Tag Archives: Positivity

A Very Needed Reminder

Last week, I was on my period. Although it’s different for every woman, I’m the sort that definitely becomes overly emotional during that time. I like to believe that I usually do a good job keeping those emotions in check and under wraps during that time (though my Mom is always quick to tell me differently, saying she can always tell when I’m on my period or not), but this past week was a bit more of a struggle than usual.

Perhaps it was paired with the dreary weather (which I usually love). Perhaps it was tied with the fact that said weather made it difficult to work out and release those happy hormones I’ve become so addicted to. Perhaps it’s simply just that kind of week with no other reason attached. I can’t nail it down, but for most of the week, I’ve been in a bit of funk, emotionally; focusing on the few negative aspects of my life instead of focusing on the positives. The past two days, especially, my head space has been completely zoned in on the negative, focusing on things like some frustration at work, stress over money, worry over my complicated relationship status, fear of the future, fear regarding change, mixed emotions about figuring out who I want to be as a person (and how that person is shaped by others juxtaposed by how I shape myself), stress regarding missed runs, bad eating days or sleeping in too late, amongst plenty of other things.

I wanted to focus on something to help get my brain back into a positive head space, regardless of how my hormones are functioning and attempt to raise my mood so I don’t end the week still feeling a sense of…well, just, “Blah.” So I thought I’d make a list, a friendly reminder, of some of the good things that went on this week or are happening in the near future–not to brag or rub it in, but just to remind myself that despite the other things I’m dealing with, they are some good things to focus on and remember; things I can potentially distract myself with whenever those negative thoughts above try to take over.

  1.  Puppy videos posted on my Facebook timeline.
  2. That feeling I get when working on anything writing related–and actually sticking with my new writing schedule.
  3. A pair of arms wrapped around me, making me feel safe and cherished, before I fall asleep.
  4. A last-minute lunch date with mi padre.
  5. Plot twists in the book I’m reading.
  6. Getting precision kills in Destiny 2. 
  7. Looking at the calendar and seeing plans every Saturday for the next month (including a 5K Breast Cancer run, RenFest, a book fair, a Break Out Room and potentially some new ink).
  8. My birthday is in less than 30 days (eep!).
  9. The start of the holiday season is upon us.
  10. Trying out new recipes.
  11. The promise of making cookies over the weekend.
  12. Feeling like a stud wearing a pair of jeans.
  13. Staying in touch with far away friends via email.
  14. Crossing things off the To-Do List.
  15. Being heard in conversations.
  16. The promise of good things in the future (trying to combat the fear/focus of negative things awaiting in the future).
  17. Spending an afternoon looking up things to get everyone for Christmas.
  18. The smell of a forested-trail after a fresh rain.
  19. Seeing so much wildlife during a run.
  20. Surprise visits at work from my man.
  21. My sleeve (tattoo) finally healing and looking really good.
  22. Getting all the circles filled on my FitBit app.
  23. Awesome conversations with my students at work.

Reading through that list, my heart feels a lot lighter than it has the past couple of days. Doesn’t mean that those things I’m dealing with aren’t present in my life anymore; doesn’t mean there aren’t still some things to address or be aware of. But it’s nice to remind myself that there is always something good going on, even if your brain convinces you otherwise.

What about you? If you’re reading this post, I’d seriously LOVE to see your own list of good things that happened this week (or are about to happen or just generally make you happy) to appear down in the comments (or maybe in a post all your own). I want to hear all about it. Let’s kick off the weekend with a little positivity, eh?

Cheers.

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A Punch from the Brain, Retaliation from the Heart

If someone has a magical solution to help a person stop overthinking things, I, personally, would love to learn more about said solution.

Because it’s exhausting, friends.

I overthink to the point where I only focus on the negative outcomes. My immediate reaction is to assume the worst, because my mind easily twists and warps things to fit into that equation, where the only solution is the one my overthinking brain creates. Until that worst case scenario is proven false or doesn’t come true, I just assume that’s the reality, the truth of what’s to come. And then once it doesn’t, I feel like a fool, because everything obviously pointed to things being okay or things working out, yet my brain couldn’t help but distort those signs, those facts. I tell myself, See, you didn’t need to worry? Don’t put yourself through that again.

I’m sure you’re not hard-pressed to figure out what happens next.

 insomnia GIF

I’ve been doing this a lot lately in terms of my evolving friendships and undefinable love life. It can be the simplest things, from not receiving a text for a while to not being called a pet name to putting in all the effort to being left out of a hang out session. I over-analyze, I replay conversations, trying to pick up meanings from inflections and word choice and things left unspoken. I become hyper-focused, always worried that my reality is actually going to become what my brain tells me it will–and it’s never good. And life is good, right now, and who am I to deserve that? How long can it last before I mess it up; then, once doing so, how long will I spend regretting that one confession, that one crying session, that one time where I admitted too much or became too vulnerable and fucked everything up?

