New Year's Lesson: This Shit is Hard

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Pardon my French, but the beginning of 2013 has inspired me to look back at my 2012 and see what lessons I have learned.

Wow. My life has taken so many twists and turns in the past year that it's hard to keep track of them. I parted ways with my first literary agent and tearfully shelved my first novel. I wrote a new (better) novel, and I scored a new (better) agent. I became an aunt, and I felt my life shift so profoundly in response that I made the decision to say goodbye to the relationship, friends and job I loved in Colorado.

What do I have to show for it? Right now, I'm in the foggy, transitional time between here and there. My life in Colorado has drawn to a close, but my life in Florida has barely just begun. I am surrounded by friends and family and people I care about, but I have no idea what lies ahead of me.

Will I score a book deal this year? Will I find the perfect day job?

Most importantly, will I rebuild the pieces of my life into something I can be proud of?

I don't know. I sure hope so.

Which leads me to my post title: this shit is hard. The writing, the living, the loving... The thriving and not just surviving. The blazing of trails, the pursuit of our destinies. Because at the end of the day, we may have NOTHING to show for it.

But, you know what? Maybe we WILL have something to show for it. And we will never, ever know if we are too afraid to take the plunge and surrender ourselves into the hands of fate. Because as the quote says:

"We all go through rough times and disappointments in our lives, but realize that we are all in the midst of creating our own story of triumph through the decisions we make and the actions we take every time life knocks us down. 

It is in attempting to reach our dreams that we develop the necessary skills and mentality to overcome any roadblocks that lie ahead of us. 

Never let a moment of defeat define your life's outcome. 

No matter how many failures you've had, you still have it in you to create the greatest comeback story of your life. 

Until you run out of pages, there is still room to write an epic ending."

Healthy Writers Club: "Call Me Maybe" and So On

Photo Courtesy of Shallee McArthur

Well, I officially suck at NaNoWriMo, but I had a good week nonetheless. I hope you guys did, too!

Here is my weekly progress:

BODY
Photo Courtesy of TinyTall
Wow, I really like riding my bike. Like, a lot. Like, way more than I thought I would. I managed four bike rides this week, and I covered more than 33 miles. (I would have gone on more rides, but I went out of town for two days, and I've been busy nursing a hangover for the past 48 hours. Definitely don't bounce back like I did in my twenties... ;))

I also attended my second stand-up paddleboarding lesson this past weekend, and I've nearly perfected what they call the "pivot turn." (I just call it "the turn that makes me fall off the board in the middle of Davis Island Harbor.")

MIND
Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Did I mention I suck at NaNoWriMo? In terms of the tortoise and the hare, I have always been the hare. But NaNo is filled with mutant hybrids that combine the dedication of the tortoise with the speed of the hare, and I just don't know how to hang with that.

Oh well. I expected as much when I started, and I will not let NaNoWriMo defeat me!

SPIRIT
Photo Courtesy of SidPix
Geez, I'll be honest. This transition to Florida from Colorado is one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken in my entire life. But I keep reminding myself that it's okay for me to NOT be okay right now. And I shouldn't be okay tomorrow, either--just like a butterfly can’t spring from a chrysalis 30 seconds after entering it. I need to take the time to let my insides dissolve, and I need to take the time to let them completely reform again.

You don’t have functional wings just because you feel a little twitch of muscle in your shoulders.


Here are my weekly Healthy Writers Club milestones:

1. In-Flight Entertainment Favorite: I made a conscious choice to forgo music on my bike rides this week, and I really, really enjoyed the silence. It gave me a chance to actually listen to my thoughts for once. And that was nice.

Oh, and I finally broke down and gave into my love of "Call Me Maybe" this week--especially the U.S. Olympic Swim Team's version. Best three minutes and twelve seconds ever.


2. Coolest moment: Realizing that I'm actually starting to look forward to my bike rides now. I've mapped out this gorgeous route along the water in South Tampa, and I can't wait to visit it.

3. Hardest moment: I hit a wall last night, but I'm back today. And I've started collecting inspirational quotes on Pinterest. (Check them out here.) They help, too.

