Love Letter to Future Me…

I just started following Happy Black Woman’s 31 Day’s to Reset Your Life Series. There are 31 days of exercises meant to help you  focus and evaluate your goals in an effort to help you live a better life in 2012 and beyond. Today’s exercise really struck a chord with me, as it allowed participants to write love letters to themselves via FutureMe.org. With this site, you can send yourself a letter to anytime in the future. While beginning with a letter set to be delivered in 30 days, I added one for my 30th birthday and for one five years from now.

In thinking about what I want to say to Future Racheal, I thought about things that I’m working on now, habits I don’t want to have in the future, and things I better be doing in the future. It makes me kind of anxious to think that some time five years from now, I’ll be getting an email from myself, checking on me to make sure I’ve been making the right choices. I’m curious to find out how my writing will have developed, and how many publishing credits to my name?

In realizing that I don’t want to disappoint my future self, it dawned on me that I shouldn’t want to disappoint today’s me. This means I’ve got to get to the business of making good choices NOW. Otherwise, I’m gonna have nobody to blame if when that email comes, I’m no closer to achieving my dreams than I am today.

If you wrote a letter to your future self, what would you write? Leave a comment and tell me about it!

Advertisements

You’re Invited…

I tried something different this year. Instead of sending out Christmas cards to people I hadn’t heard from all year, I sent myself an invitation to my ideal life.

It sounds silly, but I’ve always been big on self reflection. I’m one of those people who actually cry a little bit when at 11:59 I’m forced to say goodbye to another year. I think about the memories that I got to create. I think of the times I cried until I couldn’t cry any more. And after I’m done with all of that, I think of the opportunity to look ahead and try it all again in the New Year.

Every year, I make of list of things I want to do better, all in an effort to become a better Racheal. But this year, instead of coming up with things that I would half way forget about after January 9th, I am inviting the Racheal that existed in 2011 to the life that awaits her in 2012. Just like I know my birthday is waiting for me in March and my wedding anniversary will be there in June, I am inviting myself to the success and accomplishments that will be overflowing for me in 2012.

There will be a finished book, even more literary clients and speaking gigs; if I show up. Showing up for me means writing more instead of getting eight hours of sleep. Showing up means not being afraid to say and do the things that the successful version of myself would say and do.

I have to RSVP and tell the Universe that I will be there if it makes room. That’s how my destiny knows to prepare for me. So I don’t need to wait until December 31 to say it. I will be fully present in 2012. Not a slave to my unpredictable emotions or my uncanny ability to get sleepy at the first sight of real working needing to be done. I’ve RSVP’d for my success this year. What will you be showing up for in 2012?

Kicking the Habit…

Hi, my name is Racheal. And I’m addicted to attention….

I might not be a full blown addict, yet. Maybe I’m really just a narcissist at heart, who loves to exist in a world that centers around me. In a relationship, my ears need to hear evidence that I am loved in the same way I give love. As a writer, I feed off the energy that I get from readers when they get the point I worked so hard to make.

I’m more of a functioning addict, so when I get my fix, I can get through my day feeling loved, needed and appreciated. When I don’t get what I need, bad things are likely to happen. Like, I just might verbally assault the squirrel who jumps out on me in traffic. So what do you think happens to a person like me when I experience rejection?

There is something about the word “rejection” that leaves a sour taste in my mouth just saying it. Since its root word is “reject”, which simply means to dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to one’s taste,there is no way to not to take rejection personally.

When a person rejects our work, our ideas or even us personally, they are in essence saying, “you’re not good enough” or “you’re not what I’m looking for”. This stings us to our core because when we show ourselves to people, we become vulnerable, wide open and exposed. And it’s not like that’s an easy thing to do. To strip naked and allow ourselves to be seen, when we give a relationship or a creative effort the best we’ve got and it’s still not enough? Simply sucks.

Rejection becomes enemy #1 to a person like me, because I thrive off of positive attention. I need the shot in the arm almost daily, otherwise the feelings of withdrawal begin to creep up on me. But in the phase of my life when I am beginning to understand that all things work together, I reluctantly accept that rejection is necessary for me to walk closer to the things that are for me.

I am learning to take every “no” as a “not this door Racheal”, knowing that what I am meant to gain is behind another one. Does my heart ache a little each time this happens? Sure. But by enduring the process, and kicking the habit one experience at a time, I’m destined to find a door with my name across it in gold.

Back to breathing….

I haven’t written a blog in almost six weeks. Sure there has been a lot going on; I’m separated from my husband now and I’m struggling to make sense of a decision I thought would be best for me and everybody involved. But it’s hard to be creative and write when you feel your head and heart are on life support. It’s hard to breathe life into your dreams when you’ve forgotten what those dreams are.

It seems like I’m learning to live all over again. Everything feels new and foreign to me as I make decisions like I’ve got a phantom limb. I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with the piles of laundry and the homework that’s over due, I haven’t slowed down enough to write a single word. I told myself I would at least write in my journal. I thought it would be a good idea to remember what I’ve been going through a year or two from now. But there is barely time to wash the dishes in the sink.

And now that things are starting to get back to normal, I find myself itching to write. I am overwhelmed and exhilarated at the same time, and I don’t want to miss a single second of what this feels like. I am only somewhat surprised to see that my words come easily and smooth. I am clicking letters on a keyboard like I have still been making my thousand word a day quota.

So I’m back to living, feeling again and most importantly writing. It is one of the few things that I didn’t leave behind in the move.

Pleasure Principle…

It happens to us all. We run towards the things and people that hurt us, make us cry and mean us harm. But the things we know are good; good to us and good for us, we run away from like it’s Hurricane Irene.