These thoughts and fears and scenarios birth in my brain and then worm their way into my emotions, twisting me into a sour mood where I either don’t want to talk to anyone at all or I become needy, desperate for affirmation and confirmation that these fears are heedless and merely vicious to my own subconscious. Suddenly, my desire to be productive diminishes, and even writing and reading become chores when they should be exciting. If it’s really bad, the emotions will manifest into physical pain, in my chest or my stomach, a throbbing pain in my temple.

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And all the while, the scenarios don’t stop replaying in my head, pointing out exactly what went wrong and how I caused it.

This sucks. It makes me seem like my brain isn’t exactly all there. That I’m emotionally imbalanced or the most needy human. It makes me seem like…a bit much, maybe too much to handle or perhaps not even worth the trouble, even for the good times; for the times when I have my brain under control and I don’t give into every seed of doubt, every change, every fear. How can the good times be worth it, for my family and friends and partner, when they also come with moments of the bad, which occur more often than I like to admit?

I can’t make a case for why, but I like to believe I’m worth it, anyway. Even though it’s not the most enjoyable part of my personality, being an overthinking worrywart is a part of my personality. A part I’d like to lessen, a part I’d like to be more in control of, but it’s a part of me nonetheless. So yeah, I have a lot of anxiety and I overthink way too much. But that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to me. That doesn’t mean that those demons are right and I’m going to ruin every aspect of my life, to my family to my friends to my love life to my writing career.

So thanks to those of you who stick by me, despite of this.

And also? A little note to that overthinking brain of mine?

Yeah, I’m in a point in my life right now where I have a lot less friends than I used to, so the few I’ve held onto, I’m suddenly so paranoid I’m going to lose them for good and my life will become nothing but working and coming home to an empty house; a routine never broken up by coffee dates to catch up, weekly 1-1 sessions, long conversations or tears caused by laughter. I’m at a point where I am falling hard for a man who is scared of commitment, so we might never have the type of relationship I’ve always dreamed about, and he’s become so important to me, I’m so nervous he’s going to disappear from my life and not only will I be alone again, but I’ll also no longer have him as a constant presence, support and light. I don’t want to lose him. I’m at a point where I’ve been struggling to write and I’m scared I’ll never get over that, but I’m also scared of the books I have written never going anywhere, never being loved the way I love them. I’m at a point where I feel like my financial status is dominated by bills and I’ll never catch up and feel ahead or financially comfortable, so of course I’ll either always live paycheck-to-paycheck….or worse.

But you know what, my lovely, over-energized, never-ceasing brain? All of those things could happen, all of those fears could come true, and I will still be okay. 

I could lose every friend I have and see no one. I could get my heart shattered by this man. I could have every book I write get rejected. I could lose my job or live paycheck-to-paycheck forever. One or all of these things could happen and yet I will still make it. You wanna know why?

That’s calling living.

That’s life.

If I didn’t have these fears; if I wasn’t putting myself out there and risking my heart, risking my hopes, risking my dreams; if I wasn’t so attached to people and passions and things; is that the kind of life I want to live? Sheltered, comfortable, safe, complacent, routine?

No, I don’t think so.

Some days, you win. You make the inside of my head a living nightmare. You exhaust my friends when they have to remind me, again, that they aren’t going anywhere. You make my family’s foreheads meet their palms when I repeat the same mantra of, “But what if X? Can’t you see Z?” You give me anxiety, you make me fear, you add unnecessary stress, you steal sleep, you absorb will, you cause pain. And I hate you for it.

 the lord of the rings our merry return of the king elise GIF

But other days, I win. I take risks. I follow my heart. I create art. I enjoy the little things. I run miles. I laugh with friends. I get overly excited about dogs. I nerd out. I go on adventures. I work. I live as a hopeless romantic. I do whatever I can to break up the monotony and mundane aspects of life.

No matter how hard you hit, no matter how many punches you throw, I’ll come back swinging just as hard. It may take hours, days, weeks, before I retaliate. Before my positivity can make a comeback and prove more powerful than my anxiety. But know this, anxiety. Know this, my overthinking, over-analytic, obsessive, cynical, hopeless mind.

I will never stop fighting.

And I will conquer you.

Cheers.


Stuck in a Funk

Man, if that title doesn’t describe my mindset right now, I dunno what does. I am definitely stuck, caught in the midst of a funk that is fueled through the emotional roller coaster I’ve been riding for the past month (with this past week being a definite, intense down). From missed love and a bruised heart to genuine fear and confusion, my emotions have been everywhere and the moments when they have been positive have been few and greatly missed.

And everything else, it seems, have been put on hold.

Blogging.
Editing.
Internship.
Reading.
Freelancing.
Writing.

