Standing in My Truth

“Do you have a legitimate job yet? Maybe you should get a job at the Container Store…”

The words were flung at me without malice or ill intent, but they stung all the same – like sprinkling a generous heaping of salt on an already festering wound. They were thrown into a conversation with a family member known for spouting off hurtful words without truly realizing the effect they might have. I know this. But it knocked me off my feet all the same.

The truth is, when you work alone without someone checking in to see your progress or handing you outlined tasks to complete, its easy for people to question your work ethic. And it’s common for people to say, “So what do you do everyday??”

Layer this on top of the idea that tackling creative endeavors isn’t worthy of a paycheck and can never be funneled into a real career, and under the intense scrutiny of certain people, I’ve achieved nothing more in my day than the beggar on the street corner.

That’s a little hard to swallow. 

It’s interesting how many people allude to the idea that I’m following some pipe dream that can’t possibly result in anything substantial. They’re waiting with bated breath for the day when I’ll take any job that offers benefits.

My inability to see the reward in doing what I should do makes some people uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable.

Yet, I know that words don’t carry any substantial significance. They only carry power if I allow them to through my own belief of they’re validity. I don’t see myself as a raging success as a writer, so anyone questioning what I’m doing with my life adds fuel to an already burning fire.

Ironically (or not so ironically if you believe in divine timing), I was asked by an employer to write a blog today summarizing a video of Bob Proctor (one of the big-wigs from the movie The Secret).

I’m not a huge fan of Bob Proctor, but given the fact that he’s a self-made multi-millionaire, I would assume he knows a thing or two about making things happen. His message was this:

We have the ability to choose what we allow into our conscious mind. Once we allow things into our conscious mind, they are funneled into our subconscious mind. What takes up residence in our subconscious mind profoundly affects the results we see in our lives – so if we allow what someone says to trickle down into our subconscious mind, we’ll begin to see it become our reality.

Clearly it’s not about getting my well-meaning relative to say less hurtful things, it’s about getting to a place where I can stand so firmly in my truth that what they say just doesn’t matter.

It won’t happen overnight – as evidenced by the fact that I still have a pit of anger burning in my stomach – but coming to this realization is a healthy start in the right direction.

What truth do you need to stand in?

 

 

Meth Heads, Military Wives, Fist Fights, and Being a Foodie: What Living in 29Palms Has Taught Me

In 7.5 days I’ll be packing up my meager belongings and making the trek back home – a place I never fully appreciated until I spent 5+ months in 29Palms (a town that most Californians don’t even know exists). I can say with 100% certainty that I won’t miss the surroundings (not even a teeny eensy weensy bit), but I will miss the people and certain aspects of a lifestyle I never thought I could become accustomed to. And on that note I thought I would sum up my experience with the 10 things I learned while I was here:

1. If a town is known for it’s meth heads, expect your neighbors to be the same.

Let me just begin by pointing out that a previous blog I wrote clearly stated my desire to not be stuck living among drug dealers and gang bangers (as I have been in the past). The universe must have somehow turned a deaf ear to this request because my neighbors? Yeah, they seem to be feeding the town’s meth habit right from the comfort of their own home. Let’s just say they are an interesting bunch without the street smarts of any successful drug dealer (thus their arrest yesterday). And they take showers with a hose and sponge in their driveway. Enough said.

2. Fist fighting doesn’t mean that a friendship is over.

While my boyfriend spent the last 4 years entrenched in the military way of life surrounded by guys, I was at home spending most of my time with my girlfriends. So when a night of drinking turned sour because two of his buddies started fist fighting over an eye gouging game that went a little too far, I thought that a rift would be formed right smack dab in the middle of our “group.” When I asked one of the guys if they would still be friends (with his eye bloodshot and quickly turning a shade of black), he answered, “Yeah, why wouldn’t we be? We’re best friends. It’s just like two boys in a sand box fighting over the same Tonka truck. No big deal.”

