Monday, December 26, 2011

the things you accomplish when you procrastinate

The holidays are a busy time.  First, Christmas arrives with all the things to do and people to see.  It's fun, but tiring.  And then it's time for some introspection and quality time before the new year arrives.  What went right?  What went wrong?  Where do I need to work harder?  What were my successes?  List all the great things that happened.

I haven't been able to participate in the Indie Ink challenge for pretty much the entire month of December.  I hope to start back to it next week in the new year.  I had two stories due for a yuletide challenge and being me I procrastinated a great deal on them.  It's funny the things I accomplish when I don't want to write.  Suddenly I have time to go through my closet, clean the kitchen, and read Tolstoy.  Anything to avoid the writing.  But once I get writing, it tends to be okay for the most part.  Sure, there are moments where I just want to write "and then they all died" no matter what the story I'm telling because that would just be easier than writing myself out of a plot hole.  But the voices in my head can be fun to play with.

I have a few posts to do over the next few days.  Thank goodness for vacation.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The right vote is for Mara Dyer...

I know at some point I will have to choose between Clary and Mara, but for now, they're not up against each other in the Tournament of Heroines at the YA Sisterhood.

Today it's between Mara and Karou, and while I feel no ill will toward Karou, I love Mara Dyer and I adored the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer so much.  I think it's my favorite book of 2011.

So go vote here.  Right now - December 16th is Mara's day and we need to make sure she gets to the next round.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

it's all about getting out of my own way

Today has already been a day of sorts.  After a bout of food poisoning yesterday, I learned a valuable lesson - never eat McDonalds...ever.  I don't eat it often and now I remember why.  Ugh.  Yesterday was not a good day.  But things are looking brighter today.  Feeling one hundred percent better and things at work are under control and while there is a lot I need to do, I'm feeling okay instead of stressed about it.

And it's Wishcasting Wednesday, which is always a bright spot in my week.  Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

"Very often we are our own worst enemy as we foolishly build stumbling blocks on the path that leads to success and happiness." - Louis Binstock

My deepest wish is to get out of my own way and let myself accomplish the things that I want.  I hide behind fear and the evil what if and find ways to constantly sabotage myself.  I want to get healthy.  I want to make a living doing something I love.  I want to embrace my creative side and quiet my negative one.  I want to stop running from fear and embrace it - because usually what you're afraid of leads to new things.  I want to stop thinking of myself in destructive ways and see all the good I bring to the universe.

My deepest wish is to get out of my own way and become the person I'm meant to be.

My daily email, I Believe God Wants You to Know, from Neale Donald Walsch seems to fit with this week's wishcast as well:

On this day of your life, Mare, I believe God wants you to know...
...that taking better care of yourself is not merely a matter
of good health, it is a measure of spiritual evolution.

Some people take better care of their car than they do
of their body. Most people, in fact, pay little attention
to their body until something goes wrong. Yet why
create that kind of situation?

Look at what you are eating. How much and how
often do you exercise? When was your last check-up?
Are you treating your physical vehicle as if it is Divine?
Good for you if you are. If you aren't...why not?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Party down and such...

Wednesday is upon us. i'm feeling a little run down and tired and there's no good reason for it except I'm reading/watching television too late, even though I know I have to be up early in the morning. And I've been terrible with my morning pages since Thanksgiving. During my five days off, I got out of routine and I'm just having such trouble getting back on track. Must just suck it up and get up half hour earlier again to do my writing.  And the new blogger posting format is a little weird - I'm not good with change.

In good news, my brain is currently filled with random ideas for stories and it's Wishcasting Wednesday.

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." - Oprah Winfrey

I wish to celebrate my accomplishments.  I put so much emphasis on things that I do wrong and the mistakes I make in any given day, but I never give myself credit for the successes, especially the small ones.  I want to dance around when I finish my reports early.  I should be able to pat myself on the back for walking away from Shop-Rite with a bill of only $ 7.00 because of my coupon work.  And when I finish a story, I should be proud of what I accomplished instead of immediately worrying and freaking out that it's trite crap.

What do you wish to celebrate?

P.S. - Happy Birthday, Jamie!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cool giveaway: Paperback Dolls Give Back & Kindle Fire giveaway

So, as many of you know, I love great giveaways.  Right up there with great coupon deals and reading blogs as ways to pass my time.   I tend not to talk about it much in my blog because it's not really what this blog tends to be about (emo posts and random bits of writing are way cooler - uh-huh), but every once-in-awhile there is a giveaway that I feel like I should share.  Because it's awesome.

"For every new follower Paperback Doll’s acquires during this 17 day contest, Day has teamed up with her local Half Price Books and Dollar Tree Store and will donate 1 children’s book or toy to Operation Christmas Child or Toys for Tots charity. We hope we are able to give lots of books and toys to children all over the world this holiday season! As a special “thank you” to all of our readers we are giving away a KINDLE FIRE tablet and donating books and toys to charity. To participate simply enter below. Already have a tablet? You can still help by sending monetary donations securely via paypal."

Enter here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I could really use a pot of gold

It was hard to come back to work yesterday after five glorious days off from work.  I did a lot of shopping (great deals with coupons were to be had) and cooked/baked and slept.  It was wonderful.  But back to work and getting back into a routine, which went out the window over the holiday.  Strange how easy it is to slip out of a pattern, but how hard it sometimes feels to get back on track.

Anyway, today is Wishcasting Wednesday, and Jamie asks us:

courtesy of we heart it

"All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy." - Spike Milliga

I wish for the treasure of enough money to thrive rather than barely get by.  Currently, money is extremely tight and any house issue turns into a crisis with lots of stress and anxiety as I freak out about where the money will come from and why does this keep happening?  I realize that ups and downs are a part of life.  I do understand how lucky I am to have a job that provides a roof over my head and food on the table.  And I know I could probably extend my budget a little further to make it last longer...but it would be nice to have a little reprieve.  Not a ton of money, just enough to live without constant fear of what could happen.

