Good News

I’m one of those “happy by association” kind of people. Even on days when I feel I’ve been completely dragged through the mud, I can find joy in seeing a friend realize triumph.

It’s not that I don’t continue to experience my own circumstances; rather, I see them accomplishing some form of success, and I’m reminded that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Life is just a succession of tunnels. Some of them curve, some of them go on for much longer than we can really stand being in confined spaces, and others we pass through so quickly that we don’t even realize we were ever in a dark place. These happy moments experienced by others are like a brief glimmer, or even a skylight, along whatever tunnel I’m traveling through. Answered prayers are fantastic bursts of light.

I have a friend with a new work opportunity, another with a beautiful baby on the way (who is going to be ridiculously stylish), and most areas of my life are pretty good right now. Things aren’t perfect me, but I don’t think I ever expect perfect — that would just be setting up for failure.

My rollercoaster of a dating life is probably one of the tunnels I’ve been traveling lately. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in anything significant, and that’s been weighing on me. Four years since my last relationship that got anywhere near the “L” word, and everything since has been so obviously temporary.

Even the latest muse. Fun when he’s around, but for the most part he isn’t anywhere to be found. I know his circumstances, and though I enjoy his company, I’m not expecting much. He’s not ready. Highly unlikely that anything serious will develop, so more than anything, I find myself looking out the window and wondering what’s next for me. That I was in a long-term relationship for the length of my 20’s, am I going to spend the whole of my 30’s alone?

I don’t want to force anything, and I don’t want to rush. I actually enjoy my own company, so I’m not looking for someone to fill my entire calendar. I just get tired of waking up alone every morning, coming home to an empty apartment every night. Everyone who checks on me is at least a few hundred miles away, for the most part. I’m not isolated the way I was in New Orleans, but I do recognize the value I put on real friendships, and those aren’t always easy to forge the more “mature” we get.

Even feeling a bit lonely myself, I’ve been over-the-moon happy for my friends. I’ve been praying for the both of them, and I know they’ve been through so much to get to these incredible moments. Through their experiences, they remind me to be humble, to appreciate what I already have, and to exude the positive energy that I want to come into my life. They give me perspective when it escapes me, though they probably have no idea the impact their experiences have had on me.

I will be just fine, no matter what. Even if I end up an old spinster with a million crocheted blankets or a houseful of cats. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, but I think being present and having the peace of mind to enjoy someone else finding the end of their tunnel can, in turn, keep us moving forward until we find the end of ours.

Work Sweet Home

I worked a twelve hour day today, but I would have stayed longer. In my quest to prove to myself that I am not a workaholic, and to feel a little more settled at my new job, working a long day doesn’t exactly help me feel like I have an appropriate work/life balance.

I had every intention of leaving at the close of business, but meetings ran long, and then students and colleagues kept popping in to say hello. My boss stopped by on her way out. People just kept coming, but it felt good. I’m slowly working my way into normalcy; I’m no longer just occupying someone else’s chair. Folks seem to be adjusting to me being there, and I’m finding that I’m breathing a little easier.

There are certainly some folks that I can see have their doubts, either given my age or their feelings about my office in general, but I’ve gained a lot of support. I’m still new enough to feel some level of trepidation and a need to prove myself, but I think that’s good for now. I’m not looking for a pat on the head; rather, I want to create a network of colleagues and resources that will help me achieve my goals.

Balancing work and personal life is certainly easier some days more than others, but I am making more time for myself. Getting out to SoulCycle or to take a yoga class, enjoying the local cigar lounge, meeting up with friends for wine and tapas, or even just having a nice glass of bourbon at home with my laptop on and a movie playing in the background. Dating, sure, that happens once in a while. I don’t see it as a high priority, but I think that’s primarily because I don’t want anything that feels forced. It will happen when the time is right.

People are always going to have their opinions and think that they could live your life, or do your job, better than you could. They think this without having your background, circumstances, vulnerabilities, or strengths. And they will come with criticisms, or wanting you to learn from their mistakes, or throw shade at whatever they perceive to be weakness. They meddle because they just can’t help themselves. They have control issues, they can’t handle whatever their own problems are so they project on you, or they see you as a threat.

At the end of the day, so what? No one can live your life but you.

