Back To School

It’s been a long time. I have not written a public blog in 5 months. I don’t know why, really. A lot of times I think about writing things and then don’t. But, I have it, so might as well use it. And now that I am in school, I am doing a lot of writing, which seems to be inspiring me to do even more writing.

School has been an adjustment, that is for sure. This term, I am gone Monday-Thursday, from basically 8am-8pm. Long days. I attend 2 classes in person at Portland State University: Intro to Fiction Writing and Business Publishing for Writers. One class is online, Critical Theory of Cinema. All of this while working my same full-time job.

At this point, I am in Week 7 of a 10-week term. Hard to believe a mere 4 months ago I had not even thought of this as a possibility. But, one Sunday afternoon in January while sitting in my room my soul whispered “why don’t you go to school for what your heart truly desires?”. If I was going to do something else, why not this?

The one regret I ever had in my life, or maybe the biggest one I had, was that I wished I would have gone to school for writing. I thought many, many times about getting an MFA, but having a Business degree, I needed the critical piece of instructors to give me writing recommendations.

I started with lofty ideas of getting a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Film Studies. After realizing I want to get my 2nd degree as fast as possible and I don’t want to take 2 years of Spanish or minor in Film, I have switched over to a Bachelor’s of Science in English. All this really means is no 2-year language requirement or Fine Art class.

It is becoming more apparent as I journey on in school the subject that really gets me going is book publishing. Turns out PSU has a Master’s in Book Publishing and they run their own press. And, I could visit a literary festival and publishing houses in Scotland over a 2-week span in the summer. So, I think at this point, my end-game is to finish up my Bachelor’s of Science in English, then apply to get a Master’s in Book Publishing.

As hard as this is, I know it is exactly what I am meant to be doing. I feel now more than ever my external pursuits finally, finally match what is in me internally. Besides, in getting this 2nd degree I can see if I have the chops to do the work and succeed at getting a Master’s degree. I am saying all this to say is that it really is never too late. I will turn 48 years old this year and chances are I am older than most of my instructors. But, IT DOES NOT MATTER. For me, this is my formal training ground, to take all the work I have been doing on my own and hone it to a fine, sharp point. By the time I am 50, it is likely I will have a Master’s degree. Oh, and so far, I am an A student.

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Big Magic

Last week I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's (author of Eat, Pray, Love) new book Big Magic.  Already I want to read it again.  As Marie Forleo says, "every human being should read this book."  Agreed.  So, go get the book.  In the meanwhile, here's a few things that really stood out to me.  

If You're Alive You're a Creative Person.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me I'm creative, but they're not.  I call bullshit.  Elizabeth Gilbert does too.  If you're alive, you're a creative person.  Maybe you don't write music, or books, or paint, but that does not mean you are not creative.  I truly believe we were born to create, all of us.  Yes, I have cultivated creativity in my life and made a conscious choice to hone the craft that chose me, which happens to be writing.  Once you start digging in your own life, you might be surprised what you find.  

I Want to Live My Life Collaborating With the Forces of Inspiration.  I intend to spend the rest of my life following the trail of magic, and collaborating with these forces of Inspiration.  I love the word "collaborate", because it speaks of a partnership.  And I LOVE the idea of partnering with Inspiration on this journey.  I have found when I am working on my books, I am not writing the story, the story is writing me.  I sit down and ask what the story has to tell me today.  As I am faithful, so is Inspiration.  I have two novels in progress, and Inspiration has dumped a third one in my lap.  I don't need to understand Inspiration, or even prove it exists.  It simply is.  I think our world is dying for lack of inspiration and magic, so I intend to be one of those who lives on the fringes of imagination, welcoming Inspiration into my life and creating space for it in my world and the world at large.

You're Own Reasons to Make Art are Enough.  I don't need anyone's permission to make art, which for me, is writing.  And neither do you.  If you want to make it, do it!   It doesn't really matter what anyone thinks anyway.  Would I love to be a NY Times best-selling author?  Of course!  Am I going to quit writing if I'm not?  Never.  I hope I'm writing novels when I'm 90 years old.  Writing is work, but I believe it is the work I am meant to do, and that is good enough.  So, do it I will, regardless of the outcome.  I cannot control the outcome anyway.

