Week 36 (Living the Fantasy)

If you want to know me — really know me, I mean — if you want to get a real well-rounded idea of what I’m about, what I want to give off, who I want to authentically be to my very core, then listen to the lyrics of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1970s hit song, Fantasy.

Now, if you don’t know who Earth, Wind & Fire is…don’t tell nobody. But, if you are that person, do not, I repeat, do NOT jump over to Youtube and start willy-nilly looking up old Earth, Wind & Fire videos right away because you will scream. You will scream out loud. And then, when you finish screaming, you might laugh. You might laugh at their headbands and their afros and their tight, shiny, tassled leggings and their bare chests and their neckerchiefs and that one guy singing Maria Callas-caliber soprano.

But when you get through screaming and laughing, you’d better recognize that those cats were some of the fiercest, flyest, sickest, most talented cats to ever mix words and music. They were untouchable back in the day. They are untouchable today. Synthesized supremacy. I hadn’t forgotten about the band and its music. But, all the neo-noise of this generation does sometimes tend to drown out the magic of the classically pure rock and roll funk.

Last week, a friend who’s moving to Oregon and getting rid of stuff gave me an old Earth, Wind & Fire 2-CD set which I promptly opened and began listening to in the car. All those priceless numbers: Reasons, Let’s Groove, Shining Star, September, Serpentine Fire…my God! It’s enough to make you pull out your portable flashing red police light with the electric horn, slap that booger up on the top of your Toyota, push it to 110 mphs on the Southbound frontage road of I-35 right around 8th Street and dare a cop to try and stop your supernatural flow.

That’s the power of Earth, Wind & Fire.

Fortunately for five-0, I had left my portable light on the pew of the synagogue where my friends just had their newborn son’s bris, so I had to be content with swaying to the music in the driver’s seat, singing along, and crying every so often.

Especially to Fantasy. Check this out:

As you stay for the play/Fantasy has in store for you/A glowing light will see you through/It’s your day, shining day, all your dreams come true

And…

As you glide in your stride/With the wind, as you fly away/Give a smile, from your lips and say/I am free, yes I’m free, now I’m on my way.

That is the power of Earth, Wind & Fire.

If you want to truly know me — I mean, really know what I’m about, what I want to give off, who I am authentically striving to be — listen to the lyrics of Fantasy.

Til next time!

Week 33 (WIIFM?)

When it comes to business savvy, I’ve always been kinda like a porn star in a pulpit — just no firm grasp at all on what’s happening, when best to shout Jesus!, how to commence exactly with the laying on of hands…

Just a big old hellish fish out of water.

Which is why in my last conventional job, I settled for as little as $32,000 a year, never negotiated my salary, never demanded substantive raises, and fumed while other, less-talented workers made more money and rose faster to the lower-middle.

I have to admit, my chosen industry always did suck at compensation. Plus, I wasn’t always the most dependable worker. And yet, knowing myself, had the work been profitable and I the most stellar of the bunch, I still wouldn’t have pushed for pay and position equal to my worth. Asking for MORE than what I considered might be Charlotte-worthy was never even an option.

It came down to confidence. Or, the lack of it. The old Take what you’re given and be glad for it or walk mentality. People don’t tend to walk. They need the money. Or, because of their low self esteem, they think the amount some man in a bad suit prints on a piece of paper and tells them to sign is adequate.

Guess what, Bubba? You can bet your britches — adequate, it prolly ain’t.

As an independent writer, it has quickly become apparent to me that commanding in compensation what I’m worth is key. Key to fulfillment. Key to me reaching my goals. And whatever confidence is lacking, all there is to do is unlack it. I’m an artiste and a laid-back creative type, for sure. But if mama wants to keep eating those $5 Edwards Cookies and Creme Pies, she’s gonna have to handle her bid’ness!

(I’m mama, by the way.)

Today, my business coach asked me if I’d heard of WIIFM. Not wanting to appear too biz weak yet wanting to know what WIIFM is, I said, “Uh…no? WTF is WIIFM?”

“What’s in it for me,” he said.

What’s in it for me? What’s in it for me? Hmmm. A little self-centered. Maybe not the very first question the truly delightened might ask a prospective client at the start of a business relationship. But, certainly, the second question, right? Just after, “Do you do background checks?”

Old Charlotte had no idea what her worth was. She got along well enough, and accomplished some of her goals. New Charlotte, though, is all about the WIIFM! In every aspect of her life. Not in a way that’s selfish and egotistic but in a way that honors all the talent and creativity she possesses and is willing to share!

