Waiting for the serendipity to stir

I realized I hadn’t said much about serendipity or positive thinking lately. Since I started the job that was the result of a serendipitous event, life has become kind of run of the mill. Despite having not worked (out of the home) for 4 years I have slipped back into the routine and mindset of being in an office as if I just returned from a extended vacation. Thankfully this job has yet to stress me out like my last “real” job where I had publication deadlines, front-of-house crowd control issues, and the pressure of being a new, working, breast-pumping mother.

Even so, I think I’m a little down. I had finally started writing – or at least got my head in a place where I was (truly) ready to start – and now I’m wrestling The Schedule. I have marked up my planner until it looks like the departure board at Logan airport, blocking out every hour with this chore, that errand, appointments, work, and writing. But then that errand takes an hour longer than it should (due to the rice having been moved from aisle 4 to aisle 13 and pizza dough apparently no longer made) or a staff meeting and work project running over time, shrinking the scheduled writing time from three hours to one (which, of course, means no writing).

I’m glad I’m working and I especially can’t wait to write a grant. Plus, we definitely needed the extra paycheck to get through this heating season. But I also feel that maybe – once again – I have put my own dream on hold. Did I do this on purpose; subconsciously sabotaging myself because I was getting too close to actually doing what I have dreamed of?

When you no longer have an excuse to fall back on, the responsibility of a dream can loom large and scary.

I think I have stopped thinking positively and looking for serendipity because my life has become, well, normal, and a normal life – boring life – doesn’t foster spiritual thoughts. But I’m pretty sure that’s where I’m making a mistake. If I did start thinking more positively about merging my working, mothering, and writing lives into a more do-able, less scary whole, I would most likely start to see the serendipity stir.

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Squeezing me in between

The honeymoon’s over.

Me and this blog, we don’t talk so much anymore.

My life has radically changed from when I was a stay-at-home, wannabe writer. Even though the last of those days are barely a month gone, I have already made them into golden nuggets. I catch myself thinking, remember when I could put Tater down for a nap while Little Lady was at summer camp, and I could sit and think and write? Of course, my memory has blotted out the crazed insanity of the hour prior to getting her out the door.

The first morning I put Little Lady on the school bus was the also the first day I put on some make up and clocked into my new 22-hour a week life. Four hours a day… oh, poor me, right? But listen, here’s the reality of how four hours of work morphs into a whole day:

7AM – 8:30AM: Kids up, breakfasted, dressed; make lunches; squeeze in a couple of chores

8:30: Walk to bus stop; wave off Little Lady

8:40: Walk or drive to work; grab a coffee if time

9:00: Kiss Tater Tot goodbye downstairs in toddler room; walk upstairs to office or return home to do laundry, dishes or bills, or run into town to grocery shop

11:00: Return to work

3:30: Leave work

3:45: Meet bus

4:00-4:15: Disperse snacks, check backpack, go through mail

4:15-5:00: Workout while watching Oprah (who am I kidding? I’m mostly just standing in front of the TV, doing the occasional leg lift to justify watching TV for a few moments.)

5:00-6:00: Prepare and eat dinner

6:00-7:00: Clean up dinner and kids

7:00 – 7:30: Put kids in bed, read story, sing song, say good night, go downstairs, come back upstairs, put Tater back in bed, kiss goodnight, go downstairs, come back upstairs, put Tater back in bed, kiss goodnight, walk downstairs… (this can go on for 5 minutes or, like last night, 1/2 hour).

7:30 – : At this point I collapse on the couch and try to push my brain into writing mode, usually unsuccessfully, until I can keep my eyes open no longer.

Needless to say, I left out of the schedule the 6 circles I make around the house looking for the left shoe, or the 7 minutes I spend debating with Little Lady whether she should eat the soggy cereal of which she gave herself too big a helping, or the 11 minutes I am chasing a giggling Tater trying to grab his soupy diaper.

And there you have it – Monday to Friday, 7AM-10:30PM, poof!

I ask you, where’s the me in there? Where are the great tomes I’m meant to bring forth?

I know this is a time of transition and I will eventually settle into my new life. I plan to take three mornings for myself – schedule in my writing. No housework. No errands. No excuses.

NO excuses.

Think I can do it?

