Not a Good Fit (a much needed kick in the pants)

I’ll always remember the year I turned 40 as the year I lost two jobs in six months. In July the new “strategists” hired in my area at work decided that my skills weren’t needed in the group, so they downsized me. There was an opening in another group that it seemed I might be qualified for so I was placed there. Turns out I’m not as qualified for the job as I had hoped. After 4 months of training and my boss not seeing enough improvement, I’ve been asked to resign. They’re giving me a few months to find another job but now I have to go into the office everyday feeling like I don’t belong there. The job involves editing online help documents, and my soon-to-be former co-workers have to check each document I’ve edited to make sure nothing is amiss. This cuts into their work time and makes the whole team less productive. So I feel like a burden. Even when I get things right (and I do get things right from time to time) someone has had to take the time to check my work.

Now I have to say that for me doing this work has been a good learning experience. I’m learning to pay more attention to details and I’m learning about the finer points of English grammar; the points I don’t think I would really need to know unless I wanted to be an editor. Having a better handle on grammar should help me to become a better writer. I definitely want to be a better writer. So I’m working my way to grammar geekdom. I’ll probably never be fully geeked out because my attitude about rules is probably somewhat flippant, but every time there’s a place in a sentence where a comma, semicolon, dash, or colon might be helpful or required, I think hard and often consult an expert like my new (pretend) friend, Grammar Girl.

When I was told things weren’t going to work out, I cried. I immediately thought about how hard it is to find a job in “this economy,” and I had visions of losing my house and living on the street with my husband, two cats, and three dogs.

Note to self: work on your tendency to immediately imagine the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Now here’s the hard reality that this situation is forcing me to face. I have spent the last 20 or so years not living up to my full potential. I’ve been too timid, too careful. I’ve waited for things to come to me instead of going after them, and consequently I don’t have a rewarding career. I’ve spent the last 11 years waiting for something to happen. I should have been making something happen. I always claim that I don’t have any regrets and that things happen for a reason, but I realize now that I’ve been scared of life. That has to stop now because I’m running out of time.

The funny thing is my previous blog post got a couple of comments and a “like” the day before I got the official news that I’m going to be out of a job soon. Now I believe that there are no coincidences and that this is surely a sign that there’s something more in store for me. Now I steel myself, now I move forward. No more standing and waiting.

There will be more on this in the next post. I”ll talk about new insights about what I want from life and goals I need to set.

Oh, and I’m going to include a piece of artwork in every post, just because.

Line Tree
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Scared or Lazy?

I’ve been thinking about writing, but not actually writing, and so I’ve asked myself the question, “am I afraid to write?” I answered myself with, “maybe I am, or maybe I’m just lazy.”I think both answers are correct. So what did I decide to do? I decided to write about being too scared and too lazy to write. I’m tempted to leave it at that. A 59 word blog post, the contents of which have the potential to be meaningful but fail to do anything except waste the reader’s time. That is, if there is a reader.

Fear is a natural instinct meant to protect us humans from sabre toothed tigers and what-not. There aren’t many sabre toothed tigers on the Internet (sure a Google search brings up 903,000 results for the long extinct cat but it’s just pictures of them and words about them). Yeah, so I know I’m safe from prehistoric carnivores, and it’s good to get that out of the way. So what else could I possibly be afraid of?

What comes to mind first is grammar. Specifically, I fear the dreaded comma and its friends the colon and semicolon. Every time I think I’ve figured it out, and that I’m ready for anything a sentence cares to throw at me, I stumble upon another situation where a comma might be grammatically necessary, or it might be correct, or it might be optional, or it might even be WRONG! If I were better at drawing, I think I’d draw a tiger whose sabre teeth were made from commas. That would be fun.

Is the fear of making grammar mistakes the true reason for my aversion to writing, or could it be something more deeply rooted? Let’s examine this. When I think about writing a new post, what triggers my anxiety? I’ll make a list (in no particular order):

1.  I don’t have anything interesting to say.

2.  I say the same things over and over, and over.

3. I’m going to sound too self-deprecating.

4. I  put in too many dumb  pieces of my amateur artwork.

5. This is getting me nowhere. I haven’t achieved fame and fortune from this yet and probably never will, so why bother.

6. Hardly anyone is reading this.

Some of that is about fear and some of it is self-pity. What about the lazy side of this coin? Do I need to make a list? Lazy is just lazy.

1. I don’t feel like doing it.

2. I have too many things I want to write about that I’m overwhelmed.

3. I’m playing Angry Birds.

So it’s a bit of both and I think one feeds the other. But hey, I just wrote over 400 words, and I used lots of commas (maybe too many).

I feel better now.

Not Shopping

Today is that day, the day they call Black Friday. It’s supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year, the day that businesses hope will put their accounts in the black.

