Your Story Matters

Your Story Matters - NaNoWriMo 2011

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As I mentioned in my last post, I attended a workshop at the Infinity Foundation in Highland Park, IL this last weekend. It was called “Make Your Creative Dreams Real with SARK” and it was amazing!

To begin, Infinity Foundation has a lovely facility and their staff was friendly and helpful. This was a fairly small group, I’d guess no more than 40 of us at the peak of the day, in an intimate carpeted classroom. I arrived just a few moments before Susan, so I ended up running into her in the hallway before the event started and we had a big hug and oooos and ahhhs, and she remarked that she felt like she already knew me! Imagine how I feel, having read all her books! I was delighted from the very beginning!

The entire workshop was glorious, with wonderful energy and I was inspired to make further progress on the the gains I’d made from the previous session of the WINS class. Susan and I have a lot in common, and as a result her way of dealing with things feels very comfortable and right to me, so I really got a lot out of it. It’s kind of hard to describe!

I got my book signed while I was there, which I will treasure always, and we got an adorable picture taken:

Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy and I

I feel tremendously blessed by the whole experience, and also thanks to Frank for driving me 9 hours there and 9 hours back in a single weekend! Thanks sweetie and happy birthday!

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A few months ago I shared that I was diving into a writing workshop with one of my favorite authors, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, also known as SARK. The first three-month session is coming to an end, and the benefits I have gained from the course have been enormous.

The biggest benefit has been in accessing and understanding my inner critics, and what she calls my Inner Wise Self. The concept of inner critics, or censors, is pretty common in creative circles, and they are a real challenge for me. I’ve started to learn to separate those voices and manage them, which is absolutely amazing. I’ve found that most of my fears are coming from these inner critics, whether related to writing or not. This has improved my creativity, but also my satisfaction with life in general.

Accessing my Inner Wise Self has been an eye-opening experience as well. This is essentially the REAL me, the one that doesn’t have all the hangups, false or limiting beliefs, and fears that I feel on a daily basis. This connection has changed my life as well, making things feel less overwhelming and far more reasonable and fun.

I’ll be doing another session of the writing course, and I’m going to Chicago in a couple weeks to do a day-long workshop with SARK based on her book “Making Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day.” I’m looking forward to meeting my mentor in person and the roadtrip with my sweetie will be an added benefit. That weekend is also my 40th birthday, so it’s a self-nurturing sort of birthday present for myself!

The most important thing to come out of all this is that I’m feeling more and more like I’m actually a writer. I think the fortification of my confidence and encouragement I’ve been receiving is just what I needed.

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Obviously it’s a blessing. And a curse!

And don’t tell me you’re not creative. You are! Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.

Problem solving is creativity. Be it artistic endeavors or technical ones, creativity is what allows us to go from “what if?” to “done!” Sometimes that is physical art, sometimes it’s creating a living space that nurtures your spirit, and sometimes it’s solving a technical or mechanical problem in a new way.

Creativity is simply looking a something in a new way.

But why would that be curse, you ask? Because a creative person can’t just go about their business without seeing that things could be done better. Easier, maybe. Or at the very least in a different way!

We look at the world and ask why. We say to ourselves, I can make that! We look around and see that there are problems to be solved and uncharted paths to be taken.

Unfortunately, sometimes the world is not interested in our creative viewpoints. I struggle with feeling like my creativity, my ideas, and thus my true value are under-appreciated. I feel invisible, because I’m not sharing my true gift – my creative potential. My family and close friends know what I’m capable of, sort of, but I know that a lot of my gifts are still hidden.

I’ve determined that this is MY uncharted path. I HAVE TO get brave enough, assertive enough and open enough to share my gifts if I want to feel truly fulfilled.

I’m on a mission.

Jennie at work

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There’s something to be said for looking backwards.

I know, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow, there is only today. But if we don’t take the time to review where we’ve been, it’s easy to forget the mistakes we’ve made. And also it’s easy to overlook the accomplishments. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned recently.

1. My reaction to things is not always logical. Having survived some significant traumas, I have a lot of emotions that may not have been uncovered yet. I’m working on them, but when something goes askew in the present, it often reopens an old wound without me even knowing it. I’m learning to recognize this, and trying to make sure that others involved understand it as much as they can.

2. My biggest financial weakness right now is food. I’m doing a terrible job at grocery shopping and cooking at home. I need to master this, or I’m not going to reach my financial goals. We need a massive realignment for everyone in the house, but I’m not exactly sure how to do that yet. But at least I realize this is something I need to work on.

3. I created an “inspiration” list on Twitter, to contain some of my favorite inspirational accounts into one location so I don’t miss anything. You can read it here if you are interested in what inspires me. It’s mostly a mix of personal growth and personal finance bloggers.

4. I was reminded that sometimes the creative process requires a simmering phase. That’s where I’m at right now with my writing, a point where I’m reading a lot, and writing just for myself, in a process that I hope will help me be more confident in writing for others as well. I have an ongoing internal struggle with own creative process. Some of it is time and logistics, wherein my studio is not at home and it’s hard to carve out the time to spend there. The rest is just me, trying to find my creative self.