All of these elements have taken up a lot of my time recently, as I became more involved in the community and gave myself permission to take myself seriously as a writer. And I have loved every minute of it. Yet I’ve been unable to not only do any of these things, but also even struggled to find enjoyment within them, when I actually do manage to focus. The funny thing is, my haywire emotions aren’t going to stabilize when the aspects of my life that I enjoy most, I am too emotionally drained or upset to be able to enjoy or escape within them.

Ah, the nefarious Catch-22 moment that loves to invade my life. Hello, again. It’s been a while.

Running has definitely been the outlet I’ve turned to. Turn on some jams, crank up the volume to 11 and 30 seconds in, I’m already struggling to breathe. The physical exertion helps distract me from whatever dark corner my mind is trying to slip into. It helps me deal with how frustrated I am that even my life’s bloody calling isn’t enough to help me out of this funk.

Yet.

Because guess what, funk? That’s right, I’m being rude to my readers and talking directly to you, now. You may have had control over me for a while, but that’s all changing here real soon. I may not be able to determine when. It may be an up-and-down battle. It may take some stubbornness on my part. It’s definitely going to take a lot of self-care and reflection. But you’re a funk and that’s all you are: a phase, temporary; not who I am at my core, at my realest, at my peak.

So tonight, I’m going to watch a little Netflix when I get home for work. I’m going to eat a little ice cream, maybe make some popcorn. I’m going to sleep in. And then I’m going to get to work, searching for whatever I can to help battle the funk I’ve been in and help me return to the happy, positive person I naturally am–even if I get sidetracked every once in a while.

Cheers.


Why Everyone Should Go Watch Zootopia, Right Now

I’m a sucker for animated films and I don’t think I can accurately express my love for Zootopia in particular (but, here’s the attempt). It’s hard for me to narrow down a list of my all-time “top” favorites, but I know Zootopia is definitely one of them.

I went to see it in the theatres with my brother and sister when it first came out. It wasn’t until the previews started playing that I realized it wasn’t The Secret Life of Pets. For some reason, I totally thought that was what we were going to see, even though it hadn’t (and still hasn’t) even come out yet. When I realized that, I was suddenly disappointed, as I was (and still am) very excited to see it, and very bummed. Suddenly, I had no idea what Zootopia was about or if it would even be good, yet there I was, sitting in the theatre waiting for it to start.

A couple hours later, I came out of the theatre, talking up a storm about how much I loved it. I laughed, I cried, I felt moved and was generally surprised at how fantastic this film was; so much so, I forced my best friend to go see it with me in theatres again a few weeks later. Then, when it came out on DVD this week, I bought it and watched it this morning. Now, at work, I’m still singing the single, “Try Everything” by Shakira, in my head.

(It’s so catchy.)

What makes this film so brilliant? Well, a lot of things. The premise itself was fantastic–especially so, considering I had mistaken it for another film and actually had no idea what it was about before watching it. I loved that the animals were self-aware that they used to be primitive and it started out talking about their evolution, and the main conflict resolved around that transition. That was super interesting.

My favorite part was how the message was so powerful and the characters were so relateable–even to me, as a 23-year-old. The message is best summed-up by the hero herself, Judy Hopps:

I thought this city would be a perfect place where everyone got along and anyone could be anything. Turns out, life’s a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means, hey, glass half full, we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what kind of person you are, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you.

Not only is this message absolutely fantastic, but I love how positive Judy is. Despite her parents being unsupportive–due to their own fears and experiences–she chased her dream of being a cop. And her motivation wasn’t to be the first bunny cop, breaking stereotypes, but she wanted to make the world a better place, and being a cop was her way to do that. When she got to the Academy and continually failed at the beginning, she pushed herself harder and worked extra until she succeeded. When she was assigned as a meter maid, she challenged herself to excel at that, even though it wasn’t exactly what she wanted to do on the force. When her apartment was shitty, she got excited, because having that apartment and living in the heart of Zootopia meant she made it, and her dream was that much closer to becoming true. Her positivity, belief in herself and confidence was refreshing and inspiring.

I related to her so well due to my recent life experiences. Like Judy, I moved away from home after college, lived in a shitty apartment and was excited about what life had to offer. And, like Judy, I made enough mistakes that eventually, I went home, feeling defeated. And, hopefully, like Judy, I’ll learn from my mistakes, become a better person because of how I learned from them and continue chasing my dreams with the utmost passion.

Aside from Judy and the great message, the film was also a joy to watch. So many moments did I laugh. I cried twice. It had some dark moments that I wasn’t expecting that really ripped at my heart, in relation to bullying, that not only hit home, but hurt because of how real those experiences are, and how often they happen. Plus, there were quite a few references to other films and TV shoes that I caught onto which were a fun surprise. The Godfather, obviously. I truly believe Anastasia was one and my friend had to point out a Breaking Bad reference that I missed. It makes me wonder how many other references they slipped in that I didn’t notice.

