I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block. What I find more distracting is feeling pensive. When I’m lost in thought, usually about something personal, I have a hard time thinking about what I’m working on. And there have been a lot of serious things to think about, especially in the last few months. This year has presented many opportunities for me professionally, all of which weigh heavily on my mind. When it comes to my career, I try to think things through. But I’m also a total over-thinker so I have a tendency to get carried away.
On a sadder note, a friend’s death earlier this year has kept me thinking about death, and life and how we live it. At odd moments, I find myself thinking about him and about his young daughter who will grow up without him. My high school reunion is coming up this summer and one of my classmates passed away this year as well. It’s a different sort of feeling when a peer passes away. Obviously, it brings to mind my own mortality. But more than that, it makes me think about how I spend my time. I’m thankful for the opportunity to do what I love and especially grateful that my career allows me the flexibility to spend tons of time with my kids. These moments are so precious.
And finally, I’m getting married this year. As you might have guessed, this isn’t my first rodeo. Over the past few years, my family has done a lot of adjusting. The kids and I went from being on our own to living again as a family with a showroom new co-parent. Learning to co-parent again has been challenging. And moving to Colorado so that the kids could have more time with their father was also a big transition for all of us. There are a lot of serious moments when the stress seems overwhelming. But there are also these joyful times when we’re all (and I mean all of us, including my ex) are working together so well. We’re a family – just configured differently.
Whether it’s my age or my previous experiences, I find myself approaching my new marriage much more seriously than I would have imagined. When you’re young, it’s easy to get caught up in the wedding. At this stage in my life, I think a lot about the actual marriage and what it means to me and to our whole family. Some days, I am full of doubt. After all, if I couldn’t make the previous marriage work, what makes me so optimistic about this one? I could tell you that part of what makes it different is my fiance, and I wouldn’t’ be lying. He’s my best friend and we’ve been through a lot together. But I think the thing that makes this time around different is actually me. When I look at myself now vs. 15 years ago, I know that I am a very different person now. I have grown. I’ve become much more self-aware. I’m the best me I can be and I think that makes a difference.
Most of all, I finally realize that failure is a very subjective concept. After my divorce, I wasn’t feeling terribly confident about my relationship-ing abilities. I felt like a failure. I’d failed my children. I’d failed myself and my husband. I was fully willing to not only carry the entire burden of my failed relationship, but I’d allowed the divorce to grow into something monstrous – something that would likely destroy all our lives. For those of you who are divorced with kids, ever feel that way? It’s taken me years (and therapy J) to discover that there are very few things in the world that are that black and white. And while my marriage didn’t work out, I was still capable of making good choices for me and for my children. And you know what? I think we’ve done OK.
See, this is me feeling pensive. As uncomfortable as these pensive moments may be, I know that I learn from them. So here’s to embracing discomfort, sitting with our feelings, opening our minds and learning how to be successful in our lives (whatever that means to each of us).
Oof! That’s me today. Feeling out of it. Kids had a four-day weekend so everyone was a little groggy this morning. I could use a nap, and it’s only 10am. Yikes! Here’s hoping my concentration improves.
Also feeling overworked, but that’s just because it’s a short week for me. Two and a half days of work time before heading to the Northern Colorado Writers conference. So much to do to prepare. I’ll have books available for sale at the conference bookstore this year. Very exciting! And the classes are really inspiring and thought-provoking. I look forward to seeing everyone again, but before that can happen, I’ve got a monster to-do list to get through.
OK, and last but not least, I’m feeling optimistic. Several of the writers in my critique group are pitching to agents at this conference. They’ve written some really wonderful books and I’m excited to see how they do. This group has been such a great source of support and encouragement for me. It’s easy to be optimistic when they’re involved and I’m wishing them all luck!
How’s your day going?
N has some great feelings words in it. Nerdy. Nervy. Neurotic. Such wonderful fodder for messing with my poor characters. I was feeling super nerdy yesterday. I like to have noise while I work and so I alternate between movies and music in the background. Yesterday, I was watching old anime episodes and feeling positively nifty and nostalgic. Also, a bit naughty. Despite the cartoony feel, most of these programs are made for adults and it shows.
Nutty? Natural state of being. If you’ve met me, I’m pretty sure this word has come to mind at least once. Heck, if you’ve been reading these blogs, I think you’d have to agree at times, eh?
