I’m a Writer, I’m a Runner (and how they are the same damn thing)

I am not a natural runner, never have been, never will be. This is a fact that used to make me rage internally. I wanted to be that girl; there's a version of myself that I envision in some alternate reality in a galaxy far, far away. She's fit, lean, and ready to jog a marathon on a whim with a smile on her face and a light glistening of sweat that makes her look slightly magical as opposed to gross and smelly. The reality is far less appealing. I huff, I puff, I scrunch my brows into pained concentration. My hair jettisons out into a frizzy halo and the color of my face could rival the ripest tomato. I don't have any real form to speak of and could probably be confused with Phoebe from Friends as she's rushing to Central Perk. I am not a pretty runner. I don't say that to be modest or cheeky, it's true. When I was younger I even stopped for a while after being made fun of for it- my brittle self-esteem at that awkward age could not quite take it, so I avoided partaking in the activity for years- at least not when other people might see me.

phoebe-running-style-o

And so everyone who knew me was quite shocked when I agreed to take part in a multi-day, two-hundred (ish) mile relay race. I was dreading it, if I'm being honest, but I had a team of eleven other people who were depending on me- peer pressure can be a truly motivating force.

A few things happened that I never expected while I was out there on those roads, pushing through mental roadblocks and physical limitations, taking a pounding from the relentless sun and basking in the beauty of a star filled sky. I fell in love with this difficult challenge that forced me to find a sense of grit we lose in this world of modern convenience.

I didn't think I could do it- I went into the challenge simply hoping to survive long enough to cross that finish line. But there's something refreshingly human in the desire to prove yourself wrong; when you dig deep and find that resilient spirit you tucked away so many years ago. There's something empowering when you stand there staring at your own expectations of what you are capable of, holding your weaknesses in your hands and smashing them to the ground with a war cry of your own invention. There is something invigorating when you find a shard of strength you didn't know you had embedded deep your soul; that moment when you realize you actually did the one thing you always thought would be impossible. You become a fighter, you become more than you were yesterday.

There is something that we always seem to forget about grit and strength; contrary to what Instagram would have us believe- it is not always pretty, it does not always look empowering, and things do not suddenly become easy simply because you have changed your frame of mind. You don't suddenly morph into Mulan and start kicking ass without an ounce of trouble. I did more than I thought possible- but I still looked like a burnt puffer fish running down those roads. I was still in pain, my muscles screamed, my lungs went into panic mode. I still had to fight for ever inch of ground I gained, and I had to keep up a constant dialog with my own brain to convince it that my body could keep pushing. Success does not come easily, it does not always look like those inspirational pictures with the cliche captions on Pinterest. Life is messy, it is hard, and you will have to fight for all of it.

When you are out there pounding the pavement with no other distractions to steal your precious attention; your mind starts to wander into places you don't often visit. You find yourself searching for inspiration, for a reason to keep on moving forward. As I was out there on the road I thought a lot about life and what I wanted from it (apart from surviving to the finish). I thought about this past year and all of the steps that I have and have not taken towards my dreams. I thought about school, about work, about my writing. And I realized how similar my running and my writing actually were; it made each step a tiny bit easier when I realized that I already knew how to do this. I find my grit when I'm writing, I push myself, I battle with my inner critic who wants me to quit- I silence that voice. I knew how to run because I knew how to write. Knowing the patterns of the struggle reminded me that I know how to overcome them.

They say that running just entails putting one foot in front of the other, and writing is merely stringing words in a row. And yet to those who love them, they are so much more than that. These two completely different hobbies require the same frame of mind. You have to want it, you have to push, you have to fight for every advantage. And the enemy you are going up against isn't some scary monster- all too often it is that little voice in your own head saying 'you can't do this, you aren't good enough, why bother? Just stop.' You have to fight that voice with everything inside of you even when you don't believe your own inspiring words, even when you start to fall for those lies that little voice tells.

I'm a master of excuses. I can come up with ten thousand three hundred and thirty two reasons not to do something- each one more creative than the last. I do this on days I should be writing, and I especially do this on days when I'm supposed to hit that pavement. And yet with both the real struggle is simply beginning. Once you start- the world is fine, and you might as well keep on going. You have to fight the urge to be comfortable, you have to be willing to push yourself when you don't want to. You have to want it more than you want the bubble you hide in.

