What Kind of Architect Are You?

We as writers are  architects of a sort.  W e build and create worlds, universes, characters, and a story that we hope sets the world on fire  as the next phenomenal  success.  OH come on,  we all know writer’s fantasize about such things.

A  great writer and friend recently announced his success with a  huge contract.  I was so excited for him, yet slightly discouraged at my own lack of contract.   I’m not jealous, bear with me here.    I happen to know for a fact that this  person is hard-working and diligent in his writing.

I have to admit a certain  bit of self-pity  for why I didn’t have a  contract, but in all honesty I  let things get to me  and I quit  writing for several months.  First, there was the sabotage and destruction of several years of my work.  I felt devastated and betrayed – how would I ever recover?  * insert melodramatic arm over forehead here*  Which was shortly followed by accusations thrown at me like a barrage of live ammo.  This led to confusion, heartache and more feelings of betrayal.   Then  on the heels of that came the news that my friend  who was in the process of leaving her abusive husband died in a car crash  the day she finally decided to seek shelter in a safe house; she never made it there.  My aforementioned personal grief tied with the grief of her untimely death led me to an automobile accident.  I think sleep apnea also played a part in the unclear thinking as well.

I was far more rattled than I admitted or would ever like to admit.   Between the psychological effects of the other things and the physical injuries from the accident, comments like “Wow you are lucky to be alive” were made light of and  was quickly reminded  why it was all my fault.

I was responsible for the car crash, I freely admit that.  Ruined a perfect driving record up to that point, but no consideration  was extended to me for why suddenly I had a lack of judgment.  Whatever, I’m not trying to make excuses here, just saying it like it is.

My point is I withdrew.  I  didn’t write,  I didn’t talk to many people.  I didn’t do any of the things I knew I should be doing.  I just couldn’t handle it emotionally.   I spent days fighting the sensation that my world was falling apart at the seams, and that  my trust was betrayed on such an intimate level I may never recover.   Through all of it though, I’ve had some great friends that slowly coaxed me out of that shell, and back to my usual self.   Getting the sleep apnea addressed also had a tremendous effect on helping me to get my feet back under me.

It is not easy for an overachiever such as myself to admit failings; any failings or weakness.   It’s not easy to  be in a place physically that  the pain is mind numbing and I can barely walk from the bedroom to the kitchen without wincing.  I’ve been so busy beating myself up over not being able to do the 3.5 miles that I was doing just a year ago, that I didn’t allow myself any  sort of praise or sense of accomplishment for walking 1.8 miles because it was a ridiculously slow pace.  I was too focused on what I didn’t do to acknowledge that it was 1.8 miles more than I was able to do a few short months ago.

Set backs happen.  We just aren’t used to them happening to us.  I’m a great coach for my friends, cheering them on with the smallest accomplishments but extend absolutely no mercy or grace for my own small progress.

So, you may be thinking I’ve gone  on another tangent but I haven’t.  You see, my friend Abyrne’s success was a reminder to me of  what I was working for, what I’ve been trying to achieve.  Before my life went to hell, people were coming to me for advice, for hints and tips. After I crashed and burned –  sat on my butt and felt sorry for myself and reverted to old habits – nobody was seeking me out for advice.

Several people have  given me opportunities to assist them  in building their own dreams.  I took a few, let a few pass.  Maybe I chose the wrong ones, maybe I didn’t, but every single choice is a learning experience.  In each  opportunity was a hard and fast reminder of  my architecture.

What am I building?   In assessing  what I’ve  done for this year, not much.   I hooked my wagon to a team of horses that didn’t go to the destination  they claimed.  I’ve given a lot of hard work to someone else’s dreams meanwhile my own blueprints lay on the light table gathering dust.   I’ve been building someone else s dreams, not my own.

How in the world can I be upset with Abyrne?  He has been diligently plodding away  doing what writers do while I  wallowed in my own self pity and newly acquired injuries wishing it to happen.  It doesn’t work that way.  Nobody is going to work on my dreams.  Nobody is going to build my dream castle. Yet, here i was giving some of my best efforts to someone else s dreams.   Whose fault is that?

NO, Abyrne inspired me to  do what I knew to do in the first place which is to write. I know I can write well.  I know I can put a good story together.  I’ve spoken publicly and had the audience rolling, holding their sides from laughter.  I also know I can put another sort of story together that keeps my readers on the edge of their seat wanting more and turning the next page.

So . . .