Til next time.

Week 32 (The Score on Sunflowers)

Here’s the unsolicited score on my favorite blossom — The Sunflower.

According to Wikipedia, the sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and the national flower of the Ukraine. It was used in the 19th century as the symbol of the Aesthetic Movement. It’s also the symbol of the Vegan Society.

According to whats-your-sign.com, the sunflower symbolizes everything from healing and nourishment to magic and a spiritual knowing.

And in Chinese symbolism, sunflowers represent longevity and happiness.

Your curriculum vitae is not even half as good; pretty impressive for a freaking flower.

Here’s how one would write the word “sunflower” in Chinese:

Good stuff, that, what with all the grass radicals and falling strokes. (?????)

And here, take a moment to view some make-your-skin-crawl-but-mesmerizingly-fascinating sunflower growth time lapse video set to irritatingly-sappy-yet-singularly-fitting elevator-in-E.T. the Extra Terrestrial music.

(For my purposes here, I ask that you disregard the part of the presentation when they shrivel up and die. I’ve no idea what that’s all about, not to mention it’s antithetical to my carefully crafted observation.)

I introduce the subject of the sunflower simply because where I sit writing at this very moment, I can see right out the window, swaying gently in the June breeze, a most spectacular flourish of 3-feet-high wild sunflowers.

And they represent, for me, where I see myself and my life. For the first time. Ever.

This idea of creating delightenment is no joke. It’s as real as those yellow beauties out the window. And it’s simple! Just look at what the sunflowers do. Sunflowers naturally desire to turn toward the sun — to turn toward and open themselves up to and soak the soup out of that which gives them life. Which, apparently, is a concept that stupefies the masses:

Why the hell would I want to turn toward that which gives me life? Hmmm…very peculiar…

Indeed, it is the most clear and present option there is.

Today, I am likening my ongoing New Charlotte delightenment creating project to a sunflower turning its face toward the warmth of the sun. The simple shift is yielding marvelous results.

I love posting in this blog. How incredible it is to have Creating Delightenment through which I can exercise my fiercest passion! And to my two wonderfully supportive fans I’m making a promise to blog at least once a week from here on out to share details of all the astounding progress I’m making — and hurdles into which I’m crashing — in my various worlds of work, play, love and, yes, that dank, forlorn little realm I still find myself visiting on occasion called “The Land of Old Char.” We all have that place. Where very little sunlight gets through.

Some people will live and die there. But, they don’t have to.

I won’t. It’s so much more golden-soused and pure and luscious and abundant up out of all that.

Do what the sunflowers do!

Til next time.

(Week 26) Bus Blogging

Bus Blogging.

If you’ve never heard of it, you are frighteningly behind the times.

Bus blogging: Crafting blog entries from the interior of a fully operational city bus. No, really. It’s the new thing. So, if you’re blogging from the driver’s seat of your Lexus, impressive! But, stop immediately! That’s now officially passé and dangerously tantamount to driving a Lexus while intoxicated! Blogging on planes and trains, are you? No big woop. Fewer stops. Maybe mild turbulence. Son, that’s amateur.

Bus blogging is only for the grown and sexy—the few, the proud, the courageous blogger who can absorb a really bumpy shock and turn it into something spectacular!

It’s the latest turn along my journey through delightenment. I woke up this morning, Facebooked over a peanut butter sandwich and hazelnut coffee, then I hopped on my Schwinn Skyliner and biked the two miles to the nearest CapMetro bus stop. Once downtown, more cycling ensued!

My family is starting to think I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. They might be right.

This is new to me. There was that phase when I was working at the television news station. My car got repossessed (I told you it broke down) and then all of a sudden I got “environmentally conscious” and started cycling to work. It didn’t last long. Soon after, I got a PT Cruiser and chalked that whole cycling thing up to a little tango with temporary insanity. Even now, part of me believes it takes a certain kind of crazy to straddle a bike and go wheel-to-wheel down the road with SUVs, 500-horsepower Mustangs driven by C-average college students, and garbage trucks. (That garbage truck almost hit me, by the way! Totally my fault.)

But, a blogger does what a blogger has got to do. And she doesn’t look back! (Which would explain the garbage truck scare, I guess…but, pedaling along.)

Today’s bus & bike trip took me to downtown Austin where I met up with a friend with whom I’m developing a book. Yes, I said a book, which is definitely worth a bus & bike. If you know me at all, you know my dream is to pull a big-time David Sedarisian coup – gain fame and fortune as a (who said overrated???) writer, live in Paris with my lover man, and eat chocolate croissants all day.

