December Goals

You may have heard me mention we’re moving again. Because apparently I was born into Gypsy blood. But without the cunning and sneakiness or exotic looks. Fuck. Awesome.

This means on top of my writing/de-cluttering/artistic goals,  I also have to once again pack up my entire life and move yet again. Luckily the place we’re looking at isn’t too far away from the place we are now. So logistics should be relatively painless. Relatively.

The only way that I’m really going to get anything done though is if I make a list and look at that list daily if not hourly. I’ve learned a lot about setting goals in the past year and to help me make this one, I’ve looked over Joely’s tips for Project Management (from last year) as well as something I learned from Defining Someday , which is how to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. or…

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

So what all do I have to accomplish before Jan 1st?

DEC MUST DO:

1. Organize BLACKHAWK files – Dec 21st, 2010.

1.a. Get rid of anything that I can live without. -Dec 20th, 2010

1.b. Place everything into neat tidy files with PROPER NAMES and everything. –

2. Pack up – Dec 30th, 2010 – 0% Completed

3. Completed outline of Dirge – Jan 01st, 2011 – 44% completed.

3.a. Go through Plot Outline/Novel Notebook/any helpful advise I’ve found over the last three years to see if there is anything I can apply that would be helpful and ignore anything that isn’t or adjust it until it is.

3.b. Be ruthless.

DEC ROCK SUPER STAR:

1. Re-Install Photoshop CS4 (HALLELUJAH!)

2. Organize DA files.

3. Start character work for supa seekrit project which I’m giving the public alias of ” StarS”

4. Revise old ZODIAC character workshop posts into something actually helpful

Making Changes

Since I’ve been back home, I’ve been trying to work on myself as a person.

There were a few unpleasant things that happened while I was in the UK trying to be a Goddamn War Machine. Things that made me realize that there are times that I…don’t deal with as well as I should. It’s been a slow process, but I honestly feel a lot more positive than I used to be.

None of this clicked, however, until the lady I had been staying with for my last few months handed me a present on the day she was to drop me to the coach station.

I was touched. Until she handed it to me and insisted that I not be upset.

“Now, I don’t want you to open it and think ,’Why that cheeky cow!’ But several of my friends have sworn by it and well, when they spoke about it, I immediately thought of you.”

I smiled, thanked her for her kindness- as I was thankful, but also wary.

I could tell it was a book, and by her apprehension, it must have been a self-help book. I’m not entirely against self-help books but some…well, no, it couldn’t be that bad could it? That’s what I told myself.

Until I opened it and was immediately and totally blinded by yellow.

“You Can Heal Your Life,” The book screamed at me.

To which I replied, “Fuck, what sort of impression did I leave her?”

Because that’s how my mind works. She obviously bought this atrocious book with a kind heart. She’d taken care of me like I was one of her own for two months-how could she have done it with anything but good intentions? Being upset with or thinking she was ‘a cow’, just didn’t make sense to me.

But that didn’t stop me from being disappointed in myself for making her think I was that …fragile. Yes, I cried several times in her presence. From home sickness on occasion and once about an incident that hurt me deeply (but that I am not at liberty to go into the details of, sorry) But surely she didn’t think I was in need of… “Healing”?

I sighed and told myself that I’d read it on the coach to London. After all, no opportunity to improve myself should be wasted.

So read it I did ….and  in doing so decided that I’m not the author’s target audience. Her ideas are sort of…”out there”.   I consider myself an open minded person and I know that I am quite the irrational creature at times, but I also have the desire for things to make sense.

For the most part, this book didn’t. Not to me anyway.

And yet…there were positive things that I took away from it.  Things that I’m implementing and that are already making a positive change in my life. Even though the book as a whole didn’t work for me, it has since started a journey to look for ones that do. (So far, “The Artist Way” is the only one that really speaks to me. even though it, too, can be viewed as “out there”. See the Irrationality?) So I am happy that I took the time to read it.

One of the things I took away from the book was that I really need to eliminate clutter from my life. I’ve never been and doubt I ever will be a particularly neat person. But the messier my surroundings get, the more helpless and depressed I feel. So I’m taking an active role in ridding my life of clutter. This actually isn’t going to be hard because we are on the verge of moving yet again.