You have to be willing to put in the work if you want it to look effortless. I wrote a lot of horrible pieces when I started- and sometimes I still do (a lot of times). I had to keep practicing, putting words to paper as a foundation. I knew that I could sculpt it later, but I needed something tangible to work with. I had to start if I wanted to get better. It's easy to read a book and say 'I will never be that good, I am not that talented.' It's easy to forget that you are witnessing merely the tip of the ice burg that author has carved. There were months of awful work behind that. There were first drafts that were painful and difficult. There was editing and redrafting and polishing- all to create this little collection of pages that look so effortlessly beautiful.

Running is no different; it does not come easy to most people. When you see them on the road cruising along like they're floating on air- that's because they worked for it. You didn't see all of those months when they were gasping for air and pushing to reach the next telephone pole. You didn't see the struggle, you are witnessing the outcome of their hard work. They had days where the road kicked their ass, they had a time when the idea of running an entire mile without stopping seemed impossible. They had weeks where they didn't feel like they were improving at all. They would push just a little bit farther every day. They had to fight to make it look so easy, and truthfully, inside they are probably still waging that war as you watch them. These big rewards were not meant to be easy, these dreams are not ones you will accomplish unless you truly and deeply want it.

You will have to work hard, even when every piece of you is resisting. Writing when the muse is with you; that is the most beautiful time for any author- when the words flow freely like a raging river and the characters transform into living being right before your eyes. Writing is easy when the stars align just for you. But the truth is, this won't happen often. Most of your time will be spent pushing through the mental roadblock, and that fickle little muse will be off indulging some other wayward fancy. You will have to carry the story on your own. You will have to find something inside of you that pushes you forward, something that will keep you sitting there stringing one word behind another. Out on that road you will find the same thing. There is a period where the steps are easy and the pace is fast; you could go in for miles- so it seems. You feel great and your mind is keenly in tune with your body. Perhaps you have someone near you to keep you motivated; I do my best running at the beginning of a race when you are surrounded in a pack of likeminded individuals embarking on the same adventure- I beat personal records right in that sweet spot. But it doesn't always feel like that. In fact, a lot running (for me) consists of an inner dialog that I cannot turn off. It's my voice yelling to reach that next marker, to push it just a little bit farther. Most of it- for me- is hard work. A lot of really hard work.

When I did that relay- about eighty percent of the time I was not pleased with being there. It hurt- my muscles ached, there was a stitch in my side that would not go away, the sun left me parched, my face was so red police officers were actually concerned for my safety, and I was breathing like an elephant in need of an inhaler. It was not glamorous, it was not this magical moment that the fitness vloggers out there would lead you to believe. Pixie dust might sprinkle itself on them when they hit the road with their running shoes on, but not this Princess. But I was still out there. I was still fighting for every step, every inch, every mile with every fiber of my body. I didn't quit. Just like I don't quite writing when it's hard and the muse is gone.

The thing that I love about these two very different adventures; they both make me feel alive. They both push me to do things I would never typically attempt. They force me to see things from new eyes and to turn that gaze back on myself, to see me for who I truly am when my shell had been broken open and I am just a girl losing her way through life.

I am a writer; I spend my time telling stories, weaving together inspiring tales of flawed people. But this time- just this once- I got to be the character in my own story. I got to be the one to push myself, believing I was crazy the entire time. I got to have an adventure. I ate at a place called Bob's Burgers (if you've seen the animated show, then this might make you smile- they were delicious and the waitress was amazing). I also got locked in the restaurant after closing on accident. I stood in the Puget Sound as freezing cold water lapped at my knees watching the sunset with five amazing people. I walked to the dock in the middle of the night and sat on the stairs that lead to nowhere, drinking in the sights of the lights glinting from the opposite shore. I danced in a phone booth wearing a sloth costume. I ran to the Canadian border and set foot in another country (albeit fleetingly). I slept on the floor of a high school with a few hundred strangers. I crossed Deception Pass at two in the morning (albeit in a van- running it was not my challenge to face this year). I listened to my shoes hit the pavement as I ran through fields in the middle of night with nothing but my thoughts to keep my company. I found peace in a crazy world during one of the most exciting challenges I've been privy to in a long time. I cheered for strangers and had those who've never met me shout out words of encouragement (and the cowbells, oh how could I forget the cowbells). I crossed that finish line. And when I was done I stood on the back of the ferry and watched the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen- I immersed myself in it so much that I didn't even stop to get a picture (sorry friends, but I suspect it's something that just wouldn't have come out quite the same when you weren't in person). I celebrated with wine from a can, like a classy lady.

