Theory of Opposites

I’m currently reading an interesting bit of fiction that I was drawn to because of its story line of choice and what would happen if you made every single choice intentionally the polar opposite of what you thought you really wanted or had initially planned to make. The idea piqued my interest not just as a fun book to read but the concept itself and what might my life REALLY be like if I indeed attempted to do just that. How might my now look different if I had started doing this 10 years ago, and what might my ten years from now look like if I did this right now?

The book assumes one of two things when it postulates this concept to the heroine. Either she one, must not be making decisions at all, aka just going with the flow of life and allowing life to happen to her; with the idea being that no matter what you do you are destined to end up in the same place so what is the point of fighting the inevitable. Or two, that she is making decisions but those decisions are still based on the initial concept of her actions truly have no impact on the eventual result so she might as well just make the easy choice if it is all going to be the same in the end. No risk, no muss, no fuss.

So if I am going to truly consider this concept I have to decide if I think my fate or destiny is in fact static and pre determined. hm… this is a tough one for me to buy into. Perhaps because I have seen first hand how my intentional choices, purposeful actions, and seemingly wild decisions have sent me down pathways I am convinced I never would have gone down otherwise. I don’t really buy this theory to being with. I think my fate, my future, is something still in flux and being altered daily depending on my choices. The choice to get up or sleep in. The choice to read to my children or make them play outside. The decision to pursue writing or just forget it and be happy with my 9-5 job. All of these choices will no doubt have an impact on where I will be in the future.

or will they?

When I was 23 I moved from my home town to Oregon. A state I didn’t know much about, and a city I knew even less about. I took a fairly big risk. I knew no one, I had no income, and no where to live. That road lead me to owning my own successful business, a string of useless relationships, becoming a home owner, a failed business, and the addition of two more dogs. Had I stayed in Colorado, and even more to the point stayed in my then relationship, I can almost guarantee I would not have done any of that. But here in lies the rub, it is now many years later and I am back in my home town, by choice, but still, does this possibly mean that inevitably this is where I was always meant to be and I could have saved myself the struggle of the last 15 years if I’d just stayed put in the first place? Would I have met my husband? had my crazy children? found a work from home job?

I don’t know. Highly doubtful. Or is it just that I would have met some husband, had some children, and worked some job, potato patato?

I think I have actually subscribed more to the logic of infinite universes. You know the nerd theory that there are an infinite you in an infinite universes and each one is slightly different because they all made just slightly different choices in their world than the ones I make in mine, and for each choice there is a subsequent split into two more universes. There is a me who chose to stay in bed this morning is by chance having a better or worse day because of it. For instance, there is a universe where I might have tried illegal drugs, married my high school sweetheart, or even died in a motorcycle accident. All because of choices the me in those worlds have made as they live every day life. To go to college or not go? To marry or not marry? Have children or not? Read this book or that? eat this or that?

This theory, that our choices matter so much that the resulting life possibilities is limitless is by far a more reasonable and logical theory than the idea that everything is inevitable no matter what you do so just let life take you like a river and enjoy the easy ride down stream. I will say, often, I am envious of those who seem perfectly content to take the easy ride down steam, then I remind myself how limited their life experiences usually are and what they are probably missing out on just by lack of variation alone. I wonder if it is fear or anxiety that stops them from taking chances, leaping, or even just standing a little bit on the edge.

So I believe we impact our own lives and our futures with every choice we make. I believe there is no pre determined fate or destiny. I believe we can alter our path at any moment if we are willing to make decisions that are hard, different, sometimes scary, often wonderful, but never just going with the flow. So, if I find any inspiration in this work of fiction, it would be that maybe my decisions are not always the best. Perhaps they are clouded with over thinking or past mistakes. Maybe over time choices and decisions become less authentic as we are clouded by life experience and disappointment. It is the old adage of learning rom our mistakes or saying “if I could go back in time”. Sure if you could go back you might make a different choice, hoping against hope that the new choice would avoid whatever outcome it is you found so displeasing, but there is no guarantee that the new choice won’t lead to something worse than you already experienced. So what would be the point?

