February’s Reverb 11 Prompt

One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living?

  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • What do I need to be doing in order to achieve my goals and dreams?
  • Where is life taking me?
  • What does the future hold?

Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life?

I’m still living with my defining moment, achievement, ordinary joys, travel, avoidance, appreciation, action, 11 things (decluttering), beautiful differences, community, making, letting go, writing hindrances, and one word. I know, that probably looked like a run-on sentence with a bit of grammatical inconsistencies. To start, my disappointment with 2010 has thus far carried over into 2011. It seems like nothing is going right, and the first two months of 2011 haven’t been captured by success as I’d hoped they would be. I’m still in the same situation in regards to my writing that I was in when I responded to that prompt. Letting go in general has been a theme thus far. In regards to making something, I plan to plant a fruit, vegetable, and herb garden – granted, I have been planning this for a few weeks. I really must get some potting soil so I can begin planting the seeds indoors before transferring to the garden. The sooner we can reap the benefits, the better.

I live in a new community in which the people are so friendly. The expression of “southern hospitality” is not dead to this community. Additionally, I’m unique in this town – incredibly unique, in fact. I’m not southern. I don’t identify myself as southern, nor do I identify with the subculture. I’m a New York born woman with a flair for flower hair clips, glittery eye make-up, rock and techno, and some progressive ideas stereotypical of liberalism. When the locals in their baseball hats, boots, dirty jeans, and camo jackets see me, I can feel them mentally scratching their heads.

Decluttering, and the need to do so, still very much presents itself in my day-to-day routines. My days feel marked by lack of progress and inaction. We were asked what our next step was. Indeed – what is my next step? I’ve realized that some of what Gretchen Rubin says about good enough being better than the perfect that never manifests is incredibly relevant to my personality quirks. I still avoid doing a lot, and I’ve been avoiding writing because some days I feel like I’m not worth reading. Ordinary joys are the things carrying me through life right now because without them life looks dark and bleery. Appreciation ties in with ordinary joys. I have a strong appreciation of ordinary joys, for example.

I still really want to achieve my goals and dreams of becoming an English consultant, tutor, writer, and editor. I’m still not working towards it as much as I should and wish I could. I’m having less worries about last year’s failings and woes while becoming much more involved and concerned with the present’s problems. I’m hoping to plan trips to Florida for two different 10 year high school reunions, and I want to begin plans for a 10 year anniversary trip to the Keys. I really want to visit Chattanooga and Atlanta.

Are you living new questions?

  • What’s holding me back?
  • Why am I allowing myself to drift?
  • How can I overcome the obstacles in my path?
  • Where would I like to go?
  • Where have the first two months of 2011 gone?



Reverb 10: Photo

12/25 Prompt: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

This is a picture of me with Junior at Chop Stix Cafe, taken on December 27th. It captures me as a loving mother, the kind of mother I want to my children to remember me as. Brian took it with his new camera — it was a gift from our friend that evening, actually. This picture reveals how attached I am to my family, how much I enjoy noodles, my fondness for tea, and just the essence of me. I wasn’t expecting him to snap this photo, but once I saw it I was certain it would be perfect for this prompt. I had worried about choosing the right photo beforehand.

Chop Stix Reverb 10


Reverb 10: Final Batch

So, I read @whollyjeanne’s advice about writing the reverb10 posts, and I’m going to heed her words to send backlogged prompts out in a batch and not to write a book about them. Admittedly, I don’t quite have the photo I want for the photo prompt, so I suppose that’s just going to have to wait. Anyhow, on with the prompts….

12/24 Prompt: Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

I actually had a moment of that, although I cannot remember the date, time, etc. I had made mention of it to Brian, that I had a calm sense of being at peace with the impending move. During 2011, I intend to try and remember that I had a sense of peace with this change, knowing it was the right thing to do — even when I doubt it.

12/27 Prompt: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Much like the previously stated “moment,” I really can’t remember one explicit time, place, etc. However, I can say that any moment in which the kids were all calm, getting along, and being unusually angelic provided me with ordinary joy. Any moment in which my husband and I enjoyed together doing anything or nothing at all provided me with ordinary joy. Ordinarily I can enjoy even the simplest of life’s pleasures, even in the toughest of times when it feels like the whole world wants to see me fail miserably.

