This is really just a re-post for those who don’t keep up with me on Facebook, but it’s time to pimp out another awesome blog. :)

Since it seems I don’t have that many close friends who aren’t either scientists, atheists, or part of the poly community…or a combination of all or some of the above…much love should be given to this blog. :)

Plus, Gina = totally talented, awesome Philly chick.

In other news, I am slightly improved today, but still sick. Not terribly enjoyable. :( I am, however, going to drag myself out to appreciate art and general literary awesomeness with some friends…even if it means I’ll be back home in bed with my stuffed animals by 11 PM.

Life gets more and more exciting as I get older and older….*laughs*

“”Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind; don’t assign me yours.”—“Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”

Over the past year or two, one of the things I’ve struggled with the most in my life is the balance between establishing something resembling “security” in my life, while also feeling the freedom to be myself, and express myself and create myself freely. It’s odd, because I’ve never been one of those people who had to go looking to “find myself”. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, journeyed down a number of different paths, but I’ve always had this fundamental understanding of who I am. (I think it’s why my Meyers-Briggs and similar personality tests have remained almost identical over a period of nearly 12 years, while most of my friends’ have altered with their lifestyle changes and personal growth.) No matter where I am, what life I’ve chosen to live, what I choose to do with my time, who I choose to surround myself with, I’m largely the same person. I’m more than a little quirky, creative, colourful, insecure, snarky, outgoing with a definite need to escape into my own little world sometimes, a little demanding and outspoken at times, a little withdrawn and inaccessible at others, divisive and intimidating for reasons I’ve never understood, stubborn, charismatic, energetic, intelligent, quick-witted, funny on occasion, unconventional, naturally attractive to some and naturally repellent to others. I sense things about other people and situations that others don’t always see. Sometimes I see too much about others for my own good, or for theirs. I am an observer of human nature, inspired by the dark and idealistic alike, and have dreams and visions that are so vivid they seem a part of my reality. I’m extraordinarily passionate about everything except the daily, mundane, repetitive stuff I’d love to be passionate about. I’m not like everyone else, and I’m long past the point in my life where that makes me feel badly about myself, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say I often saw people who represent my vision of conformity and the road usually traveled and wonder if I’d be happier and life would have been easier if I’d only been born that kind of person.

Interestingly enough, another thing I’ve always been for people in my life is a muse. I don’t know why; I’m with myself all the time, and I don’t find myself particularly intriguing or inspiring. I’m not the smartest or the most beautiful or the most interesting or the most assertive person in the world. Although I’m different, I’m also fairly low-key and ordinary in many ways. Yet, a lifetime of surrounding myself with artists and intellectuals and unconventional people has taught me that others see something in myself that I do not.

Over the years, I’ve been the subject of short stories and poems, posed for sketches, and had my portrait painted. I’ve been, although to a minor extent, immortalised in book form (for which I’ll always be eternally flattered.) I’ve starred in a number of different plays, musicals, operas, put on a one-woman show, and learned that every director I’ve ever met has looked at me and seen a different person. I’ve worked with artistic photographers and appeared in exhibitions. I’ve had a number of people tell me I inspire them to live, love, grow, and create. I’ve had some friendships and love affairs with people whose names you might recognise, although there’s not that much recognisable about me.

On one hand, it’s very flattering. On the other hand, it’s a great burden, being the thing that inspires someone else. I’ve had too many relationships end because someone fell in love with the girl who was going to help them break out of their shell and see a wider, brighter world, only to abandon that girl when the mission was accomplished (and marry or move in with the next girl in their life, one who was inevitably much more focused, much less flighty, but much less passionate about life.) I’ve discussed this story before, in my entry about the role of manic pixies in real life, so this is not a story about that.