I fell in love with something that scared me. Just like with my writing, I was reminded how important real adventures are in this short time we have on earth. I was forced to truly look into myself and ask if I was the person I wanted to be- and how could I reach out to that girl? My stories taught me how to be inspired and brave; but it took a real adventure to show me what I was capable of. These two things are not so different. When used together, they can help one another thrive. My stories helped my running, and my running is helping me live more stories. I have more grit than I realized. I am stronger than I thought. Writing an adventure can be a beautiful thing, but do not forget to live them as well.

It’s about the hurt, not the happy (why the journey matters)

We all have an image inside of us, a shiny self portrait of who we want to be and how we want to live. We use it to motivate us, and occasionally to shame us into activity. It is human nature to always strive for something bigger and better. We stare at the next ridge, pointing at it and proclaiming "there- that plateau right there is where I will put my roots. That is where I want to be." And when we reach it, we realize that instead of a beautiful view of everything we have overcome- we are staring at yet another mountain with another ridge that we desperately wish to climb to. We forget what's important along the way; it's like hiking through the woods with your head down- sure, you'll see the waterfall or the grand view at the end- but what did you miss on the trail up?

We all know the usual life questions, and I suspect we all have similar answers. We all strive for happiness, for success, for health, for fulfillment. We all have these end goals in mind. And yet we forget that the end is only an infinitesimal fraction of that journey. It is the steps and the struggles along the way that will define us, not the final reward.

To see things clearly sometimes you have to flip them on their head. Instead of staring at the shiny picture of the end goal with all of its glory and proclaiming 'I want that,' stop to look at the road that will lead you to the outcome. Stare long and hard at the daily grind, the drudgery, the pain- is that what you truly want? Every dream has a price, and we all have a limited amount of currency to spend in this world; are you willing to endure? Can you find joy on the difficult road ahead? If you can stare into the face of those struggles and still nod your head in agreement and say 'yes please,' then perhaps you have found your calling, my friend.

In our modern world we glorify everything; we put these goals up on pedestals and forget all of the hard work that goes into it. You see the girl with the high paying job as she struts around in her high heels- and you want that, you want to own that persona with every fiber of your being. And yet you didn't see her working until she fell asleep at her computer, going to the bathroom to cry after having to play tough love with an employee, feeling like a failure in other aspects of her life so that she could nurture this dream. You didn't see the sacrifice, the daily fight, the doubt, the frustration; you just saw the shiny picture at the end.

The journey is what will make you, not the destination- success is just a side effect of sweat and perseverance. It is a convergence of good luck and hard work. These things do not always come naturally; there are struggles that will leave you gasping and unsure. It's easy to want the medal at the end of the race- you can see yourself sprinting across the finish line and raising your arms in victory- but can you also picture the 4am runs before work, the blisters on the back of your heels, pushing your body until your lungs feel like they want to explode, putting one foot in front of the other when your brain is screaming at you to stop. Can you accept the daily reality of going out there and putting shoes to pavement in the scorching heat of the day and the drowning rain, foregoing that last happy hour because your long run is in the morning. If you can see that image and you still want it- all of it; then you have found your path.

It's up to you to decide what pain you are willing to endure. If you want to be a writer, then you have to be willing to sit down and work on a scene that isn't inspiring you while all of your friends are out doing something fun. You have to accept rejection letter after rejection letter, wear them like badges of honor. You have to be willing to do what it takes. You have to stare down at the hours of your day and be willing to throw every spare second at the dream in your head. The work will tear you down; it will make you feel weak before it helps guide you to your strength. Every step will be a struggle, every inch will be fought for with blood, sweat and tears.

