Some important things

I’m cooking up some stuff.

Life update: I’m working very hard on a couple of writing projects and experimenting with fiction.

And, hey, wow, how do writers do it? Write fiction, I mean.

I usually only write things I know; it takes real effort to write something I don’t feel or understand. Even more, I’m struggling to create a world, a language, and a situation from mere imagination. There, I said it. I’m not imaginative. In fact, I just had a conversation with a colleague about six articles a client asked me to write, all on the same topic.

“What it’s going to take is re-jargoning.” 

(Adding this to my LinkedIn profile: re-jargoner.)

Anyway, fiction is taking a lot of effort, and I’m losing motivation to try and make it work. There are so, so many authors who do this, but it’s not my ability. I don’t even write about secondhand experiences, the experiences of others, because I can’t get into other peoples’ heads. It’s difficult for me. Now I might be able to write from a toddler’s perspective because I share many opinions with 2Ts, especially about snacks, adults, and pants.

Bottom line: If I’m writing it, it’s what I know.

Another challenge is writing a long story. Yes, I’m attempting a novel. Sixty, 70, 80, 90 thousand words. That’s a long story. My stories barely reach 800. And if I’m rounding 800, I guarantee I’m chasing a point. And the point is either an opinion I have, or I’ve simply lost track of what I was saying, and I (we) are hoping I’ll eventually find the point.

If you can’t tell, staying in my own lane requires all the energy I have, frankly.

Speaking of my writing projects and … (pause for unnatural silence) … my fIcTiOn nOvEl … I’m rebranding my blog. I’m saying, “any day,” but … (wait for tight smile that doesn’t reach the eyes) … it’s going to be a couple more weeks. I want it right, and it’s not right yet

I’m hosting two blogs on one site to give you a clue. One blog so I can continue to entertain you with my musings, and another blog to do one of a few things – I can’t decide which. 

Either to share snippets of my works in progress (wips), such as intro’ing my characters and new scenes and maybe ask for feedback or ideas on how to fill my plot holes. As soon as I fix one plot hole, I undoubtedly create seven smaller plot holes. I’ll take help because my anxiety is starting to rub off on my character. Now she’s got tension, too. 

Or my other idea is to share my reviews of the books I’m reading. I think I can do some real good here. For instance, before you read The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas, I could warn you about how they made out just outside a dying man’s hospital room. Or, The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. If he had put one more obvious red herring in this book, I might’ve set it on fire. 

Another idea for the second blog is to use it as my home for the November NaNoWriMo challenge. What is NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month. I want to participate, but the thing is, there is no accountability which means there is really no reason to torture myself. But, if I use this second blog, then boom. NaNoWriMo is a go. 

(Look at me, 570 words, and I’ve only covered my writing projects. I still have another update, and who bets I still tap out at around 800 words?!)

My other life update is I’m moving. 

I realize I’ve said it before, and this time I mean it (more than the last time I told it). I spoke to a realtor yesterday and will talk to a mortgage lender later today. This is heavy; I’m mulling planting roots. 

Someone once told me anything you can do slowly, you can do. My decision to leave Arizona was quick, but putting it in motion has taken me a few tries over a few years. Did you know I spent my first 26 years in Rhode Island, but I’ve spent the last 28 in Arizona? I’m more an Arizonan than I am a Rhode Islander. Wild! I didn’t see it coming, and I don’t know when it happened. 

I take that back. It happened in 2020. 

Coffee milk, Pu pu platters, and turtlenecks. 

Trees that can’t fit in the frame of my camera, crown molding, and Benefit Street.

These are a few of my favorite things.

My last update is that my career makes no sense, and I know that. It doesn’t seem right to start a new one right now, and I can’t predict the future, so my update is that I’m not updating it yet. 

(817 words. I’ve officially broken the plateau. This deserves a plate of fries.)

I feel like I should say more. I mean, you stuck with me for 817 words, and I’ve hardly made it worth your while. 

Tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to share a wip.

