So What?

Picture by Milada Vigerova via Unsplash

Why pursue your dreams?

Well, you don’t have to. You can just live an ordinary, boring, predictable life. And nothing is wrong with consistency and security. No one wants an existence frought with confusion or that is precariously next to a crisis every other week.

So you ask yourself-so what?

If you value a goal like paying off your mortgage faster than the term of your loan, or padding your kid’s college fund, the loyalty of a company, its paycheck and benefits answers your “so what?” But some people just don’t care about long-term goals like these.

I’m a creative, so for me, expression, freedom, and respect from peers in the art field are what matter to me more than if I’m at a company for 20 plus years.

But then there’s the reality of “so what?”

I want to buy my own house and get an SUV on my own.

I thought needed the help of a spouse before for dreams like these. I’m not bitter over our split anymore, but I realize that I never should have married him. I thought I needed an “us” to start my own business, buy a vehicle, and buy my own house.

This is not true.

I just took a new full-time position in a company that I love and have added plus of benefits and retirement for my “so what”fulfillment. I am old enough to need retirement, after I cashed in 2 of my own personal savings for business ventures. And I made sure I discussed with my employer that I’m taking Master’s level classes and that I am a photographer and writer away from work. He agreed and respected both my goals and my commitment to his business needs.

That’s part of my “so what” question. I have the best of both worlds-the ability to work for myself, and the ability to have income that will support my future.

When you ask yourself what matters to you, and you live for yourself, you become authentic. You will feel successful and know that you’re utilizing talent in a way that is respected to make the world a better place. You’re not put on this earth to just work, eat, sleep and die. There is a life to live.

So when people ask you why you’re doing things your way, or “why does this matter to you,” you can just respond- “Because it does. And it’s my life, not yours. That’s what.” Enough said.

You’ve Come A Long Way: Now Which Way?

Photo by Sincerely Media via Unsplash

“So, you want to be a writer?” Someone asked while I was in high school. “What else will you do for a living to make ends meet?” I didn’t have a good answer for that. I knew people published fiction books, and some people made textbooks or reference books; some were research writers, but I had no idea.

And I still don’t.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing in my blog-maybe I thought no one wanted to read what I had to say (thank you loyal followers that like my posts and don’t delete them when your e-mail alerts you!) or I just didn’t want to promote doom and gloom in today’s political and polarized world.

I lost myself.

I used to feel optimistic, like I could set goals and slowly check off the boxes week by week and month by month.

I can’t seem to do that anymore.

I got offered a job in social work this week, contingent on having a reliable vehicle to make home visits and have weekly on-call status. But even though I feel honored and relieved to still have staying power with my resume, I shortly after the phone interview, I questioned if this what I wanted to do forever.

Didn’t I want to be a writer?

What does that mean, exactly, like you have a book published with thousands of copies sold, or that you are just good with vocabulary choices and symbolic phrasing? Does it mean you write poetry for a reading at a cafe, or does it mean you published an article for a paper or magazine? Other than a best-selling novel, I’ve done the other three “writer” checklist items on a regular basis.

I think it’s just that I don’t have a large online following. I really dislike marketing that is manipulative or aggressive. If people follow my blog, it’s because they liked what they read or a keyword search led them to one of my posts and they liked my perspective. I’ve joined the Twitter writing community, and even though I have 500 followers, I think I’ve only talked to about 15 of them on a regular basis where it seemed authentic or enlightening. I just don’t want to market a blog. I’m not out to gain 10 followers a day, or push an agenda. It’s just like a diary that others can read and relate to. I don’t try to change people’s minds much unless I’ve experienced something myself.

But going back to the beginning-

I can still be a writer and work at a social service agency. I won’t write about client problems because of confidentiality constraints, but I might write about anxiety disorders or grief, or the importance of self-care. I just always felt like you need to do things consistently to be a success. I think I would feel better about writing if I published a book, but unless it sells over 2,000 local copies and I have a book signing, and people have to ask for it at the library, “where is that new book that came out 3 years ago?” It should be good enough to have a personal blog.

Why isn’t “good enough” good enough? It is necessary at all times to reach standards that make us all feel inferior or disappointed? It’s time we all give ourselves a break. Time with family and loved ones should matter more than accomplishments. Having good health and rest should be a bigger priority. Let’s keep this in perspective.