Valentine’s Day

This post has been sponsored by Amazon and SiteGround, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Such an interesting day. I get that Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday — one that benefits the card, candy, and floral companies — but I am enamored with any day specifically purposed for love.

I’ve never understood the folks who hate Valentine’s Day or the ones who celebrate “Singles Awareness Day.” Even if you don’t have a significant other to celebrate the day with, you have a special someone: you. Self-love is a real thing — a necessary thing — and I’ve never understood the amount of self-loathing that takes place on this day in particular.

Being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you should hide under a rock for the next 24 hours. A little self-love goes a long way. Pamper yourself. Go get a massage, buy yourself your own flowers or chocolate (just don’t eat the whole box). I used to send myself my favorite chocolates on Valentine’s Day as a reminder that it’s not really a big deal. Don’t allow the only way for you to feel special about yourself to be controlled by someone else. You can (and should) do that for yourself.

How do I spend the day? This weekend, I’ve been curling up with some good books, watching movies, I’ve been cooking and organizing the apartment, hosted a dinner, went to the salon, and I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet. I love long weekends, and I am enjoying making my apartment a home. This doesn’t sound like some adventure-filled weekend, but it has been everything I’ve needed it to be. I’m relaxed, in good spirits, and I’ve removed some of the chaos at home (by cleaning and organizing my storage room). This may not be romantic love, but self-love is abundant.

Recently, I finished a book by Adriana Trigiani, entitled Brava Valentine: A Novel. Though the title is appropriate for this weekend, it’s not actually about Valentine’s Day. Rather, the heroine (Valentine) navigates a trilogy in pursuit of professional success, family business stability, love, and (in my opinion) self-realization. Through her missteps, she learns about what she wants for herself. Though she’s taken great pride in her work, she has an ah-ha moment and discovers that she really does want to be loved. She didn’t trust that honest love or passion were really possible, primarily as a result of familial infidelities.

Through the novel, the beauty of Italian country, good food, and funny quips come through. Brava Valentine is the second book in the trilogy, so I’m excited to read the third installment, The Supreme Macaroni Company: A Novel. As a writer, nothing gets me more amped up to write than reading a good book.

I’ve also spent a lot of time this weekend trying to optimize this site; to make this site really work for me. I’m so glad that I decided to self-host my domain, and that Siteground has been the absolute best choice for me. Though WordPress recommended Bluehost, I thought their service was awful, the attempt at transferring my domain was rough, and that maybe the company doesn’t have enough staff to truly support such a huge WP constituency.

Moving over to Siteground came with more than really responsive service. It also opens up the world of plugins, which you cannot use if you’re hosted on WordPress.com. Opening up the worlds of Adsense, affiliate programs, the editorial calendar, and a ton of options makes this process a little overwhelming but a lot gratifying. Taking 100% onus of the site means that it can be done my way, can make me money, can have whatever content I need. This part of my writing journey is coming together, which frees up more time and focus for my books. Finally.

Web Hosting

Snow Days

I’m actually pretty grateful for this weather. I’ve been able to relax a bit, get my mind right, and put in work. And by work, I mean both the traditional sense and the creative sense. All with the backdrop of a beautiful snowfall. It’s been a quiet, cathartic snowcation. There was probably no other way I would have had a day off this time of year.

No, I haven’t answered all the questions that have been swirling in my head; I’m just going to take it day by day. I don’t know which way the wind will blow, and I’m trying to chalk up the butterflies I’ve been feeling as just being the new kid on the block.

This weekend has been baking and cleaning, laundry and reorganizing, adjusting this new home to rid it of as much chaos as possible. I want it to feel like that place of refuge at the end of a long day. It’s the first place that’s felt like “home” in the past few years. Maybe the past decade. It feels safe, and secure. It’s spacious enough not to go stir-crazy, but big enough to host my favorite people. It’s somewhere I could be stuck during a blizzard and not mind one bit.

All weekend, the one thing I’ve missed, is I’ve wanted to get away to smoke a cigar. LOL. Well, that’s a lie… Some company would have been nice, but a cigar is actually readily available. Craving is real, and I blame my friends for getting me started. Not that I fought them. My building, even my rooftop, are smoke-free areas. Not that I want to stand outside in the snow… Maybe it’s just the bourbon that’s been keeping me warm — cigars and brown liquors just make sense. I’ll switch to scotch tonight.