But, this isn’t about fixing old choices and their outcomes, this is about making new choice without the bas of thought and experience. This is about making decisions based on the decision alone, not the outcome. So you feel like a burger? then you get the salad. Want to sleep in? Too bad, get up. Planning on avoiding the holiday Christmas party? Nope, you’re going. Maybe listening to our gut limits our lie and the opportunities that we are presented with. Maybe playing it safe, or in our comfort zone, or basing decisions on rational thought prevents us from truly living? I’m not advocating walking into fire because you gut tells you not to, duh. I’m just saying that the next time you think you know what is best for you, you think you already have the answer, its just right there on the tip of your tongue, maybe this time you just do the opposite. After all, it was your choices that got you where you are, now where would you be if your choices were just the opposite?

What I am reading: The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scotch. I was up till 1 am reading this. I really like it.

What I am listening to: Ways to go, by Grouplove

Inspirations from the ether: So many this week, wow. Anything about the Batkid, seriously if you don’t know what I’m talking about Google Batkid.

Now moment of the week: Scavenging the yard with little men looking for tennis balls on their “bikes” while dogs stalk us looking to steal said tennis balls.

 

 

If This Doesn’t Scare You, You Aren’t Reading Close Enough

My goal this week has been to do things that scares me as often as possible. It was a goal brought about by an exchange with a virtual stranger on Facebook- I guess you can never tell where inspiration might strike. It started out innocently enough with my giving a cheer to a shared post from Upworthy that had a quote from Mark Twain in it; the quote goes like this:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw of the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade minds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

So a friend shared this post from Upworthy, who really shared it from another source, and then a friend of this friend commented on the post- you follow me?- and then my mind was reeling from the friend of the friend’s comment. Blew me away doesn’t cover it.

The quote by Mark Twain is one I had heard many years ago. It is a good one, and  great one to live your life by. I highly recommend it. I have discovered that not only is it entirely and utterly true, but it is unbelievably freeing and liberating to live life in this manner. So how does one improve upon that way of life? How does a single person -unknown to me- make a casual comment that blows this quote out of the water? What did someone say on Facebook that was actually useful and not negative? What indeed. I am still mulling over the comment and it has been two days. For the sake of privacy I will not call out her name -she probably knows who she is anyway- but this person said the following in response to the Mark Twain quote- I’m paraphrasing a touch for effect here:

Ask yourself this question: If you keep doing things in your life the same way as you are today, what will that look like in 5 years? and more importantly, are you okay with that?

Is your mind blown yet?? Seriously, think about it for a moment. We all have dreams and goals etc. that we are either truly working toward, think we are working toward, or just hope will miraculously happen without us working toward them, but honestly, if you kept doing exactly what you are doing, where would you be? Will you have obtained ANY of those goals? Will anything about you be different? Will anything about your life be different? I don’t know about  you, but I had never thought about life in quiet this way, and while I clearly have adopted the view that living in the NOW can lead to inner peace, clearly there is value in looking forward and realizing that your life may be exactly the same in 5 years as it is right now.

So unless you are Beyoncé, who probably wouldn’t mind a bit if she is still rich and relevant, happily married with a beautiful daughter in 5 years, YOU probably don’t want to be exactly where you are right now in 5 years. Even if you are happy. Even if you have a great job. Even if your family life is wonderful. I highly suspect we all can think of variations of our future we would enjoy more, variables we would like to change. Dreams we would like to chase. So I ask you, if you continue down the path you are on, doing what you have always done, will you be where you want to be in 5 years? I can give you a hint here, you know based in logic and all that silly nonsense… you will likely be almost exactly where you are now.

Okay, so you will be 5 years older, possibly fatter, maybe you will have lost some hair. You might have moved to a new home or your children will clearly get older and their interests will change- meaning trips to karate instead of soccer perhaps- but in the end you will still be you, working the same type of job most likely, living in generally the same area, with the same friends, just mindlessly stumbling through life because I guess it isn’t bad enough for you to do something different, or you don’t know what to do different, or you are convinced that no matter what you do things can’t be different.

I have discovered the secret to ensuring that my life in 5 years will look markedly different. When I ask myself if I continue doing what I am doing, will I like what I see in 5 years, the answer is unequivocally a no. I really don’t think so. I think that is the whole key behind intentional living. If you are living intentionally working toward your own identifiers you can’t possibly be unhappy with the you of tomorrow because you will have reached some of your goals by ding things differently than you are right now. Have I lost you yet? If you just plod along numbly doing what you have always done day in and day out then 5 years from now you are likely to be right where you are today. If you are living intentionally that is probably not good enough for you.