I’m still trying to decide if girls could ever adopt this thought process.

3. Living for the weekends is no way to live.

When people have asked me over the past few months how I like living out here, my answer is always the same: the weekends are a blast. But the rest of the week? I’d rather rip out my toenails one by one then spend another hour simply wasting time here. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. The point, however, is that we get to leave on the weekends and venture out into civilization – exactly what makes living here bearable. Which also makes me realize that jumping between fleeting moments of bliss is simply no way to exist. Period.

4. Distance is all relative.

Just a quick snapshot: from the spot that I am currently sitting, Starbuck’s is a good 20 miles away, any quality restaurant is 60+ miles away, and a decent movie theater playing recent movies is around 65 miles away. Seriously. So now when I hear people complain about driving I’ll have a hard time resisting the urge to tell them to shove it. Which also brings me to my next point.

5. Heat is also all relative.

Now that the temperature is slowly dropping, I am beginning to realize how drastically our idea of “normal” can shift if need be. And of course, after sweating through 110+ degree temperatures with a swamp cooler that refused to work, 98 degrees seems like heaven. I don’t think I’ll ever say that Colorado summers are too hot again. Ever.

6. Good friends don’t count dollars and cents.

Before living the military lifestyle, I had never encountered a group that was so willing to give without keeping track of what they were owed in return. They care deeply about each other, but they care about each other’s families as well. That is what I’ll miss.

7. When all else fails, food can make any day exciting.

There is something about experiencing never ending boredom that makes meal time really fricken exciting. So those days when slaving away over my computer or watching an embarrassing amount of reality TV simply weren’t cutting it, having a really good meal could fill that void. Yes, I realize that’s what massively obese people say, but I’m being honest here. At least it’s not a drug addiction – although my neighbors could have helped me out with that.

8. Claiming your husbands accomplishments is not cool.

After spending a fair amount of time living in close proximity to a military base and a total of four years immersed in the politics of it all, I have met several types of military spouses. There is one in particular that I can’t stand – the one that will say matter of factly (and of course there are plenty of variations on this), “Yeah, we are supposed to be picking up rank soon,” or “I really can’t stand our chain of command right now.” Strange, but I don’t think that the military remembers employing you.

Yes, it’s a partnership. But I don’t think your marriage vows stated anything about losing your own identity and taking on that of your husband’s. Maybe that’s just me.

9. Not everyone thinks like me.

Perhaps this one sounds like something I should have learned around the age of 8, but let’s be honest- most of us operate on a daily basis spouting off our opinions like everyone feels exactly the same way. After being surrounded by people who grew up far differently than I did, I realize that not everyone agrees (or should agree) with me. And I’m pretty sure I’m ok with that.

10. Money should be spent (yes, I know this one’s a shocker).

From the time my dad walked me down to the bank and helped me open up my first savings account, I’ve been a money hoarder. There was a time when spending as little as $10 would create an ulcer in my stomach the size of Texas. After moving, however, I realized that we would have to spend money if we wanted to go anywhere or see anything worthwhile. So, out of necessity, I agreed.

I know that we wouldn’t have been able to have one tiny fraction of the amazing experiences we did if we didn’t spend some of our hard-earned dough. And that’s big for an anxiety-prone- money-hoarder like me.

Goodbye 29Palms. I’d like to say I’ll miss you, but then I’d be lying. And a quote from a few good guys I know, “It’s been real. It’s been fun. But it hasn’t been real fun.”

Dreams? Yeah, I’ll Save Those For Tomorrow.

Before leaving home to bake in the sweltering sandbox that I currently reside in, I had concocted a list of things I would delve into once I got here. You know- those things we believe deep down will make us happier, healthier, more whole versions of ourselves, but are better left for another time or place. Yes. I have lots of those.

I figured that being in a town so far removed from regular Starbuck’s drinking civilization would inspire me in some miraculous way to be…different. And at the end of those six (or five if I have anything to say about it) long months I would have become a yogi, accomplished magazine writer, meditation guru, master chef, brilliant photographer, organization expert, blogger extraordinaire, etc. etc. etc. Seriously – my goals were that lofty.