What do you wish for?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Indie Ink: Colors Change for No Good Reason

"This is possibly the worst day of my life," I pause to sigh dramatically for effect and pout in Mike's general direction.  I continue before he can interrupt me though and say, "And yes, that includes the day that my bicycle crashed into the ice cream vendor at the pier."

Mike laughs and I hate him a little bit.  He chucks my chin and says, "I warned you to get the brakes on that death trap of a bike fixed."

I sit down on the front steps of the school and shake my head.  "That is not helping."

Mike wraps his arm around me and I'm inundated with smells that are so Mike - soap and wintergreen and pencil shavings.  I rest my head on his shoulder and close my eyes.  In this moment, everything is okay and I can forget how my life has fallen apart in front of me."It'll be okay, Elaina.  You always land on your feet."

I keep my eyes shut, but I'm back in my guidance counselor's office.  Instead of guidance, he stomps all over my dream and tells me there is no way I'll get into Yale without animal sacrifice.  He says it so easily, like it doesn't matter that every conversation with my father since I was five has been about Yale and following in his footsteps.  He says it with crumbs stuck in his beard between hacking coughs and shrill phones ringing.  Sucks to be you, Elaina.

"You didn't even want to go to Yale."

I roll my eyes and laugh mirthlessly.   Mike nudges me in the side and says, "You'll figure it out."

"You seem so sure of that."

"Because I know you.  You're relentless to a scary degree and you'll figure out what you want to do and where you want to go and god help anyone who stands in your way."

I smile reflexively.  "Thanks, I think."

He slides a few inches away and turns to face me and suddenly we're in this moment where time slows down and my heart hammers in my chest and my head is screaming to move away, but I can't do it.  All these feelings that I've been sitting on for months are bubbling up to the surface and the soft, endearing expression on Mike's face is all it takes for me to kiss him.

Logic and every reason best friends should not hook up begin to run through my head, but they're thwarted as Mike's fingers curl in my hair and he pulls me closer until I'm almost on his lap.  He tastes a lot like he smells, less the pencil shavings, and I feel like I will never get enough of this.

He pulls back and caresses my face which freaks me out because he's Mike, but also makes me shiver in a way I'm not used to.  He smiles and says, "I've been hoping you would do something like that for over a year."

I arch my eyebrow.  "What?"

"I figured you knew how I felt about you, but didn't want to ruin our friendship...and I didn't want to mess things up, so-"

"-so you were a big chicken?" I say with a laugh.

He rests his forehead against mine and holds my hands in his.  It's something we've done millions of times over the years, but it's different and exciting, my skin tingling.  "Are you freaking out on me, Elaina?"

"Surprisingly no."

"Are you sure?"

"Surprisingly, yes," I say and I kiss him again.  Maybe finding out I had no chance at Yale broke my brain and I no longer have impulse control.  It's a brief kiss and I pull back to look at him, making sure that this is really happening and I'm not having hallucinations brought on from a nervous breakdown.  I wouldn't be the first teenager to go crazy on the quest for the Ivy League.

"It really happened.  No take backs," Mike says.  He always can read my mind.  He stands up and extends his hand to me, lifting me up onto my feet.  He pushes back a stray piece of hair from my face and says, "We should get you home."

"Want to stay for dinner?"

"You need support when you break the news to the parents?"

I shrug and try to sound casual. "Well, yeah, but I also just want to hang out with you."

He grins and squeezes my hand, "Sure."

"Good," I respond, even though it hardly does justice to how I feel.  In the span of one afternoon, I've gone from having one dream destroyed, but another one, one I was so scared of for so long, has been realized.  And who knows what will happen, but I'm definitely enjoying the moment.

This week’s IndieInk Challenge came from transplantedx3, who gave me this prompt: "For every dream that's shattered, another one comes true." I challenged Amanda with the prompt "I can’t get you off my mind."

Note:  This is a scene that features one of the characters I like to revisit, Elaina.  Other pieces with her can be found here.  Happy Thanksgiving to those that celebrate!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

do you remember the time...

It saddens me that I've missed the last few wischasting wednesdays, but I'm back today.  Life has been generally chaotic, but I'm looking forward to five days off and lots of deals on Black Friday.

This week Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

"Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once." - Audrey Hepburn

I wish to remember how fortunate I am.  I tend to focus on all the things that are going wrong, running right to the negative and ignore the good that is happening at the same time.  Life is a balancing act, a mix of good and bad, and it's important to pay as much (if not more) attention to the wonders as to the woes.  

I wish to remember how my dad used to tell me that I could do anything I wanted with my life, that I could be whatever I wanted, that it was in the palm of my hands.

I wish to remember the good things about my mother and forgive the bad.

I wish to remember everyone in my life who has been there for me and make sure they know how much they matter.

I wish to remember all of you.  I am truly grateful for this wonderful wishcasting circle of people.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indie Ink: Don't Look Back in Anger

“Callie, so much has happened in your life even without even including the meteoric rise to fame at sixteen years old.  I couldn’t help but wonder, is there anything you wish could’ve been different?”

It’s always the same with these guys.  They think they're Dan Rather in the making except they're stuck on the teen beat and ask stupid questions.   If they insist on treating me like an idiot, I can only do as my publicist and agent suggest and play dumb.  I flip my long, blonde hair and narrow my gaze on the perspiring loser in sweatpants sitting across from me.  “Not really, Dave.  I never look back.  My motto is what’s done is done.”

