Many people I know complain that laziness and complacency are their enemies. “I’d get so much more done if I didn’t want to stay home and watch TV”, “I know I should try to cook more, but it’s way easier to order a pizza”, “I went to work today and still didn’t get anything done.” I can absolutely understand this feeling, but I have identified that my enemy in life isn’t being lazy or getting too comfortable with routine.

I come equipped with a built-in sense of restlessness that is rarely ever focused or satisfied. The Zen folks who talk about “Living in the moment” may quit, trying to teach me the art of being “present”. Wherever I am, I’m so often really excited about wherever I’m planning to be NEXT, while also enjoying where I am NOW.

I don’t neglect doing work because I am lazy and would rather do nothing (most of the time.) I neglect work because when I start on one project, my mind wanders, and I end up somewhere else mentally…and I would rather be anywhere but where I am, doing anything other than what I am meant to be doing. I have 70 billion ideas rolling around, and some days, if I try to focus on one, the noise of all the others makes it impossible.

It isn’t only work that is affected by restlessness. On Friday, I had a rare day with no plans, and was feeling tired, so The Guy I Am Currently Dating came over and we were just going to “hang out”. By 10 PM, I was a little bored and wondering what to do with what seemed like endless hours of free time. I have always felt guilty in my various long-term relationships, because somewhere in the back of my head, this seed was planted that “If people are really right together, they’re happy doing nothing.”. I’m a horrible person with whom to be in a relationship. After 15-20 minutes of cuddling, if we’re not doing something or talking, I start thinking about everything else in the world. I start wondering at what point it becomes not rude to want to get up. Sometimes, when I’m considering this problem, I just fall asleep.

I’ve suffered from this problem of “restlessness” ever since I was a kid. I was the one who, three days into summer vacation, was tired of “relaxing”. I was the one who’d insist on seeing and doing everything possible on family vacations, who never wanted to sit still. I drove my mother insane, because she’d happily sit on the beach watching the ocean for an hour, or chill out on a patio to “people watch”. After 20 minutes, I was over it. I wasn’t interested in watching life, I was interested in experiencing it…and when there was nothing to experience, I’d retreat into a world of imaginations. Books, television, theatre, dance—pretty much any form of self-expression and experiencing another person’s story appealed to me, when I couldn’t experience my own.

It is something I thought I’d eventually grow out of, but I haven’t. The odd thing is, I’m not a type-A person by nature. However, there are wheels in my mind that are constantly spinning. The only times this doesn’t happen are the moments when I am really 100% consumed by whatever I am doing, either creatively or activity-wise, or when I am sick and/or tired out to the point of exhaustion.

One of the largest struggles I’ve faced with being ill off and on during the past two years is that I still have the mental and spiritual energy of a teenager. Unfortunately, I do not have a body that will keep up with that. I’ve learned to make the most of things by doing everything I can do to enjoy life during the “good times”, and when the “bad times” hit, when simply riding in the car will trigger a panic attack or I can’t go out with friends without wanting to collapse, it is hard for me. Because, even when I feel at my worst, part of me just wants to break out of whatever is keeping me trapped and *GO*. “Bad times” are often accompanied by very childish outbursts of self-pity and bouts of tears, because I find it heartbreakingly unfair that I don’t feel in control of my life, and that there is no outlet for my restlessness.

It has been suggested to me throughout my life that I suffer from some form of ADD or ADHD, although this doesn’t seem to be the case (my mother took me to be tested as a kid, and I had a neurologist discuss it with me as an adult.) I am actually capable of intensely focusing on things for hours, and grow irritated quickly at any interruption. However, it is often the case that my brain is so overwhelmed by daydreams and things I’d like to do and things I *should* do and all these things that want to be expressed all at once, that I end up doing nothing at all. It’s almost as if I try to ignore the chaos, because it is too hard to organize it.

I have always wanted to live a life “bigger” than my own. I have always had this incredible need for memorable experience, as often as possible, in the way that only someone who has a strong awareness of the inevitability of mortality early in life develops. I am often panicked by the idea of death, not because death in itself might be the most frightening experience in the world, but because I don’t want to run out of time. There is so much world, and so many experiences, and so many people….and such a small amount of time. Especially as you grow older, or start struggling with health, this becomes so much more obvious.

I once had an ex-boyfriend tell me, when he was tired of me looking morose and bored because he was so busy working that we couldn’t go out and do anything, that only boring people were bored in life, because there was so much fascinating about life. For me, the most fascinating thing about the world was being a part of it, interacting with people, going new places, having new experiences, forming new relationships. This ex, who grew up as a very self-sufficient, responsible introvert, could not understand why I was frustrated to the point of tears at being told that my restlessness should be contained and directed towards solitary, intellectual, and creative pursuits. I grew terribly unhappy (and consequently, became a very difficult person with whom to spend time.) because I found it couldn’t. The more my restlessness was constrained, the more it took over everything; I would feel frustrated with and hate everyone and everything.

A decade later, I’m still battling demons having to do with restlessness. The work I do is monotonous, repetitious, and easy. There is no reason I should not be incredibly productive, other than I find myself staring at the computer screen, thinking of other times in my life, other places, other people, other dreams. I have never learned how to enjoy the mundane, or at least, to tolerate it. I’ve read anecdotes about many creative people working in extremely dull, tedious jobs because the nature of a repetitive job helped boost creativity or clarify highly intellectual problems. This is not me. My mind seems to take any opportunity to escape, mentally, if not physically.

