Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Commute Contemplation, Part II

Read Part I.

You see, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. What does that mean, exactly? I’ll give you an example from my past: if I didn’t get an A on a paper, (even if it was an A- or B+) I felt like a failure. I might as well have received an F, because that’s how I felt. See, all or nothing.

That’s how I’ve looked at my life, and it’s a very unhealthy and depressing perspective—trust me.

What this means in the present (and what the little painter man taught me) is that although I can’t live my “ideal”, and can bring some of it into my “real.”

So, I’ve been asking myself:

What have I always wanted to be? Do?

How have I wanted to live, but haven’t because I thought/think it was/is impossible?

In the past when I've asked these questons, my stupid “all or nothing” thinking would bum me out because my ideal seemed like a pipe-dream and a waste of mental exertion.


If I could live my ideal, I would be somewhere in Ireland, in a cute little cottage like this, and would be a full-time writer/ part-time university professor. That’s my ideal. And because it’s not very likely to happen (unless a wealthy Irish benefactor is reading this and thinks I’m fabulous), I haven’t even bothered attempting any part of the dream.

But that’s where I’ve been wrong.

So, what am I doing about it now? What part of my ideal am I carving into my mundanely real life?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. I’ve decided to begin working with one of my professors on my poetry/short story portfolio this coming semester so that I can use it to apply to grad. schools for an M.F.A. in creative writing.

2. I’m going to create deadlines, charts, and programs for myself to keep on target. And tell others (i.e. you guys) about it so you will also help hold me accountable.

3. I’m going to get a new blog started that will be wholly dedicated to this effort. (I’ve done this, but haven’t posted anything yet. When I do, I’ll let you know (see #2).)

4. I’m going to start seriously revising poems to begin submitting them to literary journals.

5. I’m going to start a writing workshop group to help me. (Any takers?)

6. I’m going to begin attending readings and other writer-ish-type things to be inspired.

This is what I’m going to do in the New Year.


Will it be a success? I don’t know. But I’m tired of putting things off, being afraid of failing, and letting the only life I have slip away.

So, I’m now asking you, my friends, will you join me? Will you make this your “YEAR OF LIVING THE IDEAL LIFE AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT!™” too?

What have you always wanted to do? Be? Think about it, and decide to set some goals to make it a part of your life! (And if you need some friendly support, drop me a comment and I’ll become a monkey on your back!)

And remember my new motto: Start painting even if you’re standing in mud!


Emily M. said...

Liz! don't wait for the New Year! Segullah's poetry contest deadline is December 31st. :D

Also, are you doing the writing group online or in person? And is it just poetry or other stuff as well?

Rachel said...

This was an AMAZING post. I got a little misty eyed (I know this happens a lot but it still matters.) I'm totally there with you. Can I be included in your writers group and all the fun writer-ish things?

Heather said...
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Heather said...

Wow--you're inspiring! I dont write, but as I read #'s 5 and 6 I found myself thinking "I'm in!" I've been wanting to go to readings, etc., so that is great. As for writing, I can assure you it won't be good, but they say that by teaching the teacher maybe it will be benificial to you...either way, if you'll have me, my hand's in.

Katie said...

Can I grow up to be like you? I'm totally in for the "Year of Living the Ideal Life At Least a Little Bit!" -- I just need to decide what my ideal really is. Thanks for the inspiration.

Amanda said...

Have I blogged yet on my obsession lately with owning a small farm? I don't think so. This isn't exactly a new dream, but I have another blog I read about a woman who owned a bakery in CA and sold it and bought a farm in a secluded part of Missouri and now bakes bread and has goats and chickens and other animals. I kind of live in the country but was disappointed when we bought our house that we couldn't have poultry or any livestock. I have started to live in the dream this year by making cherry jam from our trees and starting a garden and starting to make homemade bread. Next year: a better/smarter garden, raspberry jam and jars of apple pie filing in my food storage. Someday, I'll own the land but I've got a lot to learn. It is so frustrating to have a dream that seems so important and satisfying but not being able to live it. It is nice to have the dream though. It keeps me company sometimes.

Ms. Liz said...

I'm TOTALLY in! On all counts. I realized that I have this unwritten/unspoken list of dreams that aren't resume dreams but dreams none-the-less, that I am determined to acknowledge and work towards as well as the stock dreams of being a professor and possibly being called "Captain" because my students want to not because I asked them to. I'm totally revamping my novel now that I'm having to rewrite the whole thing so I will need you too. I'm with ya love.

Liz said...

Yay! I love that we support each other! I have the greatest friends, ever!

Emily: you know, I submitted two additional poems with my “Mammon” poem and think I might have accidentally been included in the contest. I say accidentally because I really just submitted them so that the poetry board could offer me suggestions about how to improve them (like you had mentioned in one of your emails). But, when I got a response back letting me know they had received them, it sounded like they thought they were for the contest.

As for whether I planned an online writing group or an in person one, I would say both, if possible. I could use all the help I can get! And also, I just love talking about writing, words, craft, tone, etc. And since I like writing poems, short stories, personal essays, and novels, I would say that my writing workshop will be open to all of them. Good writing is good writing, after all.