Now that I have another snow day scheduled, I can focus on getting more words on the page of one of my books. And maybe tomorrow, I will sneak over to the local cigar lounge for a little reprieve.

 

Snowcation Reverie

Being cooped up at home lends to reflection, especially when you’re alone. Even trapped in it, there is something so magical about the snow to me. I’m in awe. And it’s crazy, because this is the first time I’ve lived somewhere that gets a snowy winter, a hot summer, a gorgeous spring, and a true fall.

Blizzard-like conditions are said to be upon us for at least the next 24 hours, and though I’m cozy at home with plenty of movies to keep me entertained and food to keep me fed, I find myself drained thinking about work. I struggle to prove to myself that I’m not a workaholic, but work seems to be my primary stressor these days. I find myself worried about whether I’ll make the right decisions. Whether my efforts will be seen as such. Whether I will be a good leader here.

And it’s not that I haven’t been just fine elsewhere. I’ve certainly been challenged, and I think I ultimately handled myself well. I learned some important lessons along the way, personally and professionally. It’s just… I find myself waning. Questioning what I really want, whether I’m really happy or just happened to find something I’m relatively good at. Do I see this as a job or a career? It makes a difference.

In my mind, if I’m going to work 7 days a week, I want it to be something that I love. I’m not loving this, and if I’m really honest with myself, I haven’t loved this for a year or two. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel so forced. Right?

Is it time for something new? Is it time to take some risks? Am I ready? I’m not really sure.

Per my usual, I’ll pray about it and mull it over. I never make rash or uninformed decisions. And who knows, maybe this is just a season, and the tides will turn for the better.

A friend of mine talked to me last week and helped me put some things into perspective; made me think about where I am and what I prioritize. What can I be doing to affect the change that I want to see? As much as I’d like to believe all of my motivation is due to my most recent muse (who may be a done deal at this point, who knows), the talk I had with my friend still weighs heavily on my mind. Lovers tell you what you think you need to hear (which is really what you want to hear), but friends tell you the truth. It may be a hard truth, it may be a humbling experience, it may show you where you where you went wrong. You may have to swallow your pride. The important thing is, coming from a friend, it’s always meant to build you up and steer you in the right direction.

If I’m not prioritizing myself, putting first those things that I really want to do/achieve, how can I really be happy with all of this other stuff? How can I meet the personal goals I’ve set for myself? How can you publish something you never finish? What’s a reasonable amount of time that I can devote to myself and my craft? Heavy stuff, my friend, but you were right on time.

Thank you.

Muse Worthy

There have been times when I meet someone and am struck by their charm, personality, and wit. The immediate chemistry that we have. The recognition of that chemistry mirrored in the eyes of my potential counterpart burns an impression into my mind that can take a while to shake. Not that I want to be rid of that impression.

Something about the discovery and experience of this type of chemistry brings about motivation for me. The special significance immediately puts me in a creative headspace — one where I can write for hours. In moments we aren’t together, I find pages pouring out of my fingertips like fresh iced tea on a warm day. It’s refreshing and rewarding because the productivity level is skyrocketing.

The oddity is that the endorphins I may be experiencing don’t completely relate to my characters. My characters don’t start off in some happy place. They’re broken down, being challenged by multiple personal obstacles, not sitting somewhere daydreaming about someone new. They are hurt or grieving or carry within themselves a self-loathing that they must shake to move forward. They try hard to break through the surface, only to be dragged down and submerged again and again.

But maybe this man becomes my muse because it helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel for my characters. It opens the headspace for me where my characters are introduced to some new potential, new opportunity, new love. Where my characters get to see beyond their circumstances and hope.

I don’t think this muse helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel for myself, however. I’m too cynical to be thinking that this one must be THE one and start mapping out our life together. And, in the majority of my past relationships, one issue was at the root of it all: timing. Something I have no control over, and something I would never want to manipulate for my own benefit.

Either you’re ready, or you’re not. Thus far, they’ve all fallen into the “not ready” category, which creates a bit of a hole each new muse must try to dig his way out of, because I now go into these situations assuming business as usual. They’re not ready, so why invest too much? I know this isn’t exactly an optimistic outlook, but thus far, I haven’t been wrong.

