"I am alive and kicking"

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Distractions shouldn't be excuses

Just get to work

A creeper sits in my same favorite, cozy corner of the library.
Every day. 
Every day he's there with his laptop. And he's an unshowered, unshaven slob. It shouldn't concern me but it does. It's a serious distraction in the best lit area of the building. 
What does he do? Is he a freelancer, like me? Can't be. I never see him type. 
Does he use the free WiFi to email or chat with people in distant locations?
Does he use the internet to search out porn? 
What!? What does he do here every day in his impossibly sloppy outfit, one that includes a button down shirt that doesn't quite button down all the way?
I'll leave that vision to your own imagination.
I know the library is kind of the place for riff raff to hang out, but seriously ... Doesn't he have a job? 
He hasn't done anything offensive, by any means, other than dress socially inappropriately. 
These are the shallow thoughts I try to work on. 
So, then I have to ponder, what do people think of me when I come into the library nearly every day? I typically am dressed casually. Sometimes, I'll be in dress clothes. But I'm put together, not busting out of my shirt. 
I do actually get work done most of the time, but those around me don't see the work I do. 
Instead of worrying about this guy, I should probably worry about real issues, like getting back to my own work. 

My weekend was unproductive, due 99 percent to my own laziness. I attribute the other 1 percent to the fair being in town. 
This week will hopefully promote more inspiration, coupled with lots of reading and research.
I have a few projects to work on, but it's been hard to find inspiration and ambition. 
I've been told to be focused, you must first have a strong body and mind. Well, I seem to have about a quarter of that down. My mind is strong, but only half as strong as it should be. I credit that to my feeble body. I'm often tired because I sleep poorly, never exercise and have an awful diet. 
Goals can inspire people, and once inspired me. Here are a few I hope to use to get started: 
1. Take a walk every day. It doesn't matter when, but I've read it improves brain function, along with your body. 
2. Drink more water. Again, nourishing mind and body. 
3. Sit down and write at home, not only at work. 
4. Stop worrying about that creepy guy in the corner of the library. He's not hurting anyone. Unless he downloading kiddie porn, then he's a criminal. 

I won't bore you with daily updates on how this is going, but by God, I plan to update you once in awhile. Otherwise, I won't keep myself accountable. 

Do you have a favorite activity that keeps you focused and inspired to do what you like to do? I'd like to hear about it!
You can email me at the bottom of the page using the contact form or you can comment on this post.
If I get enough responses, I'll include them in my next post about how my goals are coming along. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rejection is not the end of the world

Learn from it and move on

As a child and teenager, I could deal with the possibility of Freddie Krueger living under my bed or popping out from the darkness that surrounded our country home at night.
What scared me more was rejection.
Oftentimes, I didn't ask to play with the popular kids, whom I'd known my whole life. I was too scared they'd say no. This wasn't an unfounded fear -- they'd said no many times before. It's not that we were all so different, it's that it seemed I carried a stigma no one could quite identify. So began my contentment to have only a few friends at a time.
I went through my elementary and middle school years feeling rejected, powering through it with a smile, most days.
Into high school, I'd stopped caring about hanging with the popular kids. I'd become comfortable with a small circle of friends with whom I associated during school hours. However, I rarely asked them to hang out outside school, for fear they'd reject my offer. Again, this was not without foundation.
I had one friend who often invited me over to watch movies, but nearly everyone I asked to hang out at my house declined.
Maybe it was because stories I told came out sounding silly and only made sense to me. It made people laugh because I ended those stories with, "And it was funny," but I could tell they easily tired of my jesting.
All this sounds incredibly sad. And it was. But I wish I hadn't allowed myself to feel this way for so long.
Feeling rejected led to feeling sad and useless, when in fact I had so many ideas flowing in my head, I could have put my energy into something productive.
I had a drawer full of notebooks filled with attempted stories that fizzled out. When I couldn't think of something good to write, I'd quit and think, "No one would want to read it anyway." A cop out, a reason just to not feel rejected in person.
Looking back at my times of depression, I realize how I wasted my life as a teenager. My fear of rejection stopped me from pursuing some great hobbies.
Growing up with acres of woodland literally in my backyard, I always wanted a professional grade camera so I could practice nature photography. I was too afraid to ask, knowing the camera and equipment would cost too much and my request would be denied.
I didn't even try.
In my years since, I've realized not trying is not an option.
When you request something, the worst someone can tell you in a civilized situation is "no." I've become accustom to deciphering whether it's wise to just let it go or to attempt to persuade the person otherwise. It worked when I was in college, for example, and I asked for a computer. I suggested my dad, brother and grandma chip in for a refurbished computer as my Christmas and birthday present.
The worst someone can do in a tense situation is yell at you. For me, that's typically been over the phone and it's usually not a rejection of me -- it's a rejection of the situation.
Do I still have a fear of rejection? Sometimes.
When I need to make a phone call to arrange an interview, I often have a heavy feeling, thinking I'll have to do a lot of persuading just to talk to that person. Usually, it turns out the interviewee is more than happy to talk.
When I text a friend to arrange a time to meet, the old me says, "They're probably busy. Maybe I shouldn't bother with this." The new me realizes my friends now are willing to make time for me and are happy to listen to my ridiculous stories because they have their own to tell. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm no one's crutch