The worst thing is when I have all the time in the world and someone asks what I want to do, and I just don’t know. All the answers are unrealistic. I want to do something different, exciting, something that engages body, mind, and spirit 100%. I want to do something I’ve never done before. I want to meet someone who may turn my life upside down. I want to experience really powerful emotions as often as possible. I want to be not here, because I’ve grown tired of here for now, but I’ll probably want to come back in a little while. The kind of life I want requires a lot of money, a lot of robust health and energy, and plenty of willing partners-in-crime. I lack all of the above.

I have packed a LOT of life experience, positive and negative, into the first part of my life. I always thought by now, I’d be happy with the simple things, appreciate living a calm and quiet life, see the value in “alone time”.

Nope. I’m still ready to go. But I know that the $1.25 in my pocket won’t get me terribly far, and at some point, I’ll have to take my medication and want a nap.

It is, indeed, a conundrum. I wonder at what point restlessness will turn into internal stillness and peace. People told me that once I turned 30, a shift would happen, and I’d desire this more. It was true, for about two years.

Now I’m ready to do things, experience things, feel things, affect the lives of others, explore new places, and generally turn the world upside down with the force of being that is Hurricane Alayna. I am ready for more dopamine and all that good stuff. I like when my somewhat fragile body is lying in an exhausted heap, but on the inside, I still want to “go go go”, because it reminds me I am not dead yet. *laughs*

I think I’d rather be lazy and complacent than waking up thinking, “What cool experiences are we going to have today?”…because the answer is usually, “We only do things on Friday, and today is Monday.” :P

On some level, I never stopped being 23. I just drink a little less, my life is much less complicated, and sadly, make less money. My spirit, however, is as inexhaustible as ever. I just wish it wanted to write about lawyers and plastic surgeons on a regular basis. :P

As I briefly referenced, but didn’t really explain in my previous posts, I’ve found myself suddenly unemployed.

As a freelancer, it’s hard to be “unemployed”. You understand there are times when you’ll have more work than you can handle, and other times when the jobs aren’t there. However, my time working as a freelance writer has been filled with a series of fortunate happenstances that have allowed me to avoid the struggle and worry that many experience.

With my typical lack of humility, I thought this was due to some sort of talent on my part, as well as the tendency I have to approach any new project with extreme enthusiasm. Within a few weeks of deciding to become a freelance writer, I landed a gig with a company that taught me all about writing for SEO gigs, as well as putting out well-written content for websites. I applied for every “content mill” (places with plentiful projects that want you to write for virtually nothing, often for a penny a word or less, but pay promptly and are known to be reputable) that other writers were using. I was accepted at all of them. Bolstered by this success, I started to apply for jobs for which I wasn’t particularly well-qualified, having a month’s experience in the industry under my belt.

Two of them panned out, and became reliable sources of income that have enabled me to work for myself for the past two years. For awhile, they were even allowing me to thrive. I had sub-contractors working for me, because I had more work than I could ever handle. I eventually dropped almost everything, choosing to work full-time for a company that seemed to believe in me. There were people above me on the food chain that were full of praise and positive feedback regarding my writing. I was told clients were specifically asking for me. I was promoted through the ranks, and people in other divisions of the company sent me their overflow work. In short, I was very proud that I was succeeding at work.

Then, everything changed. Unfortunately, it changed right after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, one that left me unable to work as quickly as I might have liked to for some time. Right after that, my roommate moved out with no notice, effectively doubling my expenses. I went from being on a path to improving my life and correcting mistakes I’d made with my finances and lack of focus to being beaten down lower than ever.

All of the sudden, all the people who encouraged and supported me either left the company or were told to leave the company. Everyone took a 60-70% pay cut. Then, the work dried up, turning my full-time job into something that paid less than working at McDonald’s. Unfortunately, being ill, I didn’t have the stamina to go seek full-time employment outside of my home—I still don’t—and it seemed like opportunity was just nowhere to be found.

I stuck with the company, even as new people were brought in, and more and more “guidelines” and “24 hour deadlines” were implemented for less pay. A “rating” system was implemented, as well as new editors brought in, and I went from being one of the most praised and valuable writers to crying because an article that earned me $3 was torn apart by an editor. To add insult to injury, my communication with the editor made it clear I was a far superior writer, and being judged by someone who couldn’t do what I do as well (or better) was a slap in the face. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t worthwhile anymore, why nobody praised me or rewarded me, why I couldn’t pay my bills, but didn’t have time to look for other projects.

Last week, I was late with an assignment. My last trio of assignments for the day was turned in 90 minutes late. My immediate superior told me that he’d made it clear that if I missed deadlines, he wouldn’t send me work anymore, so effectively, I was fired. I appealed this decision to one of the owners of the company, someone I thought was fond of me, but she wrote back a bland e-mail telling me she was sorry my immediate supervisor and I were unable to come to terms over these issues and she appreciated my loyalty and hard work over the past two years.

It sucks to be fired in a passive-aggressive way, one where nobody uses the word “fired”. You just happen to not receive work from your place of employment anymore. To be honest, I felt a little betrayed by this company. Once upon a time, I felt valuable and essential and as if working for them meant something. By the end, I felt thoroughly expendable, and I was.

