Chasing Inspiration

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Little Help From My Friends

In the last two weeks my life has been a little out of control. Work has been good, but very time and energy consuming. I had more commitments on my dance card than I had dances. My fibro was acting up big time, but instead of reaching out and admitting I couldn't do it all at this point in time, I raised the flag of personal responsibility and like a good little martyr, I pushed on. Until I collapsed. Almost literally.

I'm the first to admit that I'm not good on leaning on others. I was raised with the values of personal responsibility and good hard work get the job done. And this has served me well. However, it has also made it difficult for me to ask for help, even when I know I need it. Given the fact I know when certain things occur, I need to let go and delegate or just say no, why is that I continue to horde my tasks like precious jewels?

For me, I think it's because raising the white flag to signal for help has been associated personally with failure. I should be able to do it all. I'm an intelligent and talented human being. I'm capable. There is no reason why I shouldn't be able to follow through and get through everything on my list. Failure is a nasty word in our culture. And, as a society, we're moving further and further away from failure being a positive experience. More on that in a future post.

But since I was afraid to look like a failure or to be seen as weak, I didn't ask for help. Fortunately, I have good friends and a great husband who can tell when I'm getting overwhelmed. And these people step up and step in. Oh, I may not be all that gracious about their offers of help, but I do appreciate their willingness to support me with their talents and strengths.

In the end, through this team effort, I made it through the week and am looking at life through clearer eyes and with renewed energy. And I made a commitment to myself to be kinder to me. That means asking for help before I reach that breaking point. I want to break the old habits that are no longer serving me and let go of false beliefs that asking for help somehow equals failure. And that failure is bad.

Are you fortunate enough to have a good support system of people who will step in even when think you can do it all? Or are you more likely to muscle through? What do we miss out on in life because we aren't willing to lean a little? I'm curious about your impressions and can't wait to read your responses.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

Sorry I missed last week. Sometimes life gets busy. And sometimes you just don't know what song represents the moment. That was me. I had no idea what song went with the story or went with my life. And this week, in the midst of systems training and trying to make a decision about a supervisory opportunity, I kept coming up blank. I had nothing to say. Nothing to write. No music in my head.

Until today.

I woke up this morning, and after showering and dressing, I was putting on my make-up and humming. The nonesensical tune morphed into Amy Grant's Takes A Little Time and I started singing the chorus when it hit me, sometimes life doesn't go the way we plan and it takes some time to course correct. Sometimes what we need to do we don't have the energy or the skills for. Or sometimes we just need time to get over the shock of the direction life pushed us. The song talks about that, but it also talks about being patient with ourselves. Life just takes time.

It takes a little time sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground
It takes a little time sometimes. to get the Titanic turned back around
It takes a little time sometimes, but baby you're not going down
It takes more than you've got right now
Give it, give it time

What's this walking through my door
I know I've seen the look before
Sometimes on faces in the street
And sometimes in the mirror looking back at me
You can't fix this pain with money
You can't rush a weary soul
You can't sweep it under the rug now honey
But it don't take a lot to know


Well it may not be over by morning
But Rome wasn't built in a day
You can name that thing a thousand times
And It won't make it go away
Let me
put my arms around you
And hold you while you weep
We've been talking and you know
what, I'm sick of this talk
And it's nothing that won't keep


To see a video and here this song that is really speaking to me this morning, you can go to You Tube - sadly, I can't embed the video here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Taking Ourselves Too Seriously

I have high standards for certain things. The cleanliness of my bathroom. How my closet is organized. The quality of my clothing. The organization of my purse. Getting the bills paid on if not before time. And my books. I have super high standards for the quality of books that I keep, particularly trade and hardcover editions. New or used. Mass market paperbacks I'm more lenient about, unless I'm buying new. Then I want to pick the most immaculate looking book in the store.

Recently, these high standards got me in trouble. I belong to a book swap site where members can swap books with each other. It's a great way to recycle books I don't want to keep and to obtain the backlist of authors I have recently discovered. The site allows you to list conditions that must be met before you are willing to accept a book. I rarely ask for hardcovers because I usually buy the hardcovers I plan to own. You know stimulate the economy and support those people who are doing what I hope to do some day soon - publish. But occasionally I'll want a hardcover that is hard to find new or is out-of-print and these books I plan to not read and pass on but to keep.

One such book that I had requested arrived and it was not in the condition I thought I had made clear on my requester conditions. So I pinged the sender and asked for a return of credit since the book didn't meet my conditions. I've done this once before when a book didn't meet my conditions and the transaction was pleasant enough. I myself have been asked to return credit due to a book I sent that wasn't in as good a shape as I had thought. No biggie, right?

I was reprimanded by the sender. If I wanted a book that was pristine I should have purchased it new. I got the feeling, and I'm only guessing, that what the sender wanted to say was, "Get over yourself, it's a used book for crying out loud!"

At first I was upset. And then I thought about it. It was just a used book. Sure, I could have all the conditions on the book I wanted to put there but at the end of the day, unless I go to a store and pick the book out myself, I'm not guaranteed to have something that meets my personal requirements. What right do I have to be disappointed?

And that got me thinking about taking myself too seriously. With all these conditions we put on life, are we taking ourselves too seriously? Do we lose something in the enjoyment of living by saying something isn't good enough unless it lives up to these judgments we have created? By having these conditions for the sole purpose of having pristine and glossy books marching across my bookshelves, I could be missing out on what's inside the book - the story, the drama, the knowledge. I truly was judging a book only by it's cover.