12/29 Prompt: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

It’s funny how a lot of these prompts essentially kept forcing me to reflect on the same painful memory that I’ve tried so hard to block out — getting fired. However, it really did define the rest of my year. The only other competitive moment was the moment in which I accepted that job in the first place. I never felt comfortable with that decision, and I do still beat myself up over ignoring my instincts.

12/30 Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

I was given the gift of more time. Time is a glorious thing.

12/31 Prompt: Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

What’s at the core of my story? Could it be struggles? Overcoming obstacles? Fighting through things? Learning lessons? I read through my reverb10 posts and remembered the pattern I began to see as I reflected upon 2010 — as well as life in general. I’m an emotion individual with strong convictions about life and how to live it. I can be incredibly hard-headed, even when I know it’s time to change course. In fact, it took me five months to realize I needed to let go and relocate. I don’t always give myself enough credit. I’m new school and old-fashioned all at the same time. I’m sentimental and enjoy traditions. I dream big. I set a lot of goals. I take on a lot of projects — self-assigned and otherwise. I can only be myself.


We’re already halfway through January 2011, and thus far I’ve been much more introspective than anything else. I believe that once I complete the chores and business I have with 2010’s lasting effects, I will move forward a little more lightened. I also suppose I will eventually get to that photo prompt, too.


Reverb 10: Soul Food

Prompt: Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

I’m pretty sure it should be obvious that the tiramisu cake touched my soul. In fact, it should be fairly obvious that I adore tiramisuvery much so. The rich, creamy texture of the mascarpone, zabaglione, and whipped cream blends delicately with the moist, spongy consistency of the lady fingers soaked with espresso and liqueur to create an exquisitely unique dessert. Preparing it in cake format simply allows for a different serving method. Garnishing tiramisu — cake or otherwise — with cocoa powder enhances the richness of the dessert, and I do love my chocolate. Put more simply, I fell in love with tiramisu cake this year.


Reverb 10: Achieve

Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Now that I’m settled enough to get back to meditating and writing on these prompts, I’m choosing to respond in the order of which suits me best. Today I’m choosing the December 28th prompt by Tara Sophia Mohr. I spend so much time pondering the year ahead and all the opportunities it holds. Sure, the road ahead appears difficult, littered with obstacles and challenges that threaten to derail my efforts, yet I feel hopeful that I can harness the power to transfer misery into happiness.

What do I want most of all? What would I like to achieve? I want to become my own boss. No more clocking in, clocking out. No more worrying about waiting on payday. No more worrying about work-life balancing acts that always seem to lean more heavily into the work portion. Right now, I’m still feeling like this is a very scary endeavor I’m partaking, however I imagine I’m going to feel extremely accomplished and satisfied with myself and the lifestyle I make for myself by the end of this year. I imagine I will feel liberated and fulfilled. I imagine myself working with students and clients who enrich my soul and brighten my days. I imagine sitting here leisurely sipping the simple mocha — a packet of hot chocolate mix, a serving of instant coffee, and a mug full of hot water — or tea, feeling at peace with my life, knowing my bank account’s in the black thanks to my efforts. I imagine enjoying the sun shining through the windows, reminding me that I once felt despair and anguish that passed as seasons tend to do. I imagine feeling relieved that I can finally go forward with plans of home ownership once again.

So what 10 things can I do to feel that feeling today? What 10 things will further my cause, making this dream a reality?

  1. I can relish the mug of mocha I just finished sipping.
  2. I can look out the window at the late afternoon sun shining down on a chilly north-west Georgia landscape.
  3. I can continue unpacking boxes, moving items to their proper locations, and laying out furniture in a homey setup.
  4. I can advertise my tutoring services.
  5. I can work on my business websites to move them closer to unveiling.
  6. I can take a hot bath to relax my muscles and my mind.
  7. I can calendar deadlines and create tasks in my Thunderbird.
  8. I can drink my water to ensure I’m well hydrated.
  9. I can curl up on the couch to do nothing for a little while.
  10. I can meditate.

