starting to lead a purpose-driven life

“That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.”

– Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

Precious Readers,

I have good news and I have bad news.

 

THE BAD NEWS:

I have not lived up to promises of keeping you entertained.  These last few months have been some of the most difficult I’ve ever encountered.  Needless to say, there is a lot in my life that has required me to step away from the keyboard and focus.  These issues are not quite at a place to discuss them publicly at this time.

Life lessons have been recycling in my life.  Lessons that I’d thought I’d learned from and protected myself against.  There are people in my life and there are those who were only seemingly in my life.  I haven’t had this strong of a reality slap in the face since my dad passed away.  There were people who I thought would never leave my life, who instead completely disappeared never to be heard from again.  Then there were others who stepped up and became closer friends with me than I ever imagined possible.

I’m facing that needle-like tingle across the face, the stinging reverberated across my cheek as the icy reality of the same sensation has happened again.  This time there no major life changes that caused this, thank goodness, but my own awakening as a “can’t look back now, I’m officially an adult, no other synonyms allowed” person.

This year, I turned 30.

Not to sound cliché, but this was a difficult birthday for me.  Not in the political sense of “a woman turning thirty” requiring everyone and their brother to question if the female subject in question is married, has a house, has children?

No, the idea of 30 was a bit more personal than political.

There’s a film called The Last Kiss, one Americanized starring Zach Braff, but actually is a remake of an Italian film L’ultimo Bacio.  For the purposes of this blog, I am focusing on the Zach Braff film.  The director’s commentary of the film-

Yes. I’m one of those.  I watch the director commentary of films. <shrug.> 

-mentions that although of course at the heart of the story is a man who is realizing his life is beginning to “settle.”  He and his long term girlfriend are expecting a child and planning to find a place to live.

The film isn’t subtle.  It’s about as subtle as a brick to the head. However, it does bring up an interesting subplot: the idea that it’s possible there is more than one type of “life crises” phases throughout the human experience.  The main character and his three other friends are all approaching 30.  It explores the idea that there is another “mid-life crisis” in your 30’s where you face not only the consequences of your youth, but setting the foundation for the remainder of your adult years.

That’s a lot to deal with.

It becomes apparent that this is the final age where no person can truly say they’re a ‘young adult’ anymore.  It is the official stark, unwavering line between youth and adulthood.  20-somethings can still use the excuse that they’re “young” and still “finding themselves.”  While any person can easily say that “if you want to be somebody else, change your mind,” (thank you Sister Hazel), at any age, it would be difficult to find any person who believes 30 could still be misinterpreted as a ‘young adult.’ You are now an official adult, no turning back, no holds barred.

In the new age of writing, there has been a recent genre rising to the scene called “New Adult.”  This surpasses the pre-teen angst, the teenage romanticism of pain and joy, and the college years of someone claiming to be an adult while still dealing with a 4-digit phone number and mini-fridge.  New Adult claims to be post-college, yet not quite in the “married, settled in the suburbs with the 2.5 kids.”

Obi-One-Pin-Obi, a longtime friend of mine, greeted my third decade amongst the world with a birthday card that said, “Welcome to your 30’s!  There’s cookies here!”  I’m one of the youngest of all of my friends, the second youngest of all of my cousins on both sides of the family, and was the second youngest person in my graduating class of high school.  The youngest person is only younger than me by less than two weeks.

I look at Facebook among the people around Pilot’s and my age and see a definitive, polarized line of the life stages.  Many are either married or already divorced with several children, while the other side is still single or just finding significant others.  I fall into a minority where I’m married with no children, and no plans for children in the immediate (or possible long term) future.

I’ve been (somewhat) maintaining this blog for 2 years.  What do I have to show for it?  A slow fading of posts that went from daily to only a few times a year.

Funny enough, I find myself back at square one.

 

THE GOOD NEWS:

I find myself back at square one!  (Yes, I did intend to write that a second time.  With an exclamation point!  As a GOOD thing!)  I have another opportunity to make another drastic change in my life.

Precious Readers, Pilot found a full-time job!

This marks a new beginning for me.  The freedom of choice. Although there are still several details that will need to be sorted out, I finally have the freedom to choose how I spend my time.

Not to sound completely full of myself-

However, if I do… I’m blaming “only child syndrome.”

-I am quite hirable.  The skills I’ve learned through having to work since I was young-

and no, I’m not talking early twenties. I’m talking about babysitting, doing odd jobs before I was 14, and then being old enough to have jobs since I was 14.  Been working and never stopped!

-I have a (now) decades of customer service training under my belt, along with now a degree and several other office administrative skills that have grown over the years.

This has granted me the ability to work in whatever location of my choosing.  At the time, I worked wherever the money flowed.

Now I can choose.

The difference between my 20’s versus my 30’s?  I’m finally taking steps towards making writing my full-time career.  This month, I’ll be attending the Emerald City Writer’s Conference in Bellevue, WA.  If you happen to be there, feel free to look me up.