I got invited to a writers thingy today, the kind of event where people who think like me would’ve probably been at. I need to socialize more, make more real life writing friends. But I stayed home. I did spend about eight hours at a work event this morning, but that’s not the point. I realized that just about any time I’m invited to one of these social events, a meetup, a reading or a release party, my first inclination is think of the dishes I need to wash or the laundry that needs to be put up. And the ironic thing is that I absolutely love being in this kind of environment. I am my most authentic self, I don’t have to apologize for being a well read, argumentative girl who loves the spotlight (fyi, give me a microphone and I WILL find something to say).

Sometimes I think I’m part masochist. I deprive myself of things that will make me feel good, for no reason (Coldstone Creamery on a day that’s not my birthday, or a new shirt from H&M that’s not on sale). And why do I do this? Wish I knew. Sometimes it’s the feeling of not being worthy of good things, new things, expensive things. Not sure where this mentality came from. I’ve been working it out in therapy. But today I asked myself, when will I give myself permission to accept good things. When will it stop hurting to feel good?

I’m giving myself an assignment. Everyday I’m going to give myself permission to feel good about something that would normally stir up feelings of unworthiness, guilt or shame. Today it might be a bowl of ice cream in a waffle bowl with caramel syrup (don’t judge). Tomorrow it might be going to church an catching the Holy Ghost (maybe not). But you get the point. Try to do the same. Give yourself permission to let in the good. Because if you wont, who else will?

Letting Go…

I heard someone say that the worst thing about letting go is realizing that you held on too long. I’m not ashamed to say it. I’ve held on to the idea that “I’m writing a book”, the same way women hold on to bad relationships for no reason.

I have a tendency to think too hard. I over analyze things and find ways to make everything more complex. Take writing this book. I’ve literally been working on some form of it for about five years. Does it really take that long to write a novel? Hell no. But for me it took that long to convince myself that it could be done.

See, I used to give myself all kinds of reasons why I couldn’t self publish a book; I wanted the validation of being published by a “traditional” house, it would cost too much money, or simply, I believed nobody would like my stuff.

I’ve been following some up and coming authors and I have to admit, some of their stuff is terrible. I have fourth graders that could probably write better fiction. I met a woman the other day who proclaimed herself to be a full time writer and I could barely get through the first page of her 445 page book.

While I would’ve preferred to use her book to hold up the legs of my desk, I realized that she is out here; noticeable, social and maybe even selling books. This lady with the bad grammar, misspelled words and dangling participles is living her dream. And in all actuality, she is living my dream. The difference between me and her? She stopped thinking so hard and wrote the damn book.

So, this is my attempt at not over thinking the process. I am letting go of my issues so that I can get a book in return. Good Mourning will be published in January. Whether I like it or not. I’m trying not to take myself so serious, which means digging deep but not so far that I never get the story out.

We all have to let go of something to get something. What will you let go of this week?

Public Nudity…

So recently, I’ve started getting naked in public. Ok, not really. I’ve just started sharing more of myself with the rest of the world. And for me, this used to be hard to do.

I am a home body. A loner, perfectly content being by myself, and the Investigation Discovery Channel. I don’t like crowds. Or loud places. Or dark places. But Racheal the author has to kick these anxieties in the ass and get over them. This means actually interacting with people. In real life and online. This also means sharing my writing, my inner most thoughts, with other people.

By doing this, I’ve begun making myself vulnerable, something I would never have done a year ago. I used to care too much about what other people would think. If they knew I wrote about death, dying and crazy people the way I did, maybe they’d think I was crazy. Or maybe my writing (and therefore I) was terrible and no one would like it?

But quite the opposite has happened. Releasing myself and my writing into the universe has actually given me more confidence. The feedback, the constructive criticism and the encouragement has all motivated me in a way I never imagined it would. I still care what people think about my writing. But like strolling the sands of a nudist beach, you stop thinking about your flaws when you realize everyone else has them too.

So getting naked in public has taught me that true art can only be expressed when we stop putting trying to hide it under clothes; which are our fears, anxieties, insecurities and all the other stuff that keeps us from expressing our truest self.

It feels damn good to be this free. A little scary. A little exhilarating, but good. I’m looking for some nudist beaches if anyone has some suggestions.

Love Sick

Telling people you are a writer is like telling people you’re dating a guy that just got out of prison. For murder. They don’t understand it, and they think you’re crazy, telling you not to quit your day job.

I often hear other writers (from this point on in my life, I am a writer, period) talk about the transition from being what they were previously, to calling themselves a writer. Here is where I make the distinction.

So previous to being a writer, I was a few things. I sold insurance, I owned a few businesses and then I was a teacher. I knew I wanted to teach since I was a kid, about just as long as I wanted to be a writer.

I went to college and studied English, still hiding the writer inside of me like Clark Kent hid his Superman getup. And after being successful at so many other things, the writer in me started kicking and screaming, begging to be set free.

Saying you are a writer, and actually being an author-two different things. You know you are an author when you walk around with characters in your head that speak to you (no I’m not schizophrenic, trust me, I’ve asked). You find inspiration in everything around you, including songs on the radio and cereal boxes.

But most of all, you know you are a writer when you pursue it with everything you have, like you would the man or woman of your dreams. You chase it without fear of being made a fool of, or rejected. You give it everything you have hoping it will say “I love you” first, and then dream of enjoying the fruits of your labors; not little kids that look like you, but recognition, accolades and respect.

Yes, being a writer is a lot like being in love. And I hate to say it is only from experience that I know.