I have a problem in life that’s consistent: I never know when to leave. I don’t know if it’s a fear of change (even letting go of something that causes me distress, like my former roommate, who was blatantly toxic to my way of life.), a belief that I can always make things better or that things will get better if I wait it out, or just a sense of loyalty. (I don’t have very many views that fall into categories like “morality” and “ethics”; I’m mostly a walking grey area. However, loyalty is something I demand from anyone wishing to be in my life long-term, and so I deliver it in return.) I stay in relationships long after it’s clear to me that things are over, that there’s no future. I stay in an apartment I dislike because moving is an expensive hassle. I stick with choices that don’t further me in my life goals or make me a happier person because I’m afraid the next choice will suck even more than the previous one.

At the same time, in other points in my life, I’ve been downright impulsive. I was reminded this year that I still have some of that quality lurking around in me. I seem to be an impulsive person who wants security, so refuses to let go of anything that resembles it.

I would love to decide I’m not going to work for the next year, that I’m going to travel and write my novel and step outside of my comfort zone and regain my health and focus on achieving dreams. However, none of those things pay the bills, and I don’t really have the energy to devote to all of those things, plus paying the bills. The end result is me stressing out over paying the bills, and wishing I could live a different kind of life, one where I was healthy and didn’t have to concern myself with frivolities like money and could view life as an experience, not an obligation. I used to live that way, but it came at a pretty heavy price. I am older and wiser and no longer have the luxury of viewing the world that way; responsibility has to be more important than dreams. Yet, living that way robs my day of joy, makes me feel so much older than I am.

I haven’t felt like me in a long time, save for little periods of time here and there where I realised “I’m happy because I don’t have to worry about the day-to-day obligations of life. I’m just living.”

Apparently, I’m a girl who needs to work for a living who was born to be either an aristocrat or a starving bohemian. *laughs*

I am anxious again, about finding work that pays the bills, about the future. I am anxious that time is slipping away from me, that my health and youth and vitality are disappearing. I am anxious that I am struggling so through what are supposed to be the best years of my life, and if I don’t do something, accomplish something soon to ensure my security in this world, I’m going to be a 70-year-old woman who has been cast aside, has no money, poor health, and nobody who truly cares. That thought terrifies me, because I didn’t spend my 20′s thinking about my future or building my career. All the things that truly make me happy are transient, insecure, valuable for the moment, but later just memories.

I have a supportive group of friends, people who tell me that I feel doors closing all around me because it’s time to make dramatic changes, to let go of what does not help me grow as a person. These people look at me and see potential I do not see, see a person I do not see. What I look at as a loss of security or a rock to lean on, they view as letting go of an albatross keeping me from doing something great and valuable.

I don’t have time to do something great and valuable. I am no literary genius, no celebrity, no great talent or beauty or intellect or charmer. I am just like everyone else, simply more lost. I don’t know how to live a life I love without starving on the street, because what I love is beauty and luxury and elegance and fun. In many ways, I am a frivolous person who likes being amused as much as possible. In other ways, I’m a creative and intelligent and highly sensitive person who loves thoughts and ideas and using my energy to create, instead of working for survival.

I don’t know what to do with my life. I wish I could do something I loved, that also gave me a sense of security, as well as some of the little luxuries that make life an experience. But I’m a grown-up; an ill person with seriously ill parents from which I am somewhat estranged. I know that I’ve been alone in my life for a long time; when all my friends had family to help them finance their dreams, set up a new apartment, or move to a new city, I was on my own. However, I can’t help but feel that someday soon, I’ll be even more alone, because the family that isn’t really part of my life won’t even be there.

The future frightens me. The uncertainty frightens me. It never used to, because I always thought I was young and had the luxury of doing whatever I wanted, and mistakes didn’t have consequences. I’ve learned otherwise, and as a result, learned to fear uncertainty. I am no longer young and out there “experiencing”; I’m an adult who is supposed to have goals and plans and stability.

I wonder why it is not in my nature to be that person, especially if I have gifts and talents and potential that others see in me. I don’t think I am lazy, because when I love something, I throw myself into it wholeheartedly. When I have an ambition, little can stand in my way. But I am largely uninspired; acquiring the tools for day-to-day survival doesn’t seem to motivate me as it does everyone else in the world.

I don’t look at life the same way everyone else does, I think. While some find this charming or think I am somehow interesting or unconventional or wise, I don’t know it serves me well in a practical sense.

I might want to permanently trade in my joie de vivre for practicality, or actively look to marry well. Yet, doing the first left me with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve failed at the second, multiple times. I seem to pass up opportunities that may provide me with the security I claim to want, in favour of independence and freedom, something I haven’t been aware until recently was that valuable to me. Yet, to be independent, you need the tools and temperament to survive independently. I don’t possess either.

So, again, what is it that I want to do with my life? *sighs*

I meant to spend time today writing about the trouble I got myself into while visiting Charlotte last week, but suddenly and without warning, got overwhelmed by work. So, on a related note…..:

It’s no secret that Americans have a lot of unhealthy habits. Study after study is being performed in order to prove that many aspects of the way we live are not only decreasing our quality of life, but leading us to live less healthy, economically prosperous, and long lives than previous generations.

