Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big, Fun and Scary 2011 Update

So, back in 2010 when I was a few hours from ringing in the new year I came up with a list of things to accomplish in 2011. Seeing as it is now the sixth month of 2011 and I will be approaching the half way point of the year at the end of the month, I figured an update was in order.

1) 211 IN 2011! Status Update: Still a long way to go.

I started out doing pretty well on this goal. There were a variety of reasons for that. In January and February I was so disgusted with my job that I honestly didn’t care about getting much work done, so I spent a decent amount of time writing stories for the blog rather than, you know, working. I have to say, reading that last sentence is pretty harsh cause I’m not big on slacking off at work, in general. My work ethic is closer to the strong end of the spectrum than the weak one and I can’t do much non-work related activities at work without feeling guilty. So I still feel pretty guilty for the slacking I did.

Ahem, at any rate, after I left the job from hell I had my epiphany and that brought a new focus to the foreground. That new focus, as you know, is self acceptance. Now, you may wonder why a focus on self acceptance would prevent me from writing rather than encourage me to write. I’ll explain.

Writing, in spite of my grandiose dreams, sometimes half-way decent ideas and incredibly rare successful executions is still, for the most part, an exercise in torture for me. I still agonize over how far the finished product is from what I envisioned it to be. I still beat myself up mercilessly when the story doesn’t flow like I wanted. I still analyze and critique my productions so harshly that I often feel like I’ve been kicked around by Chuck Norris. Needless to say, hating myself for my failings as a writer and loving myself unconditionally are sort-of at odds with each other.

So, rather than allow my normal self destruction to force me to write more I’ve been working on accepting NOT writing. Working on having it be enough to just go to work, do my job, come home and take care of my dog and get to whatever my after work activity is for the day (like karate). Working on not concluding that I am useless if I don’t write something for the day. Working on not panicking, not stressing myself, not feeling crappy all the time (all emotions that tend to accompany writing, for me.) And just working on having it be ok for me to be whatever I am without the pressure of being a writer.

Now, I’m still writing so obviously I haven’t given up on it yet. In fact, I am hopeful that as I get better at this whole self acceptance thing writing will become a less torturous process. Others have suggested that if I get better at being calm, centered and loving of myself I may even unlock a capacity in my brain far greater than what I’ve been able to utilize thus far. That, without the restraints of the static-y, white-noise thoughts that almost constantly clog my usual level of thinking I will be able to unlock an ability for creative thinking that I’ve never experienced thus far.

I find that idea pretty damned exciting. I’m not there yet, obviously. I’m no where even close. But I’d like to think that’s where I’m headed as I get better at quieting my thoughts and listening to ideas that come from an integration of heart and mind.

In the mean time, I will work on writing with as little restraint as I can manage. I will work on accepting ideas and just getting them out rather than shooting them down before they’ve even started to germinate. I will allow myself to write non-fiction without concluding that my opinion is unwanted and unwelcome to anyone who may read it. I will use the word of the day to jot down a mini-story about something if I can’t think of anything better. And I will shut off the damned tv more often so I can better manage my free time and actually create the space in which to write. Stay tuned.

2) I WILL GET A BETTER JOB! Status Update: Big ‘ol checkmark!

I’ve written about my new job before now so you know what a welcome change it was. It is, a month in, lacking the luster it originally had when I first started but still the happiest I’ve been at work in many, many years. The actual work has not renewed a passion for my profession, but I didn’t really allow myself to hope for that. The level of paperwork and rapidity with which it must get done is definitely stressful. There are some days when I have a hard time remaining calm and professional in the face of straightforward craziness from clients.

BUT, I still love my office, I still thoroughly enjoy eating lunch with my coworkers who I still like and respect and I still love the general atmosphere of my company. (They had an employee health fair a couple of weeks ago where I got a free massage, metabolism boosting smoothie and a buttload of free gifts from local vendors. I’ve NEVER worked at a company that cared enough about its employees to do stuff like that. That, in and off itself, makes this the best job I’ve had in my adult life.)

