Not “What?” but “Who?”: A Word to Graduates

Congratulations on this crazy awesome milestone and having the guts to jump blindly off this cliff of adolescence into the abyss of adulthood.

Y’all are so brave, and I mean that.

I remember not feeling a smidge of bravery when I was a high school (and college, for the matter) graduate, ducking into abandoned hallways or taking the long way to my car, so I could avoid people asking me the question all graduates hear:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It was always followed by a sardonic laugh, like the person who asked it created the question for the pure joy of seeing me squirm and fish for my words.

Ha, haa, huhhh…

Back then, I didn’t know what I wanted my career to be. I didn’t have a lot of talents, or so I thought. I never internalized what my “dream job”  would be. Truthfully, the only career options I considered was what I could do that wouldn’t kill me and provide, you know, food.

It never occurred to me to follow a cliché like “dream big”, “search deep”, to “reach for the stars”. It didn’t occur to me to care about what I should be. The question was so monstrous, so intimidating, I decided that I just wouldn’t be anything. That what I would be inevitably would pale to whatever dream I could conjure, so I might as well not conjure one at all. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

I was not a confident teen. I was driven by fear-fear lead to procrastination-procrastination to denial. Denial that I even wanted more than what I had allowed myself.

I’ve heard a lot of people blame the world for failures, but I was the worst kind of hypocrite. The world wasn’t my problem. I was my problem. And I had convinced myself that I didn’t need to know myself, that I didn’t need to believe I could be more.

I had been telling myself “NO” long before I donned a cap and gown.

For example, I was waiting tables my senior year of high school, and met a news anchor for the local television station. When the check was delivered, she put her card in the small, black folder and asked me to contact her if I wanted an internship with her.

I was elated. My heart burst forth lighting my path with glowy rainbow dust. The opportunity of interning with her hung before me, a colorful piñata ripe with sweet possibilities. I held the stick. All I had to do was whack the thing open.

I didn’t.

I lived off the good feeling the offer gave me for a year before I realized I’d wasted it.

The phrase “my life will do” took the place of “I love my life” and, my young friends,  “doing” might make you feel good for a moment, but long-term, you want the “loving”.

I settled on a path in college, and didn’t dare question it until my senior year, and by then, I was so close to a degree, I just sucked it up and finished it.

Why did I do this? Why was I so self-destructive?

I’m not a thousand percent sure, but I have an idea that this is part of the reason:

I was asking the wrong question.

It shouldn’t be “WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?”.

It should be “WHO do you want to be?”

To get to that answer, maybe the answer to a few of these questions could help.

  • What kind of person do you want to be, inside and out?
  • What characteristics do you want to embody?
  • How do you want to affect others?
  • What about you do you want others to admire?
  • How do you want to feel at the end of the day?

I don’t want to give you the impression that answering these questions are easy. In fact, my answer two years ago is different from the answer I hold in my mind today. It’s an evolving answer as we grow, observe, learn, and change.

BUT the hard work will be worth it.

In my heart of hearts I know if I would have ventured onto this path of self-discovery, my career choice would have been chosen to compliment me, rather than an obstacle to overcome. And if I would have stumbled into a career choice that didn’t match my expectations, it would have been okay because at the end of the day, I would have known who I was. I could have recognized when I was in a situation that didn’t honor WHO I wanted to be, and I could have made the necessary career changes earlier.

So, WHO do you want to be? WHO do you want your future spouse to fall in love with? WHO do you want your parents or guardians to be proud of? WHO do you want to face in the mirror every morning? WHO do you want your future kids to look up to?

Find that person, BE that person, and the WHAT, WHY, WHERE, and HOW will fall into place.

Cheers, class of 2018! Don’t be afraid to show my generation up!

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(Edited from original post,  “A Word to You, Graduates”, May 16, 2017)

Sig

 

Sticker Vine Improved by Sunshine

 

I don’t like sticker vines (unless they have yummy berries on them) and I realize that they don’t necessarily belong on top of my hedge bush; however, do you see how lovely the sunlight enunciates each prickle? (I’m sure that’s the correct term for it. No need to look THAT up, lol!) You should also know that I had to cat-crawl into the bushes to take this picture. What we do for art.

I suppose it’s just an example of beauty in the madness. Or untouchable beauty. Or the power of sun. Or…well…how would you caption it?

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Beards, Birds, and Basket Cases: Swoon-Worthy Reads

I have a confession.

I judge books by their covers.

Sorry not sorry.

Covers are a huge deal, and I love analyzing them. What works? What doesn’t? Why do I feel sad looking at this? Why do I want to rip this book open and devour its contents. It’s more of a psychological analysis, I guess.