How did your week go? Any healthy milestones or set-backs? I'm looking forward to visiting your blogs, and I hope you have a great weekend.

Healthy Writers Club: NaNoWriMo Madness

Is it really Friday already? And is it really November? I feel like I've been stuck in slow motion for the past few months; I can't believe Halloween is already over!

Before I get into my weekly milestones, I just have to share this cute picture of my nephew and me at the pumpkin patch this week. He's certainly worth a move across the country, don't you agree?

Photo Courtesy of Me
Here is my weekly progress:

BODY

No stand-up paddleboarding this week, but I will be attending my first on-the-water yoga class this weekend. I'm hoping to someday be this girl:

Photo Courtesy of lululemon athletica
In the absence of paddleboarding, I went on three long bike rides, and I also did one super intense cardio session followed by arm and ab work. (Not my best week, but I'm still fighting that stupid cough and sore throat that has plagued me since I moved here.)

MIND

Oh my God, it's NaNo time. Are you guys freaking out or what?? 

Photo Courtesy of NaNoWriMo
I've never done NaNo before; I've actually purposefully avoided it, because I take deadlines--even self-imposed ones--so seriously that I often talk myself into panic attacks. However, I have resolved this year to use NaNo as a framework for getting some work done on my new manuscript. I'm not going to hold myself to NaNo's ridiculously high word count, but I am going to check in over there and use its guidelines to remind myself to get some words on paper. 

Are any of you taking the plunge? If so, please find me so we can be buddies: Lisa Ann

SPIRIT

I'm hanging in there. It certainly is an adjustment to realize I'm not just in Florida on vacation, and I'm still struggling with the idea that I live here and my life is unalterably different than it was a few months ago. It's also difficult to jump outside my comfort zone, as I settled into a pretty comfortable daily routine in Colorado.

Being surrounded by friends and family helps. This week, I went to the pumpkin patch for family portraits, watched a ballroom dancing competition with my good friend Mel, attended my first silent film (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) with Mel and my dad, caught up with some friends I hadn't talked to since the move, and helped my sister and brother-in-law take my nephew Trick-or-Treating.

Photo Courtesy of josierichards
I have also been thinking about caterpillars a lot, and I've made my peace with the fact that you need to stay in the chrysalis for awhile before you are able to become a butterfly.


Here are my weekly Healthy Writers Club milestones:

1. Weekly Stats: Three 5+ mile bike rides; one cardio session; one arm and ab workout

2. In-Flight Entertainment Favorite: Mumford & Sons. Surprisingly amazing cardio music

3. Coolest moment: For the first time this week, I had a moment where I looked down at my legs and realized they felt strong. My arms are starting to feel strong, too, and that's certainly a new development for me. They haven't felt like this since I stopped spin class two years ago.

4. Hardest moment: My body just can't seem to get well. I have been in Florida for nearly a month now, and I have been "sick" in some way for more than three weeks of that time. First it was a sore throat, then a fever, then a runny nose, then sneezing, then coughing. I woke up a few days ago to feel ANOTHER sore throat, and I almost had a meltdown. No way I could have handled starting the cycle over again!

How did your week go? Any healthy milestones or set-backs? I'm looking forward to visiting your blogs, and I hope you have a great weekend.

Healthy Writers Club: Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Photo Courtesy of Shallee McArthur
Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you achieved your fitness goals this week, and I can't wait to tell you about my foray into the world of stand-up paddleboarding.

I have decided to segment my milestones into three different categories each week: body, mind and spirit. Here is my progress:

BODY

I attended my first stand-up paddleboarding lesson on Sunday, and I also rented a board and went paddleboarding through the mangroves with a good friend yesterday. I was completely nervous the first time I paddled out, but the boards are way more buoyant and stable than I expected. It wasn't long before I made the leap into actually standing on the board, and paddling came fairly naturally once I figured out the proper stroke technique.

Photo Courtesy of ingridtaylar
The physicality and grace was exactly what I thought it would be, and I felt determination solidify inside me as I balanced and stretched and succeeded.

