What is enough? It’s an age old question that seems to be having a revival these days. These times of pandemic pandemonium have sent parents and people alike careening towards self-reflection and perhaps more aptly, uncertainty.
While I certainly considered myself to have been wading in those worried waters. I have come out of it on the other side. Because of my good friend Mary Poppins.
Nikola loves Mary Poppins. Watching it no less than 3 times a day while his daycare was closed. Mostly just during the song and dance numbers. During the the toughest weeks of isolation, it was on a constant loop in our house. We have all made deviations from the “plan.” The grandiose visions of healthy daily meal plans, perfectly structured socially distant outings, vision boards of pristine schedules adhered to down to the minute. The invariable feast of almost constant stimulation. All of the things that social media projects that inevitably makes you feel less than when the plan collapses around you. As it almost always does. It doesn’t matter if you have children or not: The above was just an example. This is most everyone these days.
Everyone is dealing with some form of a question in which the repercussions of their answer or choice is unknowable. And while life itself tends to trend similarly – The questions seem bigger now. The impact of our choices seems larger. Looming over us like an ominous storm cloud. A storm we’re not sure we’ll survive.
The question I’m hearing the most from all around me is “is it enough?”
“It” is so many things. To different people. “It” can be:
My moral compass
I could go on for days, as I’m sure most of you could too.
During this time of isolation, we as humans have gone through periods of trying to provide those around us and ourselves with a feast when “enough” will do. At times draining ourselves dry of energy, clarity, motivation. All of the things we need in order to feel fulfilled. We can’t do that to ourselves. We need to feel good about our day. What we did or chose not to do. Being comfortable with decisions we’ve made, because it was enough. I think we owe it to ourselves to at least try.
And speaking from a parenting perspective: I am absolutely certain that there is no such thing as an “expert” in the realm of parenting. I don’t believe it for a second. All I am sure of is that if you are an active parent who has their child’s well-being at heart than I have no doubt what you’re doing is enough. And I’d be willing to bet that more often than not, it more closely resembles a feast. I hope some people can find comfort in that.
When someone asks what you do, what do you say? Your profession, I assume. But, what if your chosen profession doesn’t entirely encompass ALL that you do?
I love my dayjob. At this point, I am quite content in saying that it is my career. Can I be two things? Can I be a Client Service Associate for a wonderful company in the Wealth Management industry and a writer? If that is in fact, what I am; A writer. Of course! But when is it prudent to declare it?
Where does the title of writer, or blogger, or whatever you love doing come into play? Is that reserved for only when someone asks you about your hobbies?
Do you get to lay claim to the title of your choosing when you make money from it? I suspect that most people would say that seems like an appropriate time. But, if that’s the case then does the $.37 I’ve made from advertisements on this blog count? Probably not….
So where does that leave me. Little, old, self-centered me. I’m not selling anything. My following, while they are some of the most lovely people I’ve never met, is moderate, at best. I have no discernible talent or skill I can offer to anyone as a training tool. I am nothing short of me. Someone who enjoys writing, sharing stories, and of course, blogging. This is what I do, for now. And for some weird, inexplicable reason; I want people to know I do it. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. And more than anything, I love it.
I know that nobody has the answers for the questions above. It is a personal decision. It’s whatever I feel comfortable with. And maybe what this all boils down to – Being uncomfortable. And I’m uncomfortable because I doubt myself. I doubt that what I do justifies me proclaiming myself to be a blogger. Or a writer, or whatever it is that I am. I have doubts in my ability. Doubt in my tenacity to do or be something better. Doubt will eat you alive if you let it. It will keep you from being who you are, or who you’re meant to become. But most importantly, it will keep you from achieving your goals. And I for one, resolve to not let that happen. So.
I can not possibly write one more post about not knowing what to write. I can’t. I mustn’t. But the words keep coming. And this post keeps taking it’s inevitable shape.
Then comes the wishful thinking: Will this be the start of a blogging spree? Will this post send me into a frenzy of creative inspiration, the likes of which my little page has yet to see? With these questions; a glimmer of hope.
