breaking the glass ceiling, career, June 2017, life lessons, my life

Career advice: “Chill the f*** out.”

My sister sent me this with the simple comment of “This is so spot on.” And as an ”up & coming career woman,” I couldn’t agree more. 

Reposted from Huffington Post.

59355514230000570e348d19.jpg

Below is an excerpt from Weird in a World That’s Not: A Career Guide for Misfits, F*ckups, and Failures by Jennifer Romolini, Chief Content Officer at Shondaland.com.

You’ll Suck at Everything the First Time You Do It

That thing you did sucks, but it doesn’t matter: with effort, you can become great at almost anything except maybe (at this point) professional sports. Accept this as reality, stop getting so mad, stop being so mean to yourself, and start working to make it good.

There Will Never Be a Positive Consensus about You

Sometimes people just won’t like the cut of your jib. Sometimes you will say or do the wrong thing, put your foot in your mouth, and cause irreparable harm. You’re human, you fuck up. Don’t fixate on this. Don’t clap back. Learn from the situation and move on.

Stop Vacillating between “I Am Garbage” and “I Am God”

Ground yourself so you don’t crave constant validation, so that every accomplishment or positive reinforcement, every negative comment or rejection, doesn’t redefine who you are. Call your grandma. Do something kind. Think about someone else for a while. That will help.

Chill the Fuck Out

You’re taking work too personally and too seriously, you’re confronting people too much with too much hostility, you’re letting every tiny facet of work get under your skin, and you’re freaking people out.

Stop Treating Your Career Like a Race to the Death Sprint

When all else fails, do a face mask. It’s going to be OK. You’re weird, sure, but you’re better than you think. Sometimes you’re even great.

 

Preach!

Standard
dear sugar, life lessons, words for the heart

Dear Sugar: We are all savages inside

window

Dear Sugar,

I’m jealous. I’m jealous of people who succeed at what I do (write literary fiction). I’m jealous of them even if I love them or like them or respect them. Even when I pretend to be happy when my writer friends get good news, the truth is I feel like I swallowed a spoonful of battery acid. For days afterwards I go around feeling queasy and sad, silently thinking why not me?

So why not, Sugar? I’m 31. I’ve written a novel that I’m currently revising while searching for an agent (which is turning out to be more difficult than I imagined). I received a first-rate education, holding a BA from a prestigious college and an MFA from another prestigious college. Several people in my social and literary orbit have gotten the sort of five and six-figure book deals that I dream of getting. A couple of these people are jerks, so I don’t feel guilty for resenting their good fortune, but a few of them are good people whom I like and respect and, worst of all, one is a woman I count among my very best friends.

It makes me sick that I don’t feel happy for them, especially when it comes to my close friend, but there it is. When I think of their successes, it only reminds me of what I don’t have. I want what they have, but it’s more than that: them having what I want pains me. When other writer friends are met with failure (rejections from agents or publishing houses, for example), I admit I feel a tiny lift inside. The feeling is more relief than glee—you know that old saying about misery enjoying company? I don’t truly wish others bad. But neither do I honestly wish them well.

I know this makes me a shallow, awful person. I know I should be grateful that I have a decent job that allows me time to write, good friends, wonderful parents who are supportive of me both emotionally and financially (they paid my tuition for the above mentioned colleges and have helped me in countless other ways), and a generally great life. But I find it impossible to focus on these things when I hear the news that another friend or acquaintance or former grad school peer has sold a book for X amount of dollars.

How do I deal with this, Sugar? Is jealousy simply part of a writer’s life? Are my feelings what everyone is feeling, even when they pretend otherwise? Is it possible to purge these negative feelings and feel other, positive things when I hear someone else’s fabulous news?

Talk to me about jealousy please. I don’t want it to rule my life, or at least if it’s going to rule my life I want to be reassured that it’s ruling everyone else’s life (secretly) too.

Signed,
Awful Jealous Person

……..

