Updates on thoughts, goals for this blog, and goals for my life.

I don’t know where to begin. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, about how to further my career, how to bring some stability to my life and to my health, how to be the person I want to be.

I was preparing tomorrow’s Sunday School lesson for the first graders and we’re talking about Joseph and the time his brothers sold him into slavery. this lesson is all about how even in our darkest moments, when we feel most alone, God is there and He has a plan for us.

There isn’t a season in our lives that he hasn’t planned for or didn’t know was going to happen. That’s the beauty and reassuring nature of God. HE KNOWS! HE IS THERE! HE IS MORE THAN POWERFUL ENOUGH TO SEE YOU THROUGH IT!

With depression and anxiety I often feel alone. Like many people my age I can sometimes turn to social media for “likes” and “loves” with an urge for someone to notice me and to notice my struggle. But I shouldn’t have to because God sees me. He knows me. He knows my struggle. He’s carrying me through it. Sometimes I just forget that. I’m human, fallible.

All week I’ve been thinking about this blog and my career, and how I thought my life would turn out. For one thing, I did not expect to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. I did not expect that it’s not a new thing. I always thought that because my panic attacks weren’t all the time and that my parents were still together and only my great grandparents had died, and I hadn’t experienced abuse or any of a dozen other stereotypical depression backstories that I couldn’t possibly have either illness.

Little did I know that chemicals in your brain don’t take heed of your backstory, they just work or they don’t. Those things can all trigger larger issues with depression and anxiety, but they are not the root cause.

I’ll be honest. I never saw myself working in a financial institution, nor is it what I want to keep doing for the rest of my life. I feel like I can be doing so much more.

As a kid I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were a thousand things I said, because I didn’t think that “I don’t know” was going to be an acceptable answer to the adults in my life. There was always pressure to pick a “career”.

I STILL don’t know. I’m 23. I don’t love my job enough to want to stay there forever, but neither do I not love it enough to quit and find something else just yet.

So… in the next few months I’m hoping you will see some changes around here and with Xanadu. I want to take this and my creativity more seriously, and the rest of my “outside of work” life. I do so much of the whole, go to work, come home, sleep, go back to work. I want to do more. And eventually, it would be amazing to quit my job or drop down to part time so I could be creative full time.

It may never happen, but at least I’ll be trying. And the whole while, I’m going to start making room for my faith first because that is the most important thing in the world to me, even if it’s been put on the back burners with everything else.

It’s time, I think, for my mental illnesses to take a back seat and let the real MVPs out to play.

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Book Review – Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Rating : 4.5/5

This first installment of Blake Charlton’s fantasy trilogy came out in 2010. I picked up the book in 2014 at Barnes and Noble while I was in a book buying binge and only now have worked my reading list into a manageable enough level to find it again. (I’m broke and can’t keep buying books/building the stack this was buried in.)

As a writer myself the idea of a fantasy world where magic is based on the written word intrigued me to no end. I just had to pick it up. What’s more, seeing a “disability” like Dyslexia being represented so well in a work of fiction, a medium well known for excluding disabilities, was amazing to see.

Nicodemus Weal was once thought to be a savior. When his inability to properly wield magic was discovered it eliminated that possibility. When he and the wizard under which he apprentices are framed for murder it is all he can do to stay alive and try to figure out why the real killer is after him, a nobody that can’t be anyone’s savior.

I’m giving this book 4.5 out of 5. It was an amazing read and well paced. There were several Point of View transitions that were difficult to follow if you weren’t paying attention, but if you were they lent beautifully to the suspense of the novel and made it all worthwhile. I definitely recommend this read and look forward to the next two books in the trilogy and finding out how this prophecy unfolds.

A Lesson from my Reflection

Mirrors are objects that don’t really have much place in my life. I don’t wear make up very often and I like to keep my hair cut in a way that I can just brush it and be done with it.

To be frank, mirrors frighten me a bit. I have this deep seated and irrational fear of what’s going on in a mirror when I’m not looking or when my eyes are closed… weird, I know.

A little over a week ago I went to a hair salon to get my hair trimmed and some of the extra weight of it taken off. Staring into that mirror in front of me for 45 minutes was an uncomfortable experience. Not just because of my irrational fears and paranoia but because I so rarely look in a mirror to know what I look like.

In general, we as people don’t have a realistic concept of what we look like. We only ever see our own faces when looking in a mirror or in a picture.

Pictures, by nature, distort our image. They are supposed to capture it exactly, but in putting something that is three-dimensional onto a two-dimensional surface we distort the perception of the object. That is why they say the camera adds 10 pounds.

Frankly, I feel that while mirrors are a more accurate representation of our image – or at least a better illusion of reality, there can often be a disconnect with our brains and our eyes between what we see in the mirror and the image of ourselves we have in our mind.