Come a long way-with many more chances to go. Even though people say, “Go hard, or go home!” It makes more sense to live a life of balance. Yes, stick to your commitments, but don’t overextend yourself. It’s going to be a happier journey if you make memories along the way. Why get to the “top” when everyone says it’s so lonely there? Make connections and meaningful interactions. It will matter more that people felt cared for and understood, than that you were powerful and feared. Besides…

Maybe you could write a book about it all!

It’s a Cold Hard World…

38E1398C-202D-4A4C-A195-06D3E52D78DAPhoto by Dave Goudreau via Unsplash

It just seems like it was all a social experiment-like Facebook in real life.  Here’s what I mean.

I started out just going to the local park and the neighborhood bars.  I didn’t go out anywhere before, usually, just places like the library, grocery store, coffee shop, or work.  A doctor’s appointment, things the typical person does.  This last year and this year, I thought, well, might as well meet new people.  It didn’t make enough sense to meet people at work or volunteering.  Here’s what happened.

I met people from a lot of different backgrounds.  Maybe none of you will agree, but this is what I learned about people.  Everyone is looking for happiness, belonging, love, and security.

This seems pretty common sense.  But it is interesting to find out how the “other side” lives.
I was always pretty sheltered.  I don’t know what else to call it.  I came from a middle-class background.  College degreed people with managerial or professional jobs.  I don’t know what else you could say about it.  I was expected to go to college and become a lawyer, doctor, nurse, engineer or teacher.  It wasn’t really anything else for me to think.  You lived a life of working, going to school, getting married and having a family.  I just didn’t have a big deviation from this lifestyle.

But as I went out to the downtown park, and the bars nearby, I kept having these stories come up.

”I’m homeless.”  “I just lost my job,” or “I just got out of prison/rehab.”

This made me question how society works.  I mean, most people aren’t real open about that stuff, and for some reason these people are.  I guess they have nothing left to lose.  I made friends with quite a few of these people.  I hear stories everyday about divorce, drug addiction, sexual assault, job loss, or having a hard time getting on track with a new life.  Even people at the bars have their own version of hardship: my hours got cut, I got laid off from construction, my wife just left me after 25 years, or I wish my boyfriend didn’t get so drunk like this.  Even one couple I met that hadn’t had date night in 3 years from having two toddlers told me a horrible story about being recruited for a company, moving across the country, then being fired in their first month when it was found out they were married and the policy was that relatives couldn’t work together.  They had to uproot and look for jobs all over again.  So even that was a tale of misery and grief.

It just seems like there is chaos all the time.  I know we have politics, and communicable disease, and all the trappings of 2020, but I just keep wondering, “how did it get this bad?”  Did I have blinders on or what?

Maybe I had a boring, typical life.  I paid my credit cards, rent, and expected bills on time.  I don’t really have a criminal record other than speeding tickets.  Am I just the most judgmental person ever?

I don’t know if I should credit it with having my own version of OCD with budgeting, or if I just take a lot of calculated risks with many backup plans.  I know that can just be obsessive compulsive disorder at its worst, but unfortunately, it’s gotten me ahead.  Some people would say it’s just something that organized responsible people do, but I wonder.  My friends who have backup plans survive and figure things out.  They get knocked down and keep striving and making more ideas and more goals and keep reaching out to more people.  They get that next job, a buddy finds them a new apartment, they look for a car to buy online and cut a deal.  I don’t think I can call this anything but resiliency.  I wanted to study that in graduate school, is resiliency genetic, or learned or both-is it an inherent trait?

I don’t know what to say about this.  I don’t think I’m thrilled I met so many felons or criminals, but if you hear so many stories, even some of them find a legal way after the fact to find a decent job or place to live, and decent supporting friends.  How is that different than the rest of us?  It isn’t.

No, I never thought I was above anybody, but it’s astounding what I’ve learned.  It just seems like the stereotypical “other” that you hear about.  The outcast, the shunned, the left out.  Society is always so good at this.

And I hate being a pushy Christian, but the life of Jesus is almost always for some undesirable group of people that don’t belong.  He walks along side them and makes them feel loved and understood.