America, as a culture, does not understand the concept of joie de vivre. We eat too much, drink too much, and smoke too much, but actually have little appreciation for the joy of these bad habits, engaging in quantity over quality. We work more hours than ever before, but often make less money in the process, and so few of us actually enjoy what we do, choosing instead the route of “working for the weekend”. We surround ourselves with people, yet rarely connect with them. We utilise all sorts of technology to make our lives easier and more productive, yet spend hours on end wasting time to fill our eight-hour quota at the office or because there’s nothing interesting on television.

Americans do not understand the joy of living, not really, and it’s because we are not taught to focus on that. We are instead, at an early age, taught the benefits of busy work, following rules, keeping pace with the rest of the class, suppressing individuality, not questioning authority, putting personal feelings aside when necessary, and focusing on achievement as a stepping stone to more focus and more achievement—which may ultimately be rewarded, but may also leave you feeling as lost and empty and confused as those who checked out and chose to simply not care. Not only are we not a particularly happy, vivacious culture, what we’re doing isn’t working for us. The next generation of children are the first in centuries to have a lower life expectancy than their parents, yet we’re steadily raising the retirement age to compensate for a bankrupt Social Security system. Half of college graduates in 2012 are unemployed, yet the average student loan debt is $50,000. Today’s young adults in their 20′s and 30′s are getting married, having families, and buying homes 50% less frequently than their parents. 40% of the country does not have health care, and another 25% of those covered are not covered adequately.

Yes, it’s fair to say we consistently engage in a system that does not work, but judge and criticise those who choose not to buy into that system.

That’s why it’s inspiring to me to read about the work habits of writer, feminist, free-thinker, and bon vivante Simone de Beauvoir. She is legendary for her copious writings on feminism—ideas which extolled the virtues of living alone, maintaining a self-sufficient income, polyamoury and non-monogamy within committed relationships, and nurturing creative gifts rather than children—as well as her relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, a relationship documented by an incredible number of daily communications detailing their lives, together and separately. She published numerous books, was known for her great number of friends and lovers, her entertaining social presence, and was a patroness of all sorts of artists, intellectuals, and free-thinkers. She was, quite simply, very much ahead of her time, and someone I greatly admire.

However, the interesting thing about Madame de Beauvoir is that, for all her free-spirited ways, she also maintained a reputation for being one of the hardest working artists of her time. She managed to avoid burning out by working 7 hours a day—3 in the morning and 4 in the evening—without distraction, and took 2-3 months between books to travel and rejuvenate each year.

She worked far less than most any of us could imagine, and yet, remains one of the most prolific writers in literary history. On top of it, she lived comfortably, found time to have the kind of friendships and love affairs most of us spend a lifetime searching for, and was quite involved in both the cultural and hedonistic pursuits of her era.

The question is, does living a more balanced and well-rounded lifestyle not only make your life a more enjoyable one (I’m fond of saying that since you only live once, and you never know when the ride is coming to an end, it’s fairly silly to waste time filling your life with obligations and things that don’t inspire any sort of passion, as most of us do.), but make you a more brilliant, accomplished, cultured person?

Many Europeans still believe so. They don’t work as many hours as the average American, Japanese, or Indian citizen, but many enjoy a higher quality of life and longer life expectancy. There is an attitude of enjoyment rather than excess, of appreciating the simpler things rather than moving as quickly as possible, and celebrating love and friendship as keys to a happy life.

The next time I’m tempted to spend my day in front of glowing pieces of technology, wearing my PJs, I think I need to remind myself that Madame de Beauvoir would hardly approve. :P Of course, she didn’t live in the suburbs of a city that is the poster child for the evils of urban sprawl without a car, so I think she might understand why I’m not meeting friends for a 5 PM cocktail and gossip in the middle of the week.

However, my unconventional schedule is probably something that most Americans don’t understand, but it works for me. I try to get up around 11, work until 4 PM when my pieces are due, and then spend the rest of the evening socialising, reading, watching TV, or catching up with friends and family on the phone. New assignments come out at 5 PM each day, so if I have a heavy workload, I’ll start work again at 12 AM and see what I get done before bedtime, at 3 AM. If I don’t, I’ll use the time to write in my journal or work on creative projects. I find I have the most creative energy and fewest distractions after midnight, simply because I’m a night owl. Of course, this doesn’t work for me on the weekends, when I’ll typically stay out later than I should, enjoy life, have a few too many drinks, and only have the afternoons to get anything done. However, I then often have extra time on Sunday, a day I don’t often schedule anything to do…so it balances out. Most people are surprised–given my relatively laid-back, unambitious attitude toward work, love for sleeping until 11 AM, and general desire to have life be a fun, entertaining ride—when they learn that I often work 7 days a week. It’s just that I’m typically working when everyone else is not. *laughs* Like Simone de Beauvoir, I have the freedom to take time out here and there, something I would not have in a more traditional lifestyle.

