Archive for "Lifestyle"

Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Fitness, Lifestyle Apr 16, 2014 5 Comments

PicMonkey CollageWe live in a world of instant gratification. I am so used to getting things right away that waiting for 2 day delivery can seem like forever. Even though what I want is carried right to my front door.

This feeling of wanting something right away is especially true when it comes to fitness. The ads everywhere don’t help. I can’t even remember what it was like to scroll through Facebook and not see “suggested posts” about secret tricks to losing belly fat. Luckily, I know there really aren’t any secrets or tricks. They just want my money.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to be patient.

I have a long history of working out and eating pretty healthy. Yes, I have wavered back and forth a little, but I usually come back around. I have food allergies that cut out a lot of junk, and I actually love the taste of vegetables. I used to run and then I was a gym rat, but I had a tendency to overdo it because I wasn’t focusing on the right things.

I was either trying to break an unrealistic marathon time or I was just trying to get thin. Either way, I would become slightly obsessed and then burn out. Because it wasn’t really about me, it was more about what other people would think of me.

About a year and a half ago, a friend told me I should try CrossFit. I was bored with the gym, but didn’t like the way I felt (or looked) when I wasn’t working out. It didn’t feel like me.

I have to admit, when I walked into the gym I was intimidated and not sure if I could do any of the workouts. I kept going, made friends, had fun, and even made progress. But, I still didn’t think I was as capable as anyone else in the gym.

My body started showing some signs of change, but my mind was still the same.

The thing about CrossFit, at least at my gym, is that that the reasons behind what we are doing are just as important as what we are doing. The coaches talk about strength and endurance and overall fitness. But whichever aspect they are focused on, it always comes back to personal strength.

Personal strength isn’t just about lifting heavy weight and having good form. It’s also very mental. It’s about believing in yourself and having confidence. It’s about using failures as learning experiences, getting up and moving forward.

I am not sure exactly when it happened, or if it is even possible to pick a specific time when something clicked. But, something definitely shifted in me.

I went from seeing myself as weak to seeing myself as strong. As capable.

And then my body started showing me I was right.

I did my first real push up, which quickly turned into two and then three. I moved up (or is it down?) in the bands I have to use for pull ups on the bar. I can lift more weight, and I can do it faster and with better form.

And when I pause or take a breath, it’s not because I’m doubting my ability to do the move. I’m concentrating on using the proper technique and telling myself I can do it, even if I am a little scared of the weight.

The other day one of my coaches told me that my mind has changed in the way I think of myself in the gym. She is right. In some ways I don’t even feel like the same person who walked through the doors the first time, terrified to talk to a stranger about working out.

It wasn’t Six Weeks to a Beach Body, there weren’t any secrets or tricks. But the changes I’ve made are life long, and they impact much more than how I fit into my jeans. I am confident and strong, physically and mentally. I can already see how those changes are impacting other areas of my life, like getting the job I want or having the confidence to send my writing out into the world.

Yes, I still have far to go to reach all of my goals. But my changes are more important than that. Because the way I see myself and the way I treat myself has changed. That little voice in the back of my head that used to doubt me now tells me I can do it.

It is kind of amazing to think about how much more we can do and be and accomplish when we have the confidence to take more risks. Whether it is in the gym, in our careers, in relationships, or in any other area of our lives. The change can be slow and incremental, but it will come and we will be amazed at ourselves. We just have to take that first step.

Are you patient with yourself and making changes? Do you take the time to stop and look back, to see how far you’ve come? Do you give yourself time to reach your goals? Does it give you more confidence each time you reach a goal?

We Can Find Our Own Path

Lifestyle, Writing Mar 20, 2014 2 Comments
Just because it's the only path I see, doesn't mean it's the only path.

Just because it’s the only path I see, doesn’t mean it’s the only path.

I am a stickler for rules, I know that. And I tend to get caught up in the way things are supposed to be done. If there is a protocol, I will follow it. Step by step instruction or a sample of what’s expected, even better.