For the past several weeks, tv commercials have been trying to get all of us consumers worked up for this day. I especially like the Target commercial featuring a woman training for the big day. She’s doing present wrapping drills, bicep curls with shopping baskets, and ab crunches on one of those big red balls that sit at the entrance to Target stores. I like the lady, she’s funny, and she almost makes me want to go shopping. But while I like the idea of giving and getting Christmas gifts, I don’t have a lot of people to shop for and I don’t have a lot of money to spend. So as usual I’ll give this Black Friday a miss.

What did I do today instead of shopping?  Well, I slept at lot and then finally got up and had coffee and waffles. The coffee tasted soapy and the half and half seemed a little off. The  waffles were okay, but eating anything these days is not as pleasurable as it could be since I have a large puppy shaking me down for scraps. She didn’t get any because I’m sure  it can’t be good for a dog to eat maple syrup. We’ve already got one diabetic dog after all.

Later I worked in my Sketchbook Project sketchbook and in my art journal.

Here’ are the in-progress pics:

Right now I’m visiting with Dad and listening to an episode of Decoder Ring Theatre’s  Black Jack Justice, and of course writing this.

I’m pretty sure the preceding was not terribly interesting, but I’ve got to keep reminding myself that this blog exists for my benefit. Its purpose is to get me writing and keep me writing. So I’m glad to have sat down and written this post.

Winter Blues

I’ve been feeling this low-grade depression overtaking me. I blame the shortening days, and the terrible state of the world. Probably the world wouldn’t seem quite so terrible to me if I didn’t have this low-grade depression. I’ve not been getting enough exercise, and my dietary habits are less than perfect. I blame Sadie the puppy. I just can’t get anything done with her in the house. If I take my eyes off of her  for more than 2 minutes she might be peeing on the carpet or eating a glove. Yes, she ate my glove the other day. It seems she mostly digested it, because now I’m seeing burgundy fuzz in her poop. Yes, I have to look closely at dog poop now that I’m a puppy mamma.

My comma usage and placement is improving, but I’m still nervous about the silly punctuation mark.

I’ve been playing around with drawing textures and patterns after looking at some beginner lessons on drawspace.com.

I’ll probably use this in a mixed media piece. We’re turning our spare room into my craft/art studio (sort of,) so I look forward to getting to work on some projects. So you see some good things are going on despite my low-grade depression.

Now if I could only get over this virus I have.

What now?

I’m supposed to write, but I haven’t felt like it. I have a puppy and she makes me tired. I’ve been working at a computer all day long so I don’t want to touch one when I get home. Those are my excuses.

Maybe I should make a list of the things I want/need to do.

1. Art journal
2. Podcast
3. Make a birthday card for Earl (done)
4. Get on a fitness schedule
5. Cook more homemade meals for Dad
6. Cook more homemade meals for me and Ernie
7. Learn Illustrator so I can re-create things from my sketchbooks

A thing from my sketchbook
A thing from my sketchbook

8. Do some digital scrapbooking
9. Have a regular Yoga practice
10. Read
11. Write poetry (see below)
12.Create a workout for Dad

Is that enough?

In other news, I’m obsessed with commas. I’m never quite sure if a comma is really needed. Should I put one in? Should I take one out? I’m sort of an end it with a period and start over kind of gal. Is my writing choppy? Yeah, I think it’s choppy, but I’m so scared of a comma mistake.

I recently purchased a Grammar Girl audiobook and a Grammar Girl book for the Kindle. I’m ready to get serious with grammar. I wrote a poem today about how we should stop talking and start communicating in other ways.

Here it is:

Let’s just express ourselves through pictures, music, and dance.

We’ll cast all of these silly words to the wind.

We’ll sit on the ground

beating our drums,

stomping our feet,

drawing in the sand,

looking at the pretty flowers

and we’ll smile  just because

Longest poem I’ve written in a while, so yay for me! And while I’m complaining about how stupid language is I write a poem, and I enjoy writing the poem.

Here’s Earl’s card:

Birthday card for Earl

Inside Earl's card

Meet Sadie!

Sadie the puppyThis is my puppy, Sadie. We found her at the Owen County Humane Society.

She was in a fenced-in area with her brothers and sisters, all of whom seemed to knock her around and step on her. I guess she was the litter’s runt.

We got her on Sept. 15, 2011 and she’s been growing and getting more confident everyday.

Puppies are difficult. They have accidents in the house, they want to chew everything, they make you get up at three in the morning to take them outside even when it’s cold or rainy or cold and rainy. You can’t relax and do your regular activities in the house because you have to follow them around to make sure they don’t get into trouble. It’s exhausting and I think I should get maternity leave from work. I’m a new mommy after all.

I love Sadie very much and I think she loves me; that’s why I put up with all the trouble. My husband Ernie helps a lot with her. He is much better at disciplining her when she does something she shouldn’t, but he also gives her love and encouragement. He says that one day when life gives me bad times, Sadie will be there for me and she’ll make things better.