I so very much live in the wrong place for me, in the wrong atmosphere, maybe even in the wrong time period. I have, throughout my life, generally felt misplaced. However, after a decade, Atlanta still doesn’t feel like my home. It feels more like a transient stop along my journey that somehow turned into a third of my life. It’s a shame, in a way, I have so many connections that are dear to me that make me want to remain in a place I’ve never quite belonged. I wonder what it will take to make this place “home” to me, other than a 9-5 corporate job, a car, and a little bit of liposuction. :P

I recently read this blog post, which is exquisitely thoughtful and well-written, and a very honest look at what it’s like to be a not-so-grown-up in today’s non-stop world.

It’s a sad fact of life that the more connected and plugged-in we become as a society, the more disconnected we ultimately become from one another. For many people, a job isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle…one where your boss or co-workers can contact you at any time of the day, from anywhere in the world. In an economy where more and more people are attempting to empower themselves by working for themselves, trying to do what they love while earning a living, it’s not just a project or a passion, but a commitment.

The days of life working in a fairly well-balanced setting are long-gone. It’s no longer as simple as going to the office from 9-5 each day, spending time with your family or friends, having an hour or two to read or pursue your hobbies, and then getting a good night’s sleep. No..we’re all going, moving, stressing, thinking, creating, contacting..constantly. If you’re one of those people, like myself, who is inordinately stressed out by the need to be “on” all the time, it can be a tough world out there, and you don’t even understand how stressed the world around you is making you until something dramatic comes along to tell you. In my case, so much so that my body ended up in adrenaline overload, and I found myself diagnosed with an anxiety disorder…and however much I’d like to say I’m the screwed up exception, I’m not. Studies show every third person you meet is receiving treatment for anxiety or depression.

We don’t live in a balanced world. We don’t have the time we should have for joie de vivre, creative energy, or enjoying the little things. So many people I know don’t have the time to escape to a new destination for a weekend, have a leisurely weekend brunch, or even watch a two-hour movie without checking a phone or e-mail or answering a phone call. Yet, the sacrifices aren’t paying off. Today’s Americans work more hours than ever before, are in more debt, are more overweight than ever before, and if you’re a part of Generation Y, you’ve probably noticed your parents are having health problems at 60 rather than 80. And, the news isn’t any better for us, as we’re projected to be the first generation in centuries who don’t live as long as their parents.

There’s something we’re not doing right, and my long-time resistance to the lack of balance our lifestyle creates has led many to use words like “irresponsible”, “slacker”, “bon vivante”, and even “lazy”. (that last one, I certainly am not.) But, as many my age have found, even the person most determined to enjoy life to the fullest and not cave in to the pressures of “the way the world works” have found it hard to exist as a type B personality in a type A world.

I, personally, have always had a difficult time with this as it applies to my friendships and relationships with others. I am drawn, almost by instinct, to very focused, high-achieving, highly intelligent personalities likely to spend more time at the office than enjoying life with me. This has been an issue of contention in my world since I was 20, and the universal response was that I was simply immature and thought the world revolved around me, when in reality, most people are meant to put more energy into work than into enjoying life and building relationships, so that they have the freedom to concentrate on doing so later. Needless to say, most of these relationships with people who have gone on to be extraordinarily successful in their lives were filled with a lot of drama, and I realised very quickly that I’d never be happy with the type of person who was always “plugged in”, always in a different world, even when we happened to be spending time together.

While many of my friends have conjectured that understanding the difference between myself and the way the world works is responsible for my discovery of the benefits of polyamorous relationships, it’s really not. I think I simply look at the world a little differently than most people. I don’t live for “later” at the expense of “now”, because look how well it’s worked out for the workaholic, materially-driven Baby Boomer generation. “Now” is the only thing that’s guaranteed. “Later” is a question mark. Not a single person on this Earth knows how much “later” they’re going to have, and putting your life on pause, missing out on great experiences and people in order to secure a “later” that isn’t guaranteed…it has never made sense to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve always instinctively felt I’m not meant to be around quite as long as everyone else, and if I am, I may not have the health or vitality to make the most of my “later”. I’ve seen that happen to so many members of my family. I don’t want to duplicate the same mistakes. I’m not much of a gambler; there’s a streak in me that’s far too practical, that needs to be in control of the outcome.

When it comes to life, I am happiest accepting I am not in control of the outcome. Good things will happen. Bad things will happen. But if you start becoming so focused on your later that you don’t have the time, money, or energy to see what’s right in front of you now, that’s when you stop living and start going through the motions.

I don’t think I have enough days to go through the motions, and I only realised I’d become the kind of person who was when my world turned into something obsessed with deadlines, achievement, doing better, earning more, moving in a positive direction. Rather than celebrate my small victories, all of the sudden, everything around me seemed so inadequate. Everything that had previously made me happy wasn’t enough…I needed *more*. And in order to get that, I had to put in more stress, more hours, meet more deadlines, stay up until 5 AM more frequently. For the first time in my life, I was successful at something I’d built myself, and completed—-and I became terribly, terribly ill, and the whole thing came tumbling down. I quickly lost everything I’d built, not for the first time in my life, and this time, I didn’t have the physical or mental well-being to rebuild. I’m slowly getting stronger, both physically and emotionally, but it’s a process. I’m happiest and most able to cope with life when I take things one day at a time, when I remember to live each day as if I am not promised any more days in the future.

The truth is, I am not. While you don’t want to hear it, neither are you. The best you can do is to do what makes you happy, each and every day. For some people, that *is* working too hard, investing too much, in order to achieve the dream of accomplishment and creation that motivates some people. For others, it’s spending time around loved ones, appreciating the small things. For still others, it’s travel, adventure, meeting new people, doing new things.

