Having the Time to Live

I had originally planned to write a post about one of the main challenges I’ve been having in regards to being on my own timetable and trying to produce a book. However, something happened today that made me want to focus more on one of the positive aspects to this whole “self-employed writing” gig I’ve got going on right now.

I woke up this morning, quite unusually, at 6am and found that I couldn’t get back to sleep. So, of course, instead of actually getting up and being productive, I lounged in bed for another two hours surfing links with my phone and checking FB, Twitter, Instagram, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, and all the other usual time-sucking suspects.

It was very relaxing and indulgent. The rain pattered outside my window, but it was warm and cozy in my bed. Practically the perfect way to spend the morning snuggled under the blankets. (I say practically, because the only thing that could have tipped it over the top would have been to have a freshly brewed cup of coffee miraculously delivered onto my nightstand…but that’s probably asking for too much.)

Having been a complete layabout for a few hours, I finally roused myself up, took a shower, got myself halfway presentable, and made my way to my daily office, AKA the local Starbucks.

(There’s a post percolating in me about my Starbucks in the near future.)

I was lucky and managed to snag a table by one of the outlets, so things were looking quite good. I hooked myself up, popped in my headphones and began reading what I had produced the previous day to get into the zone and figure out how to pick up where I left off, when suddenly, my phone rang.

It was Terry. They let him out early because it was pouring down rain, the construction site was drenched and they were soaking wet. Would I be interested in having lunch with him?

Can I tell you how absolutely nice it is to be able to randomly have lunch with my husband in the middle of the week? To be able to just stop what I’m doing, pack up my stuff, and go meet him at the restaurant? The freedom! The flexibility! It’s liberating!

Definitely one of the perks to being self-employed.

You know what’s even better than that? No feeling guilty. I actually came home after lunch, sat down, and still managed to get a couple of hours of good writing in. So, yup. Still on target and disciplined.

Today was a good day.

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The Paintbar

As mentioned in a previous post, my sister, myself and a friend of ours decided to try our hand at painting. My sister had found this place called The Paintbar which provides canvases, brushes, and paints- along with instruction – for the price of a session.

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Basically, you sign up for a class with the corresponding painting you’d like to make. There are many scenes to choose from, however it’s a small space and sign-ups are limited. It seems like a really popular place and the lessons sell out months in advance. We made our reservations back in February, and it was one of the last few remaining openings available in April.

The place was light and airy and looked like it could have been a yoga studio in a past life. The length of the room was set up with long tables. There were as many easels and canvases that could possibly fit side by side on each table. The first thing I noticed was that the place was filled with women. In fact, out of about 40 people or so, there were only two males (one of which was a young boy.)

We were greeted at the door, shown where we could hang our coats, handed a paper plate and directed to where the paints and smocks were located. There was overall excitement and camaraderie in the air and everybody was chit-chatting with their neighbors and getting to know their table-mates.

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Once we had our paper plates filled with the allotted squirts of paint, we made our way back to our stations. It was a bit of a balancing act trying to maneuver around the various stools, tables, women and canvases trying not spill anything.

I kept picturing myself doing a faceplant right into the back of some poor woman with red and blue acrylic flying through the air and splatting in her hair and clothes. Luckily, that little image remained in my head and didn’t become a reality.

They had a little snack bar and wine and beer was served. We all ended up getting a glass, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to loosen up a bit. This was a birthday celebration, after all!

The instructor was really great and acknowledged some of the irrational fears a lot of us had (ack! my paint colors are touching!) while still charming us into following along and having fun. They had music playing and the whole experience was a blast!

The first few stages of the painting weren’t that difficult for me. I didn’t mind mixing the colors and doing the broad strokes for the water and sky and I was feeling pretty at ease and confident about the whole thing. There was even a little thrill with that first brush stroke, watching as the blue streaked across the white and marred it’s perfect surface.

I started to get a bit more nervous as the painting progressed. I think it’s because now I had something I could “mess up.” When I went to go paint the lights on top of the bridge, I could just imagine them coming out like giant grapefruits floating in the middle of the sky. It was a bit surprising how much courage it took to dip my brush in black and start trying to outline things.

