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[Quiet Thoughts] of Breaking Through

3 months ago

1336 words

Photo: We are starting to harvest more tomatoes by the day now. Read through to the bottom for our favorite tomato so far!

 

Freelancing has taken me to some interesting places, which is a happy and unexpected benefit to the new occupation. My field trip yesterday was to a data center. If you’ve never been to one, a data center is where the internet physically lives. It’s the crossroads of the pipelines for the data that makes our world work. Believe it or not, I know quite a bit about the infrastructure of computing: Father was building computers and servers back in the pre-internet days. The DOS days. Some of ya’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m a little proud to say that I was the only woman in a group of men of ranging ages, all of them computer geeks of some kind or another, and I was able to hold my own. I knew what I was looking at and I knew how it worked. I even know the vocabulary of it. I really take delight in looking at people’s faces when I surprise the hell out of them. I don’t know what they were expecting, but they weren’t expecting me.

This wasn’t a field trip for geeking out over cool stuff no one ever gets to see. It was a business meeting to talk about business stuff. Three hours of business. I walked away with a headache and a frustration: this just isn’t what I thought I’d be doing with my life.

I freelance for two people who have built fine businesses and create great websites for people in my region. They are both creative and good at what they do. They’ve got great reputations, great ideas… and simultaneously, these two businesses have come to an interesting moment: they are at capacity at their current level. They are ready to break through to whatever the next level of challenge and ability is for them. But… how? How do you break through? How do you get to the next level? Both of them are making decisions and seeking direction. They’ve asked at some moments for my input or advice and I don’t feel like I can intelligently contribute. I’m out of my depth here. I don’t have an MBA.

Even when it comes to my own personal goals, I have run into frustrations. I got an email from the Story Genius class I just took over the summer. They are offering the course now as a “premium” class. The price? $2000. I paid $500 and thought that was pretty premium! I sent an email to my coach thanking her for encouraging me to take the course over the summer instead of waiting until September. Had I waited, I would not have been able to afford it, and I would have missed out. Even still, the money I spent for this training and I will continue to pay so I can have access to consistent, helpful reading and feedback on my work amount to a considerable cost. That’s just to get the first draft written! That’s just Step One! There will be costs for professional revision, formatting, book covers… in the end, the money that I will invest in writing my novel may not (will probably not) be recuperated. So, it’s like… do I make the investment? Do I keep going? Why am I doing this? Is it really worth it?

Even this blog is an investment. I pay $35 for a hosting service, which is nice because it has expanded some of my access to features and certainly presents a new bit of freedom for me. I cover the money with my freelancing, but my original goal was to monetize this space somehow. I haven’t seen any return on that. I’ve done a lot of reading, come up with ideas, even tried some of them… but again… I’m treading water. I’m out of my depth.

But I keep working. Even though I have a headache and am feeling really discouraged, I keep working. It feels like a passionless, empty gesture sometimes. It feels insincere. There were moments when I opened up my laptop, saw my Word document for the novel or my WordPress stats for the blog and just… sighed. I’ve considered simply walking away from both. It feels like I’m not getting anywhere. I’m just striving and trying and changing, reaching out for that first “yes.” My breakthrough moment–that invitation to the next level of growth and change.

And that’s where my Quiet Thoughts are this evening. The breakthrough moment is an elusive thing. Sometimes it is a tangible barrier, something that can be seen and touched and pressed up against until something gives. Other times, like this time for me, it’s an endless field covered with fog. You can’t see your hand in front of your own face, let alone the place where you are supposed to be or the glory beyond. You wave your arms and grasp with outstretched fingers, the wet and silky fog slipping through… always slipping through. Right now, I want to stop and wait until someone comes to find me and show me the way. Other times, I want to just keep walking toward the goal. This way? That way? Who knows! Just keep moving.

Perhaps moments of doubt and reflection are the important rest stops before breaking through to the next level. I don’t actually know. I hope so. It could also be that I have to continue taking leaps of faith, ever hoping that I’ll land wherever I’m supposed to be. In the meantime, I need to learn a new vocabulary, expand my reading, and reach for some different resources in an effort to be better at the job that keeps evolving without warning.

It’s going to get down into the 40s here in MetroWest tonight, Dear Reader. The windows are open and I can’t wait to sleep. My sister is in Austin, in the path of a Category 4 hurricane. I am doing my best not to freak out about it. If you, too, Dear Reader, are in the path of the storm, please be safe and know that I am thinking of you and praying for you.

On this Friday of anticipation and change, I wish you the soothing rituals of calming down and regaining your footing. Spend this weekend re-centering yourself, doubling down on the things that matter most to you and give you the most peace and joy. Those three things, the things that matter, the things that give you peace, and the things that give you joy, may be very different things. So visit with them all this weekend, Dear Reader, affirming your commitment to them before schedules return to a more busy state of normal. I wish you plenty of good and fresh stuff from the garden of your choice and tomatoes picked right off the vine. I wish you spaghetti sauce made with super-fresh green peppers, or perhaps a salsa made with garden tomatoes, tomatillos and spicy peppers from the CSA. I wish you fresh flat bread and grilled meet, crisp lettuce and greens grown local. Consume as much summer as you can so that it will keep you warm as the weather turns and the days grow short again. I wish you supportive arms reaching out to you, offering you help if you need it, holding your hand and guiding you out of the fog. I wish you good advice, a warm smile, and the affirmation that you are doing okay. I wish you a reminder, some way and somehow, that you are loved and admired. Your infinite beauty lights up the world for the people in your life, Dear Reader. Don’t forget that.

Until Monday, persist, reach out, lift up your voice, speak boldly, live kindly, laugh loudly, dance fearlessly and take care.

Ack! I forgot the post the awesome picture of the other tomato last night! Sorry!

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The boys and I just can’t help but snicker at it!

2 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] of Breaking Through”

  1. Your Quiet Thoughts got me thinking. And because this is the internet, I’m going to tell you what you got me thinking about 😉

    In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says that anyone who is living a creative life has to decide for themselves what being successful at that looks like. Each of us gets to define success. Each of us gets to ask “would I keep doing this even if I knew if would never lead to money or acclaim?” and see what our gut answers.

    I’m sure you know that some people are process knitters and some people are product knitters. Both are perfectly acceptable, but it can be helpful to know which part feeds you, excites you, gives you satisfaction. I believe the same is true for any creative pursuit.

    1. Blarg! I read this a long time ago! I’m sorry that I never replied!

      I’ve been musing about this quote for a while. It is only recently that I have found an ambiguity in what “Success” is. It was so clear during the K-12, undergrad, grad years. Indeed, I wouldn’t define grad school as a success: I never got that Ph.D I wanted.

      I like goals. I set them often. But they are always short term, or terminal for a project. So I guess you could say that I AM product oriented: I want to finish until completion. Start a thing. Finish a thing. When it’s done, do the next thing until it is done.

      Being an adult who has successfully traversed the Things You Do To Achieve Adulthood(tm), I should probably set a few super long-term reach goals. Goals that are less ambiguous than just “I want to write and sell a novel,” which is what I’ve been doing. I’ve been chasing a dream, for sure, but not single-mindedly… perhaps I need to change that.

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