So what you must ask yourself is this: is the pain worth it? Ignore that shiny picture at the end of the road- would you follow this path even without that beacon glowing down from its lofty perch? How much are you willing to endure? Because at the end of the day, it isn't accomplishing the final goal that will make you happy- it will be looking back at every hard fought step which brought you there.

I just finished my very first relay race. I have a medal sitting on my desk waiting for its place on my wall. When I look at it, the first thing that comes to my mind is not that moment I crossed the finish line. It isn't the second I got that reward put on neck. I see the first steps, the first sprint. I see the horrible sunburn I got because I was so nervous I forgot to put sunscreen on before my first leg. I feel the jitters as I waited for my turn. I see my team nodding off in the back of the van mid-conversation as we waited for our runners because there is just no time to sleep. I remember being on the verge of defeat wondering whether I could actually push myself enough to make it to that finish line. I remember the tears- some for frustration, others from excitement. I remember my lungs burning, my muscles aching, my throat parched- and turning up the volume on my music instead of stopping. I remember freezing at the exchange point, waking up in the hallway of a high school with a few hundred strangers. I remember running through the middle of the night and staring up at the stars. I remember the internal battle I waged when my brain told my body that I couldn't do it- and my spirit picked up the fight to push harder. I remember the struggle that gives my little medal meaning. It wasn't the destination that mattered in the end- it was how I got there. It's just like with my writing; my success will not be measured by a book deal- it's in every night I put pen to paper, every time I power up my laptop when I would much rather be watching Game of Thrones.

The success is such an infinitesimal fraction of the event; you must choose what you want based off of the journey, not the destination. The truth is that when all is said and done- you don't know if you'll make it to that finish line. You don't know if you will ever be the shiny perfect person in the picture you have in your head. So at the very least, pick a road you can enjoy being on. I may never be a published author, it's very possible my name will not be remembered with the greats. But at the end of the day it won't matter. Because I love every moment of what I'm doing. I love the daily grind, I would do it no matter what the outcome was. I would write even if I was the only one to ever read those words. That is my path; that is the pain I adore, that is the frustration I am will to endure. That's what it's all about- do what you love, don't suffer for a means to an end. Because if you hate every minute of it- even if you succeed, it will be tainted and bitter. The journey is what matters, not the destination.

Camp Nano Adventures- If You Dare

Pull out the marshmallows, charge your laptop and stock up on your favorite summer treats- Camp Nano is back! At the end of the week we go charging into yet another literary adventure, my dear friends- if you dare to take the plunge. The July session of Camp Nano is set to begin at the stroke of midnight this very Friday. Be still my beating heart, I cannot wait!


Last camp didn’t feel particularly authentic to me. I was in an incredible cabin full of active and vibrant individuals who were constantly chatting and running word sprints together. It was truly inspiring- and yet, I had opted to work on an editing project for the last go-round. Granted, it was something that I deeply needed to invest in- but truthfully, I felt a bit left out. So this time around I am perhaps ignoring my better judgment and trying my hand at a brand new project. In fact, I will be working in a genre I don’t generally dabble in- a touch of historical fiction will be shaping my summer. 

I’m so excited; I have my plot all lined up, a soft sketch of my characters is sitting firmly in my mind, and I am ready to hit the ground running (If I manage to stay up until midnight on Friday, that is). It feels so good to play with a new story after I’ve spent so long diving into prior projects that are still in disrepair, no matter how much tlc I smother them with. I have new characters to know, new sets to craft, new shinanigans for them to dance through.

But the one thing that I am still on the lookout for: a few wayward writers in search of their own adventure. I set up a cabin this year (a bit later than usual), and now I am hoping to find some brave souls to embark on this journey with me. They’ve made camp so versatile this past year that you can really do just about anything with it. There are new methods of tracking your work, new styles you can claim- which makes your nontraditional paths much easier to traverse. I’ve worked on new novels, editing, poetry and even blog posts in previous years- the opportunities are endless. Not to mention the fact that they’ve expanded the figurative walls in each cabin- now you can easily accommodate 20 people in each group. And did I mention they finally set it up so you can name your cabin? It’s the little things in life that bring the most joy, I promise you this.

