It’s Friday, My Friends Episode #10

This has been one of those weeks. One of those “What in the freaking world am I doing?” kind of weeks. Yesterday was a kicker so I’ll share it with you. Scrolling through my Medium stats, looking at old articles, I’m thinking, “You know, I think I’ll make files on my computer of my articles by subject. It might make them easier to shuffle through and find what I’m looking for.” I lose things. They’re just filed by date right now, like journal entries. Sometimes I randomly open a file and read one wonder if I should edit it and repost.

So there I am, scrolling down all the “not distributed” and “0 views – 0 reads” when I see “6K views – 3.2K reads.” What? Hold the phone! I look at the title, “What’s the difference between a porn star and a prostitute?” I open it up and read it. Oh yes, I remember that. I was listening to a podcaster talk about putting a camera in a brothel and suddenly it’s legal because…well…they’re making a porn film. I had to write about that and I did. I never received a like or a clap, but lots of people read it. Weird. Weirder still that a paragraph I put little thought into and posted on a whim got so much attention (and no feedback) and the posts I spend hours on and pour my heart and soul into…well…my family reads those.

That’s when I started to wonder why in the hell I actually bother writing any of this. But you know why I do? Because I want to. It helps me remember what I have read. I feel like I’m writing my life story as it happens. Yep, maybe it’s boring to the rest of the world, like the rest of my life is, but I like my life. I feel like I’ve made choices that make me happy. I’ve done the things that matter to me. I’ve raised my kids. I’ve loved and cared for my husband. I’ve honored my parents the best way I know how. And maybe I’ve made a few friends along the way.

Yes, there’s nothing to see here. Just an ordinary person, moving along through an ordinary life. On with the show.

Thing I learned: I’m honestly not a people person in real life. I think I am. I want to be. But I’m not. I like superficial relationships with lots of space, hence the reason I’m so fascinated with social media. Sorry to disappoint the world but it’s who I am.

Thing I’m reading: An amazing book on reading like a writer by Francine Prose. I think it’s hilarious that her last name is Prose and she is writing it. The book is interesting. She talks about noticing all the things that I never do, all the things you’re supposed to learn about reading literature in college. I read books because I love the stories or I want the information. I pull out tidbits and I’m well aware that I’m leaving a lot of meat on the bone. I don’t need it. The book is making my novel reading list longer and longer, which is a nice bonus!

Thing I heard: My son recording his music. That makes me happy, hearing him work on songs and record them, even though he won’t let me share.

Thing I want to do: Run away into the wilderness, never to be seen again! Don’t worry, I won’t. I’m too insecure and addicted to feedback from others for my existence to actually do it. I need you, dear reader, Facebook friend, and Instagram follower. I’ll be here begging for attention for years to come!

Picture of the week: The screenshot of the Medium anomaly that has added to my list of “WTF?” things in the world. This will continue to amaze me. It’s kind of like framing my first dollar, even though I earned it by conning a fool.

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It’s Friday, My Friends – Episode #7

Day five of the new morning routine. Can she keep it up? I think so, yes.

This week began my least favorite part of living in the desert, Monsoon Season. We may not get much rain out here, but when we do, it’s all at once in the form of large and sudden thunderstorms. It’s actually quite beautiful. Watching the clouds gather and billow up in the southeast, seeing them darken and lower and push further into the desert is a sight to behold. The wind starts to blow, bringing with it the cooler temperatures and the smell of wet creosote. Thunder rolls across the desert in a way you can’t hear anywhere else. A few pattering drops of rain begin to fall and then, CRASH, it all falls at once, dashing across the rocks in the higher hills and racing to lower washes taking everything with it. If you’re curious what it really looks like, check out this video from a couple years ago. Notice the blue sky above? What’s amazing to me is how localized these storms are. One can pass us right by and not leave a drop on my street, but completely drown the next. Watching a storm let loose on the next neighborhood is wild.

Monsoons season is pretty, but the heat and humidity doesn’t agree with me and I can get quite grumpy. During this time of year I tend to be a little more touchy and intolerant, so I have learned to retreat as much as possible. This past week I’ve had to step back from social media just a bit, a spiritual maintenance period. I just need a little less public input. And my family is a little extra sweet to me because they know I’m not comfortable or at my best.

What’s funnier is that I get angry at myself for being such a baby about the heat! The audacity of having to adjust my activities due to weather. It’s just unreasonable. I have things to do. But then, I wonder, wouldn’t it be nice to allow myself to go with the flow of the seasons, since I can? Yard work can go to the way side during the hottest months. Housework can be done early in the day and afternoons could be better spent reading in front of a fan. And I do have a nice air conditioned truck to be in when I go to do the grocery shopping. What is my problem? Refocus and relax my death grip. I am not drowning in humidity after all. Take a deep breath. And watch the storm roll in and wash over us.

Thing I Learned: There are other writers out there struggling with what to write about, or what it is that they write about. A recurring theme in my life has been…what the hell am I doing? I go through a constant cycle of finding a purpose, running with it, finding a hurdle, and then questioning why I started in the first place. Guess what? I’m not alone there. Every thinking person does this. The trick is to not get stuck on the down side, to find the purpose again or a new one more quickly and get on with running with it. I’m notorious for keeping so busy that I can’t think, so some deliberate down time really helps my frame of mind. The past few months I’ve been trying to build time into my day for reflection and am working on doing that more and more. It’s ok not to be busy. Sitting in the yard, doing the dishes quietly, walking around the neighborhood alone or with friends are great ways to jump start my philosophical motor in a positive direction. I need more of that. I’m not healthy when I’m overly busy.

