Applying Mascara at the Drive-Thru---Farewell blog...
So when I started this scribechickie blog awhile back the question was “To write or not to write?” This was always pretty much a rhetorical question because for me, writing is a necessity not a luxury. That said…I feel it is time to embrace the current wave of change and retire this blog to move on to other writing projects that will reveal themselves over time. Thanks oodles to all of you who have followed (or valiantly pretended to) my ramblings here and please note that any and all future updates can be found at www.lipstickandthongbook.com and then at the launched by Christmas 2008 (fingers crossed) www.loonybus.com which will amplify and highlight my evolving role as a speaker on suicide prevention at high schools and colleges.
For the past year and a half I have worked in a cubicle at a Fortune 100 company while simultaneously self-publishing my memoir, "Lipstick and Thongs in the Loony Bin" http://www.lipstickandthongbook.com. This brief stint at a company is not an extraordinary achievement for most people. For me…it was just that--extraordinary. It wasn’t my longest standing---(or in this case sitting) job, it was not my worst nor my best by measurable standards like pay rate, mental stimulation etc. But in many ways---it will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life so far. Because it was my bridge job.
I have had a widely varied work background, (*cough*---‘job hopper’ accuses the HR pro with little imagination or a jealous streak when they see how much I’ve traveled). My career path has included more temp jobs than could ever accurately be quantified. From the lemonade stand at the tender age of 7 to the corporate job at the not-so-tender age of 37…I have for the most part in my life been a worker bee. I have mopped floors, stocked shelves, changed diapers (as a nanny---not just for the hell of it), all to pursue my writing… 'on the side’. A life a la carte.
Those days? Are over. Am I suddenly independently wealthy? No. Do I have savings or rich relatives? No and no. Have I won the lottery? Has Oprah called? Nope to both. Not yet anyway. What I DO have is one successful year as a writer under my belt. Successful not in the terms of wealth…believe me when you are a self-published author sending out free review copies left and right the profits dwindle quickly.
What changed then? One thing. And only one thing. I stopped believing in limitations and started believing in and trusting my dream to make it as a writer more than anything else. And when that internal shift happened I was published in four books in one year. Do you hear the strains of “Rocky” in the distance? I stopped making or believing my own excuses. And I heard plenty of other people’s mingled voices in my head for a long time until I started to hear the very real fears of failure and success that cause us all to create elaborate reasons to stick with the status quo. The flimsy cardboard life we create in our heads to justify a comfort zone that we outgrew long ago. Calling stagnation a comfort zone wasn’t working for me anymore. I expanded my boundaries to include all ranges of emotions into my comfort zone…the good the bad and the ugly. I am so much more at ease with not always being at ease and that was the ultimate gift this job and time gave to me. The chance to challenge myself to see that this so-called kind of comfort is not true nurturance. That certain kinds of comfort can lead to creative laziness, that comfort can be a blanket excuse not to change or grow or really, really LIVE. Do I think we should all be uncomfortable and miserable…no. Not at all. I simply think we should not let our fears of the new or the unknown stop us from exploring, playing, trying or BEING our truest, deepest, wisest and yes…craziest selves.
“Quit my job in this economy? With these gas prices?”
“You need cash to do that.”
“It’s hard to succeed as a writer/artist/musician.”
“I have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, clothe, dress and send to college so they can go sit in cubicles someday.”
“You’re lucky to have a job.”
“It pays the bills, it’s ok for now.”
And every single time I would see my friend Mara’s face pop into my head. Mara was 32 when she was diagnosed with colon cancer Stage IV. Mara went--in a two-year span--from being a healthy, robust and wonderful fourth-grade teacher to becoming a skeletal cancer-ridden shell in constant agony to becoming a corpse. Sorry to be so blunt but that’s exactly how it felt…blunt.