Neither is this a post about “You should like my stories; I am awesome.” In fact, it’s a reflection from a girl who has learned that stability has come at a price. While I’ve been busy over the last two years or so struggling for “independence”, “respectability”, and “stability”, all things I’ve told adults need and qualities I naturally seem to lack, I’ve put many of the things that make me who I am on the back burner. My self-confidence and self-image has suffered greatly, from the emotional toll of trying to figure out what I need from my life, and wondering why people often judge and disapprove of me, to the physical trauma and side effects from illness that have affected me mentally, physically, emotionally. I don’t have the energy I once did, and never anticipated living without. The 25 pounds that got added to my body left me looking at a person I don’t love, a person who doesn’t care to flaunt herself, a person who isn’t always flirtatious or interesting to others, a person who no longer wants to be photographed or put on stage or be the centre of attention. In my mind, I no longer have it in me to inspire anyone, including myself…and I can’t help but think that’s a great loss. In reality, I’m still finding I occupy space in the world where I encounter men and women who idealise me, are curious about me, are enamoured of me, want to know me better because I bring out some creative and imaginative spirit. Apparently, a muse does not have to be in good spirits, young, beautiful, or easy to get along with, something which fascinates me. What is it about people that “inspires” certain other people?

Recently, I was having drinks with a friend of mine, and he said he didn’t know why others found him inspiring. In fact, he felt soul-baringly self-conscious about the idea, as if there were this fear that at some point, everyone would see he was just a scared, ordinary guy, and he’d be accused of being a fraud, a poseur. Really, when it came down to it, he didn’t see anything inspiring about himself at all. I’m not sure he even is at a point in his life where he knows who he is, or if he likes himself.

However, when I look at him, I see someone extraordinarily inspiring. He’s a person who once weighed over 650 pounds, and 2 years later, has lost over half of that. He’s been so inspiring to other people that, after finishing a tough obstacle-course type race here in Atlanta, he received an offer to spend the next 6 months training for a marathon. Not only that, he’s going to have the right kind of people to get him in shape, and help him reach his goal weight.

You see it on TV shows like “The Biggest Loser” all the time (transformations that are not always the healthiest), but to know someone with the sheer amount of willpower he has, someone who not only knows what he wants to do, but has the fortitude to battle against obstacles to get there, that’s true inspiration. When I felt too dizzy to be able to go outside and walk for five minutes without having a panic attack or worrying I’d have a heart attack, thinking about all he’d conquered gave me the strength to keep going, little by little. I’m a naturally impatient person, so accepting what I wanted was never going to happen overnight was the hardest part, but accepting that it wouldn’t happen at all if I didn’t start taking those little steps was what kept me getting out of bed on days it didn’t seem worth it to do so.

I’m telling this story today because my friend is leaving for his 6 months of training today, and although I haven’t known him for that long or gotten to know him as well as I’d have liked to, the few serious and thought-provoking and downright funny conversations we’ve had have made me an instant fan. He’s been nothing but supportive of me in the time I’ve known him, but in that honest, “It’s not really my job in life to flatter you and you can handle some constructive criticism” way that I need, but can only accept from certain people without being too emotionally impacted. There’s no doubt about it, I’ll truly miss him, and have no doubt he’ll be out there accomplishing everything he puts his mind to for the next six months.

People never really know when they inspire others, and when they discover that they do, the reaction to that is usually one of feeling flattered, mixed with “Why on Earth would you think anything special about *me*?”. For much of my life, I’ve felt a bit like the creative and often romantic “inspiration” I’ve evoked from certain others in my path has been unwarranted; the work of overly idealistic people who look at another overly idealistic person, and grow attached to a reality that isn’t there. I’ve always felt the need to shake people and say “Don’t you see there’s nothing special about me? I just pretend because you can’t go through life letting the world know that.”

Yet, what I’ve come to realise is that, like my friend, my own lack of self-confidence and skewed perception about the power I have to affect other human beings in this world, has kept me from seeing things that other people see in me….and those things have little to do with whether or not I’m in a positive mood, whether or not my body is in ideal shape, whether or not I feel like putting the effort into being charming or I end up being just downright impossible. I don’t know what people see in me, what inspires them…but I also know the people in my life probably have no idea, as an artist, who or what inspires me.