He laughs in that faux Hollywood way that means he thinks I'm barely functional.  He jots notes down with one hand while the other keeps straying into my personal space and grazing my thigh.  Note to creepy guys everywhere:  thigh high boots and short skirts don’t mean I’m a personal plaything for groping.  I shift in my chair to create a bit more distance between our almost touching knees – creepy dude sweat is so gross – and laugh right back at him.  I say, “I’m much more interested in living in the moment and enjoying what’s happening right now.”

“And who could blame you, considering you’re currently celebrating three consecutive number one songs, an album gone platinum and a sold out tour.”

There is something depressing about hearing your hard work and accomplishments shortened down to one sentence.  I try not to let it bother me though.  I need to be on my A-Game with the press at all times.  I nod and smile at Dave like my publicist instructed me to do.  We rehearsed this interview (along with several others) for hours and I’m afraid her head might explode if I veer off script.  No one wants a rogue pop star on their hands.

“But…” his voice raises an octave like he’s about to catch me in an A-HA question.  Like any of this can phase me anymore.  Like I’m not beyond it and more concerned with what to wear to the AMAs – the Vera Wang or Stella McCartney.  I stifle a yawn and bat my eyes expectantly and he says, “…but I can’t help but wonder if there is some part of you that not only thinks about the past, but has trouble letting go.  How can someone come from such a trying childhood and not occasionally revisit her history?”

I nod again like I’m considering the statement.  I’m so bored with this crap.  Yeah, I had a crappy childhood. Who didn't?  “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Dave, but I choose not to dwell on my past.”

I smile brightly and touch his arm.  I notice his pen slip for a nanosecond mid-scribble and I know I've got him.  He won’t know what hit him and I'll be able to get the hell out of here.  None of my fans want to hear about a girl who grew up with a nomadic aunt for a guardian while her parents went off to find themselves.  I don’t particularly care to look back on my pitiful origins either.  It’s over and done with.  So what if I have issues with being alone – it’s not really a problem for me anyway as I can't recall the last time I was by myself for more than two minutes – or can’t let myself trust people?  I am fine.  More than fine.  I’m a fucking star, who graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine at sixteen years old.  I have enough money to feed a small country and to insure my aunt can continue her flighty existence with hobby after expensive hobby.  And surprise, surprise, my parents finally found themselves six months ago…at the gate of my Bel Air home.

“Not even a little bit?”

I giggle like I’m about to offer up some secret inner-working of my soul and respond, “The thing is, life is hard all over, ya know, and the only reason I’m different from any other sixteen year old girl with a sad story is because I write fun songs that people can dance to.  I feel like if I focus on the past, it lessens the gratitude I have for God and my fans.”

He raises an eyebrow, but he wouldn't dare call me out on my load of crap. He says, “Some say if you forget the past, you’re doomed to repeat it.”

He’s getting on my nerves with his profundity of nothing and sweaty brow.  The truth is that there is no way I am going back to living in a shitty apartment with no heat or air with my crazy aunt.  I’m done with that and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it never happens again.  Door is slammed shut on my humble beginnings.    My jaw tightens and I know I’m making the fish face that my manager hollers at me about.  I force myself to smile through it, but I end up coming off even worse, like an alien freakshow about to suck out poor Dave-the-blogger’s brain.

As if he can sense weakness bubbling under my sunny exterior, Dave presses, “Your parents are back in your life after abandoning you when you were three.  How does that feel?”

“It’s complicated,” I state.

“Do you worry they’re back in your life simply because you’re the Callie McCallister and worth millions?”

“I try to keep my personal life separate from the professional, but I will say this.  We’re all learning as we go.  Will it work out?  I don’t know.  Yes, it’s hard sometimes,” I pause, resisting the urge to shoot daggers at mister wannabe hotshot reporter.  I take a deep breath and breathe – in spring blue sky, out tar black – and continue, “If people really want to know more about who I really am, I think my emotions truly come through in my new single, Inner Me.  I wrote it late one night on a tour bus while we drove across Kansas.  You see, Dave, music is the way I allow myself to deal with life’s trials and tribulations.  It’s what allows me to sit here and tell you that I never look back and feel good about it.”

I don’t give him a chance to respond.  I stand up, shake his hand, and hurry off toward my assistant.  I’m so over this.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Floreksa challenged me with "I never looked back" and I challenged Bran mac Feabhail with "If I had known yesterday that he would be gone, I would've done things differently."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indie Ink Challenge: Destiny Is Deafening

“…Well I don’t believe I’m beautiful,
but at least I have my sister’s smile
And I resist the muses,
but they sing to me in exile
And destiny’s not deafening,
but it hushed me like a child…” 

Music is such a huge part of my life.  It’s one of the constant companions to my day whether I’m stuck in traffic on the highway, working out, or attempting to create a genius piece of writing.  Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I’m always drawn to lyrics.  Beyond melodies and harmonies, the actual words of a song are what tend to make it a lasting fave or a flash-in-the-pan-feeling-of-regret later in life (I’m looking at you, Vanilla Ice). 

There are certain songs that I feel automatically linked to; ones that resonate on a level I’m not sure that I appreciate on first listen.   It feels like the songwriter stole my journal and wrote exactly what I was pondering.   There also certain artists that tend to do that for me more often than not – Ani Difranco, Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Springsteen…their lyrics are poetry to me, ways of explaining life that make me wish I was more eloquent.

It made this week’s prompt harder than I expected, but I ended up going back to one song over and over again.  While it’s not my overall favorite song of all time, the lyrics in this song just tend to capture how I feel about life.   I used the lyrics as the title of this blog – Destiny Is Deafening – and I often find myself, good or bad, resisting the muses.  It gets me in a lot of trouble, actually.  Whenever I attempt to approach my writing (or my life), with a set-in-stone plan or outline, things shift into rapid descent, the breath rushes out of my lungs and I’m left unsure of what the hell happened. 