I was at a concert last night (which I’ll discuss in a later blog), and remarked to The Guy I Am Currently Dating that it was fun to count the number of people who were incapable of sitting still and talking to the person next to them during the 15 minute break between acts. Even as they were dimming the lights, more than a dozen people in our section still had the glow of their iPhone/Android screen on.

Why, as a society, are we incapable of just chilling out? If we’re not working all the time, we’re making sure our calendars are jam-packed with social events and places we need to be, until it seems every moment of every day is scheduled and accounted for. Most people I know (and I am guilty of this as well) can’t sit and watch a TV show, talk to a friend or partner during down time, hang out at a leisurely lunch or have coffee with another person, or read a book without checking their e-mail, Facebook, telephone, or other device. And, in living in this overly connected/disconnected way, are we getting more out of our “now”, or less?

One of my favourite things about playing bar trivia with my friends, something I do twice a week, is that there are no phones or electronic devices allowed. Occasionally, it drives me crazy, wondering if I’m missing an important call or text…but more often, it’s a liberating feeling. I have the company of people I like, playing a game that’s fun, in an atmosphere filled with food and drink and laughter. What else do I need, and why should that not *always* be enough?

I love technology. I just love it enough to realise that I, like most of the world, am slightly addicted to it. I love having a full social calendar, a job that enables me to make money, creative interests that stimulate my intellectual growth. Yet, I should be able to relax long enough to watch a TV show without thinking I’m missing something if I don’t pick up my phone or check my e-mail. I should be able to go camping without walking around in circles trying to get a cell signal.

We don’t have a lot of balance in our lives. And while I’m blessed to have people in my life that are going to support me in all of my endeavours, and a great guy who will let me work when I need to and puts up with me texting in the car instead of talking to him, something inside me just still tells me the way our world works isn’t right.

If you know me at all, you know that more than anything, I’m a fan of real, honest, soul-baring connection. Yet, with most people, I get the sense that they don’t know what that is, and that it can’t be multi-tasked. I don’t think it’s the fault of the people I know, but simply how our society is wired.

I’m never going to be a Type A workaholic, I’m never going to put success and material things ahead of the things that truly matter to me, and I’m never going to be happy in a world that’s consistently disconnectedly connected.

I value the fact that I have some people in my world who look at life the same way as I do, people who still see that value in talking on the phone and catching up over a conversation at Starbucks, or even better, the 7 PM martini even though it’s a Wednesday. Yet, I don’t know a single person, including myself, who is immune to this constantly moving, ADD, plugged-in lifestyle…all I know is that, for a little while, at least, it is a relief to me when circumstances force me to be disconnected.

The other night, my electricity went out during a bad thunderstorm. It was inconvenient, because it was in the evening, and it was before I had a chance to have dinner. It was the evening, and rapidly getting dark. My TV didn’t work, my internet didn’t work, my lights didn’t work, and there was a 2 hour wait for pizza. So, I ended up lighting a ton of candles around the house, sitting on a blanket in picnic-fashion, eating a dinner consisting of yogurt and cheese and crackers, and reading a book on my Kindle until a friend called to talk to me.

When I answered the phone, I told him, “I’m having a quiet, romantic evening in…with myself”. (It really wasn’t that romantic, but it was relaxing, and that’s just as good.) We proceeded to chat on the phone for a few hours, and though I was relieved when the power came back on (no AC in the summer in Atlanta is really insufferable), I didn’t check my e-mail or turn on any of my electronics until after our conversation.

I realised, that was the first day in forever and ever I hadn’t multi-tasked a single thing I was doing, and it was liberating.

Can we all just slow down, chill out, unplug, and enjoy one another, the world around us, and simply being? It’s not like we have unlimited opportunities to do so.

This weekend, I had a very busy weekend, which I was looking forward to enjoying. On Friday afternoon, I conquered one of my fears, going out alone to do errands, and took a trip to the waxing salon, did some shopping, and enjoyed lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Friday evening, I planned a little dinner for friends at a place called Aqua Blue. Ironically, it’s a sushi and seafood restaurant, where I can eat virtually nothing on the menu, but they have some of the best martinis in town, as well as delicious desserts.

It was a fun night, despite a few mishaps. The staff put us at a large table in the loud, brightly lit “group dining area”, right next to the kitchen. The other spaces in the restaurant, decorated in a swanky urban blue atmosphere and featuring a live musician, were much more dimly lit and 15 degrees cooler. 15 minutes after our arrival, I started to feel dizzy and ready to pass out. 30 minutes later, I wasn’t the only one complaining. Fortunately, The Guy I Am Currently Dating managed to get our table moved to a more suitable location, and the evening was an enjoyable one. Unfortunately, the laid-back and enjoyable tenor of the night was marred with a misunderstanding between myself and a friend I regard very highly. He made a comment I took the wrong way, and when I pointed out that the comment was insulting, it was repeated with the insulting interpretation becoming even more obvious. Needless to say, this hurt my feelings a great deal, coming from someone I considered a friend…but to add insult to injury, was followed up by a snarky remark from someone I’ve known for years. It’s a good thing I don’t drive, or I likely would have left the event altogether rather than subject others to the evidence of my hurt feelings. Later, apologies and conversation about the misunderstanding ensued, but it cast a black mark upon what I’d hoped would be an enjoyable evening, and rather kept me from wanting to bond with my other friends. It was a special and considerate gesture, though, that one of my oldest friends in Atlanta, knowing about my recent struggles with my illness and dietary considerations and hating to cook, made me a batch of turkey chili to take home with me. It is those type of thoughtful gestures that remind me I am cared about.