Well, folks, it’s happening. More and more everyday, I’m really learning how to create my delightenment. And this week, right here is where it starts. On the #3 to Congress and 6th.

Oooh, that’s my stop. Ding!

Til next time!

Week 26 (Spirit Guide)

My spirit guide is apparently saving my life, and I’m not even aware of it!

Were it not for that, I shudder to think where I might be right now. Maybe in the nuthouse. Or six feet under. Or…gasp!…at Tinseltown Pflugerville about to attend a prescreening of Steven Soderbergh’s new HBO movie Behind the Candelabra about flamboyant pianist Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) and his young lover (Matt Damon.)

Ahhhhhhh!!!

There’s been a lot, and I mean a lot, of flux in my life these last few weeks. With quitting smoking, helping my daughter get off to college, changing my Facebook status to In A Relationship, moving from one state to another, setting out on the arduous task of finding new freelance writing work, moving back to the city I just left, surreptitiously switching my Facebook status back to single, all in the span of about two months, I guess I’m pretty lucky that the worst of the fallout is a broken heart.

Each of those things, in and of themselves, were beautiful expressions of my being fully plugged in to creating delightenment in my life. I had no doubt my big move was setting me up for what would ultimately be countless “Oh yes, I moved to Paris from Austin by way of Boulder” conversations over crudités and french wine. “Oh yes, I moved back to Austin from Boulder by way of Austin” over a Torchy’s taco just doesn’t have the same kind of zing! In fact, for me, the whole turn of events has led to some pretty severe bouts of sadness.

Successfully dealing with any one of those things can be tough. Only a fool on a mission to get to this so-called state of delightenment would go whole hog into all those things and expect it to just somehow…pork out.

That’s where those closest to you come in. The friends and family members who know you best. They know what the look on your face means without you even telling them. Or the sound of your voice–what it signifies. They don’t stab you with a fork when you sit at their kitchen table for hours in a kind of shocked what the hell am I gonna do now? stupor. And they help you see things the way they really are as opposed to the fatalist way you’re choosing to see them. And just when you think you’re about to expire from how fear of the future has pulverized your will to move, someone close to you says, “Ooooh, The Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion is coming on in five minutes. Let’s watch some TV!”

Or they say, “I know you’re hurting right now, but your spirit guide is leading you. I’m really in awe watching how your subconscious is helping you take care of yourself. You’re exercising, you’re writing, you’re getting lost and figuring your way around. I’ve noticed it. And I tell you, it’s right there, girl. You’re about to turn a corner.”

And they’re right. All the somber self-loathing is worthless, really. Because you’re doing it. You’re still creating your delightenment, you’re just choosing not to see it.

Oh spirit guide (yes…click the link. It is my blog, therefore I get to choose what my spirit guide looks like…) Oh spirit guide, I honor you and give you praise! Continue to work your healing mojo on me. I bequeath myself utterly and entirely to you until such time that it is abundantly clear that I can supervise myself…which…oh, loving and kind spirit guide (yes…click it…) could take…a while…

Til next time!

Week 26 (Now)

Our minds are great, wonderful and powerful things.

It’s been almost a week since I last posted, but in my mind it feels as though a year could have easily passed. So much has happened since Friday, the 19th. I can vividly remember sitting at a window at Whole Foods in downtown Austin. I was torn up inside, writing about yet more changes in my life. But I was also experiencing a sense of liberation. This overwhelming sense of newfound freedom. Which I now know was not a result of being free from anyone, but of allowing myself to free myself from me. From all these new thoughts and fears. From those old, familiar, personal, rusted-up chains I always manage to find and wrap around myself.

And so what? That was almost seven days ago. A few days. A lifetime. In the world of delightenment, I don’t think that kind of trivial passing of time really even matters.

A couple of weeks ago, before the Whole Foods day, I woke up one morning with an urge to put my niggling thoughts to paper — not in words, but in a sort of stream-of-consciousness picture. Being an excellent sketch artist, I grabbed a pencil and sat down at the kitchen table prepared to produce some super-convoluted, detail-heavy master-stration of DaVincian proportion. I was ready to projectile vomit my bothersome mental ideas through my hand onto my paper canvas like some spasmodic, modern day, black lady Jackson Pollock. I was absolutely overcome with emotion and tremor! So no one was more surprised than I when all I came up with was this:

now

That’s all. That’s all there is. Now. And what could be more simple? What’s done is done. What’s coming — I couldn’t for certain tell you. But what I do have some power over — and what I can learn to focus my thoughts on — is only what’s happening right now. The realization that I don’t have to hang on to any negative thoughts or perceived notions or heartbreaking assumptions based on my past, or debilitating fears and paralyzing anxiety about my future… Wow, that comes to me as a beautiful relief.