In the refrain, Idina Menzel sings, “Still I can’t be still, still I can’t be silent...”  Even when life and destiny are upon us, even when we feel like things are out of our control, we keep moving.  We’re not still or silent.  I never know if that’s good or bad, but it continues to sum up how I feel on almost any given day.  I don’t claim that’s the healthiest mentality and maybe part of what attracts me to these lyrics is the idea that there are others like me.  There are those of us who don’t feel completely right, haven't quite conquered life and destiny, but we keep moving and trying.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Alisha challenged me with "hands down most meaningful song lyric(s) to you & whyt" and I challenged Gehan with "I hate that he tells me how much he thinks I'm worth and I really hate that I listen to him."  The response from Gehan is here.

Note:  I always recommend people check out Idina Menzel's music.  Her first album, Still I Can't Be Still, is my favorite and features the above mentioned song.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Indie Ink Challenge: Life of a Wannabe Couch Potato

“I like being a couch potato,” I stated.  I shoved a chip in my mouth and stretched out on the ugly-olive-but-oh-so-comfy sofa that my brother and I had found on Craigslist a couple of months ago. Our last one suffered a horrible demise during a run-in with a bitchy coven of witches, who overran the apartment with pestilence.  I cannot explain the levels of awful that was without shuddering.

My brother rolled his eyes and sat down next to me with a book in his hand.  He had the same light brown hair and blue eyes that I did, but even sitting down he towered over me in height.  Sean also looked much wiser and cooler than I did, which was never fair and I wondered if it was just because he was older.   The one thing I was sure of in that moment as he flipped the pages of his four hundred page novel…he would never make a good couch potato.

When Sean didn't say anything, I continued, “There’s something wonderfully normal about vegging out on a rainy day with some junk food and nowhere to go.”

“Yeah, it’s like Christmas,” Sean replied without even missing a beat in his book.

I glared at him and said, “This is the first Saturday in forever where there wasn't peril at the hand of jackasses that we had to handle or you weren't in annoying dictator mode.”

“I’m hardly a dictator.”

“ Isn't that what all dictators say?”

“No, they throw lazy bums like you in jail for insolent behavior and go on with their day.  I’m just not that lucky.”

I continued to glare at the side of his head.  Over the years, I've had to listen to a lot of girls go on about how handsome and great my brother was.  If only they could see him in all his snarky glory.  I yawned, stretched out again, and began the important task of flipping through the list of programming on the television.  It had taken years of whining, but I had finally convinced Sean of the wonders of cable.  Maybe in another ten years, he’ll be ready to try TIVO.

I glanced over the list of upcoming shows.  This was part of the trappings of cable. I already knew what I was going to watch, but I felt compelled to see what else was on.  It wouldn't have surprised me to learn that the cable companies were in league with a few demons on the invention.  It definitely screamed evil in that I-love-it-and-can’t-stop-myself way.  I popped another chip into my mouth as I scrolled through the long list of channels and upcoming programming.

And I gasped in horror.

Sean’s eyes snapped up from his book and focused on me.  “What’s wrong?”

“My day.”

“A minute ago life was grand.”

“That was before I was in the middle of a freaking television crisis of epic proportions.”

“Sounds awful.”

“Did you not hear the epic proportions part?”

Sean shrugged.  "I honestly don't know how to respond."

"This is serious, Sean.  I was planning to spend my afternoon catching up on Ghost Hunters International, but I just noticed there is a Teen Mom marathon on MTV.   I haven't seen the current season, but it's such an awesome train wreck - always makes me feel better about my own lame existence."

Sean dropped his book and snatched the remote out of my hand the same way he would a weapon - quick and efficient, leaving me to wonder if he was part ninja.  He put on the National Geographic channel, smirked at my groan, and said, "Problem solved and neither of us will be stupider afterward."

I crossed my arms.  "That was not one of the choices."

"I'm not watching Teen Mom."

"But Macy and Ryan are fighting again--"

"I am not watching Teen Mom, Cady.  I prefer not to partake in a sociological experiment gone completely awry, leaving me worried about the future of the human race if these are the people procreating."

I was not beyond a full-fledged pout-turned-tantrum if necessary.  I unfolded and refolded my arms in a very bratty manner and said, "That's what's so great about MTV shows."  His look was unflappable as he picked his book back up.  Sometimes I hated my brother.  A lot.

I grabbed the remote from his lap and said, "Ghost Hunters it is."

"That's not much better."

"You're ruining my happy lazy day."

"You know as well as I do that nothing on that show is accurate."

"It's a television show, not a dissertation on the proper techniques for dealing with ornery spirits and poltergeists."

Sean shrugged in the way that said I could do what I want but it wasn't the right thing to do.   It was a fixture in my childhood.  "Do what you want, but it seems like a waste of time."

"Seems like a waste of time," I mimicked in my best Sean-is-boring voice and I stuck out my tongue in his direction.  I flipped through the channels and settled in on Ghost Hunters as a new episode was starting.  I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Sean was back to reading his book.  We might not have the same ideas for how to spend a quiet day, but the lack of impending doom was a nice break.  I said, "Wouldn't it be great if the biggest decision of the day is whether to watch Teen Mom or Ghost Hunters International?"

"If you say so."

"I have nowhere to go and nothing to do and I'm going to enjoy it."


"I mean it," I replied.  I turned my attention to the show for a few minutes.  Not that I would tell him, but Sean was right about this show.  There really was a disturbing number of inaccuracies in how they dealt with ghosts.  
I tapped my foot against the coffee table and fanned myself.  It suddenly felt a bit hot in the living room, despite the wind billowing in from the open window.   I resisted the urge to get up and pace around the room.  It turned out being still and zoning out were not for me.

My brother glanced at me and said, "Let me guess, this is boring and you want to go do something."

