Just Start

IMG_6717

Change your mind as many times as there are ripples in the sand. But just start.

Wherever you are, just start.

I beg of you, start.

Don’t force it to be perfect or good or done, just start. It’s okay. Take a deep breath, and do that very first thing to move you in the direction you want to go. Just start.

Don’t wait for the right moment or the time or the money or the support system. Once you start, some of that will appear. Other parts you’ll have to work toward diligently and passionately and aggressively. Or just calmly and methodically.

But just start.

What’s that thing you wanted to do? Eat healthy? Lose weight? Pick up a new hobby? Deepen or change your current hobby? Connect with a stranger? Connect with your own family and current friends? Disconnect from Facebook or Instagram or poisonous relationships?

What’s that thing nagging at you right now? Wouldn’t that be fun? Wouldn’t that be… authentic? Do something, do anything, and just start.

It’s okay.

What I’ve come to realize, but I’m still working on, is that the world needs more people to live their true lives. It does no good to just live, to simply move the pieces of paper from one side of our desks to the other. We must attempt to thrive as often and as deeply as possible.

What are you waiting for? No, really, what are you waiting for? Is it ever going to be easier? If it really is, what are you doing now to move toward a space in which you can explore this thing you’re thinking about? Or maybe easier isn’t the answer. What about, just, different?

Pick something, anything. Start in the middle or the end or, if you’re feeling extra saucy, the beginning.

Just start.

Advertisements

Weekends

A few years ago, I got in the habit of planning my weekends the same way I planned workouts and meals. Near the beginning of the week, I would find something fun to do the next weekend – maybe a new thrift shop to explore, a historic site to tour or a trail to hike. Even if it was only an activity to occupy a couple hours on Saturday afternoon, I found I loved having something to look forward to.

When I fall out of the habit, the weekend slips by, and I start the next workweek feeling restless and moody – I didn’t take advantage of the time! I didn’t actually do anything!

Now that I’m single again, I’m finding that planning to be so much more important than it was when I was in a relationship. I can easily waste away a whole day with Netflix and laundry, just to find the next day a frantic rush to clean the apartment, ride the horse, get to the gym, buy groceries and not do anything out of the normal routine.

I’m sick of watching my weekends slip away unnoticed. I’m tired of feeling like I’m just treading water, not actually moving toward the goals I say I want to accomplish.

Better is not the aim right now; better is arbitrary and kind of pisses me off these days. Authentic is what I’m going for.

By my count, there are 11 more weekends of 2016. That’s 11 opportunities to explore something local, try something new, work toward something you’ve been saying you’re going to make time for.

What are you waiting for?

Finding My Voice Back

dsc_0130-2

Photo thanks to the talented Rachel Florman

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t written much over the past year or more. Not just on the blog, but also in normal life.

Since I was probably 7 years old and still learning what made a sentence, writing has been part of my daily life and part of my identity. I wanted to write novels more than anything, and I spent a great many hours writing fiction stories, usually about horses, but sometimes about princesses or adventure or boys or all of the above.

I chose journalism in college mostly on a whim, and my writing became more structured. I learned about deadlines, AP style and how to write a functional news article. During and after college, internships helped me hone my skills, but it wasn’t until my first full-time job out of college that the volume of writing I did – including honest and in depth feedback from fantastic editors – started me down the path of a story teller.

Many articles were still a struggle, but in the fast-paced environment of a weekly news magazine, there was no room for angsty pondering. Get it done. Make it good. Polish, primp, publish.

But life as an equine journalist is not for me, as I learned over the course of three years in the industry. I love horses, but working in the industry all day left me disinterested in pursuing it as a hobby. Within months of leaving the industry, I was back in the saddle, hungry for each ride and enjoying every moment at the barn.

But with my departure from journalism came a separation from the writing. A few freelance articles came and went, and life continued. Between the full-time job, the relationship, the other goals and interests, the writing faded to the background. The words weren’t as comfortable pouring out of my fingers. Journaling because an infrequent, at best, coping mechanism for dark days.