Occasionally I am uninspired to write. I. KNOW. And when this happens, I think about how the earth is spinning at about 1,000 mph, which means I’m literally on a magical rock spaceship hurtling through infinity, so I press myself to just write. Or sometimes I just think about how I wanna be 14 again and ruin my life differently. But when I push myself to write, I sometimes open writing prompts. I set my timer for 10 minutes, and I go crazy. But only for 10 minutes. And it has to be an attempt at fiction. Occasionally one of these exercises makes it to my swipe file “for future consideration.” As I already explained, fiction is my kryptonite… excruciatingly painful and difficult. So here is one of those that made it to the Maybe One Day file. Let me know what you think and if it’s got the making of something good:

The prompt: 99-year-old woman wants to find her mother (WTH, right???) No editing, just writing for 10 minutes:

The problem is, when you’re 99 years old, everyone thinks you’re crazy. Or maybe not crazy but senile. You stuff a kleenex in the collar of your shirt and you tell someone you lost your keys, and they look at you with that look – that startled look – and start shooting you questions.

What’s the president’s name? 

What year are we in, sweetie? 

Don’t even get me started on why the minute you leave your 60s, everyone starts calling you sweetie again, like when you were five.

People regularly think I’m going crazy, senile, losing my marbles, showing the first sign of dementia, whatever you want to call it, so you can imagine what they said when I told them I was going to look for my missing mother.

My daughter was the worst.

“Sit down, mom,” she instructed when I told her. “Are you feeling dizzy? Can I get you a glass of water?”

I kind of did want a glass of water, so I let her fetch me one. When she handed me the glass she said, “Who’s the president?”

If they stopped for a single second with the questions about the president, they would hear what I would say next. Of course my momma is long gone, and I’m not really going in search of her. I haven’t lost those marbles. Not yet, at least. But she did go missing when I was eight. And you know what the really crazy thing is? Not once in my 91 years since did I ask her why or where. Why did my sweet little momma just up and leave?

That’s what I want to find out.

(Well? What do you think? Worthy of future consideration? I literally have no idea why a mother would leave a child – and then she comes back? I don’t know. I just wrote. See, fiction. GAH. Anyway, all this writing has me hungry and I’m craving those damn fries. Potatoes and their dirt vitamins. Hopefully the next time I write it’ll be on my new site! Can’t wait to show you!)

On the road again

Being in breakthrough is exhausting.

We all long for the same thing: An intensely beautiful, searingly powerful, tightly constructed life. Our stories overlap, whether we know it or not. It doesn’t matter if we’re a lesbian avant-garde artist, a hip clothing shop owner, a professional pickleball player, or a university dropout selling insurance; we all have a heart-rending story about identity, longing, and loss. Our stories are similar. While they take place in different cities, in the end, they’re about the universal experience of being human.

I just returned from a fantastic trip to West Virginia.

It was surreal. Soul-charging. However I describe it, it was an unforgettable experience. The cabin had a rustic charm that made me question whether I was born in the right era. The backdrop to the property connected heaven and earth, thoroughly nourishing my soul (even though it didn’t need feeding). I had many inspiring and irresistible experiences in Shepherdstown. After the first hour in WV, I knew I would leave this cabin and this town deeply touched, or I wouldn’t have done it right.

Well, apparently, I did it right. My well is filling again, and I am planning on leaving Arizona. I haven’t a solid plan yet, but I just know I don’t want to live here anymore.

I was sitting on the couch at 1 AM when I came across this 2004 34-foot Damon Daybreak Class A Motorhome on Instagram. The couple who owns it is moving into a new RV and are looking for buyers. For a solid hour, I contemplated getting on a plane to Utah.

I’ve gone through a few big life transitions. The details aren’t all that important, but each change was pretty tricky. No matter how much I mentally prepared for them, they always seemed to hit me harder than expected. Some even had me rethinking who I was and wanted to be. American culture – and probably most of the first world – is deeply focused on labels.

Ultimately, I believe that change is life and that all change (even the lousy change) is good in our evolution. I see embracing transition as a necessity for balance and duality of maintaining our ability to love and engage with our lives fiercely. I’ve tried to give a lot and build reliable foundations in my life, only to have them painfully torn away when I wasn’t willing to let them go.

I feel good hope for this next transition of mine, but I feel butterflies in my stomach at the same time. While looking for new ground to plant my roots, I’m also rebranding my blog.

Surprise! *said with rapid blinking.

I was hoping to launch today, September 1, but in typical fashion, I fidgeted and obsessed, second-guessed, and hyperventilated over the new name, new logo, new look, and new content. (More than a few times.)

