The Real Dawn Revealed

Be free be yourselfNot until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
  Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been struggling lately. I’ve been struggling just to show up here and tell you what is going on in my life because it’s not been an adventure and it’s about as far from “cool” as the Baja desert in August. I’ve been struggling with whether to share what is happening or whether to struggle and suffer in silence, which is, after all, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant way. I am slowly realizing, however that struggle is what makes me, makes us all, human. Despite trying to wear her mask, I am not Super Woman, I’m not perfect, and I’m definitely not always together and smiling, skipping down the beach without a care in the world. And along those lines, I think that in many ways this blog has been a front, a pretense, a misrepresentation of who I am.

In an attempt to be honest and real, I gave voice to my struggle last August and you responded positively. With words of encouragement and understanding. I was astounded that a blog that I had considered not publishing because it revealed too much got more comments than any other I’d written. Nevertheless, I figured that once was enough and I’d best tuck the “I’m not happy” line of discussion back into the cave in my heart where I thought it belonged. Hence the silence. It’s hard to maintain the party line about your adventurous life when it’s actually filled with chronic sadness bordering on depression, illness probably brought on by a weakened immune system the result of such sadness, and the literally mind-numbing sensation that you are all alone in that sadness.

If I’m to be honest, I’ve felt like I’m knee deep in liquid cow manure for the last year or so and then in the last few months, the levels rose to somewhere just south of my nose. Sure I’m still breathing, but from where I’m standing, life stinks.

I was literally sick for most of November and all of December, culminating in a serious sinus infection and bronchitis while visiting Canada during the coldest December and early January they’ve experienced in over 30 years. There’s a reason I moved to the tropics and it has a lot to do with those winters. Even if I hadn’t moved here to learn to surf, I would have moved somewhere warm. I was over being cold, catching cold, feeling miserable for so many months out of the year. Did I ever mention on here that I once frost bit all ten of my toes? They were black. Coal black. I gasped when I saw them. But that’s another story for another blog. So you aren’t left in suspense though, I will say I still have all ten of my little piggies. Miraculously.

Canadians who stick it out for the often six months of frigid weather are a tough lot. They grin and bear what for me has become unbearable. The warmth of Baja has made me thin-skinned, a wussy by Canadian standards, but that’s okay. Admitting I’m a wuss is a fair price to pay for sun kissed skin and wearing flip flops 12 months out of the year. But I digress.

My point is this – I was already feeling down and then I got sick with a mild illness that dragged me down another notch and it lasted for what seemed like forever.

I know, this is a bummer post…but I’m not going to apologize for that. I cannot and will no longer try to minimize and cover up what it is that I’m feeling in the deepest recesses of my soul. And I need to show up, I need to share what I’m feeling because I know that I am not alone and that there are countless people the world over feeling isolated, alone, and depressed. Why do you think Philip Seymour Hoffman shot tainted heroin into his veins on Sunday? Many people, like me, are beating themselves up for not being more thankful for what they do have. And I am thankful. I’m so very thankful for the many blessings that my life abounds with. But the reality is that at the end of the day there are some fundamental things that this life of mine needs in order for me to be truly and unabashedly joyful – yeah, that skipping-down-the-beach-singing-a-jaunty-tune kind of joy that I constantly try to convince everyone out there I’m steeped in. I’ve been operating under the premise that if you believe it, I will too. But it’s just another front like the Super Woman mask I put on when I’m feeling insecure and vulnerable, which, to be honest, is most of the time.

I’m doing the work, I’m reading the self-help books that I hope will unearth the demons that plague me, meditating, doing yoga, eating right, getting in the water now that I’m no longer hacking up a lung. Admittedly, while visiting a friend on the west coast recently to get some surf and much needed social interaction, I probably had more tequila than was wise for someone balancing so precariously on the shadowy line between sadness and clinical depression, but the friendship was invaluable, the waves challenging, but fun. I believe it was Thoreau who said that when we are feeling down we must surround ourselves with positive people. So I went and visited one of the most positive people I know, who it just happened was going through his own health crisis and is dry docked for a month in the middle of surf season on his side of the peninsula. Then he got a message about his cousin being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – two types no less. Nothing like a little perspective to make you see the silver lining around your own cloud.