When I started writing, I didn’t know any of the rules. There was a story in me that I wanted to get onto paper, so I did. I went to a writing workshop and learned the craft, but they weren’t worried about rules. Everyone was encouraged to write what they wanted and to trust the story. My story was a novel.

It made sense, because that’s what I’ve always liked to read. I love getting lost in the world of a novel; feeling like the characters are my friends and I’m a part of the story.

Then I started going to other workshops and talking to other writers. And they told me the rules. Apparently there was a process and I’d been doing it wrong.

Writers were supposed to start with short stories. You had to read them and write them, and then submit them to literary magazines until you got published. Then you could attempt the novel and get an agent. Those were the steps, the protocol.

I’d never really been in to short stories, aside from Alice Munro. But even her amazing stories didn’t stick with me for years the way novels do. I still remember the characters and feelings from novels I read years ago. That doesn’t happen for me with short stories.

But I’m good at following rules, so I set out to learn how to write short stories. I read a ton of story collections and took notes. I wrote a story and sent it in to for the workshop. Yes, some people tore it apart, but it was about learning so I took notes and shrugged it off.

This term I decided to focus on short stories. If I am going to write them and submit them, I should probably work on them with my mentor.

Yes, I’ve since written another novel that I love, but I have been trying to follow the rules.

The thing about me is, even though I am big on rules I have never been good at fitting in. I’m never enough of one thing to fit into one box. As a teacher, I am too loud, too creative, and sometimes too opinionated. At the gym I am not as strong as everyone else, but I work hard and rely on my strength: attendance. Socially I’ve always been kind of an oddball, too. I don’t care enough to be preppy, but I do love fashion and you won’t ever catch me in Crocs. But, I also love track suits and don’t mind skipping a shower or going in public without make up.

I fit in where I need to and always find people who accept, understand, and appreciate me exactly as I am. But I’ve always had a foot in more than one camp. So I’m not sure why I thought it would be different with writing.

The truth is: I am not a short story writer. I am a novelist. I don’t really enjoy writing short stories the way I do novels, and I feel the same way about reading them. Now I see that what I am doing has nothing to do with me. I am going through the motions because that is what I was told I am supposed to do. I am following the path.

But I am starting to realize that life isn’t like that. Just because something has always been done a certain way before doesn’t mean that’s the way I have to do it.

Why should I spend my time working on something I don’t really want to do because someone else told me I’m supposed to? That completely leaves me out of the equation, and it’s my life and career I’m talking about. It’s my time and my energy spent. And I want to spend that time being true to me.

Really, my writing, like me, doesn’t fit into one set camp: literary or commercial. It’s a little bit of both. A mix, a hybrid, an oddball. Like me. So why would I think my career is going to be just like everyone else’s?

We all get to find our own path, each decision we make along the way moving us forward. Just because everyone else has done something one way doesn’t mean that has to be our way. We get to decide. And we can be true to ourselves along the way.

It is our path, our choice, our lives.

Yes, I am going to finish the short story I’ve been working on. That is what I set out to do this term, and I will. And in the future if I feel like writing a short story, I will. For me. But I am excited to give my full attention back to my novel next term. I know who I am and I am happy about that. I am a novelist. I will make my own path.

Have you been making your own path in life or following the route of others? Are you good at ignoring the common advice and deciding for yourself? Do you find it hard to go against the current? If it is easy for you, I’d love to hear how you do it!


There’s Always Bullshit

Lifestyle, Self Mar 06, 2014 No Comments
There will always be something we don't want to do.

There will always be something.

When I was teaching elementary school, I dreamed about the time when I could stop. Yes, I wanted to move on to writing full time, but I was also tired of the bureaucracy. I longed for a day when I didn’t have to turn in charts, graphs, and other ridiculous paperwork that had no reflection on what I was teaching. And a day without meetings where important things were talked about briefly, before a long discussion of copy machine codes and use of hand sanitizer.

I was tired of the bull.

