Day 148 & 149 – No cheating

You know, I thought about cheating…going ahead and posting yesterday’s post late but back-dating it so it looked like I actually posted yesterday when the truth of it is that yesterday was a really long day–up super early to be at work, then tapping out and going to bed early because I was so tired from work, and then getting up today to do it all over again.

But damn that just defeats the purpose of this whole write-and-post-something-everyday goal doesn’t it?

So instead of cheating, I’m just owning up to the fact that I skipped a day because I was too dang tired to even surf Pinterest for a fun meme or quote to use.

Such is life. And honestly I’m not going to apologize about it. Like I keep saying–my blog, my rules. And this whole blogging thing isn’t about punishing myself. It’s a way for me to stay balanced and think through things and put some of my thoughts out into the world to see what comes back.

There have been times in my life when my day job tore me away from my writing and I hated it, because I didn’t actually enjoy the job enough to feel like it was a fair tradeoff. These days, I’m lucky because that’s not the case. I love my job, and the fact that I get to make money and pay my bills doing something I genuinely enjoy is one helluva bonus.

But that doesn’t mean I can ever put the writing aside completely. It would probably be easier to give up breathing. And I’m definitely in a place right now where I’m struggling to find a balance. I’ve got projects sitting stale, waiting for me to jump back in. I’ve got new ideas simmering, but I need to find ways to carve out time to actually work on them.

It continues to be a work in progress.

But I’m getting there. And I just might be stubborn enough not to quit.

Day 44 – Fear of success

I was leading a workshop tonight, and at one point the discussion turned to the fact that people can lose motivation and start to procrastinate because they fear success.

That’s the point where most of the students in the room look at me like I’ve lost my damn mind.

Fear of failure? Now that makes sense. Failing sucks. It feels icky. No one likes to miss the mark have have to own up to a mistake. But fear of success? Who the hell would be afraid of being successful? How does that even work?

Trust me, I’ve got this one. And it can honestly feel every bit as icky as failing. See, fearing success comes from those moments when you start strong. You’re feeling good, firing on all cylinders. But then you hit a point where you start wondering if maybe you set that bar a little high. You start to question whether the pace and expectations you’ve set for yourself just might not be sustainable.

It happened to me in college. I hit the ground running when I arrived at Concordia. First semester, 18 credit hours and a 4.0. Second semester, 17 credit hours and a 3.9. I was making new friends. I was accepted into the Honors Program. I got a job tutoring in the Writing Center. I got an essay published in a national magazine. Life was good…but somehow all the great things happening on the outside just didn’t quite match up with the way I felt about myself. I’d always struggled with self-esteem and not quite feeling like I belonged, and soon that Imposter Syndrome started to take over and I suddenly felt like I was trying to maintain my balance on a very wobbly pedestal.

So, I did what any rational person would do when faced with the shame of admitting that they’re not perfect–I started to self-sabotage, because somehow that seemed a helluva lot less difficult than having to let my guard down and let somebody see that I was just a scared kid who couldn’t for the life of me understand what anyone else saw in me. I started withdrawing from classes, watching my grades slowly dip. I made bad decisions. I even got an F in one of my major classes because I didn’t complete the coursework in time after the professor gave me an Incomplete.

It took me a long time (and a whole lot of therapy) to finally reconcile my expectations of myself, to finally begin to understand that I am smart and capable, that I deserve to take pride in my accomplishments because I worked really fucking hard to earn them. I still managed to graduate with Honors, go onto grad school, build a good life and a successful career.

And I am so grateful for every minute of it.

But still, there are days even now (especially now) when my Imposter Syndrome still whispers, persistently, making me question whether I really have what it takes, whether I really belong.

I guess we’re all just works in progress, aren’t we?

Caught in the Chaos

I’m beginning to think I wouldn’t really know how to handle my life if  suddenly slowed down and took a turn toward the mundane. Just when we think we’re starting to get a handle on things, get into some sort of a routine, we round another corner and realize we’re only halfway up the hill, and we’ve hit another fork in the road, and somewhere along the way we managed to misplace our map and our compass, and we may have even forgotten to make a pit stop to fill up on gas.

At least our lives aren’t dull, right?

Today marks a month at my new job, and I am absolutely loving it. I’m challenged, but not overworked. I’m learning, but I don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m meeting some wonderful people. I’m fitting in well with my new colleagues. And I’m finally feeling (for the first time in a long time) like I’m in a place where I can stay and grow and be happy.

They even pranked me on my very first day. Yeah, this is definitely the right place for me…

gcbaa1

gcbaa2

Barely a week into my new job, Stevie’s car decided to official shit the bed on us. Can’t say we were surprised. We’ve basically been biding our time, watching the odometer climb as the car slowly deteriorated. It finally got to the point where I refused to drive it because every time I did, something fell off.

No joke.

First the armrest. Then the plastic casing beneath the steering wheel that holds all the wiring in place. I can’t say I was sorry to see the ol’ Lumina go.

After some research, some test drives, a whole lot of discussion and a little help from Mom and Dad, we settled on a new ride and kissed the Lumina goodbye.

Goodbye, Lumina. Hello, Buick Enclave.

So far, we’re loving the new car, and we hope to get as many years (and miles) out of it as we did the Lumina and the van.