I started to think about the conditions I place on other things in my life. What opportunities am I missing out on because I take myself and all my conditions and judgments too seriously?

I'm thankful this event occurred because it gave me a moment to stop and pause and see what I was doing through different eyes. I'm not saying I was wrong, but I am saying that perhaps I take my standards a little too seriously and have become inflexible in certain areas of my life that, when push comes to shove, really don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

What about you? Do you take yourself too seriously? Are there certain standards or judgments you place on people or things or situations that perhaps need a second look? What opportunities might open up with that second look? I'm curious and looking forward to your comments.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

I was going through some files yesterday and stumbled upon the first three chapters of a story I had started, and finished, submitted once and promptly forgotten about. The chapters had handwriting on them, and not in my hand. Then I remembered, an author I admire had been instant messaging with me back in the day and had offered to read the first few chapters and give me some feedback. It was her handwriting on those pages. Her notes are the reason I hadn't tossed these chapters when I did my usual purge of old versions of finished stories.

The story is about second chances and had a suspense feel to it. I was trying too hard to imitate some great authors out there and lost my way with the story. But those first chapters, they were really, really good. And as I read through the pages and L's notes I recalled one of the songs that had been my inspiration for the romance arc and wove a thread through the story.

I'm a huge fan of the family of Irish musicians known as The Corrs. I first heard them in 1996 when I was laid up in the hospital for 9 days due to severe deep vein thrombosis. Thank God for cable TV in hospital rooms! I have most of their albums and when I need to escape I will often play something of theirs. What Can I Do has a deceptively upbeat tempo for a song that's about wondering why a relationship isn't working and figuring out how to let go. But it works. And it works as a theme in that story I wrote those many years ago.

For today's Soundtrack Friday I give you The Corrs and What Can I Do. Enjoy!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

Cyndi Lauper was this rebel child of a singer. Somewhere between pop and punk in her dress and definitely pop in her music, she was someone you couldn't mistake for anyone else. Maybe that was what she was going for. I used to sit and listen to She's So Unusual for hours, memorizing her turn of phrase, her tone, until I could almost mimic her. Almost. At least in my mind. I loved the fun songs like She Bop and Girls Just Want To Have Fun and would dance around my bedroom like a mad woman. Uninhibited. Not a care in the world.

But I didn't quite know what to think of Time After Time. Was it a love song? Was it about love lost? Was she talking about leaving that little place we call home to find something more in the big bad world and yet knowing that our hearts will always remain connected to home? The video didn't really help. Some of it coincided with the lyrics. Other parts of it just seemed sad. Short sighted.

Now, over 20 years later, I listen to the song and hear something different than my 15 year old self heard. I don't really need to know what Cyndi had in mind when she wrote the song. For me, the song is about an anchor. Someone who will always be there no matter how far I travel. No matter what mistakes I make or roads I go down. You know the saying, "All roads lead to home?" Well, that's what I picture when I listen. All roads lead to this anchor, this person who will always be waiting. Loving. Caring.

This song is in my playlist for Mallory's story for that very reason. She needs an anchor, and doesn't realize that she has one -- or two -- who have been and will continue to be around for her, even when she has been unable to be there for anyone else. I listen to the song, and I see her anchor, clear as day, waiting for her to wind her way back home. It's a wonderful picture. I wish you could see it, too.

For today's Soundtrack Friday I give you Cyndi Lauper and her 1984 hit, Time After Time. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Cool Contest

I love to read. Have I mentioned that before? I also love to enter contests. Not that I often win or anything. Well, some of my favorite contemporary romance authors are holding a great contest! I have added info to the contest on my sidebar, but wanted to share it with you in all it's glory here as well. Jill Shalvis and Alison Kent have saved me from being too productive at work many a time. *grin* I love their books and I run to the bookstore or the library when I know a new book is going to be released. In fact, I have Jill Shalvis's Instant Attraction in my to-be-read pile by my bed right now waiting for the weekend.

If you don't mind some heat in your romance, give these authors a try. And enter their contest. You know I wouldn't post it here if I didn't think it was a good idea. *grin*

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Books Read In March

Angels' Blood by Nalini Singh -- A wonderful new take on the vampire mythos and involved otherworldly creatues known in the book as angels. I can't wait to see where the series takes me. Very inventive and well written.

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl -- Victoria's first contemporary novel, this book explores what happens when a woman who feels she must hide her successful career as an erotic romance novelist from friends and family returns to the small, secluded town she grew up in, falls in lust, falls in love and falls back into the clutches of her stalker ex-boyfriend.

Hot by Julia Harper -- Elizabeth Hoyt's contemporary alter ego. A great read that are at turns hilarious and touching.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen --

Wicked Game by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush -- These two sisters combine their efforts for the first time in this book. As the beginning of a creepy, suspenseful series, it's a solid introduction to the mysteries of The Colony of Deception Bay. The second book, written by Nancy Bush, is due out in April.

Scandal in Copper Lake by Marilyn Pappano -- Book four of Marilyn's Calloway Brothers series, this books delves into prejudice and interracial relationships in a wonderfully introspective way. No preaching in this book. Just a solid love story between two people who are, in their own ways, both outcasts and the golden children.

Mosiac: Pieces of My Life So Far by Amy Grant -- A touching and honest reflection of pieces of Amy Grant's life and how both the good and the bad shaped her into the woman she is today.

Got Your Number by Stephanie Bond -- Stephanie's second romantic suspense. It's been sitting in my To-Be-Read pile since it's release in 2001 and now that I've read it, I wonder why I wated so long.