And last, but not least: narcissistic. At dinner, my family goes around the table and we tell our favorite part of the day. One day, my daughter responded to something I said with a fake-pouty, “It’s not about me.” We all laughed hysterically so, of course, now she does it all the time.
What “N” are you feeling today?
Generally speaking, I’m a pretty easy-going person. Cheerful. Helpful. Loyal. I realize these are not “M” words but I’m getting to that. There have been a few incidents in my life that have rocked my easy-going nature to its core. The mere reflection on these incidents has a tendency to take me right back into the thick of it. I call these “mutinous memories.” These are times when I’ve refused to go along with the tyrannical powers that be. As it turns out, I still stand by words and actions even years later.
So, let’s talk about mutiny, shall we? Have you ever had a boss that was so horrible, so terribly condescending and evil, that you wanted to start an all out rebellion at work? Have you ever been part of a service organization run by a dictator? I have! I remember sitting through board meetings, hearing the people around me complaining about all the injustices we were witnessing, only to silently leave the room and let the tyranny continue. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to sit by silently around bullies. (alas, speaking up has gotten me in trouble more than once).
Example: In high school, the girls in my choir were singing a song at our Christmas concert. A few days before the concert, the teacher finally figured out what was bothering her about the piece. Apparently, one girl in our group just wasn’t measuring up on this one song. So the teacher asked her to step away from the rest of the group during that one song. Basically, all the rest of the girls would sing the song while this one girl would stand alone on the sidelines – not singing. What do you think? Sound fair to you? The night of the concert, I decided to stand out too. No reason for me to be part of the group if she couldn’t be, right? Not my most popular decision, but I think it was the right one.
More recent example: I was part of a community service organization where some of the higher-ups had been known to speak ill of several of our members, calling them “strident feminists” because they were outspoken in their violence prevention efforts. One day, the director had a great idea. She suggested that we move our monthly meetings to a restaurant so that we could all enjoy lunch as we met. The catch: the restaurant chosen was a buffet where you had to pay to get in. Coincidentally, this would preclude many of our more outspoken members from being able to attend. When I was elected President of this group, I thought I would be able to make changes to the tyrannical regime, but it became obvious that I wasn’t strong enough to make those changes. Finally, I resigned. But I used my resignation as a platform to address the things that needed to be changed. It’s a lonely job putting yourself out there and watching your “supporters” sit silently by. I’m forever grateful for the people who stood by me. This was one of the hardest, most upsetting things I’ve ever done, but I still think it was the right thing to do.
The bottom line: when I’m feeling mutinous, I have a hard time keeping it to myself. Ever feel that way?
L is the letter of love, both clean and, er…not so much. Lewd, lascivious, lecherous, lusty. See what I mean?
Plato dedicated his Symposium to the discussion of love in all its forms (and it’s a doozy, you should pick it up if you haven’t read it). Thought I’d ponder love a bit today.
First, let me start by saying that feeling “loved” is priceless. The things that make me feel loved are a very strange assortment. When my son tells me enthusiastically of the latest video game he’s absorbed in, I feel loved. When my daughter smooshes her little nose in my face and wants to climb all over me like I’m a playground (despite being too big for such monkey antics), I feel loved. And when my fiance picks out a new watchband for one of the kids or helps them with their homework, I feel loved.
I’m a romantic by nature. I fall in love very easily. I swear, when I turn on Pride & Prejudice with handsome Colin Firth playing the brooding Mr. Darcy, I’m hooked. That’s for me. I feel quite lucky to have found my own handsome brooding man. I like being at the center of my own love story. And I’m absolutely in love with my children. They can be driving me completely up the wall and I can’t help but feel tender toward those sweet little faces.
I finished a book last night that reminded me how subjective love can be, forged through experience and circumstance. Children raised in an abusive home may develop a very skewed vision of what love is and it will likely color every aspect of their lives. So I ask myself, how do we know what love is? What it feels like? We all know that romantic movies tend to set unrealistic expectations, right? What about all the uniqueness in our real lives? Two children can be raised in the same household and have very different experiences with love based on a number of factors including their own personalities. So, what is love? (Yep, the song is going through my head too…my apologies).
There you go, folks. Something to think about for this likable, loveable, lucky, loopy, lazy day.
I was all set to write about fun “K” words like kooky and knightly today, but I think I’d rather focus on kindness. Since we’re talking about feelings, I thought a bit about the difference between feeling kindly and showing kindness. Here’s my question (feel free to chime in). Is it possible to act with kindness when you’re not feeling kindly? I mean, is an action kind in and off itself, or should there be an underlying motivation that also reflects kindness. For example, if you feed a starving child, is the action “kind” even if your motivation is a feeling of guilt?
