.  I wouldn’t stop or beg for help.  No one would need to bring the medical car around to carry me to the end.  I forced myself forward, chin in the air, and finished something I didn’t know I could do.

I could write about the parallels I’m feeling with my fiction writing, but I won’t.  This breakthrough is about a different success.  Sure, the lessons can be shared with the other things clouded by doubt.  Hell, all insecurity does.  Instead, this story is only about this.  I did something I never thought possible, one step at a time.

10256562_10202026937336552_6914094498692362238_n


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What To Do in 2014

I used to think coming up with resolutions was for chumps.  Questions like:  Why make a goal when you clearly know it’s bullshit from the beginning?  If you thought it was so important, why didn’t you start it in the middle of last year?  Why keep making the same resolution when you continue to fail?  All great reasons not to make resolutions.  Er, scratch that.  All great excuses.

Maybe it’s me, but when did resolutions have to become so effing serious?  Why can’t I resolve to have a good hair picture with a hunky lead singer?  (No, it’s not on the list this year.)  I think resolutions went down the crapper when people started to make them more important than they are.  They’re goals.  Something to strive for.  Not life or death situations where you will be shamed to an island if it didn’t go according to plan.  They could even be a couple of things from your bucket list that you’d like to chip away at instead of waiting until the last minute.  (Holy shit, am I making bucket list references?  OMG, I really am turning 40 this year.)  They should be fun.  Something meaningful to you.  Not a standard where others can judge.

I will continue with my blog tradition to post my resolutions.  There’s the off chance it might inspire someone else to pick it up this year.  Try it out.  Maybe even realize it’s not so scary.  In fact, it’s kinda fun at the year’s end when you get to write the recap.  So without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2014:

1.  Write a great book.

You may have thought this was implied in previous years when I resolved to get an agent.  I thought so too.  What I’ve discovered is I can’t control the agent thing.  I can work really hard, dedicate thousands of hours, and still not have representation.  What I can work towards is writing an excellent book.  It’s been a long time since I’ve completed a book.  I’ve even started to doubt I can do it.  This must be changed this year.  With one draft half-way done and another book idea waiting to get out, I should be able to complete this.  Let me note this isn’t “write a great draft.”  This resolution is about taking the book from start to finish with edits, re-writes, critique partners, and more re-writes because those are the parts that make a great book.

2.  Take a picture every day for the year.

My friend asked why I would try this and at first the answer was “for the fun of it”.  When I really thought I about it, I realized what better way to combat my end-of-the-year pity party about not getting enough done if I had 365 pictures documenting all I’d accomplished with my time.  Some days might be a little lame in the image, but other days might be excellent, like this one last year with Eric from the Limousines.  (Love this picture.)  If you want to follow along, find me on Instagram.

eric limousines

3.  Break through doubt.

As you may have already read, I plan to schedule a blog every 5th of the month about breaking through doubts and insecurities.  I’m not always good with schedules and I’m terrible at dealing with doubt.  I’m hoping to challenge myself to better manage both in this resolution.

4.  Send a cookie to The Airborne Toxic Event.

I’ve made lots of cookies about the band.  Heck, I’ve even made the band, but I’ve yet to be able to send them one.  Now this resolution doesn’t mean I’m going to hunt the members’ location, hold them down, and shove a cookie in their mouth.  Nor does it mean showing up at a show with a cookie box in hand trying to find someone to unload them on.  It’s more the idea of making a cookie they would want to have.  So far I haven’t found the right one (though I thought I had it in the bag with Noah’s bass — my fave cookie).  Maybe this year I will have better luck.  If you have any ideas about what cookies would tempt TATE, please give me a heads up.

5.  Host a Delish open house.

Another dream I’ve chased is owning a bakery named Delish with my bestie.  Last year I certified my kitchen and opened for business.  We took some jobs and created a solid menu.  Now I need people to taste it.  I’ve talked about throwing a sample party FOR-EV-AH but it’s yet to happen.  Sounds like a lot of work.  Bestie thinks it’s a little crazy.  This year I’m moving forward and it’s happening.  I’m not sure when, but it will happen.  I’ll post the date when it’s decided so if you’re traveling in the Southern Oregon area, you can stop by.

I think I’ve set up some pretty good challenges for myself.  None of them are easy and none of them have a life balancing on whether I complete it or not.  This is what resolutions should look like.  Because at the end of the year, when it’s all said and done, you’re the only one you have to answer to.  And hopefully when you do, instead of berating yourself for not meeting the resolution, you’ll congratulate yourself and remember you’re a success because you were brave enough to try.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

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Last year was filled with doubt.  It blossomed into an obsession in trying to figure out how artists keep moving forward when they haven’t seen success?  Before you start into some theoretical discussion about “What do you define as success?” I’ll tell you I also had a personal tragedy which deepened my doubt about whether it’s worth pursuing a dream like writing.  How can you keep dumping time into a “hobby” when there are children to hug?