I look forward to having a grown-up dog as a companion, but for now I’ll cherish her time as a puppy.

Oh and the cats are not happy that Sadie is running around the house. The chihuahua is a bit miffed as well. Someday hopefully everyone will get along.

Make my mark?

Me the little girl.

I used to think that I was destined for greatness and fame. Part of me still does but then I think “what am I going to be great at?”, “What will I be famous for?”

I’m 40 now so it feels like I’m running out of time even though I really feel like I’m just getting started.

I wrote this tweet the other day: 

All that was right and true about me as a child is coming back. At last I’m taking root. I’ll be ready soon to bloom.

You know how they say little girls are full of confidence until they reach a certain age and then the world starts chipping away at them? I believe I’m getting back in touch with that little girl who thought she could do anything; who wasn’t afraid of life. That little girl is me  and it’s time she got on with the greatness!

If I have one dream it’s to be a movie star. I’m not doing much of anything to make that dream come true but you know I somehow think that one day it will happen because things come to me in life. Right now I’m here and I’m happy to be here.

I dream also of being a writer and I’m working on that right now.

Hand doodle.
Hand doodle.

I long to be a semi-serious artist, just for myself. My waking thoughts and sketchbooks are filled with lines and doodles. I create things that are interesting to me and I try to learn as much as I can about drawing and mixed media techniques. Maybe someday I’ll create something that someone wants  to buy. Another possible dream.

I’m getting my very own puppy tomorrow!!! I met her at an animal shelter and I think she fell in love with me. I’m in love with her. When I saw her I thought Sadie. Turns out Sadie is a diminutive form of Sarah and means princess.

My first pet was a cat. I met her as a kitten at my recorder teacher’s house. She was the only one in the litter with blue eyes. I called her Princess and she lived to be 18 years old.

Now I’m going to have another Princess and I didn’t even plan it that way.

Things in life just come to me you know.

About Duke

This is a story I wrote about my husband’s beloved Pitbull, Duke earlier this year. I was going to enter it in the Bloom Magazine fiction contest but I didn’t.

I have a few pictures of him on Flickr. There aren’t many because my access to him is limited (because he would kill me if I got too close) but they show the gentle side that my husband saw in him.

Duke

                The man and the woman call me Duke, sometimes Dukie, sometimes Dukie-boy. Right now I’m standing in my backyard and the man is saying “pooh pooh Dukie.” I’m not ready to do that just now. A bird flies past and I watch it. I sniff at the grass and then I scratch my belly with my back foot. The man says “pooh pooh Duke!” a little more sternly now. But I still don’t want to. I’m contemplating the wind when the woman walks out. I look at her as she waves and says “hi Dukie.” She walks over and sits by the man and I sniff the grass.

                Soon I’ll have to go back to the garage. I live in the garage, not inside the house like a normal dog. The man says that I’m dangerous but I don’t think I am. When we lived at the other house with that other woman and her kids I had the run of the house. I got along with the woman, the kids, and even the cat. We were one big happy family. The man got me when I was a puppy. Me and my mom and all of my brothers and sisters were in a small yard and the man picked me up, put me into the front seat of his truck and drove me home. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to anyone. I hope they’re all okay.

                When the man and I got to my new home he brought me into the house and held me up in front of the woman. She looked at me and said “What is that?” The man said “It’s a surprise. It’s a pit bull puppy. I went down to Mitchell and bought him.” The woman sighed, “Another animal? We can’t take care of another animal!” The man laughed. “Of course we can,” he said. The woman turned and walked out of the room. I licked the man’s face.

                The woman warmed up to me after a few days. She didn’t play with me like the man and the kids did but she gave me scraps from the table and petted me a little. It was her idea to call me Duke. I liked the name because it sounded strong and I was strong. When I played with the kids I would run at them and bowl them over onto the living room floor. They would laugh and run and tackle me and we’d play until it was time for me to go outside or for them to take a nap. The woman didn’t like when I knocked the kids down. She would yell at me when I did and that made me feel bad so I tried not to do it as much.

                I started to get bigger but I still liked to play. Sometimes people I didn’t know would come to the house. When they sat down I would jump onto their laps and try to get to know them by licking and smelling. The woman didn’t like this. She would yell at me and put me out of the house or even worse put me in my pet porter where I would sit and look out wondering what I did wrong.  I began to hope that no people would come into the house from outside because that meant being locked up.