I guess this is why I say it’s a social experiment.  I didn’t think people would accept me from a privileged background.  But if you tell them common struggles of insecurity, anxiety, depression, or concern and sadness, they understand.  It’s not really that different.  Maybe some of them have a different story to tell, but the feelings are the same.

I think that is why I am saying I was sheltered.  I used to live in a world where people around me were like, “I’d never make that decision,” or that would never happen to me.”  I don’t know how these people survive feeling holier than thou, but I never liked this mindset.  Anyone is a crisis away from living in the edge.  Even if you don’t do a criminal act, just losing your job, or having a chronic illness hit, or a terrible accident, or a house fire or something to these effects have the average person questioning what to do next.

It’s just time to make sure people are understood and heard.  No one wants to feel abandoned.  No one wants to feel like a lost cause.  I know sometimes people that are unhealthy like to label people as too far gone to help, but it’s up to society to start making changes to lift up people and give encouragement, support, mentoring and training.  Be an example.  Would people want to be a Christian by how you live your life?  Do they think that you are giving, helping, understanding and caring?  Or do they think your faith makes you untouchable and stern?  Do they think they can come to you with a deep secret or fear?  Or will you turn them away?

It’s a cold hard world, but be a person who loves others and hears them out.

Be prepared-it might be a long winter.  Literally, or figuratively.  You never know.

Workaholic?

Some people are addicted to substances. For me, it’s stimulants like caffeine and nicotine. But then, alas, work. I always seem to bite off more than I can chew. I can’t stand an empty schedule.

For instance, I just started a part-time job (finally, someone called me back!). But then I picked up a book reviewing position, which should be 1-3 books per month. But of course this wasn’t enough. I also enrolled in 2 college classes, which start next month. But then-of course THIS isn’t enough. I am also going to start physical therapy on my knee that has osteoarthritis. And of course, then there are my photography classes I paid for on CreativeLive, and a certificate for “Writing and Editing” online, which by the way, mentions that 10 hours a week is average for completion.

There’s no way I’m going to get all these things finished at the same time. And I know this. But it just seemed like a month ago, unemployed and trying to get my Upwork freelancing site and proposals for editing didn’t seem like a “real” job. There wasn’t any way for anyone to prove I was working. There wasn’t a place I drove to every day, or a coffee shop around the corner to take lunch breaks at to show I was bouncing back from my slump. Now, if anyone asks, I have plenty of answers for the questions, “How have you been, what have you been up to?”

I got over the “Guess what? I’m finally divorced!” news when people asked. That pretty much just sounds like I’m bitter over it, and I let the 5-6 people who were part of my support network know that the legal headache was over. I didn’t even change my Facebook status to “single” or “divorced,”-it’s pretty much just assumed when my profile picture didn’t have the two of us together on it anymore. And I don’t know why the image of sitting around doing supposedly nothing, or having a virtual writing job seemed so hard to swallow for people. I guess it’s because I live in a city where everyone either works for the hospital system, or a small business like a restaurant or hair salon.

I also blame my wardrobe for this as well. If you dress in business casual, and someone sees you, they ask (which I still find unnerving), “Just getting off work?” For some reason, I seem incapable of just replying, “Yes! Heading home after this!” Also, it’s a small enough community that the gossip mill would inevitably have most people saying, “Hey, did you know she’s doing social work at the hospital?” Which, I was, ironically, doing hospice outreach for them 7 years ago, so not completely off base, but still.

It seemed like I just wanted to run for the hills this year with the pandemic, and rebuilding my life during my transition to single life. Some people say to go for dreams unmet. But I was already doing that. I just had a snag in my plans. Now I’m back on track and trying to be a consistent writer, editor, blogger, and photographer. It’s not that far from what I went to college for. I know some people just get a degree for the sake of having that piece of paper, but I was pretty strategic in my majors. The only different job I ever had is in retail management, which can only make a resume stronger.

But back to the impossible schedule.

I think I’ll buy a new planner.

And take a nap.

Love Is…

Photo by Alex Iby via Unsplash

So-yes. I got divorced. Ahh, the horror! Insert smug looks, and rolling of eyes. I never thought I would be getting divorced after 13 years of partnership. It was one of those abusive, contentious relationships too-the one your parents warned you about.