There is a foolish stigma that animated films, being animated, are either lesser films than live action or “can’t do as much” as live action films, having to be “dumbed down” for a younger audience. While I don’t believe this at all, with some of my favorite and most powerful films fall into the animated category, that argument can’t even be made in relation to Zootopia. It is a fantastic film no matter what age range you fall into or what films are your preference. It serves as a great reminder for everyone about the power of a positive mindset, the harshness of life, the vulnerability of living and the ability to overcome it all. I recommend, 110%.


Measuring Worth, Recreating Mindsets and Dealing with Desire

Y’all ready for a personal post?

Brilliant.

I’m sure I’ve shared snippets of this in previous blog posts, so feel free to peruse and search to your hearts content if you want to know more (also, apologies for beating a dead horse) but recently, I’ve been struggling with body image and how that translates regarding self-love, worth, desirability, etc. I say recently because it has been heavy in the forefront of my mind, but that does not mean this is a recent battle I’ve just started fighting. I’ve been fighting it since I was kid. When I was in middle school and started noticing other girls were wearing jeans and dresses and skirts, their faces enhanced with make-up, I started to compare myself, a tomboy unintentionally-raised who didn’t wear jeans until the end of high school–same with wearing my hair down–and still doesn’t wear make-up to this day, at all. Around 7th and 8th grade is when I started to notice the choices I was making that made me different, regarding my appearance. It wasn’t long after that I started to notice my large, soccer-sculpted thighs or the first shadows of the muffin top; started noticing the lonely nights and the lack the dates; the pressures and bodily expectations of young girls and women (and young boys and men, let’s be honest) in society.

Very quickly, I realized that I didn’t fit into those expectations. And so began a dark spiral down into the depths of depression and self-loathing, simply because I wasn’t thin or skinny or, in the terms that society has labeled, pretty. I don’t know when I started to measure my own self-worth in terms of my jeans size or how accurately I fit into the mold required to be a beautiful woman, but it reached a point where I didn’t think myself worthy of anything because I was curvy, I was fat, I didn’t prescribe to make-up, didn’t wear heels.

And that was 50 pounds ago.

This battle with depression has had its ups and downs. Since dropping out of grad school and moving back home, entering into the job-world post-college, I’ve mentally tried to switch my beliefs that a person’s worth is not associated with their body image or body size. Because that is what I have always ascribed to, myself. Never with anyone else–I may notice a person’s size or lack-there-of, but I’ve never thought of a person’s worth based on that observation. Only my own. Very hypocritical and harsh, I know. So I’m trying to mentally switch my brain to a much healthier–and much truer–mindset: a person is so much more than their body and should not be defined by their curves, their edges, their narrowness, their chubbiness, their style.

And I’m finding that transition in mindset to be very difficult, because of how aware I am of everything around me.

//:

Obviously, the standards upon which beauty is measured by our society is, in the most blunt sense, very fucked up. For both men and women, the standards and expectations are not only unhealthy and unrealistic, but they are also inescapable. The billboards, the commercials, the magazines, the social media debates, portrayals in art, literature and film, the fad-diets, the pressure, the undertones, the overtones; inescapable. Everywhere. It is impossible to ignore and impossible not to be aware of where you fit in this spectrum, particularly in the summer time. Bathing suits and shorts: the horrors that have plagued a lot of my summers, as I purposefully avoid invitations to pools and only buy capris, temperature be damned.

Despite pretending not to be bothered by my touching thighs, back fat or muffin top, these things are always on my mind. When I walk past my mirror in the bathroom, I purposefully try to not look. When I put on clothes, I come up with outfits that do the best job of covering up skin, even in the summer months where they don’t make sense. Walking past someone on the street, I wonder how they perceive me and that carefully-constructed outfit. How do they judge me? Where do they find me wanting? Because I am obviously wanting. And then, of course, there are the evenings, where I am alone and the sun goes down, and all I can think about is the fact that I am alone, and wonder if I didn’t eat that extra helping of mashed potatoes or would have walked for another ten minutes, if my body would have changed enough for a man to find me desirable.

Even on the days where I love the way I look or it isn’t on the forefront of my mind, the reminders–everywhere and ever-constant–don’t stay ignored for long. From the whispers of society to the natural urge to compare myself to the people surrounding me (and always find myself wanting), it is truly difficult to switch my mind to not worrying about my body and how it is perceived; the only aspect of myself I hate. Because how do you ignore all the reminders? How do you ignore the constant complaints of those around you, claiming they are “so fat” and “need to lose weight” and “wish they were skinny,” when in your eye, they already are? How do you not jump to the conclusion, listening to them, that if they think they are fat and grotesque and they are smaller and prettier than you, what must they think of you? How do you get yourself to accept and love your body as is when you are constantly bombarded with other people not loving theirs; when you are constantly bombarded with standards you should be meeting, with reminders of why you aren’t?