I think the best way to honor yourself and both quotes above is to do something that scares you. Because, if it scares you then you likely aren’t doing it already; and changing your routine in anyway will change the you of tomorrow. Plus, doing something that scares you usually means you are rising to a new challenge, sticking your neck out there, or are willing to take a leap of faith. All things if done regularly, usually, lead to a better life and increased opportunity. Why? Because they allow you to be primed and situated for the opportunities you are hoping for to come your way.  Even if you can’t create the opportunities, you can create an environment where the opportunities would want to live.

And all you have to do is take a risk, do something scary, and be true to yourself. If I continue doing what I am doing right now- my job, my daily life, my hectic pace, my limited time with my husband- I highly suspect I will not like what I see in 5 years. I will probably feel stifled and underappreciated at a job that isn’t my dream. I will probably resent my children because I have remained in this job because I am afraid of losing the good income and great health insurance that having children sort of necessitate (not their fault mind you, but resentment is usually not logical). I might resent my husband for never being home or having time to help with the daily crap of life. It isn’t a given, but if nothing changes in my life, I can easily see it.

I started this blog because I absolutely wanted to change my life. I wanted to find a better way to live. I suppose if scaring the crap out of myself will help me meet that goal, then so be it. I will do it and happily so. So this week I took a chance and applied for a job at Upworthy. It isn’t exactly my dream job, but it is a step in that direction, working for a company I know I would be excited about and proud to tell others about. Applying was scary enough, they didn’t exactly have a job opening for “Enthusiastic Chronic Underachiever”, but writing them an open letter here on the blog for all to see most certainly was scary. What if they didn’t like it? What if the readers didn’t like it? What if you didn’t like it? What if my husband asks me “What is Upworthy?” (true story) It was hard to put myself out there open to judgment and possibly ridicule. But I did it. because if I don’t ever do anything scary, then I will just continue to be a girl with a dream that never comes true. And the me of 5 years from now already judges her. And I can’t have that, now can I?

 

What I’m reading: Seconds by David Ely. I just finished it. I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t recommend I, but I am curious about the movie made from it in 1966 with Rock Hudson. Hm…

What I’m listening to: Frank Turner, If I Ever Stray. I highly suspect if he didn’t have an accent I wouldn’t like being yelled at so much. I wonder if British people think they’d like him better if he only had that Yankee accent?

Now Moment of the week: Riding the water slides at the indoor water park with my son. As I went all to fast down the big one he isn’t allowed on- because daddy forced me too to show my sons how easy it was- I actually experienced this moment of irrational fear. The slide is not that long, steep, or fast, so why was I actually scared? It felt great to get to the bottom. Was that because I was alive? Vindicated? or it was over? I must ride the slide again until I stop having an involuntary adrenaline rush- or for the rush- why can’t I understand this? Grrr…

Inspirations from the ether: 5 Regrets of the Dying. Don’t wait until you are dying to solve these. Make your regrets upon dying that you have no more life to live, period.

Fake it till YOU Make it

Let me start with this, taking a vacation for a week and staying home- better known as the “staycation”- is a dangerous thing. All it does is make you realize how great life can be if you didn’t have to work. Sure, going on a real vacation is great- duh -, and of course you have a great time because the theory is you left your worries and real life at home to do something new and interesting or relaxing and fun. But if you can have a staycation that is awesome, then clearly your worries have nothing to do with being home and have everything to do with working. :) Hence, my desire to write for a living. It would never feel like work and it could be done from anywhere. I have a passion for writing fiction- true story.

So this week my goal has been to once again get back to writing like I AM getting paid for it. Bottom line is sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. Actually, that is one of my mother’s favorite sayings and I think maybe one of her wisest. I hear this from people all the time; they faked their dream until it became real. Not necessarily full on lying to get there, but definitely just fudging of the truth until the reality matched the dream. Many successful people have employed this method, so why not me?

So how does one fake  being a writer without actually being a writer? Or, for your dream, how do you fake your dream until you make it? The simple answer is, you do it. Like Nike says “Just do it.” Do what you want to do, until it becomes the thing you hope for.

When I was 18 and a lost high school graduate I knew I wanted to work with animals and I had a strong feeling for dogs. When I got out of college with a degree in Biology, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for vet school as I had planned, so I went out into the world and started my own business. I became a petsitter, which in 1998 was not something people did or people used. Everyone told me it would fail, I would fail. Even my own mother asked what kind of people would pay a stranger to come to their house? It turns out lots of people would, and I made a profit in the first 4 months of business. By the end of year one, I was turning people away because I had no more time. But the funny thing is, I had NO experience running a business or taking care of people’s pets in their home. What I had was a drive to do it, and a 4 chapter book from the library that supposedly told me how. I can still remember my first client interview. I put on a show like I had been doing this for years! I said things like “Well most people do this…” or “Many of my clients want multiple visits a day…” um, I had no clients. Was it lying? Yes, was it a damaging lie? No. I was smart, I had worked with animals in a vet setting, and I owned pets, it wasn’t like I told someone I could build their home when all I’d ever built before was out of Legos or Lincoln Logs.