"Yes please.  I'm not made for mindless television all day, just at night," I said.  I hopped up off the couch and slipped into my boots and jacket.  I bounced on the balls of my feet while I watched my brother amble around the room like an old man, gathering his keys and wallet and patting his jacket pockets.    Once he was ready, I flung open the door and hurried into the hall of our building.   "Sweet freedom!"

I wasn't looking at him, but I knew my brother was rolling his eyes in my direction as he locked the door. 

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Stefan challenged me with "Two things happened at once, it was which one to act upon that I couldn't decide..." and I challenged Sarah Cass with "It was a case of mistaken identity." (Her response is here.)

Note:  My piece is pretty liberal with the prompt - but it's what came out, so I decided to go with it.  This is another piece that uses my character, Cady.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A spring in my step and a wish on my mind...

I woke up this morning with a spring in my step.  Definitely a nice reprieve after last week's bout of stomach grossness (the correct medical term) and overall blah feel of the week.  This time of year is lovely in many ways, but the cold air and less light just put me in a funk for a little bit.  It's Nanowrimo time.  I, however, am doing a version called Mini-Nano, where you make a word count goal for each day.  When I did Nanowrimo, I could never finish, but when I started participating in Mini-Nano I found I did a much better job because it was a smaller word requirement (though I'm wordy and tended to write more than my minimum) and I could work on multiple projects.  Day one went well.  I made my goal, which was great considering yesterday I was dead on my feet.

Today is Wishcasting Wednesday!  That's always a nice spot to the week.  Jamie asks us:

courtesy of we heart it

"Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out." - Tina Turner

This week's answer is simple and yet sometimes so hard to do - isn't that always the way?  I wish to nourish myself through creativity.  I want to continue to branch out creatively.  I wish to make time for being silly and playing and creating without feeling guilty about the things I'm not doing during that time.  I want to create more and through that get to know myself a little bit better.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Indie Ink: The Last Twenty-Four Hours

“You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ 'Has your life brought joy to others?’” – The Bucket List

“You’re going to die tomorrow.”

“Excuse me,” I said, glancing around the room nervously.

The old woman who moved like she was bent in half stepped closer to me.  She tried to take my hand, but I pulled it protectively to my chest.  She sighed, the type that said this-is-nothing-new, and said, “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’re going to die tomorrow.”

“What?  How?”

“I cannot tell you the details.  I hope this information helps you.”


She’s crazy.  She’s crazy and old and weird.  And she smelled like tuna fish.  I am not going to take to heart the words of a woman who smelled of tuna fish.

But she was right about the lottery numbers.  And the flash of bright light in the sky. 

Dammit, what if she’s right?  Am I just in denial?  Should I be preparing?  After all, if she’s wrong and I’ve spent my day living to the fullest would I really be upset?


So tomorrow is the last day of my life.  It seems somehow wrong that I’m going to die on a Saturday.  It couldn't happen right before I was supposed to go to a long, dreary meeting?  I wish I knew a few days in advance as I would've totally called out of work.  Not sure what I would've done with the time, but it would have to be better than editing reports from co-workers that had never met a Grammar text book. 

Only one day left.  I keep repeating it over and over again as though it will finally make sense.  I’m obsessed with how it will happen.  Mostly, I hope it won’t hurt.  I want to be one of those people that others always say, “Well, she didn’t suffer” or “she didn’t feel a thing.”  Of course, with my luck, it’ll be some freak accident involving space garbage, which will make me infamous in death.  Please no fire.  That is not on my pre-approved list of ways to die. 

I must stop worrying about this. 

Why couldn’t the damn psychic tell me exactly how it would happen?  Is that messing with fate or something?  Worried that if I knew a bus was going to mow me down, I wouldn’t go near a street?  Okay, that’s probably fair.  If I could avoid dying, I would.

Anyway, I’m not really one of those girls who suddenly wants to climb Mount Everest – hiking, ew – or the demented type who thinks it would be fun to go on a crime spree.  I’m still me, just with an expiration date hanging over my head, and I’d be worrying too much about people’s feelings to ever steal, murder or whatever people on crime sprees do.  My big plan is to be happy. 


I've made plans with my sister and friends for this morning.  Breakfast and shopping – might as well spend that cash in my savings account on my friends – and enjoying the camaraderie.  I’m not sure if I should tell them.   My sister knows.  I tell my sister everything and she would be pissed if I didn’t mention something this huge.  Not to mention, she knew something was up when I returned home after finding out the news.  At first she was more than a little skeptical, but after I went through the list of all the things the lady was right about, she’s been taking it hard.  I guess that’s to be expected.   Death is always harder on those left behind.    The question is – do I tell my friends?  Is it better to give them the chance to say goodbye or is it okay to be selfish and behave like it’s any other day?  After all, I don’t want to spend my last day with lots of tearful goodbyes and further rumination on how it will happen.

If you can’t be selfish on your last day on Earth, I don’t know when you can be.  I don’t think I’m gonna say anything.   I want to have fun, dammit.  Enjoy everything that makes me happy and not allow fear to hold me back.  Sky dive – or is that how I die?  Dammit, stop thinking about it!  – dance, laugh, and play.  I want to focus on the good and not all the what if’s and never-meant-to-be moments.  I want to see all the movies on my must-watch list and skim all those books sitting on my bureau that I meant to get to.  I want to make the most of it, proof that I lived a good life.

I’d like to believe there is a heaven, where I can catch up with my parents and let them know I’ve moved beyond my anger (though, let’s face it, I’m sure a “remember that time you gave me food poisoning” conversation will sneak in there) and I’m just happy to see them again.  I’d like to believe there is this other realm where we are our best selves at all times – wise and kind and fearless.   But there is something oddly appealing about the idea of reincarnation too; a chance to get everything right with a clean slate.  Sometimes I like the idea of coming back and getting another chance at life, but it seems like a lot of work and can’t a girl have some peace in her after life?  I’ll wait to make that decision until it comes up.   The only thing I know for sure is that I do not want to become a spirit trapped on earth or end up on an episode of Ghost Hunters, accused of molesting red neck boys in their sleep. 