So I don’t know if it was the perspective adjustment, time in the water, or just time, but I feel better now than I did when I began writing this post a few days ago. Nevertheless, I need to put this out there: sometimes my life sucks. To be more specific, often times, despite how together and happy we appear from the outside looking in, people are often suffering. I think that in North America we’ve lost our tolerance for suffering. The images of perfection we’re fed by The Media tell us to “Fake it ‘til you make it!” Tell us it’s not acceptable to admit our frailties, our fears, our weaknesses. Tell us to put the Super Man or Super Woman mask on and smile. But that’s a lie, one that hurts the liar and the deceived alike because it’s not who we really are, it’s not how we’re really feeling. If people knew how we were really feeling, they might reach out and offer us a hand – encouragement, a compassionate ear, a hug.

I haven’t shown up here for three months because I couldn’t muster the strength to dawn the mask. As I write these last sentences though, I’m feeling better, more honest, truer to myself. Ironically, it seems I’m made stronger by losing the mask.

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The Condition My Condition Is In

For whatever reason, I don’t get a lot of comments on this blog. People read it, but they don’t feel the need to express their opinions afterwards. Maybe they’d like to tell me what they really think, but they’re being polite. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of comments made here and via email in response to my last post, in which I admitted to feeling the negative effects of my isolated lifestyle. Those words of thoughtful advice and encouragement reminded me that loneliness is a common ailment in our increasingly isolated and isolating societies. It became apparent there was a lot of empathy to my plight, a lot of “yeah, I’ve been there.”

The number of comments spoke of how many of us have felt this emotion, but while wandering around Facebook the day after publishing that blog, I stumbled across an article from Slate magazine called Loneliness is Deadly. The Universe tapping me directly on the shoulder? The melodramatic title did its attention-getting job. As I read it, I couldn’t help but notice that much of what the author described as the consequences of loneliness I knew, at least intuitively, to be true. I realized that for months, except for to a couple of close friends, I had avoided communicating how I felt because of the stigma associated with admitting we are lonely. The notion that we are capital “L” Losers if we admit to being lonely is sad, potentially disastrous, and just so much BS. If we avoid talking about it, we’ll never realize that there are a whole bunch of us walking around here not realizing that there are bunch of us out there feeling the same way. Comfort in numbers, my lonely friends!

A few days later I opened my email to be struck by the timeliness of Nathan Bransford’s latest post “Writing and Loneliness.” Then, just to make sure I really got the message, a week later the Daily Good newsletter I receive each day drove home the bottom line, the same message all those comments to my blog were sending: While we may be lonely, “We Have Never Been Alone.” Hannah Brencher distilled my feelings and pointed out an oft forgotten reality:

Loneliness is quite capable of swallowing us whole. And Loneliness will think to do a lot of things, but it will never think to spit us back up until we look around and realize that we have never been Alone.

Alone and Loneliness. They are two different things. One is thick, and the other is a myth. We have never been alone, not a day in our lives. What kind of devil hissed this lie in our ears? Yes, we have felt tender. Yes, we have felt defeated. But no, we have never been alone so much as we have refused to let the others in.

And so I began to examine where I might be keeping people out, whether I was the one who was isolating myself or had circumstances conspired to put me here in Isolationville?

I’d already taken matters into my own hands to actively remedy my situation.

Solution Number One was seeking and applying for jobs that will either give me the financial wherewithal to get out of Dodge more often, or necessitate leaving Dodge altogether.

Solution Number Two was to once again temporarily get out of Dodge. There’s nothing like a two week surf vacation away from your regular surfing life to give you a new lease on life!