The many hats of me

I need a haircut. The shaggy, steel wool mop that haloes my head is reflected in the screen of my laptop as I sit on the deck this glorious late summer morning.

I also need to finish organizing the new office which until 3 days ago was the kids room. Boxes of books, old files, and decades-old computer stuff, retained “just in case” (or rather “just too lazy”) were crammed away in a closet. Now, due to the room rearrangements, they have resurfaced and are demanding my attention. I need to make curtains for the new kids’ room. I need to hang out the laundry that’s slowly rotting in the washer. I need to put away the clothes that have been sitting in a basket for a month. I need to empty the dishwasher. I need to put two years worth of photos in the kid’s albums. I need to listen to another session of my journal workshop instructor training. I need to dig through the heap of shoes on my closet floor and take half of them to Salvation Army (so I can justify buying more). I need to be brainstorming article ideas and getting out queries. I need to pay the bills…

I need to not be sitting here writing this blog.

Ever since I began this blog-ourney I have neglected everything else around me. I send my husband to bed with a “I’ll be there soon,” and then not show up for another 2 hours. I don’t even give the TV my full, undivided attention. And next week I start work. I wonder how I can possibly divide a 24 hour day into so many increments. I feel writing this blog is important (I’m not sure exactly why yet) and I don’t want to give it up. But, really, how does one wear so many hats?

The Mom Hat: The shabby one with the unidentifiable stains. It has a big brim and droops in various places. It’s worn out and really needs to be replaced but no other hat will ever fit quite as well.

The Wife Hat: The one most often forgotten in the closet even though it is nice-looking and can be fun to wear. It should be worn more frequently.

The Housewife Hat: This one’s dusty; hard to get clean. It’s very large and kind of overwhelms the wearer. It gets in the way of other more agreeable hats.

The Administrative Hat: The one decorated with numbers and letters. It’s an annoying but essential little hat worn for protection of one’s assets.

The Employee Hat: This one’s new and very smart. It is a good one to wear in public due to it’s professional appearance and lack of accouterments.

The Writer/Artist Hat: The one with a veil behind which one can hide. This hat fits the wearer well and is the preferred one in the selection, but other more practical hats are usually (or should be) worn instead. It is very colorful but does have some ink stains.

The Single Gal Hat: Rarely worn, or ownership even acknowledged. It is bright, stylish, shapely and attractive. If worn more often it could revitalize that which is dull, monotonous, and all together too blah.

I really do need a hair cut… maybe then I can cram two (or three) hats on my head at once.

September Sentiments

September has always been my favorite month. It is a month of beginnings. I came into the world in September and as a child in England, it meant the beginning of a new school year. I actually turned 5 on my second day in Mrs. Goddard’s class at Huish Infant School, Yeovil, Somerset.

I have always loved school. While my classmates dreaded those first signs of an oncoming school year – cooler nights, stores with the oh-so-subtle signs blaring “BACK TO SCHOOL” – I felt excitement instead. In high school I would start buying my notebooks and pens in July. That annual trip to Ames was a high light for me. New sturdy spiral notebooks with crisp, bright white pages, colorful coordinating folders, multicolored pens… oh, makes me want to run out to Walmart right now.

As an adult, September holds a new joy for me. Fall. That first telltale kiss of a crisp breeze, the first splash of red on the mountain side, apple trees heavy with fruit. And of course, my birthday. I don’t avoid the commemoration of my birth; I like parties, I love gifts, and I particularly enjoy being the center of attention. You can blame this little egocentricism on my mother who has always venerated birthdays as a true cause of celebration; the celebrant is duly honored with gifts, a card, a meal of their choice, and a cake. If said birthday-girl (or boy) is not within hugging distance, then a phone call first thing in the morning must suffice, complete with a harmonized rendition of “Happy Birthday” (thanks to Dad’s willingness to oblige his dear wife).

This September, the one that is amazingly only one week away, holds particular significance for me and our family. September 2nd, 2008 will mark two milestones: 1) I am going back to work after 4 years at home, and 2) H is starting Kindergarten.

Yes, I am starting a real, wake-up-to-an-alarm-clock, take-a-shower, wear-a-bra job. And my little baby girl, the one who had no hair until she was 18 months, will, with pony-tail bobbing, board a big yellow bus and drive away from me. She’ll be back 6 hours later, but that disappearing back-end of a bus marks the beginning of her full departure from home; from me.