When the day finally came it was very anti-climactic. I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to friends, colleagues, and students, and went home. No biggie.

Since then I’ve spent my time writing and being a student. I make my own schedule and there’s no one breathing down my neck. I am living my ideal life, doing what I love.

But the thing is, there is still bullsh*t.

There are days when I don’t want to do anything. And, without a boss, I can relax. But I still have assignments to get done, chores to do, and I have yet to figure out how to make food appear magically on a plate.

I am living the dream. But the dream includes laundry and dishes, and I still have to do my taxes.

There’s no way around it. No matter how wonderful life is, how much I love my work, there is always going to be stuff I don’t want to do. That is just a part of life.

Unfortunately, I started to notice it everywhere. I’d wake up dreading the to-do list. I forgot how much I wanted this life and focused on all the things I don’t like doing. All the things I had to do when I was teaching, but somehow stood out more now that I am living the dream.

Unloading the dishwasher didn’t become harder. It just became more noticeable because there is less bullshit in my life. I used to dream about a time when I could cook myself lunch in the middle of the day instead of eating out of a Tupperware container at light speed. But when that day came, I lost my appreciation for it.

I realized that, unless we are Angelina Jolie, we are going to have bull in our lives. There will always be those menial tasks that no one likes doing, but that have to get done. If we focus on those negative things, they will always be what we see. Even if we can hire someone to do the cleaning or the cooking, or whatever we dread, there will always be something else. I’m pretty sure even Angelina has to floss her own teeth.

But we can decide where we put our focus. We can wake up everyday worrying about crossing things off our list. Or we can think about the great things we get to do that day. I can focus on the fact that I’m living the dream. Writing in pajamas and making myself hot lunch. I have a friend who isn’t happy with her job, so she looks forward to going to the gym at the end of every day. That is where she puts her focus.

No matter how great we have it, how many of our dreams come true, there will always be bull. It is just part of life. We can either let it bog us down or shrug it off and move on to the good stuff.

Me, I’m moving on.

Do you get bogged down by the bullshit in life? Are there things that you dread doing, but need to get done? How do you remind yourself to focus on the good?


Try It, You Might Like It!

Lifestyle Feb 27, 2014 No Comments


Some things are not as gross as we think.

Some things are not as gross as we think.

I have always been a picky person. Except I prefer the word discerning. I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I’m not usually willing to change my stance.

Mayonnaise and pineapple are two of the most disgusting things in existence. No matter how much you like them, or how often you tell me about it, I’m not going to eat them. On that I won’t budge.

Yes, I can be stubborn, but only when I know I am right. Like about mayonnaise.

So when I was forced to take a class about translating poetry, I was more than a little worried. I’ve never been a big fan of poetry. When I’ve had to read it at writing workshops it’s always made me feel dumb. Like I was the only one in the room who had no idea what was happening. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t just say what they meant instead of making it so complex. Of course I didn’t say that aloud.

It threw me off a little when I ended up liking the class. It turns out that I like languages, so translating is pretty fun. Yes, my favorite assignments were the prose poems and short stories, but I learned to appreciate the language of poetry a little.

Enough to sign up for a poetry class.

I regretted it as soon as I clicked the Submit Payment button and tried to get out of it. But my best friend and my mom wouldn’t let me off the hook.

I had to go.

I was nervous when I walked in, but the people were so nice. When I explained that I am not a poet and just want to learn how to write better sentences, they were supportive. I had to participate in the exercises, but I didn’t have to read anything out loud. No pressure.

Like the translation class, it turned out to be pretty great. I didn’t become a poet, or even decide I want to try writing poetry. That’s still not my style.

But I learned a lot about what I do like and don’t like in poetry, and why. I learned some skills that will help my fiction, and I walked away with an appreciation for reading poetry. I might actually do that now that I know what I like.

The experience reminded me how much I hated tomatoes as a kid. I didn’t even like spaghetti sauce or ketchup. Then, when I was in college, a friend of my parents made something with tomatoes and asked me to try it. He said I’d like it. I trusted him, so I took a bite. I loved it, and I’ve been eating tomatoes ever since.