If anyone else is in breakthrough, stop adjusting your clothes and bouncing on your toes; dry those sweaty palms, and for God’s sake, stop rocking in place. If you need to, ask for more time to think it over. Or give in.
Maybe shake someone’s hand.
Make a joke.
Grin genuinely.
Hire a professional if you need to.
And then think about the future and what new things it will bring.

Our stories are similar … and your butterflies are my butterflies.

I’m looking for friend-type 3

I know I’ve been writing a lot about the magnificence of midlife – and how I’m empowered and embracing and challenging the narrative. I’m busy sorting out the messy midlife stuff, so don’t mind me over here. How bold am I, right?  

Well, get ready for a chuckle. It turns out I’m not actually going through a midlife crisis. Not at all.

I am, however, bored. 

I’m bored, and I wish I could be one of those people who is happy in life with the monochrome. Not someone that is ALWAYS on the hunt for change. 

My exciting days? That was when I was broke and covered in Cheez-it dust a decade ago. 

I swear to you that I want nothing more but to wake up “happy today like I was yesterday and will be tomorrow.” I’d like that as much as anyone around me who’s tired of hearing me drone on about new perspectives. 

But I’m so bored. 

My day-to-day existence is dreary. Mind-numbing and as dull as dishwater. Less fun than watching paint dry. 

And while I 1,000% fear being dirt poor and covered in Cheez-it dust again, if I stay where I am much longer I… I… I can’t even think about it without my pulse jittering around the 160 range. 

So here’s the thing, I have this list. But first, there are three types of friends in the world:

1) The friend who listens to your outrageous goals responds with, “Wouldn’t that be nice? And it would be nice to hit the lottery, too.”

2) The friend responds to your outrageous goals with empty platitudes: “You can do anything you set your mind to because you’re smart and nice and kind, and look at that pretty smile.”

3) The friend responds to your excessive list of absurd ideas: “What’s first on the list?”

I’m in search of friend-type number three. If you are that friend or know someone capable of being that friend, please connect us.

I also believe there are three types of families.

Some people are raised in a military-minded family: It’s an honor to serve your country, and you should. Go forth, in the uniform, and be worthy in this life. 

Some people are raised in a world-is-your-oyster family: You can be anything you want – lawyer, doctor, fireman, ballerina, movie star. Go forth and be a success, as defined by Merriam and Webster.

Some people are raised: Go to school, get a degree in something, get a job at a desk somewhere, work till your 65, collect your pension, we have pasta on Tuesdays.

I grew up in that last sort of household surrounded by friend-types one and two, which didn’t support me in setting a goal in life. It was just, “Hey, you’re born. Now you learn. Now you work, and that’s life. Welcome to it.”

I am only now realizing this, but I have been living according to universal expectations. I was never told I could create the world I wanted to live in. I was never asked what I valued out of life. It never occurred to me to cultivate what feels good – not what feels obligatory. And yes, children need to be told this at a young age. It’s how we pique their interest in wanting a life worth living (although, Cheez-it dust is toooootally worth experiencing). 

I’ve lived entirely without intention. Isn’t that awful? 

Everything I’ve said, thought, sold, lost, grabbed, gave away, laughed at, cried over, blew up on, coveted, failed at, cringed over, needed, wanted, clenched my fists over was all in-the-moment responses. Zero consciously choosing.  

I’m late to the game, and I’m late to every flipping game. But regardless, I have a short list of absurd ideas about the life I want for myself. Other people are living the lives they dreamed of (and their dream seems similar to mine, or mine to theirs??) – so I know it’s possible. But I need that friend to whom I can tell my list and who responds, “Let’s get to work,” without commenting on my pretty smile.

So I guess this post is a wake-up call to arms (plus a plea to meet a friend-type three). I have an absurd list of things I want to happen, and I’d tell you what they are but I don’t know what category you fall in, and I can’t risk it *she said with a pretty smile. 

If you message me and ask me about my list, I assume you’re friend-type three. I won’t make you sign a contract, but you must be willing to get excited over absurdity.

Life as a full-time writer: Possibility vs. Reality

I’ve been writing every day since 2003. And every day (even today), I wake up, my head filled with new ideas to write about. I get excited, thinking about getting the mundane work done so I can pull out my laptop and start writing.

Only now, it’s different.