Worst was the loss of the fiction. For more than 15 years, my daily life involved characters and plots floating around my head like a delightful background conversation. But they faded over time, until they finally just weren’t there any more. None of them were there, not even old favorites I’d conversed with on and off for years.

I’m not crazy. Read Big Magic, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I think the ideas, the projects, simply began to recognize that I would not help them be created. They saw that I was not willing to engage.

But then, the funniest thing happened. The other day, I was going about my life, and I was hit with a sledgehammer of a character. And holy crapola did that character jump off my fingers and onto a page faster than I could have imagined. And then came another character, and another. They were all intertwined, and I forced myself to not worry about details like names or descriptions. I just wrote what happened one day when they all started interacting and sparks f;ew and people yelled and laughed and were delightful fictional characters, the type with whom I’d never actually want to be friends because they’re a little over the top and a little out of my league, but they are mine because they came to me demanding to be created, at least a little tiny bit, and I obliged.

So where am I going with this?

All this rambling has a point, but also no point at all. The point is that I’m still finding my voice back. After such a long time I started to not even notice it was missing, and now I’m working on putting figurative pen to figurative paper and see what comes out of my fingertips.

Sometimes, this blog might be about travel. Sometimes, it might be about writing. Sometime, I might even tell you what made me lose my voice, but only if I figure that out first.

Follow along if you like – maybe someday soon I’ll be able to start sharing the other projects I’m working on. Maybe I’ll start showing you the photos I’ve been taking or the maps I’ve been pondering.

But for today, just please believe that I’m trying really, really hard to find my voice back. It’s not perfect – it never was – but it’s also very scratchy after not being used for so long. It’s uncertain and faltering, but it’s my voice, damn it. And I don’t want to lose it again.

Approaching The Finish Line

tangledThere’s a scene in Tangled with Rapunzel and Flynn on the boat, waiting for the lanterns to get released that I’ve been playing over in my head. Rapunzel’s feeling a little down, and she says, “I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”

Flynn assures her, “It will be,” but then she says, “And what if it is? What do I do then?”

Of course, Flynn knows just what to say: “Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.”

As the weeks dwindle and I get closer and closer to paying off my loans (six more weeks!), I realize how much I’ve been absorbed by this goal. Many decisions in my life that might seem unrelated have been impacted by my deep desire to pay off my loans, and the past year has been riddled with “if only I were debt free” moments, days and weeks.

In some ways, I feel like I’ve already crossed the finish line. For the past year, I’ve focused so much it’s hurt. And now that I’m so close to being done, I wonder what’s next.

Some things, I already have planned: ride more horses; build an emergency fund; save for a new car.

But then I stop and think about some of the little things: Will I keep my second job? If I do, will I be able to cut back on hours without letting my ambition and impatience get in the way? If I don’t, what will I do with (compared to now) so much free time? How will my mindset change once I’m actually out of debt? Will I be more generous? Will it live up to my expectations of freedom? Will I see my career in a different light?

What happens when the biggest, most ambitious goal I’ve ever had is actually accomplished?

Finding Fearless

 At the beginning of 2015, just like I have for the past couple years, I chose a Word for the year. I put a lot of thought into it, and I settled on Centered. It was supposed to be a way to calm life down a little bit after so much running around for the past few years, and especially after the intensity of the end of 2014. Between finding a new job, traveling for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then moving, I was exhausted.

But over the past three months, I haven’t really internalized Centered the way I internalized Embrace and Connect. It hasn’t changed my life perspective, and I’ve made no different decisions than if my word for the year was It or The.

Yesterday, I was contemplating a few things, journaling about some inner turmoil (the usual Tuesday drivel), and I started to realize that by trying to stay Centered, I’m also living a very conservative life. I’m holding back in ways I don’t appreciate.

