Last week I read an article about solving Generation Y's passion problem
. Apparently I've been under the mistaken impression that I was a Gen Xer when I'm really a Gen Yer. Apparently the hallmark of my generation is a sense of entitlement. Looking at all the things that leave my inner temper at a raging boil, I'd have to say that, yeah, I fit the bill. I was raised that I was intelligent and that you worked hard in school to get a scholarship, work hard in college to get good grades to either get out and get a good job or get into a good graduate program, work hard in grad school to get out and get a good, reasonably paying job. Check, check, check, and oh wait no check. All my academic accolades mean exactly bupkis and that intelligence has led to more than a little bit of cynicism and bitterness. Hence why I decided to try this positivity thing.
But anyway the point that the article was making is that our entire generation was done a disservice by being told we should follow our passion. This is supposed to be the paramount piece of career advice. The author of the post makes the point that this is damaging because the phrase implies we're supposed to love our job from the start, when, in fact passion develops over time, along with mastery, etc. The author makes a call for a more nuanced discussion of this whole passion thing to make it clear to folks that passion is a process and develops.
Which is all well and good if you haven't FOUND your passion.
It doesn't help people like me. I found my passion when I was twelve
. I wanted to be a writer. I still want to be a writer. I AM a writer. I professionally pursue this every day on top of everything else I'm doing. I lose sleep, limit social functions, and pretty much do little else because I love to write. It's that everything else that I have to do that makes me so angry. There's nothing more damaging to a creative soul than sticking it in a job where creativity is largely considered useless and should be avoided. Where science and data and numbers rule the day. Where everyone around you looks at you regularly as if you've grown a second head.
I'm not sure which is worse--to be miserable in your job because you haven't found your passion or to be miserable in your job because you have, but you can't afford to do it for a living yet.
I don't have any answers (other than a firm conviction that my positivity would suffer a lot less if our country would implement daily naptime), and I certainly don't have any points of positive in all this. I've been really struggling with positivity this week.
It's been a really good week.
- I broke the 80k word mark on my current book.
- Zappos is having a sale on Levis, and they have my beloved 529s (which I was told two years ago were discontinued), so I bought two more pair.
- My weekly lunch buddies and I have decided to switch from our eating out to eating in. As I'm the cook, they're going to bring me ingredients, and I'm going to make our lunch every week. We had vegetarian stuffed shells out on our patio yesterday, and it was lovely.
- I actually FOUND the cherry peppers I need for the Chicken Riggies recipe I found at Cook's Country (go Kroger).
- I discovered via the local NaNoWriMo board that there is actually a writer's group that meets at a local bookshop twice a month. Guess I'll try that out sometime in November.
One of the things that I have noodled on in the context of this whole quest for positivity and optimism is the idea of satisfaction. We live in an AMAZINGLY materialistic society where we are constantly bombarded with messages on all sides of more, better, newer, faster, that engenders a culture of WANT WANT WANT WANT. Such a culture, in conjunction with our socialized and reinforced desire for instant gratification leads to either excesses of all kinds (obesity, debt, alcoholism, to name a few) or to a state of rampant dissatisfaction because we are focused exclusively on those things we don't have.
This is not a recipe for happiness, folks.
I declare that this is another area where people need to change their focus, alter their thinking. Instead of noting what you don't have, note what you do. Practice gratitude for those things. There's no rule in life, no fairness committee that declares it is our inalienable right to have lots of stuff (stuff that, I might add, really does nothing to enhance our personal happiness beyond a superficial level of keeping up with the Joneses). This is NOT what life is about. And Lord knows, you can't take it with you when you go.
I'm not saying it's easy. It requires a certain level of self awareness, of stopping to really look at where you are that is totally counter to our anywhere but right here, right now culture, of living in the present instead of some amorphous future where you tell yourself, "But I'll be happy when I have x, y, z" (where you really WON'T be happy because there will always be another, different, distant x, y, z). There is a certain kind of freedom in being content with what you already have. In realizing you have what you need (and probably a lot of things you don't) and being free of the vicissitudes of commercialism.
So I make this challenge to you. Go for a month without giving in to those wants. Don't buy anything except the things you actually need. And see if you can focus on the things you already have and be grateful for them. Come back after and let me know if your attitude changed any and whether you find yourself less often saying "I want X." Satisfaction is within your grasp. I promise. You just have to make a little mental effort.
Yesterday was pretty good for a Monday. Was very very busy, but there was still time to find the positive.
- Hubby slept last night. He's been on an insomnia kick, so we've been working on getting him reset. It's funny the number of people I've ended up treating for insomnia, and I almost never have trouble sleeping.
- The weather was beautiful, if not cool enough for October.
- There was no staff meeting (I love those Mondays).
- My first day going vegetarian until dinner was a success.
Given that I'm just NOT in the habit of posting at night, I'll probably start doing these first thing in the morning for the day before. So yays for Sunday:
- Cherry pomegranate Crystal Light CAN be gotten out of light beige carpet if you get there fast enough.
- While in search of an alternative gluten free potsticker wrapper recipe, I ran across this post, which had the GENIUS idea of using a tortilla press (which I have) to press out the wrappers rather than trying to roll them. Also, she introduced me to the DUMPLING PRESS, a handy little contraption that pleats them FOR YOU. I have totally ordered on on Amazon. This will take all the backbreaking work out of making dumplings and put them on the menu more than once a year!
