TO TELL (MY) TRUTH

I haven’t been honest in my writing. I have avoided the truth at every turn, written about safe topics and superficial feelings. It’s easy to write book reviews or answer silly quizzes or post pictures of craft projects. Those are perfectly reasonable things to post on a personal blog, but alone it is not all that personal.

I sometimes scratch the surface of deeper things; daily struggles, health and physiological issues. But I hold back, never cutting beyond the skin. Talking about the fact I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression isn’t hard. Telling my readers, today I was frozen by anxiety with irrational fears running through my head is terrifying. Equally frightful is the prospect of explaining happiness and joy.

Hell, I often don’t admit to myself how I’m feeling, but instead keep pushing forward.

Pushing forward is great. “Doing” is a strategy I fully embrace. For 2012, I made a to-do list rather than resolutions. Sitting around thinking is about the worst thing a person like me can do, but a busy schedule isn’t a cure. Nor, ironically, is a happy life. Is that annoying or what?

In many years of self-examination, I have found I don’t figure out anything by thinking. Talking, even to my nearest and dearest, doesn’t do the trick either. I can’t tell anyone what I don’t know or understand. Since I was a kid, I have articulated myself to myself best by writing. My journals from those years are gone, paper and pen are no longer my native tools. A keyboard is where, if I free myself, my thoughts flow best. I don’t know what is coming before I start typing which in itself frustrates me. I crave a peek at the big picture.

Opening a Word document, keeping a journal on my computer like I did on paper off and on for most of my life, would be one solution to working out what’s on my mind and heart. No doubt, it would be helpful. There have been times I have done just that and certainly in the course of my life I will do so again. But that solution only solves half of the problem.

What I’ve realized lately is being a chicken shit blogger has more consequences than a boring blog and low traffic. It represents giving up on my dream of being a writer. I have accepted easily the fact it’s harder than ever to break into traditional publishing. I don’t care one lick about being on the New York Times Bestsellers List or even on Amazon’s list. I care about filling a blank screen with words destined to be read. Without the second part of the equation, it’s literary masturbation. It’s a dichotomy; one writes for oneself, because it’s necessary, but putting the words away in a shoe-box under the bed doesn’t satisfy the writer’s needs. Writing is a conversation as much as sitting across the table talking is a conversation.

In staying safe, I have failed as a writer. The truth is the only thing worth reading. That is as true in fiction as in personal writing. As a personal blogger, I aspire to the best of autobiographical essays. I aspire to challenge readers, but not half as much as I challenge myself.

It is not in isolation I have come to these conclusions. As I find to be the case when I’m struggling with something I need to do but don’t want to do, life, the universe and everything puts signposts in my path too bright to ignore.

First, I must credit my cousin Sarah, better known under her pen name, Ivy Marie, who’s been writing her heart out for a while now online, has published a book, and is brave enough to tell the truth, even when it’s ugly, scary or unflattering. Not only has she found her voice with no formal training, she’s managed to make money doing it. I am inspired by her persistence and the sheer volume of words she’s written since she began her first blog.

After that, in no particular order, are some bloggers I deeply admire for the traits I want to infuse into my blog. Jessica Gottlieb wrote this post. The Gal Herself who chronically her life with such honesty it’s easy to forget she does it anonymously.

Dan of Single Dad Laughing writes bravely about the very meaning of life and happiness. Seriously, his top posts page has something for everyone or start with Who’s Life is It Anyway.

Of course, and always, there are writers who have influenced me for decades. Issac Asimov and Madeleine L’Engle top the list which includes so many fine, brave writers. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them, nor would I hold the dream I can’t shake loose (I’ve tried) of walking in their footsteps.

I am afraid of the consequences of digging deeper, but I am also afraid of the consequences of silence. If I’m honest, I am more afraid of the consequences of silence. Not sure what’s coming as a result of this honesty I vow to pursue, but I know it’s necessary.

