Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Recipe for Disaster

I have a problem. I always want to make myself look good. That may sound a trifle ridiculous, because everyone wants to look good, but I tend to avoid asking for help because I think it will make me look bad.

The last year is a perfect example. I had created a perfect recipe for disaster, but I refused to acknowledge the fact and ask for someone to help me by beating me over the head and knock some sense into me.

To make a perfect disaster, follow this tried and true recipe:

1) Live in a place where there is more rain/clouds/moss than you like
2) Get a desk job in such a place, so that when the conditions are the kind that you prefer, all you can do is look outside at them, then go back to work
3) Get a cough. Not a “oh, I’ll be over it soon” kind of cough, a “I would need two weeks off in a sunny place with no stress to get over it” kind of cough
4) Don’t take the time off that you need to get better, convincing yourself that the world wouldn’t carry on just fine without you to convince advertisers to spend more money
5) Start dating a man that gives you the cough, then wants so much of your time that you don’t have time to recover from the cough
6) Stay with this man long after you know it needs to end…and go back to him after it’s already ended.
7) Work with this guy just to make it harder
8) Try to convince yourself over and over again that this is what real life is like, and that you had better just get used to it.
9) Start eating a lot of Thai food and carbs, comfort foods, because you feel shitty about the fact that you can’t exercise because you’re too sick to do so. Every time you do feel good enough to exercise, you overdo it and end up right where you started.
10) Mix all ingredients and let them build. Voila! Forty pounds, a lot of tears and a year later, you’re nothing like the person you used to love to be.

When I think back over the last year, all I can say is, “What was I thinking?” Well, I wasn’t thinking. I was rationalizing. I rationalized away my own happiness. I rationalized away my confidence and my health; I rationalized away me.

I know I’m not the first person to do this. I know this isn’t the last time I will do it, either. But I am afraid, so very afraid, that I will allow my rationalizations to overtake my happiness again. I am trying not to lose confidence in my ability to think first of my own happiness. I am teeter tottering back and forth between “I should just do this alone, then I won’t compromise myself” and “I need to be stronger next time, so I don’t allow myself to be overtaken by someone else’s needs.” Both of these solutions take the wind out of my sails. I have to believe that there are men out there that I don’t have to protect myself from; who will have my best interests at heart, who will insist that I stay home from work and get better, who will do what they can to make me feel better, who will call my boss and tell them that I’m not coming in. I want to believe that there are men out there who will be able to put me first, not because I deserve it more than them, but because I will do the same for them and we will balance each other out.

I see the problem here. I need to be able to do this for myself. I need to be able to say, “No, I’m not going in. No, I need time to myself today.” But without even realizing it, that thought is pushed to the back of my mind before it’s even had a chance to be acknowledged. It’s because I don’t want to let anyone else down. It’s hard to realize that you’re only letting yourself down if you can’t recognize that you’ve given too much. Instead of thinking, “it’s not that bad. I can do this,” I should be thinking, “WHY am I doing this? What will really happen if I don’t go to work today?”

Yet the problem goes much deeper than that. I know very few successful people (women, mostly, but that’s just because I am closer to more women than men) who know when to stop and give themselves a break. They push themselves a little further, knowing they can do it, when they should recognize that they need to stop. The world will not stop turning. The sun will still rise and set. Those incredibly important tasks will still be there when they’ve given themselves a chance to breathe.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more we do, the less there is for others around us to do. We monopolize the chores, jobs and lives, and those around us become so used to it that they stop trying to help and let us run ourselves into the ground. And that’s exactly what I did: ran myself straight into the ground.