Three months into my time here and what have I got? Sores on my ass from spending six to eight loooooong hours a day typing diligently on my computer that I can only use on the couch because the wifi refuses to cooperate. And the closest I’ve gotten to being a yogi? Completing a 30 minute candlelit yoga practice from a DVD via the Xbox.

Oh, and did I mention I’ve become an expert complainer and pity party thrower?

So as the boyfriend and I attempted last night to make plans for a life ATM (after the military) I found myself returning to that place of “once I get there things will be better.” I’ll have a group of girlfriends again, a real live place outside of the house to do my writing, my family a quick drive away. Funny thing is, that’s what I was all gung-ho about leaving in the first place.

My twenties thus far seem to have been an exercise in finding a place to be. A place that warrants a sigh of relief, while simultaneously pushing me to be something greater, do something bigger, and step out of the me I thought I was. I’ve been convinced at certain times that it’ll come with settling down – picking paint colors and a bed set to match. Then, I’ll suddenly feel as if I could only feel it somewhere as far removed from my comfort zone (and country of origin) as possible. Now, neither seems to fit just right.

It’s not my environment. I’m convinced (at least in this moment) of that now. It’s a matter of starting today those things I’ve reserved for another place and time.

Anyone else have a storage closet full of things to tackle another day in another city?

I haven’t disappeared, I’ve just been baking in the heat.

Blogging, like most other areas of my life, used to be something I scheduled. (Because even inspiration can be placed on a timeline for someone as by the book as myself.) Then, when things started to get a little crazy, I stopped cold turkey. But what used to be an issue of priorities has now become another bout of perfectionism gone haywire.

Let me just begin by saying this- when I was younger and writing in a diary seemed like something every little girl should do, I used to tear out entries if I didn’t like how they sounded. Granted, I had a placed a massive lock on the outside to prevent anyone from reading my innermost thoughts, but the point was that I wasn’t satisfied with anything short of perfection. Thus, it was only a matter of time before I began judging the writing I was putting up for all of the online world to see (or at least the meager audience that I had acquired).

Inspiration, it turns out, is also a problem when leaving my house has ceased to be an everyday occurrence. No, it’s not depression, it’s an absolute hatred of the god awful heat. Heat meaning 100 degrees IN THE SHADE. Seriously. I’ve never before felt as if my skin was cooking two minutes after stepping outside.

I can blame my writing hiatus partly on the fact that I’m in the midst of a series of processes. Learning to live with my honey, for one, is a PROCESS (capitals seemed necessary for that one). How could it not be when I’m used to being comfortable and he’s used to a lifestyle of survival? My challenge this week: getting him to agree to a rendezvous at the farmers market this weekend. For some reason, he’s completely against fresh produce. Go figure.

Another process: accepting and recognizing the perfection in everyday life. After the homecoming was over, and I settled into a “routine,” I began to forget what both of our lives were like when he was away. I’m reminding myself to feel a little gratitude for the shopping trips, the movie dates, and even the arguments that we couldn’t have had if the deployment would have ended differently.

Most of all, I’m learning to redefine the individual me while still staying connected to this relationship I’ve waited so long to fully experience.

I’ve missed you blogger world. Here’s to checking in more regularly.

Yeah, I’m Kind of a Big Deal

Inspiration is a fickle thing. I can spend the entire day staring at my computer screen completely unsatisfied with everything and then miraculously, right when I’m on the brink of sleep, ideas seem to sprout from nowhere. And of course instead of sprinting to capture these thoughts down on paper I curse the mind chatter and hope for some much-needed r&r.

In the midst of turning my world as I know it on its ear, I’m also trying to navigate my way through the world of writing. Luckily I have some paying gigs under my belt, but I’m quickly discovering that writing as a business and writing as a form of self-expression are two very separate things. Finding a way to mix the two (at least in the beginning when my name holds no clout), seems to be like finding a football loving jock that doesn’t mind shedding a tear over a chick flick. Not easy to say the least.