TIRED

Got to admit, I didn’t notice until I uploaded this week’s self portrait just now that it sort of looks like I’m not wearing anything. Oops. As it happens, I’m down to a tank top, post work and before a light yoga session.

I am tired tonight. Pretty obvious, no?

My subconscious has decided to deal with stress by producing the kind of dreams you don’t have to be Freud to understand. Two nights in a row, I’ve had vivid dreams about specific stresses. I seldom remember dreams, so this kind of thing rattles me. I can’t even say the worries involved are at the forefront of my mind. It’s more the “same shit, different day” type of garbage one collects over a lifetime.

Can’t wait to go to bed in a few hours and see what the old brain has in store for tonight’s entertainment.

LAYERS

Chris snapped my Self Portrait Sunday picture for me last night when we got home from an evening out with Alex. We’d hit the local comic book and game shop for them to play Star Trek Heroclix . I don’t care for strategy based games, but I do love tiny starships and the company of geeks, so it all works out. Afterwards, we picked up Alex’s sister, Lucy, and their mom to go out to dinner. A good time was had by all.

I’m not getting all deep with my SPS with a title like “Layers” or at least not tonight. My outfit yesterday brought to mind an article I read on Cracked a while back, The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women’s Clothes. As per usual, the piece is dead on. Thing point I held on to the most is who clothes are deliberately designed in such a way to require layering. Be it see through fabric or cuts which would reveal even the most discreet strapless bra. “Bra showing” isn’t a look I’m willing to condone.

The layering trend is has gotten to the point where it’s unavoidable. It’s even worse for girls with boobs. The dress I wore would be fine without anything under it on a someone with a smaller chest. I even wore it once like that not realizing how badly it would shift over the evening. Earlier in the week, I found the perfect printed tank-top on clearance and thought, at least if they’ve got me trapping into buying a second piece of clothing to wear with my dress, I spent less than $3 on it. I think I got the dress for $6, so overall a great deal. It’s cold enough out that tights are a must. The sweater is many years old and from Torrid. I was pleased with the look and might try more tanks and camis in the future. Darn fashion industry.

INK AND DRAGONS

Nostalgic toy favorite: Barbie or Easy Bake Oven? Barbie. Duh. Only I don’t think of her as nostalgic, but as modern and as widely appealing as can be. Mattel is genius for making playsets for toddlers all the way up through retirees who can’t resit Lucy or Tippi Hendren. I’ve always been a Barbie girl. Always will be.

Never going anywhere or Never settling down? Tough question. I haven’t lived a very settled live thus far, but I am perfectly willing to settle down. On the other hand, I’ve moved more times in my lifetime than I’ve taken actual vacations. In the last year, I’ve made headway in correcting the imbalance and it’s awesome. I’d hate to give up travel just to live in one area forever. So, I guess if I’m picking, never settling down would suit me better than never going anywhere.

Peanuts or Cashews? Cashews. Unsalted, please. Oddly, I live on peanut butter, but am not crazy about peanuts.

Musical movie: Pete’s Dragon or The Sound of Music? Pete’s Dragon. It has a dragon, for goodness sake. And it takes place in Mom’s home state of Maine, so hearing that is a real place made it extra cool.

Tattoo location: Wrist or Lower back? Wrist. If I were to ever get ink, I’d go with a place with a low risk of distortion with the aging process. I’ve considered getting an IDIC at the very top of my back, but enough below my neck to be easily covered with a shirt.

SUNDAY DRESS

First, I freaking love dresses. It’s no more effort to wear something people assume is fancy. My collection is growing and I have no intention of stopping. Clearance racks are my friends.