The little town where I found myself was itself remote, but it turned out that I was not the only one looking to for a little surf-related R&R. New friendships were made and old ones renewed. And that saying about a change being as good as a rest? Well, it’s a cliché for good reason.

A few days into my surf vacation, I realized I’d never actually taken a surf vacation. By that I mean, I’ve never taken a trip for the express purpose of surfing. Yes, I’ve surfed away from home, but rarely, and I’ve always had another reason for taking the trip. Surfing hasn’t been the primary focus. I’ve even flown all the way to Fiji and Hawaii and not so much as paddled.

I spent two weeks at this very special surf spot and, unlike when I am at home, had no trouble at all getting up well before sunrise to hit the water before the crowds. I was the first one out every morning with only one exception (and yes, the size of the surf probably had something to do with the fact that no one was really chomping at the bit to get out there). I was pleasantly surprised on the first morning to see my favorite winter constellations – Orion and Sirius – shining overhead as I loaded the truck with essentials (lots of drinking water and my buddy Friday). The water’s coolness washed away any lingering drowsiness as I dragged my feet through the shallows (to avoid getting stung by stingrays who might be lurking on the sandy bottom). Sirius blinked in the gradually brightening sky as I paddled out into the bay where two to three footers peeled right to left from the rocky point. I placed myself a few feet inside of where I knew the larger waves would break, hoping to be the recipient of one of the set waves that typically appear just before the sun breaks the horizon. It was pure joy catching that first wave each morning before anyone else was out. The sight of me erect and sailing across the face of a wave was usually enough to get the campers moving though and soon I’d be joined by two, then three or four others.

Friday, traveler extraordinaire.

Friday, tucked in next to the 6’8″ Roger Beal, which sadly didn’t get wet this trip.

Near the end of the first week, more campers appeared along the bluff overlooking the break in response to swell reports that promised better waves, waves that had yet to materialize. By the time the sun had risen there’d be six, sometimes eight of us in the water, chasing knee-high waves. The waves’ size made for a mellow crowd. We shared the little peelers and chatted between inconsistent two-wave sets. The vibe was sweet and it felt good to be part of something so positive. Even the boys from Orange County, used to surfing among the aggro crowd at Trestles, encouraged me to drop in on them, yelling, “Party wave!” more than a little often. My faith in So Cal surfers was renewed along with my conviction that being connected to the larger Human Race is our natural state, our salvation.

Beautiful, but about as close to flat as it gets.

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And speaking of small waves, here’s a beautiful piece about riding the small stuff, Small Waves by Thorpe Moeckel.

Potential Energy

I’ve lost my way. I’m like a little girl out in a misty forest full of strange sounds and prickly bushes. I came here looking for something, but when the fear grabbed hold of me, I got disoriented and turned around. I’ve been wandering around looking for my destination, but all I’ve found is muddy holes, impassable creeks and a big patch of poison ivy. My clothes are tattered and my legs and face are covered in scratches. I haven’t given up though, and I know there is a way out of this tangled mess.

Once a week I am joined here in the forest of my life by Andrea Mauer, my wonderful and talented life coach. She takes my hand and walks the twisting paths with me. I show her the paths I tried and she helps me see where I went wrong. She points out the similarity between these paths and the ones I’ve already taken that led to impasses. She saves me from going down paths she is already familiar with or that she points out are rife with obstacles before I get too far along. Every once in a while she invites another wise person to join us in our search for my destination.

Andrea introduced me to Amy Oscar’s blog several months ago. Amy describes herself as a Soul Caller, an intuitive, a life coach and a teacher. Amy is deeply spiritual and connected to the Spirit World in a way that few people I know are. Like me, she believes in angels. But Amy has a connection to angels like no one I’ve ever met. You can read more about her here.