So, although I still feel like long –term I would be better off finding a new profession, I’m not in any rush to jump ship on what is a damned good job, all things considered. And there hasn’t been a single second where I regreted quitting my last one, regardless of how seemingly irresponsible it was to do so at the time.

3) I WILL FINISH MY NOVEL. Status Update: Uh, yeah… No.

Boy, I hate that I have absolutely no progress to report on this one. The guilt and the self hatred and all those other emotions still linger so close to the surface when I’m not consciously working on being grounded and present. BUT, as I said, self acceptance is taking a higher precedence than writing right now, so I refuse to beat myself up for this. It is June, yes. But it is just June- not December. I have time yet. And, I have an idea as to how I might get a jump start on achieving this goal.

NaNoWriMo is hosting a summer-themed “Camp NaNoWriMo” this summer, I believe in August. The website isn’t up yet but they’re currently hosting a fund-raising drive to gather the necessary monetary funds to power the site and once the collections are complete more info is supposed to start hitting my inbox. (BTW, if you want Camp NaNoWriMo to come into existence you can help them towards this goal by going here.)

Now, one of the rules of NaNoWriMo is that you don’t use a novel you’ve already started because it will ruin your ability to write with abandon. They say you’ll be too attached to the characters and too committed to the pre-existing plot outline to have fun throwing caution to the wind and just letting it go. Well, at the risk of being banned from the club of hard-core NaNo enthusiasts I’m going to try it anyway. If it blows up in my face then purists who wouldn’t dare deviate from the rules can laugh at me. But I think it’ll work, or at least give me the best shot I can get, and I’m gonna try it. Stay tuned.

4) I WILL TRAIN, TEST AND BE AWARDED 2nd DAN IN TUNG SOO DO! Status Update: Tick-tock.

My 2nd Dan test is little more than two weeks away. Two weeks!!! And oh, the butterflies that erupt in my stomach when I think about it. Have I been running? Yes, but not nearly as often as I planned to. Have I been training? Yes, and overall I’d say I’ve done pretty well in terms of getting to every class I reasonably could (save for Thursdays). Have I been doing all the exercises I could and should to best prepare myself for this? No, definitely not.

BUT, in spite of my less-than-perfect training schedule to this point I remain confident that I will do well on this test. Why? Because failure simply isn’t an option. In my mind where I’ve been consciously working on controlling my normally out-of-control thoughts I have noticed distinct changes in terms of how I approach karate.

Like when I have two boards in front of me that I must break for the test, and I keep failing to break those boards with my double front and my mind kicks in with those millions of self-hating thoughts about how my lack of ability to do this signifies a failure of monumental proportions in terms of my overall existence. I have, thanks to the work I’ve been doing, been able to shut up that voice, tap into my heart which believes in me, and try again. And if I don’t make it, I nurture the belief that I will be able to if I keep trying. In the past, those self-hating thoughts would dominate, I would freak out, and become so panicked inside that I wouldn’t even be able to take another shot. Now? Now I feel a calm inside, and I hear a voice telling me that I CAN do this. Now I KNOW, deep down in my gut, that I will do well on this test. Cause I believe in myself in a way that I haven’t ever before. Stay tuned.

5) I WILL GROW. Status Update: Yes!!! Yes, I have, and I am and I will most definitely continue to.

Seeing as I’ve already been writing so much on this topic I won’t take up any more of the page going into details I’ve already discussed. But I will say that I feel confident, for the first time in my entire life, that this new path that I’m on can lead me to where I want to be if I continue to work on it. I believe in my core that I WILL become a better person. One who genuinely loves themselves, handles stress and the crap that life throws at us with resolve rather than panic, and who changes in positive ways from this work. And I can honestly say that I’ve already seen more growth in myself, just in these past few months, than I’ve seen in years. So yes, I’m putting a big check-mark on this even though I’m still in the process. Cause, technically, I always will be.

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