What are you really trying to buy?

What are you really trying to buy?

I have a big birthday coming up soon—you know, one of those birthdays that ends with a 0 and makes you reassess your entire life.

Recently, I drew up a list of things I'd like to do before the birthday in question. Some items on the list are serious (for example, sending letters of atonement to people I've hurt), and others are downright silly. So if you see me picking apples or riding a bicycle with a basket in the next few months, you'll know why.  

I've taped a copy of the list to my kitchen cupboard—yes, the joys of living alone—so it's hardly top secret. One item in particular seems to surprise friends and family members who visit.

Do a month-long shopping ban...

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How to feel: the real reason you're not writing

How to feel: the real reason you're not writing

I have a theory. Writing, as you’ve probably noticed, entails feeling. And when we avoid writing, when we procrastinate by reorganizing the fridge or (more likely) scrolling through Facebook, it’s because we’re afraid to feel. We’re afraid because we worry that accessing our emotions will make us lose control, will loosen our grip on all of the things we’re barely managing as it is: our careers, our relationships, perhaps even our diets or our substance use or our sanity.

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New year’s resolutions to get you writing: a three-step process

New year’s resolutions to get you writing: a three-step process

Fun fact: only 8% of people stick to their new year’s resolutions.

I suppose these are also the people who clear their email inboxes every day, load dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher, and walk past bowls of peanut M&Ms with nary a second glance.

Meanwhile, the rest of us let unfinished business and milk-spotted cereal bowls pile up. We hate the M&Ms for existing, for tempting us with their bright colors and empty calories. And if we succumb, we hardly taste the candy over the self-recrimination in our heads.

All of this would be fine, if only we didn’t judge ourselves so harshly for it.

If you’re reading this, perhaps one of your new year’s resolutions is to write. Or perhaps you want to write so badly that you’re afraid to turn it into a resolution, because God knows you’ve been burned before.

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Work vs. writing: my story, part two

Work vs. writing: my story, part two

If you’ve ever struggled to balance the demands of your paid work with your creative goals, this post is for you.

I’ve dragged my feet when it comes to writing about my story. Partly because I know I’ll have to revisit some difficult things I’ve faced over the past few years, and partly because I’m terrified of sounding fake.

So, before I write another word, here’s the truth: I don’t have it all figured out. I still struggle with perfectionism and self-doubt and anxiety and the rest of it. I still struggle to show up at the page, and sometimes I still hate myself for that.

I’ve grown, though, during these past few years. I’ve become aware of patterns in my thoughts and behaviors that drag me down, that keep me trapped in a dark little box of not writing and resenting myself for it.

And, slowly but surely, I’ve rearranged my life so that I write. So that I set down words and share them with my writer’s group and send them out to editors—and sometimes to you, you people of the internet.

Does that sound silly, or trivial? Well, for me, it’s a small miracle. But it entailed some difficult decisions, including leaving my dream job. That’s the slice of my story that I’ll be sharing today.

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My story: How I went from “always wanting to write” to actually writing

My story: How I went from “always wanting to write” to actually writing

I’ve alluded to my story many times in these posts.

I’ve danced around my story. Told you bits and bobs, dribs and drabs. Some of them quite personal, or painful. I’m a private person, so I wonder every day whether I should say so much about myself. But I’ve learned so much from other bloggers and writers who’ve opened up about their journeys, and my mission here is to go deep and to be honest.

So now I think it’s time to sketch out my story—or at least the arc of it—in one place.

Here’s the truth: three years ago, I nearly gave up on my longtime dream of being a writer.

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How to start journaling—and deliver on your creative ideas

How to start journaling—and deliver on your creative ideas

If you procrastinate on your creative ideas or impulses, this post is for you.

Do you believe in alternate universes?

I do, sometimes. There are so many quirks in our lives, so many tiny flakes of coincidence that build and build into a great avalanche of The Way Things Are. But what if one or two flakes had gone missing, or blown south instead of southwest?

A universe where my ex and I went through with the wedding. A universe where my dad visited the doctor a year earlier for his colonoscopy. A universe where I died from a ruptured appendix at age 23. These are all easy enough to picture, and I think about them all the time.

Sometimes, though, my imagination loses itself in truly elaborate what ifs. What if my ex and I had moved into that cute little place with the turret and the comically sloped ceilings, rather than the spacious, sprawling apartment where we ended up? Would the tiny apartment have kept us closer somehow? And if we’d stayed together, would I have been happier last year? Would I have finished my novel by now? Would I have stayed at my job?

Maybe I shouldn’t, but I enjoy spending a fraction of my life in alternate universes. If things go my way, I’m grateful not to live in the universe where that car didn’t brake in time. If things go poorly, I take comfort that—somewhere, in some other dimension—my dad is drinking his second mug of coffee and watching This Old House.

I can tell you one thing, though: there is sure as hell a universe where I’m not writing.

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How to have a body: an introduction to body awareness

How to have a body: an introduction to body awareness

If you ever procrastinate, experience anxiety, or slip into negativity because you get lost in thought, this post is for you.

I cried during acupuncture today.

“Mind if I stick some needles in your stomach?” the acupuncturist asked at the beginning of my treatment, and of course I said yes, because when do I say no to anyone?

But as I sat alone, trying to enjoy the soothing music, trying to regain the peace and tranquility I felt during my first session last week, my thoughts took over. And my thoughts weren’t pretty: punctured organs, internal bleeding, infection.

I lifted the blanket and studied the steel needles. At the base of each needle, my skin puckered into a divot, which couldn’t be normal, could it? I nearly fished my phone out of my purse and googled how to tell if your liver is punctured.

It sounds funny, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. I called out for the acupuncturist.

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