I don't make good friends easily. And it's been hard to cut a few people out of my life for my own emotional and mental well-being.
A few people in my life I've called friends have taken advantage of me -- using me as a crutch or what I've termed a "fall-back" friend.
It often seemed I was the one people turned to when everyone else stopped listening to their gripes. I was happy to lend an ear and help if I could, knowing personally how hard it was to confide in anyone.
With an extreme amount of alone time, I began to think about these friends who talked to me -- rather at me -- only when they needed something. My mentality at the time caused me to blame myself for how they used me. What had I done to irritate them so badly they never asked how I was? How can I change to make them like me better? Why, when I take the time to listen, do they still only call me when they need something? How can I get them to say thank you?
At one point I isolated myself and made excuses if someone did call. Sometimes I didn't pick up the phone or respond to emails or text messages.
One person who used me as a crutch actually had the balls to call me a hermit and say she was worried about me when I made the mistake and answered her call. Yet in that same conversation, she talked only about herself and how horrible her life was. She never bothered asking if everything was all right with me.
It was at that point I cut her out. I was tired of being her crutch. I didn't want to waste my time on her constant complaining any more.
One friend in college made me realize I was more than just a sounding board. She was my life-saver. She made me realize friendship is more than just one friend listening to another -- it's learning new things about each other every time you hang out, sharing your hopes and dreams, sharing your fears and anxieties, singing so loud to music you can't speak the next day. She taught me about all the things I'd missed out on until I met her in 2002.
Though she and I don't talk often, it's always a give-and-take conversation -- not just a, "Hey Anna, I called to piss and moan" or "I called to tell you about my latest excursion you weren't invited to."
The few people I've cut out of my life never really said much about it. They each had their own groups of friends. I was simply that sounding board they used when their friends couldn't stand their whining any more. I was the person they shared embarrassing or questionable news with first to get some sort of satisfaction they were doing the right thing and ensuring that others wouldn't be so judgmental.
Most friends I cut out of my life were purposeful losses. I felt guilty about letting them go, but I was tired of being the "fall-back" friend and wanted to move on. I still have contact through Facebook with a few, but really it's just a comment or a like here and there.
Once I finally envisioned myself as a person more worthy of friendship than I'd been led to believe, I felt good about letting those friends go. After all, I never really had them to begin with, it seemed.
I now recognize those who might use me as a "fall-back" friend and just extend a friendly greeting, but steer clear of any real relationship. I don't want to be sucked into that kind of situation ever again. 
Now I have a small circle of good friends who are always willing to talk and have that great give-and-take conversation every friendship should have.
I'm no longer anyone's crutch, nor am I a "fall-back" friend. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Post-nasal drip