My main goal is to find people that are serious about whatever genre they write, and are well-read enough to know about literary styles (or at the very least, have read enough to know what “sounds” right). I don’t want people who are just going to say “That’s great!” or “You don’t need to change a thing!” (I do that already for myself.) I need people who can offer constructive criticism, help me to see where I need to go more concrete, or just flat-out tell me that an image or metaphor I’m using isn’t working. I need people who are going to stretch me, challenge me, and whom I can do the same for them.

Emily M. said...

Liz--Ah, that explains it. I told the board that I had emailed you and asked if you'd send us "Mammon," and you said you would. But if it was labeled by mistake I suspect our poetry editor hasn't even opened it yet, since contest judging has not started. I was wondering what had happened with that--that's the reason you haven't heard anything back from us. It's in a contest folder, waiting for January 1st. Do you want us to consider them as contest entries, then? I don't know if we can do that with "Mammon," since we've already seen it, but I would think we can with the other pieces.

If you do an online writing group, and you have room for me, would you let me know? :-). Thank you...

Laura said...

Lizzie - as always, you're an inspiration. I'm not sure if you hate hearing that, or if you secretly eat it up...but it's true, either way. I'm going to have to think about what I've always wanted to do or be and at the same time leave out the marriage and family piece because it's not only dependent on me. What if you've spent your whole life defining all that you want to do or be by being a wife, mother, raising a great family, etc.? Do I come up with new dreams? And then what if other parts of your dreams seem really impractical? Anyway, this is going to require thought, but I'm in on all your ideas - although I'm not sure how well-read I am or if I know much about literary styles!

Mom said...

Liz, what I love about your blog is that when life is hectic and we don't get to talk much I can still be part of what you are thinking and feeling. You have made me really laugh on some of our recent "health Issue" days. But tonight as I read I thought how amazing this experience was...and honey, you are already a writer. This was pulitzer profound! What a great plan for the new year. As one who has talked through the "beauty vs barren" pov with you a few thousand times...this is it...go for it! Love, Mom

Liz said...

Emily: First, there’s absolutely room for you in my online writing group! I’m planning on getting it started in January, so I’ll let you know.

Second, about my poems: I don’t really feel they’re contest ready, but I don’t think I’ll ever feel that my poems are contest ready (if you know what I mean). So, I guess this is how I look at it, if the other two poems are kept in the contest, and the poetry board thinks they stink, would they still be willing to work with me on them for later submission? If so, then I don’t mind keeping them in (I need to get used to rejection). If not, I’d rather them not be included in the contest, and get feedback on them, so I can improve their quality. Does that make any sense?

Laura: You know, I don’t really feel inspiring. My post might sound that way, because I’m trying to excite myself up, so I don’t go home and plop on the couch and do nothing until I go to sleep. That’s why I’m letting everyone know. I’m hoping that fear of public failure will help me keep on target (it worked with my month-long novel writing after all).

Second, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while, I do think that sometimes in life there comes a time where we end up needing to “re-define” the definition of ourselves. Wife and mother might have been yours (and mine, for that matter), but we have limited control over that. And so, we can either continue to feel like a failure because we can’t ever live up to that definition, or we can change how we see ourselves (and our purpose here in this life).

It’s like that parable of the talents, in a way. We’re like the last guy who got one talent, and buried it—except in the story, he buried it because he was afraid of losing it—but we bury it, because it’s not good enough, it’s not the 5 talent of marriage and family. And we feel that the Master ripped us off with the one stinking talent, and loved the other two guys more than us. But, it’s a wrong interpretation. It’s not the quantity of talents we’re given that matters, it’s the fact that with each talent, it can be multiplied! Five can become ten, two can become four, and one can become two, then four, then eight, than 16, etc. How many times they multiply is up to us! The only thing that is different between everyone is how much we start with.

So, I’ve decided to take my one talent, and make it more. I might not ever get the 5 talent of marriage and family. But what I do know, is that I don’t want to have to face the Lord when he asks me why I buried what he gave me, instead of letting it grow into amounts that I can’t even fathom at this point.

I’ve re-defined what I want in life. And you should (and need) to do the same thing. It’s the only way we’ll ever be happy, Laura. It’s the only way.

Emily M. said...

Liz, I would love to be included in an online group with you--thank you!

On the poems--that makes sense. I will let them know that you're interested in feedback most of all, regardless of whether they are considered for the contest. Segullah is mostly on Christmas break right now--we run the blog, but the editing stuff is slow. So I should know in January, and hopefully get you feedback by February... the editing process is slooooow. :-)

Gina said...

Having dreams of being a wife and mother are very noble dreams. However, these dreams rely somewhat on others. Having dreams for yourself, like being a writer or scrapbooker :) are within the person's hands, and no one elses. So, it's good to have dreams for ourselves that don't require that another has the same dream and desire with you.

Liz, great post as usual

Amanda said...

Liz, I love your comment to Laura about redefining goals and ideas. That could have been a separate post all together. You really are inspiring.
Setting marriage and motherhood is a goal that often doesn't require much of us. Marriage just seems to happen to some people without doing anything to bring it on. Goals should be set that like the other girls have said, you have some control over and also ones that make you into a better person. Being married and being a mother don't make anyone a better individual. They are just new opportunities to learn the skills that everyone can gain in a variety of experiences.
After typing my comments I always think 'oh, just delete this. it didn't make much sense or Liz said it better.' Hope some of this made sense.

Liz said...
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Liz said...

Exactly, Gina. We should always have dreams that don't rely on other people.

And, Amanda, your comment makes perfect sense and I completely agree!