For years, I’ve kept a series of poems called “Intrigue”. It is not, as you might imagine, a recounting of all my various flings and fascinations and relationships. It is a collection of emotionally-based sketches, people who were able to evoke a response from me that inspired me. There are friends, lovers, acquaintances, enemies, people I no longer know, even people I’ve never met, detailed in these poems. There are people with whom I’ve spent years of my life, yet never wrote an “Intrigue” about.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a writer and all-around creative individual urged me to collect these, to turn all my “Intrigue” poems (and subsequent spin-offs) into a small volume of poetry. It likely wouldn’t be more than 30 pages, and few of the poems are any good; they’re merely emotional sketches. When I told her this, she repeated her encouragement for the project.

I again asked why, and she said “Maybe I just want to know what really moves you, what makes you tick. And if I do, so do more than a handful of others.” (I decided that, in my free time, I’d work on this and perhaps end up sharing with a handful of people who like reading my stuff.)

Everyone is inspired by someone, in some way…and in return, everyone inevitably inspires someone else.

I suppose it’s the circle of artistic—and emotional—life.

And I hope my friend remembers that when he’s missing home a bit, and off changing his life for the better..there’s simply no shortage to the amount of inspiration you can offer, even to your friends and family back home.

Over the past few weeks, I feel like whatever creative spirit has generally come to move me in the past has abandoned me. In some ways, I suspect it’s related to my job. Finding out I’m getting an unwarranted pay cut after being told my multiple managers, for nearly 2 years, that I am one of their best and most solid writers sort of put a dent in my inspiration. After all, if I have talent, shouldn’t that be rewarded at a higher level as time goes on, not a lower one?

The company I work for has implemented a “feedback” system, where you get paid according to the quality of work you’ve done, or others have judged you’ve done. In order to prepare for this step, they’d been “grading” our articles for nearly a month. Of course, I asked to see mine, since it’s always now in my best interest to write flawless articles. I discovered that previous managers had lied to me; my grades for work I’d done were more often than not,simply average, and sometimes below average. I’d been led to believe for years that the work I was doing was really exceptional, in terms of quality, and that’s the reason some of my issues with extended absences and lateness with work due to illness had been tolerated. To find out that my abilities, or what I do with my time each day, is merely “average” put a bit of a dent in my self-esteem.

Since then, I find that I’m really not able to successfully create. I’d been working on updating and editing some existing short stories and poetry, and on writing at least a few new poems each month. I’d started on my “bucket list’ item of writing a novel, and compiled over 50,000 words before I stopped working on it. Since the average book is 80,000 words, that’s a huge achievement, particularly for me.

The lack of creativity hasn’t been confined to my writing endeavours, though. I’m quite behind on Swap-Bot projects, because the fun and spontaneity of creating something to mail to a stranger just isn’t there. I have a number of art projects waiting for attention, saying “Hey, do this! It’s fun!”. I haven’t read a book in ages, despite the fact the The Guy I’m Currently Dating bought me a Kindle Fire for my birthday. (it didn’t arrive until last weekend, but I was delighted to see the selection of free classics I’ve been meaning to read for ages.)

Even getting dressed to go out is sort of “blah” lately…I keep wearing the same old stuff, because doing something interesting seems like a lot of work.

I am the picture of apathy, in general, because I’m not really inspired by, or to do, anything at all. There’s not even anything on TV I want to watch these days. It’s sad when the most entertaining show on my viewing list is The Real Housewives Of Whatever.

I used to be a very passionate and creative, life-loving person. It’s annoying that such traits abandoned me, through a combination of illness, winter, and a general belief that I’ve lived an entire life deluding myself: there’s nothing that special about me after all.

Last night, at about 1 AM, I did have a bit of a creative breakthrough. I realised that progress on my “novel-in-progress” had stalled because it lacked direction and focus. I wasn’t writing things in order; rather, I was writing a collection of short anecdotes with no logical progression. Consequently, since I jumped around from one period of time to another, the voice of my main character seemed inconsistent. It’s almost as if I were writing two books.