So I tried dating while I was in the midst of filing last year. I have to say that it was an interesting ride. I tried dating guys twice my age: some had never gotten married or had kids, and a couple had kids in their twenties and were divorced. I tried dating guys 7-10 years younger looking to settle down and get married, and some just wanted to know if they were attractive, and were they a viable “catch.” Basically, after being in a prison cell of a marriage, it was up for grabs from anyone who was not my husband who was not an addict or abusive, controlling partner.

I learned quite a bit from playing the field. Number one-even though I know people say change for the better, I really don’t intend on changing. If I say I want the toilet paper paper side over, not under, I mean it! But seriously, I knew what I was looking for.

The person I ended up the most happy with was a lot like me: loved animals, loved nature, and loved the news. I can’t say that I love the news now; all the mass hysteria of COVID-19 and the racial unrest is making me sick of looking at social media, and even going to the convenience store makes you wonder if even a clerk and people in line can get along while sharing their opinions on the sideshow that is our world today.

But, as I was saying, I was actually happy with this one particular partner. So I feel pretty accomplished about moving forward from such a bitter, tumultuous ongoing war zone that was my marriage. It wasn’t the end of the world. (Well, maybe for him, but he caused most of the relationship to fall apart with his behavior, so yeah, karma’s a bitch).

I don’t really know if I’ll get married again. I like the idea of long-term commitment and monogamy, but I hate the implication of what a soul-mate is. Pretty much quite a few people can be a soul-mate if you have a checklist of what you’re looking for. I just basically am grateful that I knew myself well enough to know that some things are just non-negotiable and I won’t put up from it from any partner.

I credit my psychology/counseling collegiate study on making this happen. Some people stay in unhappy situations, whether it’s a job, friendship, or relationship with a partner. And I’m not saying that people should be hedonistic and selfish, but the sad part of staying in one place to have an image of longevity, really doesn’t serve anyone well. Peace of mind and tranquility are my ultimate goals. Serving the fellow man and society are my goals. Caring for the elderly, disadvantaged, or distraught are my goals. I haven’t really changed. People that can’t be a part of that get eliminated quickly.

My parting thought is that people should love themselves and love their fellow man and love creation and the higher power that created us all. In times of hatred and misunderstanding, find someone to love that loves you for who you are, not what you can do for them or how you can make them appear. That-is what to me-love is.

Looking Out

Photo by Marcel Straub via Unsplash

It seems like I don’t have much to say unless I leave my house to interact with other people. How can there be anything interesting to say if you don’t do anything but clean the house and pay bills online from your computer?

I tried applying for local jobs, and nothing became of it. I got calls from managers, but when I said I wanted more breaks or accommodations for my bum knee, they seemed allergic to the idea. Mind you, I practically need knee surgery, so they probably worry about a worker’s compensation case if I fall down trying to lift something at work or collapse accidentally from standing up too long.

So, the conclusion still is to work from home. I did just read an article about dressing professionally if you work from home: to keep yourself motivated instead of wearing pajamas, and especially if you meet clients and then work on projects after you meet them.

This is not a problem to me to dress professionally. I have a myriad of business casual wear, and frankly, I feel pretty lazy wearing workout gear or pajamas anyway.

I just hate the elevator pitch you have to give people when you say, I’m a writer, and I work from home. You see the “oh, hmm.” reaction and rolling of eyes. But I actually have been writing and working on articles for many years. It just seems like people want an explanation when they go to a job they hate every day, or they think you’re describing your writing career as a way to nicely say, “unemployed.”

But, I am in a transition of getting my laptop fixed and purchasing software, so technically all I can do is use this blog to reach out to others and complain about being judged by others that don’t understand the writer’s lifestyle. It’s a constant flurry of ideas, drafts, editing, and marketing. Even if you don’t clock in and clock out like a 9-5 position, it’s still mental exertion. I think most of you on WordPress understand this.

But I lament that I can’t explain how writing can actually be a profession to people that don’t like to write, can’t figure out how to write, or prefer a manual labor job. That’s really their problem. As for me, I choose to keep looking for ways to improve my writing voice and reach an audience that encourages me and equally impact their readers for the same reason.

So here’s to creative outlook. May all of you continue to be understood and respected.