So, I thought, why not share what I think with you lovelies? If anyone wants to know my inner thought, it’s YOU FOLKS, right? I’m going to talk about books I’ve read, too, but this could also be interesting. (Let me know in the comments and I’ll adjust from there.)

Cover Lust

SO here is a book I bought solely based on the cover.

The Opposite of You

Have I ever told you that I’m a sucker for a good beard? Husband grows the BEST beards, and maybe that’s why I love them. So, when I saw thumbnail for THE OPPOSITE OF YOU by Rachel Higginson, and it had this glorious beard with the city overlay on his hair and sunglasses, the book quickly became mine. And it was on SALE, y’all! Yippee!!

True Love

Darling Songbirds

I read another Rachael Herron book, and y’all….Y’ALL. This one has my heart. THE DARLING SONGBIRDS is a happy surprise of a romance. All the things I liked and wished for in the last Herron book came to fruition in this one. The characters are so well done; I want to be their friends. I want to drink at the Golden Spike. I want to lament with Adele. I want to pet the dang parrot. The prose is noteworthy, and the arc for the two Mains are small on the surface, but when you think about how that seemingly small adjustment changes their lives…isn’t that how real life is most of the time? Small pieces of change making large impacts on us? Adore. Will reread. Will continue in series.

Caged in Winter

I finished CAGED IN WINTER by Brighton Walsh, and the ending just right. I really want to tell you about it, but that would spoil it, so this is me keeping my mouth shut for once. Except to say this (I know! I can’t help it!):

There were some writing elements that drew me out of the story occasionally, but THE STORY! WOW! I loved it! Both MCs past and present and how they allowed room for each other…gah. Got me in the feels. Loved the ending especially.

Are you reading something worth sharing? I’d love to put a few of your tried-and-true stories on my TBR!

Merci Monday!

Monday gets a bad wrap, don’t you think?

I mean, it’s not like Monday volunteered to be the start of the work week. Monday didn’t raise it’s hand and say, “Takin’ this one for the team, Other Days!” So, let’s give Monday some props for being the sacrificial lamb of the week and give it a societal upgrade, shall we?

In my little corner of the Internet, Mondays are my new reminder days to be thankful for all things great and small. You’re welcome to join! Gratitude loves company. *Insert big o’ smile here*!

Merci Monday 6

National Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Heeeeelllllllllooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wrote a poem today because it hit me and coincidentally, it’s NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! More specifically it’s POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY !!!! (And my poem has the word “pocket” in it, so I win!) Wooo Hooo! Poetry is a friend of mine, and has kept me sane for long, long years.

So here is the poem.

 One for You

 

If you want to know what poem I put in my pocket on this day, click HERE for an interview about writing poetry with yours truly and the whole poem scratching my thigh at the moment.

Do something poetic today!

Sig

 

Motivation Part II: Types of It

Hello, Folks! In PART I of the Motivation series, we defined motivation and identified that fear is a natural response to change, and writing a book involves lots of change. Today, I’d like to talk to you about three types of motivation that I’ve discovered on this journey. Please note that I’ve named these myself after dissecting my own need-to-write v. production situation. Search yourself to see if what I’ve found out about me relates to you. If you want to chat through it, I’m always up for a discussion.

Alright! Let’s get to the good stuff!

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First, Temporary Motivation

Not only did I make up the name, but I’ve also crafted a definition. See!

Temporary Motivation is motivation with an external stimulus.

(Definition of “motivation” can be found HERE.)

This was the first type of motivation that got my fingers moving again at the beginning of 2017. Here’s a piece of my story. After a long stint of postpartum depression and 11 years of a rough work situation, I felt like a shell of a person. I’d started a new job and the difference in work environments started helping me heal. It was about six months after I moved positions that I realized I was only moving moment-to-moment. I cared for my family, went to work, cooked, cleaned and went to bed. That was basically it. But with healing came perspective. I started to see past the next minute into the next day and the next year, and I started to want something particular in the vision.

I wanted my boys to have a career they loved. I didn’t want them to ever settle in any part of life, particularly professionally. So, my first temporary motivation was the future of my two toddler boys. How could I tell them to do something they love if I wasn’t doing what I loved, even if it was in 10 minutes increments? I started waking up, making plans, and stringing words.

Temporary motivation is a jumping off point. It’s not where you want to stay because you can’t control it.

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One day, my boys will be grown and have their own dream careers and that will be it for me if I stopped here. No more motivation for Mea. They will have achieved.

For me to get started, I had to have something outside of my worn heart to move me into action, so my insides could heal even more. So, yeah, that’s a little about me.