If I'm Not Creating, I'm Probably Destroying Something.  I am inclined to think that all of the world's horribly addictive behaviors might be alleviated if people were creating more.  There are a million ways to be blacked out of life, asleep and unaware,  because one does not wish to be present in their current reality.  Not just drugs and alcohol, but food, sex, money, work....and I could go on.  I think these behaviors are a sign of acting out because we are not creating.  We reach for the bottle instead of the page, the pill instead of the piano.  Creating drama in our lives, instead of drama on the page, as Julia Cameron says.  I know this to be true in my own life.  If I don't write daily, I get angsty and antsy and then I start creating all kinds of ridiculous scenarios in my mind, including and not limited to the fact I might just end up homeless, and then I want to eat an entire box of donuts and binge-watch Netflix.  Once I put pen to the page, I settle right down and my mood does a 180.  Those things that seemed to be looming on the horizon are dissipated into mist once I start creating.  

If People Don't Like What You're Creating... This is probably my favorite.  And I am completely unapologetic about the profanity.  People love to criticize, love to tear down, love to do anything to keep you on their level so they don't have to be faced with the fact that Inspiration might be trying to get their attention too.  I wish everyone would go "make their own fucking art".  I think the world would be a much better place.  We get all serious about it, but the very fact that I can sit down with paper and a pen and create a world out of my own mind is amazing!  My brother puts on paper or canvas (or sometimes whatever he can find) the images in his mind with pens and inks and paints.  One of my very best friends records the melodies and words that come to her in song on the piano, the guitar or ukulele.  My Dad has self-published four books.  Four!  And he's got another story in the works.  What an incredible gift!!!  And the coolest part is, we've all got it!  I think Inspiration is just waiting for us to say yes.  

One last thing...if you are thinking about creating something, do it!  You know all the times you say, "Hey, I had that thought" ?  Start acting on it.  If you say no, or ignore the idea long enough, the idea will then move on and find someone else who can bring it to out into the world.  Ideas are waiting to be born, according to Miss Gilbert, and they will find someone else. Will it be easy?  Hell no.  Will it be the best time of your life?  Absolutely.  So go create something!  

Lyft This Shit.

I freaked out for a minute thinking I had not blogged since Monday.  Not true though, phew!  It has been another crazy week!  I'm not even sure where the time goes.  Oh wait, yes I am.  Now that I am back in the work world, that is where the time goes.  I liked not having anyone's schedule but my own.  Alas, I am not yet independently wealthy so I have to find some way to pay rent.  

This week has been super-fun, with some more firsts.  I took my first Lyft passengers out on Wednesday night.  I had logged in to drive after I left Pier 1, and then had got into my pajamas when ding ding ding!  A ride request comes through.  There is a 2-second delay as I freeze, in my boxers, trying to decide if I should accept the ride or not.  I have 15 seconds to decide.  I said yes. I ended up doing one short ride, and one longer ride.  My first ride was also a Lyft virgin, he had downloaded the app minutes before I picked him up when he realized the bus would not be there for an hour.  I took him to the Funhouse Club, realized I had met a friend of his at the Lyft hang-out party, and off I went.  He left me some nice feedback and a $2.00 tip on a $7.00 ride.  Not bad!

I was headed home knowing I had to be at work at 9:15 in the morning, when ding ding ding!  Another ride request came in to pick someone up at the Doug Fir.  I ended up taking him to his apartment up in the West hills, and it ended up that he works for Airbnb, my other dream job.  He asked me why I worked for Lyft, and I told him I wanted to write.  So this would give me the flexibility to do so.  He told me I needed to network, it was not what I knew, but who knew me.  Touche. Valid point.  I am more introverted, so networking is not high on the list of my favorite activities.  But, I conceded his point and decided to that is a skill I can improve upon.  I think working for Lyft will help me with that. 

Last night was 80's prom at McMenamin's Kennedy School.  If you love the 80's but have never been, too bad for you the next prom is not until next year.  The good news is you now have an entire year to plan and get there.  It is so much fun.  My friends and I danced our asses off and ended up hot, sweaty messes and were home by 11:30.  In true prom fashion, we were all sitting in the back of our friends VW van, Lansbury, when the parking lot patrol came around to make sure we weren't drinking alcohol, and to discourage us from "hanging out in our car".  The difference is that now we are adults, and we don't really have to listen, as long as we are not breaking any laws.  I did almost go "tiny death ninja" on the second one because it was so ridiculous. Tiny death ninja translates into "badass short girl".  

Now, I am sitting out in the sunshine sharing my adventure with you.  I tried my best to sleep in today, but finally, around 8am, I decided to get up and take a walk.  I returned some library books, got coffee and wandered around the neighborhood.  I really just needed to be outside.  I sat against an old oak tree in Grant Park and felt a sense of rest restored to my soul.  A squirrel was playing above my head, walkers and joggers were out, some with their dogs.  I met a friendly orange cat on the way to the park so we shared a few minutes of time.  On the way back from my walk someone had set out a bunch of free fiction books, so I came home with five old books, but new to me.  

