Reverb 10: Healing

Prompt: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

This year I set out on a quest for knowledge regarding my ancestry. When I finally found the people to answer my questions, everything unfolded so quickly. Before I had time to really, truly process the gravity of the situation, half the year had flown by. However, I’ve had plenty of time to process all the information I received, and I feel that the events lead to a lot of healing. I don’t really wish to comment further.

In 2011, I would like to shed the anxiety. I’d like to leave behind the frustrations. I want my soul to be healed. I intend to practice a lot more meditation, yoga, stretching, and exercising. I also plan to continue focusing on eating a healthier, well-balanced diet. (As an aside, all this cookie dough has made me realize I feel miserable when I don’t eat well.) I have aspirations to write daily, even if just for myself in a trusty old notebook. I feel better when I’ve had the ability to process my thoughts through written word.

I apologize that the past few prompts have been clips of my thoughts. Some of the themes the Reverb 10 prompts touch upon call for a lot more internalization, and the sharing my thoughts seems inappropriate. This is public and open to the world — some of my thoughts are too precious to put onto the internet.


Reverb 10: Try

Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

I’m currently planning to begin conducting my own business. I had begun making plans earlier this year, but I had always been too busy worrying about other things. I worried about needing a day job that came with benefits. I worried about doing my work at that job. Then I worried about finding another job — any job, really. I spent a lot more time focusing on the coveted job that millions are fighting for. People with jobs claim there’s a job out there for everyone. Employers claim there’s hundreds applying for the same position. Then other people tell you to switch professions. When you apply for a job in a new profession, you’re told you don’t have enough experience or need to go back to school to earn more credentials. At the end of the day, it’s a nightmare trying to fight just for the opportunity to interview. At the end of the day, I’m waiting around for someone else to make my finances come together. Sure, I’m working my butt off trying to write cover letters and tailor my resume, all for no payoff. Instead of waiting around next year, I’m going to do it myself. I’m going to advertise my services to people who’ll want me to do the work I love. I’m not going through a middle man who’ll determine when pay day occurs. I’ve researched self-employment taxes and competitors’ rates. I’m feeling very confident that I’ll be prepared for details that come along with running your own business. This year might not have been the year to officially “open my doors,” but next year I’ll not only try — I’ll do my very best to make my business work. I owe it to myself and my family to do my very best.

As for a little lightheartedness, I wanted to try red bean ice cream and green tea ice cream. I absolutely fell in love with red bean ice cream. Green tea ice cream has a nice flavor, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. A single scoop of red bean ice cream drizzled in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds — delicious! Sure, it might sound odd to eat ice cream made with beans, but I promise you it’s delicious.


Reverb 10: Lesson Learned

Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

This year I finally learned to trust my gut instincts no matter what. I clearly have a good intuition, and I tend to lean more towards logic and input from others. Even when I know the right answer, I still prod others for their input — not always the best idea. I’ve said to myself for years that no one knows what’s best for me better than I do. However, I also realize that I’m not the only one who will suffer adverse outcomes if I choose incorrectly because my family depends on me. I learned the hard way half through the year that I should trust my instincts regardless of what others say because I knew I was making the wrong choice back in April/ May. I just chose to ignore that nagging feeling.

Going forward, I intend to take a little more time to sit back, meditate on bigger decisions, and listen to myself. It might seem like a wise idea to consult with others, but I shouldn’t give outside input more weight that what my instincts tell me. If I know something feels wrong, then I should less to that feeling and play it safe. I already know that patterns dictate I must follow my path if I am to succeed . I know that I must be mindful of even the smallest things — I’m relatively small, but I make a difference. My fourth grade teacher imparted wise words one day after I’d been taunted by the bigger kids: good things come in small packages, like rubies and diamonds. Sometimes the most amazing things take the shape of the smallest of objects, the most minute details can be the most valuable. My worth isn’t something to be determined by an outside party — it’s something to be determined by myself. After all, it’s all about the mindset. If my self-worth is low, no amount of compliments will lift me up. If my self-worth is high, no amount of criticism will bring me down. It’s about confidence and faith. I need to have more confidence in myself and my ability to intuit the best course of action.