So if you dare to dream of the written word, my friend; if you have adventures running through your blood and stories singing in your heart- what do you have to lose? Take the plunge, my dear. Would you like to join me, fellow traveler? The fire is warm and the company is good. I can’t promise we will succeed in our endeavors, but I can swear that the journey will be well worth the work we put into it. Much like the brave little hobbits prodded by a wise wizard- you won’t know what you are capable of until you take that chance and step outside of your comfort zone. Please, dear friends- do you care to share in an adventure?

Dreaming in Stories (unconscious me is one odd little duck)

Last night I dreamt that I was a witch who also happened to work in a science lab. We were studying some kind of small ancient tree; I was rocking the white lab coat and oversized glasses while serreptitiously casting spells on the unusual object to figure out why it was so different from other bark-entombed entities. As it turns out, I must not have been a very good witch, because I accidentally cast a spell on it so that anyone who touched it would also turn into a tree. And of course, I touched it. My co-workers found a woman-shaped tree laying mossy-face down in the lab the next morning clutching a notecard in its hand-er-branch with a simple warning scrawled on it: do not touch the tree. One of my co-workers, apparently understanding what had happened, then hid tree-me in a closet when the evil boss came to check on our progress. And that’s when I woke up to the cat yowling for food because I had been so insensitive as to allow his dish to get to the dreaded halfway point. I know, will the horrors never cease? Looks like I’ll be getting a visit from kitty-protective-services soon. 

You may be asking yourself what the point was to that odd recitation. I mean, who really cares about a strange dream where I turned myself into a tree? The answer: we all should. The creative process is one that has no rules or regulations, and the body has an innate sense of what we truly need; the process of storytelling has created bonds and built bridges since Homo sapiens first came into existence. Humanity itself was build on story-telling; you can find paintings on cave walls in France that tell tales about hunting, sharing their knowledge with distant ancenstors they could not have ever pictured. Stories were the building blocks of our societies, creating lasting bonds and sharing knowledge to help those that came after them. We told stories to explain the world, to understand why life was the way that it was, to understand ourselves a little better, to share hopes for an unknown future, to bond, to tear apart. We have told our tales over flickering campfires, drawn them on cave walls, scrawled them on papyrus, and infinitely more have been coded onto computer screens and sent out into virtual existence. Our venue of storytelling has changed, but the innate nature of it within our souls has not. The telling of tales is in our very DNA, it is the cornerstone of our continued existence.

The brain can do amazing things. It codes, catalogues, interprets, directs, and creates every single moment of our lives. If you stop to truly appreciate the beauty that is the mind, it is deeply moving on a fundamental level, though difficult to fully comprehend. Our brains keep track of our stories; the ones we live, the ones we see or hear, the ones we personally create. Even when we are too tired to tell our own stories, it sings us to sleep with one of its own. We live in stories, we always have. Even when we are not conscious enough to fully appreciate them (or notice that it is perhaps a bit odd that when you start turning into a tree you decide to scrawl a warning instead of- oh, I don’t know- maybe the counter-spell that will turn you back into a human?). But this right here is the art of a good writer- to make something fantastical seem perfectly plausible in the world that you have created. A witch scientist? Why not.

Many of my dreams are bizarre and disjointed. They make perfect sense when I am enmeshed in them, but once I regain the world of the conscious, I begin to realize the flaws. And yet, there is still usually a kernel of something special left behind. Some of my best ideas have come from my unconscious self (and these are just the ones I remember the next morning). They send my into a tizzy of creative efforts, my mind lingers on them as I get ready for my day, scrawling a few quick notes before I completely forget about the magic I had been immersed in. Some of these stories stick with me for days, weeks, even years. Others are as fleeting as the gentle flitting of a bird’s wing. 

