For one glorious moment, the night had promise

“We’re all in the fairway,” I said recently during one of our golf league outings after we all had teed off. I followed it up with this question: “When was the last time that happened?” No one responded with a legitimate guess, not wanting to rack our minds that hard. Instead, we reveled in the display of perfection. For one glorious moment, we had found direction, and being only the second hole of the night—the round seemed to have promise.

However, several holes later I was saying this. “I’ll focus on direction next week.” That had become my mantra—letting one bad shot or one bad hole lead to several more. No matter how many times I tried to will myself to think positively, I let doubt win out.

Golf is a lot of things—but it’s not about hitting a ball. It’s about your swing—and there’s lots of different swings for different shots. Hence, why frustration is at the top of the list of things golf is. You need consistency and direction with your swing to be successful.

But a few weeks ago, something changed. I started the first hole with a bogey, followed by a par on a long par five. Then came the moment of truth on the next hole—a par three—my achilles heel. To my surprise, it was another par!

As I managed to keep up my improved play, I couldn’t help but wonder what was making the difference. Was it the 90+ degree temperature and little breeze helping to torch my play? The other members of my group weren’t playing any differently. The only reason that made any sense was that my cart buddy was absent that week. I was able to focus all of my attention on the game without letting myself get distracted by conversation.

That’s another thing golf is—a social sport. It’s one of the big reasons I continue to play. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of playing well when I socialize—historically that hasn’t been the case for me. But this summer has been a little different. My cart buddy happens to be my younger sister, and she’s getting married next month—which means a lot of what we talk about when we’re golfing is her wedding. Neither one of us is very focused on golf when we’re talking about that stressful subject. (It’s not really stressful for me. She’s been stressed from all the planning).

That day I played my best round of golf in the past several years. Not every shot was perfect—but rather than let myself get upset and let the bad get worse—I let it go. Life is easier when you can just let things be.

I also realized that I needed to stop putting certain things on hold. This blog for one—admittedly I haven’t kept up with it as often as I had initially planned—but it’s summer and there have been other things to do—like throw my golf clubs when I get upset and getting tan! I needed to stop allowing distractions—those errant golf shots—cloud my progress.

All kidding aside, I’ve been putting something important off for some time. Some delays have been out of my control. Others have been sort of like my standard tee off shot—fading off to the right in the wrong fairway then wasting too much time searching for it.

Either way, I’m now ready to share it with the world—my first novel.

The book—a romantic comedy—is called “Wedding under Fire,”the first in the series “Friendly Fire.”  It will be released this Thursday on Amazon. In short, the contemporary romance is about four young women who struggle with love—or a lack thereof—in the weeks leading up to a wedding. Secrets, heartbreak, and surprised abound.

It’s loosely based on the events leading up to my younger sister’s wedding next month. Ok, it’s not, really. I promise everything will go smoothly with her wedding—I make no such promise in “Wedding under Fire.”

If you’re interested, look for it on Amazon. You can also check my Facebook page for more info. I will be releasing parts of the first few chapters on my Facebook page prior to the release if you want to get a head start.

Please enjoy.

Lift the anchor and sail

I’ve been a little distracted lately, albeit in a good way, but still, I don’t like it when my focus gets sidetracked. I’ve realized it’s something I need to work on, personal growth and all, to keep things better balanced.

As I prepare to move to a new city, I’ve had to reconcile myself with a hard truth; essentially, I’m starting over. The foundation and friend network I’ve built over the years won’t be so close. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, but because I know it’s the right move, I’m not letting fear scare me out of it. In some ways, it feels like a chance to reinvent myself, but that’s not really what I’m doing.

I’m still me, only now fully realizing myself and figuring out how to really flourish. But of all the things that I will gain, bigger and better opportunities, it’s what I will be without for the first time in my life that will be the hardest to adapt; losing my constant.

Maybe I shouldn’t say losing completely. However, the relationship with my constant, the one person I’ve shared everything with for as long as I can remember, will have to evolve. It’s funny, though we didn’t always get along when we were growing up, the first separation of college is what really allowed my sister and I to grow closer. But as life works itself out in its many strange ways, we’ve always remained close, emotionally and geographically.

While it’s certainly been nice all these years to have the closeness, I started to realize that sometimes we can become too dependent on the constant. It’s not to say that everything is always the same, it’s just that whenever there has been any change at all, the natural instinct is to fight your way back to the familiar, like a compass seeking north or water seeking it’s own level.

This homeostasis can sometimes hold you back if you’re not careful. I see that now. It’s terrifying and exciting at the same time, for both of us as I prepare to move. It’s something I know deep down I have to do, another part of the process of staying out of the rut. I want to take on new challenges and maybe even start fulfilling some dreams of my own and desires others have long longed for me to pursue (they know what I mean).

I’m ready now.

You can’t sail in any direction when you’re securely weighted down. Sometimes you need to lift the anchor and sail.

Don’t let your string get tangled

Someone said to me that it’s good to do this every once in a while, get out of a rut, but if you have to do that every now and then, what kind of life is that? A cycle of falling in and out of happiness, no, that’s not how it ought to be. At least that’s not how I want to live. But, it is harder than it seems. It’s an ongoing process.

