I Am Enough

I Am Enough

It’s been an interesting January. Twelve weeks post Hurricane Irma and we finally had office space restored. Now have not only carpet and paint, but a cubby of my own.

But what is interesting is how creating a cubicle with six panels has changed a male superior’s perception of me, even as my title and responsibilities have stayed the same

Many, were extremely supportive and congratulatory. My work load and responsibilities have increased ten fold in the past five plus years. Taking me off “the floor” – just behind the panels, allows our receptionist to handle not just the phone calls, but deliveries, walk- ins and the daily minor disruptions.

Because I’m in a cubicle occupying the same room, I can still hear everything going on, and can insert myself if there’s a problem the receptionist can’t solve without me. So far we’ve had no issues.

The problem seems to be with someone higher up the chain, a male superior. There was a conversation about isolating myself, that I’m no longer accessible and can be perceived now as aloof.

I still act exactly the same. Still handle the same tasks and delegate to the receptionist as before, but I’m now inaccessible. Have I mentioned these are cubicle panels and I have no door to close?

I went home baffled, stung and spent the evening beating myself up. And then I got angry. Why do I feel shame that I did something wrong because I asked for my own office, which every other staff member enjoys, by the way. Why am I told that isolates me when I am still in the middle of the action?

I took the time to sit quietly and meditate.  The message, I am enough kept popping up every single time I felt a negative feeling directed towards myself. I stopped feeling shamed because I spoke up for myself and asked for an office two years ago. I pushed away every feeling of insecurity placed on me by someone more insecure than I.

This morning a different mantra appeared as I sat quietly: I hold the power. The power to keep anyone from crushing my spirit or changing who I am.

©annettealaine2018

Advertisements

So many years I started the day off with resolutions:

I will lose weight. I will exercise more. I will make better grades, and so on…

I read something the other day that pointed out that too often resolutions reinforce the negative aspects of our lives. Our failures and shortcomings.

As I muddle through middle age, I tend to agree with that assessment. Which is why a few years ago I stopped making resolutions and started setting goals. If you don’t meet the goal, chances are you can still measure progress.

There’s also the idea of developing good habits- I will exercise changed to:

    I will strive for 10,000 steps a day. I will set a goal of walking five days a week. 

So the measurable goals:

Last year I set a goal to download all of my poems, sort them by theme and print them for myself. I started, but I didn’t finish. Did I achieve the goal? No, but I did make significant progress.

I set a reading goal last year. Sixty books was challenging, and I made it just under the buzzer, so that’s a goal to strive for again this year.

Some goals are hard to measure- being kinder, or being more positive. I have only my inner compass to gauge whether I am successful or not.

The immeasurable goals:

Here’s one that can only be measured internally- being true to myself, to mentally stop worrying so much about pleasing others or keeping the peace. In business we must cooperate and work as a team, but I speak up more for what I think is equitable in the workplace. I need to apply this to the personal sphere as well.

Finally, the writing goals.

I did not write enough in 2017. I can point to many reasons why I did not write.  Looking back at those setbacks did not shame me, but helped me remove the obstacles to writing more this year.  I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can do a better job of carving out regular time to sit with pen and paper and get some words down.

As I get older I realize January resolutions, goals, good habits or new dreams aren’t so much about changing myself- it’s about challenging me to keep growing and evolving.

What dreams, goals, or good habits do you hope to achieve in 2018?

©annettealaine2018

Lessons Learned in 2017

Here’s some lessons learned in 2017:

Purging is good for the soul

Letting go is good for the heart

Living in the city has been good for my body (more opportunities to walk)

Forgiveness is like lifting thirty pounds off of your shoulders

Sushi and I will never get along

Speaking up is brave

Courage inspires others

Women have power- real power

Becoming more informed is crucial in today’s world

Current affairs seem dire, but people are getting woke- and that’s going to effect change

Outdoor cats can adapt to apartment living

Family is precious

The kids ARE alright

Reading is fundamental to my overall contentment

LOVE is still the answer

 

©annettealaine2017

Short of the Goal

I’ve fallen short of my goal this year. I wanted to write more and figured once we moved and college girl returned to school, I would sit on my porch with a laptop and just let the words flow like the river below me.

Ten months later, I have decreased to the point that some of my old writing pals thought I gave it up.

I could blame it on the longer commute to and from work. I could mention all the creative juices I expend on a normal day for my job. I could point out that my exercise routine has increased dramatically, and as a result I have less time for writing, but the bottom line is I haven’t felt the spark for many months.

I read more than I write these days. I don’t know why the muse has abandoned me, but for now it’s on an extended hiatus.

I read more news articles, and then devour fiction to escape the bleakness of our world right now.  Writing fiction would be a lovely antecdote to the daily newsfeed, but I cannot make up any plot stranger, or create characters weirder than the people running our government.

I write in my head quite a bit as I walk early in the morning. Not poems about the beauty I see, but angry posts as I respond to male letter writers in the local paper who still shame and blame women for “dressing inappropriately” at work.

Mostly though, I’m spending my time re-examining my own voice. Who am I, and why do I feel my work matters?