After a long period of not writing and much soul-searching I discovered for me the dream is worth pursuing.  There’s a greatness in chasing after something incredibly hard when it doesn’t feel like anyone believes in it, including myself some days.  Doubt brings with it the darkness of “What’s the point anyways?” and I don’t want to live my life in that dungeon.  So I set out to break through doubt by being inspired by people who have done it.

This is also my fifth year since I started my writing journey and that doesn’t seem coincidental.  A few weeks ago I wondered if I could make it to this writer milestone.  What’s so special about the 5th?  My first thought goes to the famous line in “V for Vendetta” when the masked hero says “Remember, remember, the 5th of November.”  He sings this to the public in hopes they will rise with him to break through their fear and revolt again their repressive government.  This doesn’t seem so different from my battle cry to continue on with something challenging I value as important.

Imagine these dominos representing pages to be written.

Then 2014 decided to shoot me another memorable 5.  For me, this November 5th will be easy to remember because I’m facing the big 4-0.  Yep, it’s here.  If you’ve read this blog at all you know  my birthday and the year’s end always leave me in a funk.  I take stock of what I didn’t accomplish in the last 365, when I was one year younger.  I’ve told people for months that I will start my binge drinking on November 3rd and carry it through November 6 (or until someone stops me) so I don’t really know when it happens.  Yanno, that universe shift where I went from a take-your-time-to-figure-out-who-you-are thirty-something to the full-fledged get-your-shit-together grown-up.

In honor of these momentous occasions, I will dedicate the 5th of each month to a breakthrough story.  They will be titled “Breakthrough” and authored by or about cool people who know how to get stuff done when they doubted they could.  I hope it will inspire all of us to persevere and continue on with the path we know we are meant to follow.

If you have a great story, reach out to me because we would all love to hear it.

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Each year I like to come back and update how the old resolutions panned out.  Hard to believe we’re already here.  Even I wonder if I stuck to everything  I hoped to accomplish.  Let’s take the adventure together.

1.  Read 25 books.

books

I did it!  25 books read and even some of them reviewed with baked goods.  It’s been a great year for Young Adult books and I’ve enjoyed a variety.  There are a couple of adult categories in there too.  My favorite for the year?  I have to say “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga.  It was a thrilling read and I can’t wait to read the sequel.  Of course I am waiting because I heard the cliffhanger on the second is even worse!

2.  Be more active on blogs.

I’m not sure I made great strides on this.  I did have some successes and encouraged some other people to start blogs of their own.  This counts, right?  I’m still working on being more social with the writing community.  I think that will always be a goal.

3.  Have good hair in a photo with Mikel Jollett.

I think we all know how this plays out.  I had good hair for a day and it didn’t make me happy.  When I appreciated the things that matter, I was smiling wide wearing Mikel, terrible hair, and a set of crazy eyes.  This may be a universal lesson.

Mikel and me

4.  Get an agent. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get an agent.  I can’t type I didn’t succeed in learning more and getting closer to the goal.  I’m modifying this for 2014, as I’ve learned in this tough year about what’s really important in life.  And in writing.  It’s saying that it’s not always about the destination as much as the journey.

5.  Do something daring.

I think there have been many things last year I could categorize in the daring column.  Some included courage juice (aka lemon drops) while others were genuine “suck it up and do it”-attitude driven.  This year included making new friends, talking up agents, and surviving a personal tragedy.  The fact I’m out the other side and ready for more proves pretty daring in my book.

There are moments where I wish some of these things were different.  It would be nice to have an incredible 8×10 with Mikel where I don’t look like I went through a washing machine.  In seriousness, this year held one of the lowest points in my life.  I’m still battling through the shrapnel four months later.

I tell myself all the trials are for a reason.  Something meaningful and great can come from continuing to power on even when things aren’t the “perfect” I hoped they were.  Maybe one day it will mean a traditionally published book.  Or a stronger connection with my children.  Or even a picture with The Airborne Toxic Even that I’m excited to show.  I’m not sure what it all means.  I do know another resolution set is coming and I’m ready to face another set of challenges.

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I don’t hide from the fact I’m addicted to television.  Our dysfunctional relationship ruined many nights when I could no longer sustain a conversation due to my unavoidable need to see how a Lifetime movie ended.  When I picked   writing back up five years ago I had to end my lifelong tumultuous affair.  Sure, we had our occasional awkward meetings when the kids turned on The Regular Show or Adventure Time.  I’d give a look, show a little interest, even watch the whole episode.  But it wasn’t the same.  It was nothing special.  Nothing like what we had before.

Now I’m in a place where I’m a little out of sorts.  A little sad some might say.  It’s been a tough year personally and it’s resulted in chiseling away my perseverance to do the things I want to do.  Instead the overwhelming changes in my 8-5 work-life requiring much more of my time has left me drained at the day’s end.  The last thing I want to do is work more.  Or even think a little.  It’s in this weakness my old friend came calling.