5. I’ve been working on getting rid of stuff. We’ve made huge amounts of progress and I appreciate my family’s support in this process. It’s mostly up to me to decide what stays and goes, but the help in actually getting things out of the house has been awesome. If I don’t find it useful or beautiful, it doesn’t belong here anymore. The best thing this week was getting a bunch of stuff out of the garage, so the motorcycle could come home from the shop and be ready to ride!

Those are just a few of my week’s lessons. Don’t be afraid to reflect and see what you can learn from it!

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What’s this you say?

Time machines? Why would we be discussing this on Jennie’s blog?

Lately it seems the concept of time machines comes up quite often in Twitter conversation. Mostly in the context of WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

I think over the years this answer would have been different for me. In my youth I’d have said go back and change the traumas of my childhood. At the end of relationships I would have said go back and wipe those out altogether. During swimsuit season I’d say go back and make sure I didn’t gain so much weight in my first pregnancy so I wouldn’t struggle with that so much all my life. When I was unemployed I would have gone back and finished a college degree much earlier.

The real problem here is that this becomes a list of REGRETS. And I really don’t care for that concept.

The truth is, I don’t have regrets because I understand that my current life is a summary of all of my experiences, good and bad. There is no other path I could have taken that would have brought me here, where I am right now.

HERE. This is exactly where I want and need to be.

So what would I change? I’d probably go back to last week and make sure I won the lottery. I wouldn’t want to risk changing anything beyond that. My recent experiences have been just too perfect.


Mt Rushmore behind the bike

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Once a week is better than nothing, right?

I had a good week. It feels weird to write a blog post to say that.

For the most part, all my problems are related to managing the blessings in my life. Those aren’t bad problems to have!

I think everyone in my household has these same problems. We’re all trying to find ourselves, live a full life and feel comfortable in our own skins. It’s hard, but worth it.

I hope they know that I understand they are struggling, and that I am too. I’m trying to help them, but also live my life and thwart my own demons. I’m trying to learn not to be codependent and a martyr, and sometime that’s uncomfortable to people who are used to having little expected of them.

The amazing thing is that I really like who I’m becoming, and I like who they are becoming as well.

It’s fun!


Me on the motorcycle

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Life is HARD.

I think maybe I should start every blog post with this sentence. Do you understand what I’m saying?

LIFE IS HARD.

OK, it’s not always hard, but I find it’s usually hardest when you’re doing it right. If you’re like me, you’re struggling. You want the people you care about to be happy, and fulfilled. You want them to be comfortable and to breath easy when then come home every night. You want them to feel loved.

The question is, do you take responsibility for this? Or more specifically, should I take responsibility for it?

That’s a damned tough question. And honestly, one for which there is no true answer. As a mother, I feel creating a home and life that is suitable for my family’s satisfaction is my job. But it’s also my job to teach my children how to be adults. And that is HARD.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth it to take care of things AND fight the fights that are necessary to make sure they learn to be responsible adults. It’s not my job to do everything, because that would not be preparing them for the real world. In the real world, you have to shut off lights, wash the dishes and lock the doors…or else you’ll be poor, buggy and murdered.

It’s not that complicated.

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(This should have been my April 5th post – playing catch-up on the A to Z Challenge!)

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life surrounded by drama. Some of it was my fault, but plenty of it wasn’t. I had a bad habit – I allowed myself to be a part of OPD.

That’s Other People’s Drama, in case you can’t read my mind.

You know what I’m talking about. I think you’re more like me that you care to admit. If you’re interested in helping yourself, then you’re usually interested in helping others as well. Yes, I mean Other People. And Other People who need help usually have some Drama. (Or a LOT of Drama!)

In my case, I’m a recovering co-dependent who has spent many years trying to avoid having to face her own demons by trying to help others with theirs. Do I even need to say that this didn’t work AT ALL? Well, it didn’t. I couldn’t grow in those situations. I had to deal with the reason I kept choosing those types of relationships.

I’m happy to announce that I’m in my least dramatic relationship EVER! (<3 Frank <3) Barely a day goes by where I don't marvel at this fact. I'm working on trying to figure out how I got here, but mostly I just enjoy it.

Sunset

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Working with your “inner child” must be the cheesiest thing ever imagined by the psychology industry.

Am I right?

What exactly IS my inner child and why do I have to have anything to do with her?

OK. I acknowledge my childhood experiences (traumas) may have shortened my period of innocence, in fact cut it far shorter than our modern society would generally recommend. But this is just a part of who I am, right?

True. I am the sum of my experiences, both good and bad. But I am also full of shame and fear, largely because of this harshly appended age of innocence. My childhood is not a magical, happy memory. And whether it should be or not, it FEELS like I have been cheated out of something I should have had. Reasonably so.

And therein lies the “inner child.”

“Hello, inner child!” I say.

(And then I think, wow, this is incredibly useless.)

But I’m a stubborn and determined woman. Whose inner child has some serious wounds.

So I keep working at it. And working at it. And eventually it became a little easier to acknowledge that am the only one who can help my inner child at this point. It still feels silly, but it’s a valuable exercise. One that I hope will help repair some wounds that cannot be reached any other way.

Baby Jenny

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