It makes me think about how many times I had turned up my nose at poetry. And what I would have missed out on if I had done it again.

What we like isn’t set in stone. It can grow and change over time, as we do.

What don’t have to know whether or not we like something ahead of time, we just have to give it a try. Who knows, we might find our new passion. Or just a really good dinner.

Either way, it is worth trying.

Are you open to trying new things? Do you have hard and fast rules you don’t like to change? When was the last time you tried something new? What did you think?





Why Not You?

Lifestyle Feb 20, 2014 4 Comments
Emily won!

Emily won!

The Super Bowl was a big story this year. And I have to admit that I kind of stopped paying attention when the Panthers were knocked out of the running. But, then the controversy with Richard Sherman was everywhere and I couldn’t avoid finding out what happened. Seeing an athlete attacked and labeled like that made me mad, so I decided to watch the game and root for the Seahawks.

Yes, the game was exciting and fun to watch. But the best part for me was the story the announcers told about the Seahawks QB, Russell Wilson, and the advice his father gave him as a kid. The phrase, “Why not you?” struck me as one of the best mantras to give a child. I also realized that it is something a lot of us adults could stand to focus on, too.

This weekend I saw what a difference that attitude can make, first hand.

My friend Emily is one of those people I would consider a natural athlete. She grew up playing soccer, and still plays and coaches, as well as working out. She looks like she was born to play, and when you look at her you can picture a soccer ball attached to her foot. It just seems meant to be.

But while doing CrossFit, Emily realized she really likes lifting weights. She started Powerlifting, and eventually moved on to the Strongman/Strongwoman competition. I don’t know a lot about either of those sports, but I like to support and cheer on my friends. So I went to see Emily compete in the North Carolina Strongman/woman competition.

When we got there she was sitting in first place. But the last portion of the competition was what she considered the hardest for her. She was going to have to lift up a giant boulder, weighing 175 pounds, and drop it over a bar. As many times as she could before her time was up.

It seemed impossible to me.

But Emily doesn’t think in terms of impossible. She said, “You’d be amazed at what your body can do when you put your mind to it.”

It’s the same attitude that helped Russell Wilson win that Super Bowl ring. She knew she was capable of amazing things if that was what she wanted, if she made it her goal and worked for it.

Soccer may have come naturally to Emily, but in this competition she didn’t have the physical advantage. The woman who won the lightweight division was tall and lean, like a runner. She didn’t have to bend down far to pick up that boulder, and her hips were at the perfect level to heave it over the bar.

Height was definitely an advantage. One that Emily didn’t have.

The woman who won the heavyweight division was tall and bulky. She was at the perfect height when she stood up with the boulder, and she could use her bulk to carry the weight of the stone and get it over the bar.

Watching some of the other women in Emily’s division, I noticed some things about form. They had to lift with their legs and use their mid sections to help force the rock over the bar. Technique is an area where Emily shines, and it isn’t something anyone is born with.

She bent down and used her legs to get that boulder up. Once she was standing, she had to use brute strength and determination that comes with believing in yourself to get that boulder over the bar. She wasn’t tall enough or bulky enough to have that extra edge. But I saw it in her face as she dug down deep and found her inner strength.

She wanted to win. She had a goal. She believed that she could do it. And she did.

My friend Emily won her division. She is the middle weight Strongwoman of North Carolina. That is pretty amazing.

Yes, she trained hard and pushed herself as far she could go during the competition. But all of that was possible because of her attitude. She knew someone had to win, so why not her?

Being a competitive athlete isn’t on my list of goals. I’m not training for the Super Bowl or anything else. But there are plenty of things in life I do want, and a change in my attitude is exactly what I need to help me get there.

Someone is going to get an agent, a book deal, and be published. Someone is going to get the job of their dreams. Someone has to win the awards and fellowships. Somebody is going to travel to Paris. Everything I want is a possibility. Someone is going to get them, why not me?