Thing I’m Reading: “Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World” by Carl W. Ernst was recommended as a good start to getting a basic understanding of Islam from the book “Religious Literacy” by Stephan Prothero. I’m devouring this book. Some books on religion are hard to read. They are either over-complicated or over-simplified and condescending and they don’t help me understand the religion or culture in a positive way. This book is very good and I highly recommend it.

“My assumption throughout this book is that every claim about religion needs to be examined critically for its political implications.”

“…governments that wish to eradicate dissent find it convenient to label their opponents as religious fanatics; this relieves governments of the responsibility to deal with legitimate grievances, because their opponents may be dismissed as irrational and incapable of reason.”

These two quotes from the first chapter of the book made me sit up and listen closely to what he has to say. I’m already two-thirds of the way through the book and can’t wait to read the next one on my list about Islam.

Thing I Heard: In my driving adventures this week (something I really need to limit, but then…podcast time) I heard two amazing interviews. The first was Tim Ferriss’ interview with Seth Godin from 2016. Seth Godin had some wonderful and encouraging words that seemed to be just what I needed to hear this week. I listened to it on my way to San Diego and it was so good that I listened to it again on the way home. I obviously can’t take notes while I’m driving, so my hope was that if I listened to it again maybe more of it would sink in. I added one of his books to my Amazon Wish List when I got home and it’s already on its way to my house!

The second was on the Creative Non-Fiction Podcast. Jenny Odell, an author I’d never heard of before now and who’s book is at this minute also on its way to my house, was interviewed on the podcast and I loved every minute. Her creative process resonated with me and boosted my confidence. I love finding that I’m not alone in the universe, that I do fit in just fine here on earth.

Thing I Want to Do: Go to a writer’s conference or workshop this year! I’ve been looking at these for a while now, but when I picture myself there my thoughts take on their usual insecure tone and talk back to me in their snarky way. “It’d be a waste of money. You’re not even a real writer. You don’t even have a college education. Who do you think you are?” Fuck that. I have a plan! I’ll find one or two people that want to go with me, a backup team, or at least a wingman, and go for it. I just need a little emotional support to show up to one of these things. They look fascinating and I can’t wait. In the mean time, I’ll keep up my new daily writing schedule so that when I do go I’ll have something to present as my work!

Picture of the week: The storm in Twentynine Palms, from my house thirty miles away!

It’s Friday My…Friends!

Inspired by an old podcast interview by Tim Ferriss yesterday and an amazing blog I found this morning called Sagittarius Viking, I’ve decided to add a new page to my website called, “It’s Friday my…Friends!”

Every Friday I plan, I say “plan” here because what actually happens is usually far from what I planned much like most of my life, I PLAN on creating a candid, what’s going on around here post. It’ll be short and sweet. A “Things I’m thinking about, doing, noticed, or reading” kind of post.

How should I do this? I could just ramble on every Friday, but I don’t want to bore you! How about a set list of things?

Picture of the week, Complaint/Venting, Something I Learned, Something I Listened To, and Something I’m Reading, Quote (Sometimes),

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Abe, my sweet prince, loves to sit next to me while I read in the morning. I guess I got up for too many cups of coffee today because he looked a little annoyed…and it was adorable!

Complaint! I feel like I got nothing done this week! I took my older son the airport, which took all day. The next day I was exhausted. Then I had a lunch date with a friend…an hour and half away. It was worth it though. Something I constantly struggle with is keeping focused and on track. I’m easily distracted, and I tend to feel like I have twenty kites up in the air and they’re all about to fly away with me!

Something I Learned! Much to my most painful surprise, I learned that I may be happily married to the love of my life, but I’ll still make a fool out of myself in front of attractive men.

Something I Listened To! I love podcasts! I listen to them while driving or while I’m doing the dishes. Sometimes I listen and play video games. This week it was Tim Ferriss’ interview with Derek Severs  from a few years ago. It may be an old interview, but it was perfect timing for me!

Something I’m Reading! I have two books open at the moment. “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert Putnam. Sounds depressing, especially since it was written twenty years ago, but it’s not. It’s slow reading for me, about twenty pages a day, but I’m really getting a lot out of it. I’ve got loads of notes and I’m doing my best to look up newer statistics and wondering if he, or someone else, has written a follow-up.

“The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. When I got this, I had no idea what it would be about. I’m nearly halfway through and I’m still wondering. I’m loving every page though and just dying to know where she’s going to go with all this!

Quote! I’m need to keep better track of the quotes I find awesome, but here’s the one I want to share today. It’s from that interview with Derek Severs

“I think I would make a billboard that would say, It Won’t Make You Happy, and I would place it outside any big shopping mall, or car dealer. So, ideally –you know what would be a fun project, actually, would be to buy and train thousands of parrots to say, it won’t make you happy!”

Nothing makes you happy. Happy is the side effect feeling you get when you’re doing things in the right frame of mind…like right now as I’m writing this, after fighting sitting down and writing all morning long. I finally showed up and then the happiness overflowed.