I swear my family has gypsy blood.

But I’m not just talking about physical “clutter”, I’m also talking about Spiritual, Emotional and Mental clutter that has been dragging me down as well. Old beliefs that don’t work but that I’ve been holding on to grudgingly for years. Old feelings that don’t serve me any good, etc.

For right now, I’m getting rid of stuff on my hard drive and on my favorite’s list that I know I’m never going to get around to while making the things I actually do plan to get around to more of a priority. All the recipes I found are going to be put in a folder, all the writing advice in another, etc. I’m also going to catch up on the MASSIVE list of e-books I have saved and haven’t had a chance to touch during low traffic on the review blog. (Feel free to proposition me. Yep, I put out for books….reviews that is)

For instance, I cracked open The Way of the Cheetah by Lynn Viehl and am hoping to implement a lot of the exercises in with the exercises I’m already doing with The Artist Way. I love Lynn’s practical nature so I’m really hoping that her exercises help me to be more productive. She suggests only trying out one or two at a time and seeing if they work before moving on, so, tomorrow, I’m planning on trying her “Silence is Golden” technique before I start my morning pages and again before I take out my plot books. I really really want to get some semblance of a COMPLETED PLOT before Kait’s writing challenge starts up on Jan 4th. If things don’t go well, I’m also going to try the “Time Out” exercise.

Wish me luck?

Tomorrow I’m going to write out my goals to be done by the end of December, and then my goals for the New Year.

Plotting

Today I finally installed Scrivener for Windows, took out my plot books, and got my hands…well, metaphorically dirty. So far I’ve managed to get all of ACT I and half way through ACT II-part 1 plotted out. It’s already seeming like a monster of a project. But I reaaaallly want to have this done by Jan 4th so that I can use Dirge as my project for Kait’s challenge.

Except I’m having trouble keeping up momentum in ACT II which tells me I’ve either misjudged where ACT I ends and ACT II begins or I’m not thinking hard enough. Me thinks it might be the latter. So tomorrow, I’m going to brainstorm what I’ve set up in ACT I that can get further development in ACT II and what steampunk elements that were set up that I need to have paid off, or what else I still need to set up that can be paid off later. This is when it would be nice to have a crit partner, or bounce-ideas off-er…I just worry that nothing will make sense to anyone whose not me and that I’ll look like I don’t know what I’m doing.

…Did I mention I don’t know what I’m doing?

So far I REALLY like Scrivener’s corkboard option and the option to write to scenes or chapters, without being overwhelmed by a big blotchy document.  I do honestly prefer the look (and some other features) of Liquid Storybinder but it can be a pain to work with sometimes. And I have to keep in mind that I’m only working with a Beta version of Scrivener, and for a Beta, it’s pretty damn cool.

I know I owe a post about my goals, and will undoubtedly get to that tomorrow. For now I’m going to see if there’s anything else I can add to the (very basic) outline.

Dum Spiro, Spero

“As I breathe, I hope.”

So where the hell have I been?

A loaded question, that. One that I could answer in so many ways without ever actually admitting where I was or what I was trying to accomplish. It would be so simple. So easy. Too easy.

Four months ago I packed up the majority of my worldly possessions and moved to the UK in hopes of enlisting in the British Army. My eligibility based solely on my being a citizen of a Commonwealth Country. For four months I relied solely on the kindness of distant family members and old school chums of my mother’s for food, shelter, and a warm bed. For four months I traveled to and from Career Offices (had it switched, twice), upped and moved around the country every few weeks, said my ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir’s, took tests, worked my ass off, ran every day and integrated into British society the best I could.

It was a humbling experience to say the least, one that I’ve learned a lot from.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, and for reasons both in and out of my control, I didn’t make the cut.

This time.

While I’m not entirely sure there will be a ‘next time’-life, as it so often does, happens, and sometimes our decisions are made for us-I haven’t given up either.

I’ve debated so many times about whether or not to post this. About whether or not I should have been open about it in the first place. I chose not to originally because I was afraid there was a chance that I would not succeed and that I would have to come back and admit defeat.

Well, here I am.