Writing to write, they say, is one of the best ways to combat the blank head space that can happen in the world of creative writing. Start with a sentence. Just one. And it will take off. That’s what they say anyway…
Creatively speaking, I’ve been riding the coattails of my last post. It was a personal one about the loss of a loved one. I posted it to my Facebook page and was shared by many who knew my step-father. It was heartfelt and honest. And well-received. That was published 29 days ago…. 29 days without post.
Normally, I’d wait for inspiration to strike. That’s my favorite way to write. Feverishly. But today, I HAD to write something. Anything will do. Do you ever have that feeling? In your writing – do you ever feel like you MUST put something down, for your own….I don’t know.. mental health? I don’t know if thats it really. I don’t know what to call it. Do you?
But I feel like something different is afoot. For the first time, maybe ever, it’s not so much about views or likes. This post is purely for the sake of doing something creative. So, I am just going to send it out into the WordPress universe. And I hope that my dear friend, the spark, finds her way home to me. Wish me luck.
While it may not have been a particularly lofty goal, it has been one that has long eluded me. The process was slow but boys oh boys, doesn’t it feel good.
I have never been a person who sets personal goals. I have never strived for anything in particular. Any sort of feat or accomplishment. And it is truly one of my only regrets in life. I wish I had tried harder to be good at something. I wish I had made more of an effort in school, or hobbies, or sports. I wish so badly that I hadn’t given up on so so many things that didn’t come natural to me. But, c’est la vie.
So, this is it. This is what I want to be good at. Writing. Story Telling, Blogging. Creating relevant material that people enjoy. I don’t know where it will lead or what it will become. And that’s ok.
Originally posted on July 17th, 2017. And as I approach the two year mark of this post, I wanted to share it again. It was, and has continued to be, my most popular. I find myself referring back to it often when I need a little motivation. And I hope it provides the same for you.
I started out strong. Just over eight months ago. I was blogging often, having a fairly clear, concise point with each post. The feedback I got was amazing. People told me that what I was writing was relatable and how they looked forward to my posts. But, as the weeks went on, I found myself blogging less and less and less. At one point going more than a month without posting a single thing.
I would still go to WordPress almost every day. Just under the “Reader” tab. I would scroll through my saved categories, spending a majority of my time under “Blogging”. A common post I’d see would fall along the lines of “So, I haven’t posted in a while.” or “Things have been really hectic lately and I haven’t logged in”. Listen, I get it. I do. Life gets busy and things come up. But I couldn’t help but wonder… Were they really too busy for days, weeks, on end or maybe it’s because they didn’t have something to say? Something they were proud of, or inspired by, or excited about. And by no fault of their own necessarily.
It’s so very easy to rely on an excuse, rather than admit that you’ve maybe lost motivation. Or perhaps, you’ve been looking for inspiration and have come up empty handed. I find that so many of my posts have come to fruition because I was inspired by something. Something happened or I read something. Whatever it was, was so amazing that it just compelled me to write. To tell the WordPress world all about it.
A few weeks ago, I got the blogging itch. The one where you need to write something down, purely for the sake of writing. But, I didn’t know what to write about. I needed inspiration in real bad way. So I went over to Dream Big, Dream Often, to see what the author had been up to. He has a fantastic blog. Every day he publishes posts that are not only thought-provoking, but also entice engagement from a seemingly very diverse audience. I’m pretty new to this, but even I know that is no small feat. And as I scrolled and read, there it was. A simple blog post, about nothing really. It was maybe 3 or 4 sentances long. In the post, he had asked a question about social media usage. I answered, and in my response, I typed the title of this post. That’s all I needed, I had my inspiration.
When inspiration hits, there’s no other way to describe it other than a spark. When I have an idea for a post that I’m excited about, there is nothing that will stop me from writing, editing, revising and hitting that beautiful blue “publish” button. My eyes light up, you can see the wheels turning and from there, my fingers glide over the alphabet keys with the utmost of ease. You never know where the spark will come from or when it will strike. But thankfully, inevitably, it does. Whether it’s slight or fierce, sooner or later, you’ll have a creative urge that will bring you back from that merciless thing called writers block.
