And then I would get locked up, walk away from the document, and try working on something else. Anything else. The dishes. Yes, I would rather do the dishes than put my thoughts down on the screen. What kind of a writer am I?
But then, last Sunday night, I started reading a blog post by Wil Wheaton called “Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life.” I was fascinated by what I was reading, not just because Wil's a hell of a writer and very relatable, but because he's pretty much on the same journey that I've been on since the start of last summer. And when I brought this post to my friends' attention on Facebook, they started reading it for themselves, then started liking and sharing it.
Obviously, Wil's much more known than I am, but if some good news about his regaining control over his life could positively affect me, maybe my good news about dealing with a bad situation could do for the same for someone else.
So, some of you may already know some of this news through my posts on Facebook, and some of you may not. Either way, here we go...
Back in the 80s, when the late former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, wasn't angering Giants fans by denying the Super Bowl XXI champions a parade down the Canyon of Heroes ("If they want a parade, let them parade in front of the oil drums in Moonachie"), he was riding the subways to and from work and asking NYC residents, "How'm I doin'?" Recently, I realized that this could be a question on the minds of those who are following this blog, since I haven't updated it in quite some time. What have I been up to, you may ask? Turns out, quite a bit.
For starters, as of last August, I no longer work at First Congregational Church of St. Louis. I'm not going to go into any details, and I'm certainly not going to say anything negative about the church. It's been a great three years, I made a lot of connections and friendships, and if it weren't for FCC giving me a chance, we wouldn't have the house that we have now. Nevertheless, it was time to move on, and I've begun seeking out new full-time opportunities. I won't go any further than that here, simply because I don't want to jinx anything.
With no current full-time work, that leaves extra time to write. Or, it would have left extra time to write if I wasn't feeling so guilty about not working that I've been consumed with job hunting. However, I realized earlier this month that I was just flailing when it came to sending out my resume. I was pushing it in all directions, whether it was a job I could see myself doing or not. So I relaxed, I reduced my resume-sending to places where I knew I wanted to work (I know, weird), and the responses I've gotten so far have been much more fulfilling. This sudden feeling of relaxation has allowed me to get much more writing done, and just last week, I FINALLY reached 50,000 words on “Ever Upward: Part Two of The Excelsior Journey.” Now, does this mean that I'm almost done with this one? Ohhh, no. I still have a long way to go, but I'm encouraged by my accomplishment of all three stipulations I gave myself before I started writing Chapter One: “Ever Upward” had to be longer (absolutely), it had to go deeper into Excelsior's mythology (that it does), and it had to be darker (bring a flashlight).
Those of you who are Facebook friends have no doubt seen my recent barrage of pictures. That's because – for the first time in over ten years – I'm happy with how I'm looking. One of Cheryl's friends turned us on to paleo at the end of June, and while I'll say we haven't been following it exactly to the letter, the change has been remarkable. The day before we started was the last day that we had soda (with Sprite / Sierra Mist being the only occasional exception), we started cooking more (and cooking together, much to the chagrin of our dog Bear, who resorts to peeing on the nearest piece of furniture to get attention), and the substitutions we've been making in our food choices have made such a difference.
With this change in eating comes an urge to keep getting better, and so Cheryl and I started running every other morning, using the C25K app on our phones that we've had there for months, and it's accelerated the weight loss quite a bit. As of now, I'm down 35-40 pounds, I'm a little over 20 pounds from hitting my personal goal, I'm fitting in clothes that were tight when I got them back in 2009, and I'm feeling better now at 39 than I was at 29.
Now that I'm looking better and feeling better, I'm also moving better and dancing better. Cheryl & I are not only more active than ever with the St. Louis Rebels West Coast Swing Dance Club, but we're now board members with the club, and earlier this month, I have been officially certified to be an instructor! Who knew that I would be teaching first-time dancers to WCS less than four years after it finally clicked for me? Also, last September during the Meet Me in St. Louis Swing Dance Championships, I was bumped up from Newcomer to Novice in the Jack & Jill competition. Just like my first teacher told me, “Stay in a division until they kick you out.” Well, they kicked me out, and I feel like I got called up to the major leagues. I'm now dancing alongside men and women that have been doing this for so many years before I even started, and just having the opportunity to share the floor with them is a real honor. (It also helped that, because of the weight loss, I got to wear a shirt to the competition that I hadn't worn since 2006.)
But wait, there's more! During the first week of September, I came across a mention on Twitter about voiceover lessons in St. Louis. (I'll go into more detail later about how voice acting has been such a big part of my life since childhood.) And not just in St. Louis, but in Clayton Studios, a place Cheryl and I drove past time and time again while taking a trip to the Goodwill near the church where I used to work. I contacted the director of the classes, we had a long conversation where he patiently answered any question I had, and then gave me the price for the classes: $1100.
Obviously, with only one full-time income right now, it wasn't feasible for us to put that kind of money down. I had to admit that this dream couldn't be pursued just yet... but then, I had an idea. I would set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money for the lessons, and in return, I would narrate a short story of up to 500 words for $10 or a story of up to 1000 words for $20. Once the campaign went live, a friend and fellow author, as well as a very talented cover artists and book trailer producer – Rachel Bostwick – donated four of her deluxe trailers (valued at $100) to the campaign for $50 each, and asked me to provide the voiceover for the trailers. What am I going to say, no? Of course not! Between the pledges from different authors, generous donations from family members, and money earned from selling copies of “Excelsior” to students at a local elementary school, I hit my $1100 goal with just over a week to go!
I'll go into further detail about how the voice lessons are going in a later edition, but honestly, I've never felt happier than I do right now. Of course, I'll feel better once I know what's going on with the job hunt, but these lessons are doing more for my confidence than I ever thought imaginable.
There's more to come in the near future, but I wanted to get this blog page going again, since that's part of the “39 Bucket List” I wrote after my birthday last August. I also wanted to let all of my newsletter subscribers know that I'm taking a break from my monthly newsletter for a while. All new material will go here instead of there, and I want to use this time to build my online presence back up instead of working for a few hours to put something together that only 20 or so people will actually read (If you're one of the 20 or so, thank you and I hope you've been enjoying it!). So, like I said, there will be more to come. I promise! And if there's something specific you'd like me to discuss here, by all means, let me know. I'd love to hear from you.