So right now, as I churn out blog after blog on topics of other people’s choosing, the self-expression part has been added to that list of things that I would do if I only had the time. And of course after spending hours on end in solitary confinement with only the sound of clicking keys to keep me company, the last thing I really want to do is sit down and write some more. Even if it serves an entirely different purpose.

Just like any other area of life, I need balance. Or just some more gigs that would allow me to mold my writing with inspiration and not from a list of topics and approved resources. Maybe this would create a flow of ideas that wouldn’t interrupt my already fragile sleep pattern. Yes, I know, all in good time.

On a brighter note- after complaining about an upcoming phone conference with a “boss” from one of said writing gigs, my dad informed me that they would actually be considered my client. A simple issue of semantics? Maybe. But it sounds much more liberating, doesn’t it? Yup, I have clients. In some small way it seems like I’ve hit the big time. And that feels fantastic.

Creature Comforts and Cable Negotiations

I think I’ve found the place. Well, maybe not the place as in “this is the place I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life living in.” No, more like this is the place that seems to require fewer hours to clean, and not quite as many bugs to herd out before becoming hospitable. Although the one area of contention that might just be the sole cause of a few breakdowns: no dishwasher. Wait…what century are we living in?

Yes, I know- not a big deal. But I have come to discover that I am one of those people who depends greatly on creature comforts. I gave up on that tiny glimmer of hope that we might actually have a washer and dryer, but a dishwasher just seems like a give in. Like running water. (Maybe I should check on that one too.) And then while I was breaking out in a cold sweat over hand washing dishes, my honey says to me, “We aren’t getting cable, we really won’t need it.”

Umm…hang on. I think that one just gave me a heart attack. Quickly, and a bit too defensively I quipped “you want me to live in the middle of the desert with no freakin’ cable?!” This was about the time when I started to run through the list of things that we might not agree on. Like how many covers to have on the bed or who will scrub the toilet. All of which is a little too much for someone who has pretty much lived sans roommates for the past 2+ years (I figure my parents don’t really count).

I won the cable battle after a very compelling argument and probably more whining then my honey really wanted to listen to. However, all of this has made me a little too aware of how much readjusting this move is going to require. Last time I trucked out to that corner of California I think I was a bit more moldable and pleasantly unaware of what I was in for. Luckily the gamble paid off and I loved it. Really loved it.

Once the dust settles (actually I don’t think it every settles there…) I know I will be able to find my niche again. Even if it is with basic cable and no dishwasher.

Murderers, Gang Bangers, Drug Dealers…and Foot Fungus

Tying up loose ends in Denver and opening up shop in California has turned into a daunting task. A few days ago I had somewhat officially picked THE place for me and my honey only to start back at square one yesterday. My choice, of course, had been based off of three craigslist pictures that showed that the kitchen had REAL TILE and the appliances actually looked sleek and CLEAN. Yup, I thought- that’s the place. Low standards? Well, last time I lived in good ol’ 29 Palms we lacked a dishwasher, a fully functioning stove, and had a crack under our door large enough to fit several different species of desert bug.

So after recruiting a friend to go look at the place (because yes, I’m still that rational let’s make REALLY sure kind of person), I was told it was small. Really small. Like you need a blow up mattress in the bedroom small. At that point I was willing to maybe forgo a few furniture items and get cozy with the idea of REALLY getting cozy with my honey- until I heard the last little bits of information. The owner lives on the property in her trailer. Ummm…ok. Oh and one of the neighbors had a sister living with him that ended up MURDERING HER BOYFRIEND- on the property. Joy. Even my low standards can’t jive with that drama.