Let me start at the beginning. Before I went into midlife crisis mode (a year or two ago), I’d wake up, open up the laptop, check my email, Slack, and Wrike and my day would begin. I’d start scribbling content related to whatever project I was working on for whichever client was assigned to me and under whatever deadline was imposed upon me. Every few hours, I’d step away from the desk and go for a walk. On these walks, my head would swell with story ideas I wanted to write. Sometimes I’d dictate them into my Notes on my phone. Sometimes I’d convince myself I’d remember the pitch and then jot it down in my Swipe file once I got home. Of course, remembering rarely happened. My memory is a sieve. The lesson here is: My passion for writing is real (and intense even two decades later).

My passion for writing has stayed because of my curiosity, consistency, and sheer will to constantly keep experimenting. I’ve written several bad stories and abandoned some that could have become good ones. But I just keep typing as I grow. And I do it on my laptop after I shut down my work-top, and I fit in the time.

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned things are different now. Here’s how: It’s 10:30am, I have a client meeting in 30 minutes, and I’m writing this – not prepping for my meeting. I also haven’t checked my email, logged onto Slack, or started writing the copy for the debt collector’s website due by the end of the day.

This is either a problem or a sign.

I’ve read articles written by people that say, “I’m tired of working for someone and helping them get rich and achieve their dream.” It’s not about the money; I don’t need to make much money – I choose to be a minimalist. I consider this a modern-day Thelma & Louise (although there is no Louise, and I would probably have to tornado through my adventure by Uber). It’s about a new perspective on life and the need to follow an old passion of my heart. I’ve always fitted my passion around my day job, but lately, I fit my job around my passion.

Now I read other articles, too. These pieces tell me that if I’m stuck in a job that I hate and wondering if pursuing my dream will set me free, all I need to do is take that leap of faith and trust my gut. Oh, and buy this 90-day guide on finding my first high-paying freelance client. I think it was Thelma who said, “You get what you settle for.”

I don’t easily pin; I plan (and sometimes buy 90-day guides). The way I see it, everyone has a must-see or a must-do, or a must-leap moment. And you either see-do-leap, or you watch others. Written with better grammar: what shots you got, take.

I’ve only ever been a full-time marketer and a spare-time blogger. I don’t have a niche. I don’t have a strategy. I don’t have a focus. I barely have a message. I just like to write. And my must-leap moment is to jump out of marketing. And I want to. Boyyyy, do I want to.

But right now I have to go. My client meeting starts in four minutes.

This is my midlife crisis

Do you ever feel like the new kid in your life? 

Something is a little different, and you know you’re on the threshold of something new, but you can’t quite put your finger on what that is. You don’t know if you’re breathing a little quicker because the steps in your house have steepened along with your age, or perhaps you’re simply breathing more freely, but something definitely “new” is adding just the right dash of crispness that makes you feel a tad bit more alive. 

When your whole life sort of “rearranges” (feel free to substitute “crumbles” here), it is time to step back gracefully. 

I am looking at my life with a little less attachment to the versions I’ve vision-boarded and penciled in, and I’m noticing that maybe, just maybe, I missed the boat that housed my life’s purpose. I’ve been evaluating everything that has made up my story thus far: the things that make me tick, the goals, the skills that are just innately part of me, and I’m down a rabbit hole. 

The scariest part is that I’ve been in this rabbit hole before, and I’ve been this new kid before. But through every stage of “new kid,” I have grown into a bigger, wiser, more fiery kid. And I find myself again with positiveness and dream, and perhaps even more oversized, more fabulous – slightly theatrical – rose-colored glasses sitting gingerly on my nose. 

I’ve been holding my real life hostage (or something like that)!

I’m the new kid whose fingers are pounding the keyboard and conversing with myself – swimming in ambiguity and butterflies. I’m the anticipation, the jitters, the sole of your foot on pretty little eggshells, thinking, “how the hell do I do this?”

My greatest joy in life is chocolate chips, and my second greatest joy is writing. So what’s in store for this new kid? Everything.

It’s time for fresh, new, unfamiliar, brilliantly uncomfortable changes to my career (and living arrangements). I’ve complained about writing for algorithms and search engines for years. It’s time I write for me (but still make money … I mean, a gal’s gotta eat). While A Similar Story is my personal blog (and I’ll never leave it), the freelance world is calling. I’m on the verge of making a modern writing career that serves me, not Google.

Rising stars have to start somewhere!

I feel like I can take on anything: the epic, magical, ultra-luxe, rough, and rugged opportunities. And not just little opportunities, but Medium ones, as well. 