Holding the memory of Mara’s face in my heart keeps me from ever really buying into the illusion that ‘for now’ is the only way to live. Or that a mortgage is anything other than a piece of paper, or that a house is anything other than some bricks and mortar. Mara’s life and her premature death taught me that the cardboard life or the ‘on paper’ life must eventually crumble to make way for what really matters. Mara’s legacy taught me that if we don’t follow the fire within then we become burned---figuratively or literally as heat and wind and ash and memory.
A few months ago, I was getting coffee at the drive-thru and between ordering into the speaker and the pickup window I was applying mascara to go to a job that has helped me pursue my dreams. A job that had been a gift in countless ways because of the amazing coworkers who inspired me every day and who motivated me, in turn, to be as inspirational as I could. Sometimes the ‘for now’ mentality is a useful bridge to get you to the next level. Other times it can feel like it’s choking you. Perspective I suppose.
It was a small moment, this mascara moment. It was forgettable, the earth did not move, a booming voice did not come out of the sky. It was subtle…because that’s how these things are really. But I knew. I knew that this mascara-at-the-drive-thru life was not me anymore. I was not this girl, this woman, this person. Not because of the mascara. Who cares if you wear it or don’t? Not because of the coffee--a stimulant to stave off boredom and keep me awake and productive in zombieworld…or the impersonal and sedentary way I was getting it. Not because I spoke into a machine or gave the girl plastic to pay or because I was going to go and sit at a cubicle. But because? I just wasn’t. I just am not. And really? I just can’t be her anymore.
So I think maybe…and I am still figuring this all out so don’t quote me or anything…the first step in getting the life you want is to really take an honest look at the life you have. And not in a judgmental, disgusted, bored or depressed way. But just as an impartial observer. Or, if you can manage it, with the compassion of hard-won wisdom and self-knowledge.
Because--then? When you give your notice to your employer, your spouse, friends, or the universe that something needs to change or when you are finally letting them know that you are moving on from a situation or relationship and you take a deep breath and look back at all of the baby steps that led up to this so-called leap of faith you’ll just know. But don’t worry. You’ll forget again. And then you’ll remember and it will be a learning curve and process as each calendar year turns. Or maybe all that needs to change is you and how you choose to see things and be in the world.
So do I have things lined up? Yes. How will I pay my bills? I just will. Will I be ok? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Will I make it? Fall on my ass? Probably a little bit of both. But that’s ok...for now.
P.S. In addition to the ‘ok for now’ mentality I am now also encountering lots of the ‘must be nice’ way of thinking…and I‘m not gonna lie…it is. Nice to make a choice and stand by it as you would your own heart when it tells you that you can no longer be the you that you once were but…instead that you must become the YOU that you are truly meant to be.
I hope my little scribechickie adventures have given you some chuckles, maybe some “Yep, me too.” moments, or some tiny spark of motivation to find and pursue your own dreams no matter how big or small and no matter who or what seems to get in the way. Even and especially when it’s you---your doubts, fears, conditioning, aversion to risk, inability to see that you hold the key to the cage you locked yourself in…whatever. I get that…truly I do. Been there…survived that. I just don’t live there anymore.
Now I am doing so many diverse things and carving out a life and expanding my career that I know that I never want to go back to feeling like I must multitask and to-do list my heart's desires away or compartMENTALize feelings until they implode. I have a new system of prioritizing now. I am teaching, writing, learning growing, changing, consulting, editing and awakening to new levels of opportunity even in a climate where change is inevitable and sometimes scary and new and exciting I am finding my moments of peace and grace and kindness and passion and fun.
Scribechickie…out. Peace, bliss & loonylovebeams to you all. Rocking ON into the next question mark joyfully and gratefully.
Scribechickie Epitaph (Epiphany?):
From the quill to the keyboard to the podium, words were her craft and swirled in her blood, spiraled in her DNA, leaked into her head from someplace beyond the stars and time and seeped through her fingers writtten and fell from lips spoken into the world to make a moment or a connection, to plant word-seeds or harvest soul-ideas. She will be missed but will be reincarnated and born as someone new…And whoever that someone is or will become…words will be her currency, her gift and her trade, too.