My goal this year was to get all of my poetry gathered, sorted and printed in some form. The task remains half finished.

I’m not angry or disappointed in what I have not accomplished this year- that’s not productive and never works as motivation.

Instead of lamenting what did not get done, I am going to let myself figure out if writing still fits into my life. And if so, where and when do I make time for it. Developing healthy habits this year was a goal that I’ve achieved physically. Now it’s time to check my creative habits and decide what to aim for in 2018.

©annettealaine2017

Vacation with Myself

Vacation with Myself

This is the first time in five years that I’ve taken a vacation for me.

I’ve taken time off to take kids to college, or go to a workshop, and husband and I have taken a few trips over the past few years. But this long ten day stretch has been selfishly taken for my own time to re-charge.

So many people asked me, where are you going? My answer was- no where. Blessedly no where. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love planning trips to different places. I have a bucket list of places to visit before I’m too old to travel.  And I love going on adventures with my spouse, but this year I knew that I needed some time alone. So what makes this such a wonderful vacation?

  • The boss is also out of town. So no texts, emails, or worries about a laundry list of tasks waiting for me when I return.
  • This is the first time I did not have to prep too far ahead to make sure big jobs were completed before I left. It causes tons of stress, but we hired someone to complete that job, so I don’t have to worry about it, and can actually unplug from work.
  • My location- my apartment high in the sky is the perfect place to hang out. It’s small enough to feel like I’m somewhere else, and conveniently far enough away from the work environment. Bonus- the balcony that sits in the shade most of the day and has a beautiful view of the river.
  • I’m mostly alone everyday for hours. It means no one is waiting for me to do anything for them. I can eat, walk, nap, read and do whatever I feel like doing without the usual worry about anyone else’s agenda.
  • It’s quiet. And I’ve craved peace and quiet so I can think and even write again.

 

I realize when I return to work I need to carve out more time on my own to relax and re-charge regularly so I don’t burn out. I need to selfishly guard my time. A hard lesson to learn when you are a woman and you’ve spent most of your adult life giving selflessly to others.

How do you carve out time for yourself? I’d love to hear from you.

 

©annettealaine

The Drought

The Drought

Blame it on the weather.

The rain should give me the motivation to write because I can’t walk or sit on the porch, so I have no other activities to hold me back.

But my muse is taking a break.

I haven’t had any recent revelations, no existential crisis, and nary a deep thought in weeks.

Perhaps a vacation will help.

 

I have no plans for my upcoming vacation. It doesn’t feel right even calling it “vacation.” I’m not headed for the mountains, or the lake, or another city- I’m staying home and doing the usual stuff. The only difference is I don’t have to go to work.

I usually use a portion of my vacation to tackle a project I don’t make time for- going through the closets or cleaning out the garage. But, I did that months ago as I prepared for our big move.

Maybe the secret is not about time to write but about giving myself the space to think and dream. To sit, observe, taste new words, roll sentences around on my tongue and string together a group of words or sentences to form a poem, or story.

Perhaps my muse will return from her journey soon, refreshed and renewed.

I hope so.

©annettealaine2017

 

 

Clara, Mr. Tiffany and Me: The Art of Creating

Clara, Mr. Tiffany and Me: The Art of Creating

 

download (1)

I’m reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland. It’s an excellent story about the women’s department at Tiffany Glass and their artistic contributions to the Tiffany brand, particularly his famous Tiffany lamps.

The themes of artists and how they create, and how women fought to work in the arts and crafts fields is well documented and sobering. Clara’s struggle is still real in many ways- for me personally it’s the balance of writing while juggling the demands of my life: work, marriage and family.

I’ve read all the books on how to carve time to write. I’ve tried writing prompts, creating a space to write, and formulating a daily routine to sit down in front of the computer (or picking up a pen.)

But, for me, it’s not that simple. I need quiet time to clear my mind of all its incessant chatter. Then there is the clamoring for attention by others. Sometimes I walk with earbuds connected to a silent iPod. I want to get lost in my thoughts as I breathe in the world around me.

I drive to work with the radio off. I often try composing poetry in my head as I drive. Today, I was writing this post as I waited at traffic lights. Sometimes it works.

But, more often I am distracted by the host of other people and tasks that fill my day. Here’s what typically happens:

I went for my walk Thursday evening and passing a mosaic that resides under the bridge I had an idea for my next blog post. I composed some of it as I continued to walk. When I stepped in the door I quickly showered and changed and went out to eat with my husband.

I keep composing in my head as I got ready for bed. I will sit down first thing in the morning and get this down I thought. Then I woke up and remembered my dentist appointment. And then the boss called and I had to go in and fix something at work. And then I remembered I needed to get the cat flea medicine and we were out of toilet paper…

You get the drift. I didn’t write that day. On Saturday I tried again, but by then the words sounded stale and the distractions around me kept me from recapturing the feelings I had Thursday evening.

Maybe I am just not disciplined enough. Or maybe I don’t value my talent or my time.

Clara knew the men in the Tiffany Glass Company did not think she was a serious artist. But she believed she was and she fought for her right to create.

Food for thought.

©annettealaine2017