Also, I’ve been attending writer’s support meetings and finally getting to a place where I’m not blocked anymore.

If the lack of blog posts have been an indicator, I’ve been a dealing with a bit of writer’s block lately.  Mostly due to lack of time.  Although it’s true that, “if you want to be a writer, you’ll find a way to write.” That would be true if I didn’t work 60-80 hours per week, plus 1-2 hours of commuting ONE WAY, and (attempting to) manage a household and take care of others in my time-limited life.

Lunchtime would be primo time to knock out a few hundred words… If I actually took a lunch, which I rarely do.

Just a reminder: It’s easy to dole out advice when you don’t understand the other person’s situation. Think before you speak… Another lesson I’m relearning on a minute-by-minute basis, and rarely succeed at.

No, Precious Readers, something has got to give. I’m reviewing my life with a fine-toothed comb, and I’ll tell you what:

By this time next year, there are going to be a LOT of changes happening for me.

I hope you’ll continue to stay with me on this new adventure.

 

Have there ever been definitive moments in your life where you completely 180’d your entire existence?

What sacrifices did you have to make for these life-changing experiences?

Do you ever regret uprooting your entire life?

Who were the haters and your greatest supporters, and how did they affect your decision?

smells like teen spirit

She’s overboard and self-assured.

At least, that’s how I felt my first day moving into my college dorm room years ago.

Ok, we don’t necessarily need to point out exactly how long ago.

Today’s DWC is focused on the “end of an era.” It made me think back to my first day at college and what my parents might have been going through.  It was a much more crazy day than my character’s family dealt with.

Mine was filled with all types of stuff being hauled in and out of hallways. New students passing each other, bumping into each other, knocking boxes out from each other, all wide-eyed and pretending to be confident.

My high school friend and his parents were on the floor above me getting Randy* settled into his dorm.  Not fifty feet away from me, my future husband was moving into his.  I wouldn’t meet Pilot for three more weeks.

I wonder how many times my parents and I must have passed him and his parents in the hallways that first day.  It boggles the mind how my life literally changed directions, all under the same roof in a matter of months.

For my mom and dad, today’s DWC is for you.

*Name has been changed for privacy

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 22: Today is the end of an era in your characters life. How do they feel about this? What is happening today? Write a scene of your character on this day.

Looking around the tiny space, it still amazes me how all of that furniture fit in one room.  The shelves above and below the bed, the tiny desk, and the part mini refrigerator, part microwave combination.  Ellie began to hang her clothing in the closet. I helped setup some family photos while Henry setup her computer.

A flash appeared in my mind.  A five-year-old Ellie standing with her Sesame Street backpack and her pigtails in the middle of her kindergarten classroom.

“No, Mommy! Don’t go! I don’t want to be here!”

I crouched down to her eye level and gave her a squeeze.  “Honey, it’s going to be fine. You’re going to make new friends and your teacher Mrs. Johansen is nice.”

Ellie’s lip trembled. “But I want to go home!”

I gave her a squeeze.  “Ellie, this is your first day of school, and I know it can be scary. But I’ll be back at lunchtime and we’ll go out for a family lunch to celebrate!”

Henry picked Ellie up and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “That’s right, sweetie pie! We can go anywhere you want.”

Ellie’s eyes lit up. “Even the place with the big bird?”

Henry laughed, “Yes. We can go to Red Robin.”  He gave her a conspiratorial look, touching his forehead to hers.  “You might even get a balloon if you’re good for Ms. Johansen.” Ellie’s eyes widened as she gasped.

“I’ll be good Daddy! I promise!  Love you!” She said squirming to get to her cubby.

Henry laughed.  “Good girl!” he said setting her down.  “Now go put your backpack away in that special cubby Ms. Johansen picked just for you.”

I watched her pigtails bounce as she ran to halfway to her cubby, then stop.  She whipped around and ran back to me.

Ellie, my precious baby girl gave me a kiss on the cheek. She smelled like baby shampoo and Ellie-ness.  I squeezed her again as tears pricked at the corners of my eyes.

“Mommy, I can’t breathe!” she said, her voice muffled by my shoulder.

“Sorry honey. I hope it’s a terrific first day!”  I released her a little bit, kissing her forehead.

“Love you Mommy! Bye Daddy!”

I watched as she scampered away.  Now I was seeing Ellie standing in her college dorm room tentatively as if waiting for an answer.

“I’m sorry, honey. What was that?” I blinked.

Ellie rolled her eyes.  “I was just saying the RA’s are probably going to want us to assemble soon.”

“Oh.”  I paused.  “Are you sure you have enough pillows and blankets?  Winters get awfully cold here.”

“Mom, I’m fine. I have everything I need,” she said smiling at me, slinging her arm around my shoulder.  She glanced around.  “In fact, I think I have enough blankets to create a giant pillow fort for me and twelve roomates.”

“Louise, leave Ellie alone. She’s going to be fine,” Henry said taking my hand in his, gently pulling me away.