Whatever waits for me, I like to think that I’ve lived a good life.  I was kind and generous more than I was selfish and mean.  That while I made mistakes, I learned from them and constantly tried to be better.  Isn’t that all any God can really ask of us – to learn and grown and continue to be our best selves?   

I’m not as scared as I expected I would be in this situation.  I’m still not sure I like knowing exactly when it’s going to happen, but it does give me time to spend my last day living and not worrying about the small things that can invade our lives.  

I guess I’m ready.


I ended up telling my friends the truth.  There was some disbelief followed by crying and hugging.  I think I hugged more in that one hour than I did throughout my life.  I didn’t really want to say anything, but it came babbling out.  Besides, I didn’t want to make my sister carry the burden of that knowledge alone or get blamed for my selfish choices.  That seems like a shitty going away gift to someone.  “I’m dying and everyone is going to hate you.  Bye-eee!”

I bought my closest pals Coach bags with my savings and made them promise to find me one day in heaven and tell me what happens with Jason and Sam on General Hospital.  I don’t know if any other planes of existence get ABC.


The good thing about death is that I have no recollection of the very last seconds.  I don’t have to carry the memory of a horrible death – was it horrible? – around with me for all of eternity.  The bad thing so far is that there is a lot of paperwork to fill out in the afterlife before you can officially “move on.”  I still don’t know what that entails, but at least I avoided the poor bastard line that led to some scary looking shadows.  I’m faced with one final choice as myself – do I take a leap of faith and go to heaven or do I go back to what I know and try living again?  It’s a big choice to make and I’m still not sure I know the answer.  I purposefully left that line of form 22-B blank until I talk to one of the transitional counselors.  I’m leaning toward heaven.   It would be nice to see people I’ve lost and loved again, but even if that’s not possible, the idea of heaven is a lot more appealing at the moment. 


So it’s settled.  Transitional counselor thinks my best option is reincarnation, and after mulling over our conversation, I agree.  There are still a lot of things for me to learn and according to his thick file folder on me, I have not fulfilled my true potential, so off I go.

I just hope I don’t come back as a jackass.

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Sarah Cass challenged me with "Tomorrow is the last day of your life. If you live it well, you will go on into heaven (or your version of it) - or hell depending on the life you've led. If you live it how you WANT to spend your last day, you will be reincarnated as anything you want. What do you chose? And what is the outcome?" I challenged Major Bedhead with "Around mid-morning one day, you realize that everything that is happening seems really familiar. After much thought you discover that you are reliving a day from your past; OR a dream/nightmare that you have had is now happening for real."  You can read Major Bedhead's great response here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time to let go of the past

It's been a crazy week thus far.  Early Sunday evening I started to feel icky and have proceeded to be down and out with a stomach flu.  I missed two days of work and am now just started to re-enter the world of the living.  Still feel drained of energy, but slowly improving.

And it's Wishcasting Wednesday and today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

I wish to let go of the anger I've been carrying around.  For the longest time, I've become convinced that if I forgive that means that I'm okay with the bad things that were done to me, but it's more about accepting that it happened and letting it go.  I want to stop carrying around all this garbage in my head and heart even though the wounds are scarred over.  It's time to let myself off the hook and to let go of the past and focus on my now. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Truth is Thursday

The truth is I really didn't want to come to work today.  I was sleepy and suffering with stomach issues and still fighting off a cold.  If my kitty hadn't kept meowing at me to feed him, I probably would've reset my alarm and called my office to let them know I wouldn't be in.  Instead, I came in.

The truth is I am having one of those days where the simple things are just causing me so much trouble.  I had to double back to my house twice after I left my deposit for the bank home and then my coupons for Whole Foods for my lunch shopping trip.

The truth is I was almost tempted to say, "Who needs coupons?" but really I'm frustrated, not crazy.

Indie Ink Challenge: A Day in the Life of a Rebellious Non-Rule Breaker

Entry 1, 8:14 a.m.

Today is a new day!  Forget embracing ennui and have fun.  It’s time to throw caution to the win, ignore the rules, seize the day, and many other clichĂ©s that I can’t think of at the moment.  Rule number one to break:  the idea that any clear thoughts should be expected this early in the morning.

I’m going to take a mental health day from work.  I’ll have a chocolate milkshake for breakfast with a handful of chocolate chip cookies.  I’ll dance around my house in my underwear like the female version of Tom Cruise in Risky Business, except without the prostitutes and my song of choice would be “Single Ladies” by BeyoncĂ©.   I’ll color outside the lines…on purpose.  And when I finally leave the house, I’ll jaywalk and drive way over the speed limit.    

Carpe Diem!

Entry 2, 8:32 a.m.

I’m starting to feel anxious about taking a mental health day.  There is flop sweat and shaking hands.  What if my boss finds out?  What if I don’t look sick tomorrow?  I think I might need to steal my grandmother’s oxygen tank.

Entry 3, 8:42 a.m.

I’m not sure this milkshake for breakfast was a good idea.  There was no nutritious value and a whole lot of sugar.   Somewhere, Jillian Michaels is crying out in pain and my stomach hurts.

Entry 4, 9:01 a.m.

Dancing around in your underwear is not as easy as it looks.  First, my stomach has been in revolt since I had the double chocolate breakfast of milkshake and cookies, and then as I pumped up the music and shook my booty, I could feel my cats judging me.  Way harsh.

Entry 5, 9:56 a.m.

I’m getting the hang of this no rules thing.  I’m wearing clothes that don’t match and I didn't bother to shower.  I did have a momentary lapse where I wondered if I would look homeless rather than rebellious, but decided a true rule breaker just didn’t give a damn.  It’s time to jump in the Honda Element, or the speed machine, and go somewhere wild.  Rules of the road, I laugh in your face.

