Monday, November 11, 2013

Simplifying My Life: Part 1: A time when it was so simple

When you hear someone say they're going to simplify their life, what exactly does that mean to you?

I strongly do not believe there's a right or a wrong way to live your life. We all do have different lives and we all have different dreams, aspirations and goals. We've also all been handed a different set of life cards - and we're all just trying to live our own version of 'happily ever after.

A few months ago, I involved myself in a community - and joined a group of friends where we set a goal to simplify our lives this fall. As usual, I set several high goals. Maybe far too many to reach- yet they seemed so simple. Clean out every room in this house; clean, and re-organize my writing room- get rid of old clothes and sneakers- start writing my novel- so simple. But why do I find it so complicated to simplify my life?
 To avoid a lengthy boring post, I'll do my best to simplify this blog and talk to you about something that's on my mind, "A time when it was so simple."
I was born with a wild imagination. Since my childhood I've had a fascination with music, movies, and fiction story books.
 Lately, I've been feeling a bit nostalgic. I'm not so sure why.

Life was so simple in the late 80s. I was 13 in 1989, and I can tell you that was one of the best summers of my life. All I did was watch MTV. Okay, I take that back because I wasn't that boring. I went swimming and horseback riding at Girl Scout camp. I volunteered at the hospital. I took dance and gymnastic classes.
Yet, I knew back then that I wanted to grow up to be a music journalist and I was going to work for Rolling Stone. Or maybe MTV. Funny, I actually remember telling my 7th grade teacher that I was going to be like the red headed Downtown Julie Brown.
Wow- what ever happened to that dream? I grew up, and I outgrew the dream. That's the simple way to say it.

The truth is, when you run away from your childhood dreams, it does come back to haunt you. And I'm not talking about missing opportunities with Rolling Stone or MTV either. I'm truthfully happy that it  didn't happen!
As my writing dreams have matured and I focused on different topics, I also spent more time focusing on day jobs and petty things. I worried more about the fickle opinions of people that really never should have been a part of my life. I allowed the anxiety and the stress of paying rent, my bills and working a day job to prove to society I am a well rounded adult to get the best of me, instead of working extra hard as a writer.
Why is it that so many of us walk away from the things we wanted as children? I learned in church this year that we should never stop believing, loving or dreaming like kids believe, love and dream. Of course, we have to be reasonable and practical and realistic...but that's just it. Why do we think our dreams are so unrealistic - and who is one to say that our career aspirations are so unrealistic?
Some children want to grow up to be lawyers, and then drop out of law school and hate lawyers when they become adults. Other people get degree's in one field, pursue a career in another field. We change as time moves us forward, that's okay.
I guess I've once allowed all the wrong people in my life. Since my 20s, my life has been one wild roller coaster from one job to another; one college degree to another- to another certificate and another. Some were my doing, others were not. I admit that every career mistake I've made was because I was dumb enough to listen to the negative words of another person.

I digress.

The other day, while listening old favorite songs of mine on Pandora. All of the songs brought back memories of my teen days in 1989, and that brought a smile to my face and childish joy to my heart. Listening to the songs I loved when I was a teen has made me happy and that's probably all that really matters. It's amazing how some of my favorite songs still sound new and awesome and do not sound like they're getting old.
 I actually remember all the lyrics to all of the songs. And I don't even remember the lyrics to the songs I listen to today!

While singing two of the songs, I felt cold shivers run through my body and stopped me dead in my steps. Some of those 80s songs have a more significant meaning to my adult life than they did in my teen life. I'll tell you about one song, the one that sends butterflies fluttering in my veins, the one that makes me heart physically sore and forces tears to my eyes.

"Fallen Angel" by Poison

I should seriously have an entire section dedicated to Poison music. They are indeed my number one- all time favorite bands. Poison songs are about having fun, drinking a beer, loving life, riding motorcycles and falling in love. But some of them are about heartache, and real life. Fallen Angel speaks loudly to me - and I sometimes joke to myself that Bret Michaels wrote that song for me.

Springfield, MA,
February 24th, 1991
Bret Michaels and a very happy 15 year-old ME
I met Michaels the day after my 15th birthday, and I still have that picture of us. I was so shy back then, I didn't know what to say. After I walked away, I looked at my mother, giddy like a child and said the words she will never forget hearing me say, "I guess there is a God and He does answer prayers!"

Why did I stop believing that and why didn't I trust that He could answer more prayers- even prayers about my career? Why did I let people lead me astray and why did I quit on myself?

Because I stopped believing, Fallen Angel is my song. I joke that Michaels must have said, "There's a girl named Genevieve living in small town New Hampshire that needs to hear this before pursuing her writing and modeling dreams."
But we all know that didn't happen. What did happen is, I've had a few opportunities to get a taste of what if feels like to live my dream careers: writing, modeling, and in sports. And yes, the lights do seem brighter on my mamma's TV screen- and the days seem longer and the work is harder than I ever thought they would.
And I didn't stick to my guns when it all fell down, because sometimes you can't win. It's like heads you're gonna win, tails you're gonna lose.
What was harder was convincing the right people I belonged there and it was even harder to make the money to stay there. But more importantly, most importantly, and I quote the song directly- "When the ship came in, she wasn't there and it just wouldn't wait."

I've held on to the make pretend comfortable life and tried too hard to play it safe. I chose to live in North Carolina because it's more affordable, and I thought the odds of success were greater here than they may be in California.
 I've used the "I have a job" excuse, I've used the "I don't have enough money" excuse and the "I don't know the right people" line, and "I've dated the wrong guys" excuse; I've used the "I can't afford California" excuse; I've even said "I can't find an editor," and now I'm complaining because "I'm too old."
My negative, insecure, and scared attitude stopped me from being the best I can be and I'm living my nightmare. I've exhausted my efforts and I've become a martyr to my family trying to figure out my life and to balance having a reasonable day job all the while pursuing my writing dreams. I'm in debt, I'm broke and I'm pathetic.
I've complicated my life and simplifying it isn't coming naturally to me.

I accept that my life will never be as simple as it was when I was a teenager. Today is a new day and I want to get back on the right track.  I want to believe in my dream and I want to live the dream instead.

So what is the first step in simplifying my life and living that dream? I adopt the writer's life and write every day.

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