What’s your inspiration? Do you have a place you go or something you read? How do you create your spark?
A few years ago, while driving, I came up to an intersection. To my left there were about 10 cop cars, lights swirling and police officers with guns drawn. A man was standing with his hands raised and he was yelling. He said “I have PTSD. Don’t you understand? This is why police are killing so many people, you don’t listen!” It was clearly an intense situation. And in that split second – my first thought was; “I should probably get out to see if I can help”. The thought just washed over me. I couldn’t control it. And thankfully, it went as quickly as it came.
During my lifetime, I have put myself into countless situations I have almost immediately regretted. Because, simply, I can’t help myself. Sometimes my offers of assistance are not well thought out and are more often than not, just instinctual. I want to help. I want to fix it. Whatever it is. And now I know why.
I first heard about the Enneagram Test on the Chelsea Handler podcast “Life will be the death of me.” Her therapist recommended she take it. I’m not one for personality quizzes but the theory behind it sounded interesting. Then, a few days ago when I was checking out some new blogs, there it was again – the test. For it to come up twice in two days was too curious for me to pass up. So, I took it.
The test is a simple one. Its origins date back to the 4th century AD (that’s crazy, eh?) It’s based on the idea that there are 9 basic personality types. The Perfectionist, Helper, Performer, Romantic, Observer, Skeptic, Enthusiast, Challenger, and Mediator. The gives you a series of questions, asking you to rate it mostly true or mostly false. Some questions are easy, and some are more introspective. The real dig-deepers.
I am Type 2, The Helper – While that sounds like a lovely thing to be; it certainly has its fair (and unflattering) share of “Challenges”. And my god…I have never read anything more accurate.
Type 2 people tend to:
Believe that people’s love for them depends on what they do for them and what role they play in their lives
Make a huge effort to be an important part of the lives of others
Forms social ties easily and enjoys company
Will always lend a helping hand
Sacrifice himself for others in order to validate self-worth
Type 2 Strengths
Sensitive to others feelings
Those are some the nice things. They always start with the nice things.
Type 2 Challenges
Won’t communicate needs, expects people to just notice it themselves. And when that doesn’t happen, feels disappointment and resentment.
Requires the approval of others
Emotional and Hysterical
I have a lot to work on. These are not the personality traits I want to possess. And here’s the kicker: I have had the title of this post saved in my drafts Since January 10th, 2017…. I think, perhaps I’ve always known that this behavior is a problem. And now, I just have the proof.
So, tell me. What is your number? How do you feel about it? Did you think you might be a different number? If so, why?
What is your goal? If you allowed yourself to dream wildly, what would be the ultimate end result of your blog? When would the feeling of success creep in? With a certain number of followers? Maybe revenue from advertisment? Or even a small amount of name notarity?
I told my husband that my blog post from yesterday had done particularly well. So well in fact, that it suprassed a super duper top-secret goal I had set for myself. YOU were the reason I achieved it. So, thank you. My husband jokingly said this morning “well, now you just need to become famous and make money from it”. And it’s got me to thinkin’…..
What is my aspiration? My desired outcome?
My answer is almost too embarrassing to admit . And there are many facets to it. My husband has an entrepenureal spirit, he sees opportunity everwhere. I admire that. However, when it comes to something this personal – something that demands such vunerability; constant caution and extreme modesty seem to be the norm. Do you allow yourself to reveal your goals? To honestly state your ambitions? Yikes. Thats a risk. A gamble I dont know if I can stomach.
I worry. I’m a worrier by nature. But when it comes to this blog, as I’ve talked about many times, I worry what people think. That’s why it’s so hard to type what my wildest dream would be. What if people read it and think to themselves “That would never happen. She isn’t good enough.” Granted, I’d never know if that were to be the case. Most people are too kind to say those sorts of things. But, thats where my head goes. More than anything else, that is the biggest obsticle in my path. And I’ve done it to myself.