I got this sweater dress before Christmas at Ross. The ruffle at the neck line makes me happy. The color is unusual and flattering. It’s warm and comfortable. Sleeves and a modest length made it an obvious choice for today since we’ve getting winter temperatures for the first time in a long time. I picked up the belt and new tights a few days ago. While you can’t see them in the small version of the picture but if you click to enlarge you can see the tights have polka dots. I love polka dots. I didn’t used to like belts for decorative purposes, but I now own three, plus the one I wear with khakis for practical purposes. With something solid like this dress, it feels like I need something to break up the solid block of color, but I am ever vigilant not to break too many visual lines thus making myself appear shorter.

Before I spend to much more time rambling about my all important fashion life, let me tell you about my day.
Finding I had a rare Sunday free and clear from work-type obligations, I’d made plans with Chris‘ parents since I hadn’t seen them in a while. I tagged along to the evening service and Valentine social at their church. Pro tip: Southern Baptists know how to throw a pot luck. “Not a full dinner” was an abundant feast. I think there were four kinds of meatballs and lots of other goodies. My lovely practically-mother-in-law, Sandi, organized a version of The Newlywed Game which she renamed Trulyweds since they didn’t have anyone newly married to pick on. Maybe I’m biased, but the questions she wrote were clever and creative, not to mention in the style of the old game show. It was a hit and all the participants had fun. I had fun and got my parental unit time in, always important, and a reasonable excuse for not having the mock up for my dress done for today’s self portrait as intended. There’s always tomorrow.

SOCIAL INTROVERT

I’ve been searching out memes and writing prompts in more free form than the typical quiz format. I have fun with those and have met a ton of blogging friends participating in them over the years, but they do not allow for a ton of creativity. One of the weekly prompts I found is Friday Question at ilaxStudio, the book of a pretty cool lady named Kim. I’d encourage my meme loving friends to check it out. Oh, and, I still think of it as Friday until I’ve gone to bed.

Today’s Friday Question: What is your definition of introvert/extrovert and which characteristics do you identify with more (introvert, extrovert, in-between)?

For most of my life, I considered myself introverted. Growing up, I didn’t have much of a social life. I really had no social life most of my school age years. Some of the problem was how often we moved around when I was a kid. If I was lucky, I had a friend from school who lived close enough to hang out after school, weekends, and summer vacation. Otherwise, I had my younger brother, books, and Barbies. In high school, things were a little different, but not much. I had a few friends, but still no social life or extra curricular activities. I read and wrote constantly mostly in my room listening to music primarily recorded sometime before my birth. Yeah, I was cool.

It was when I was eighteen that I found my seemingly extroverted side. I’d gone back for my senior year of high school and soon after got hired at Payless ShoeSource. It was my very first job. People don’t think about it this way, but it was a sales and customer service job. I had a great manager who did most of the logistical work of running the store allowing his staff to focus on selling. Something about being given a task and a name tag lifted the vial of shyness. No surprise. For a people pleaser like me simply wants to meet the goals my teachers and now my boss set forth. Following recommendations on my technique, I learned to be the smiling, outgoing sales girl the position required. And I loved it. I loved connecting with a customer as a person. I loved convincing someone to buy an item based on my recommendation. I even loved the horrible customers. I loved talking down an angry customer or getting complements on how nice I was from a truly grating customer. I learned so much about interacting with people.

Only once in the intervening dozen years have I worked in a job that didn’t involve working with the public. I worked as a temp for couple weeks in a factory, light manufacturing. It was awful in large part because I was lonely. No one who meets me would assume I’m introverted or even shy. I love to talk, meet new people, strike up conversations in the grocery line. But I still sometimes felt socially awkward and essentially felt like an introvert inside, wanting to be alone or with someone I was comfortable enough with to be silent much of the time.

So, the question in my mind became: Was I always an extrovert who was simply socially stunted?

I didn’t understand my own duplicity in the area until I read the blog post John Scalzi wrote on the subject, Portrait of a Closet Introvert. I could relate and, most important, he defined the reasons I seemed extroverted, but wasn’t.

Introverts recharge alone. Extroverts recharge in social situations. Plan and simple.