- We actually managed to get a few smiling pictures out of a baby photo shoot yesterday where the 6 month old was SUPER UNHAPPY. Win.
- I sorted the details (mostly) of a scene that's been giving me a lot of trouble in my primary WIP.
- My kitchen is CLEAN, down to having scrubbed the cabinets with Murphy's Oil Soap and moisturized them with lemon oil.
MSU: 41 Tennessee: 31
Final play by Russell to Johnson. Beautiful.
Okay so I've been kind of lousy about remembering to do this this week. Not because my week is going bad but just because my habit is blogging in the morning, not evening, so I just forget.
- Perhaps one of my biggest yays for the week is that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts in less than 3 weeks. In and of itself this is not really a thing, as I haven't properly participated in years, but the exciting thing is that I've found some local writers through the NaNo regional boards and we're all working to set up some Write Ins. As I've long wanted to connect with some local writers (questioning if they even existed in my relatively small town), this makes me quite happy.
- I'm one scene away from knocking out my first act in the novella I'm writing.
- I finally sorted out what was holding me back on my second pinch point in my primary work in progress (which I hope to get through today).
- I saw some gorgeous monarch butterflies flitting around one of our bushes the other day (some big sprawling thing with purple flowers--no idea what it is, I'm not a gardener).
- I've been attacked by yet another plot bunny (for you non-writer types, this is the popular term for new ideas that tend to pop up while we are working on another project and often tend to proliferate like, well, bunnies) which looks really promising for a future project.
- The weather has been GORGEOUS this week, lovely and cool in the mornings, enough so that I've been able to wear my new fleece (I am easily made happy).
- The weather was absolutely GORGEOUS today. Cool and blue, and I got to wear my new fleece.
- I got some more plotting done on the steampunk plot bunny I'm flirting with.
- My month's credit came in for Audible and the latest in Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series, Riveted, is out! Yay!
- I'm too sleepy to remember anything else!
Over the last several years, I've spent a considerable amount of time and energy griping about my work schedule. I work two jobs on top of trying to write and keep up with family, house keeping, and the like. When I first started, especially, I had three jobs (two part time online teaching gigs) and with all the class development I had to do, I was easily working 60-70 hour weeks before writing. A couple years ago, I was able to pick up some extra classes at the full university level, so I was blessedly able to drop the community college teaching (which was a lot of work and paid poorly). But still, I've devoted a lot of time and effort to complaining and resenting every minute of those jobs and the stress that they caused that kept me from my writing. Because, by God, I don't want to DO anything else.
Today I'm having a bit of an epiphany about the gift I've been given by having such a demanding schedule for the last six years. I mean, apart from the obvious about getting us out of debt, building a bit of a nest egg, buying a house, renovating that house, selling said house, buying bigger nicer house stuff. What I'm thinking about today has nothing to do with those monetary benefits of working all those extra hours. No, the thing I'm most grateful for out of this experience is the discipline.
I keep an insane schedule. I exercise daily, have my full time research job, teach my classes, walk my dogs, write, cook almost everything from scratch in our gluten free household, watch a little TV, hang with my hubby, maintain a cooking blog, engage in social media...the list goes on, and on, and on.
Routinely people refer to me as Superwoman and ask how I do so much.
I've seen other writers flounder over the last few years because they lack it. They don't have a rigid structure imposed on their day by a day job or kids' schedules or whatever external thing. And without having a frame, they somehow manage to get less done than I do in my limited span. Days might go by when they don't write at all. Some of the writers who were around when I began this professional journey aren't even around anymore. Which is just sad, because some of them were super talented. But talent only gets you so far in this business. Discipline gets you the rest. It's what separates the pros from the amateurs. And discipline is not something most people are born with. Discipline must be learned, just like craft or dialogue or story structure or any of the other oodles of things that go into writing a viable and engaging book.
Discipline is the gift I've been given from all of my jobs and responsibilities. And as much as I don't want to go on like this forever (fingers crossed), I am grateful for the time I have had in this crucible, honing my ability to juggle, to focus, to produce, no matter how little time I have to spend. Because whenever I do finally get blessed by the ability to quit my jobs and write full time, I'll be able to take those skills and apply them to running my own business.
I totally forgot to sit down and do my Yays of the Day last night. And honestly, I'm not caffeinated yet, so my brain isn't firing well enough to remind me what they were. Just that it was generally a good day. My morning got off to a lovely, if obscenely early, start for a Saturday. My hubby put out fresh towels yesterday, and I saw as I was getting in the shower this morning that he folded them neatly into thirds. Which is a small thing, I know, but it's that it's a Thing for me. One of my weird quirks that I really want my towels folded neatly into pretty thirds. And he remembered that and did it. It's had me smiling like an idiot despite the lack of caffeine.
I'm off to my mom's today, but I wanted to share with y'all a couple of posts that I think are great reads.
The first is by author Tawna Fenske (if you've not read her work and want a laugh, she's fabulously funny). Stop The Glorification of Busy
is a great reminder that busy is not always PRODUCTIVE. And in the same vein, this morning's Daily Good post was about Why We Stink At Taking Breaks
. It's like they were talking directly to me because I AM always busy (seemingly) and I rarely take a break. And those things can impact our ability to be mindful and positive. Check 'em out, and have a GREAT weekend!