By the time my 6 years as a sitter were drawing to a close, so I could chase another dream, I was then calling myself a dog trainer. Was I a dog trainer? Sure, I had a dog and  he was trained. Ta Da! I didn’t once tell people I had done more than I had or had certificates I didn’t, but I did say yes when people asked if I could train their dogs when I did my pet sitting. Then six years later, when I was done sitting,  I was a certified trainer and had lots of education under my belt and a few apprenticeships too. I started training full time shortly thereafter and with all my experience with aggressive dogs during pet sitting, I become known as the aggressive dog worker. I didn’t really care for it, but I did capitalize on it. People figured if I could work with dangerous dogs, then clearly I could teach sit and down.

In essence, I have never outright lied, but I have misled folks or allowed them to mislead themselves. I have been honest about my abilities, though possibly exaggerated my actual history, and I have never had someone dissatisfied with my work because I only fibbed within the realm of possibility, not in the realm of fantasy. And that is the key secret to  faking it until you make it.

So back to being a writer. I do get paid to write and edit boring government documents. So I suppose that counts as experience. When people ask what I do, I tell them I am a writer knowing they assume that I write books or articles for magazines or the newspaper. I don’t elaborate and say “of boring government documents” they don’t want to know that, and I don’t want to tell them. So I am bending the truth or possibly omitting the truth. However, I soothe my conscience with the very real fact that I do write fiction, almost daily. I have yet to be published, but I can feel that day coming and I know I will get there. Why? Because if I fake it long enough, people are bound to believe me and an agent will, at some point, say “Man I have to represent this woman and this book”. So far I have written three books and numerous short stories (aka books I just couldn’t stretch to full book length). I have submitted two of these books to agents. The first got nothing positive, clearly I needed more work. The second got mixed reviews from “I love your writing and voice” to “I think your idea is really cool” and the ever popular, “you clearly have talent” why thank you- *blush*.

So the first generated nothing but rejections. The second got a we want to see more because you are good, but this particular work wasn’t for us kind of responses. IMAGINE what my third book will get when I send that out to the people who liked the second one? These people believe I am a writer because I keep sending them things I have written! My writing gets better because as a writer, I keep writing and practicing my craft. I am faking this baby until I make it. Sure, it may not be the first book I wrote went number 1 with a bullet like Jennifer Meyers who wrote The Twilight Series, but if it took JK Rowling a million rejections to get Harry Potter published, I think I am still in good company.

I won’t lie, rejection is hard to take, but with each rejection I knew I  could do better, if for no other reason than not liking people telling me I am wrong or I can’t do something. They have said that about me before, and somehow I still keep proving them wrong. In the spirit of intentional living I am making the boldest move I can (while still being a responsible adult with children), I am vowing to write daily and submit everything I write until I get paid to do it. That is the goal, that is the dream. And if I fake this long enough, I know I will get there. I trained dogs for almost 20 years, and it all started with a small fib, just an exaggeration really of what I had already done, and it opened one of the most amazing doors for me. It gave me the opportunity to do what I loved for years. Now I want to do something new. I am a writer, I write. Notice I didn’t say “I want to be a writer” Or “I want to write”.

What do you want to do? How do you want to live? What is your dream? And what can you do to make that dream happen? How can you fake it till you make it? Please share!

 

What I’m Reading: Bridget Jones- Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. Once you have read the first two, how do you not read the third??

What Else I’m Reading: Still working on The Power of Now. It is so thought provoking I find I have to read each sentence twice to make sure I am really grasping the concepts. I like the premise, but I am not sure how I feel about the execution just yet.

What I’m Listening to: Randy Newman’s Land of Dreams Album, but specifically Falling in Love so lovely.

Now Moment of the Week: Getting artistic and painting my son a Pirate theme mural in his room. It isn’t done, but it has felt so wonderful just focusing on the project, just being in the moment of creating this vision for him. I haven’t done anything artistic in decades.

photo 1 photo 2

 

Inspirations from the Ether: Getting viral