Letting it all go is simple. All there is is to do it. Clear my mind and rest easy in the now.

So, this week. There’s been lots of progress. I’m physically and mentally in a promising space. Writing jobs are starting to come in. I’m gaining more confidence. I’m believing with more assurance in my new Charlotte project. I’m putting into practice more and more all that I’m learning, and I’m seeing how lasting rewards can come from that. I’m training my thoughts to remain fixed only on what’s happening in my heart, mind and world right now. Because now is really all there is.

Til next time!

Week 25 (Woman, Thou Art Loosed!)

I don’t recognize myself lately.

Which, I suppose, is a good thing since 25 weeks ago I set out on this venture to create a whole new Charlotte. And, I think it’s working. I mean, it must be working. Because I’m a little scared. Okay, I’m a lot scared. But I’m also excited. And feeling really free.

Let me explain…as I write, I’m sitting at a window in the food court loft at Whole Foods in downtown Austin. It’s a beautiful, bright, windy day. I’m washing down a delicious turkey and basil pesto sandwich with an all natural cola. I’m feeling closer today than I did yesterday to being the woman I really want to be.

And all of that is deeply empowering.

But, in attempting to find myself, I’m apparently letting down some of the people around who say they care about me. I’m making foolish mistakes. I’m being selfish. I’m dishonoring words of wisdom from enlightened ones in the know about what’s best for me. I’ve become a stranger. A traitor. A horrible disappointment.

And all of that is profoundly painful.

Because nothing in me can attest to any of that. Nothing in me can corroborate any of those claims. And finally, finally, nothing in me feels obliged anymore to address all the fear and misunderstanding.

And that is extremely liberating.

I’m allowing myself to undergo this strange and beautiful and intimate metamorphosis. And I’m doing the best I can to be brave. And true. And I’m trying to believe in the power that exists within me to create a life that I love. Because only I have to live it.

If that is wrong, then I can no more right it than I can … … make any damned sense out of all those triangles and wack-a-doodle symbols on the laptop of the man sitting across from me! What is that??? The Da Vinci code???

Look people, I spent my first 40 years doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I made some mistakes. I burned a couple of bridges. But mainly, I made straight As and played by most of the rules. Along that way, things got bumpy and I found solace in the false courage that too much whiskey gave me. I’m not ashamed to admit it. And even through that, I continued to do pretty much what was expected of me. I did the “right” things as best I could manage. I trudged along and faked contentment while hating just about every moment of my day. I did that until I finally realized I could do something else. And for those to whom my something else feels like a let down, all I’ve got is … I’m sorry.

This is who I am becoming. And I like her. A lot.

Til next time!

Week 24 (Business is Booming!)

Finally! It appears I’m making progress! Whew!!!

I’ve been commissioned to write a full 10-page feature article for this amazing magazine called Camelot which “inspires creative thought and connects women through science, history, business, music, stories, technology and art.” How fansplendous is that???

camelot

Wait, what? What? 

Oh yes, sorry — my business-minded identity is reminding me that the assignment is for a prototype and will pay only in byline pride and future potential.

Still, this feels like progress!

altcitizen

I’m also working on a couple of indie movie reviews for an alternative “online culture guide that showcases innovative artists in all mediums and lists arts- and community-based events around town that are always interesting, sometimes free, and rarely sold out.”

… … …

Yeah, I actually have very little idea what’s happening here. But it looks cool, the editors are funny and it’s called Alt Citizen. What an excellent name for a publication! Rad, man! Gnarly!!!

And, again, Sybil is reminding me, this one doesn’t pay either.

In my corporation as a self-employed writer, my payroll department kinda sucks.

But, I undersell my success! I’m currently in talks with both (I can’t say yet) and (I can’t say yet) about a couple of exciting projects. Isn’t that impressive?!? I’ll be writing about (can’t say) and (can’t say) and actually exercising my strengths in (can’t say) to the degree that I could very well be catapulted into full-blown, never-before-seen (can’t say)!!!

Ahhh, it feels so good to share these professional victories!

As for my Camelot and Alt Citizen assignments, I’d probably better stop blogging and get to them. The image below of the creative process is as hilarious as it is spot-on. I’m right around the end of the gold part.

deadline

My emotional identity other, Marcia, is out buying a box of Puffs as we speak.