I’m just tired of living for “some day.” I have been patient, and I go over and above, but if I can see things lagging, I tend to err on the side of moving on. I don’t want to wait for some day, and I don’t need that second presence to create my own happiness.

Whomever my special person is, whether it’s this guy or the next, what I need more than anything is his presence. I don’t need a bunch of gifts or items, and I don’t need him to take responsibility for my happiness. I just need his presence and partnership. Love will find its way when it is right. But his love will complement my own, not be a substitute or replacement for what I already produce.

I don’t believe a partner fills a void; rather, I think the most successful relationships emerge when two whole people come together with mutual affection and respect, a willingness to work toward maintaining and improving together, and a level of support to help each other realize their respective aspirations. That would be my ultimate muse.

He’s out there.

Playing the Odds

I always find it interesting when people decide to point out how skewed the odds may be, especially when they appear not to be in my favor. It’s like, “hey, this looks really bleak… So how do you feel about it?”

Um, what?

I’m not big on worrying about the odds, whether they’re in my favor or not. If I gave up every time my chances weren’t great, I might as well have just stayed in bed. Why try at all? And this can apply to dating, job opportunities — anything where you’re putting yourself out there and taking a chance.

We face challenges on a daily basis. Sometimes we know we’re in for an uphill battle. Sometimes we know we’ll have smooth sailings. But isn’t life about the journey? Isn’t a part of the point that we will have a story to bear witness to others? If we were to always operate based on the odds, should we just give up when the odds aren’t good? And, if the answer is no, what is the true point in declaring that the odds are unfavorable to others that have to face them? Is it a passive-aggressive thing?

I get the sense that sometimes this is meant as a dose of reality, a “face the facts” sort of alert. But your reality may be different from mine. Just because you think I should be worried doesn’t mean I will be. That’s not really how this works, at least not in my reality.

I’m not going to worry about the odds. There’s always a curveball that can be thrown, and as long as you expect that from life, you’re about as equipped as you can be. I believe in myself, my resilience, and I surely believe in miracles, because I fall short.

Life doesn’t feel a whole lot like risk when you factor in faith. Stay positive, try anyway (regardless of the odds) and see what happens. Maybe you can change the odds.

Zen Moments

The last few months have been complete craziness.

As much as I want to say I never think about those butterflies I used to feel in the past, I really can’t say it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’m not over it. I don’t think about it all the time, but once in a while it just hits me. Needless to say, I’ve made every attempt to find other outlets of fascination.

Work has been up and down; the question of relocating has been on my mind, but I’m not completely sold on moving just yet. As more and more work piles up, I’ve tried to quiet the worry in my mind and keep from stressing the little things and the things that are outside of my control.

I’m about to be a godmother… again. This time, I’m not as worried, because it’s my best friend’s son. I can’t wait to meet my little guy. He’s going to be so loved.

I’ve been reading books on meditation, and I already love my yoga. Taking mini moments to reflect and just breathe, when normally I would just blow up at someone, shows that something is working. Every day is a work in progress, a page in this chapter of my life.

If nothing else, I’m more comfortable with me, and I’m more open to whatever may come. Whether I’m reunited with butterflies or go in a completely different direction, I’m open to whatever may come, and I refuse to force the situation or bend to something that runs contrary to what I want or who I am.

One step, one breath, one page, one day at a time. Woosahhhhhh.

Word Counts, Pages and Edits (Oh My!)

I really need to write a new blog post, but I’ve been back and forth between two novels lately.  As a quick update:

Definitely haven’t dated anyone since my last post… Not really looking, just letting time take its course.

A thought for a new novel came to me and interrupted what I was already working on… Thanks to friend, Derrick Jaxn, I’m plowing ahead on the newbie.  It just feels fresh so far.

I’ve been trying to set some count goals or page goals for myself, but I find it to be too much pressure.  Instead, I’m giving myself a certain amount of time each day, and focusing on adding to the body of the work (rather than editing — it’s so easy to keep going back to make adjustments without ever getting everything on the page).

Stay tuned, a proper post is on the way!