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Of course, I take it one step-further. Not only do I devalue myself because of my size, but I also have a very intense desire to be loved. Not loved by family and friends. I have this aplenty and am grateful for it every day. Loved by a man. Desired by him, cherished by him, chosen by him. This desire is spawned from multiple things: my natural belief that love, in all forms, is the most powerful force in the world. My age is definitely a factor: being 23, a prime age amongst my friends to be moving forward in their relationships, with marriages and proposals. My relationship history, being that I’ve never had that relationship, that first kiss, that first date, those nerves meeting/introducing the parents and friends, the double dates. And, just like the body image standard, seeing people in love all over, in films, reading books, on the street, amongst my friends.

These are the two things I think about constantly, that empower my depression: my body size and my eternally-single state. And how the two must correlate. And thus, spawns the slowly growing fear that eternal is the perfect descriptor to attach to my single status; the growing fear that no matter how my body looks, no one will love me the way I desperately crave to be loved. I’m meant to be alone forever.

Okay.

There are so many things wrong with my mindset, I’m not even sure where to begin. And this post is already long enough as it is. But, ever onward…

One: Your Worth Isn’t Defined By Your Body Size

I know this. I know this. Yet it is a hard mindset to switch into believing constantly, when I have believed the opposite for too long. And it is so hard to find a positive present concerning body image, regardless of the size of the people I surround myself with. Everyone is so focused on finding fault. Then, of course, I always think of my non-existent romantic life. Sure, I haven’t been romantically involved in anyone, but that does not mean my body size is the direct cause of that. Perhaps it was a missed moment. Perhaps I simply haven’t met him yet. Perhaps I’m unwilling to date anyone who isn’t willing to love as completely as I plan to love them. Perhaps my standards are too high (newsflash: they aren’t). But even if I never find him, my worth isn’t devalued because of my singleness. My worth isn’t devalued because of my curves or my rolls. I have friends who support me and friends who love me. Family, too. Coworkers, sure. Random people I have connected with on the internet, you bet. Some of those people know my size. Others, don’t. Yet I really, really love myself. I love the woman I have become and the steps I need to take to continue working on who I want to be.

So why do I let my body size get in the way of loving myself completely, especially when if I take how others perceive me out of the equation, I actually don’t mind my body. Would I like it to be bit slimmer and a bit tighter? Yep. But if I don’t think about how others respond–or how I believe they are responding, rather–or how I am “supposed to” look, I’m actually quite content with my body. I can go on walks with my dog. I can play a pick-up game of soccer and feel like I’m going to die afterwards, but still have fun. I like my eyes and my collarbones and the way my biceps flex sometimes. I like my tattoos and my hair when I put effort into it (and the new messy up-do I’ve adopted). I could be perfectly content with my body if I could just stop worrying about how others perceive me or stop convincing myself that everyone who sees me believes me to be ugly or unattractive.

Two: Everything is Subjective 

Nothing is truer than that statement right there and nothing do I need to remember more. I recently realized that truth in regards to writing and it helped me deal so much with the rejection process. How did it take me so long to realize this in regards to everything else in life, especially body image and size and the perception related to that? My bathroom mirror never changes. Yet on the days when I accidentally see myself in the mirror, some of those days, I actually think, “Damn, girl,” and pause to admire my curves or the way my stomach is shaped or the length of the legs. My mirror hasn’t changed. My body either. It’s just my perception in that current moment. Or I’ve gotten into the lazy habit of putting my hair up into a bun-type situation where my curls fall down the side of my head, looking like a mix between a waterfall and Medusa unleashed. And half of the time, I love the way it looks. Some outfits, I absolutely adore.

But as soon as I think about what others might think, my response immediately switches from praise and approval to reprimand and calculation, nit-picking everywhere fault can be found.

Of course, some people are going to think I’m unattractive. But not everyone. It’s just like how I think the most attractive men on the planet are Kit Harington, Sam Claffin and Olan Rogers. Half of my friends don’t understand my celebrity crushes and pit up their own contenders. That is just difference of opinion and difference in taste. That disagreement doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong. Likewise, just because I believe someone might perceive me as ugly doesn’t mean that they will and, if they do, that doesn’t mean they are right. It is their opinion, their subjective opinion.

Another example is how you can be a size 16 in one store but a size 12 in another; an XL at Target but an XXXL at a designer store. For so long, I refused to wear XL clothing because I hated being associated with that size. I wanted to be smaller, so I wore smaller clothing. Which, in turn, looked worse on me and didn’t fit right, as opposed to XL sizes, which fit properly, looked better and actually made me feel confident. Instead, I was being ruled by letters and numbers prescribed by society as a labeling system. That’s all they bloody are. Letters and numbers to help you know which clothes will fit better. Not a value-measuring-system.