Here’s some other examples of temporary motivation:

  • Creative Friends: I adore adore adore my creative friends and they definitely keep me on my toes, but it can’t be just this comradery that fuels you. While you’re sharing weekly updates, keep searching inside yourself for Something More.
  • Accomplishments: Funny thing about accomplishments is that you have to work through the fear to have one. Also, temporary as they are in nature, accomplishments must be replenished with more accomplishments, which means this motivation has an expiration date. While you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, keep working!
  • Reputation: Reputations come and go. Just ask our friend TAYLOR. They’re fragile and temporary. Real Talk-Not everybody is going to like us. It will crush our souls for a while and then we’ll remember who we are and get back up. But you have to know the truth to use it like a pull bar.

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Next, Permanent Motivation-The Key to Longevity

Definition!

Permanent Motivation: motivation without external stimulus.

This, my Friends, is what we’re constantly in search of. When all the glitter (or shrapnel) settles and the fireworks (or bomb glares) fade, this motivation is what will calmly and earnestly push us forward. Permanent motivation is internal and depends solely on you knowing yourself. I connect the idea to “self-motivation”. It’s a pure, true, and long-lasting foundation to the driving force of our creative heart’s desire.

You can start with temporary motivated blaze, but along the way you have to grow to know yourself because when the blaze dies out, all you’ll have is you.

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It’s so easy to drown out the whisper of permanent motivation. Everything else—doubt, fear, criticism, jealousy—is so darn loud. Also, you can warp a permanent motivation to something anti-productive so easily, you have to keep yourself in check. How do I know? Well, sadly, I’ve been there. Over and over again. It’s embarrassing how many times, really. But I promised you truth in this BLOG, so here it is.

Examples of permanent motivation and how it can be warped:

  • Curiosity (Can be over-used and can turn into procrastinating with all the knowledge gathering of things not pertinent to your Right Now or your project.)
  • A soul cry (Can be drowned out by everyday responsibilities if we don’t set a precedent to heed it, holding it to our ear like a conch shell)
  • Goals linked to our passions (Dreams paired with action. Without the action, it’s just a dream.)

 

And finally, DIY Motivation.

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DIY (Do It Yourself) Motivation is motivation that you have to cultivate because you just. Ain’t. Feelin’ it.

So what if you don’t have either of the first two types of motivation. What if you are numb, but you remember the good ol’ days when you were young and spry and well-rested. When you had the gumption to finish Things and, by goodness, you DID finish things, but it’s been so long ago. Those days fade and shift, like looking at your reflection in a lake on a breezy day. What if you never were the kind of person to finish things at all?

What if you reading this and you’re saying, “Yeah, sure, Mea. That’s all well and good for you, but I heave doubt and fear on my shoulders like it’s my passed-on grandmother’s shawl. It’s so heavy and I cannot move.”

I have ideas for you (because I’ve been there. I still involuntarily go there because sometimes that’s just where my stinkin’ feet take me.)

Here’s some ways that can help you can create your own motivation until you start figuring some things out.

  • Finish Something: Pick a project—any project—and discover what it feels like to Finish Something.

I did this with my poetry chapbook, and it distracted my fear long enough to allow something else in. I chose it because it was the shortest and scariest project I had on my desk. But mostly because it was the shortest. The shock and joy that comes when a project is finished, it’s like cake, Folks. Super addictive. If you’re like me, you’ll race right passed fear/doubt toward your next culinary fix.

  • Stop Something: The project that gives you irreconcilable grief. Let. It. Go.

My first novel was…um…not great. I knew it and I kept trucking on because I had given so much time to it that my fingers stubbornly grasped it. Surely I would reap some reward, right? The reward didn’t come in the form I’d envisioned. I had to stop trying to force a story that wasn’t ready through the tips of my fingers. Then in retrospect, I saw the many writing lessons and self-learning I’d not noticed when I was buried in the broken story. That was its purpose, but I didn’t know it until I put it down and walked away. As a result, the heaviness and self-doubt lifted and I could suddenly move toward new things.

  • Make Something Else: If you’re feeling weighed down by one creative endeavor, try something out of the ordinary.

I’m a firm believer in the power of creative outlet sharing. Meaning, creating something else can spark ideas in other aspects of your life. I feel like there could be some science about it somewhere, but I haven’t searched for/found it yet. So, take my unscientific advice if you want an adventure and do something different! I love making jewelry, songs, memes (yes, this is creative, gah), poetry, and t-shirts designs I don’t know how to put on t-shirts—especially, when my novel is at a stand-still.

And that’s it!

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Three types of motivation as acknowledged by a writer, and the conclusion of our Motivation series. I’d love to hear if you’ve had similar experiences or have other ideas about motivation. Have you found ways to get your fingers tapping or to calm internal choppy waters? Let’s talk!

Sig

No Small Thing

 

No Small Thing

“Does it seem too small a thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel to bring you near to himself, to perform the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the community to minister to them?”

Numbers 16:9 NET

IT’S NO SMALL THING AT ALL.

Let’s act like it.