Valentine, Schmalentine

I happen to be one of those people that love Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

I’m not one of those “love to be in love, but only when I’m with someone” types, who post embittered “Happy Single Awareness Day” photos when I don’t have someone to see when I come home.

Single Awareness

In all honesty, I love any day that’s focused on love.  I don’t care if I’m single; I’m still loved.

So I had two opportunities not to spend this special day by my lonesome, but I chose to avoid both options.  You might call me crazy, but (at least at this point) I value my time too much to waste it with someone that I’m not feeling.  Feel free to tell me your thoughts when you read both scenarios, but I’m telling you, I’m better off cooking a meal, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the next episode of Scandal.

Scenario 1:

So I met this guy, and so far we’d only gone out for coffee.  There were so many things I found fault with that I thought maybe I was just being picky, but I eventually gave in and had to veto this option.  He was younger than me, and though I don’t typically have a problem with age, his age just showed.  He was needy; he constantly sought my approval about everything, fished for compliments like nobody’s business, but kept trying to assure me that he was mature for his age.  I wasn’t buying it, and I let him know that I didn’t feel he and I were on the same page.

Of course, he balked, so sure that the (several year) age difference couldn’t mean he didn’t know what “to do,” but how could he argue with how I felt?  In all honesty, to me, he didn’t come across like a man.  He came across like a kid.  We’d talk, and he’d go off on long tangents that had nothing to do with anything.  Sometimes, he’d text me random song lyrics he was hearing on the radio.  And his grammar made me cringe.  Ridiculous reason not to date someone, perhaps, but please don’t ever let your reaction start with “And so, I be like…”  Um, what IS that??

Youthful characteristics aside, something about his voice made him unattractive to me.  This sounds incredibly nit-picky, but before I even had the thought myself, he told me that he’d been asked before if he was gay because his voice is rather effeminate.  Um… was I supposed to think differently?  It just sort of highlighted the fact that there was no deep, manly, testosterone-dripping voice on the other end of the line.  As a result, there was just no way anything he said in a flirty manner was read as such.

When he asked if he could take me out for dinner and a movie on Valentine’s Day, I debated it for a while.  Although most of my friends, and even my parents, thought I should go for the free meal and movie (who can pass up Die Hard?), I just couldn’t do it.  The worst part about it was that I could have agreed to the movie if I could skip the dinner — that way we wouldn’t have to talk.  Terrible to say, but the honest truth.  In the end I told him that I thought he was really sweet (read into that what you want), but that I didn’t want to take advantage if I wasn’t really interested.

Scenario 2:

I met this guy a few weeks ago, who only randomly texts me.  Mind you, I’m really not holding out any hope for this guy — he doesn’t live in New Orleans — but he said he would be in town and wanted to see if I was available to go out.

Something about his request made me pause.  He was extremely attractive, definitely a man, a couple years older than me.  But still, I just didn’t feel right.  Something I noticed during all the texting (and absent conversation), was that he really never tried to get to know ANYthing about me.  I mean, really?  I know I don’t look brand new, folks, so he can’t possibly think I’m that gullible.  But he did.

When he mentioned wanting to get together, I told him I wanted to get to know him better first.  He agreed, so I asked him a question about himself.  He didn’t bother to answer the question.  Still hasn’t.  But yesterday, he sent me a text to ask if we were on for tonight.  Uh… what?  So I told him that he hadn’t even bothered to answer my question, and I felt that was indicative of his interest level.  I’m not doing Valentine’s Day or weekend trips if you don’t even want to know who you’re dealing with.  He said he’d been busy, but you know that’s BS when 6 days go by and he still has yet to answer one question.

I’m not the chick that has such little confidence or self-respect that I could go there.

* * *

Even with such terrible prospects, I don’t blame Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day, folks.  It’s what you make of it.  If you’re depressed because you’re single on Valentine’s Day, face it — you’re depressed EVERY day.  Love yourself.  Know that, if today were your last, YOU are enough.  If you don’t think so now, why should anyone else?

Love is out there, but don’t sacrifice who you are to try and find it — you’ll find something else completely.   I believe that to be true.  There’s no use in wallowing — your outlook affects what you attract.  You can enjoy Valentine’s Day whether you’re in a relationship or not, so opt for the one that can actually lift your spirits.

Cheers!

Roses