A friend also brought up a great point: Aphrodite, the goddess of love and passion and beauty, reflected the ideals of her time period of what a beautiful woman looked like. And it is not at all what we ascribe to now. Her pictures and statues from that time period are complete with rolls, with curves, with fat.

Before, a beautiful woman was a woman with weight–because that meant she could afford to eat–and who was pale–because that meant she didn’t have to work outside to earn her living. Today, we have transitioned to starving ourselves, harming ourselves and transfiguring ourselves to reach an impossible standard. Go back a couple 100 years and I would have had the beauty of the goddess. Today, I don’t even met the bare minimum.

How’s that for subjectivity?

Three: It’s Okay to Crave Romantic Love

I have been struggling with accepting this for a long time, now. Like I said, I crave a relationship. I crave to find a man to love me and accept me. I crave to find a man I love and accept. Yes, I obviously crave the physical benefits being in a committed relationship includes. Who doesn’t want someone’s hand to hold when they are walking along the road or someone to kiss when they say goodbye or someone to snuggle with before they go to sleep? But I want the emotional connection just as much, if not more. I want that person who I can confide in, who I can depend on, who I can count on, who can challenge me and appreciate me in ways that no one human has been able to; the way only a boyfriend or husband can.

Yet I’ve always felt guilty praying for this man to appear in my life. I’ve always felt guilty for wanting a relationship so badly. People always tell you to appreciate your singleness. You need to be independent and not depend on anyone else, especially a romantic partner. You need to love yourself first–only then can you love someone wholly. And maybe there is some merit in those ideas. But I believe that I can be an independent human and still have someone else to depend on. I can be a broken soul who struggles to love herself and yet still love him all the more for it, totally and utterly. And I believe, though I struggle with it, that it is okay to desire romantic love, a romantic connection with every core of your being.

Lord of the Rings:

This post is by far the longest I’ve written. I applaud you for reading this far. It is filled with ramblings, with musing, with struggles and personal outpourings of doubts and fear. It is very vulnerable and uncomfortable and heavy. I don’t have any neat way to wrap it up or any conclusion as to what needs to happen next; as to where I go from here. I think this will be struggle I deal with no matter what body size I have, how many people I’ve loved or what societal trends arise. But writing about it helps. Talking about it helps. Who knows, perhaps it might help you if you struggle with the same things or make you wonder who in your life does. Perhaps this post opens up a dialogue, opens eyes or serves a reminder of things people already know, a reflection of what you’ve already experienced. I dunno. If you need to talk about issues related to this, I’m here. I’m ready and I’m listening.

Life is hard, friends. But life is so, so good. Love each other and by God, accept and respect one another. Make one another feel comfortable in our own skin. Listen and be heard. And while we’re at it, how about we start destroying the body standards we are supposed to subscribe to, huh?

Cheers.


Tropes and Clichés

I’ve been thinking a lot about tropes and clichés lately. Between editing a previous trilogy with a  foundation built on tropes–including everything from the Chosen One to vampires and werewolves to old men who know all yet tell nothing–and planning a new series that uses even more–and this time, purposefully–plus simply observing the dialogue surrounding the industry, with the constant desire to have something new, without clichés and tropes, grace the bookshelves; it is hard not to think about these things and form an opinion about them. Are using clichés and tropes good? bad? Do they help or hurt your writing? Does writing become less if they are incorporated?

I don’t have an answer to those questions. Opinions, sure, but no answers. Because every answer to them is subjective, like the opinions that help form those answers. Here are my subjective musings:

I’m very thankful for the tropes and clichés I’ve incorporated into my writing, because they have taught me a lot. I know the Chosen One plotline has been done a lot in fantasy. That didn’t stop me from writing a book about a boy who was chosen, through luck and unfortunate circumstance, to save the world. It also wasn’t the reason I wrote that book, either, to incorporate those clichés. Instead, I simply wrote a book about a kid named Darryn, who just so happened to fit the Chosen One mold. As I learned more about Darryn, that was what he fit into. That is how the story took shape and I went with it. Does that make him and his story cliché? Absolutely. Does that make him impossible to be unique?

I don’t think so.

Yes, his story incorporates a ton of tropes. Yet he is still different because it is a new story. It is a story written by my hand, with different characters and a different world. Will it feel familiar, one day, to readers, if it ever makes it that far and has a chance to be read widely? Yes, definitely. Yet will they find something they still enjoy, something to complain about, something they hate, something they love, regardless of how many tropes I used?

I hope so.

In my quest of querying and publication, Darryn hasn’t gotten the light of day due to the tropes that build the foundation of his world. And I understand that, 100%. It isn’t the most original storyline. Though I wish Darryn would get a chance, I haven’t given up hope on him yet. One day, I think his story will be read. And that will be exciting, tropes or no tropes. To be quite honest, however–and show my own naiveté–I didn’t realize how many tropes I incorporated until I started trying to get it published. And while I have my own spin on them, they are still tropes and they are still roadblocks, currently, in my publishing journey.