Russell Wilson and my friend Emily weren’t the tallest, maybe not the fastest or born with a natural advantage at their chosen sport. But they believed in themselves, and they did it.

Somebody has to have their dreams come true. Why not us? Why not you?

What are your goals? Do you have the strong belief in yourself to back them up? Are you holding yourself back with a negative attitude? If you could do or be anything, what would that be?



What Are We So Afraid Of?

Lifestyle, Writing Jan 16, 2014 14 Comments

We all have things that we are afraid of. Made up movie things that make us check under our beds, and real life things like heights and flying in airplanes. But I think the biggest fear most of us have is failure, and that keeps us from going after what we want.

The things that keep me afraid are things that are tied to what I really want. What I really love. Writing.

There is a list of things I want to do to make a career for myself as a writer, but I keep putting them off. I want to send out query letters and try to get an agent. I want to send out stories and try to get published. I want to go to local readings and classes and make some writer connections in person. But whenever I sit down to do it, I am so overcome by fear that I find an excuse.

Maybe I’m not ready, I just don’t have time, there is laundry to be done.

The thought of going after what I really want and failing to get it is so scary that I talk myself out of it. I think it is safer to not go after it. Because then when I don’t get it, I have a valid excuse: I never tried.

But I am tired of being afraid. And I’m ready to go after what I want. After all, that’s the only way to get it.

So when there was an opportunity to sign up to give a reading at my recent MFA residency, I took it. I sent the email in fast, before I could change my mind and chicken out.

Then I spent the next few weeks being terrified.

What if everyone hated my writing? What if I was the worst one there? What if people questioned how I even got into the program?

What I was really scared of was failing.

As if there was some chance that I was going to find out that I can’t actually write and my dreams were never going to come true. And maybe I’d get a rotten tomato thrown at me in the process.

As the day of the reading grew closer, my stomach began to ache. I tried to think of ways to get out of the reading. Luckily, my friends wouldn’t let me weasel out of it. And they showed up the day of the reading to offer support.

The moments leading up to my turn were the worst. The people before me read amazing pieces. That only made it harder to stand up and read mine. When the student introducing us skipped over me, I thought maybe I’d been saved. But she realized what happened and asked if I should read right then, or wait until everyone was done. My friends started chanting my name, like at some sort of sports competition. It was kind of weird and a little nerve wracking, but it was also amazing to feel so supported.

I can’t remember what it felt like when I first walked up to the podium. I remember the heat of the lights on my face and the sound of my heart beating. I knew I was shaking my foot the entire time I read, but my friends said I didn’t look nervous from the neck up. And now that it’s done and over, it doesn’t seem so scary.

No one walked out, no one booed, and not a single rotten vegetable was thrown. I faced my fear and I came out on the other side, wondering what I had been so afraid of.

I was only afraid because I cared so much. I can see now that the things I fear are the things I really want. I have to push through the fear to go after my dreams. The only other option is to give up, and that isn’t something I’m willing to do.

It’s like opening the closet door and flipping on the light, or looking under the bed. We just have to take a deep breath and do it. Then we’ll see that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. Failure is that monster from the movies. And once we turn the light on and face it, it loses all its power.

Maybe it’s time we look at our fears as our to-do list. What we fear is really what we want, so we’ll have to face it to go after our dreams. In the end, it will be worth it.

What are you afraid of? Do you let fear get in the way of going after your dreams? Have you ever faced your fears and learned a lesson in the process?




This Year, I’m Letting Go of Should

Lifestyle, Selfcare Jan 09, 2014 5 Comments

Some people have very strong feelings about New Year’s resolutions, either for or against. I have always made them, but up until last year I never took them very seriously. I made fun resolutions that I knew I would want to keep, like to drink more fancy cocktails or go out more often with friends. One year I resolved to wear more track suits. That was a very comfortable year.