These are all relatively simple tasks that can make a humongous difference in my life at this point in time. I need to also remember that success doesn’t happen over night. It takes baby steps and perseverance. Here’s hoping that 2011 will bring me all I wish for and more!


Temporary Hiatus

You may or may not have noticed that I’m currently behind by three days. I will likely not get back on track with my Reverb 10 posts until Thursday at the earlier because I am moving on Tuesday. This means that tomorrow will be spent packing a truck and cleaning the old digs, and Wednesday will be spent unpacking a truck and setting up some new digs. I might still be working on my Reverb 10 posts into January, but who cares? I don’t need to start my “resolutions” on January 1st. It’s all arbitrary, really. There’s no reason why I can’t take a break from all these reflections and manifestations to live in the here and now of packing mindfully — really, I need my mind to be present when it comes to packing fragile objects. I’d like my dishes to arrive at our destination in one piece so I can actually use them again, you know. In the mean time, I hope you’re all enjoying a safe and happy holiday season.


Reverb 10: New Name

Prompt: New name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Honestly, I’m just fine with my name. While I do get a little irritated having to spell out my first and last name every time, I wouldn’t trade either for any other name.

And because I feel like a 60-something word post would be a waste of time and space, I’ll remind you that it’s Thursday — Thankful Thursday. Today, I’m grateful for having the resources and means to work through whatever problems life throws at me. I might feel as though many aspects of my life are currently crumbling around me, but I still have the ability to weather these problems. I have the opportunity to make my life better, to pursue my dreams. Some people never get that chance. I’m also thankful for all the food I’ll be serving to my family for Christmas dinner.


Reverb 10: Travel

Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I didn’t travel anywhere outside of my current town during the entirety of 2010. If by “how did [I] travel” Ms. Hunt means “what was your primary mode of transportation,” then I’d say public buses and my own two feet. In less than a week, I’ll be traveling out of state. We’ll be moving by car. Next year I have no plans to travel as of yet, but I hope to arrange accommodations for my ten year high school reunion. We’ll see what the future holds in store for me.

Sit down. Put your cup some where far away from electronics. Brace yourself. I’m not exactly a big fan of traveling. There, I said it. I don’t like sitting in a car for extended periods of time. I’m terrified of flying (yes, even before that tragic day over nine years ago). I have no desire to float around in the middle of an ocean. I’m familiar with Greyhound buses, and I can’t say I’m a fan. As for trains, well, it’s still an extended period of time. While I have goals to visit places that necessitate flying, I’m not currently planning anything in particular. Obviously, being “tied down” by family doesn’t make much difference to me. I’m just as content to sit at home and enjoy a nice meal with my family as some are to fly to exotic locations and sipping cocktails in the sunshine.

I’ll close this out with a list of places I’d like to visit, in no particular order:

  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • The Florida Keys
  • Australia
  • Japan

It’s a short list, but those are places that I’ve added to my life list.


Reverb 10: Future Self

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Let me imagine myself five years from now. I’ll be a 30-something with a 13 year old, an 8 year old, and a 6 year old. I’m hoping by that point in time I’ll be a home owner and a successful freelancer. I’ll have known my husband for 15 years by that point. Imagining myself in those shoes, I’d like to advise myself to stick to my guns during the upcoming year – buckle down, make the leap, and stop letting fear get the better of myself. Stop living life by others’ standards. I have some reasonable morals and values, and I know better than anyone else what’s best for me and my family. There is no one else who will fully grasp the thought processes going through my head, nor should I expect that. I have a good head on my shoulders, I have a capacity to learn, and I know how to read. (Really, more people should place emphasis on reading in all aspects of their lives. Books, magazines, signs, menus, disclaimers, waivers, contracts, fine print – read all of it.) I also would advise myself to take good care of myself. I only get one shot at this, and I’d serve myself better if I took the time to make sure my teeth last longer, my mind lasts longer, and I function much longer. Oh sure, there’s that email forward that pushes people to “skid into the coffin sideways with a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other yelling, ‘wow, what a ride!’” – but what’s the point of “quality over quantity” if by 50 you’re so broken down that you can’t enjoy your life anymore? That would seem to me that you’re sacrificing quality AND quantity, but perhaps that’s just my observational bias.