It’s not about liking or disliking people or socializing. I love people. It’s just I need a break to think about what happened when I was out with people before I can handle being with them again. I need to turn off the social part of myself and turn on the intellectual, critical part of myself without distraction. I need to write, read or listen to music. Once I am filled up again with those things which make me feel whole, I can face, even enjoy, just about any interpersonal interaction. Okay, not conflict. I’d rather walk in front of a bus.

Kim, our meme host, posted a great article and quiz (scroll down for quiz) about introverts along with her response to the question. I scored 16 out of 20 for introversion. Extroversion was not tested. I tend, in most physiological tests, to score close to the middle so it is possible I would score moderately extroverted where both traits were considered. Still I am certainly more introverted, but a far happier introvert when I have regular socialization.

CONTROVERSIAL MEME

I swiped these questions from Chris who swiped it from Leo.

[01] Do you have the guts to answer these questions and re-post as The Controversial Survey? Obviously. To answer the implied intend of the question, I have no problem sharing my opinions. Most people who know me well would have a pretty good idea how I’d answer on controversial topics.

[02] Would you do Meth if it was legalized? Not in a million years. The logic of using a drug involving Drano and other nasty ingredients is beyond my comprehension. Doubly worse when it’s the type of drug nobody does causally.

[03] Abortion: for or against it? Against. Unfortunately, the pro-life movement’s vocal representatives tend to be conservatives of the sort who don’t believe in sex outside of marriage or advocating birth control. To me, it’s like trying to have your cake and eat it, too. People are going to have sex, the personal morality of pro-lifers not withstanding. Making unwanted pregnancies rare and adoption a less stigmatized option (progress has been made, but there is still a “why wouldn’t you keep your baby?” judgement) would go a long way to making abortion an unappealing option. A “culture of life” to be a bit cliche. I believe in comprehensive sex education including information on the emotional and interpersonal ramifications of sex. I do not believe the schools have the primary responsibility for educating kids about sex, or anything else, but the facts should be covered in the classroom. Access to birth control and a cultural shift would lead to fewer abortions. Holland, for example, has a much different attitude toward sex and lower rates of teen pregnancy and abortion, not to say underage women account for the majority of abortions. Still, I believe it’s possible to be pro-life and open minded about sexuality in a way that can be embraced by the secular culture. After all, if those of us who believe each pregnancy represents a person, isn’t stopping abortions more important that forwarding an abstinence based agenda?

[04] Do you think a country would fail with a female president? Gender not withstanding, I do not believe any one president has the power to make America fail. The Founders were wise enough to limit presidential powers. With only eight years to muck about with things, even a man can’t screw it up too badly.

[05] Do you believe in the death penalty? I am not gung-ho in support, nor am I against. It’s a tragedy even when it’s just. It should go without saying, only cases with concrete evidence and never cases based on circumstantial evidence should be considered for capital punishment.

[06] Do you wish marijuana would be legalized? Doesn’t impact me either way. I suspect legalization is only a matter of time. I also suspect little will change when it happens.

[07] Are you for or against premarital sex? I respect why some people choose to wait. Choices about sexuality are deeply personal and can’t be judged from the outside. I’m generally pro-sex in a somewhat Dr. Ruth kind of way. Like I mentioned, in question three, I believe there are emotional and interpersonal ramifications to sex. It should not be taken lightly, but nor do I think marriage should always be a prerequisite.

[08] Do you believe in God? Yes. Unlike many of these other questions, I don’t feel the need to explain myself.

[09] Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized? Yes. I don’t disagree with those who believe the goverment should not regulate marriage, but the goverment does regulate marriage. Realistically, the goverment isn’t going to get it’s paws out of something it’s got a hand in. I suspect in a generation, people will wonder what the big deal was about gays getting married in much the same way people of my generation can’t possibly understand how the American civil rights movement was a big deal because equal rights for all races are a given.