They say that a person is most creative when they first wake up; right in that moment when you have your rational mind in control, but there is still a dusting of that unconscious magic about you. I don’t know if this true, I may try to find out this week if I can get myself up early enough. But it wouldn’t surprise me. The dream world can be a curious place; but it can bring out the best in any creator, no matter your medium. Your unconscious mind will make connections that the wakeful version of yourself might miss. It’s like a dear friend on the other side of the veil whispering secrets and answers to you. If you slow down long enough to listen, you just might find something worthwhile. And just for the record- yes, I may have to see what kind of trouble this witchy-scientist can get herself into. And how on earth will she ever get out of that tree?

One Word Trailing Another (The Motivation Mambo)

When that beautiful mistress, the muse, is showering you with attention and sincere affection, writing is simple, the words rage from your pen like a river during flood season (apologies, my local area is currently under flood watch, so apparently these types of analogies have climbed excitedly to the top of my brain). This was me last week; like a snake who has been charmed, I could not look away from that lovely beauty, could not ignore the words that desperately wished to find solace in the blank page before me.

But then this week came. And can I just start off by saying that I am exhausted? You see, that balance between the literary life I crave and the real world that demands my attention- it is a hard line to walk. Some weeks I am a boss; I kick ass, I take names, I dance backwards in high heels while juggling legal briefs and homemade cupcakes. Some weeks I am a superhero; I can do it all and still manage to have enough time for date night on Wednesday, happy hour on Friday and meal prep for Sunday (did I mention homemade cupcakes- with pacman fondant?) Yes, some weeks I rule my own little corner of the world.

But other weeks I scrape myself out of bed after my second alarm. I grab my cardigan and I run out the door- only to discover when I get to work that it is not, in fact, my cardigan, but instead it is my fiance’s dirty t-shirt from the night before (true story). I go to sip my coffee only to realize I forgot to rinse all of the soap out. I hit the dreaded ‘reply all’ when I only meant to reply to one (that button really should come with a pop-up warning that asks you if you are really sure you want to send your message to the ENTIRE contact list). I guzzle immunity-boosting tea to fight off the cold that is once again nipping at my heels. I get yelled at by sweet old ladies who are deceptively mean when they don’t get their way. I dodge camera crews that are planted outside my office trying to get a sight of the defendant in our most recent media case. I burn the chicken at dinner and trip on the dog when I try to carry the plate to the table. I smile all day long, and crumple onto my bed when I get home.

Some days I’m the windshield, and some days I’m the bug. I used to just cave into these moments, chalk it up to a bad week and drop my writing goals at the door. I needed a break, I would reason (and occasionally still do). But the thing is, if you constantly push aside what you really love, what you deeply want in life- just because it gets hard sometimes- you aren’t going to get anywhere. You can drown yourself in your own pity, but it won’t help you float.

Trying to maintain a successful job/career, relationships and relatively clean household while simultaneously chasing that dream of writing; it’s not easy. It wasn’t meant to be. Chasing your true passion never is. It’s something you have to fight for, even when there’s nothing left inside to fight with.

So how do you do it? How do you sit down in front of your keyboard when your body and soul are drained, when you want nothing more than a strong drink and a soft bed? I’ve searched for the secret, climbed figurative mountains, read all of the articles the internet has to offer; but really, the answer is quite simple. You just do. You sit down. You put your fingers to the keyboard (or hand to the page) and you string one word after another until you reach the end of the sentence. And then you do it again. And again. Until you reach the end of the paragraph. And then you do it again. And again. Until you reach the end of the page. There is no mystical solution, there is no get-rich-quick scheme, I can’t spin this straw into gold. There’s just hard work in the face of adversity. Sometimes the frustration will make you want to cry- so you do. And then you string together one word behind another. Even if you only manage to fight through one sentence- you still took a step, you still did it. You are still a badass fighter, a hopeless dreamer, a dedicated writer.