Last January I decided to take resolutions seriously, and really look at what I could do to make my life better. My resolution for 2013 was to be kinder to myself, and it worked. I practiced using supportive self-talk instead of tearing myself down. And I didn’t say as many negative things about myself to others. Yes, it is something I need to keep working on. Changing the way we treat ourselves takes time and practice, but I am well on the way. And that one change made a big impact on how I saw myself, and consequently, what I was able to do over the year.

I got into the MFA program of my dreams and started to take myself seriously as a writer. I had the courage to quit my job to focus on school and writing. I joined a new gym, made great new friends, and began to see myself as physically strong and capable.

In some ways, I almost feel like a completely different person than who I was a year ago.

But one thing that is still dragging me down is my habit of worrying about what I should do.

I should be productive, I should take the first job I’m offered, I should do the laundry, I should get up at the commercial break and do something. I quit my job so I should spend every minute working on my writing, and at the same time I should have time open to help other people out. The list of shoulds is never ending. I get tired just thinking about it.

When I do the things I should do instead of the things I want to do, I am miserable and they take twice as long.

I’m starting to realize that there is a reason for this. All of these shoulds are based on outside sources: other people, society in general, things I picked up from my bio-mom. I am letting other peoples’ values and ideas direct my actions. I am allowing other people to decide what is right for me.

So this year my resolution is to follow the energy and trust. I know what is right for me at any given time, because it is what I have energy for.

Yes, some days I have energy for doing laundry, going to the grocery store, and other boring chores. Usually it is when I am hungry or out of clean socks, but there is nothing wrong with that. I have energy for writing in the mornings and for working out at the end of the day. Instead of trying to workout in the middle of the day because I have time for it now or writing at night because I can sleep as late as I want, I am going to follow my energy and stick to my schedule. Because it works for me.

Just like I listen to my body to tell me when I’m hungry or tired, I’m going to listen to myself and choose how I get to spend my time. And I’m going to trust myself and my decisions.

We all have energy for certain things for a reason, at least that’s what I believe. When we try to force it, we only make things harder on ourselves. And most of the time we end beat ourselves up for lacking the energy in the first place, because we are so worried about what we should be doing.

When maybe what we should be doing is listening to ourselves, and following our energy.

Do you worry about shoulds? Have other peoples ideas of what is right or best for you ever influenced you? Gotten in the way of your dreams? Do you listen to your energy and trust your own decisions? If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them.


Being Thankful Comes Naturally

Holidays, Lifestyle Nov 27, 2013 No Comments

Every time I look up I’m thankful for this North Carolina sky.

Thanksgiving has been one of my favorite holidays for as long as I can remember. It was always about spending time with family, cooking and talking with my mom, and sharing delicious food with people we love. When I was teaching in Ecuador, I introduced my students to the traditions and our Thanksgiving meal with Second grade became its own tradition at the school.

When I was at home for the holiday, I loved starting the custom of going around the table and sharing one thing each person was grateful for. Yes, it was an extra treat that it annoyed my little brother, but that is one of the perks of being a big sister.

It was nice to take a minute and focus on the things, situations, and people we are thankful for. I have always believed that focusing on the good will bring more good, so why not make it a habit.

But Thanksgiving is just one day. And the rush and responsibilities of every other day can make it difficult to focus on being thankful. We have so many other things that have to get done, so they take priority.

I saw the idea for a gratitude journal in Oprah’s magazine. The point was to take a few minutes at the end of the day and write down at least five things you are thankful for on that day. It sounded fantastic, so I tried it. I lasted less than a week.

It wasn’t that there was nothing to be thankful for, it’s that at the end of the day I am tired and just want to get to bed. It ended up being just one more thing I had to get done. It is hard to be grateful in that frame of mind.

This month people have been posting what they are thankful for daily on Facebook. I love reading those posts and it does help me to see some of the things I am grateful for in my life. But, if I try to sit down and post one, my mind kind of goes to mush.

When I try and make being thankful a chore, it doesn’t end up working for me.

The other day I was driving to work, as I usually do. I pulled onto the freeway and noticed how empty it was. My first thought was how lucky I am to have such a nice drive to work.