Dear Awful Jealous Person,

We are all savages inside. We all want to be the chosen, the beloved, the esteemed. There isn’t a person reading this who hasn’t at one point or another had that why not me? voice pop into the interior mix when something good has happened to someone else. But that doesn’t mean you should allow it to rule your life, sweet pea. It means you have work to do.

Before we get into it, I want to talk about what we’re talking about. We are not talking about books. We’re talking about book deals. You know they are not the same thing, right? One is the art you create by writing like a motherfucker for a long time. The other is the thing the marketplace decides to do with your creation. A writer gets a book deal when he or she has written a book that: a) an editor loves and b) a publisher believes readers will purchase. The number of copies a publisher believes people will purchase varies widely. It could be ten million or seven hundred and twelve. This number has pretty much nothing to do with the quality of the book, but rather is dictated by literary style, subject matter, and genre. This number has everything to do with the amount of your book deal, which is also related to the resources available to the publishing house that wants to publish your book. The big presses can give authors six figure advances for books they believe will sell in significant numbers. The small ones cannot. Again, this has no relationship whatsoever to the quality of the books they publish.

I feel compelled to note these facts at the outset because my gut sense of your letter is that you’ve conflated the book with the book deal. They are two separate things. The one you are in charge of is the book. The one that happens based on forces that are mostly outside of your control is the book deal. You could write the world’s most devastatingly gorgeous book of poems and nobody would give you $200,000 to publish it. You could write the world’s most devastatingly gorgeous novel and maybe get that. Or not.

My point is, the first thing you need to do is get over yourself, Awful Jealous Person. If you are a writer, it’s the writing that matters and no amount of battery acid in your stomach over who got what for what book they wrote is going to help you in your cause. Your cause is to write a great book and then to write another great book and to keep writing them for as long as you can. That is your only cause. It is not to get a six figure book deal. I’m talking about the difference between art and money; creation and commerce. It’s a beautiful and important thing to be paid to make art. Publishers who deliver our books to readers are a vital part of what we do. But what we do—you and I—is write books. Which may garner six figure book deals for the reasons I outlined above. Or not.

You know what I do when I feel jealous? I tell myself to not feel jealous. I shut down the why not me? voice and replace it with one that says don’t be silly instead. It really is that easy. You actually do stop being an awful jealous person by stopping being an awful jealous person. When you feel like crap because someone has gotten something you want you force yourself to remember how very much you have been given. You remember that there is plenty for all of us. You remember that someone else’s success has absolutely no bearing on your own. You remember that a wonderful thing has happened to one of your literary peers and maybe, if you keep working and if you get lucky, something wonderful may also someday happen to you.

And if you can’t muster that, you just stop. You truly do. You do not let yourself think about it. There isn’t a thing to eat down there in the rabbit hole of your bitterness except your own desperate heart. If you let it, your jealousy will devour you. Your letter is evidence that it has already begun to do so. It has depleted your happiness, distracted you from your real work, and turned you into a crappy friend.

You know that woman you mentioned who recently got the book deal—the one you describe as among your best friends? She knows you’re not truly happy for her. She knows it even if she’s convinced herself that she doesn’t know it; even if she’s tried to explain away whatever weird vibe you emitted when you pretended to be happy for her about her good news. She knows because you can’t fake love and generosity of spirit. It’s either there or it isn’t. The fact that when someone you profess to care deeply about shared with you something excellent that happened to her you had to fake your joy sucks way more than the fact that you haven’t yet gotten the five or six figure book deal you’re so convinced you deserve. And if you want to have a real, true, deep, authentic, satisfying, kickass, righteous life, I advise you to get that shit straightened out first.

I know it’s not easy being an artist. I know the gulf between creation and commerce is so tremendously wide that it’s sometimes impossible not to feel annihilated by it. A lot of artists give up because it’s just too damn hard to go on making art in a culture that by and large does not support its artists. But the people who don’t give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity. They’ve taken into their hearts the idea that there is enough for all of us, that success will manifest itself in different ways for different sorts of artists, that keeping the faith is more important than cashing the check, that being genuinely happy for someone else who got something you hope to get makes you genuinely happier too.