I am exercising that little word that I have trouble with – NO!  I am reclaiming my own dreams and blueprints.  I am spending less and less time  donating my time to  other people’s dreams and building my own!  I  Like Pitbull, the artist.  I like the line he says in “Feel this Moment”:

Time is  money only difference is I own it! Like a stopwatch let’s stop time and enjoy this moment.

I can’t say that I owned it.  I knew better – know better!  When you recognize a bad habit though you change it.  Working class exchange time for money whether in a 9 to 5 job or through  other means of income.  Wealthy class exchange money for time.  I want to get to the point where I can pay  someone else  to do the things that are taking up too much of my time.   For now I have to regain  my time for money and it’s not for minimum wage.  I have skills, knowledge and abilities.  My time is valuable and I have to be the one to set the boundaries.

Here’s a truth that is universal:  people will treat you like you will let them treat you.  How are you being treated?  Do you like it?  Do you feel like you should be treated better? Treated with respect?  What are you doing that  you are allowing them to use you and treat you poorly?

I  was feeling sorry for myself and  feeling like I wasn’t worth anything.  I was being treated as such. NO MORE!

My architectural firm just began  its latest project: a long overdue dream castle!

What  are you building?

Write on my friends, and don’t  sell yourself short!

Shrek Super Slam

Hey there hi there ho there!  It’s good to be back.  It was so good to get away and have a holiday with the family.  To all who are still following – thank you!  For those that left, sorry to see you go.

Ever notice how a little time off helps you clear your head?  I took work things with me.  I took books I needed to read, notebooks to write in and a selection of my favorite pens to satisfy that weird obsession I have with pens.  I mostly stayed offline, it was hard.  I have become an FB junkie, twitter addict, and yes – I checked frequently to see who stuck around while I was away from my blog.  I fully intended to automate, and publish posts each and every day while I was away.  As you can see it didn’t happen.  Forget to click one little box and nothing gets published, and I was too flustered to figure it out from my cell phone.

I know, you’ve got to be smarter than your smart phone.  LOL.  Amazing how a 3 X 4 piece of electronics can be so humbling.  On the bright side though, I took a ton of pictures and videos.  Ahem, more on the videos later.  About now you’re looking back at the title and scratching your head aren’t you?  Go ahead, admit it.  What strange journey am I on now that this is going to somehow tie into THAT title?  It’s a mystery world don’t you know!

First a bit of recap, the vacation was awesome!  Parasailing is something everyone should experience, as is swimming with the dolphins.  We took a sunset cruise in the gulf, and a moonlit stroll on the beach during the full moon.  I saw one of the most romantic things ever.  A couple waded out into the surf.  He kissed her then dropped to his knees and proposed.  By her reaction I’m assuming the answer was yes.  (We weren’t staring, we were walking in their direction, so we couldn’t help but see.)  On the walk back from the tour they were laying on their blanket making out – ok really tried not to look at them at that point!  But isn’t that romantic?

We celebrated our anniversary on this vacation, and it made my romance writer brain go into high gear.  Wondering about the couple, wondering where they were from.  How long had they dated?  Where would they be 25 years down the road?  When we were newly married, we took our honeymoon in Florida, at Orlando.  We went to Bradenton Beach. We were the only ones on the beach, turns out it was a retirement community.  this trip was in Panama City Beach. It was awesome!

Still scratching your head?  Patience my dears, patience.  We’ll get there. We haven’t had rain in the midwest all summer.  You may have noticed on the news drought conditions and record temperatures.  It was actually cooler in Florida than in St. Louis.  We arrive in Panama City Beach to a severe thunder-storm.  Seriously?  The flags on the beach were red,  wonderful. the next day more storms and had to cancel our plans.

The following day however was awesome.  We went parasailing, drove around sightseeing, and played on the beach.  Our hotel was right on the beach as most of them down there are.  I have to be honest, I’m not used to relaxing and not doing anything.  It goes against my upbringing and instilled work ethic.  It felt good.

On Thursday we had to cancel our plans again due to the weather – bummer.  but you know, when the boat captain says it’s too dangerous I’m not going to argue.  Our lives are worth more than a few shells and snorkeling.  Later though we went out and saw more dolphins, stingrays, a shark, and even cannonball jellyfish.  Weird creatures those!

Hmmm, still no super slam. Wait, it’s coming.  Get home, get the mail sorted, ready to start in refreshed and ready to go.  Had a meeting Monday night for the class I teach in the fall.  I was excited and anxious to start on a new semester.  This is one of my passions.  I’ve poured my heart and soul into the class.  I  spend a lot of time on the course manual, a lot of hours preparing lessons, and time researching better ways to present to students.