Reverb 10: Friendship

Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

I’m having a difficult time singling out one friend who has changed me or my perspective of the world during the year 2010, regardless of how gradual or sudden it was. This year hasn’t necessarily gone to one particular person in terms of who’s touched my soul and given me reason to pause. Most of the people in my life have had some sort of impact — be it big or small, gradual or sudden — during the year. Whether they’re friend or foe, family or stranger, they’ve had an impact. You see, at the start of the year I made a resolution to be more mindful. While most of my other goals and resolutions have gone to the wayside, I have paid closer attention to everything going on around me. Everything has a meaning, everything has significance. At the start of the year, I thought I really wanted a full time position working for someone, making a good chunk of change and accruing benefits. At this point in time, I no longer want to pursue that. I want to pursue my own destiny. I learned the hard way that leaving my financial security in the hands of someone who doesn’t hold a vested interest in my success leads to heartache and strife.

However, let’s focus more on manifesting what’s next. I’d like to see the upcoming year fulled with wonderfully fulfilling interactions with friends. I’d like the support of my friends to push me through the rough patches. I’d like to offer my support to friends who need someone to uplift them. I’d like encouragement with my future endeavors. I’d like to encourage my friends likewise.


Reverb 10: 5 Minutes

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Okay, so I may have cheated a bit — 5 minutes to write a post seemed grossly inadequate, though. In the same vein, I also don’t intend to fully share the memories I jotted down in my allotted 5 minute time frame. For the most part, I came up with a lot of family memories that I would like to remember for as long as possible. Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings — the typical. I already discussed my youngest’s first birthday.

This year’s Halloween wasn’t too shabby, actually. For the past few years, we haven’t had really good pickings when taking our kids door-to-door. People are either not home, don’t have candy, or pretend not to be home (yeah, be thankful I’m not teaching my kids about the trick part of “trick-or-treating”). As for our candy dish, we usually get left with a ridiculous amount of candy — and I like handing out candy I enjoy. You can guess what usually happens to our leftover candy stash. This year? We had a boatload of trick-or-treaters. Now mind you, I had quite a few who didn’t even bother to put on a costume, but the novelty of it earned them handfuls of candy. I was overjoyed to hand out most of my candy stash. The kids had a great time, too. Per our usual Halloween celebrations, we ate some “dirt cups” (crushed oreos, chocolate pudding, gummy worms) and other “ghoulish” treats. Our little baby “Yoda” had a blast celebrating his first Halloween, too.

As for the rest of the memories I’ve chosen, know that these are memories that remind me that my life is enriched by wonderful people. Situations might seem dismal, but it’s the people in our lives who make it worth living through. As for my input on the halfway point of Reverb 10? I’m noticing recurring themes of time, family, silver linings, gratitude, opportunity, and dreaming big.


Reverb 10: Appreciate

Prompt: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

If you’re a follower of my blog, you know I’m no stranger to gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation. I think it’s incredibly important for everyone to reflect on all the reasons they have to be thankful and grateful in life. From the tiniest to the most impactful, we have so much to appreciate. Yet when I first read today’s Reverb 10 prompt, I locked up — one thing? Just one? I had to stop and meditate on the prompt, which is the point of this series after all. So, I picked up a good old fashioned pen and a notepad to jot down thoughts as they came to me. I don’t believe enough people value brainstorming nearly as much as they should. Oh! That’s a good one… and I’d scribble notes hurriedly. Then finally, I had an “aha!” moment. The one thing I’ve come to appreciate the most in this past year: T.I.M.E. Really, it ties together just about every single thing — big to small — that I’m grateful for.

I’ve tracked how I spend my time with a goal of managing myself better within the confines of a 24 hour day. I watched as time seemed to fly by me at an exponential rate. I’ve also stopped to realize that my youth has begun to wane. A few gray hairs have sprouted on my head. Fine lines show that I smile with my whole face, that I think quite a bit. My oldest no longer retains any “baby” qualities — in fact, he looks entirely like a little boy. My daughter, who still felt like my baby at the start of the year, has grown quite a vocabulary and become rather adept. And that sweet baby boy who I fought so hard to give the very best start? He’s only a baby by the technicality of the term. Otherwise? He should more appropriately be considered a toddler. He strings together two to three words. He’s completely mobile — in fact, I’ll bet he’d climb down the stairs if we gave him the opportunity. Then in a week from today, Brian and I will have known each other for ten years. Ten years! An entire decade! Where is time going? Why is it going by so fast? And why do I feel like I should be doing so much more with what little time I have, relatively speaking?