Entry 6, 9:57 a.m.

I just can’t do it.  Despite my Jersey upbringing, I’m not comfortable barreling down the road way over the speed limit.  What if I killed someone, or worse, got pulled over by a cop?  On a no-rules type of day would I be expected to respond with smack talk and spit on the officer’s shoes?  Is crying to get out of a ticket still allowed?  Telling the truth is definitely out – that screams one-way ticket to Crazyville and I have plans this weekend.  Maybe some rules were not meant to be broken.  Maybe I should stick to jaywalking as a sign of my disdain for traffic regulations everywhere.  I guess that’s something.

Entry 7, 10:22 a.m.

Okay, jaywalking was a huge mistake.  A man-child on a bicycle in a bright red helmet nearly ran me over and shouted obscenities in my general direction.  How rude!

Entry 8, 10:25 a.m.

I’m doing this all wrong.  I need to get serious about breaking the rules and defying social norms.  It’s time to pull out the Johnny Cash albums for inspiration.

Entry 9, 10:31 a.m.

Wow.  Did you know that Johnny Cash once killed a man just to watch him die?  That’s a hardcore rule breaker.   No wonder prison inmates loved the man.

Entry 10, 11:13 a.m.

Listening to “Boy Named Sue” on repeat has worked wonders for my bah-humbug! to rules day.  I drove to Starbucks and parked like an asshole.  And I don’t care.  If other people don’t think parking spots exist for a reason, why should I?

Entry 11, 11:15 a.m.

Gotcha, Starbucks Barista!  She asked me how my day was and I defied social norms and babbled on about how I really was feeling.  I told her all the sordid details of my financial woes and plot to (not) rule the world!  So what if my financial woes aren't helped by the purchase of a five dollar drink?  I’m taking a trip on the wild side.

Entry 12, 11:31 a.m.
I cut an old lady off in line at the bank and I didn’t thank the teller after I took my money. 

Entry 13, 11:47 a.m.

I littered.  What is wrong with me?  I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Entry 14, 12:10 p.m.

I worked on the latest draft of my novel.  Forget you, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.   I've got this under control.

Entry 15, 1:00 p.m.

Is it sad when you don’t understand your own writing?  He be da fugly man like big tattoos and bald head and he took her traveling through time in a thingy-majig.  What does that even mean?

Entry 16, 1:03 p.m.

I can’t take this anymore.  Rules exist for a reason.  Do I want to live in a Lord of the Flies sort of world?  No, I certainly do not.  I remember what happened to Piggy – oh, poor fat Piggy. 

What was I thinking?  I’m a Virgo.  Rules were hardwired into my brain at birth and fused together with a dash of perfectionism.    Sure, maybe I could learn to let go a little sometimes, but I’m okay living in a world with rules.   I wish I could say I had some sort of epiphany like characters from John Hughes movies always have about mundane things, but mostly, I just want to put on some clothes that match and pull my copy of Elements of Style out of the garbage can.  

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Carrie challenged me with "Ignore the Rules! Doubt Everything! Some rules are meant to be broken" and I challenged Tereasa Trevor with ""It's hard to believe it's already been a year since it happened."

Note:  I spent Sunday through Wednesday panicking and pondering what I could do with this prompt.  I was over-thinking it, but couldn't stop myself.  Finally, I turned to a friend who is also a creative type and said, "help me."  Best decision I made because talking to her helped me slowly formulate this piece.  And I kinda like it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Time, time, time...look what's become of me...

What is with Wednesdays being rainy, dark days this month?  I don't care.  I love fall and yesterday, when I stepped outside and took a deep breath, it smelled of fall - a mixture of leaves and wind.  Aside from being a rainy day, it's also Wishcasting Wednesday!

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

I wish to make time for my health. I want to get back to regularly exercising and planning meals so that I can control what goes into my body.  I was doing so well for awhile, then I hit some trouble and fell apart.  But over the past few weeks, I've picked myself up, brushed myself clean of the debris of the last wreck, and am ready to get back to it.  I joined SparkPeople, since that's free and seems to have a great community.  I've researched some not-too-hard recipes that I can make.  Now it's just about giving myself the time to do these things for myself.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indie Ink: How She'll Be Remembered

One day her epitaph will read, “Here lies Maggie – she was a beautiful mess” and she’s made her peace with that.  It’s just a fact of life, or her life anyway.  One of those things that was born out of a did-that-really-just-happen moment and over time metamorphosed into a dictionary-like definition of who she was.  At least in his eyes, and as much as she likes to believe she is this fierce independent woman, his view of her matters the most.

Besides, there are worse things a girl can be known for in life.

It used to bother her.  She wanted to hate him for it – who wants to think her entire existence can be narrowed down to those three words? – but he was always so damn aww-shucks about it that it didn't feel right to get mad.  Now those words are like an elixir when she's spazzing out about mundane things.  When she forgets where she leaves her keys or misplaces the glasses sitting on top of her head, he tilts his head back with a hearty laugh and says, “Sweetheart, you’re a beautiful mess.”  She smiles, breathes in and out and calms (and usually notices the glasses on her head and cringes in embarrassment).

He never says it with an ounce of unkindness or sarcasm.  His gaze is always adoring as he looks at her like “how did I get so lucky to have this beautiful mess in my life” and sometimes she thinks it’s just too much and there must be something more sinister, but it’s hard to fake his sincerity.  It’s another reason they’re a bizarre mishmash of a life thrown together.  She’s frazzled imperfections wrapped in a snarky cloth.  Sincerity has never been nor will it ever be her forte and he’s earnest and thoughtful and optimistic.

Somewhere in the universe, someone made a mistake and some sweet farm girl is suffering through a day with a surly fellow reading the Sunday paper and complaining about all that is wrong with the world.  She thinks maybe she should feel bad about that, but it’s not in her nature.