Severe head colds can cause you have have revelations that later turn out to be drug or lack-of-sleep induced idiocies.
My state of mind Monday inspired this blog post.
I blew my nose so much yesterday that it is now red and chapped, and looks like I've snorted God only knows what. I didn't, I swear. I just am too cheap to buy aloe-infused tissues. Instead I use toilet paper that feels more like sandpaper to blow my nose. Because of that, my snot often runs out the sides of the paper when I blow, overflowing onto my hands, thus lending to embarrassment in public.
Did you know snutophobophobia is the fear of blowing your nose?
I've never been afraid of blowing my nose, I just don't like doing it, particularly in front of people. But, every time I get a cold, it seems I'm always stuck at work or in a public place, and it's just impractical to get up every five seconds to blow my nose in private.
It's never just a stuffy-head type of cold. It's the full-blown runny snot that dribbles out without warning -- inevitably leaving spots on my shirt. That was my morning yesterday, but thankfully my boss is more than understanding and we chuckled about it.
In a sad attempt to get some rest between work and picking up my son from school, I drove the 10 miles to get home and felt like I barely made it. Normally, driving is one of my favorite things to do. But that 10-mile trek felt more like a trip through a hall of mirrors.
A sandwich and chips perked me up enough to get back to town in one piece, wearing pajamas nonetheless. As I waited for the school bell to ring, my nose seemingly cooperated. Then one minute prior to the end of school with the hall full of parents, it said, "Oh wait, you're in public? Take that!" and it let out a stream of runny mucus. And me without any tissues, aloe-infused or otherwise.
So I used my shirt. Not my finest moment.
After another drive through that hall of mirrors, which was actually twice as worse this time around, I settled on the couch while my son played outside. He was then gracious enough to let me lay down for two hours until supper.
I woke up to him whispering, "Mom, it's time to get up in the morning!" which is our usual greeting any time we get up from sleeping. Begrudgingly, I rolled out from my cocoon and began to shiver -- great, I had the chills. By bedtime, I was sure I had a fever and naturally took a burning hot shower to warm up. Because that makes sense.
At any rate, my nose had stopped running and my clean pajamas remained unstained. And today, my drive into town was much more enjoyable.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A contemplation on death

Despite being very much alive, I do think a lot about death.
Take for instance, I often think of my mother, who is dead. We didn't have a good relationship, but I got to say my piece and say goodbye before she died. I kind of regret I wasn't physically by her side when she left this world, but I'm at peace with that.
I often think of my great-grandmother, for whom I am named. My grandmother has told me so many stories about Grandma Annie that I feel I knew her, even though she died two years before I was born. I have even visited Grandma Annie's grave on many occasions, just to say hi.
Daily, I remember my mother-in-law, who so greatly enriched my life. She died young and it still irritates me no one seemed to think to say out loud the cancer had returned. It irritates me most that the doctors didn't seem to take her history into account.
I've mentally organized my last wishes. I do not want to be stuck in a box for eternity -- I find it creepy. My remains will be cremated and spread in several locations, in order to ensure the freedom of my spirit.
This may sound a little weird, but would you want to be stuck underground in a box, which is placed inside another box, for the rest of time?
I've visited cemeteries in which no one I know is buried. I'm fascinated by old gravestones. I don't know what it is about them, it's just wonderfully creepy and deeply sad all at the same time. Many old cemeteries contain so many infant markers, however, that the sadness is overwhelming.
Not knowing for sure what the afterlife holds isn't of great concern to me. Do we come back in another life? Do we move on to heaven or hell? Do we just rot in the ground, eventually forgotten by the world?
Almost unfathomable questions worth pondering sometime.
But I say, enjoy life while you're here. Mourn those you've lost, though don't wail "misery and woe" the rest of your life. They would want you to live. And perhaps, take some time to plan as much as you can for your own death. No one wants to be stuck with the bill or heartache of having to plan for your last arrangements on their own.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Alive and Kicking

Working my way toward a freelance career

It’s true. I’m not dead. In fact, I’m quite alive and busy.
After an extensive search for a domain name for my blog, I couldn’t think of anything clever or entertaining. Then my friend Rachel sends me a note … “annaisnotdead.com. I googled your name and the first picture that popped up was a gravestone. and I thought, wait, Anna’s not dead!”
So, in the spirit of me not pushing up daisies, I have created this blog to share my take on a variety of subjects. I love history, reading, writing (of course), travel (although I don’t get to very often) and the obvious family involvement of hanging with my boys (son and husband). I love sharing unique stories about others, particularly those around me or people I don’t even know, but who have a fascinating story to tell.
I have a moderate social life, but mostly I’m working to balance family and work, which can sometimes make me feel like I’ve kicked the bucket.
I recently quit my nine-year career as a newspaper reporter to pursue freelance writing, but still have a love for sharing feature-y type stories, many of which will likely appear on this site.
With that, I hope you enjoy the strange, unique, entertaining and hopefully informative posts I plan to provide for you! Happy reading!