The black outlines weren’t nearly as hard as the white highlights, though. At least black can sort of blend into the background, but the white really stands out. By far the hardest thing to do was paint the swans at the end. They’re just so big, and white and…curvy. If you mess those up, man, there is no recovering!

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It was interesting to me to take notice of where my nerves came into play. I find it fits with other patterns in my life. I like to start things. I’m usually pretty good at getting something going. However, finishing projects is a challenge for me. Putting on the final touches and last minute details at the end always ends up being something I struggle with, or skip altogether. Now I’m wondering if it’s because I have a fear of messing up what I’ve already accomplished. I think this little exercise may have given me some insight to a few things.

Another quirk I realized (well, maybe not realized, but reaffirmed) is that I like to deviate from the plan. Although I liked the original painting well enough, one of the things I thought looked funny was the “boat” part of the swanboats. It just didn’t look like a boat to me. It looked more like a strange and funky island in the middle of the river with a swan on it.

So, I decided to skip the boat and just paint a couple of swans instead. I also decided to add a few daisies in with the tulips on the hillside. I’ve never been very good at following directions to the letter, and this was no exception. I like that my painting is uniquely mine because of that tendency.

So, here’s the original and final result. Granted, I’m no Monet. Yet, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. What do you think?

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My Version

Original

The Big Picture

This week’s Daily Post challenge got me to thinking about how our perspective helps shape our view of the world. How many times have I run across people who focus on all the little details and forget to look at the big picture? (And why do so many of them wind up in middle management?) Granted, I suffer from the opposite- just as difficult- problem, which is to see a bigger picture, and forget all the little details that comprise it.

Ireland_236Photos are a wonderful way of illustrating this point. Take this photo for example. What could she be looking at with such intent? Grasping the ropes so tightly, with her blue jacket flapping in the breeze around her hips. Is she at the zoo staring at some exotic animal, caged for her amusement? Is she on a balcony looking down at a crowd? Observing the people from afar- slightly above and slightly removed. Or, maybe she’s on an overpass somewhere, watching life and traffic flow past her.

Actually, she was a travel companion of mine in Ireland. We were crossing the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge. I remember the fear and trepidation reflected in her face as she stepped out onto the creaky planks. She got about halfway across when suddenly her knees stiffened and refused to carry her any further. She stood there, eyes wide, breath suspended…and faced the true realization of her mortality.

With much coaxing and prodding, we managed to convince her to finish her journey. As her foot touched solid ground, her face broke out in a wide smile and her cheeks flushed with an overwhelming sense of joy and relief; she was ALIVE!

I think, sometimes, that’s how life can be. Going through the everyday motions: get up, brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed, go to work, drink your coffee, answer the phones, curse the traffic, eat your dinner, watch the TV, brush your teeth, go to bed… rinse and repeat.

Little details. Mundane steps. All the while failing to realize the bigger picture. To stop and take it in. Hold on with both hands until your knuckles turn white and you have no other choice but to notice; you’re ALIVE!

Be joyful! Be thankful!

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Dare to Dream

Sometime around mid-February, Terry and I were out having a nice dinner and good conversation. I was telling him about an author’s bio that I had read earlier that day on Amazon (I REALLY wish I could remember who it was!) and how inspired I was.

You see, in her bio, she told the story about how one day, as she was driving home from the job she hated, she realized that she couldn’t do it anymore. She couldn’t stand to be in her dead-end, unfulfilling job, climbing a ladder to nowhere. The feeling was SO overwhelming that, on a whim, she picked up her phone, called her boss and told him that she quit. As it happens, she was driving a company car home, so she also parked at the nearest Starbucks and told him where he could pick up the car.

Then, she made a second call to her husband and asked him to pick her up at the Starbucks. When he asked her if her car had broken down she replied, “No, I just quit my job and need a ride home.”

BAM! Just like that.

As I was reading her story…I knew that I yearned to do the EXACT same thing. Well, obviously, not in regards to the company car, but the quitting my dissatisfying job, jumping off the cliff and reaching for my dream to become an author.