I think this year has been about time and meditating on what I’d really like to be doing with mine. I’d rather do things that bring me joy. In fact, in the past few months I’ve been given the opportunity to reflect on what I’d prefer to do. I’ve had the opportunity to choose what I’d like to do and when. While of course there are constraints to just about everything, I’ve had the leisure to start my day when I’m ready. To sip tea while reading my usual morning reads. To make breakfast for my family and snuggle with the kids. I’ve had the opportunity to contemplate my career path and where I’d like to go next. I’ve been given a gift this year — the gift of more time for me to spend as I choose.

I’ve spent time doing trivial matters, such as watching TV. Earlier this year the Cooking Channel went live, followed by the premiere of the Next Food Network Star, season six. The time spent watching select programming led to some creativity in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and baking, and I’ve enjoyed learning new ideas to incorporate into my repertoire. Additionally, I’ve had the blessing to interact with Aarti Sequera and Herb Mesa. Did you know Aarti is more than great Indian food? I recommend checking out her blog. And oh, Nadia G — serious inspiration for someone who wants to make something out of herself through this intangible thing called the World Wide Web. I don’t necessarily want to get my own TV show or become super famous, but I do want to achieve success. And I certainly don’t want to “pretend to look for work on Craigslist.” (Best. Line. EVER!)

Oh, but it doesn’t stop at foodie inspiration. No, sir. Something old was made new again, ala Dragon Ball Z Kai. Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those people. You couldn’t possibly have been oblivious to my anime-loving ways, though — As in Sailor Scorpio? As in I once wrote trite Sailor Moon fanfiction? I maintained a minimal boundary from the dreaded “mary sue,” but my goodness… I’m slightly embarrassed of myself. 😉 However, my husband and I bonded over our love of anime — hence why I feel compelled to mention its impact on my time this year. I’ve come to realize that I don’t enjoy nearly enough anime, and that was mostly due in part to my time spent working for someone else. Of course, it’s also because I’ve found most anime is now socially irrelevant to me. High schoolers? I’m keeping my ear to the ground for a ten year high school reunion! That’s how irrelevant most anime is to me. Anyhow, I have enjoyed watching DBZ Kai, even if it’s dubbed. Even if it’s been censored. Actually, I don’t believe I’d have been okay with my eight-year-old watching it had it not been censored. The uncut version does feature rather gratuitous violence, after all.

I don’t believe enough people spend time doing things they enjoy. I certainly don’t think our society allows for us to do so, either. Most employers only give you a measly two weeks to recharge before expecting you to grind yourself into dust for another 50 years. And some employers aren’t even willing to give that much anymore. Why should they? We’re all so desperate in this job market, aren’t we? And this is why I choose to walk away from my search. They value my time only in the terms of which I spend it doing their bidding. Off the clock? They could care less if I’m being fulfilled. However, I care quite a bit about fulfilling myself. Over the past three years, I’ve found myself wishing I had more time to devote to the things that mattered, rather than the things that put a roof over our heads. Too many days had passed as though I operated on auto-pilot. I didn’t have to think — I just did. It wasn’t until I made the conscious effort to be more mindful that I realized I’d been walking past a beautiful cherry blossom tree without ever really giving it a second thought. I began to appreciate the littler things so much more. The bigger picture hasn’t always looked so bright and cheery, but I began to realize it’s what you do about it — what you see — that matters most. It’s how you spend your days. It’s with whom you spend time. We only have a finite time on this planet. Why waste that precious gift being miserable when we can aspire to so much more?


