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Archive for the ‘Don’t Give Up’ Category

At the end of 2016, I was cocky.  Or grumpy.  I’m not totally sure.  Either way, I decided I’d done resolutions long enough.  Years of making goals and reporting back to the world about how well I’d done seemed passé.  Who needed that shit?  Um….yeah, in 2017 I realized I do.

So, I’m back!  I have to admit, I’m really excited about it.  There’s a bit of a theme this year — it’s a reboot.  Those are popular nowadays, aren’t they?  They did it with Jumanji and it seemed to be a hit, so why not me?  (Really…who thought they would remake Jumanji?)

I realized with such big changes last year, I need to get back to some basics.  You know, get my bearings straight with some of the goals I’ve made in the past.  I’m a different person now and I’m eager to see what these older ideas will look like when I revisit them.

NYE

Even in one of my last selfies of the year, I look a little suspicious. Really it was the hat. I wasn’t sure about the dunce cap hat.

1.)  Write 15 minutes a day. Every day

Fifteen minutes sounds so easy, I know it does.  But damn, this one scares me the most.  I can’t put this off.  No excuses, no delays, not “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  Nope, this is an every day task.  Like exercise, I need to get myself in writing shape and this only comes with consistency.  I want to be that writer who has to write because it’s part of what makes me happy.  The best part, the most exciting part, is that I have no rules about what this fifteen minutes looks like.  I can do any kind of free write that enters my head.  If I want to write a whole dialogue about making out with some hottie lead singer, I get to enjoy every last heavy breath of it. (Phew, fan me off.) Let’s move to the next one.

2.)  Host Delish Open Houses

A couple years ago I had this one down on paper, but at the last minute I modified it with “try new ideas.”  Then I never did this.  Since big changes in 2017 when I became the sole Delish owner, I wanted to add some structure on growing the sales.  Each month, I’m going to host an open house where I showcase a particular item I offer on the menu.  There will be some samples for people who want to check out my goods before committing.  Hopefully, my regulars will show up and bring a few newbies.  This will be a timid toe-dipping in the idea of a store front and getting some customer feedback. I couldn’t be more excited.

3.)  Query

Yep, that’s right.  I’m pulling the trigger this year.  Finally time to finish some projects and get out there in the query game.  I feel like my heart is ready for the rejection that’s bound to come.  More importantly, I’m ready to complete a book.  My process has been stuck in molasses for far too long.  I need some action and the commitment to query before the end of the year is just the thing to do it.

4.)  Read a book each month

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  How did I get to a place where I barely read?  It doesn’t really matter how because I’m here.  Where I challenged myself to read 25 in a year before, I’m going a little more conservative this round.  Hopefully, I’ll be so inspired there might even be a Baked Book actually published.  (I hate to admit how many I’ve baked and not published.)

5.)  Recover quickly

I’ve saved the most important for last.  I tried this a few years ago and singing “recover quickly” became my mantra anytime I felt my skin rush red.  I’ve lost my way from this for a little too long.  When I lost some friends last year, I let things get under my skin and fester in so many terrible emotions.  The worst part was I was the only one losing any energy over it.  They moved along just fine without looking back to see me still looking for answers.  It reminded me sometimes it’s more important to recover and keep moving versus trying to figure out someone’s motives.  This year I am dedicated to recovering quickly and continuing to move forward.

Recover Quickly

Saw this sign and made the joke it would be a great tattoo for me. I think using it here is a wiser, long-term decision.

Although these are resolutions I’ve had before, it doesn’t make them any easier.  In some ways, they’re even tougher.  (Didn’t you compare which Ghostbusters you liked better?)  Resolutions always come with the same questions — What if I don’t get them done?  What if they’re too hard?  What if at the end of the year I can’t check off a single one?  Then I remind myself it’s all in my control.  I make these resolutions because these are important things.  Writing them down is only a symbol of the commitment my heart is ready to make.

Good luck on yours!