Recently, Amy invited readers to join her in a month long Writing Circle. I’ve joined in the hopes that her connectedness to the Spirit World and a connection to the other writers participating will help me find my way out of this dark forest of self-doubt, fear and resistance, to reconnect to my purpose in life and bring me to that place where my writing is full of inspiration and passion.

Yesterday’s prompt spoke to me and the eloquence with which Amy writes was inspiring. She wrote:

There is a place between here and there, between mystery and science, between staying and leaving, between choice and becoming: a place where most of us do not want to stay very long. We want to name and explain everything. We want to understand, to know – so we can put things in their places.

And yet, sitting in this space of not yet, of “I don’t know,” can be the most powerful place of all. For it is here, having departed the familiar and not yet arrived at the ‘who knows where,’ that anything is possible.

Not knowing is something I’ve never been comfortable with. It’s the reason I went into the sciences where the security of a “right” answer gave me something to hang on to and I did so for dear life. As a child, my greatest rewards – praise, love and attention – came from “knowing.” Naturally, it took me almost forty years to get more comfortable in the grey areas of life. The one area I was still severely challenged in was the realm of relationships.

I’m a serial monogamist – my whole adult life I’ve been in and out of relationships, but have been in them more than out. I moved in with my boyfriend when I was 18. I’ve been in a committed relationship for 21 of the 25 years that followed. I was 32 the first time I lived on my own for any considerable amount of time. I’ve been so uncomfortable with those in-between times that they have typically been filled with anxiety, depression and serial obsessions with first one man and then the next and the next, until something sticks and I’m back in a long-term relationship.

Not this time.

I find myself in that in between place now, the place Inyala Vanzant calls “the meantime,” that time between staying and leaving, between the choice I made and becoming whatever it is I will become. This time there is a difference though. I am still not completely comfortable here, but I notice I am more at ease than ever before. Anxiety is an occasional visitor rather than taking up residence in my soul. Andrea’s coaching has been invaluable in helping me find this place of acceptance and calm. When we started working together, I was already walking a path that hugged a jagged cliff-face overlooking a bottomless pit. She talked me off the cliff step by vertigo-inducing step, gently helping me figure out I was once again on the path to self-destructive relationship behavior, and then helped me figure out where to put my feet.

This is my chance to change the pattern of making choices that are not in my best interest and to stop hitting my head on the relationship brick wall. This time I am going to get quiet, turn inward and listen to my soul more. This time I’m going to take care of me more and worry about who “he” might be less. This time I’m not going to let myself fall head over heels in lust with someone I barely know. This time I think some “dating” and getting to know the person before I move in with him sounds like a good idea.

Perhaps more importantly, this time I’m not going to sweat the alone time. I’m going to use this time to work on me and my writing. When so many of my friends are juggling full-time jobs and kids, I am in the envious position of having only myself to worry about (six dogs and Felipe the caretaker hardly rate in comparison to 9-5 and a family).

Like Amy says, it is from this place that anything is possible. There is an energy in these in between times that is palpable – the potential energy of possibility, like a seed on the forest floor waiting for an opening in the canopy so it can to burst forth and grow. And so, I will be here waiting for the sunlight while I connect and create – me, myself, my soul.