Um… corny! Yes, I know, but true. This is where she’ll start to hear and learn things from other kids that I may not be so pleased about when she brings them to the dinner table. And I don’t just mean those words we have protected her young ears from; the attitudes, the bad manners, the commericial world of Bratz and Hannah Gag-tana… she may be entering the structured world of school, but it will be a world I can no longer control. My precious baby will slowly grow up whether I like it or not.

If she’s anything like me (which I believe she is) she will love school because she loves to learn. I can only pray that school does not turn into a place of bullying or boredom. I hope September becomes a month of happiness for her aswell and that together we can look forward to the trips down the stationary aisle (and I’ll try to just breathe real deep and let it go when the Cinderella folders are exchanged for those showing some 14-year-old blue-eyed hunk with a basketball. Lord, help me now.)

I DO believe in fairies, um I mean, serendipity

Serendipity has to be one of my favorite words. Merriam-Webster defines it as the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

A couple of days ago, I walked into the daycare center to pick him up my son and I walked out with a job. Phenomenal. Valuable. Agreeable. Really not sought for.

I’m not kidding. A job – my dream job, no less. There wasn’t a position available but my skills (and personality, I guess) convinced the power that be (someone I was referred to because the person I was originally sent to happened to be out of the office) that a position needed to be created for me. And I’ll still be able to do my own writing because it’s part time.

Phenomenal.

This has given me an idea… I’m going to record serendipity – even the smallest expression of it – in my own life and those around me. I also want to track the times I have thought positive thoughts and so created positive situations, or when I have made authentic decisions which have in turn brought about authentic outcomes.

Yesterday, I wrote about our move to Mississippi. For whatever reason, when we were packing up to move, despite the butterflies that had taken up residence in my belly, I somehow knew it was going to be OK. I kept saying, “I just want to know why we’re being lead in this direction.” A year into our move, I was still asking this question even as I was teaching a journal workshop, meeting amazing friends, and writing more than I had in years. Oh…that’s why!

We trusted our intuition (which leads us to make authentic decisions) and the outcome was in our favor. I’m not implying our life has been all peachy keen, not at all! During this same time period we had some disastrous real estate problems that almost put us into bankruptcy, we went through Hurricane Katrina (or rather she went through our roof), and I had a miscarriage. Those are the details. But big picture – as my sister-in-law would say – s’all good!

I had given up on getting a job so I was concentrating on what I knew best. I didn’t know how we were going to pay our heating bill… I do now!

Phenomenal. Serendipity.

Exposing and disposing the Fear

I saw my name as a byline for the first time today.

I submitted three tiny pieces to AssociatedContent.com a couple of days ago just to see how the process works. While it is exciting to have my own words there for the world to see, it is also a little disconcerting. Strange that I would feel this way when my dream has always been to see my name in print. It is like the scraped-surface feeling I get when I send off a job application and resume – raw, vulnerable, exposed.

But at the same time, I am supposed to be promoting myself so I can begin to make money at this writing game. Just like that resume and cover letter, it is about strutting your stuff without being pompous or arrogant – just honest and healthily ambitious. Reaching out for what you need for your own well-being.

For the past two weeks I have been reaching out so far I’m hanging off the edge off my comfort zone. I applied for three jobs, none of which I really wanted but felt I needed to help our family through this coming heating season. Out went those soul-exposing letters and resume. One rejection (OK, I’ve never actually been an executive assistant), one “you’ll be hearing from us soon,” and one complete blow-off (the utter lack of professional etiquette on that one has me composing passive-aggressive emails in my sleep.)

Yes, I’ve been home for four years but I haven’t stopped “working” during that entire time. I drew enough people’s precious pets and big-eyed babies to pay for one Christmas, taught a journal-writing workshop (and am about to get certified to do another), written 6 chapters of a children’s book, completed a literature course, laid out newsletters and theatre programs…

Hey, wait a minute… I don’t need a damn job!

I think Fear sent those resumes out, but something else started a blog, submitted three stories, revised a full-length article, and sent a query letter to a “real” magazine all in a matter of 48 hours.

I don’t know how the heating will be paid this winter but I’m exposing myself to all the possibilities.