Back to the drawing board. I’m not entirely sure where to go from here considering how slim the pickin’s are in that neck of the woods. I’ve convinced myself that we can make any shit hole feel like home considering this time we will be providing our own furniture and personality (note to self: never rent a furnished place in 29 Palms again. EVER. ). But I’d still like to be able to take off my shoes in my own home and not be afraid of getting some unrecognizable foot fungus. And of course I would love to not have to share a wall with anyone. Ever again actually.

My past experience with wall sharing actually ended when 5-10 members of the SWAT team arrested my next door neighbor in a massive city-wide gang bust. Did I mention he was a drug dealer? After nearly 6 months of living in an apartment in which the walls lacked ANY sort of insulation, 6 calls to the police, and 1 call to child protective services (I was determined damn it), I was ready to kick some ass myself. When I saw the scuffle unfold with my morning coffee, I laughed just a little. Yup, I thought, my intuition was spot on.

Well, unfortunately for me, the landlord wasn’t really convinced that gang banging and coke dealing was such a bad thing after all, so the rest of the obnoxiously LOUD clan was permitted to move back in. In one last-ditch attempt to get some measure of silence back I got ahold of the police report to hand in to the home owner’s association. There in writing was documentation of every call I had made- and next to it? A warning note in capital letters: PROCEED WITH CAUTION. RESIDENTS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE ARMED AND DANGEROUS. Holy shit. And these neighbors knew all along that it was little ole‘ me calling the cops on them. My rational mind told me it was time to cut my losses and get the hell out of there.

So as I keep on truckin‘ with this home search I’m trying to keep the faith. And of course steer clear of murderers, gang members, drug dealers, and of course foot fungus. Maybe I should speak to a realtor to see if they have any places that fit this very strict criteria.

One More Plea:

If you haven’t yet…PLEASE vote for my trip on http://www.trazzler.com  It’s getting down to the last week and I have PROMISED my honey that I would take him on this San Francisco trip when he gets back from Afghanistan next month.  I am VERY close to winning in the LGBT category.  All you have to do is go to the website, sign up (VERY IMPORTANT), find the San Francisco Writing Contest icon on the right hand side of the page, and click on the LGBT category.  Look for my entry: “Dining With Drag Queens in Denver, Colorado,” open it and click the “save” button underneath the picture.  That’s it!  If you have already voted- THANK YOU!

Please Get Out of My Room…Thanks.

Cohabitation, in my “this is my space, please kindly remove yourself from it” mindset, has never been an idea that I snuggled up to. Not only does my sanity depend on the fact that I can remove myself from all other living, breathing, and talking beings, but my experience with roommates has been severely limited to family members who (I’m hoping) would never pour bleach on my clothes or steal my pricier belongings (I suppose I’m channeling the Bad Girls Club here…). I’m stubborn, picky, and am prone to noise induced panic attacks. Crazy? Just a bit.

While my post-high school living situation did include a brief stint with my honey in the deserts of California, I feel like in knowing our time together was limited (he was in the midst of shipping off to Iraq), I was able to not let (all) of my anxieties get the best of me. But this time, as I prepare for his homecoming and a 2nd move, cohabitation has taken on a kind of permanence that makes me giddy with excitement and sick to my stomach all at the same time. Our communication over the past 6+ months has been limited to skype chats, 3am text sessions, and facebook messaging…so how on earth can that be translated into bed sharing, chore sharing, and overall life sharing with the simple flip of a switch?

Although I’d like to site his lack of cleanliness and attachment to video games as the main reason for my concern, in truth I am dreading those issues that will point to me being the one that needs to shift, change, and cave just a little bit to let him in. Deep down I know that as long as I stay attached to my way of doing things and closed off to sharing anything in my space, the more I can convince myself that I am right and everyone else is WRONG.

Despite these little butterfly jitters, I have begun thrift and craft store shopping so that we can have a champagne inspired pad on a PBR budget. I’m convinced (since signing on to write for Calfinder) that this is absolutely possible. My first project that I have attempted to tackle: fixing up picture frames and removing the pictures circa 1999. Next up?….Not entirely sure.