SHREK SUPER SLAM!!!! Administration cancelled my class.  It was deemed nonessential.   OUCH!  I held it together during the meeting, refused to take the mike until it was shoved in my face.  I tried to be professional but I felt like I’d been mortally wounded.  This was one of my deep wells; a course on recovering from abuse and picking up the pieces of a shattered life.  It took me a lifetime to develop, to be able to pay it forward to others who’ve been victimized.  Typically, there were 60 to 100 people per class.  I’d say it was a well received class.  In one decision by the board – gone.

I had fully intended to post yesterday, but just couldn’t muster it.  It’s like a part of me has died.  I know there will be other things, but it’s hard to let go of the things we value.  I guess I”m not as good at handling change as I thought, when it’s something I hold dear.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

So back to the video; remember when I got nominated for the Leibster award and I carefully evaded the question about my blonde moment(s)?  Yeah, well while on vaca – I had a truly epic blond moment.  Seriously, dye my hair and call me Blondie!  I was going to share the video so you could all get a good laugh, but having technical problems with my computer.  Operator error more than likely.  Ah, perhaps tomorrow.


Write on my friends, write on!

Turn Up the Heat

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”   Theodore Roosevelt

212 Degrees- Turn Up the Heat

Critics are a dime a dozen.  Ever notice how as soon as you take that first step towards your dreams, they come out of the woodwork like cockroaches?

I’ve been called daydreamer, slacker, goof off, and it spirals downward from there.  Where would we be in this word if not for the dreamers?  I’ll proudly wear that hat!  It’s taken me years to accept that about myself, and longer to go for my dreams.  A life lived in others expectations is no life at all.  It brings no satisfaction, no victories.  Trust me, I know this from experience.  It’s a low road to live as a cockroach.

Some people don’t hesitated to offer their criticism.  That used to stop me.  Not anymore.  I’ve crossed the line, and no longer content with mediocrity. My dreams aren’t earth shattering, cure for cancer ( I wish!) types of things.  they are personal goals, personal dreams, the pursuit of my own passions.

Some people disappoint you.  Eventually everyone will at some point but I’m talking about the ones that epically fail!  You have little expectations of them and they fail to achieve even your lowest level of what you hoped for.  It’s disappointing, but at the same time motivating.  I am sad that they don’t seem to have any inner drive or chutzpah.  I’m a little angry because I know they are capable of so much more.  At the same time, it’s encouraging for me because I’m starting to recognize the indicators.  I don’t get as upset at someone else’s actions, I ask myself how it applies to me and what I can learn from it.

That one degree of difference is really all it takes to make a difference.  If you haven’t watched the video link above, do it now!  Otherwise you won’t get what I’m about to say. The one extra degree of effort in business, in life separates the good from the great!

For many years I gave up easily, said “I can’t.”  I remember my track coach making us run extra laps if we said those words.  In life we don’t have a coach, unless we pay someone to be our coach like a personal trainer, or virtual assistant.  Apparently it’s not just me either because it’s becoming big business to be a personal trainer.

It’s not easy to overcome the voices screaming at you to give up, including the one inside your head, that resistance is futile.  I can’t live that life any longer.  I have to try, and if I fail – at least I went for it.

I have the vision, the victory dance on the summit.  It plays in my mind every day.  It plays just at the edge, a constant reminder to urge me forward.  It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

Why is it so hard to lose 50 pounds?  Run a marathon?  Pay off debt? Write a book? All of these things have the same thing in common, you do it one step at a time.  One dietary change can net a loss of 10 pounds, increased exertion increase your odds.  To run a marathon, you stat with one step, then ten feet, then a lap, a mile and eventually 26 miles.

It’s the same with a book.  You write a word. Then make a sentence.  Pretty soon you have a paragraph, the paragraph becomes a page, the page becomes a chapter and over time you have a complete book.  It’s the daily application, the persistence to stick with it when it’s tough.  The determination to reach the goal is just fuel to the fire.

While the cockroaches are scurrying around the base, I’m part of the way up my mountain.  I’ve made enough  progress that I can look back and see how much progress I’ve made, yet the summit is high above my head.  I can’t wait to see the view from the top.

My knees have been bloodied, my hands scraped, dirt smeared on my face, and clothing in disarray.  Let them laugh and mock, I don’t care anymore.  I’m closer to the top than I’ve ever been before, and I love it!  Besides, the roaches are just afraid of change – that’s why they are virtually the same since Paleozoic time.

I’m certain that you can get my analogies, and see the accuracy.  I don’t want to get to the end and have the regrets of omission.

It’s Your Life!  You are responsible for the Results!