So, after working for about an hour completing a chapter, I came to the realisation that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t a novel. It was two books, told in form of “chapters” that were short stories that might even stand on their own. Somehow, I’d gotten this vision in my head, and ended up working on two different books simultaneously.

Of course, I don’t flatter myself that anyone would care to read one book by me, much less two, but once I sat down and came up with an outline of the stories I wanted to tell, I again felt enthusiasm for the project. I could see some sort of organization, pieces falling together, and that excited me. In fact, I became so excited about it that I couldn’t fall asleep until 5:30 AM.

I don’t know if I will ever finish my book….or two…but I would like to. I’d like to have the rough drafts of these pieces completed this year, and that’s very much an achievable goal if I work at it. I don’t know if anyone will ever read my book, or if I even want anyone to do so (it seems I’m too thin-skinned for the life of criticism and rejection that comes with being an artist, although I’ve spent 30 years trying to fight against that. ), but it means a lot to me to know I’m capable of starting a complex and interesting idea and actually finishing it. Progress on the project always ends up feeling just a little like therapy to me.

It would be great if I could simply stay inspired, and not let the little setbacks get me down. Does it matter if I’m not really as talented as I thought? (of course it does. One of the main reasons I stopped singing and acting is because I started to feel I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, and I was only on a path of getting older and less desirable…which is, of course, something that has inevitably happened.) Does it matter if I feel I’m not being paid what I’m worth? I’m sure over half of the American population feels that way, and while I like the security of making money consistently, I do have other projects to supplement my income. I could even look for a new job, although I just haven’t been inspired to do that.

So, where does inspiration and motivation come from? More importantly, how can I make it stick around and work for me?

I guess a good start is to actually do my work, rather than blogging at 2 PM> :P

I really did start this blog up again with the intention of getting it up and running much sooner, but like many things in my life, my initial enthusiasm about the project has been forced to take a back seat to the responsibilities of real life. It doesn’t seem as if I always have as much free time, or energy, as I’d like to have. Rarely do both occur at the same time, so that I almost miss those creative bursts that used to happen fairly frequently, keeping me up all night, but inspiring me to do more work on various projects than I’d end up doing in a week.

One of the problems is that writing for a living has the down side of presenting writing as an obligation, something that needs to be done quickly, to specifications, and before a firm deadline. That’s something I’ve always struggled with, even when I was performing professionally. As soon as the fun of auditioning for roles, getting all excited about a production, and throwing myself into the rehearsal process was past and the show had gotten into a stable run, I routinely felt less interested or inspired by what I was doing. Odd, that you can work so hard to accomplish something, wait for talent and luck to kick in and land you a job, and once you’re settled in and gotten what you want, it’s not as fulfilling as it ought to be.

That’s how it is with writing, too. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself fortunate to be able to make a living doing something I’m good at, something that allows me flexibility and freedom most people don’t have. But, still, what seems to be the most exciting aspect of virtually anything is the constant pursuit of the next thing, whatever is unattainable, or at least, relatively hard to get. I like contentment. I like happiness. Yet, they don’t inspire me and get me to challenge myself in the way that obstacles and ambition do. Just settling in to a job—any job, even something I love–and doing it day after day, that’s challenging for me.

My natural inclination is to get bored with things quickly, and to get excited about the next new project on the horizon. This explains the number of unfinished projects that exist in my world at any given time, and why I can’t eat the same thing for dinner two nights in a row. However, I do know there are advantages in constancy and consistency, as well as appreciating the good things inherent in what you have, without always wanting more. Somehow, learning to access the part of my personality that appreciates those things is going to be necessary if I’d like to keep the same job for more than a year.

Then again, I never thought I had it in me to have a committed and long-term relationship with someone living in the same city as I do for more than two years, but somehow, that’s still working out. (despite the numerous bumps in the road that cause me great anxiety and evoke the desire to run at times.) So, perhaps there’s hope for sticking with this particular career path, too.