[10] Do you think it’s wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA? Illegal is a problem, yes. I don’t care where you come from, immigrating should be done through legal channels. As things are today, neither the country nor the immigrants are best protected by a tact agreement to allow legal immigration. America looses out on taxes and pays for services for illegals. The immigrants themselves are not protected by labor laws like minimum wage or the Family Medical Leave Act. When I worked as a receptionist for an ob/gyn, we had pregnant patients who perfectly illustrated both sides of that problem. First, they were able to get Medicade while pregnant, but they would have to go back to work almost immediately after giving birth because their employers could simply replace them with no legal ramifications. I don’t consider myself qualified to develop a plan to fix the problem, but clearly there is a problem.

[11] A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it? At twelve, it’s not even a teen pregnancy. I believe giving the baby up for adoption is the best outcome for everyone involved. No one so young is prepared to be a parent and the girl’s parents need to focus on parenting, not being grandparents, in the aftermath of whatever resulted in a twelve year old becoming pregnant.

[12] Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen? At eighteen, we consider people to be adults in every other way. Voting, marrying, joining the military. While few Americans are ready to be self-supporting at that magic age, parent’s are not legal responsible for an eighteen year old child’s well being. When you think about it, the extra years without alcohol seem a little silly. But what do I know? I didn’t start drinking – at all – until I was thirty.

[13] Should the war in Iraq be called off?
I’m not qualified to say. To be honest, I’ve limited my news consumption for years because it depresses me. I did support going in for the purpose of eliminating Saddam Hussein. He was a brutal dictator and whatever the reason we went in, he deserved what he got.

[14] Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?
In a totally different way, I struggle with coming to a firm stance on assisted suicide in the same way I struggle with the death penalty. Arguments that those receiving end of life care would be pressured to choose assisted suicide by family, medical establishment, or insurance providers are not, I feel, unfounded. I do, however, differ from those who draw an exact parallel between abortion and assisted suicide. A fetus cannot consent. An adult with facilities intact is capable of consenting. Even still, I don’t know if I could support assisted suicide and certainly not without strict guidelines. I would prefer better elder and end of life care. For me personally, life seems so very short to begin with and, unlike animals, even with limited physical abilities and pain, humanity is intact. I do feel it necessary to note, I do not lump “assisted suicide” in with keeping brain dead bodies alive by artificial means.

[15] Do you believe in spanking your children?
I have spanked a child. Kate‘s daughter, we’ll call her Bits, my beloved niece. Old enough to know she shouldn’t but not to understand the danger, she ran off from Kate and I in the mall, leaving the store we were in – for the second time within a few minutes – and running into another store. I happened to be the one who found her and I knew if there was to be a spanking as we’d told her there would be, it had to be swift justice. At that age, cause and effect get quickly lost. So, do I believe in spanking? Maybe. Depending on the desired result, the child in question and the motivation of the adult doing the spanking. Motivation may be the most important piece. Anger or frustration is never a reason for spanking. With little kids, I see it more as a redirection. With older kids, I believe it looses effectiveness. I expect spanking won’t be a large part of my parenting strategy when the time comes.

[16] Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?
No question. The symbol isn’t the thing. I’d burn a book. Even Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or The Bible. Am I sacrilegious, a bad geek and unpatriotic? I don’t think so. It’s a funny hypothetical anyway as the proper disposal for a flag beyond it’s usefulness is a ceremonial burning.

[17] Who do you think would have made a better president? McCain or Obama?
My political beliefs align better with the Republican party, so I would say McCain.

[18] Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers? As Dr. Seuss says, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

BEEN PUTTING OFF POSTING ON PROCRASTINATION

I am so darn good at procrastinating. Take, for example, what I have done since typing the first to sentence of this post. I got up and made tea, watched a bit of a Star Trek: TNG with Chris, replied to a text message from Alex, checked Twitter and Facebook including a group I participate in, drank tea and ate a packet of Lance Toast Chee. To make it worse, I went and found the links to insert in the above sentence rather than finishing the post first. I managed to do so with minimal web surfing, only stopping to read the latest in my Twitter feed and click the “Like” buttons on the Lance website. Who doesn’t like oddly named crackers?