Then I looked up at the sky. The North Carolina sky is a thing of beauty. Every time I look up I marvel at how blue it is and how close it seems. Like I could reach out and touch it. And every time, I say thank you. Because I am grateful to live in a place with such an amazing view.

When I got off the freeway I passed an accident and gave thanks out loud for my safety and the convenience of not being in a wreck. Then I went back to singing along with my iPod, thankful for music I love.

As I sat in the parking lot at school, I realized that I had been thankful at least five times on the drive in. I knew it was something that happened everyday. And I knew that when I left in the afternoon, I’d be thankful on the drive to the gym and grateful for a body that works when I got there. As I left the gym to go home, I’d be thankful for my friends and CrossFit community, and then for my lovely apartment and the chance to sleep comfortably at night.

I realized that being thankful is something that comes naturally. And once we start saying thank you, it is almost impossible to stop.

It’s all in the way we see things. Look for the good, and you will be amazed at how much you see.

If you want to make a gratitude journal or post daily, that is wonderful. But if you don’t have time or the desire to add one more thing to your list, it’s nice to know you don’t have to.

All you have to do is open your eyes and be grateful.

Do you find it difficult to focus on the good in life? Have you ever been grateful for the simple, yet amazing things? What are you most thankful for in your life? Happy Thanksgiving.




Sometimes Life Gives Us A Shove

Lifestyle Nov 07, 2013 10 Comments

We can let ourselves fall, or we can jump toward what we want. I say, jump!

Teaching elementary school is the only real job I’ve ever had. I’ve taught different grades and specialties, and in another country, but always with the little ones.

For about a year now I’ve been feeling a pull in another direction. Still in teaching, but college rather than kids. It is part of the reason I’m in an MFA program right now. Yes, I want to become better at the craft of writing. But I also want to teach it.

I went into teaching to make a difference. To help children, especially children in poverty, gain the skills and knowledge they need to bridge the equality gap. When the college teaching dream first began to grow in my head and in my heart, I felt guilty. Wasn’t my life about making a difference?

Then I realized that those students who are making it out of elementary, middle, and high school need me in college. Especially those who are first generation college students and grew up in poverty. I began to see that I could make my dream come true and still make a difference. No guilt necessary.

So what did I do about it?

Absolutely nothing. I kept teaching elementary school and trying to ignore the pull. I was too scared to take a step toward my dream so I told myself it would all have to wait until I completed my MFA.

Yes, I looked at the job postings of all the local community colleges in my area. And, yes, I day dreamed about teaching there now. But each time I thought about applying, I talked myself out of it. What if I wasn’t good enough, or ready enough as I am now? What if I applied and nothing happened? Even scarier, what if I got the job?

So I put it off another month, another term, and tried to focus on where I am now.

But teaching young children is exhausting, especially once you accept that it isn’t what you’re meant to be doing anymore. Add full-time school and writing to that, and I barely have time to sleep. I felt like I was beginning to unravel and something had to give. I decided to go part time.

In September I asked my boss about being moved from full time to part time. She said it might take some time, but she would make it happen. After almost two months of waiting, last week she told me it was impossible. For reasons that were out of her hands, and mine, being moved to part time was out.

There went my easy option. The way that  I could have more time and not take any risks.

I was upset when I heard the news, and I thought about the choices I have in the situation. Staying full time at my current school is out. My health and well being aren’t worth the risk.

So I have two choices: I can apply to teach part time at the local community colleges or I can apply for a part time elementary teaching job at another school in my district.

The second choice would be easier. I know I am a good reading teacher, my resume is up to date, my principal would give me a good recommendation, and all I’ve have to do is click apply. There are positions available now, even some that begin immediately.

But it isn’t what I really want. And if I think about it, if I was meant to teach elementary school part time, wouldn’t it have worked out at my current school? I believe the universe is supportive, so there must be something else in store for me.