You can find me here on Medium. I’ll be writing on lots of different topics. In fact, my next one just might be, “Is it marketing, or is it propaganda?”

I’m also a writer on a few freelance boards (Upwork, Constant Content, iWriter, and ProBlogger), where I can be hired for freelance writing projects. Here, I get to choose the type of project, the topic, the industry, and I reap all the gloriousness that comes with “choice.”

Now for all of you who remember I mentioned changing my “living arrangements,” I’m looking to relocate to #AlmostHeaven. More to come… 

 

You can’t beat age

Age is just a number. You are not too old or young to try something you want.

Is that so? Does this not sound bacchanal to you?

Because I’m so old, I wanted to take an opportunity to make some observations about the experience of aging.

Aging is more than just attitude and vigor. It is more than a polite gesture, implying age has no boundaries or limits. It’s more than a date on the calendar. And if it’s your locked-screen wallpaper, you are due some perspective.

Not every human breath depends on the matter of age. No sirree. And we need not compete with others, believing that we must graduate at 22, get married at 28 and die at 80. But to oppose this idea, we’ve somehow brought forth the notion of age not mattering. This is an exaggeration, and we need to craft our phrases more intellectually.

Age is more than a number, and aging is more than just an adventurous spirit.

Here’s why:

For starters, if age was merely a number, there’s a high probability we’d be walking the earth with a few million adults acting like they’re 10. If that was the case, I’d have to shake a few people to the ground.

Another, and what I think is the most obvious (and critical), is that time speeds up. The older you get, the smaller proportion each year is to the entirety of your life. When you’re 10, a year makes up 10% of your lifetime. That’s a big deal! When you’re 30, it makes up only about 3.3%. And when you’re 50, it makes up about 2%. In a sense, a year at 50 feels five times faster than a year does at age 10.

The acceleration of time perception is unnerving. One, because it never slows down. But two, the older you get, the more you feel like time is “slipping away” from you.

In your 20s, everything is exciting. Everything is new and if you’re a late bloomer like me, experienced for the first time – first dates, parties, first jobs, graduations. You’re gung-ho and want to meet everybody and do everything.

By your 30s, you have to start making a conscious effort to build and maintain friendships. Gone are the days when friendships were so spontaneous, exciting and purposeless.

In your 40s, you’re suddenly willing to put up with less bullshit. Listening to a friend’s concerns and drama is kind of endearing. And pitiful. You still don’t quite know how to say ‘no’ to people, but they also don’t know how to hear no from people without taking it horribly personal.

In your 50s, it’s leisure over excitement. This past weekend, I turned on a Netflix series I had meant to watch for months. Sometime during the first episode of the first season, I fell asleep on the couch. Yep, just another wild and crazy Friday night in my life. But here’s the kicker: I liked it. When you’re young, you equate fun with excitement. But as you age, fun becomes much more about leisure and relaxation.

Here’s the best part: in your 50s, you’re old enough to have experienced much of what you hoped to experience. You earned wrinkles and gray hair. Your wisdom shines, and your smile becomes profound.

Age might hide failure or success, and the dichotomy does not matter if you’re proud of your age. But hiding away age as a blot on your existence is a shameful act that belittles your experiences. And for the record, it scoffs at the coming generation and gives them a wrongful warning that scares them from growing older.

The defiance of age-restricted activities sounds ‘cool’ and gives off the vibe of a rebel. However, the matter suits only the metaphor and none of the reality. Don’t stick to the false pretense that to accept age as something more than a number stands in our way of progress as human beings. It not just counters the argument of age as a ripening of the mind and soul but also digs a deeper grave for the productivity of today’s youth.

Getting old is not a disease but a part of life. Age is not just a number. It is an old album that tells you how far you have come (and how far you still have to go).

 

Kiss off, please.

I’m in a bad mood so I thought I’d blog.

My bad mood doesn’t have anything to do with world events. Well, not directly. I mean, yes, our country is a hot mess, and, yes, I think most people on social media are cowards, but no, they are not the fountainhead of my bad mood.

Everything else is though.

It’s been a rough day (and a rough few weeks). I Googled “how to dip off the radar” and here’s how the results came back:

  • “Find your sweet spot and incorporate regular breaks into your year.” (*me, useless)
  • “’Under the radar’ is a clear dip powder for nails.” (*me, WTF?)
  • And my favorite, “Someone who wanted to steal the Malaysia Airlines jet could theoretically shut off the transponder and dip down to an altitude of 5,000 feet.” (*me, woopsie…)

Thanks, Google.