Saturday was trivia day, and that required us waking up early to go play in the Team Trivia tournament, the first we’ve ever attended. A team we normally compete against at Outspoken Entertainment had an extra space they weren’t using, and so we competed on their behalf. Again, it was a fun experience, until my body decided to rebel. I didn’t sleep enough, took my pills at a different time than usual, did not have my typical morning organic cookie, started the day off with plenty of caffeine, and waited quite a while for lunch, which was salad. All of the sudden, I felt extremely dizzy, and then overwhelmed by anger and adrenaline, the feeling that makes me want to stab myself and other people with pencils, knives, toothpicks, and the like. My doctor has told me this behaviour is not crazy, but happens because I’m hypoglycemic, and the meds I take cause sudden spikes and crashes in blood sugar, but largely masque the effects. I ate an emergency candy bar, and tried to get back to normal, but again, I kind of felt the damage had been done. Also, we didn’t do well on the Team Trivia bonus, leading us to a less than stellar performance.

On the way home, we got some chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A, which seemed to make me feel better (they have become my go-to food when my body feels weird and like it’s freaking out, because they stop it from happening.), and I had time to take an hour nap before going to play trivia at Dagwood’s. I love trivia at Dagwood’s. It’s the closest thing I have to a neighbourhood bar, and I enjoy seeing people who have somehow become friends over the years, and talking about random stuff until the pizzeria closes and kicks us out. We also won second place, which is good for us at that location, but by the time the pizza sign was switched off and it was time to go home, I was exhausted. My head hit the pillow at about 2:30 AM, and the next thing I knew, it was 11 AM.

Unfortunately, I woke up in a very stressed out mood about all the outstanding work I have to do. I had two weeks to complete 30 articles for a client, and I didn’t. Not because I didn’t want to, but because often, the strain of completing 12 articles within a 4-5 hour window each day is exhausting. That is my normal workload, and it doesn’t really allow me breaks, unless I choose to work at night, or get up earlier in the morning, which my pills seem to leave me unable to handle. Today I expressed my feeling of being stuck in a hamster wheel, a machine of article creation, where any mistakes or missed deadlines can end up in me losing an important job. Yet, the stress of working more than most people (how many people spend much of their 8-hour work day ACTUALLY working the entire time?), while getting paid less, having a social life/obligations, and trying to lose weight, look healthy, and hide symptoms of my illness from the world as much as possible…well, it’s wearing me down. I used to have the energy for it, but in reality, maybe I never did.

Once upon a time, I was a very laid-back person. I didn’t make much money, or have a lot of responsibilities, and my chief worries were about my electricity getting turned off or paying the cable that week. Yet, somehow, I had a better quality of life. If stuff didn’t get done, it didn’t get done. If I was late for something social, it wasn’t the end of the world. I didn’t always have to feel in charge of *everything*, and that if I dropped the ball or took time out, everything would fall apart.

I don’t remember what it’s like to be like that. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. If my work is late, I *will* get fired. If I’m late for a social event or overlook a detail, my phone rings off the hook. Everyone constantly seems to want me to do things and take care of things, although I’m the one who’s chronically ill and could use some being taken care of. I don’t have time to slow down, to do many of the things I love, and I still feel like I don’t have as much money as I need to never be concerned about it.

A friend of mine recently related that he went through a similar experience at a point in life when he was around my age. A happy-go-lucky guy I adore, he admitted that as soon as work became his primary focus and there was no longer a daily struggle for food and electricity and cable, he began to suffer debilitating anxiety. Suddenly, he felt it was his responsibility to take care of others, since he’d learned to take care of himself, and felt the burden to be too much. Suddenly, there was time to think about how demanding it was to be an adult, instead of going out to the bar or a concert or to play poker after work every day.

That’s where I am in my life right now. I feel overwhelmed, stuck in a wheel I can’t afford to get off of. And when the wheel goes too fast, my health suffers. My relationships suffer. My perception of myself and of others suffer.

I want off the wheel. A world of constant deadlines and stress and expectations is something that drove me to be an overachiever throughout most of my life, until something happened, and I realised I just couldn’t keep trying to be perfect and make everyone happy all the freaking time. Then, I felt like I failed myself and the entire world, and engaged in behaviour that was ultimately self-destructive, and destructive to others. When that phase in my life passed, I realised I was happiest being a laid back, chilled out person who really enjoyed life…but I missed stability. I wasn’t achieving anything, I was stressed about paying my bills, I made bad decisions, took advantage of others…in short, I was the irresponsible teenager I never really allowed myself to be.