But in my writing journey, they have only opened doors.

You see, like many creative souls and many people in general, I doubted myself and I doubted my craft. I still do. Even as I began mapping out Darryn’s story, discovering what was going to happen next, I doubted whether I had the chops to make it happen. It took me a long time to start writing it, because I doubted myself as a writer. So perhaps, unconsciously, tropes surfaced in the story to give me confidence; writing something similar that I have read dozens of times and enjoyed might help convince myself this “writer thing” isn’t a fluke. I don’t know. I never really thought about it. And despite having the dream to get published one day, I didn’t write Darryn’s story to get published. I wrote it because I had a desire to tell it and that desire outweighed any other fears or doubts or tribulations. It was the story on my heart and so I wrote it. And then I edited it. Over and over again. I tried to craft it in a way that readers would enjoy reading it and maybe, yes, one day, it would get published.

And then it got rejected. Over and over again.

Too long, they said. Too generic, too cliché. Not original, not unique. Try again next time. 

Though the rejections hurt at first–and the doubt that I could never write anything original and would always be a cliché-writer took hold–eventually, I shook off the negativity and continued Darryn’s story. It might not be “good enough” to be published, but he certainly wasn’t done with me. So I wrote the second book. Then, the third. Two prequel-type books linger in the back in my mind. Seeds have been planted to allow for a sequel-series, if I wanted to explore that avenue. Then, editing all the while, I moved onto a separate book, in a new genre, new age range and an entirely different plot. And I finished it. And now, as I slowly plan out the bare minimum for a nine/ten book series, eager to start writing it despite having no idea where it is going, I’ve shared the central idea with a few people; friends and family and a few writing colleagues. The initial response:

Wow, that sounds awesome! Or: It’s going to be a lot of work, but I can’t wait to read it once you’re done. And, my favorite: That’s so unique. I love that idea.

Unique, they said. Calling one of my stories unique, when my first work has so many tropes, it was as if I was trying to pack them all in, instead of being completely unaware until after the fact. Of course, I recognize all this is biased praise, looking at the source. Yet it got me thinking and here’s what I conclude:

Clichés and tropes aren’t for everybody. They have been around for ages and at some point, they worked, enough to become the elements in stories that, now, agents groan over and audiences beg for something different. Some people label them as overdone. Some people hate them. Some people use them as the mark of a “poor” writer. These people may be right. I do agree that branching out and trying to create new, engaging storylines is never a bad thing. I hope to write stories that reach that calibre, one day. At the same time, a little familiarity never hurt me, and also, excites me, in a way. When I read a new book with tropes and clichés as center-pieces for the plot, it makes me wonder: if I’ve read this plotline a dozen times and here it threads again, what did the author do to make it different? It’s almost like a game, setting up my expectations through familiarity and then suddenly changing them when the twist hits. I think that is another way to make something unique.

Personally, I will always be indebted to clichés and tropes. They helped build the first novel I ever attempted and didn’t give up on, but instead, finished. They helped me thicken my skin through the rejection process. By unknowingly using them and suddenly having them pointed out to me, I became more aware as a reader and a writer, and started challenging myself to think outside the box. And now, as I begin work on my next series, they have been the direct inspiration–and will play a major role–within that series; a series that has already been coined unique (even biasedly-coined) and I haven’t even written a page yet.

Should you use clichés and tropes in your writing? That’s up to you and the stories you want to tell. If you want to be published, the more creative you can get and the more outside-the-box you can think, they better your chances are. You might want to stay away. But if you have a story in your heart where tropes abound, write that story. Sure, it may not get published. But it matters. It is your story and it will help you, in some form. Tell the stories in your heart. Listen to advice and criticism, but never abandon yourself and your work. Stay true to that, keep fighting, keep writing, keep learning, and you’ll make it, in whatever form “making it” takes.

Cheers.


The Power Over Your Own Mentality

I got a lot of positive feedback regarding my The Demons of Doubt post from yesterday (which I really, really appreciate; thank you). It also brought up an idea inspired by my own musing and discussions that I–having that writer’s soul–decided to craft a blog post around: mentality. But not just that, but pointing out the obvious–yet still difficult to wield and control consistently–power you have over shaping that mentality.

Today was a good day for me. I slept in (despite having weird dreams), took a shower and shaved (Lord, that was overdue; also, you’re welcome for that slipped in TMI moment), picked up the house, did some laundry and started replaying the Trespasser DLC from my favorite game, Dragon Age: Inquisition, because I just want to understand those twists a bit more (and get killed by Qunari again, apparently). All of this I did before work, which I’m currently at. While at work, I managed to reply to some emails, learned a new aspect of my job I didn’t realize I needed to know, completed my To-Do List for work, did some critiquing for a new writer I’ve connected with and now am writing this blog. It’s been a solid, productive day.