Starting a Revolution

There’s a bit of a revolution occurring here in Vinorama. It’s a tiny revolution involving only a couple of people, but it’s mind-blowing and potentially world-changing for at least one of us. 
Itturns out that last week’s post was a metaphor for what is going on in my lifein more ways than I realized. Usingthe “changing currents” metaphor, I alluded to the fact that I’ve made some bigchanges lately. Beyond that I hadn’t given any thought to the rest of the postbeing more than the story of how I could have drowned.
Turnsout that I have been drowning. My head was still above water, but I was floundering and caught in a powerful riptide of repeatingthe same mistakes I’ve made in relationships since time immemorial. And my behavior was wreakinghavoc on my self-esteem and ability to get any work done.
The“riptide” wasn’t any one thing – it was a combination of factors anddistractions that I was allowing to pull me away from giving this chaotic time in my life the attention and love it deserves so that I can keep movingforward in life in the most positive way possible. I was partying too much,surfing too much, flirting too much with unavailable men (yes, time forsome honesty here). I was so distracted by everything out there, that the stuffthat was going on in here, was going unexamined.
Thatis when Andrea Mauer, revolution starter and talented life coach, threw me a life ringto which I am clinging with a white-knuckle grip. Yeah, that’s another metaphor.  What she actually did was respond to anemail I sent her that was clearly a call for help. If you’re new here, I’veposted about her life coaching before. I tried doing my own version of her 90-Day Power Play program before, but I was doing it without her guidance (she was inthe middle of working it with 10 luckier women and couldn’t spread herself any thinner). Furthermore, my level ofmotivation was suspiciously low because I was oblivious to what was coming down the pike in less than six months’ time.
Sometimesyou gotta get hit by the train to hear its whistle.
Thistime my attitude is different because the train wreak has already happened and I’m standing next to the smoking pile of remains wondering how I ended up back here on the wrong side of the relationship tracks, all by myself once again. It’s also different because Andrea’s holding my hand, walking me through each stepand periodically pulling me back on the path that will lead me to where I ammeant to be – to that place where I’m fulfilling my purpose and livingcontentedly, instead of floundering and drowning in the sea of self-sabotageand decisions based on outdated beliefs that no longer serve me.
We’vealready accomplished a lot. She’s helped me change the energy I’ve beencarrying around related to men. She’s convinced me the best thing to do isput all that relationship stuff on the back burner for now. And it’s working. Ifeel more clear headed, grounded and “Look Ma!” I’m actually able toconcentrate enough to write (let’s reserve judgment on the quality for now…baby steps people, baby steps).
We’veestablished that the big challenge I face is changing afundamental belief that I’ve carried around like a two ton elephant on my back since I was achild. The belief that I am not worthy of deep, compassionate, unconditional love has colored my decision-making process concerning how and with whom I am willing to establish relationships. Yes, this is not unique, it’s one insecurity that a large segment of the populationshares. That’s why I’m going out on a limb here and sharing this. This is a belief that results from being raised by parents who didn’t know how to show us we are worthy of unconditional love. They didn’t know because theywere raised by similarly clueless parents who were raised by parents who had to focus onjust trying to stay alive. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and I am notblaming them for something they had little control over. They just grew up at atime – the Great Depression – when there wasn’t enough of anything, let aloneguidance on enlightened self-esteem-building child-rearing techniques.) Andrea says, “It’s an inside job Dawn. The solution to your relationship woes begins with you.” Ouch…but yeah, she’s right. To that end, I’m back on the meditation cushion, getting back in touch with that part of me that can heal anything and everything.
Andreaand I have also discussed the effect that spending so much time surfing has hadon my life. Lately, I’ve been using any and all available energy to surf. It’sbecome an obsession instead of just a passion that is overwhelming my abilityto get anything else done. If I’m not careful, surfing and men will be thedownfall of my desire to make writing my profession.I need more balance in my life so that I have more time and energy to write.  Andrea also wants me to try to figureout what it is that I get out of surfing that makes me want to spend so much time doing it. Why am I so obsessively passionate aboutit? I’ve tried telling her it’s because it’s outrageously fun, involves theocean and gives me my adrenaline injection for the day, but she thinks there’smore to it than that – something deeper, more darkly psychological about it. I maintain, “I just love it! Isn’t that enough?” But she’s not buying it.
Shemakes the point that by recognizing the source of the passion, I’ll be moresuccessful in tempering it, and can possibly apply the same principal towriting so I fall in love with it to the same degree. Now that would berevolutionary.
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Working Out