Except, I haven’t been defeated. I’ve learned. I’ve grown. And while I do have shaky mornings where doubt and guilt and fear creep in, I also remember all that I’ve accomplished. 4 months ago, I couldn’t run a mile and a half. 4 months ago, I hadn’t ever lived anywhere outside of my little island. 4 months ago, I hadn’t realized how bright the sun shines here and how beautiful the ocean is and how lucky I was to be near it every. single. day. 4 months ago, I never would have considered trying new foods, picky 20 year old that I was. 4 months ago, I didn’t have the discipline to run every day. 4 months ago, I was so afraid of leaving that I thought I wouldn’t last a month. 4 months ago, I hadn’t known I had a secret passion for cooking and baking (well, ok, so I did know the latter, but it was more of a guilty pleasure, now I have about a thousand recipes bookmarked that I’m absolutely dying to try). 4 months ago, I had never done anything as nerve-wracking as showing up at a Barracks to do Selection. 4 months ago, I wasn’t nearly as patient or humble or easy-going as I am now. My self respect was all but mythical. I had done nothing to respect myself for 4 months ago.  4 months ago, I didn’t think I could stand on my own.

But I did. And, yes, I stumbled often. But I always got back up. Maybe not right away, maybe I took a day to-as we island folk say-“catch myself”, but I got back up. Even when I was afraid to. The worst thing you can do is not get back up, to not try because of fears.

Fear, guilt, resentment and doubt make everything seem impossible. They cripple you. You gain absolutely nothing through them.

My one regret is that I didn’t write it all down. I have snippets of my journey, but not the whole thing. No matter how good my memory is, I know if I tried to chronicle  it now (and I just might), I wouldn’t be able to recapture the whole thing. I neglected writing often because I knew if I wrote, I would have to examine my feelings and there were moments when I was too afraid to feel anything. I had to keep going, keep striving, because I knew if I wrote, all the doubts and fear would boil to the surface.

But I’ve learned I do not like who I am when I don’t write. Yes, I got back up, but I think there were times when I would have gotten up a whole lot quicker if I had bundled up all my negativity and hurled it at blank page. I’m slowly but surely working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and I don’t think I would be feeling as positive about everything right now if it weren’t for the morning pages. (Even if I often rebel and don’t write them exactly in the morning). I’m finally ‘getting’ them. The more you bottle things up, the more you feed your fears and doubts, the more blocked you are. Some people use tragedy for inspiration, I used to. When I was young and bitter and angry and knew everything. I can’t do it anymore. I need to acknowledge my negativity, get it out on page, and then I need to let it stay there. It’s the only way I can focus on anything else. Otherwise…it festers and I go days and days wallowing and getting absolutely nothing productive done.

And-as cliche as this will undoubtedly sound-home is truly where your heart is. I spent months living in other people’s homes and I had both positive and negative experiences with this. For 4 months I maintained and projected an overly polite version of myself whenever in the company of my hosts out of courtesy, respect, and gratitude. This was, at best, humbling and, at worst, soul-sucking. I gained a new perspective on and appreciation for the homeland that I was so quick to leave. I, oddly, gained some self-confidence, because people are going to think what they want about you regardless of how polite and cooperative you make yourself out to be, so while I don’t advocate being ungrateful, I also wish I had stuck to my guns a little more and stood up for myself in certain situations. I’m slowly learning to do that, in no small part due to being able to accomplish what I did in spite of fears of inadequacy. I still showed up, I survived.

It would be nice if I could say that I’m completely confident and not at all worried about where my life will go from here, but that’s just not true. I am worried, I am afraid. But it’s ok, because I will continue to get up. I will continue to try. While I am in the process of job-hunting and will undoubtedly have to settle for something less exciting right now, it doesn’t have to be the be all end all. Maybe I’ll try again in six months (because I’ve become addicted to running despite my better judgment and natural disinclination to do so), maybe I’ll decide it’s not for me and find my true niche.

And through it all, I’ll be more faithful to my first passion, writing. And I will dabble in budding passions, and be kind to myself, and give myself permission to dabble, to do things I love.

And I will breathe, and I will hope.

I encourage you all to do the same.

So how are you all? What have I missed?