And to my younger self, get ready: you are not on the right career path as it stands. Brace yourself for challenges and obstacles. They’re all over the place. Don’t wait until the last minute to change course, and don’t feel like you’re giving up. You’re not giving up – you’re just realizing that change is inevitable. You will change dramatically in some ways, yet you’ll stay the same in others. Don’t lose hope, don’t give up on your dreams, and quit worrying about what everyone else thinks. Guess what? It’s not about what other people think – it’s about what you think, and it’s about you making things work. You have all the resources you need right inside that skull of yours, and don’t you ever forget that. Make peace with yourself and all the changes and challenges that come your way. You’ll save a lot of stress that way. And most importantly, remember that people care more about you than you choose to realize. There’s a time and place to be stubborn, so pay attention in order to ensure you know when and where to dig your heels in. Oh, and trust me – you might feel grown up right now, but you’ll look back and realize you were relatively young. Heck, some days I realize I’ll think the same thing in another ten years.


Reverb 10: Beyond Avoidance

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Is it any surprise that I avoided writing a response to this prompt yesterday? If you couldn’t guess, I really should have been focused on my writing — more importantly, I should have been focused on my career as a writer. I should have been writing on an almost daily basis, regaling my readers with clever, thoughtful discourse. I should have been planning my next moves and plotting my course. I should have been focused on making the transition from employed to self-employed. I should have been true to myself.

Oh, there were distractions around every corner this year. It seemed like every time I stopped to look up, I was surrounded by other, more urgent tasks. Instead of spending more time in “quadrant two,” I was constantly in quadrant one. Other times, I felt so ridiculously burnt out that I’d flounder into quadrant four just because I didn’t feel like doing anything other than sudoku, crosswords, or checking up on friends. And who could blame me? I was feeling jaded. I felt embittered by years of grooming — almost like those words in high school about college making you poverty-proof was little more than brainwashing. (Disclaimer: Kids, don’t take the wrong message out of this — get your butts to college, study what you love, and get that expensive piece of paper anyway! It’s too damn important to pass up.)

I was terrified of leaving a day job to pursue my dreams. I worried about bills and keeping my family in a stable, secure environment. I also questioned if there really was a need for people like me. I’d find myself swamped with projects, typically of the OPD variety. Honestly? I’m an ISFJ, which basically means I suffer from “doormat syndrome.” It took that unpleasant life change back in July for me to be free from my duties to others (except for my immediate family, who I’m more than happy to support as they are part of the dream for me).

Over the past six months, I’ve had plenty of time to mull over the possibilities, and I’ve come to realize it’s not just about putting a roof over our heads or making ends meet. It’s about feeling productive, feeling creative, and feeling fulfilled. Walking around day in and day out feeling like you’re on autopilot might earn paychecks, but it sucks your soul right out of your body. My last two months of employment had next to nothing to offer my career, and it completely blew. I sat there some mornings trying to work up motivation to complete my six months there in order to have the opportunity to once again job search within the university. I didn’t want to be the little assistant who maintains calendars and processes expense reports — I wanted to be the writer, the editor, the person relishing in all the creative little tasks. Next year, I’m not going to settle for anything. Unless it contributes to my dreams, it’s not worth my time. Next year, it’s about becoming the writer, editor, consultant, and tutor I aspire to be. Next year, I’m taking control of my life and leaving out the middlemen who are mere go-betweens for me and the IRS. Hey, the IRS publishes all their forms online — why shouldn’t I go into business for myself? And have you seen what texting has done to our youth? People need me to undo the damage caused by texting. Literacy needs me to mend our broken lines of communication. Now is not the time to feel insignificant. Now is the time to seize opportunity while it’s still slapping me in the face, shaking my collar, and screaming at me, “why don’t you just accept me for what I am?!”