Today I'm rocking the blue apron and working at Pier 1 from 3-7,  and then I'm going to log in and get some more driving in for Lyft.  It has taken me a long time, but I finally understand the true meaning of crafting a life for yourself.  I spent some time this morning, during my morning pages, dreaming about the future.  Writing a picture of what I intend to have, and seeing myself in it.  The jobs I have now are jobs I have chosen, and jobs that allow me time to write, and do the things I love to do.  And, they get me out into the world, connect me with people I might not have otherwise met.  I am learning new skills all the time, and on top of it, I am getting paid for it!  

I felt a little lonely last night after prom.  Sometimes, only very rarely, do I get that way.  Strangely enough, as I was looking at this picture of me in the van with my friends on our way back to prom, I realized what I had truly done.  As I looked at the vacant seat beside me, I realized I have created room for someone to share my amazing life with me.  So instead of seeing a space that is empty, I see a space waiting to be filled with just the right person.  I trust and believe that when the time is right, he will be there.  Just as everything else in my life as been.  And when I start to think about all the things I am grateful for, well, we could be here all day.  

I'm sharing a video from Julia Cameron talking about morning pages, walks and artist's dates.  I did all of this today, and I did get my problems sorted out.  That little loneliness thing?  During the time I walked it worked itself out after I did these things.  My morning pages helped me visualize the life I intend to create in the future.  And, if you are a creative person and have never been introduced to Julia Cameron, she will change your life.  Happy Saturday!! 

Personal Update.

This year, for me, has been wild and crazy already.  I spent January in Ireland, almost two weeks in the Palm Springs area right after coming home from Ireland, dog-sitting for my then bosses, had a five day window towards the end of February, in which I moved out from their house, which I had been housesitting at since October, and then went directly almost two weeks housesitting for my brother, keeping track of my two nephews (12 and 16) and a few animals, while he and his girlfriend went to Hawaii.

Phew!!  Now I'm finally done with all that shit.  And getting settled in to my new home.  Well, my new room in a home that is very dear and familiar to me.  I'm back in my old hood, the Hollywood District in NE Portland.  I'm renting a room from a very good family friend, while I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  And living in the area where we (my brothers and I) grew up.  I'm doing my own version of "where's Waldo?".  I could be anywhere at any time, you just never know.  So I thought I would set the record straight.

I did this all on purpose, though on the surface it might seem very random.  But, in order to pursue my dreams of travel and writing, I needed to get my expenses down as small as possible, and live in a place which inspires my creativity.  So, while I don't intend to rent a room forever, this is an amazing environment to start my freelance copywriting career and finish my novel, as well as live with people.  I was very tired of living alone.  And the home and the people and things within the home are beautiful.  We had an impromptu wine-tasting the other night, I can walk to a pub and the library, and have enough alone time to work on my creative stuff, but enough interaction with people so I don't get lonely.  Pretty perfect for me right now.

After quitting a job last year in April, that was getting me nowhere, and taking a job that was only guaranteed through the end of the summer, I asked for enough money that I would have some in savings when it was over, so I didn't have to be in a huge hurry to find another job, and I can do something I enjoy, rather than focusing on a very specific dollar amount.   The bonus is I have been able to do a lot of traveling.  And that job lasted through the end of the year and beyond.  

So I'm sitting at the desk in my room, hearing the ticking of clocks and the steady rush of traffic outside and it feels good.  I've been working on a meditation program specifically for writers, and getting everything really settled here.  I've put no time limit on myself to be here.  It could be three months, it could be six months, who knows!  I have an open-ended agreement with my "landlord", so there's no set time to stay or go.  I don't regret one single decision I've made on my journey, and it feels good to be back in the city. 

I'm not stressing about a job.  Every single thing has been taken care of since I decided to cast off from the shore of certainty and embrace unknown territories.  Now I am comfortable only knowing the next few weeks or the next few months.  I am connecting with people, online and offline, and loving it.  Building my website, figuring out how to hone my passions and feeling incredibly peaceful and rested.  I look at life as an adventure and do my best to be in the present moment.  Always learning, always growing.  That is something that will never change for me.  

The amazing thing is I can do anything, whatever I want.  It's like standing on the top of a mountain and deciding which path to take. Let's see where my journey takes me next.