Putting aside philosophy for a second, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we treat each other. My daughter came home from school yesterday crying because she and her best friend had a fight. She’s six. I calmed her down, assured her that everything would be OK and she was back to her cheerful self before long. But it made me think of my own childhood, and how unkind kids (and adults) can be to one another. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.
When I was in third grade, one of my best friends had cystic fibrosis. She was scrawny and couldn’t participate in much physical activity. She came from an abusive and neglectful home, and she was teased and bullied at school. But she was a kind person, despite all the things that might have made her otherwise. In her teens, she was finally taken out of her abusive home and placed with a foster family who loved her and she thrived. Kindness helps and heals. When we were both 25, my friend died from complications related to her condition. She left behind a little girl and at times like these, I can’t help but hope that the world is being kind to that little girl who has already lost so much.
A few more stories to get you (and me) thinking about kindness, both the feeling and the state of being. I spend a lot of time on social media, and I think it an be quite useful. It keeps me connected to people I don’t have a chance to see often. It allows me to communicate with my readers and to promote the work I’m doing. Yay! BUT, as we all know, social media can also be a platform for negative and abusive behavior. The things that people say to each other over the Internet are appallingly unkind sometimes. I just watched a conversation go down between a friend and her ex that was so disconcerting that I had to just stop reading. Despites my friend’s attempts to de-escalate the situation, the ex is bound and determined to be nasty. I wonder if he would be so unkind in person? That’s the danger of social media. We don’t have to look at or even hear the person we’re insulting, so we’re detached from their reactions to what we say. How can we expect to be empathetic when we can’t exercise our ability to read body language and social cues?
And then, there’s the custody battle. A very close friend is currently entrenched in the most horrible custody battle I’ve ever seen. Emotions are running so high on both sides, and it’s hard to be kind when you’re being hurt. As a divorced mother, I know what it means to face the reality of not having your kids 100% of the time. As I try to help my friend cope with the situation, I find myself praying for an infusion of kindly feeling so that these two people who’ve loved each other and share a child, can begin to heal and to work together to give her the best possible life.
So, thinking about all of this makes me wonder, what would happen if we all just tried to be a little bit kinder everyday? And not just act with kindness, but actually feel kindly toward other people, even those who annoy or infuriate us. I truly believe this exercise starts and ends with empathy. When we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we can understand that person just a little bit more and I think that understanding breeds kindness. What do you think?
J is an excellent feelings letter if you’re feeling jostled, jerked around or even jilted. It’s the perfect feelings letter for someone who writes about relationships, right? There’s also jealous, jumpy, joyless and jinxed. Sort of makes “J” seem like a gloomy feelings word actually, so let’s move on to the positive. Joyous. Jubilant. Jazzed. I like jazzed. I feel that way a lot.
So, right away, jacked-up caught my attention. I don’t think I’ve ever used this phrase. But it reminded me of watching endless hours of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta (my favorite!). You know, the show where the brides get one-on-one service from a whole team of bridal consultants who bring them a seemingly endless supply of wedding dresses to try on. We all get to sit back and watch as the family drama unfolds while drooling over the latest in bridal couture. And just when you think she’ll never find the right dress, she does. And Monte comes along and jacks her up. And suddenly everyone is crying because she’s had her “bridal moment.” Yep. As a bride-to-be, this show is irresistible.
I wouldn’t consider myself a very girly girl. I don’t do make-up or hair much. I buy clothes when I have to. I did have an Imelda Marcos-esque collection of shoes once, but spent most of time in my Target flip flops. The stunning pair of Michael Kors heels in my closet – worn once. Yep. That’s me. I do admit, however, that wedding dresses bring out my inner girl. There’s something magical about a big fluffy princess dress, complete with sparkly jewelry and fancy shoes. I write for a bridal magazine and it’s a surreal process, flipping through hundreds of runway photos to study the latest in bridal fashion.
My wedding is this summer and I had decided to have a very casual wedding with no wedding dress in sight. I almost made it, until I went dress shopping with my cousin. I swear I only tried on those wedding dresses to get an idea of what style of dress I might want!!! And I really can’t be blamed for buying my dress, right? I mean, It’s stunning and perfect!!!
OK folks. What’s got you all jazzed up, jacked-up or jerked around today?