Thank You

I appreciate the support of my followers and the likes for my blog. I’ll admit, I’m not super motivated to write in it, but when I do, I’m grateful for the people and varied type of people that like what I post.

I originally began wanting to interview different people in person and post their views on life in the blog. Instead, it became a cathartic venue for my personal and professional life.

I went to college in 1997 to become an English teacher who specializes in reading and writing skills at the middle school/junior high level. Instead, I became a Psychology major, and finished with a writing minor. I went to a conservative Christian graduate program for counseling, and left over theological differences in ethics for women’s rights. It was pretty unpleasant at the end, to say the least. I was one of the few “liberals” that attended there for 4 years.

I usually assume that “everything happens for a reason;” such an overused saying, but I try to live in the present, reflect often on the past, and plan always for the future. It’s complicated living in three different tenses. I see now that I have passed the halfway mark in my life, reaching age 40, finishing college and now taking classes online again, and moving past a marriage that ended-you can never really know for sure what curveball the world will throw at you. I try to be a good listener, be empathetic, and not preach too much about what a “good person” is supposed to be. Everyone has a story.

I think always trying to improve, grow, be open to constructive critique, be reciprocal in your friendships and relationships and learn new skills makes me a better person day by day. I know some people are content to stay the same year after year, but I find that seeking new ideas is the only way to look forward to tomorrow’s opportunities.

I wish everyone the best as they move through the pandemic and the changing outlook on society and how we all interact. May you all be blessed and well.

Woe is Me…

I haven’t felt like myself for the past week. It is really unnerving. I think I have to admit the pandemic is finally getting to me.

It seems odd that even though I was online for years, with the outbreak and administered separation of people, I feel very isolated. Why this bothers me is probably my obsession to figure out, “what is wrong with me?”

I have always been very conscious of improving myself and taking active responsibility to change and grow. What is annoying about the social distancing is that it’s harder to go interact without wondering, “am I too close, should I really go out today, is someone going to contaminate me that isn’t wearing their mask?”

I always had anxiety, but now I have society’s anxiety. I have the new job outlook, the surge of online interaction, everyone now being inundated with health concerns.

I have been spending today trying to find things to be grateful for: like that I had already finished my college education; I wasn’t financially unprepared to be kicked out of a job that wasn’t “essential;” I had computer skills, I was good at budgeting. I had a safe neighborhood to live in, I wasn’t afflicted with the health problems that I started this blog for.

I also listened to a church service online and videos of uplifting music. I went for a walk. It was just good to reflect on what was going right, not wrong.

There are always things that put a snag in the carpet. It is up to yourself to look at the silver lining in the clouds. The glass can be half full or half empty, but the point is, you have something to drink in it. Count your blessings and look for more. One day, you’ll want to look back with hope and gratitude.

In the end of so many years, it will be better to have memories of resilience and positivity. React with influence and intention-you’ll see results and motion.

Control Theory

We live in a world of chaos and unpredictability, at any time things can and will change.

For instance, last year I ended up in a continuous upheaval of living situations, almost never quite knowing if I would have to ultimately move out of the state; or, even out of the country with offers to work or study overseas.  It ended up pretty normal that I’ll just stay in my current locale and study online.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, quite a few circumstances have led to more internet opportunities.  I will probably just reconcile to make homeschool videos for tutoring as someone had previously inquired of me on professional social media.  I was also already using an online platform for continuing education in law and science study, so-I guess of all the evils, my addiction to my phone and laptop stays put.

I also lost my password book for most of my online websites, so of course-other than this one, I had to delete existing ones after being unable to verify my accounts and rebuild new profiles and preferences.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, due to the fact that most of my previous contacts and interests were from an existence I now consider outdated and non-reflective of my daily routine and ambitions.  I still have a penchant for fashion and design, but with life seeming more about authentic presentation and comfort, it doesn’t make much sense to spend endless hours planning an outfit to run to the convenience store.  Yes, my grandmother found me once wearing sweatpants one day when I went to the store to get herbal tea for breakfast, admonishing me that someone important could see me and offer me a job opportunity, but it would make more sense to be a decent, amicable human being that leaves a good impression of public relations skills than what suiting outfit I had on but I look mad and disgusted that my shoes hurt and I can’t concentrate because I might spill my coffee on it an need dry cleaning again.