Ellie put her hands on her hips. “Besides, I’m going to come home and see you in a couple of weeks after orientation and after I get used to my class schedule,” shooing us out the door.  I broke free from Henry’s steering to give her one more hug.

Henry and I pulled away from the curb. A sniffle escaped as the car wound down the road.  As we continued, a tear escaped down my cheek.  Henry handed me the box of tissues.

“Oh, Louise. She’ll be fine.  You’ll be fine.”

I wiped the tears from my eyes. Glancing over at Henry, I swiped a tissue and handed him one.

“Oh, hell,” was all he said as he took my hand.  We watched Ellie’s figure which was waving goodbye to us shrink in the mirrors.

“She’s all grown up now, Henry.  What do we do?”

“Same thing we did before.”  He glanced at me and smiled.  “We send her off into the world, hope we’ve taught her enough to do the right things and pray she’ll always want to come back to us.”

gotta fill up those blanks!

Not much to post. I’m working on my outlines for my two-part series. Because trying to balance my need to write with a full time job definitely takes up most of the evenings! So here’s my DWC! (AKA, the prologue to Book 1!)

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 6: How was your characters childhood? Write a scene about them as a child. How was their home life? Their family? Their upbringing? Where did they grow up? What friends did they have? 

May 12th, 1996

Ahh, sweet bliss.  Liesle settled into her overstuffed chair pulling a book Abbreviated Potions: Shortened Spells for the Witch on the Go! up to her nose.  It was her scheduled day off from her shop The Bubbling Cauldron, and she welcomed the break.  The girls were helping Mrs. Stevens clean out her garage today.  Yes, a quiet morning to catch up on modernized spells.

Whirr! The sound of a blender pierced through the manor, shattering any temporary moment of peace, followed by the sound of giggles. 

“What are you two little imps up to? I thought you were at Mrs. Stevens’ house,” Aunt Liesle asked, crossing her arms across her chest and raising her infamous ‘don’t mess with me’ eyebrow.

A spatula that seemed to be swirling a mixture of gooey chocolate icing on its own fell back into the bowl with an anticlimactic splat. Eyes looking up and widening slightly, Margaret who stood behind the bowl, stopped twirling her finger, leaving it stuck in midair as if she was interrupting someone to make a statement.  Lorelei gasped, turning around to look at Liesle, losing concentration on the blender she had been staring at. The blender had a surge of energy before stopping altogether, its lid flying off causing the contents to shower the three of them.

“Of all the boiled rats!” exclaimed Lorelei, as she wiped the strawberry milkshake from her eyes.

“Language, Lorelei,” said Liesle as she looked down to examine the pink globs that now stained her sweater.  Rolling her eyes as if to gain power from an unknown source, she sighed and looked back down at the girls.  “Now what is so important you had to turn my kitchen into a bomb testing site for?”

Margaret glanced at her sister. Lorelei just shrugged, and Margaret made a face at her.  Then, turning back to Liesle, squaring her shoulders, she replied matter of factly, “We thought you’d gone to the store to do inventory today.”

“Claudia is doing the inventory, and that is not an answer.”

Lorelei glanced at Margaret again and whispered not very successfully, “Come on, tell her. Our cover’s blown anyway.”

Margaret’s shoulders sagged as she sighed in only that way a twelve year old could. Looking back and forth across the now ruined kitchen, she spread her arms wide, palms up and said flatly, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

Liesle blinked at them for a moment. All tension melted away and she felt the prickling of tears at the back of her eyes.

“Oh, come here you silly ninnies,” she leaned down and opened her arms.  Margaret let a small grin show and ran over to the welcomed hug. 

“Well that was close.”  Lorelei blew out a breath she’d been holding, wiped more strawberry milkshake from her forehead, and ran over too.

“But your kitchen…” Margaret’s lower lip started to quiver.

Liesle smiled warmly at her niece.  “Nothing we can’t fix. Or haven’t you noticed, it’s already clean?” Liesle nodded pointedly behind them.  Margaret turned to look at the kitchen, whose cleaning sponges lapped at the walls, and the mop started swirling soapy suds across the floor.

Lorelei put her hands on her hips. “Hey, no fair! How’d you do that?” An indignant look of frustration crossed her face.

“I’ll teach you that one when you’re a little older and your powers are stronger.  You girls still need to do your chores.”

“Hmph.” Lorelei now crossed her arms across her chest.  She mumbled, “I still don’t see why I have to wash the dishes by hand when we have magic.”

“Darlings, you know what I always say…”

Lorelei dropped her arms as she and Margaret both answered in bored, singsong voices, “Magic is a gift and must not be abused.”

“Right. You need to understand that we’re lucky to have magic, and you must always appreciate it.”

Margaret’s grin spread a little wider.  “Well, we appreciate you, so that’s why we wanted to surprise you with your favorite chocolate chip brownies and strawberry milkshake for Mother’s Day!”

“Thank you girls,” Liesle laughed. “You’ve certainly made it a memorable one!”