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There’s been a transformation and it’s got everything to do with my writing. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about my writing. First and foremost I have the Stanford Online Creative Nonfiction Writing class to thank for this. It has kicked me in the butt and made me write write write! While it may be a tad trite, it is true that, “Writers write.” Yes, well, this writer hasn’t been doing enough of that, and this course has done wonders to turn that around.
Firstly, we had to commit to writing for five minutes first thing every morning.  I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again, I’m not much into the discipline scene. But I decided to commit. It doesn’t matter that my decision to commit was probably born of some deep seated need for approval, the need I’ve always had to kiss the teacher’s ass. What matters is the results, right?
The course structure and content have also given me the direction I needed to get over the huge speed bump that had grown up in front of me because I felt lost, not knowing how to get to the next step, how to keep moving forward, get more words on the page. The instruction I’ve received on how to conduct research (What’s that? You say? Research? It’s a memoir isn’t it?) has been instrumental in getting me moving, making progress, driving me on to find the next detail that I’d all but forgotten about.
And like all good little Type A, codependent personalities, the encouragement I’ve received from our instructor and fellow students hasn’t hurt either.
Low and behold, I’ve discovered that if I make myself sit down and write for five minutes first thing in the morning that I am still there several hours and many hundreds of words later.  I know, what did I expect? But seriously I’m sitting here in wonder as I realize that I’ve written over 15,000 words in the past 13 days. [In the name of honesty, technically it’s not first, first thing. Writing happens after I pee, brush my teeth, wash my face, put on the obligatory facial sunscreen, get dressed, let the dogs out, give them pats and a get my huge mug of tea. I don’t think I’m splitting hairs here, am I?]
Some days I really do only write for five to ten minutes and then I get up and go do something that I would normally fill my morning with, like yoga or more often than not surfing. Strangely enough, I think that while following this regimen, I’ve actually surfed more in the past two weeks than I have over similar periods for the past two years. And yet, I’ve managed to write so much! The only thing that is probably suffering is my yoga (and by extension, my lower back).
Before I started the course, I wrote here about following Andrea Mauer’s advice and kept a time journal for about ten days. As soon as I started it, I saw how much time I wasted messing about on the internet, reading emails, checking Facebook updates, randomly conducting searches on anything that popped into my mind. I spent a ridiculous amount of time recording my caloric intake on the Livestrong.com website (it’s still a great web site, I just don’t have time to be going on there three or more times a day to try to find the ingredients to everything I eat). She helped me recognize how much time I was wasting and the writing course has made me prioritize. I guess I needed the combination punch to wake the #$@% up!
So, finally I feel like I’m over the hump. I’m 118 pages and 56216 words into my goal of having a first draft of my memoir written and it no longer feels like a weight attached to my backside and dragging along in the sand behind me. I’m excited about it, can’t wait to read the next journal entry or email that will prompt my memory so I can write the next section. I’m planning interviews to get others perspectives, reading the research and articles that first grabbed my attention and made me want to do the work. I’m finding where my outline is confused and confusing and have started to repair it. And I even think I feel the right side of my brain growing, blossoming, generating more neurons and synapses as I sit here plugging away at my computer. Someone once said, “The brain is a muscle. You’ve got to exercise it.”  It might not be the cerebral equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger, but my brain’s been bench-pressing 1000 words daily.
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Potty Training

Shit or get off the pot.

I’m pretty sure I was all of three the first time I heard these timeless words fly off the tongue of my mother’s friend Shirley. She’s always had a way with words. Now that she’s retired, you’re more likely to hear Shirl-ol-girl holler “The door is not an asshole, it doesn’t close by itself” after one of the army of children running wild through her house.

But shit or get off the pot I must.

If you’ve known me for any length of time then you know that I am not the best manager of time. In fact, there are some of you who have learned to knock fifteen minutes off the real time an event starts if you want me to arrive on time. My sweetheart has learned that brow beating me has an almost negligible effect and that he’s better off just going and sitting in the car, because I will show up, eventually.  He is fond of saying, when I start to twitch in the seat next to him when he takes off at the pace of a snail on ludes, “You cannot invent time dear. We will get there when we get there.” He has great distaste for rushing and refuses to do so. Has that changed my ability to get in the car with enough time to get where we need to be? Not at all.