Til next time!

Week 24 (Neuter this shite!)

I got a booster shot today!

No, no, no…not that painful vaccine they stab into your arm like a mandated medical manslaughter.

I just got off the phone with an exceptionally talented magazine editor and writer who actually told me I’m a great writer.

Yes. Thank you.

But, shamelessly solicited adulation wasn’t the raison d’phone call. For months now, I’ve been grinding away at this independent writing endeavor. I mean, I was in Austin when I started 24 weeks ago, went to Boulder for a couple of months, am now back in Austin, and it seems through all that, after all this time, I’m still grinding away at the same old same old. Like a hamster on a wheel. Like a dog chasing his tail. Like Kim Jong-un clicking the “launch” button using Windows 8 OS. Pushing and pushing and pushing and seemingly making very little progress. Going nowhere.

Launching…nothing.

But, 24 weeks of (albeit reticent) grinding does not always a world-renowned, sought-after freelance writer make. These things take time. I’ve never had to market myself to this degree. I’ve never had to structure and manage my own time like this. I’ve honestly never been as scared as I’ve been lately and in need of so much professional guidance. Now I know why the word entrepreneurship has six syllables and is comprised of smaller words like stern, and neuter and perspire! This is serious shite! (And yes, that word is in there, too.)

So, I talked to this extraordinary editor and writer who complimented my work and gave me truly priceless advice. Now what do I do?

1. I stop second-guessing quitting my job. Yes, I do that; I second-guess that choice I made. And almost immediately after I do I remember how that grind was less like a dog chasing his tail and more like a pit bull chasing my tail. That’s a clear no-brainer; the job I had was not the job for me.

2. I stop worrying and have fun! I have a chance here to create not only my professional self, but my whole self, anew! I have a chance to be the writer, mom, daughter, sister, friend and Halle Berry-esque jet-setter I want to be (complete with my very own, made-for-personal-use version of Olivier Martinez!) This whole journey should be a thrill — if not a minute, then certainly in general. Choosing who I’d like to write for, making my pitches and penning my articles should be fun!

3. I stop being a curmudgeon. I stop snapping at the people who are trying to help me. I appreciate what I have, do away with the paralyzing fear of failure, and I allow myself to be vulnerable and human without feeling alone, jobless and unworthy. I’ve worked hard for decades. I’m working hard now. It’s just time to start working smart while being approachable, gracious and loving as I go along.

4. I start getting real focused about this thing. I start making progress happen. If I want to write for Texas Monthly, then I go at Texas Monthly like my art depended on it. Same for The Chronicle. Or Oprah Magazine. Or The New Yorker. Or Hustler. Or whatever else tickles my fancy! Because no one ever told me I couldn’t go for these publications. So I focus on what I want and I go for it!

And,

5. I stay confident and keep writing! I hang onto the power and conviction and sense of purpose I had 24 weeks ago when I set out on this journey. I commend myself for my courage and I follow through. I’m a writer. Writer’s write. And great writers write great! Um…great writers write greatly. Well, you know…they write good and stuff. Like…yeah. That.

Til next time!

(P.S. Pies, nuts and Prius. More words you get out of entrepreneurship.)

Week 23 (This Just Got Good)

Doubt, fear and missteps have recently caused me to ask myself if I made a serious mistake quitting a full-time job with benefits to pursue a more satisfying career in writing.

Well, ask and ye shall receive! Answers are hurtling at a rapid pace with sharp aim right toward the bridge of my nose.

A Facebook friend posted this over the weekend:

“A year ago, I left my job with the steady income, benefits, and vacation time. I was miserable there because I wasn’t doing what I loved. It’s never too late to start over and yes it’s hard as hell, but it’s so worth it. Have the courage to follow your dreams!”
 

The post was accompanied by a simple photo of my friend sporting the smooth, confident smile of the transformed.

Then, I read this: 10 More Reasons You Need To Quit Your Job Right Now by James Altucher.

My resolve has been bolstered anew.

Twenty-three weeks into my true purposing and I find myself languishing in defeat brought on by doubts, fears, old habits, stinking thinking and all too familiar tendencies to throw in the tear-soaked towel.

Game on. It’s time to move some mountains.

Today is for reorganizing my plan of attack, following up on assignment possibilities, making phone calls, returning e-mails, working my mojo and giving New Charlotte the support she’s earned.

Someone out there is about to hit the jackpot, baby, and win the chance to work with all of this!

Oh yes. This just got good.