In our minds we have images of ourselves that consist of memories of pictures and past times seen in a mirror as well as a thousand other images of different facial expressions we’ve seen on other people. We think of ourselves on one way but then when we see ourselves we might take a moment to see and understand who or what we are seeing.

When I looked at myself in the mirror I did not see who I expected to see. The woman I saw was not the person I feel I am. It wasn’t just that she looked more overweight than I think of myself as being, but she looked more tired, more beaten down. She didn’t look happy. She didn’t look like an artist or a writer, or anyone who particularly enjoys life.

I can’t say I always enjoy life, but I like to think I enjoy it more than the girl in that mirror does.

You can tell a lot about a person when you look into their eyes. When I looked into my own eyes all I saw was tiredness, someone who didn’t know what she was doing there, who didn’t know who she really was anymore. Other than that, I didn’t see a whole lot of emotion in my own eyes. I didn’t recognize myself.

As a child I remember looking into mirrors with wonder. I saw myself happy and joyful, awake and alert. Now I see myself as the opposite.

I’m not saying it’s because of my weight, though that person is not how I imagine myself. It’s the fact that my skin looks pale and sick. My eyes look tired and withdrawn. I see myself in the mirror and I don’t look – alive. So much so that I began to wonder if I really am.

I’ve had both depression and anxiety for a very long time, another contributing factor to my mirror aversion.

Like photographs and mirrors, both of these mental illnesses distort one’s image of themself. They make us see ourselves as less than we actually are. We see ourselves in the worst possible light.

As a Christian this conflicts with what I personally know to be true. I am created in God’s image. I am an adopted daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And I don’t feel like the girl I saw in the mirror was either of those things.

It makes me sound vain, and I really don’t know if it is, but staring into that reflection hurt on many levels. It also opened my eyes a little bit. There is something wrong with me on physical, mental, and spiritual levels. I don’t feel like I look like a child of God on the outside, I think because I have a distorted view of my inside.

A view, not of who I am, but of who I want to be. Fixing my physical health will not fix my spiritual health but fixing my spiritual health won’t necessarily fix my physical health either.

I guess what my reflection is teaching me is that I need to start.

Baby Steps

I keep telling myself that all I can do is take baby steps and all is does is frustrate me. I mean, I’ve never been a very patient person. Cautious – yes. Patient – no. My mother would tell you that in a heartbeat, no hesitation.

I’m taking a baby step this winter; in January I will officially be starting classes at Ivy Tech.

To some people that’s a huge step forward, but I think of it as a kind of small step. I’m aiming for a technical certificate in Entrepreneurship and an Associates in Visual communication (the artistic side of marketing).

My goal is to enhance my current skills in art and writing and eventually either make it into a marketing department (preferably with my current employer, but I’ll move if I have to), or i would like to start my own business and freelance as both a writer and a graphic designer/artist.

Part of this skill enhancement means that I need to practice more regularly, especially with my art, and my writing is going to need to be made bit of a priority more than it already is as well. The good news is that I’m slowly getting onto a schedule. I have Lacey Lou to thank for that. She’s been awesome in getting me onto a routine of sorts so far and if I’m going to be taking classes – even if they’re online – I’m going to have to work homework and study time into that schedule.

If you’ve been watching this website for a while now you’ll also notice that I’m making some changes here as well. I’m trying to orient this site more towards my professional side and I’m pushing more to start freelancing now. Why wait until I’m done with classes? I have skills now so why not try them out and stretch myself a bit.

I have a myriad of other goals going on as well, from losing the extra weight, to paying off debt from Ball State and whatever I’m going to be paying for Ivy Tech when that starts. There are places I want to go, things I want to learn, and experiences I want to have. A bit of a bucket list, if you will. I’m taking baby steps to accomplish these goals.

For the first time in a while now the future seems like something I actually want to see and experience, not just observe from my window like some recluse.

Career Update/Vent

It’s funny how having a little bit of time off makes you wish you had more time off. You never seem to be as productive as you intend to be. After all, it’s your “vacation” – time away from the office and the stress of everyday life.

Right now I have two days left of a four day weekend that is using up the last of my vacation time for 2019. Albeit, I work at a financial institution so I get those wonderful little banking holidays and Thanksgiving and Christmas off still this year, and my one weekend a month. I think that’s the one thing I don’t like about my job… Sundays and 1 Saturday a month are all I get off regularly. It’s definitely more stressful for me to have such long periods between rest times and days when I can catch up on my sleep a little bit.