Reverb 10: Action

Prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

Thank you, Scott Belsky! Finally, a prompt that allows me to manifest what’s next, rather than simply venturing back to bad memories. So, what exactly IS my next step? I harbor grandiose ideas to become a successful consultant, freelancer, and all around independent contractor. Right now, I’m still sitting here in phase one — get the heck out of dodge, aka unemployment. Part of the reason I’m not currently making it happen is because I need to relocate and resettle before I can even begin to let my creativity unfurl. The chaos currently surrounding me makes for a rather frazzled, stressed out state of mind. However, I do believe I know the next step…

I have already purchased the domains. I did so back in July or August. I knew what I wanted to do, I just didn’t have the luxury to devote my time to it. Next month, I will. Step one: get those websites designed and ready to promote my services. Step two: marketing, marketing, marketing. It’s all about marketing. You can’t possibly get business if you don’t promote them, can you? Even word-of-mouth is a form of marketing. Step three:  do business. Okay, that’s a fairly simple plan, isn’t it? Three steps to success — or at least acting upon my dreams in order to go and make them a success. I certainly don’t expect to get rich quick, but I do predict I’ll hit 5 figures. I predict I’ll have a bit of reading to do before I file my 2011 tax return. I predict I’ll achieve enough success to continue on with this venture. Eventually, it will grow, and I will make my dreams come true.


Reverb 10: Body Integration

Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

At first glance, I both knew the answer and denied knowing a possible answer. A very specific moment came to mind, and upon further reflection I know it’s the exact moment this year in which I felt as though my mind and body were quite cohesive. It was July 1st when I got fired. I refuse to describe the thoughts and emotions, the words and people present — it’s far too emotional and intimate. I don’t think I’ve even described exactly how I felt to my husband because the gravity of the situation is so incredible. However, I do realize that moment of cohesion has set the tone for the second half of my 2010. This prompt has given me the opportunity to explore my feelings and my current state of being.

You’ll recall I was anxious about accepting that job offer in the first place. Something nagged at me. Don’t take it. Don’t accept it. You can do better. Of course, somehow the general negativity that pervades our society can drag you down right along with everyone else. You listen to what other people say about how this other person did this and that. You determine your self-worth based on others. You compare yourself to others every day. And that’s just the problem. Okay, so some other person has x amount of years more experience than I do. Should that matter as far as I’m worth? Not a chance. What she’s done is what she’s done. What I’ve done is separate from her. Therefore, I should worry less about what everyone else thinks and more about what I think. I apparently have a good intuition.

I also realized that I had strayed from my path. Call it divine intervention. Call it coincidence. Call it chance. Regardless, I’ve noticed a pattern in my life in which I experience setbacks if I’ve strayed from my calling. For years and years I struggled to fulfill a destiny that wasn’t mine to be had. There were signs along the way that I didn’t understand. I remember as far back as 9th grade, when I devoted my Saturdays to volunteering at an animal hospital. I did this for experience and volunteer credit. I wanted to get my foot in the door, to shadow those in the position I thought I would someday hold. Due to age concerns, I wasn’t hired on. I watched as some people who really just needed a job — any job — got the job I coveted. I thought it was unfair. Really though, they needed the money whereas I just wanted the official title on my resume. Still, I couldn’t get the job. I noticed my inability to comprehend the equations in Chemistry. Foolishly, I figured it wasn’t that important if I was still about to make a B in the class. I think I would have realized the severity of my situation if the teacher placed more emphasis on the equations. I would have realized Chemistry isn’t necessarily all about knowing how many protons and neurons are in each atom. I would have realized it had nothing to do with making a food model of an atom, either. Unfortunately, another sign went unheeded.

Fast forward to college graduation. Jobs that didn’t further my personal agenda didn’t seem to work out. I was too far away (I applied out of state with the grandiose idea that I became much more valuable with that expensive piece of paper). I was entry level. I wasn’t experienced. I took a job because I needed the money. I lead to a career path in finance. That wasn’t what I wanted. My next job provided me opportunities to expand my knowledge and socialize with students of all sorts of backgrounds. It wasn’t a permanent place to be, but it was a great place to gain perspective. While the nearly two month foray into full-blown secretarial work — because, let’s face it, I gained nothing in terms of my editorial pursuits while there — seemed promising financially, it was ultimately not meant to be. It’s not what I want to do. It’s not my path. Of course it wasn’t going to work out. Remember that pattern?