Got any suggestions? Wine bottle candle holders, film strip curtains, I’m up for anything. Give me your best tips and I will be sure to post pictures of the finished product.

Cashier or Stripper: It’s All a Matter of Perspective

I woke up in a drag yourself out of bed and curse at the world kind of mood. I’m not entirely sure where all this bad energy sprouted from considering I drifted off to sleep repeating the mantra “everything is right in the world and good things are coming my way.” Maybe my brain just went into overdrive with all the fantastic things I was creating and it blew a fuse. Just a thought.

Today I allowed myself to be sucked into that “let me turn on everything with the ferociousness of a rabid dog” mentality. I picked out a few choice situations that were nagging reminders of how my life wasn’t playing out exactly how I had intended and ran with them. The result? An hour-long reprieve from the work that I should have been doing in order to look up secluded retreats in odd corners of the world with the intention of escaping it all. Bad choice for someone who already feels a festering pool of lack in the financial department.

The thing is, what was nagging me was nothing of significance. Worry makes me do ridiculous things- like not looking at what I already have and paying attention to the plethora of signs that say everything will work out just fine. And despite all the amazingly progressive things I was taught growing up in a family that embraced spirituality with open arms, I tend to be archaic in how I label things. Yes, I am a label whore- but not in the Louis Vuitton and Coach kind of way. I am the queen of deeming things bad, horrific or even life-ending. To top it off I am brilliant at going into crying frenzies that make even me feel sorry for me.

Often times, once the storm has passed, what I was so quick to label as “bad” unravels itself into something that was probably even better than what I had hoped for in the first place. I have gotten into knock down drag out fights with friends that were only a smidgen away from turning into full-out brawls only to notice that our friendship blossomed from it. I have fretted over job hunting that made me feel as if I would end up living in a box down by the river only to realize that the perfect situation just wasn’t available at that very moment I was looking.

So in keeping with this idea that all of life’s situations are a matter of perspective I thought I’d share this email that my dad sent me. Hilarious yet appropriate..

A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for a homework assignment:

After it was graded and the child brought it home, she returned to school the next day with the following note:

Dear Ms. Davis,

I want to be very clear on my child’s illustration.  It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint.  I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a shovel.

Finding Balance (via a hazmat suit)

The potential of earning a paycheck and lessening the intensity of my money-induced panic attacks causes me to grossly overestimate what my mind and body can handle. So last week when I was offered a three-day stint in a hazmat suit for a little extra cash, I quickly accepted without much thought as to how it would fit in to my already busy bee of a work life. (And somehow the outfit didn’t serve as a deterrent either. God I would look good as a meth dealer.)

Being a card-carrying member of the promotional job market I often times agree to promote products or other such things I know nothing about. This time I was pushing the 3rd season of the television show Breaking Bad (involving a meth dealer thus the appropriate outfits)- one that I had never heard of before but will now most likely be hooked to like a multitude of other shows I DVR.

The cherry on top of this little adventure was that it took place outside the RV, Boat and Travel Show. Two of said days were on a Thursday and Friday- both prime days for the 60+ crowd to peruse the fantastic display of trailers and sign up for RV clubs. The problem? We were handing out free iTunes download cards to a massive group that either didn’t have computers or were blissfully unaware of what constituted a download in the first place. Oh the joy.

While the event served its purpose of paying off my debt to the IRS (yes, I blame taxes for the hazmat suit), my tendency to fill my plate with unnecessary obligations needs to stop. ASAP. My week was already filled to capacity with writing assignments and SLEEP when I said, “what’s one more thing?” Balance, I am learning, does not mean juggling twenty projects at once but only accepting the projects that I can complete without pulling out large chunks of my hair.

But where I used to BEG for new opportunities to float my way, I now feel as if I am firmly rooted in a stream of opportunity abundance. I am grateful that I have plenty of money-making jobs to choose from- now I just need to learn to say no. Or at least learn to only take the jobs with the attractive outfits.