Friday, October 26, 2012

Step Away

     Often I feel like I am moments or mere steps away from some sort of success. If I can just stay focused or just keep working or worrying a project, the right break through will come along and everything will fall into place. That is often what is promised in many of the writing and motivation books I read. And since it is in print, it must be true, right?
     I am now finding that it is equally important to step away; from my day to day life, work worries, writing knots, daily dramas, and any other thing that brings me or others down.
     This past weekend I was able to step away for a weekend away. It was a working weekend as I was watching my friend's kids, but they live far out in the country, so for this city loving gal I was very much out of my element.
     There were many beautiful moments, even as rain poured down much of the time. Early one morning, as the hazy mists were lifting, a flock of wild turkeys emerged from the woods, gathering around and on the wood pile.
     I also had the opportunity to see and walk among the glorious fall foliage that I enjoy so much. I even got several great snaps that I gaze at whenever I need to alter the landscape of my soul. Being out and about outside also helped replenish my words, my inner source. I finally was able to start writing again after a drought of several weeks.
     It isn't often that I have been this much at a loss for words so I now have a new found sympathy for anyone that suffers from writer's block or any issue that keeps them from a task they ordinarily love.


Magical Thinking

     So, as I have been wallowing in my anxiety, I have finally been able to come up with one coherent thought; I really figured I would have things better worked out by now. What sort of things, you might ask. If I wasn't feeling so burned out I might be able to give a clear answer.
     Hmm, what things did I hope for way back when. Well, for one thing, I really thought I would feel like a grown up by now, a full time, full fledged adult. Oh, sure, I have made some grown up, hard choices every now and then, even been mature a time or two, but I still feel like a fraud at the end of the day.
     For instance, what should I do for my resume? The current job may or may not last much longer, no one really knows. However, it just so happens that my place of employment has made national news and it is one of those hot button topics that people get all enraged about. When people I meet for the first time find out where I work, they feel the need to share their opinion about what they think of the company and those of us that work there. And I seriously need to stop reading all the messages on the social media chat-boards or I will just slip right over the edge into oblivion.
     But back to the resume? What do I do? Do I list where I have been working for the last year and some odd months? Will people want to call me for an interview just to hear about my experience there? If they have a negative opinion about the company I currently work for, will they just disregard my application?
     I have given this a lot of thought. I could feasibly say I took a year off to pursue writing. I have been writing a lot the past several years and this year I actually did have a storybook published. Maybe I just shouldn't even list my current employer on my resume. Several of my friends think this sounds like a reasonable solution.
     I may eventually agree with my friends. Right now it just feels like too much of a  defeat if I leave it off my resume. I already feel like all I really did this past year was get another year older. As much as I want to get mired in that thought, another one whispers through my mind, "You did get another year older." And then I am grateful as I think of where I was headed this time last year, preparing to have invasive surgery.
     And then I look at the clock and see the time. Time shifts and blends when I write. Suddenly it is the middle of the night and if you would have asked me, I would have said it couldn't be much past ten pm. I'm reminded of many of the nights of my childhood and young adulthood. Often I would turn on my reading lamp and read through the night, certain that if I could just stay awake, it would stay today and I would never have to deal with tomorrow's problems.
     I can deal with right now, this minute, these words. If I just keep writing I can hold off tomorrows fears and worries, the anxieties of next week, next month, next year. If I can just keep writing, everything will be okay. None of this tomorrow is another day crap for me, all I want is an endless today.
    

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When Autumn Leaves Start to Fall