                The man and the woman started having arguments and then they stopped talking to each other and then the woman and the kids and the cat left the house and didn’t come back. I was glad the woman and the cat left but I missed the kids. From now on it would be just me and the man. If anyone knocked at the front door I would bark and growl hoping they would leave. Once the man let someone in and I knew he had probably made a mistake so I rushed toward the outsider growling and bearing my teeth. We didn’t want anyone coming into the house did we? To my surprise the man yelled at me. He said “Duke, what are you doing?” in the loudest angriest voice I had ever heard him use. He grabbed my collar and pulled me into my pet porter. I was locked up again and I didn’t understand why but I could see that when someone came to the house it meant I would be locked up even if the woman didn’t live there anymore. I knew I didn’t like people, except for the man. He was my friend.

                So that’s the way it was. The man and I lived in the house and if someone came to visit I got locked up. One day the man started bringing boxes home and he started putting things in the boxes. I didn’t understand what was going so I just watched and waited. One cold morning the man started loading boxes into his truck and then he put me in the front seat. I thought maybe we were going to the veterinarian’s office and I didn’t like that idea one bit so I started to whine. The man said “Don’t worry Dukie. We’re going to our new home in Bloomington. We’re going to live in a house with your new Mommy! I hope you can be nice to her.”

                I wasn’t sure what he had said but his voice was soothing so I curled up on the seat and went to sleep. The truck stopped and I woke up. I looked out the window and saw houses with grass in front of them and trees and pavement and then I saw a woman. She was walking toward the truck. She was different from the other woman but I knew I wouldn’t like her. She wasn’t the man so with her here I would probably soon be locked up.

                That was a long time ago. The man and the woman live in the house and I live in the garage. I’m allowed in the house too but the woman can’t be there. If she goes to work or goes shopping I can come in and spend time with the man. The man once tried to get me to be nice to the woman. We were all in the living room. I was by the man’s side and on a leash. The woman was sitting on the other side of the room. She said nice things to me and I sat calmly and looked at her. She kept moving her chair closer and closer to me and that made me nervous and I uttered my most threatening growl so she backed up and said more nice things. This went on for a long time. Every time the woman moved closer I would growl. She even tried to give me a chewy treat but I ignored the treat and barked at her. I held my ground until the man gave up and took me back to the garage.

                So that was that. Now I’m here in the backyard with the man saying “pooh pooh Dukie.” I know that if I don’t pooh pooh I won’t be able to come into the house and take a nap with the man; I’ll be stuck in the garage but I just can’t do it. Not with the woman sitting there staring at me. And then the woman gets up and goes back into the house and the man walks over to me with disappointment on his face and leads me back into the garage. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

 

Duke the pitbull
Duke the pitbull

Follow-up and Such

My last post entitled Strategy Time was about improving myself. I was going to blog regularly, work in my art journal, and  eat better by preparing meals ahead of time. I also mentioned going to hooping class.

Here’s an update

1. Blog regularly? Not so much. The last post was Aug. 5, today is Aug. 26. Still the same month but not the frequency I’d like to achieve. Will try and do better.

2. Work in art journal? I’ve done two more pages.

3. Eat better by preparing meals ahead of time? I’ve done pretty well for myself. I’ve had kale sauteed in butter and garlic to which I added chopped sweet potato. The flavor was not quite right but I added some cheddar cheese and it was fantastic. I’ve also turned to the frozen vegetables in sauce that the grocery store has started offering. They are quick, easy, and flavorful. I’m also getting to like the Gorton’s heat and eat baked fish product. Very do-able.

4. Hooping class on Saturday mornings? Not so much.

I’m feeling pretty accomplished!

Next time I’ll talk about my new job and some more minor endeavors in art.

Art journal page.
Art journal page.
Art journal page.
Art journal page.

Strategy Time

Yes it’s that time again. You know when you have that feeling that you’re going to improve things in your life, that you’re going to do the things you’ve been meaning to do, that you have the moxy, the time and the energy to really get things going. Well I’m having that feeling today.

Now I understand that I can’t make all the changes I want to make overnight but I can’t make any of them if I don’t make a start. Right? And I’ve got to say that over the past couple of months I’ve actually started and have been keeping up with some of my “dream projects.” Blogging for instance. I’ve blogged somewhat regularly and I feel inspired to keep going. Then there’s the art journal. I’ve completed two pages and both of those pages are meaningful to me.

The next thing I want to tackle is eating better and preparing meals ahead of time so I always have something healthy on hand to eat. This plan should also save me money.

Well I say “plan” but I don’t really have an  actual plan quite yet. That’s where I usually get tripped up. I think I need a plan but I won’t sit down and make a plan and then the whole  thing falls by the wayside.

Now I do know that this meals ahead of time  strategy involves not wasting my weekends sleeping in until after noon. Since I know that much I can start by getting up at a reasonable time tomorrow (Saturday). Luckily PJ’s hooping class starts tomorrow at 10:00 am and I think I really want to go. That means getting up in the morning. My gosh I could even go to the Farmers’ Market after class and get some fresh veggies! That sounds ambitious to me but I’ll act as though that’s what’s going to happen.

I’ll be back with updates and photos!