I feel so much more rewarded when I’m working with words. I feel rewarded when I help students. I feel rewarded when I help others publish the best works they can. In turn, I feel much more rewarded when I have the leisure to spend time with my family. Nothing beats watching them learn and grow. I wouldn’t trade my family for any amount of recognition. Keep your six figure salaries and fancy titles — I don’t need the headache and responsibility that comes with it. I work to live, not the other way around. I absolutely refuse to let the people who live to work convince me that my way is wrong. Unless you’re walking my path, you couldn’t possibly compare your way to  my way. Besides, I have items on my life list that won’t get done if I’m tethered to someone else working on their agenda.

Incidentally, I had another sign today assure me that I’m heading on the right path. I’m a little more mindful of these things nowadays…


Reverb 10: 11 Things

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Life has been all about decluttering these days. What’s coming with us? What don’t we need anymore?  What superfluous items have become hidden among the useful items? So far, we’ve purged quite a lot of junk — an old, broken TV, broken electronics accessories, piles of extra phone wires that no long provide use, a broken recliner, and plenty more objects. At the end of the year, more than 11 things will be left behind in 2010. I don’t know that I can discuss 11 things in full detail, but I will share the more important things as best I can.

I’m leaving behind the shackles of non-benefited, insecure employment. I don’t need to allow some arbitrary person in an arbitrary company tell me that my services are no longer required. I don’t need someone telling me that my family is some how lessen than another because they can’t afford me, have no further need for people in my field, or that they simply don’t like me. I will unapologetically go forward into the new year as the person I am. I’m not going to apologize for putting my family first. I’m not going to apologize for being a writer. I’m not apologizing to someone who doesn’t deserve my apologies. I’m not parading myself around for free, only to be told someone else had better qualifications or that I’m a liability because I’m over-qualified. Really? I’m either not as qualified as some other candidate or over-qualified? Is that really what I want to do with my life? Evaluating my self-worth based on other job candidates? That seems like a deplorable way to live. And you know what? I have the tools. I know people. I’m going to make this work, and there’s not a thing “The Man” can do about it. I’m going to live a life worth living. Just watch.

I’m leaving behind rental living (for now). Every year, I watched my rent go up. Service remained the same. Then the housing bubble burst — and people moved into the same floor plan for much less than I had to pay. I still pay more than a person off the street would be paying. But no longer. I am now paid up, awaiting moving day, and ready to embrace a rent-free lifestyle in 2011.

I could delve more into all the things I’ll be purging from my life when I cross the state borderline, but the emotions invoked are far too overwhelming to allow for meaningful discourse. The thoughts become garbled by the time they reach my finger tips.


Reverb 10: Wisdom

Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

Yesterday I sat with this prompt — up until my head felt like it was 50 pounds and the room seemingly spun around. By the time I remembered I had a post to write, it was 12:15AM. Before falling asleep last night, I sat with the prompt again, cynically pondering the decisions I’ve made over the course of 2010. Finally, I realized I did have one wise decision among the myriad bad choices. I decided to take my finances into my own hands and go into business for myself. Some people might think this is irresponsible and risky — I, however, see it for being the only way to stay afloat in an over-saturated job market. I can’t keep competing with those more experienced, nor can I keep competing for jobs I’m over-qualified to take. Sure, I might feel willing to accept something lower, but that doesn’t mean a potential employer is willing to hire an over-qualified candidate. And the longer I sit here, frustratingly unemployed, the more eyebrows will raise at this gap in employment. No, I don’t believe this is the way for me. This is not the path I’d choose. I’m choosing to venture out on my own, to cultivate my craft, to market myself, to become my own employer and leave the rat race where it belongs — in my past. I don’t have much choice right now. It’s either sit around, blasting my resume to anyone and everyone who’ll accept it, or taking initiative and making my dreams come true.

So while I’ve stewed over the poor decision to leave a job — albeit a threatened job — to accept a job to which I felt lukewarm, I realize that I did make at least one wise decision this year. May 2011 prove my point.