Fingers crossed!

buick3

buick2

buick1

About the time the dust was settling with the new job and the car-buying chaos (which Steven and I both agree is far worse than buying a house), Duane was checking into the hospital in Omaha for surgery. After a laryngectomy a year and a half ago, his doctors found more cancer, so it was back in for another procedure. He spent nearly two weeks in the hospital, slowly recovering and battling an infection. By the time he was released Monday, both he and Mom were exhausted and ready to be home. Luckily, he is doing well and feeling a little better every day.

duane

And now? Now, we’re just waiting for the dust to settle again, looking for a little calm in the midst of the chaos. And we’ll find it, I’m sure, a little respite before the next thing comes along. But whatever that next thing is, I know we can handle it the way we always do, together, and with our own special style…

stevie2

stevie

lori

family

electra

couple

cadence

The Next Chapter

Somehow, even when things are messy and chaotic and stressful, you’re there because that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.

There’s something you’re supposed to do, something you’re supposed to learn, someone you’re supposed to meet.

It’s not always easy sticking with it. It’s not always easy toughing it out, finding a way to manage it. But you do, and eventually you realize that storm clouds are beginning to break apart and rays of sunshine are starting to shine through and you’re still there, still standing, still smiling.

When I found myself back in an office working full-time after staying home, freelancing, and serving as the primary caregiver for my daughter for the first three years of her life, I won’t lie…I was anxious. I worried that maybe I’d gotten rusty, that maybe I wasn’t as sharp or talented or capable as I was before I stepped into the world of work-at-home-motherhood. But it didn’t take long before I was back in the groove–making new friends, connecting with clients, writing stories, taking photos, and publishing things that I was proud of.

It felt good to get back in a groove again.

If there is one thing that I am really proud of when it comes to my work, it’s my unquenchable thirst to always do better, to be better. I’ve never been the type who can do just enough to get by. I can’t just meet a standard; I have to exceed it. I can’t take a shortcut if it means compromising quality. I can’t sell myself or anyone else short. I set lofty goals. I have high expectations. I believe that if you can’t look back at the end of the day and truthfully say that you’ve done your absolute best, you’re not doing it right.

Those are values I hold near and dear to my heart, and they are values that I will never compromise…not for anyone.

Tomorrow, I will be wrapping things up at News Link, writing the final words in that short chapter in my life and I will tell you, I am thankful for every moment spent there.

I am thankful for the fact that I got to spend this past year earning a paycheck doing the three things I love the most–writing, taking photos, and connecting with people.

I am thankful that I got to meet and connect with some of the most hardworking, down-to-earth folks on this earth. To all the men and women I met in the shops, yards, and stretches of railroad tracks across the country, thank you for welcoming me into your lives, teaching me, sharing your stories, and keeping me safe. The folks in the Lincoln Diesel Shop, the UP Track Programs crews, the G&W Pacific Region employees, and all the folks at the Terminal Companies in California, Washington, Oregon, and Kansas now hold a very special place in my life, and I certainly hope our paths will continue to cross in the future.

I am thankful for the adversity I faced, for the people I didn’t see eye to eye with, for the frustrations I dealt with both in the office and on the road. It has made me stronger, wiser, and more confident in myself, my beliefs, and my vision of the future.

And, most of all, I am thankful for the beautiful souls I encountered on this crazy journey. The friendships forged in the past year are friendships that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, will last far into the future. We’ve laughed together, shared meals together, played sports (badly) together. We’ve shared frustrations, celebrated each other’s successes, and helped pick each other up. We’ve kept each other sane, driven each other a little crazy, and made each other laugh. We’ve pulled pranks, shared secrets, and exchanged quizzical glances when the morning meetings suddenly took bizarre turns. I love them, and I think I must have needed them, and maybe, just maybe, they needed me too (whether they really care to admit it or not).

I’m ridiculously excited for this new job and the new opportunities stretching out before me. I can’t wait to see where this fork in the road will lead.

All is as it should be. Life is good, and it’s time for the next chapter to begin…

Marceline_Missouri_railroad_Walt_Disney_Hometown_Museum_BNSF_train_IMGP6223

Regaining Balance

It’s been way to long since I blogged. That’s how I know things are out of balance…when I can’t find any time in my day to sit down and compose a few thoughts just for myself. I haven’t picked up a camera and taken a picture of my own kid, my own family (other than random iPhone photos) in months. I haven’t had enough time or energy to sit down and write much much of anything for a couple of weeks now. Even my memoir project has hit a minor stall.

But the tides are finally turning, and I feel good about the way things are heading.

After saying goodbye to my Poppa D (my birthfather’s father), surviving a 10-day work trip that ended with a nasty eye infection, and deciding to finally leave behind a job that I’d grown tired to trying to “fix”, there are new adventures and opportunities on the horizon.  I’m making great strides working on the memoir. I’ve made some really great friends and gained some really great experience after returning to an office job a little less than a year ago. And I’ve got a brand new job starting in two weeks.

After such a rough ride, and so many forks in the road, it’s nice to finally crest the hill and see the open road stretching out before me.

But at this stage of the game, even when I can see a storm brewing in the distance, I know I can handle it. All I have to do is hold on, and try to enjoy (or at least appreciate) the ride.

Let’s go. I got this.

photo

Project Life 365 – Day 46 – Reward

Okay, so maybe I’m a total dork, but I don’t mind admitting it. I consider going back to school a reward.

Laugh if you want, but I am seriously excited!

Yeah, this is just my admission to take a few summer session courses before I get around to the nitty gritty of diving headfirst into the counseling psychology program in Fall 2014, but it’s a step and it feels good to be moving forward.

Great way to start a weekend if you ask me. 🙂

PL365Day46reward