There is a point to explaining all those little tasks which kept me from writing. Writing, particularly blogging, is something I enjoy. When the words are flowing in full screen mode, it is a delight to watch the blank space fill up. As the length of my posts shows, I am seldom at a loss for words once I get going. While no writer, or artist of any kind, is ever totally without apprehension at calling a piece finished, I’m relatively satisfied with the completed product when I hit publish. I am, essentially, delaying and denying myself a great source of pleasure and positive feelings.

Blogging, is, of course, not the only thing I put off in impressive feats of procrastination. Housework, work-work, making doctors appointments, shaving my legs, and even going to bed at night. I am, if I do say so myself, a world class procrastinator.

I am enabled by a world more filled with distractions than ever. Of the things I did during the writing of the first paragraph, most of them include technology not available in my days as a young procrastinator. Even worse, I count all of the things I did as valid things to do. Facebook and Twitter, text messages and Netflix are all important parts of my life both for entertainment and keeping up with friends and family. Social networking is an aspect of blogging even because otherwise I’m talking to no one. See, the other part of procrastination at which I excel is justifying my stalling tactics.

My skill at procrastination is never far from my mind. At the end of the day, I often wish I’d accomplished more. I suspect modern life with endless revolving must-do and want-to-do lists makes the feeling common. Still, I know it must be possible to make better use of my time.

I was reminded of an article I’d read in Psychology Today when Renee commented on a quote I used in my post about starting a new diet. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is one of my favorite principals from The Happiness Project. (By the way, Kate, I think I’ll be ordering you a new copy rather than returning the one you lent. Not today, but I promise not to put it off forever.) The article on the link between procrastination and perfectionism could have been a case study in my worst traits.

In a nutshell, the perfectionist fears falling to meet her own impossibly high standards, therefore avoids the task and risk of failure. See why “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” is so important?

Applying the principle back to blogging, I’ve read thousands of blog posts in my years in the blogging community. Some so good I feel I’d never live up. Some so bad I fear even one person thinks as poorly of my writing as I do of theirs. I don’t worry so much, for example, about spelling (thanks to spell check) or grammar (I’ve got this whole English thing down). I worry more about coming off as boring. Or too wordy. If I don’t write the post, it can’t suck. If I don’t blog at all, I don’t have to judge myself by my standards of how I ought to be as a blogger. Obviously, with writing, the judgement is subjective. I want to be interesting to people I find interesting. I want to make my ideas clear. I try, at my best moments, to make sure enough of me comes through what I write so people who like me as a person, in real life or online, will also like my posts.

In the name of both blogging and fighting those perfectionism-procrastination tenancies, I have my next post planned as a sort of live blog of a procrastination test from Psychology Today as my next post complete with commentary. The original plan had been to include it in this post and while I’ve no intention to tackle my problem (if it’s a problem) with overly long posts today, even I’m hesitant to push past a thousand words.

Ironically, one of my favorite ways to dink around on the internet instead of doing whatever it is I ought to be doing is taking quizzes. Oh, Blogthings, how you get me every time. Hopefully, the test is more revealing than discovering what flavor ice cream I am.

And, hopefully, I won’t put off doing it. As they say, stay tuned to find out.

ON THE FIRST 365 DAYS OF MY THIRTIES

Happy birthday to me! Much enjoyed dinner and cake with my dear friend Reecie and her seven year old daughter.

In a huge display of ego, I traditionally have written a blog post on or around my birthday discussing the year that was and the coming year. My old blog is no longer around, but I do have the posts archived for my own reference (there is nothing – NOTHING – wrong with plagiarizing yourself), so I took a look to see what I wrote last year. Can’t say I was surprised to discover I hadn’t written about my twenty-ninth year. It was, in all the big ways, a pile of frelling dren. And around my thirtieth birthday, I was preparing to make huge life changes I was unwilling to discus with the world at large. Fully aware I could have fallen on my face, I followed my gut and prayed like crazy.