When I sit still and listen to my heart and my gut, they both tell me to go for what I really want. To apply to community colleges. I didn’t listen before, so now the universe is giving me a push. I can’t just stay where I am and ignore it. A choice has to be made, so I might as well chose my dream.

If it wasn’t for my principal’s decision, I wouldn’t be taking this step. I would stay safe where I am now, with more time for myself. I would probably say I’d apply come summer, but who knows if I’d actually follow through. It’s scary to go for what you really want and if the back-up plan is set in place, it is easy to put off that first step.

So life took away my back-up plan and left me without a safety net. I’m choosing to trust in life and go after my dreams. I trust that when I take that first step, the next part of the path will appear.

But, I can’t find out until I jump.

Has life ever given you a push when you were scared to go after your dreams? Do you ever wonder what you could accomplish if you weren’t afraid to fail? Has going after your dreams paid off? I’d love to hear stories of success!


It DOES Turn Out OK In The End!

Lifestyle Oct 03, 2013 14 Comments

Cheers to selling my condo!

When I moved across the country I couldn’t sell my condo in Oregon. The market wasn’t right and clearly the timing was off. That mortgage, and the condo that I had once loved, became like a weight around my neck. In August I wrote a post about how I needed to change my attitude because all of the frustration, hate, and worry I was feeling was being projected out into the world, and focused on my condo.

I decided to focus on how much I loved that condo when I lived there.

And I decided to be open to either renting or selling. Maybe the market had improved in the year I was gone.

I changed my thoughts to positive and I changed the way I talked about the condo. I closed my eyes and remembered the moment I walked in and saw the place for the first time. It was love at first sight.

I decided to take the rental ad off Craigslist for a few weeks. It had been up so long that people would think something was wrong with the place. And all the calls and showings hadn’t turned into actual renters.

I figured why not talk to my realtor and see if selling was a possibility, too.

My realtor told me that the market had changed since I left, and for the better. She said August was a great time to list. Something about interest rates, I think.

She did some research, I looked at my loan and did some calculations, and we came up with a listing price. If it was going to sell, I needed to be able to pay off my loan and all the fees that come along with selling property. And, in the back of my mind I held on to the small dream of getting back my down payment.

But what I really wanted was someone to love the condo as much as I did. Someone to buy it and make it their home.

So I sat down and thought about how much I loved the place and how I wanted someone else to fall in love with it and go into contract on it (leaving it open for renting or buying) so that it work out the best way possible for everyone involved.

Then I lit a candle and let all my worries go.

Actually, I kind of forgot about it.

Until a little over a week later when I saw three missed calls from my realtor. I called her right away to make sure everything was ok.

Everything was more than ok. There was an offer on my condo. A full price offer from someone who loved the place and even wrote me a letter to say just how much they wanted to buy it and call it home.

But before we could take a deep breath and get the acceptance signed, another full price offer came in.

I flipped out. Two full price offers in the same weekend! It was pretty amazing.

The second offer was from someone who wanted to buy it as an investment. Which meant they would rent it out, not live in it and love it.

It wasn’t a difficult choice.

I accepted the offer of the buyer who loved the condo, because that’s what really mattered.

The rest was a blur of paperwork, phone calls, and emails. Sure, there were little nuisances along the way (don’t get me started on the taxes). But, in the end we all got what we wanted.

I can now say that I am no longer a home owner. I don’t have to worry about a mortgage for a place where I don’t live. The buyer has a condo they are happy to come home to everyday, the two realtors made their money and had a good experience doing it. Even the people from the title company were friendly and helpful.

And, I even got my down payment back!

It was win, win, win all around.

All I had to do was change how I felt and thought about the condo and focus on what was best for everyone involved. The hardest part was to let go and trust. Once I did that, everything fell into place.

Because it really is true what everyone says: Things really do turn out ok in the end. We just have to focus on the positive and have a little faith.

Has changing your thoughts helped you? What is the hardest part? Is it letting go and having trust? If you look back at your life can you see how things have worked out for the best? Does focusing on the positive help you get better results?