I find myself feeling jealous of people who seem to live a carefree, throw-caution-to-the-wind life. And I know I’ll never be that way–I like plans and step-by-step processes. However, when I get too caught up in my plans, I start to act from a place of fear. What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if things change too much? What if they never change?

But what if I wasn’t afraid?

A million things came to mind, all of them well within my reach. I’m still exploring this idea, figuring out what it means in a daily life kind of way. (I don’t really want to jump out of an airplane anytime soon.) And although being Centered is important, I need to practice being Fearless right now–Fearless in my relationships, in my work, in my writing and photography, in my goals and dreams. There’s no holding back.

I’ve got this one life. That’s it. There’s no second chance, no do-over if I mess it up.

So let’s do this. Let’s be fearless and brave and unashamed of any of it. What’s the worst that can happen?

Passion Planner Review

My ex-roommates have been telling me for about two months that my Christmas present is on its way. I smiled, nodded and went on with life, forgetting all about it.

Then, last week, I got a package in the mail with possibly one of the coolest, most perfect-for-me presents of all time: a Passion Planner.

Essentially, it’s a day planner on steroids. There are weekly and monthly calendars, but there’s also space for journaling, brainstorming, drawing–whatever. Each week has a space to define the week’s focus and to make a little list of good things that happened that week. Each week also has a quote and challenge for the week–like to write someone a letter or meditate once a day. There’s space for to-do lists each week and each month, as well as a system for goal setting that can carry from the yearly to monthly and weekly calendars.

I think my favorite part is the questions at the end of each month. It’s like a guided self-reflection over the past month as well as a space to celebrate success and think about what could go better the next month.

I’m still transitioning from my old day planner to this one, but in doing so, I realized how little self-reflection I’ve been doing lately. It’s become a fun part of my day to go through my Passion Planner and think about what goals I’m working toward and what I can do TODAY to take a next step toward that.

In addition to the concept, the paper is incredibly high quality–I can use my thickest pens and not bleed through the page–and the cover is durable and nice. It’s simple black, so I feel comfortable taking this into meetings. My only problem so far is no place to store a pen, which would just be a nice bonus.

If you haven’t heard about Passion Planners, check out the website, passionplanner.com, and consider ordering one or using the free sample for a few days to see if you like it.

P.S. This review is just to share my experience with the Passion Planner so far–I’m not receiving anything to write this.

Staying Centered In The Middle Of Nowhere

IMG_3500

Midland greeted me with a fantastic ice storm.

A month ago, I drove out into the desert and started a brand new adventure in Midland, Texas. With the exception of a few short days in the area over Thanksgiving, I’d never been to the area.

I’ve done that before. I’ve picked up and moved far away with lots of doubts and dreams keeping me afloat.

But I’ve always done it alone. This time, I have Boyfriend.

You’d think it would be harder to move and settle in all by myself with no one but the cat and dog to keep me company, but I’m finding that’s not true. I still have moments (or days) of sadness, homesickness for I’m-not-exactly-sure-where and ennui.

Last weekend was a low. We were having a lazy weekend. Neither of us were particularly in the mood to do much more than sit around watching TV (me) and playing video games (him). But on Sunday night, my emotional build up finally flooded free. It was all too much. Too much sitting around, too much trying to feel at home, too much newness. Just too much.

After I calmed down a little, I started thinking and journaling about what I was feeling, and I remembered my word for 2015: Centered.

When I’m looking back on this year, what do I want to remember? I sure as hell don’t want to remember sitting around watching television on a beautiful Sunday while the world spins underneath my bum. I don’t want to space out and lose a day or a weekend.

I want to be centered, to take adventures and explore and have fun. I want to try new things and be playful with my life. I want to be healthy, read books, go on walks with the dog, play with the cat, become debt free, read more books, learn about myself, write, take pictures just for fun because it’s not part of my job anymore and generally enjoy my life.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? I sure don’t think so.