     I am enjoying the fall weather, finally. As the summer months dragged along and scorched my soul along with our landscape, I feared relief would never come. A person can only take off so much clothing and still be fit to work out amongst the public. Now I can layer as needed, which is generally not at all. I love autumn's chill that is able to cool my churning mind.
     It has slowly dawned on me that I am having some issues with stress and anxiety. Part of it is til residual fears from last year. I had some great moments last year, but also several that rather sucked, at least to me. I ended up having three surgeries last year, two of them for my kidney. They rather threw me for a loop. I think I am fully recovered, except for those moments when there is an inexplicable pain and one holds one's breath, wondering, is it over? Is it back? Is there another blockage of my kidney? I go for weeks now and don't think of it at all.
     It was a shocking thing to have to change how I viewed myself, thankfully only for certain moments, at least for now. I had always considered myself healthier than my peers. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't, but I had avoided surgery of any type for my whole life until last year. Suddenly having to think of myself as sick was a huge blow to my ego. It is sad how as a whole, we do make people feel that it is rather somehow their fault when they end up ill. If only you had done this, or done that, or had the foresight to have different ancestors. Being ill is quite a discouraging process. And that makes the recovery process rather hard to begin.
     I do feel much better than I did a year ago. At least physically. I feel a certain sadness that is partly cued by the falling leaves, the lengthening darkness of the days, and the inevitable markers of the passages of time-children bounding off to school, boats and bikes being put into storage. I have a greater understanding of the issues that plagued my mother's health since she was younger than I am now. I can now better appreciate the consuming despair that would encompass watching your physical health slowly fail.
     This fall season finds me with the added difficult situation of again working for a large corporation that has managed to do things in a somewhat unorthodox way. The company I work for was the recipient of a lot of special funding. Even with that special funding, there have been great difficulties in keeping the business running through our struggling state and national economies.
     When I first considered starting this new job at this brand new plant, the advice I received from almost everyone was, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Sadly, you still do miss some of the shots that you do take. We all just think that will never happen to us. That being said, I would still make the same choice. everything does happen for us to learn and grow from. I have learned a lot is this past year at a greater rate than I have learned in probably my whole life.
     Yes, the excitement has worn away. When we first got our company coats with the name and logo of our company on it, I was thrilled. It was just like the old days when I had worked at another of the great automobile suppliers in our area. Now, I cringe when i put on the only winter coat I own with our company logo shining brightly on my left breast. Strangers now feel free to verbally assault me and belittle me for where I work. People that had no interest in helping me spread the word about the storybook I had published this year suddenly care what I might have to say based on where I work. Not about my book, mind you, about the company.
     Well, my job is not my life. It is not who I am. It never has been. It just seems like it in this moment. I need to remember this will pass just has surely as the miserable heat of summer passed. But even in that heat, there were many opportunities for me to make it out to the big lake to swim.
      Feeling like I need to defend myself from strangers has caused the type of anxiety that can rule one's sleep by creating frightful nightmares. I just need to learn to appreciate these for what they are, my brain's way of sorting out these issues for me. This way I can better enjoy pursuing my real dreams, using words to create colorful pictures that will make a lasting connection between me and my stories and their readers.
     As I was saying to a friend of mine, whether the sky is a foreboding gray or a bright blue, the trees glorious colors are showcased either way.


Monday, October 1, 2012

GUTGAA Small Press Contest

     This past week has been another unbelievable week for me. The highs and lows were a bit much. I am often reminded of the little grandma talking in that movie Parenthood, describing to Steve Martin's character Gil how life resembles an amusement park ride. She says so many people prefer the merry-go-round, but she liked the thrill of the roller coaster. Now, most people know that I am NOT a big fan of roller coasters. In fact, they leave me quivering and shaking with fear. I generally only ride them when I have been shamed into it. Ask my sister about this.
     This past week, I again found my private life on public display as the potential short comings of my current "day job" employer were out on display in a media circus. Reports were coming every half hour during the early morning news hours of our work shortages and stoppages, all things I would rather not share except with my closest friends or with my co-workers that are going through this with me. The fear that I had been keeping at bay was now out for public display, much to my dismay. It seemed like I was getting in a rut with my day job and feeling discouraged about my dream job, my writing prospects.
     Then came the unexpected email. I had put out several different entries for multiple contests that are being sponsored by the Gearing Up to Get an Agent Contest, GUTGAA. I found out on Friday I had made the cut for the Small Press contest. Suddenly I was clutching the handrails again as my little coaster car careened up the roller coaster.
      When you have a moment-please follow the link and check out my humble entry. If you have an extra moment, please leave a comment. I always need critiques and they are appreciated.

http://julianalbrandt.com/2012/10/pitch-19-one-step-closer-to-nowhere/



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