Oh, I’ve also been stuck in a limbo of putting off reading the last 200 pages of the book I’m currently devouring and finding the perfect moment to sit down and read those last 200 pages. Because I know once I open that book again, I’m not closing it until it’s done (I won’t have that much self-control). Yet I’m also not ready for it to be over, since the next book doesn’t come up until November. But that’s a blog post/review that I’ll be hitting you with this weekend, so stay tuned.

Throughout the day,  my situation–and the fears and stresses paired with it–came up in my thoughts over and over. Sometimes, I shut it out. Yet commuting, I failed to shut them out, so I contemplated. I mused. And instead of focusing on what was stressing me out, I thought about some of the goals I want to work towards. Writing wise, I not only want to write more consistently, but I have a work-in-progress to complete, a finished trilogy to trim and polish and another series (perhaps two or even three!) to draft. In other aspects of my life, I want to find another job. I want to start working out again. Eventually, I’d like to find an apartment or tiny house that I can nerd out in by decorating with gaming posters and LOTR décor.

These goals, and more, I want to accomplish. And my mindset this weekend would have set me on a path of impossible thinking; a path believing that I couldn’t accomplish all of those goals (some of which are needs) because of all the Catch-22’s punching me in the throat. Repeatedly. Yet today, instead, I thought about how I could make things work. My monologue went something like this as I drove down the back roads that had become so familiar:

So, there is this job as an international student advisor I’m stoked about and really wanna apply for. Need to do that. If I get that, commuting is going to be hell. So will eating. How am I going to work out? Well, the Rec is open until midnight, so if I bring my gym clothes and go run for 30 minutes and shower at the Rec, I could drive home afterwards and get roughly 5-6 hours of sleep. Yeah, that’s not happening until I move to Lawrence. I’ll walk Shadow until then. I really need to start doing that again. Oh, sleep. I miss you so much already. Better sleep as much as possible while I can. Meals…geez, that’s not going to be fun, but if I cook four meals between Saturday and Sunday, I could pack leftovers for dinner most of the week. Portable lunches are easy and cereal? Easy. Writing time? Part-time job. Bam, done. Weekends, too. Gotta keep that high on the priority–ohmygosh, look, a beaver! 

One: I know, it’s scary inside my head while I’m thinking. Two: I really did see a beaver on my way to work tonight and yes, I was really, really excited about it.

I’ll sum up what those thoughts actually mean, in the grand scheme of things. I do have a job in mind for a second job that I’d love to apply for that works 8-5, which would make my work day 8-5 and 6-10. So yeah, commuting would suck, sleep would disappear, long hours loom and trying to eat healthy might become even more challenging that it already is. But it is obviously doable (as my ramblings above eventually got to). And it’d be easier to manage once I moved and financially would help, a lot. And, if I got that job, I’d be working two jobs where I would be happy, which is a big deal to me. Plus, I am really lucky to have a part-time job currently that, once I complete the To-Do list left for me and after I make sure the students are on-task, allows me to do whatever else I please while I’m there, as long as I’m present and available. So blogging and writing time can easily be squeezed in there. If that is suddenly taken away, that’s what my weekends are for. If NaNoWriMo has taught me anything, it is how much time you really have for anything, if you give it priority during your time. And I’m not afraid to give writing that priority, any more.

So what does all of this have to do with powering your own mentality? This weekend, I focused on how difficult life is and will continue to be for me. Tears ensued, my mood was glum and I wasn’t very productive, to be honest. Today, I faced the same facts–life is difficult and some aspects about my situation are hard–but instead of focusing on how hard they are going to be, I focused on my goals and tried to plan around the difficulties. I tried to find solutions, even hypothetically while I drove and got excited about spotting tiny animals. And that is a switch in perspective from my weekend and it shows, not only in my mood today (which was great!) but also in my productively levels and the hope and excitement–and yes, of course, still fear–I now feel towards the future after making these tentative plans and potential schedules.

Does this mean that I’m going to be Miss Positive Thinking throughout this entire process? Nope, not at all. Are tears still in my future? Definitely. Will I still get stressed out, feel shitty and believe everything is impossible? Yep, occasionally. Yet I also got a solid reminder, reflecting and juxtaposing my two experiences and mentalities regarding my current situation, that I do have some control on my mentality. I can actively work to have a better mindset, even when things get hard. And when I fail to do so, that’s okay. It’s important to remember that, because those emotions–that stress and fear–are just as valid and important to feel as elation and joy and courage and hope. It’s a mixture of all those emotions that will help me be successful, especially if I believe that I will be, despite whatever wants to get in my way (if this concept is completely missing you, watch Inside Out. Go. Right now).

So that’s what I’m going to refocus and do: believe in myself and actively work to keep my mentality positive, open and flexible.

Cheers.