I recently visited my hometown and on the way to my parent’s house, the gravel road they live on wasn’t exactly in the best shape after some spring showers. As we drove on the wrong side of the road to stay out of the deep ruts on the right side of the road, it dawned on me how easy it is to avoid the rut when you can see it right in front of you.

Even when you think you’re doing things to make progress and improve your circumstances, I’m learning to spot the ruts that aren’t so obvious. In my quest to live life differently and accomplish a few things, I had an epiphany regarding my living situation, realizing how silly it is to rent, throwing money down the drain every month. Say what you want about my generation, the millennials, but I’ve always been very good at the whole adulting thing, except for this one area apparently.

Having seen my failure in establishing a real estate investment years ago, I was antsy to remedy the situation–got in touch with an agent and started looking at houses. I quickly found the one; it was just perfect enough, and I started the ball rolling to make it happen. Surprisingly, this is where it all came crashing down.

It started with an idea, a suggestion from someone else, that I was willing to entertain because I really, really, really wanted to buy that house. But as I tried to wrap my head around the idea of going back to a real teaching job, something my sister (a teacher herself) has always pushed me toward, I started to feel conflicted. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the house, but dueling agendas.

At this point, I didn’t care about the house anymore. All I knew was that I was in a war over what would make others happy versus what I wanted for myself. Texts were responded to with a simple “k” or nothing at all, phone conversations while out in public sounded pleasant, I’m sure. Now, while you might expect for well-adjusted, adult siblings to eventually hash out their problems face to face in a civil manner, we did not. Instead, we both called our mom to vent about the other one. Some things in life never change.

While it was nice to get things off my chest, that conversation with my mom was pivotal. At the end of it, I felt lost. Lost when I started out with a clear direction to buy a house, now I didn’t know what I wanted. Somehow everything had spiraled into a tangled mess of strings all bunched together, everyone else’s ideas mixed in with mine.

While she was supportive of my plan to buy a house, my mom asked me something in that conversation that I hesitated to answer. Not because I didn’t know how to, but because of what it would mean. She thought I should buy a house, but she asked if I really wanted to buy one in the city I currently lived. The answer was no. No matter how perfect the house, the city was wrong, another rut I didn’t know was holding me back.

I realized that new isn’t always better. Had I gone through with buying a house there, it wouldn’t have changed anything, not in the long run anyway. While it’s nice to get new things, big or small, eventually it all becomes old or used, slowly digging into the foundation of your life creating new ruts you don’t notice.

I hate feeling lost, I’m sure everyone does. There is no perfect road map to figuring it out either, but I took that pile of string and started to untangle it until I had mine separated from the rest. Once I did, the clarity started to return to me as the string became straight again, a line with a clear direction, meaning and purpose.

You’ve got to follow your own path, so don’t let your string get tangled.

You’re finally out of the rut, now stay out.

Two years ago around this time, I received a renewal contract for my job and went to sign it without thinking. It wasn’t until after I signed my name and my life away for another year did I realize that I never thought about whether I really wanted to stay there indefinitely. And I also realized that if I didn’t start thinking about it, that cycle would continue on and on to no end.

While I was content with my de facto decision to work there another year, I knew in my heart it had to be the last. At the time I figured that in a year I would be back on the interview circuit, simply trying to figure out who I would sign another year of my life over to (it’s just the way it works in the education field).

As Christmas rolled around, I knew what was coming. New teaching vacancies would open up and the job search loomed. What should have been an exciting time for me felt like anything but. However, instead of focusing on the anxiety of it, I started listening to my heart. A change in geography wasn’t going to magically fix anything. First, I realized that I didn’t want to teach if I didn’t have to. And second, I realized that I didn’t have to.

I didn’t want to because quietly I knew there were other things I wanted to accomplish and pursue. I finally knew not what I wanted to do, but needed to. Something I’ve always done in my head, just never really shared with anyone. I needed to write.

In the past, I had always been intrigued with writing a blog, but I didn’t know what it would be about. I have a lot of interests (music, sports, nutrition, fitness, travel), but I couldn’t pick just one to focus on, sort of a Jack-of-all-trades dilemma.

So how did I finally come around to the idea for this blog? Well, while I left the only teaching job I ever knew and opted not to get another one, I didn’t get out of education all together. Instead, I switched to a freelance lifestyle of subbing, a mix of short-term and long-term assignments filling in for teachers on maternity or medical leave. While it can be sometimes scary not knowing what you’re getting into each day, it’s also pretty fun. As a classic introvert, it wasn’t easy to start out, new faces everyday, new surroundings, new everything. But I persevered, faked it better at times and wanted to die at others (Kindergarteners are terrifying). I’ve been challenged, came out on the other end better for it, but despite all of the personal growth, I somehow found myself back in the rut of life, settled into the new routine and unhappy once more. This time though, out of my frustration I channeled that energy into the idea for this blog.

Because I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way sometimes; like you’re doing things that make other people happy or just to get by. My goal when I left my job was to focus on what makes me happy and only do that. I had to remind myself of that when I realized I was stuck again. It never happens quickly or suddenly, which is why it’s so hard not to recognize sooner. Once I got myself out, I never wanted it to happen again. I know, we say that with everything (dieting, anyone?), but I meant it. That’s what this blog is about. Getting out of the rut and living life inspired. If I can do it, so can you. Hopefully this journey will inspire others to do the same.

I’m out of the rut, finally. Now stay out.