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My Little Voice

Usually at this time of year, you might expect to see a blog about how I’m spiraling into my annual depression. That bit where I haven’t done all the things I wanted and I feel like I’m wasting my life. Sure, I try to write some upbeat piece about my attempts to combat it, but I’m usually pretty deep in the “you should haves.”  It starts in November with my birthday and continues to grow with the new year looming right around the corner.  Through the holiday obligations, and as the clock ticks closer to midnight on December 31st, I reflect on what little I accomplished in the previous 365 days in comparison to what I should have done.  Lucky for me this year, I’m not facing this issue.  Unlucky for me, it’s because this entire year has been a constant “What the fuck?”

There’s something absolutely insane when you’re entire life that took decades to build feels like it’s been put into a blender.  Rapid swirling, loud noise, and a small blade cutting through anything you ever thought was solid.  Your whole world turned into a mushy mess, the consistency of baby food, in one not-so-simple year.  It seemed the harder I fought to keep my shit together, the more it oozed through my fingers.

I’ve always believed things happen for a reason.  This isn’t only for when something great blesses me and I think it must be some reward for clean living.  (Ha!  When did I ever live clean?)  Even in tough times, I tell myself there are no coincidences.  You have to look hard for clues to figure out what lessons you’re supposed to learn.  This is a little harder to swallow when you start to feel like nothing is going the way it should.  It’s easy to fall into “Can’t I catch a fucking break somewhere?”  However, that’s when this thinking is really tested, right?  So as I kept choking down this garbage year, I told myself some reason will explain why my life is falling apart.

angel?

Is this what clean living looks like? Wings out your neck?

When my birthday passed and no anxiety came with it about wasting my life, I assumed it was still on its way but was fashionably late.  When I went through Thanksgiving and I still wasn’t over analyzing my to do list, I realized something was different.  Why the silence?  Is it because I’ve done everything I ever wanted this year?  Ha!  This isn’t a fairy tale, people.  In fact, I haven’t really done shit.  There’s been time to write, but I haven’t.  I’ve had the opportunity to bake more and I didn’t.  Why haven’t I done a damn thing?  And since I hadn’t, why wasn’t I beating myself up about it?

Throughout the year when I looked at doing nothing with my time, I pulled out the easiest excuse — “This year has been so haaaaard.” (Totally said in a whiny voice.)  People accepted it.  Hell, they even encouraged it with a sympathetic “you’ve had the worst year.”  I reveled in their pity.  And guess what?  Still nothing got accomplished.

Then on a cold morning at the beginning of December, during my morning walk I thought about why there were no voices.  I went “real talk” with myself and admitted I hadn’t done more in 2017.  I’ve had the choice to do the things I want.  No obligations weighing me down, no time constraints to blame, no compromise to resent. All things that had been go-to reasons in the past when I told myself I should have done more.  In that moment, I had to face a hard reality.  The fact I didn’t do them rides 100% on my shoulders with the answer “because I chose not to.”

You might be thinking this is a sad discovery, to admit you’ve let yourself down.  It’s actually quite the opposite.  I learned something every important.  There’s an empowerment in holding yourself accountable.  You realize you are the one who gets to make the decisions that are right for you.  With this accountability comes a discovery it’s your own personal responsibility to make yourself happy.

First thing I did was tell myself it was okay.  This year was about transition and learning.  Things changed and I had to understand how to accept it.  That takes time and is still a work in progress.  Even more important, I’m forgiving myself more. Trying to work on not avoiding risks of falling down, but focusing on making the recovery time faster.  Jumping back up and continuing to take small steps in the direction I want to go.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  In fact, right now it’s the hardest thing in the world.  There’s lots of work to be done.  The falls still hurt.  Sometimes I stare at the scabs longer than I should and cry over the scars that will never go away.  In those moments, the little voice has changed from a berating  “you should have” to a soothing song of “It’s okay. You’re going to get there. Some day.”  And as I take a deep breath to get back up again, I think I might have found the most important lesson of all.

 

 

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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.

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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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