What do you do when your ambition exceeds your patience? You know what? I take that question back. My mood has nothing to do with ambition or patience. Or… directly, anyway. But I do want to tell pretty much everyone in my life to kiss off. Is that bad? How terrible of a person does this make me? That I want to tell everyone I know to go away?

I know what I’m not: I’m not a convenience. I’m not a robot. I’m not anyone’s motivation. I’m not cheating death. I’m not making a modern career. I’m not feeding the flame. I’m not known for what I love. I’m not baring all. I’m not expecting things. I’m not depressed. I’m not feeling all of life’s problems. I’m not always right. I’m not always wrong. I’m not breaking bad.

I am: Looking for more trees and less cactus. Wanting to write more and market less. Experience more and watch less. Breathe more and grunt less. Get hurt more and stay safe less. Hang on the bottom rung more and climb less. I want outrageous ideas. I want every bit, handpicked.

I think it’s time for a new chapter. I think it’s time for something bold. Now I’ve heard what people have said about me in the past. That I’m overbearing and even self-destructive. Well, good thing I have immense regenerative abilities, eh? I promise you I can grow back a new tail!

This next season I think is going to be all about extremes, intensity, obsession and desires. Some very serious feelings are bothering me right now.

First order of business might be to get this bad mood in check. I mean, I don’t think I want everyone to kiss off. It just sounds good.

I think.

When my daily horoscope forces me to action, I blow it. Sheesh.

My horoscope this morning read: Shine your light on the lives of others and dazzle them with your colorful conversation.

Hmm. What to say, what to say? Colorful. No pressure. Dazzle. No pressure. Shine, eh? …

Maybe I could talk about the open border crisis and how the Republicans are still asking the dumb question: “Why isn’t the Biden administration doing anything to close our borders?” I believe Tucker already told us why 11 months ago. Pay better attention, Republicans.

Or I could talk about the whole Joe Rogan thing. I can’t say I’ve been a loyal listener, but I have tuned in to Rogan now and then, depending on the guest and the topic. For instance, I listened to his 3 1/2-hour interview with Jewel. GREAT episode (#1724). I highly recommend listening to this one. But back to Spotify and the situation at hand … Be brave. Stay strong. Don’t cave.

Or I could ask you my burning chicken-and-egg question: Do you think your character is formed by how other’s see and describe you? Or is how people see and describe you formed by your character? During my childhood (and my early adulthood), my family, my teachers, pretty much all adults around me described me as timid.

Timid, adjective, showing a lack of courage or confidence; easily frightened.

I mean, when I’m told as a kid that I’m timid, then I must be timid, right? Probably why I grew up being a shy, walking people-pleaser. But tell me, would a timid person go toe-to-toe with a 6’2, 350lb German bully at the gym who invades my space? Yes, I got in his face (er, waist, but my eyes were glaring from an angle). Would a timid person call her boss out on a lie? (That was a dumb idea. I got fired over it.) Would a timid person turn on her camera on a Zoom call and spend an hour presenting a marketing strategy to the folks at Wendy’s? (The real, actual, legit big brand red pigtails, Wendy’s.)

I stopped being a people-pleaser years ago so have my actions changed the way people describe me? Or have I changed how I act because no one has called me timid in 25 years? Chicken? Egg? Nature? Nurture?

Or I could talk about my big news that’s happening in May. I’m moving home to Rhode Island. I’ve changed my mind several times over the last six months, but I think I’m sticking with – the move is on. Lots of reasons and lots of ah-ha moments, and yes, lots of meditation and looking for signs from the universe. Also, yes, I realize my daughter and granddaughter are here (and any day now my grandson will be, too), but maybe I was supposed to raise my daughter here so that she could grow up and bless me with the greatest granddaughter. And maybe Arizona was the necessary so she could meet the man of her dreams, fall in love, get married and bless me with a grandson. And maybe since all has been achieved it’s now OK to go home.