My friends usually prefer chaos anyway, not the all-encompassing type that destroys all reason and civility, but the kind that promotes analytical thinking and a devotion to bringing compassion to the table for those road-weary and wondering where faith and teamwork exists.  I find that in a society where everyone must now prioritize and think first of what legacy and outlook they should carry, it is better to err on the side of love and understanding.  Anyone could be in a breaking point or transition unprepared, and I am ultimately grateful for the friends I’ve kept for the past 2 decades and the new allies I made last year.  Change is a constant, but another constant is God and prayer, and without having a future we can all predict, it is a sure thing that faith in action rights the wrongs.

Choices, choices.

I love how they tell kids to dream big and believe they can be anything they want.  My teachers, mentors, and relatives did.  My biggest blow was not moving to become a writer in New York.  I had all these offers to be a lawyer or doctor, but I really wanted to continue being a writer.

Is the pen mightier than the sword: probably.  But who is competent to read things and dissect thoroughly?  I see in education news that we are pondering if screen time is robbing students of literacy skills.  At least a library in Chicago is discharging library fines.  Maybe people there can read books for free.  I loved to read as a child and young adult, but even as I type this, I wonder who will read these words.  Will it sound hopeless or hopeful?  Is the glass half full or half empty?  I had a library of more than a thousand books at home, but I wanted to.  Does anyone else?

People don’t pay attention to the words they see, hear, or read.  Is this intentional?  Is everyone damn stupid?  I feel like no one wants to understand anything, just ingest rhetoric.  I thought communication majors studied these things to teach truth.  It seems like people prefer lies.

I guess just cross-examine everything and think about what we’re all fighting for.  I thought it was unity, tolerance, and diversity.  But now it is just re-packaged slop in a bowl.  Sound morbid?  Try going back through my reel of slides in my mind.  I guess some crimes are solved; others are perpetuated.  They must love the ratings.

I prefer pictures of lives saved and children smiling.  Reunions and holidays.

Buyer beware.

I know I’m not shopping.  I buying things to survive and live.  But it’s easy to get confused.  I know quality materials and cost-effectiveness measures.  But don’t ask how I learned these things.

I was paying attention.

Honor is earned, not bought, and never forgotten.

I’ve paid many prices with my life.

Like Christ.  But I’m not delusional thinking I am Him.  I just follow His ways.

I made my choice at age 13, baptised at 15.  But it is a personal relationship.

You don’t try it on like an outfit and put it back.

My house doesn’t serve two masters.  But God forbid I fight for what I earned or believe in.

Do you?  If not, look in the mirror.  I’ve always known it’s me I see.  Christ dwelling in my heart and soul.  But sadness is there too.  He cried and had sweat of blood when he was facing death.

This is why my blog is “23”.  One step out of Catch 22-The Lord is my Shepherd.  I go after lost sheep, because I was one, and my Christian friends fought for my life.  Shepherds are not always in a church building.  And even if they work at one, they will go out to find the lost.

But don’t shoot the messenger.  We’re all fighting a war.  For our families.  But it’s supposed to be bearing each others’ burdens, not exacerbating them.  That’s evil.

And evil will not win.

“Guard your hearts, for within it is the wellspring of life.”  Proverbs 4:23.  Ignorance is not bliss.  Ignorance is just ignorance.  Read between the lines.  I still do.  And I don’t make conclusions for everyone.  That’s your job.  I make them for me.  Sorry if anyone is offended.  That’s either your problem or you don’t like my blog.  Turn the page, then.  I still writing page one of my book.  But now I have to change more names to protect the innocent.

I hate fiction.  I prefer reports.  Sorry if it’s bad news.  I feel encouraged by the good news of the Lord above.  Heaven is real.  There better be.  I won’t believe all countries and heritages have a salvation story, and then there isn’t any.  But it is a choice.  Make good ones.  The scales of justice want good to outweigh the bad.  I’m tired of running into my friends and they are all crying or in despair.  I guess if I make and keep my understanding and forgiving ones, and others are left out-that’s on them.  Stay positive my friends.  Because the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not comprehend it.  John 1:5.  May God be glorified.  Enough said.