Tonight the last thing that I wanted to do was write. I am exhausted, this week has been one to try my patience and seriously make me wish I had the kind of job where I could just call in sick and hide under my covers all day. But alas, life waits for no one (and neither does my boss). I got to work an hour early, pushed through the day, stayed late, and picked up a salad on the way home. And while right now I would love nothing more than to find the comfort of watching Netflix until I’m comatose, I know that tomorrow morning I will regret that decision. So here I am, typing away, stringing one word behind another. And the funny thing is, once I started typing, I found myself enjoying it, finding comfort in the mere act of writing. Words breathe life back into my soul, no matter how hard I try to fight them sometimes. You must persist. You won’t regret it. Even if you hate every word that makes its way to the page; at least there is more than yesterday. Prove it to yourself- that you deserve this, that you were meant for this. Fight for it, even when the fight is hard. That’s what passion is all about. You are a badass, a fighter, the superhero to your own story- even if you don’t feel like it. You can do this. I promise (and have I ever lied to you?)

Adult Snow Days for the Win!

For the first time ever, I jinxed myself in a good way. If you read my post from last night, you will remember that I opted to give myself a ‘snow night’ because my work never closes due to inclement weather, and therefore, there were no snow days in my future. I was pretty confident in this statement. But today, the world conspired to make me a liar. And I’m okay with that. After several hours of miscommunication and confusion on the part of everyone involved (like I said, we never close so the  protocols were a bit rusty), the decision finally came out- essential staff only was to report, everyone else got to stay home. And guess who was NOT considered essential staff today? This girl right here!

Oh, I was quick to don the pajamas again and refill my cup of coffee, ecstatic that I found out right as I was about to go warm up the car. Originally it was just a late start, and then an hour or so later, it was changed to a full closure.

Like any self respecting adult, I drank extra coffee, excitedly sent group messages to my coworkers who were all in a state of shocked disbelief, and then I put on warm clothes and ran out into the snow with my dog, who was just as excited as I was about the wintery developments. As it turns out, snow is his favorite treat. I learned this to the dismay of the snowman I was attempting to create (Apologies to my little creation, you never stood a chance). Once I cajoled my fiancé into coming outside with me, we walked the dog down to our local grocery store, picked up soup and bread bowls, and trekked back home as more flakes fell.

We reveled in this rare day; our winter storm was dubbed ‘Jupiter’ by the mysterious powers that be, and stretched from California to the Midwest. In my area our local towns got the biggest accumulation of snow since 1980. Oregon declared a state of emergency as officers on quads buzzed around downtown Portland checking stalled cars for stranded motorists that they then transported to local precincts before providing emergency hotel arrangements. A call to arms to assist the homeless was broadcast. People helped one another and people played, enjoying the rare elements for what they were.

During the day we played and enjoyed the weather, and tonight I am taking my momentum and redirecting it to my writing as my dog and cat are cuddled up beside me, exhausted and warm after a day of snowballs and icicles. My goal for the end of January is to complete some projects that have been left incomplete. Most of them are very close to their conclusions and just need that final push before I que them up for editing. 

This week I am playing with some new writing plans to figure out what will work best for myself and my daily schedule. My goal is to get some fresh, higher quality content posted to this blog. I want to step it up and put some more time into it. But I don’t want to neglect my other writing projects in the process, so a bit of a balancing act is going to be required. I haven’t figured it all out yet, and I’m still experimenting with different options. This month might prove to be a bit challenging; we seem to be having unprecedented weather this season, and there’s a possibility I will have to go out of town for three weeks, though I won’t know until about 3 days before I would have to go. Although, who knows, perhaps a hotel room will keep the distractions at bay. Though I would desperately miss my little family while away.

If there is anything that this season has taught me, it is to roll with every punch and every storm. It will be a grand adventure if you are willing to look at it the right way.

Keeping Portland Weird, no matter the weather

Too Much of a Good Thing (remembering who I have become)

Have you ever watched the movie ‘Matilda,’ you know, 90s classic that was a staple for me growing up. Oh how I always wanted to be like her; reading the entire library, able to move things with my mind and bubbling over with adorable charm. Yes, that was the dream- minus the horrors of Ms. Trunchbull. We could all do without that little gem in our lives.


As it turns out, lately I have been a lot more like Bruce Bogtrotter than Matilda. He was the infamous cholocate cake boy (who incidentally grew into a pretty handsome man, only proving my theory that cake is a the most amazing human invention and can fix anything in your life). 