To add insult to injury, I’m also a virtual award winning procrastinator.  If there is something else that can be done when I should be writing, I’ll do it. And let’s face it, there are a lot of things I can do instead of writing. In fact, as I whined about my inability to make time for writing, my sweetheart pointed out for the umpteenth time today that I have an embarrassment of choices.

He said, “Imagine a huge parking lot and put all the people of the world in it. I’m willing to bet every single one of them would kill to be in your position.”

And he’s right, Goddamn it, he’s right.

Every day upon rising I have a multitude of choices of what I will do that day. Every single day, almost without exception. I get to decide if I’ll go surfing, do yoga, sit and sip tea while I pet the dogs, meditate, walk the dogs on the beach, go kitesurfing, sweep the floors, go visit friends, go to town (that one’s almost never the choice), lay in the sun and read, sit on the couch and read, watch a movie, work in the garden, bake or plan a nice dinner, partake of Facebook or email a friend. And it kind of makes my head hurt when I realize there are other choices beyond those that I don’t usually even think of.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have responsibilities, things I must do, but in the grand scheme of things they pale in the face of the nine-to-five-plus-kids life that most people live. And I never have to do anything. The most pressing thing on my plate right now is to call the fumigator because we have a termite infestation in the kitchen cupboard that is getting out of hand. But honestly, it’s been getting out of hand for months. I’ve been able to ignore it until now. So ya, time, I got more time than a Swiss watch maker.

Given all these choices, I’m having a little trouble getting after it as far as writing my book goes or publishing on this blog for that matter. I just realized that “work on my book” did not even make the list of choices I penned above. That was unintentional and probably not the greatest indication of how high on my list of priorities writing usually is. Well, that’s going to change.

I here do declare and solemnly swear that I have committed to doing two things in order to make writing a higher priority in my life.

1)    Andrea Maurer’s 90-Day Power Play
Andrea is an aspiring life coach and a talented writer among other things. She recently took the bull by the horns in her own pursuit of self-fulfillment and is offering a 90-day coaching program to give 10 people the skills to realize their goals. Due to factors outside my control, I am not one of the official “10,” however I am reading along as time permits and doing the exercises she recommends (for the most part).

Recognizing that everyone, even ridiculously lucky people with tons of time and choices, has trouble with time management, Andrea has recommended that we keep a time journal.  That we record minute by minute how we spend (or waste away) our valuable time. I started mine mid-day yesterday and it’s already ringing some bells for me. The detailed results following a full week of journaling will be reported in an upcoming blog. I may even turn it into an excel file and run some statistics on it (except that might take too much of my oh so valuable TIME).

2)    ECL 134 W
In a fit of “I’ve-got-to-do-something-to-get-off-my-ass-and-start-writing-regularly” that occurred some time in February, I signed up for Creative Non-Fiction: A Plan for Success, a Stanford University online course that starts this coming Monday. The great thing about this course? I will be working on my WIP as part of the course work. And it says right in the course description, “this course is designed to…establish writing habits that will sustain us to completion.” You’re singing my tune baby!

I’m committed. Well, almost 100% (the drop deadline for the course is April 7) and the next 10 weeks are gonna see a lot more writing action from this aspiring author. 

I think a few questions I have are going to be answered during this period. Can I do it and still have it all? (By “all” I mean write AND do yoga, surf, kite surf somewhat regularly, keep the house respectably clean, the dogs walked and fed, myself bathed and fed something other than microwavable popcorn.) Can I maintain balance, contentment and my sanity in the face of the demands of being a writer? Am I committed enough to being a writer to make the necessary choices?

Time will tell.