Or I can give you an update on the lactose intolerant, gluten free eating tennis player that I’m no longer seeing (at least he wasn’t a narcissist). I need you all to know that I tried. I really, really, really tried. I was calm. I communicated well. I was very accommodating to his many (maaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy) needs. I listened. His love language (that effing book!!!) is touch (mine is not) (shocker) so I held his hand and did all the touchy feely cuddly things that he needed. I did all the shit – until I just couldn’t do the shit anymore…

Well, I suppose I can write about any one of these things, turning over every stone, then polishing it so the whole story sparkles majestically. Or I can wait till tomorrow’s horoscope and hopefully be let off the hook!

Career in a box.

office cubicles

 

I once started in a new job, and by Day 2, I knew I’d made a colossal mistake.

Sitting in a leadership team meeting, I cracked a silly joke. The room went silent, and everyone stared at me like I’d grown another head. I thought, “Ohhhhh, this will not end well.” Four months of frustration later, I am done.

I will never work somewhere that I can’t bring my whole self, stupid jokes and all. As I job hunt, I’ve made a litmus test: my new favorite laptop sticker, which is silly, and I LOVE it. It’s from a dog rescue that funds vet bills for people who can’t pay them. If I ever find myself in a situation where I’d be tempted to peel this off before an in-person meeting… the deal’s off.

***

We often feel our emotions are blended to bits from our jobs. We sprint, run, jog, then walk; we heave, collapse, and lurch ourselves barely over the finish line to realize a new quarter, a new project, a goal, a new deadline to meet, or a problem to solve. Sometimes, it’s all we can do to stagger to our feet again. The voices in our heads start to creep in: “Just settle. Just do it that old, boring, outdated way, and nobody would question it.”

We send messages to others that we think, say, and do what they expect us to think, say, and do regardless of what our intuition is urging us to BE.

In these moments, when we feel like we’re just eking by, or else we really need a win or a confidence boost, it’s so tempting to do something dangerous: conform. A career in a box.

So, let me ask you: have you ever stood there, needing a win, maybe a bit more confidence, and perhaps a goddamn break from it all … and so you showed up as someone other than your true self?

Yeah.

Me, too.

But I think there’s good news for us.

Great work requires your true self and your actual beliefs to come through forcefully. Don’t couch them. Your actual quirks coming out from where they’ve been hiding.

Your work. Your way.

Your career. Your choice.

Your life. Your script.

What “one” is supposed to do is rarely what you are supposed to do. People around you, even people similar to you, are not YOU. However, finding out what path works best for you is squarely on your shoulders. It’s on each of us, and we’re entirely on the hook to figure it out and pursue it. Nobody else will do it for us, and nobody else is coming.

Maybe you really want to open the CAREER IN A BOX. That’s great! Some people like knowing each step ahead of them. Fantastic! The important part is that you know that about yourself.

But while some people want a paint-by-numbers career straight from the box, I tried that, and I was miserable. I realized (thanks in no small part to lots of thrashing in the wrong jobs in my 20s and 30s and 40s) I want a blank canvas career instead. And if I don’t like how this painting starts to look, I’ll just toss it aside and grab a new canvas.

Maybe you are part of a circle of loving friends who do exactly what you do, or maybe your loved ones don’t exactly understand what you do. (That’s me, as you might suspect. A description of my friends and me sound like the setup to a bad joke. “A doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an accountant, and a [whatever the hell Lisa is] walk into a bar…”)

Because you can’t really use a single word to sum up my work, I say “writer” most often.

Whatever the hell Lisa is.”

What I “is” is me.

(I did it, Dad. I wrote the best sentence of my life.)

What I am… is me. It’s all I can be. It’s all I’ll ever be. So I may as well stop lying to myself and get on with being it. People say “to each their own,” so we each may as well own it. If you really love the pomp and circumstance, sing the song. If you really love The Simpsons, buy the poster. But do it for yourself, not someone else, and not because you were told it’s what you’re “supposed to do.”

The expectations of others become crutches on which we lean when our confidence wavers. In moments of uncertainty or struggle, it’s tempting to stuff down our quirks and our convictions and show up to work acting like someone else.

No matter how uncertain or scared, or stressed you feel, I implore you don’t obsess over what someone like you is supposed to do. Obsess over what YOU are supposed to do. That’s a lifelong pursuit, but it’s well worth a lifetime.

Know who you are. Know why you do this work.

It’s your career.

Do it your way.

So here’s hoping everyone out there brings their awesome, authentic, whole selves to whatever it is you’re doing. Oh, and tell your dog I said hi.