Most of those people did not come to this perspective naturally. And so, Awful Jealous Person, there is hope for you. You, too, can be a person who didn’t give up. Most of the people who didn’t give up realized that in order to thrive they had to dismantle the ugly jealous god in their heads so they could instead serve something greater: their own work. For some of them, it meant simply shutting out the why not me voice and moving on. For others, it meant going deeper and exploring why exactly it pained them so much that someone else got good news.

I hate to tell you, but my guess is that you’re in the latter group. A large part of your jealousy probably rises out of your outsized sense of entitlement. Privilege has a way of fucking with our heads the same way a lack of it does. There are a lot of people who’d never dream they could be a writer, let alone land, at the age of 31, a six figure book deal. You are not one of them. And you are not one of them because you’ve been given a tremendous amount of things that you did not earn or deserve, but rather that you received for the sole reason that you happen to be born into a family who had the money and wherewithal to fund your education at two colleges to which you feel compelled to attach the word “prestigious.”

What is a prestigious college? What did attending such a school allow you to believe about yourself? What assumptions do you have about the colleges that you would not describe as prestigious? What sorts of people go to prestigious colleges and not prestigious colleges? Do you believe that you had a right to a free “first-rate” education? What do you make of the people who received educations that you would not characterize as first-rate? These are not rhetorical questions. I really do want you to take out a piece of paper and write those questions down and then answer them. I believe your answers will deeply inform your current struggle with jealousy. I am not asking you these questions in order to condemn or judge you. I would ask a similar series of questions to anyone from any sort of background because I believe our early experiences and beliefs about our place in the world inform who we think we are and what we deserve and by what means it should be given to us.

It is a way of going back to the roots of the problem, as it were. And I imagine you know I’m a big fan of roots.

You might, for example, be interested to know that the word prestigious is derived from the Latin praestigiae, which means conjuror’s tricks. Isn’t that interesting? This word that we use to mean honorable and esteemed has its beginnings in a word that has everything to do with illusion and deception and trickery. Does that mean anything to you, Awful Jealous Person? Because when I found that out, every tuning fork inside of me went hum. Could it be possible that the reason you feel like you swallowed a spoonful of battery acid every time someone else gets what you want is because a long time ago—way back in your own very beginnings—you were sold a bill of goods about the relationship between money and success, fame and authenticity, legitimacy and adulation?

I think it’s worth investigating, sweet pea. Doing so will make you a happier person and also a better writer, I know without a doubt.

Good luck selling your novel. I hope you get six figures for it. When you do, write to me and share the wonderful news. I promise to be over the moon for you.

Yours,
Sugar

***

Standard
anxiety, dear sugar, life lessons, march 2017, read it love it, three things, vulnerability, words for the heart

Three things.

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 10.23.51

After two months of having been without our beloved Patrick, I’m able to look at dogs again without bursting into tears… well, usually. This dog, Rusty Rodas, has an Instagram and it is epic.

The-Thought-Process-of-Being-Negative-Man-Repeller-2.gif

There are many things I love about Man Repeller. But far above all the reasons lies Leandra’s courageous honesty. Her life, personality, closet—all can ignite a flame of jealousy in the best of us, but that’s not her intention. You just know it from reading her words. She genuinely wants to have a community within Man Repeller. She cares. She wants you to know she’s just as real as her readers. And in a time when Instagramming and Blogging have taken a turn for the unattainable—perfect homes, “little ole papas & mamas,” and unblemished images—it’s so effing refreshing. No matter your home, your lot in life, your career, your closet… we are all humans. And being a human is hard. Why deny it? So thank you, Leandra. Thank you for your openness. And thank you for plucking this issue right out of my heart (and brain for that matter).