It got me to thinking about all the times I’ve made big changes in my life and I realized something about myself. All of the changes, up until this point, that I have made in my life have been made under duress or due to a stressful situation. They’ve been a reaction to something.

Most of those somethings have usually included whatever man was in my life at the time and either getting into or out of a relationship. The only other catalyst that has inspired me to make a major change is when I’ve moved or relocated somewhere- which have also usually been due to the man in my life.

I want to fix that. No, I NEED to fix that. My birthday is coming up in April and I’m fast approaching the end of my 35th year on this world. If I don’t start having the courage to pursue my dreams now, when am I ever going to?

So, that’s what I’m going to do. At the end of this year, I’m going to quit my comfortable, well paying job and try my hand at becoming a full time writer. Terry and I decided that it would be best to wait until the end of the year so that we have some time to do last-minute saving.

What’s even better was how supportive and understanding Terry is about this! He’s embracing the idea and backing me fully. Granted, we’re very lucky to be in the position where we can live off his salary alone. In fact, I can’t think of a better time to try something like this, since it’s just the two of us (no kids will be hurt in this experiment) and our mortgage and bills aren’t so high we can’t afford them.

The minute it was decided this will be our plan, I felt such a sense of relief and excitement wash over me. It was like getting that first glimpse of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

That’s not to say I’m not a little anxious and nervous. I mean, what if I can’t produce? What if nobody likes what I write? What if this whole attempt ends up being a giant belly flop?

However, when given the choice of facing those fears or years more of this drudging, uninspiring nothingness that I’m currently feeling- I’d rather at least try!

In the meantime, I’m not going to wait until the end of the year to start thinking of story ideas, characters and whatnot. I’m going to try learning some discipline with my writing.

I’m also going to give Nanowrimo a shot this year. I first heard about it a couple of years ago, but hadn’t really gotten up the courage to attempt it. I figure, I can use it as a dry test run. The timing will actually be perfect, since it’s in November and will be right before our plan will go into action.

Incidentally, I ran across this little video since making this decision. I think it perfectly captures how I’m feeling right now.

A Lifelong Friend

R and I have been friends for about fourteen years now. When we first met, we were in our early twenties. Young, vivacious and with the whole world at our feet. We were ravers at the time and used to run into each other at the various parties in and around Seattle. After seeing each other a couple of weekends in a row, she finally came up to me and introduced herself officially.

Sometimes you meet a person you feel like you’ve known your whole life. There’s just an instant recognition that you’ve found someone you just KNOW will become a good friend. That’s how it was for me when I first met R.

Next thing you know we were becoming roommates and classmates. We started working the lunch shift waiting tables at the same restaurant and became co-workers. We used to rock our phat pants and little button downs and sing “Time to raise up! Looking for the butter! Turn around girl, show me where it’s at!” while scooping out the butter cups for our side work. (Don’t know what I’m referring to? Go HERE.)

We knew every doorman, bartender, DJ and club producer to keep us out and about 4 or 5 nights a week in Seattle all throughout our twenties. Life was sparkly and blessed.

As we’ve grown older, we’ve settled down, moved, gotten married and now she has a little baby girl. We’ve convinced ourselves we’re more mature. For the most part, it’s true.

But, isn’t it nice to know someone is out there that remembers you as you were? Is the keeper of those memories and can sometimes convince you it’s a good idea to throw caution to the wind and go skinny dipping?

Everybody should have a friend like that in their life. I know I’m lucky I do!

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This photo was taken in Vancouver during my bachelorette weekend. I have no idea what was going on at the time and didn’t even realize it was being taken. Judging by the fact we are wearing our jackets, I can only safely say it was probably on our walk back to the hotel room after a night of dancing, drinking and overall rabble rousing. What more could you ask for?

I got the idea to write this post over at ngnrdgrl. She wrote a post about her fiancee and his son called, “2,300 Miles to Happiness,” as a part of the weekly writing challenge at The Daily Post. (Yes, the challenge was from a couple of days ago. But, you know, I have to keep with my “always running late” time-frame.)

If you haven’t checked her blog out, I highly recommend it! She has a great perspective on life, a DIY and jewelry series and is MUCH better at posting on a regular basis than I am.