Recently I’ve sent out my resume several places, and applied to a couple of internal postings at work. One of them, i interviewed for even though it wasn’t my career goal and while the manager liked me, she went with someone else. the second was a marketing position, which was my ultimate goal when I got hired at this institution. I didn’t even get an interview, just an email saying that they were going to pursue other candidates that were better qualified and if they ever ah anything that fit my skill set they would contact me.

I won’t lie – that hurt. I’m still very much nursing that wound. I made sure my resume was tailored perfectly for a marketing job, showcasing every skill and experience I have that would help me in that sort of position. And I wasn’t good enough for that entry level position for them to even interview me or call me in person, a 4 digit extension away. That hurts… a lot.

None of the external places I’ve applied to have called or emailed or asked for interviews. The only people that reach out from the blue on LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed, are people from companies and places that want me for sales jobs. Frankly, I don’t ever want to work that kind of job again if I can help it, and commission based for a big faceless company is just not what I see myself doing.

I have that baby-boomer/Gen-X mindset that i should just take whatever job I can get and make the best of it, I mean, be grateful I even have a job, right? They say there was a time when people just took the job and that’s what they did. I have enough younger millennial and Gen-Z in me that it just feels wrong.

As a child I was told that I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up, as long as I was happy – as a Christian I know my happiness isn’t going to come from any career, but it sure would be easier if I wasn’t emotionally exhausted as well as physically exhausted all the time. At least, I tell myself that.

Thing is, I have depression and I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know when the last time I was truly happy was, it was so long ago. The closest I get anymore is when I’m playing with the dogs or when one of my chinchillas decides to crawl on my lap to explore.

In the interview I did get the manager asked me a question that I hate, and it really started me thinking… “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

It’s not an uncommon question. It’s not a question that I should have freaked out at, but I kind of did. I don’t know where I see myself in 5 years, I’m not even where I saw myself being today 5 years ago.

Five years ago, I was getting ready to go away to college for the first time, in fact, that’s almost to the day. I did not see myself working at a credit union, or living with my parents. I did not predict the chinchillas, or even Lacey Lou. I pictured I would have one, if not two books published or self published and that I would be writing full time, either as an author or freelancing, and I’d be living on my own with some sort of giant malamute thing… just – not this. I thought I’d have a schedule down, be in less debt, and have a handle on my faith and a real and meaningful relationship with Christ.

Instead, here I am: living at my parents, in more debt than I care to talk about, momma to two chinchillas and a tiny rescue dog, applying for jobs I don’t even really want because I just want to be a little closer to my field than I am right now. I have worse depression and anxiety than ever and need to talk to my doctor again… and they make me too fickle to really be any success as any kind of storyteller, and too fickle of a Christian for me to be healthy in my faith.

So I’m working on a 5 year plan. Something that I never did. I mean, I had dreams, but never a real goal.

Must Dos

  1. Daily Devotions – These aren’t an option. I was happiest and my most creative when I was talking to God and making Him a priority in my life. It’s a habit I haven’t kept up with, but it’s probably the most important thing I will ever do in my life
  2. Keep a gratitude Journal – I’ve noticed that my journals tend to be me complaining about the world, about something that’s bothering me, and this negativity is killing me. I can’t keep it up and I need to be grateful for what God has given me in life.
  3. Health – Mentally, spiritually, and physically, it’s no big secret that I don’t take care of myself. I’m not so open about it online, but if you look at me, it’s true. I’ve been thinking about seeing a therapist, exercising more – Lacey Lou needs that anyway, it’ll be good for me too.

Career Goals

  • In one year I’m aiming to be able to either drop down to a part-time day job or switch to creating full time.
  • I want to publish something – anything. An article, book review, short story, poem, ANYTHING traditionally, just one thing. The rest can be self published for all I care, but I would love to have one thing put out there like that for people to see. It would be thrilling to know that there was an editor out there who liked something I did enough to want to share it with everyone they could.
  • I want to incorporate my artwork and my writing together to help make my storytelling that much stronger and more me. I need to find my voice, and it’s going to be with both, I can feel it.
  • In five years I want to be able to fully support myself as a writer and artist, I want to be freelancing, writing, creating art… I want to be a storyteller and I want to be able to move out on my own.
  • I want to get involved with my community as a storyteller

The thing about all of these “goals” that I have listed is that none of them are guaranteed. Even the “Must Dos” are things that I will need to choose daily and make myself do.

It’s a strange place I’m in in my life right now. I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be and I’m even further from where I want to be. Really, I don’t even know if these goals are what I really want. But, I do know that i want something different. I feel stagnant and life my career is just sitting still. I’m exhausted and I can’t seem to get out of it. From now on, the goal is to use what time I have to rest and to work on becoming the artist I want to be. To work towards becoming a storyteller, because even if I end up wanting something else, something I can’t predict – at least I’m working towards something and taking care of myself – making myself into the person I want to be.