Photo: I’m between knitting projects so, in my mental anguish this week, I decided to break out my sewing machine for the first time in years. I’m sorta winging a project with some fabric I’ve had in my stash forever. As anyone with a trained eye can see, I haven’t really mastered sewing straight yet. It’s…. it’s a bit difficult. But! I wound my own bobbin, threaded my own needle (top AND bottom) and even changed feet on this thing all by myself (and only with one youtube video!) sooooooo I’m calling this a winning moment. 🙂
Have you ever had a week when it was just such a chore to get yourself out of bed each morning? I’m normally a morning person, and I wake up with the drive to get it moving. But this week…
The big blow-up on Monday was distraction enough, but there is other stuff going on, too. Mainly, a lot of envy and dissatisfaction rolling through my brain. Other moms are sending their kids back to school and mine don’t start until the end of next week (Ursa Major) or the week after (Ursa Minor) and I’m anxious to see them off. My teaching friends are back in their classrooms, already writing facebook posts about how wonderful their students are and how awesome their curriculum is for the year. Two of my friends are starting up at HGSE, one of whom I wrote a recommendation for and who is now texting me about every little experience. It was never “home,” but it is still a place that I miss. Yet others are starting their second year of tenure-track professorship, talking about research and lectures and students… and then there are the friends who are either working a dream job out in Cali, or applying for law school or… or… doing all the stuff that I thought that I was going to do someday.
And then my writer friend Rochelle is publishing her book next week.
And I’m so freaking thrilled for her. And a little jealous, too.
I met Rochelle two years ago via NaNoWriMo. I informally “mentor” other “Mama writers” and she signed up for my manic weekly emails full of advice and encouragement, she peppered me with questions that I answered as best I could… and I cheered her on as her word-count soared up to that awesome 50,000-word mark. She and five of my other mentees “won” that year. And when it was all over, she sent me an email saying that she wasn’t “done” with her story… that she wanted to do more work, and she wondered if we could keep in touch and keep encouraging each other.
Here we are two years later, countless phone-calls and emails and tweets later, and my dear writer friend Rochelle is finally publishing that Nano book.
And I’m telling you this because I’m so proud of her. And because I’m excited for her. And because through it all, she’s been kicking my ass to finish my book and publish it. As a matter of fact, she told me that I am gonna publish mine on my September 27th deadline. “You can totally do this! You set a deadline and you are gonna make it!”
Ain’t gonna happen, but I love her for trying.
I’m not publishing a book on my 30th birthday. I’m taking the counter down this weekend.
And the “failure” of it has been part of what has been chewing at me. It was gnawing at me on Tuesday when I slept in to 6:30 instead of getting up at 5. And on Wednesday, when I was up at 7 when the coffee maker went off. I just wasn’t trying to get my ass out of bed to do the damn work.
My Quiet Thoughts came to me on Wednesday, in an email exchange, in which a dear friend wrote a sentence that really resonated with me: “…I’m still light-years from where I want to be.”
I said out loud to my phone, “tell me about it!”
The only way to traverse inches, yards, miles or light-years is to propel yourself, by any means necessary, forward. The people who we admire, who we care about, even the ones who we envy, figured out a way to traverse their light-years to make it to where they are. And even they, probably, feel like they have farther to go before they’ve “made it.” Some people make it look easy (and maybe, for some, it is), but there were likely times when those people didn’t want to get out of bed either.
So when my phone started buzzing at 5:30 yesterday morning, my first thought was to roll over. My second one was, “I’m light-years from where I want to be today.”
So I got up and wrote a little over 1000 words before the coffee maker started.
Next Tuesday, September 9th, my dear friend Rochelle will mark the end of her journey across the light-years between a NaNoWriMo and a published book. Between the time she hit that 50,000 words and now, she had a baby, got an eldest son through high school (and a trip to China, and the college admissions process, and now a college campus!), took her middle child to countless gymnastics meets and other obligations… not to mention going through the motions of having a full-time job, negotiating life with celiac disease… and doing all of the things that a woman has to do to make the world work.
She did that. And wrote a book. And now she’s publishing it.
I have not a single damn excuse to give up on my own dreams. And I won’t, thanks to her awesome example.
I have not read Rochelle’s book, so I cannot tell you how it is. I will tell you that her previously published collection of short stories, Leaping Out on Faith, is currently ranked #1 in the short-stories category and #4 in the African-American category in the Amazon kindle store. I’ve read a few of her short stories before and I’ve enjoyed them a lot. I recognize that this isn’t a review blog, but I’m sharing Rochelle’s achievement because I’m just so proud of her and so honored that I’ve been on this journey with her.
And I’m reminded that I’m on my own journey. Only I can move myself forward. Every morning and evening. One word at a time. I won’t meet my September 27th deadline, but I will meet my goal. And that, ultimately, is what matters.
It is a hot Friday in Massachusetts (Oh, hey Summer! We’ll call this “fashionably late”) and all I want is a pumpkin latte. The big cold-front is coming tomorrow evening and it will bring all that refreshing air that I’m craving. For you, dear reader, as we relish these final hot days, I wish you some time at your favorite place. A lake, a pond, the ocean, a river, a park high on a hill… I wish you some time to soak it all in and make a few memories before it changes again. I wish you one last good burger or perfectly grilled steak (or perfectly grilled corn, our current favorite). I wish you one last awesome pedicure (and opened toed-shoes to show it off, fashion police be damned!). I wish you one last trashy book read in an afternoon (or maybe a good one to savor a little longer? This is what I’m currently reading.) I wish you one last really good summer tomato, bonus points if it came off of a vine of your own cultivation. I wish you the relief in knowing that your goals can be met if only you put your feet on the floor and get moving. I wish you the wisdom in knowing that it really isn’t that simple. I wish you the satisfaction of accomplishment when you make it to where you want to be. And, I wish you the opportunity to bring people along with you as you travel. The only thing more satisfying than accomplishing a major feat is watching someone else do it under your guidance and care. I know this first hand to be true. Chase the ambitions with your heart and mind open, dear reader.
Until Monday, take care.