Sucks to be you, farm girl, but this beautiful mess is going to hold onto what she’s been given.

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Random Girl challenged me with "she was a beautiful mess" and I challenged Kelly Garriott Waite with "start a piece with the line, 'One day of work was all that stood between me and...'" and her wonderful response can be found here.

Note:  This piece definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.  Work has been busy the past two weeks again and I've found myself blocked in some ways, so this was a great time for this type of challenge.  My goals with this were to try something new and not to over-think it too much.  Not sure if I succeeded yet, but I tried.

a simple wish this wednesday

It's a rainy day.  I've got therapy in about forty-five minutes and I'm lamenting it because my therapist suggested I do this one thing last time we met and I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I know that I should give it a chance and see what it's like, but every time I would look into it, I'd feel anxious and immediately come up with a billion excuses for why I couldn't do it.  Surefire sign it's probably something I do need to do.  Dear universe, please send me some courage!

Today is also Wishcasting Wednesday, and Jamie asks:

How do you wish to be loved?

courtesy of we heart it

"Do you want to meet the love of your life?  Look in the mirror." - Byron Katie

I wish to be loved without judgement and embraced for my imperfections.  I wish for love that oozes trust and laughter and understanding.  I wish I could love without fear of loss and panic about things I can't control.  I wish to love completely, holding onto the smiles and the tears.

Mostly, I just wish, right now, that I could love myself in all my splendid (and slightly crazy) glory.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Artist's Way Check-In: Yes, I'm still on the journey

I've been incredibly lackadaisical about posting my progress on my Artist's Way journey and offering support and encouragement to my fellow travelers.  One of the things I wrote about in my morning pages this morning was how I was going to make a better effort on both of those matters.  I fell behind a few weeks ago - never really recovering from the idea of a break from reading and such...and just flailing at my own inability to give it up and wondering if my fighting the need for the break is a sign that I really need to do it or just hey, I love reading and it's one of the ways I relax after crazy work.

I've been doing the other chapter work.  Chapter six's tasks were different for me because it wasn't just writing and pondering so much as doing things.  I managed to go through some clothes and picked up bags to finally go through all my mom's stuff.  UGH!  I have put this off for so long, but it's like this albatross around my neck.  I'll feel more free once it's done, but it seems so permanent and hard in a way.

Chapter Seven, I'm still working on some of the tasks even though we're into chapter eight.  I'm trying to take my time with each exercise but I also go through periods of time where I want nothing to do with the journey.  My censor is trying to hold on tight to things.  But this chapter...I highlighted and notated so much.  Everything about perfection and risks, I can truly relate.  I always find myself dissecting sentences that I write simply because I imagine it could be so much better.  Whenever I go to continue to writing on a project, I feel compelled to read back over everything from before.  And risks - I like to hide behind being a Virgo and practical by nature, but I often fear the simplest risks.  It was good to read this and not only go AHA! I'm not alone!  but to know that I can combat it, no matter how hard.

Morning pages:  i've missed a few random days since July, but I'm usually really good about getting up and doing my pages first thing in the morning.  It's become part of my routine.  It's mostly a dumping ground for dreams and things I need to do and blahs, but it does help to unclutter my mind.

Artist's Dates:  I've been horrible with these over the past month or so.  My sister, who normally works Saturdays, has been off the last couple of Saturdays and we end up doing some of our couponing.  I know she would understand if I was like, "I need to go do my artist's date" but I never bring it up.  I'm still struggling with this idea of playtime just for me and doing things that don't cost money (as it's super tight).  Can going to Barnes & Noble, buying a new release you've been waiting for, and reading it in one sitting count?

This process has helped me in some ways.  I'm more open to being crafty, even if it's not my forte, and just trying new creative things that in the past I viewed as off-limits.  I am setting up a small craft area in our family room in the corner.  We're going to make some shelving and put in two tables - one for the sewing machine and one just to play on...and organize all the crafts and materials.  I'm excited about this, just need to clear out the space.

Now I'm off to do some work and then check in on everyone's journeys.

Edit:  In my long-winded update, I somehow managed to forget to answer the weekly questions on this week's check-in.

1) Morning pages:  have you been tempted to read back?  Yes, I have.  I'm onto notebook three of my morning pages and I was thinking this weekend it might be interesting to see what I wrote, but I don't know if I'm quite ready.  There is a lot of negativity in those pages and I'm not sure I'm far enough away from it yet.  Also, as is the case on many days, i sometimes find myself writing, "Not sure what else to say"

2)  Artist's Date:  Terrible with these.  I have to get out of my own way with this.  The whole "perfection" theme of the chapter works well in regards to this.  I put so much focus on the need to do something fun that I get anxiety and do nothing.  I just need to find some really cheap, fun and creative things to do.  No pressure.

3)  See the whole long diatribe above.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

wishcasting: one day the world will know...

Today is a good day.  I feel it in my bones.  I'm not sure what makes this day so good, but I'm going with the flow and I'm not going to let anyone steal my joy.  And it's Wishcasting Wednesday, which is always wonderful.

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

My immediate answer was a book signing with a line of people out the door because they love my book and want to talk to me about it.  I dream of that a lot.  

But I think that's only part of the answer.  What I want, more than anything, is to wish to be comfortable in my own skin and be happy with myself and my life.  It's also the thing that terrifies me most.   I'm on the journey toward it.  I know it's there, in the distance, lost behind the fog and the mountains.  I just need to keep traveling up the trails and not freaking out about getting lost or what will happen or when.  I just need to keep doing.  And have a little faith in the universe.  

So I wish to one day look in the mirror and not wince at my own reflection or to immediately start thinking horrible things about myself.  And with that, I feel like the rest will fall into place.