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 10.51.48

I’m rereading Tiny Beautiful Things for what seems like the hundredth time. It’s just as good as the first time. And just as relevant as ever. Here are 10 of the best entries from the Dear, Sugar column (of which the book is compiled).

Standard
life lessons, poetry, saw it loved it, three things, words for the heart

Three things.

f9da4483020aaff7d69673096dc63548.jpg

sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love

… a beautiful E.E. Cummings poem “Sweet Spring“, plus six more since it’s the first day of Spring (finalllllly).

elementarylatin.jpg

Have you seen Grey Gardens? It’s fascinating. In every sense of the word. There’s not a Fourth of July that goes by that I don’t want to recreate Little Edie’s “Flag Dance.” But I remember being really struck by the amount of books they had lining the walls of their home. So when I saw this article from the Paris Review, I knew it was going to an interesting read. And I wasn’t wrong.

The Grey Gardens shelves are also lined with what can best be described as pastime books, leftover from luxuriously idle beachfront childhoods: turn-of-the-century children’s and nursery books, collections of poems and crossword puzzles. (“Cross word puzzles are my delight,” wrote Little Edie in one book, which contains one unfinished puzzle with only two filled-in words: “Qarter” [sic] and “WASP.”) Yet the Beale family apparently also read, or at least owned, heartier fare: the complete works of Byron, Shakespeare, and Balzac stand alongside volumes of Milton, Burns, Proust, and Browning. (Little Edie reportedly wrote her own poetry until her death, in 2002). The conditions of these books run the gamut, from gently aged to wholly destroyed; one first edition of Gone With the Wind actually appears to be melting, an effect I’d never before seen in a book, no matter how misused.

tumblr_li6cr2OrV81qb5mmjo1_400.jpg

Things I’m trying to accept about myself and not care if it’s too much for someone else.

“I’ve stopped being sorry for all my soft. I won’t apologise because I miss you, or because I said it, or because I text you first, or again. I think everyone spends too much time trying to close themselves off. I don’t want to be cool or indifferent, I want to be honest. If I love you at 5AM, I’d damn well rather that you know I felt it. If I love you two hours later, I’ll tell you then too. Listen, I won’t wait double the time it takes for you to text me back because I don’t want to. I don’t care enough to be patient with you. I’m happy, you made me feel that way, don’t you want to know? So that’s how it’s going to be. I’m going to leave myself as open as a church door. And I’m going to wake you up before the crack of dawn to tell you that I’m fucking joyful, no pretending, not from me, not ever. Would you like some coffee, would you please kiss me? Here, these are my hands, this is my mouth, it is all yours.” – Azra.T “Don’t Wait Three Days to Text First.”  

Standard
life lessons, november 2015, quotes

Quotes for this particular season of my life. || November 2015.

“Once we begin to celebrate what our body does rather than obsessing on how it looks, we start to appreciate our body as an instrument rather than an ornament.

— Unknown

“There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all to apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.
— Jane Austen
“Nothing will ruin your twenties more than thinking you should have your life together already.

— Unknown

 You will fall in love with someone who’s cold and always seemingly pushing you away. When all is said and done, they will be forever known as the one person you couldn’t get to love you. Unfortunately, it will hurt and sting worse than the good ones, the ones that chopped up your meat for you and picked out an eyelash from your eye and were nice to your mother, because love often feels like a game we need to win. And when we lose, when we realize we couldn’t get what we ultimately desired from a person, it makes us feel like a failure and erases all the memories of those who loved us in the past.
— Ryan O’Connell
“’You,’ he said, ‘are a terribly real thing in a terribly false world, and that, I believe, is why you are in so much pain.’

— Emilie Autumn

“I ruined myself for a lot of people who weren’t even worth it.

— Unknown

“These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It’s probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation.

— Libba Bray

“A soft woman

is simply a wolf

caught in meditaion.
— Pavana


Standard