Whistler

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I wrote a post, and the amusing thing about it was that at the end of the post I realized something.

For the longest time, I didn’t try very hard to stand out. I ended up in a lot of cookie cutter jobs. Call center work usually, although I spent time in an accounting office and on a production floor as well. I was never a manager. I was never even a team leader. My strength was that I was good enough to be reliable, but not good enough to have to be noticed. I once went half a year without a monthly review because my supervisor said my stats were as stable as our paychecks.

So now, I’m trying something different. Something to stand out, something to push me into a bigger venue.

Only, I did the hard part. I sat down, I wrote a novel. I edited it. (Yes, I know, bad form but I know that now.) I got it published. I even made money from it. So many people give up before they get there. Hell, even I have given up before I got there. If it wasn’t for strategic pushes provided by friends who believed, I would have still been dithering at my computer with forty seven books with three chapters each written in them.

For some reason, I give myself so little credit for what I did. I mean, perhaps my book wasn’t a huge financial success, but I learned *so* much, it doesn’t matter. I figured out where I was lacking, and I’ve made considerable effort to improve. It’s the only way to learn, no different from taking a pottery class or making your first souffle. But unlike making my first souffle, or learning how to throw clay, I don’t think to myself, “Yeah, I’m an author now.”

So, my next realization needs to be that while this is my dream, it’s a dream that I’ve been pursuing for four years now. I’ve put in time, effort, and even had a manuscript edited professionally. (Although sadly, that’s where most of my learning came from and that manuscript is not ready by any stretch.)

I think at this point, most of my problem will be solved by joining my flock of friends who believe in me, and just accept that I’m chasing my dream, and that’s okay. 

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Recovering

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Hermione Granger was gifted with a marvelous artifact that allowed her to manipulate time. It was given to her because she proved herself a worthy student; responsible, sharp, motivated. One thing that I noticed about her using the time manipulation is that slowly it took a toll on Hermione – she was exhausted, she got muddled about what time she was in, and despite her best efforts, the wear of too much bore down on her.

I feel like Hermione in this situation, without the marvelous artifact to lean on, or to give up. My work exploded exponentially, and I went from sitting around generally with time to fill, to a full bore not-answering-all-the-calls, 70+backed-up activities busy. The problem isn’t the lost time at work, though. The problem is the lost time at home. When I come home, I have to get dinner ready, make sure my son does his homework, spend time with my family, and then somehow magic up time and mental energy to paint pictures with words.

What was once difficult has now become murderously difficult.

This is the course of chasing a dream, though. It’s easy enough to write when there are no demands, when no one needs you and you have an unlimited amount of resources. That being said, if dreams were easy to achieve, they wouldn’t feel worthwhile. Most people either give up their dreams because a) they are too easy or b) they are too hard. Dreams don’t fall in the sweet spot all of the time, even if they are a worthy dream to follow. Challenges are an opportunity to dive into our resources, and come up looking awesome. However, if it didn’t extract a pound of flesh along the way, how would you feel accomplished?

This is the line I’m feeding myself to get through the tough spot. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I’ve become a student of story, and when we talk about heroes, the thing that sets them apart is that they don’t give up. Usually in the face of odds that makes my work stress look like a spa day. And we look to heroes to provide us with inspiration, and insight into our own problems.

My heroes in the real world make this all seem easy. JK. Rowling being the exception, but she turned her unemployment into an opportunity to write multi-million dollar manuscripts. I don’t have that particular “luxury,” so I have to work with what I have in my arsenal.

And what I have is the word ‘no.’ I have to establish boundaries around my work, and take it seriously. I need to set up a time, which I have, and make it sacrosanct.

It also means that my blog posts will be more erratic, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. It’s more important to me to get my novel done, and sometimes that means cutting down the extraneous.

Of course, if I didn’t have a blog, I wouldn’t have a great place for cheap therapy, so don’t fret. I’m not going anywhere permanently.

 

 

 

Artax

I didn’t see the pattern until December 31st. Before that, there was a random string of events. It is the pattern that causes me the concern.
Suicidal tendencies, no matter who is showing them, tends to be disturbing.
It started with a friend from high school. Her husband decided it was over. His decision to leave her drove her into a frenzy that included imbibing a bottle of prescription meds. That is not why I stopped talking to her. However, that was the pebble that got the avalanche rolling.
I received a phone call from my ex boyfriend. He apologized for calling me, but he had nowhere else to turn. I spent the next hour wrestling him out of his funk. I listened to a revisionist history of our friendship, and didn’t correct him. I was afraid that if I did he would go and hurt himself. That was not the reason I stopped talking to him, but it was the smashed window that let the flood through.
A friend of mine committed suicide. There was no warning for me, there was just the aftermath. Strangely, I am more accepting of his decision then I would be with anyoone else, but the pain of his loss still stings.
Recently I told a friend goodbye. It was necessary because we did not see eye to eye on almost anything anymore. I don’t like politics becoming a point of contention, but if the other person is not willing to compromise for you then there is no compromise. In his final email to me he said that it was better that I let him go because he was going nowhere good. He said that soon the sun would rise and he would not be here.
These friends of mine, the living ones, were really people who I should have let go from my life before now. They were toxic people who used me for their reasons. I’m sad to see them go, and I am sorry that they want to die, but I have realized something out of all this. I have realized that if you are feeling suicidal, it’s the world’s way of giving you a hint that you’re doing it wrong. If something is so wrong in your life that you would rather be dead then deal with the problem, you have to get professional help. Your friends want to help you, but if you’ve reached this point, they might not be able to help. You need to acknowledge that what you are doing does not work, and then find something that does work.
Obviously this is a many pronged issue and it is impossible to distill such a simple idea out of the nimbus of human suffering, but my observation is no less real for that being true. My friends consist of the demographics of being mostly white, mostly over 30, and mostly married or divorced. These are not people who are destitute, homeless, or in some way mentally incapacitated. These are people on the easy setting of life. The fact that they have come to a conclusion that it would be easier to be dead then deal with what is in front of them makes me very sad. I have had a moment like this in the past, but I was a teenager. There is nothing that they should not be capable of overcoming, no reason to feel so overwhelmed with their life.
I hope that whatever happens next in their lives, that they have this epiphany; that they go forward realizing that they can overcome the problems in their life. I also hope they understand that they’ve left quite a trail of devastation in their wake while not figuring this out.