“I” is the category of cheater feelings. Half the list includes two word phrases starting with “in,” and though I acknowledge the validity of those types of complicated multi-word feelings, there are some simpler “I” feelings that I find a whole lot more fun.
One of the best parts of being a writer is that I get to let my overactive imagination loose. And because I am one of the world’s most decorated catastrophizers, it gets pretty colorful around here. It’s an amazing feeling to create characters and stories with nothing but my own creativity to hold me back. And it’s even more fun when the characters take over and begin to write their own stories. It’s like having an exclusive behind-the-scenes pass to a great show long before it opens to the general public.
Which, of course, leads me to impish (which may be the best feeling word ever and certainly is a stand-out in the “I” category). I’m pretty sure I am in a constant state of impishness. I am a plotter. Ask anyone. I’m truly happy when I’m scheming. And being a writer is such a healthy outlet for my plotting. I find myself talking through the elements of my current novel and cackling as I go. Impish. Yep, that’s me all the way.
Anyway, it’s Monday and we’re on “I.” So, let’s talk about inspiration. What inspires you? For the writers out there, where did you find your inspiration for your current WIP? Who in your life inspires you to do more, work harder, live smarter and love?
We had a big discussion about happiness vs. contentment several years back and I was thinking about it this morning. Some people asserted that happiness is fleeting; that contentment is what we should strive for, as if contentment is the more permanent condition. We went back and forth about what happiness really is and I don’t recall ever reaching any kind of resolution. Is that because happiness is unique to each individual? Obviously the things we find entertaining and inspiring may differ wildly from person to person.
Our ideas of what “the pursuit of happiness” involves has changed over time. And I have to tell you, I’ve always found it strange that we have this idea of the pursuit of happiness as something that applies to everyone when society works so hard at times to deny the things that might make some people happy – i.e. marriage and employment equality, voting rights, property ownership rights (of course, these things change over time but there always seems to be one group who’d rather not allow another group to have something they want). Why, when as a society we say that we value this inherent right to pursue happiness, do we present so many obstacles to attaining it?
Another thought. Parents say “I just want my kids to be happy,” but they often have a preconceived notion of what that looks like. Maybe it means, “I want my Susie to marry a good man and give me lots of grandchildren” or possibly “If Tom gets good grades and a good education, he’ll never have to struggle like I have.” So what happens when Susie decides she never wants to get married or have children? If Tom drops out of high school, are his chances for finding happiness ruined? Many parents embrace the lives their children have chosen, even if it takes some time. But many don’t.
I wonder if we (the big WE) really just don’t get what happiness means? What do you think? What’s happiness for you?
For me personally, happiness comes when I follow my heart and take responsibility for my decisions. When I am happy, I am confident, brave, and strong. And though I consider myself a very cheerful person, I wouldn’t say that I am always happy. So I guess I consider happiness to be just like any other feeling, one that comes and goes in reaction to various internal and external factors.
Hope you all enjoy the rest of this philosophical weekend!
I’m feeling so grateful today for all the love and support I’ve gotten from my readers, my family and my friends. Starting a writing career is a tricky business and I’ve had to turn to so many people for help with everything from editing to moral support. It’s humbling, and while I know that my brand of writing is not for everyone, I hope it touches lives. Thank you for all your support. I truly couldn’t do this without you all.
One “G” down. Now, onto another of my favorite “G” feelings – giddiness. Technically speaking, giddiness comes when you get so excited you get disoriented. It has to do with the physical sensations that accompany excitement and happiness. I can honestly say that I feel giddy fairly often. I just assume this has to do with my excitable nature. When I get excited, I get EXCITED! If you’re not in the mood for a bubbly, perky, hyper girl, being around me when I’m in the middle of a project is not a good place to be. Of course, if you ever need a boost, I’m your girl. I get carried away and I carry people away with me when I can.
Feeling a little bit giddy right now. Can’t wait to share all the things I’ve been working on with you!
And before I get my nose back to the grindstone, I want to close off with one last “G” – though it’s not a feeling. I’m working on my monthly newsletter, which goes out on the 15th. As an email subscriber, you get the chance to win a book of your choosing every month in a giveaway that I call “The Big Read.” Promoting reading and literacy are high on my list of priorities so this is one way to help encourage people to pick up new books (not just mine). If you’d like to sign-up for the newsletter, visit the homepage of www.AmyRivers.com.
G is for goals and I’m off to work on achieving mine. What are your goals?
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.