And now, here I am, back on the wheel, back in the world where any mistake or shortcoming is the end of everything. If I don’t finish work on time, I get fired. If I am too sick to do things, my roommate/boss/friends/boyfriend will yell at me for not trying hard enough, not being on top of things. If I don’t take care of stuff, it doesn’t get done. If I don’t look or behave my best in social situations, someone is there to write a nasty e-mail or end a friendship or make comments that destroy my self-esteem. The preoccupation with being *perfect* and my innate inability to focus on perfection long enough to attain it has returned, and causes all kinds of anxiety and fear and self-loathing.

Today, I turned on all the Christmas tree lights in the living room, lit the birthday cake and gingerbread candles, and made a cup of Alayna’s special detox tea. It felt like Christmas for a little while, and reminded me of how happy and peaceful I felt over the holidays. I think small comforts and a slower pace of life makes me the happiest right now. I don’t want to have to be perfect. I don’t want to live in fear of making a mistake or disappointing someone. I don’t want who I am to be measured in how much energy I have to accomplish everything, smile at everyone, and hide the fact that I’m sick from public view, lest it make people uncomfortable or not want to be my friend.

I have already learned my lesson. I can’t be this person, stuck on the wheel. I can’t be the one who always takes care of things, meets deadlines, makes everyone happy, is charming and entertaining, makes sure all the bills are paid and the dog is walked and nothing in life fell apart because I slept too long. I can’t handle being that person. The Guy I Am Currently Dating, he is that kind of person—he has more demands on his shoulders and works harder for less appreciation than anyone I know, and is still kind and generous and responsible and liked by all.

Trying to be that kind of person pushes me to a place I just can’t handle. It makes me anxious, emotionally imbalanced, physically exhausted, and unable to cope with life. I shut down.

I disappoint myself because I will never be as accomplished, as perfect, as responsible, as well-liked, as happy as I want to be. Especially since becoming ill, I lack the physical and mental stamina I need to write 12 articles a day, every day, and then do other projects on the side because that doesn’t pay enough…but I can’t quit, or slow down, or show weakness, or let people know I’m ill, or get behind, or I will be replaced by a faster, more efficient hamster. And I have too much debt to afford that.

Poor people literally do work themselves into the ground, because when there’s only you to depend on and you always need the money, the luxury of illness does not exist. If you want to keep your wheel, you have to keep on pushing, no matter what.

Too stressed out with work and sickness and dog-sitting to write anything of interest. Mostly, nothing interesting happens to me lately, anyhow. :P

However, I did see this quote I absolutely loved on Twitter today, so I’ll just leave you all with this thought as I pig out on Domino’s in my PJ’s with a box of tissues in my lap :P (yeah, I’ve seen better days.)

“Real men don’t date the most beautiful girl in the world, they date the girl who makes their world the most beautiful.”~ Anonymous

Only 22 more articles about lawyers, dentists, and plastic surgeons to go. I never knew how much there was to possibly correct about oneself until I started this job. *laughs*

An old friend of mine pointed this song out to me a few weeks ago, because he told me it reminded him of me (for obvious reasons.) Not typically my sort of music, but I think it’s pretty, and now it randomly sticks in my head.


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Writing for a living means I am far less chatty on my blog, which is ironic, seeing as I finally got around to re-claiming my domain and reconnecting with my great love of emotional exhibitionism.

This week, I signed a new client, which is good news. Even better, it’s the first client I’ve encountered who actually wanted to pay me more than I was asking, simply because he thought I should be asking for more.

It’s a good rule of life to live by, really. If you go through life undervaluing yourself, and expecting others to undervalue you in the same way, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. I have a tendency to do this, because I get too comfortable in the familiar, too frightened of losing what’s important to me. I hang on to jobs that don’t pay as well as they should, relationships that don’t work, friendships that bring me more aggravation than happiness, even when I know I deserve better.

I’m not sure if it’s really that I undervalue myself; after all, some might tell you I value myself a bit too much. Yet, there is some part of me that is not only unwilling to give up on things that don’t quite work, but wants to cling to them, even when it is to my detriment.

And, so, it’s eye-opening to me when a perfect stranger appreciates the value of something I do, and asks me why I am not asking for more. I don’t have an answer to that, other than to look at myself and my life, and say, “Well, I guess that’s definitely something I do.”

It *is* something I do. Really, though, it probably shouldn’t be.

One of the negative side effects of writing for a living is that I don’t always find the joy and excitement in writing about other things in my spare time. In fact, by the end of the day, I’m often so burned out from interacting with a computer screen and keyboard, all I want to do is stay as far away from it as possible.

That being said, I miss blogging about my life. I miss e-mailing my friends in something resembling a timely fashion. I miss the bad poetry and maudlin stories I used to write for fun.

These days, my creativity is limited to crafting content for plastic surgeons, articles about dogs, and the occasional promotional content to encourage people to travel to a place I’ve never been. Well, that, and the daily 140-character Facebook status updates.

I actually feel like one of the most dull, creatively uninspired people I’ve ever met, despite that I spend my working hours endlessly creating stuff that didn’t exist before I went to work that day. This is remarkably similar to how I’d feel during a long run of a show, back when I was performing for a living. Perhaps I’m the sort of person that needs a job where creativity isn’t required, in order for my artistic spirit to shine through in my “off” hours, and for me to remember my love of that creative process..

Now I know the *real* reason there’s so many actors, writers, and artists out there waiting tables, tending bar, and driving around on bikes delivering packages. ;)