Now- what do I mean when I say that I’ve been Bruce Bogtrotter? Well, remember how all he really wanted was some chocolate cake, and he just couldn’t resist so he stole a piece from the grinchy principal? His punishment after that sounded amazing: to eat an entire chocolate cake all on his own. Yes, it was a dream come true- until it wasn’t. As it turns out, too much of a good thing (even with something as glorious as chocolate), can still hurt you. The key has always been balance; something I am continually working on. After Nano ended I decided that I was going to give myself a little break, I reasoned that I had earned it- I hit my crazy big goal in November, and honestly, I was a bit tired. I craved the free time I never had, I desired that freedom the same way Bruce craved that cake. I simply couldn’t resist, though I knew the dangers of falling back into my old ways. So I opted to take time and relax, read my books, ease off of my writing projects and just give myself a bit of a break. Which was wonderful. Until it wasn’t.

All work and no play makes Katie a dull girl, and conversely, all play and no work makes Katie fall asleep far too early and lose her pizzazz. I loved the first week or so, well, actually, I still love it- it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit and read my books guilt-free without the constant nagging in the back of my mind on what I should be doing. So I read, and when I got burnt out on my current paperback, I started poking around online. A lot. And, as usual, the holiday season is a busy one for me- with ugly sweater parties, Christmas tree train rides, holiday plays, gingerbread houses,  a first attempt at a wine tasting, family frivolity and friendly festivities. But as it turns out, a lot of other things fell by the wayside as I spent more and more time indulging myself. This blog even- it started to fade into a late night afterthought, a tinge of guilt, but no real desire to sit down and work. One of my projects has been languishing, neglected and alone on my laptop. Even my laundry has been a mountain that has flooded over the top of its hamper, continually threatening to topple on the unsuspecting cat who only wants to play with the dangling sleeves of my sweaters.

And you know what happened? It stopped being fun. All of this extra time I had on my hands- it was a waste. I was standing still when I have spent the past year pushing so hard to inch forward, one toe at a time. It felt like I was losing all of the ground I had fought for. To suddenly find yourself languishing, and knowing it was all your own doing- it kind of sucks. It’s like sitting in the bathtub until the bubbles are gone and the water is cold, you’ve overstayed your welcome and the relaxation turns into anxiety. I found myself killing time that was once such a precious commodity to me- by mindlessly scrolling through the interwebs, checking my Facebook way more than I should, and even finding myself so bored at night that I was falling asleep early, kindle still propped on my lap. There was no stimulation, no motivation, no fire burning me up from the inside and sparking life into my soul. I had become dull and faded without my inspiration to guide me. I had become the girl I was once upon a time when I would dream without doing and wonder why my life wasn’t changing.

Much like the chocolate cake; when you eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it loses its appeal and pretty soon you find yourself craving an apple. You have to indulge yourself occasionally with a piece, but knowing it is a special treat makes it all the sweeter. That’s the balance I have to remember, I need to learn to teeter when I want to totter.

I don’t know who I am when I’m not writing, I lose my focus and start to feel like my very identity is slipping, I feel like a shadow of the myself. I have spent so much time this year working my tail feathers to the bare nubbins. And in spite of the dedication and laser focus it has required- it’s felt amazing knowing that I am doing something for myself, that I am taking steps towards a dream I have always had. So treading water- it doesn’t feel as good anymore. When I know what I am capable of, it hurts to do anything less. I feel like I’m wilting.

And so, here I am, frustrated with complacency and ready to strike back. It’s been fun, but I am sick of my holding pattern. So here we are my friends- Tipsy is back and ready to take a shot (I meant that in the dukes up, fight for myself kind of way- you know- hit me with your best shot; not shot of alcohol way, though technically that probably works too).

It’s time to come back to my new life, the one I fought so hard for. And now I can find comfort in knowing that I don’t think I am capable of slipping back into that girl I had once been- the one so full of unrealized dreams. Because I just tried, and though I did wilt for a time, I find myself blooming again. I can emphatically say: I am not that girl anymore. I am stronger than her, and damn it, I will keep on fighting for what I want. Because it’s the only thing that leaves me fulfilled and satisfied at the end of the day. Cheers, my friends, it feels good to be back. I’ve missed you. And perhaps I’ve missed me a bit too.