We were social at first.  The children cuddled with me as we watched some favorite shows.  I convinced myself it was family time even though I shushed everyone when the climax showed up fifty minutes in.  Then we started meeting alone.  I flicked on the television after dinner and then snuck away some nights to stay up late into the hours basking in the soft glow.  I knew it was getting out of control.  Picking back up where we ended in 2009.  And although disappointed in myself, I didn’t resist television like I should have.

Like any addictive relationship I’ve convinced myself it’s something good.  The excuses are plenty with “it’s not like it was before” and “things have changed.”  All the while I know in my heart it’s leading me back to the same road I traveled five years ago when I wanted something different in my life.

The need to write turns in the back of my mind.  It whispers for me to leave my addiction and come back to the place where I find real happiness.  Not the fake thirty minutes with canned laughter and dramatic musical crescendos.  My characters wait for my action to take back my mind and get back to work in creating their world.

The new year is around the corner and I’ve already begun to plan what I want in 2014.  It has nothing to do with ducks, housewives, or Kardashians.  Instead, I’m amping up the goals to make sure there is no time for my old friend to come around any more.  It may be difficult, even a bit impossible.  Plan to see more writing, baking, and hopefully some concert love.  So cheer me on as I break free from my electronic chains and take back the person I want to be.

susan_tia

More of this, less drooling in front of the television.

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Every so often everyone has “one of those weeks.”  You know, the kind where even the simplest thing becomes a monstrous undertaking.  The dark cloud brings with it the foulest mood.  Unimportant conversations blow up into the biggest dramas.   Simple statements sting like critical judgements.  There really isn’t anything that’s good when one of those weeks comes.

Last week sucked.  Every last corner in my life was infected.  I could list through all the things, but what fun is that?  What I did want to share was it was the first week where I had three baking jobs for my in-home bakery.  This was a big deal on the bakery front.  I should’ve jumped for joy with more business.  It would’ve been an amazing success, if it didn’t land on one of those weeks.

I had a boy’s 1st birthday cake to make.  It was a two tiered Bubble Guppies themed vanilla cake.  Simple enough since I’d decorated the cookies last week and was over the moon excited with how they turned out.  I couldn’t wait to build the cake so I had a display for their beauty.  I made the pastry cream early so it had time to set and thicken.  I baked off the cakes ahead of time to make sure I wasn’t rushed at the last minute.  I was ready on Wednesday night to assemble with plenty of time to spare for my Friday delivery.

I should mention how I didn’t start until 9:00pm on Wednesday because I had to attend a mandatory CPR training for my work.  I still may have been holding a little grudge from the long class filled with bad jokes from our instructor.  Hubs stood at the kitchen’s edge when I said “I wonder if I should build a frosting dam for this custard.”  He said, “It looks pretty thick.”  “Yeah, it will probably hold up.  It did before when Tia made it for the Boston Cream cake,” I said and started to build.

I got on the third layer when I realized I’ve got major problems.  The weight from the additional layers oozed out custard along the sides.  Hubs could feel the intensity in the room and said he’s going to bed.  Correction, he ran away to bed.   After a long profanity string ran off my lips, I tried to salvage the disaster.  I whipped some frosting to spackle the sides.  It didn’t work.  I dismantled the layers and tried to dam the layers.  The damage was too far gone.  I spent over an hour trying to repair something I knew wasn’t salvageable and I created this:

disaster cake

This wasn’t a picture I borrowed from a fifth grade baking disaster.  It’s not an example from letting my 8 year old go crazy and make anything she wanted.  This was a whole hearted attempt by me.  I should’ve held up a newspaper to prove this was less than a week ago.  I’m supposed to be a pseudo-professional and I made that.  It didn’t matter how much I tried to force it, nothing made it better.  I gave up around 10:00 p.m. to the fact this cake was lost.  I put it off to the side, baked a new one, and cursed it was just one of those weeks.

The next morning I recommitted to get through the week.  Nothing else.  I wasn’t going to try to save it or make it better.  I only wanted to get to the end of it without too much damage.  I started from the beginning with a new filling and built the cake.  When Friday morning arrived, I had this:

bubbleguppiescake

And while I’d like to tell you this was the happy ending to the the week, the truth is after I took this picture and loaded the cake in my car for delivery, I discovered I forgot one of the character cookies.  Even this didn’t finish off easy.

Here I am on the other side.  I ran away from the week by going camping with the kids.  I stole back a couple days from this week to remind myself why I do it all.  I chatted with the kids over smores, spent uninterrupted times with Hubs around the campfire, and rewarded myself with reading a book in the afternoon light.  It reminded me that even when a week is total shit and you wonder if you’re really ever going to get through it, Sunday night will show up.  And when it does, you will inevitably wish the week was a little longer.

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