It’s only after these situations have ended that it’s clear to see what really happened. I look back and only now can I see how low I was; how unlike me I had become. Somehow, through all of it, I clung to the idea that I could give myself what I wanted if I just hung on a little longer. It ended up being true: I now have the money to give myself the time to write a book. But did I need to do it the way that that I did? Did I need to forsake my health, my confidence, my life, to get here? NO. I have never believed there was any reason to be unhappy. I have never believed it, yet I have let myself be unhappy over and over again anyway. This is not someone else’s job to fix. It’s mine. It is my responsibility to pay enough attention to what is happening to me to know when I need to slow down, or stop the path I’m traveling and get on another one. I am in charge, and I will succeed if I stop getting in my own way. That’s the answer….now I just need to stop with the questioning.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Best Job in the World, aka Morgan's Ideal Job

Anyone who hasn't heard me talking about the Best Job in the World for the last month or so should count themselves lucky. Basically, the job is to live on an island near the Great Barrier Reef for six months and blog about it. That's all. Enjoy yourself...go snorkeling and diving, etc...and write about it. And the pay is $100K for six months. Really. You can check out more about it at www.islandreefjob.com. After much help from my funny and supportive friends, I have created the video you see here and sent it off today as my application.

Here's what's the qualifications are:

- Excellent interpersonal communication skills
- Good written and verbal English skills
- An adventurous attitude
- Willingness to try new things
- A passion for the outdoors
- Good swimming skills and enthusiasm for snorkelling and/or diving
- Ability to engage with others
- At least one year’s relevant experience


Enjoy!

Love and best job kisses
Morgan


video

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Not Even My Cat.

I have arrived. I don’t mean that in the “I’ve made it…I’m rich and famous and people love me.” No, I mean it as in, “I have shown up to my current destination.” Not quite as dramatic, but nevertheless exciting.

Two days ago, I pulled up to a friend’s cabin on Camano Island in the San Juans. I was driving my brother’s car, full to the brim with the essentials required to live on an island for at least four months or so and write a book. On the top of the list and the top of the heap in the passenger seat was Boots, a 17-year-old cat that hates car rides and told me so with every turn of the wheels between Bellevue and our final destination. Also packed around me in the Honda Accord were my bike, my comforter and favorite pillows, an air popcorn popper, a rice cooker, two Costco boxes full of food, a printer, a scanner, a laptop, some books, some recipe books, two garbage bags full of clothes, a cat bed, 30+ pounds of cat food, wet and dry, a litter box and huge bucket of cat litter.

I am here to fulfill a dream I have always had. My dream is not to become famous, or to become the best writer of the century or win a Nobel or Pulitzer prize. My dream is to be able to dedicate myself to writing – as much time as I want to and all the creative energy I have. In each and every job I have held for as long as I can remember, I have been frustrated that I did not have more time to write. Writing can be easy in certain settings, and it can be difficult in a lot of others. It is not something I have ever been able to do after a long day of work, whether it was teaching children to ski or upselling advertisers on new ad units. One day, I will say, “I got to spend a year exactly how I wanted to, and I am where I am now because of it.” Of course, I may be peeling potatoes in a kitchen somewhere, but wherever that place is, I made it there after my year of writing, and I will never regret the time that I took to pursue my dream.

I don’t expect it to be easy, but I do expect a fair amount of adventure. I will be blogging about it at least once a week, more to keep myself on track than to write to an audience. But audience, whoever you are, you are welcome to my thoughts. ☺

Now, without further ado, my first Top 10 from Camano:

Top 10 Reasons You Know You’re Crazy:

10) You quit your job in the worst job market since 1974.
09) You think it’s a great idea to move your entire life in your brother’s beat up Honda Accord.
08) You decide it’s worth it to you to take the cat that hates car rides on a car ride. You are thus subjected to the yowls of a cat that hates car rides telling you exactly that…for the entire car ride.
07) It’s not even your cat.
06) You move to an island that probably has as many people your age as you have fingers on one hand.
05) You move to an island knowing full well that there is no good Thai food within any acceptable distance.
04) You think it’s worth it to save money on heat by lighting fires in a fireplace that is possessed by the devil and always billows smoke out into the house, regardless of how many times/ways you mess with the vents.
03) You’re writing a book about travel when no one can afford to travel.
02) You agree to train for and run a half marathon with your friends. Yes, that means you actually have to run.
01) You’ve done all this and you’re the happiest you’ve been in a long, long time.

Love and Camano Kisses
Morgan