I want to be good at this.

MIND

I have been between manuscripts for a few months now; the stress of my everyday life has been so overwhelming that the last thing I have wanted to deal with is a new project. However, a conversation with my fabulous agent this week finally inspired me to jump back on the wagon. I decided to start a project I've been marinating on for about a year now, and I can already feel those creative juices beginning to flow again.

The project will be a YA Magical Realism called THE PUREST SHADE OF WHITE, and it will star polar bears, zoos, ghosts and snow. I think this picture pretty much sums it up:

Photo Courtesy of Me
I have been playing with this novel's characters for so long that they already feel like good friends. I can't wait for them to finally tell me their story.

(Want more story hints? Check out my brand new Inspiration Board on Pinterest: THE PUREST SHADE OF WHITE.)

SPIRIT

As part of my journey of getting reacquainted with myself, I made it a point to stretch myself this week. I visited the Lowry Park Zoo and the Florida Aquarium, and I took my parents on a Tampa Ghost Tour. I spent time with amazing friends I've barely seen since college, and I allowed myself to be distracted by beautiful things like oak trees and art festivals. I soaked in soul-soothing music, and I took time to listen to the things I was feeling--even when they weren't happy or convenient. I'm keeping a journal again these days, and that has been helpful, too.


Here are my weekly Healthy Writers Club milestones:

1. Weekly Stats: Two paddleboarding sessions; two cardio sessions; two ab, bun, arm and leg workouts; three long walks

2. In-Flight Entertainment Favorite: I'm the type of person who puts a lot of weight in songs and song lyrics. The Zac Brown Band came through for me at the perfect moment this week with the entrance of "Goodbye in Her Eyes" into my life. I have played that song many times since then, and I have smiled and cried and sung along with it more times than I can count.

Here's a link if you'd like to check it out:


3. Coolest moment: Feeling that knot of determination solidify inside me when I stepped onto that paddleboard on Sunday... I was a little afraid I'd been putting too much emphasis on how important this lesson was going to be to me, but that moment told me I'd been exactly right all along.

4. Hardest moment: The two-year anniversary of the car accident that nearly killed my husband, our two dogs and me was this Tuesday. (You can read more about it here.) So many things have changed since that moment that I couldn't decide which facet I should mourn first.

How did your week go? Any healthy milestones or set-backs? I'm looking forward to visiting your blogs, and I hope you have a great weekend.

Two Roads Diverged

Photo Courtesy of swimparallel
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In other words, I have started down a different path now. Different from the one that took me across the country eight years ago, different from the one that shaped me from a wide-eyed college kid into the woman I am today.

I have experienced so much in the past eight years that it's hard to know where to begin. I graduated from the University of Central Florida and moved to California, and I met a boy and kissed him while snow drifted through the air and settled like lace on our shoulders and in our hair.

I rescued sea lions and served martinis in Monterey, swam with dolphins and released sea turtles in Florida, and I packed up everything I owned when I decided to marry that California boy. We loaded our truck and headed north to Alaska, and we spent nearly four years hiking, drinking micro-brewed beers, and exploring the Great White North. I raised mountain goats and baby bears at the zoo, I watched stars and trained one particular camel who still owns a big piece of my heart.

We made friends and said goodbye to them, and we headed south again when my heart started pulling me back to Florida. That California boy would have stayed in Alaska forever, but we settled on Colorado, and we decided it was a good compromise.

But it wasn't. My heart strings still tugged me home, and the birth of my new nephew made the pain unbearable.

What do you do when you realize you'll lose yourself if you don't follow your heart? What do you do when the California boy--who is now a man--realizes he'll lose himself if he comes with you?

Do you sacrifice your path? Does he? Do both of you give up on the intrinsic essence that makes you who you are?

Or do you start down your paths alone? Do you leave your relationship in the hands of fate, in the belief that your love will survive if it is meant to survive?

And if it isn't, are you strong enough to handle that? Are you strong enough to say goodbye, to know that you will always love and care about this man, even if your destinies are no longer entwined?

The answer: I sure hope I am.