Goals are a moving target. Sometimes you miss your mark. But if you’re lucky, you achieve it and set another. You just need to get out of her own way to see how it plays out.
I have a hard time tearing myself away from the “stats” button. Even if I haven’t posted anything in days, I check it constantly. I’ve never thought of myself as an analytical person but all signs are pointing to the contrary.
Do you do the same? As a person with a modest following, to say the least, I can go days without a view. But I check the stats page countless times a day. I like to try and breakdown the views vs. the “likes”. If this post had 32 views and got 12 likes, then for every 2.67 people who viewed it, someone “liked” it. But then, I’ll take a step further, day by day comparing page views to number of posts in a month, and so on and so on. I think it’s close to bordering on addiction at this point.
But at the end of the day, those stats are what spurs me on. It’s what drives me to type something, edit and publish a post. We all have our own motivators, and I guess this is mine. When I started this blog I knew right away that I had fallen in love. I had never really written before. And as the days, months and years have gone on, I find myself striving for more. To have more views, likes, and followers then the day or post before. To be better, to be seen, and even liked.
I know that’s not everyone’s journey in the realm of blogging. Some use it as an outlet; not caring if a single soul reads it. Not needing it for validation or to fill up their confidence cup. I do. I do use it for that. That little push. That little ‘atta girl. And perhaps I use it too much. As a form of validation.
What is your relationship with the “stats” tab? I’m genuinely interested in how much stock you put in the analytics behind WordPress.
When searching for advice on writing, you’ll likely come across blog post after blog post suggesting writing just to…..write. And eventually, something will come from it. Will it be good? Cohesive? Something you’re proud of? Who knows. But the act of writing is therapeutic. You feel productive. Creatively.
But when I want to write something. Like, really write something. It’s because of the Spark . It will, inevitably, ignite a passion and urgency that can’t compare to the ho-hum mental state of typing aimlessly. Your mind and fingers are in perfect unison. You have a purpose. A purpose to create. And what a sweet sensation that is. You can literally feel your body decompressing with every word typed.
I got the Spark today. And it was like a greeting an old friend. Warm and comfortable. Coincidentally, it also came to me because of an old friend. A friend I value greatly. As someone who likes to write, I can tell you one of the most priceless tricks, tips or tools you can have is a friend who believes in you. Someone to share ideas with and be inspired by. Inspiration is contagious. It’s a motivator and an agitator. Never to be ignored. Always acknowledged and used to its full potential. It’s the Spark.
I will not reason and compare: My business is to create
Do you believe in signs? That things happen for a reason? And do you believe that every once in a while, the stars can align in such a way that the thought of it all just being a mere coincidence is more preposterous than believing that it was fate? I do.
I’ve been writing posts for this blog for over two years. How time flies. I started this blog soon after a terrible accident my brother was in. One that could’ve had a much different outcome if those stars hadn’t aligned in just such a way.
On October 6th, 2016 my brother, an arborist, was working in a large field with a couple of other crew members. His foreman had left to empty the dump truck and the other guy was operating the skidder just slightly out of eyesight due to a small hill. My brother, returning from a different task saw the chipper was loaded with brush and started it. What he didn’t know was that the winch line hadn’t been wound back up before the brush had been set on top of it. And when he started the machine, the line became untangled from the brush and wrapped around his legs pulling him into the mouth of the chipper.
First Star – My brother was holding onto the emergency reverse lever when he started the machine.
Second Star – The sheer force of the line wrapping around him and pulling him was enough to break both femurs, causing extensive damage to his tissue, arteries, and nerves in both legs, just above the knee. Somehow, not only did he not go unconscious but he managed to untangle the line, climb down from the chipper, and army crawl up the hill to flag down his co-worker on the skidder.
Third Star – He had spent some time in the fire service and had medical training. Even with everything going on, he remained calm. He knew that he needed to get his legs elevated so as to slow blood loss. He gave his co-worker clear direction as to what to do. How and where to put pressure. And he had his co-worker ask the 911 dispatcher for life-flight.