A year later, I’m thinking I should have skipped my twenties. Gone straight from nineteen to thirty. Of course, I think enough about alternate timelines and the butterfly effect to understand the importance of the intervening years.

So how did I spend the last year?

I moved twice. Once across the country and once within the same apartment building.

I traded one full time job for two part time jobs. I don’t talk about either on the internet.

I started a new relationship. I got divorced. The order of those sentences is accurate, but the details cannot be explained in two lines. Somethings are best left unblogged.

I went on vacation and took overnight trips more times than I’ve have in the rest of my adult life.

I discovered I’m more a social creature than I believed myself to be. My friends and family, local and faraway, are the amazing. I feel like I fit in.

Life is good, busy and happy.

Times flies when you’re having fun. I had no idea how true the old chestnut can be. I suspect before long I’ll be back here writing my official thirty-second birthday post. Maybe I’ll even write a few posts in between.

WHAT’S MISSING?

 

I’ve got to say: My life is grand.
My best friend Kate sent me home from her house with a The Happiness Project to read on the flight home. In the book, Gretchen Rubin takes readers along as she spends a year exploring happiness with scholarly zeal and scientific curiosity. It’s a good read and got me thinking about happiness without feeling like a self help book. Her point wasn’t cultivating happiness as a cure for clinical depression. By her own admission, her life was good when she began thinking about happiness. Her project wasn’t about changing her life, but about being happier in life.

 

One concept from the book I latched onto was how happiness unexamined is less valuable. If you don’t think you’re happy, how can you be happy? The other side of the argument is if you have to ask wither you are happy, are you?  For me, thinking about happiness and what works or what doesn’t in my life is important. I’ve been some scary places ignoring unhappiness and depression. I’d plugged away at life. I’m not in that place anymore, but I’m ever aware of my relationship with happiness and stress. I think of it as being mindful – checking in with myself as if to ask “does this make you happy, Tina?”

I’d really love to read the book again, take some notes and share some thoughts here on my blog. I’ve subscribed to Gretchen’s blog, but haven’t played with all the toys and tools on her website yet. I’m undecided as to wither I intend to start my own formalized happiness project anytime soon. I’m busy and happy. My life fits me.

I have only one nagging concern – one missing and neglected piece. I don’t write anymore. It’s easy to see from my blog, I haven’t blogged. I’ve barely even Tweeted. I don’t have a notebook in my purse or nebulous bits of poems in my head. The idea of writing fiction seems as lost a dream as going to Harvard. Reading about Gretchen, lawyer turned writer, talking about doing what you love, but also working through frustration doing things which lead to long term happiness struck a cord. Writing is great… after it’s done. Or those rare times words gush before I’ve even thought about what comes next. Otherwise, it’s work.

I had been thinking on a blogging comeback – and blogging has always been a writing exercise for me – for a while before I took the trip to see Kate.

The question I began to ask myself: Why do I still think I ought to be writing?

The Happiness Project helped me find the answer: I go back to writing when things are bad in my life. Without fail, I look back on every traumatic event immediately followed by the purchase of a new notebook. When I’m happy, I’m busy living. Too busy to slow down and cultivate what is important to the deepest parts of myself? Seems to be a flaw in my logic.

The worst part is how difficult the process becomes when you haven’t kept up. Practice makes perfect. I know full well without discipline comes first in any creative endeavor. Typing out this post has been excruciating, to be honest, and I’ve taken much longer than I intended. What I’m pushing toward is publishing because once I have hit the button, posted to Facebook and Twitter that I have, I’ve accomplished something. One step at a time, I intend to blog consistently enough to call myself a blogger again. I’d love to build on blogging to make words my profession in some form or another.

First, I’m going to go ahead and hit publish.