Fourth Star – They were working in a field in the middle of nowhere. When the call came into the the EMS dispatch, the town paramedics were just around the corner. They were returning from an earlier call instead of at the station 15 minutes away.
Fifth Star – The closest hospital was a small one in the town of Bridgeton. The ambulance had planned to meet Life Flight there. But when they arrived, the helicopter was still about 10 minutes out. My brother needed blood badly, so they brought him inside. They knew that his injuries were more extensive than the hospital was equipped for, but something was better than nothing. They wheeled him into a trauma bay and hauled out a special machine. A while back they had received a grant to get it. It was for rapid blood transfusions. My brother was the first person to use it. He received 107 units of blood that day. And just for some perspective, the human body holds between 8-12 units or pints, of blood. We were told that it could very well be a record. Most blood given and survived.
As soon as he was fully conscious, people either came to check on him, or he went to meet the people who saved his life. My brother remembered bits and pieces of what happened but as we met the paramedics, firefighters, the life-flight team, the nurses, and doctors from both hospitals – each one added different pieces to puzzle. A different star, if you will. All of the things that JJ couldn’t remember. And everyone he met looked at him in astonishment. Every single one made it clear that they weren’t sure how it was going to end when they left him. And, inevitably, they all said something along the lines of: “If we hadn’t been around the corner” or “If we hadn’t have gotten that blood machine” and of course, “if you didn’t have your hand on that reverse bar”
Just before the first anniversary of my brother’s accident I had determined that I wanted to shift the focus of my blog. But I was worried. I didn’t really know what I should write about, or if I should continue to write at all. I really enjoyed it. The act of it and how I felt after each post, but I just didn’t know if what I was doing was good enough. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt. But, I had written a post in the very beginning about how I didn’t want this blog to be something I quit. A hobby or project I give up on, like so so many that I had in the past.
I wanted to get better at writing before I threw in the towel. And so, I googled “Best books on learning how to write”, and at the top of every list was “On Writing” by Stephen King. I was hesitant. I had never read one of his books. I don’t care for the horror genre, but I downloaded the audio version and was immediately immersed. It was witty and thoughtful. I found myself sitting in the car for 15 minutes or more after I arrived wherever I was heading just to listen.
The book was coming to end and I had learned a lot. But still was unsure of my blogging future. I hadn’t posted anything in ages. With 28 minutes left of the book, I pulled into my driveway. And as I went to turn off the car I heard something that got my attention. He was talking about an accident he was in. He was walking in Fryeburg, Maine and was hit by a car. He was taken to Bridgeton hospital. The same little hospital the ambulance had taken JJ to meet life-flight. I said “Huh”. Not too weird I guess. But he went on to say he was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center. I stared at the radio of my car skeptically. “So had JJ”, I thought. And as he continued my eyes got wider and wider. When he arrived, his doctor was a man by the name of Dr. Brown. That was my brother’s doctor. The first of many to perform surgery on JJ. He’s had 26 in all. And finally, Stephen King described his injuries, the accompanying surgeries and treatments during his recovery. Between the extensive fasciotomies and the external fixator used to put him back together, the same exact procedures done to my brother. It all left me shock.
Was this a sign? Stars aligning perhaps? I started to blog because of this incredible situation that happened. I needed an outlet; this was my therapy. And when I started doubting my ability and worrying what I was going to write about. When I had come to a possible impasse. I get this book as a last ditch effort to help me find a purpose for this blog and writing in general. And in the final moments of it, Stephen King himself, reiterates the very details surrounding why I started writing in the first place. It felt as if it had come full circle.
Now, I am a fatalist, for better or worse. But I do try to check in with the realist side of myself. To second guess the relevancy of the situation. But in the end, serendipity reigns. And whether this was in fact, stars aligning or if perhaps this turns out to be just a theory of convenience, we’ll never know. And I’m ok with that. So, for now, I’ll keep writing.