One Drop

I’m fairly sure writers and other artists lie and tell the truth at the same time. It’s a game of survival when we feel most vulnerable.  We say it’s ok even when it’s not. We say we’re ok when we’re not.  Mostly because we often have a story to tell, a job to do.  We channel it through our writing, our photos.  It happens unexpectedly.

While I’ve talked about writing and the struggle to write about a personal life when you’re not sure of the stories you can tell, I also know you can tell quite a bit from the things people aren’t saying as well as what they choose to show.

Writers and Truth

The stories we choose to tell are just as important as the posts we choose to write.  It’s not easy.  The coating and all of the layers we wear makes us wonder what color the story was at the beginning.

I myself can tell you, often there’s a hidden meaning or a hidden story behind every post.  Every photo.  Sometimes I know what it is upfront and other times I see it later.  It happens as a “oh that’s why I was feeling that way” or a “wow I didn’t realize the connection when I took this photo or wrote this down.”

What’s more interesting is how photographing my life has been life-changing over the last few months. I’ve been known to take thousands of photos on my phones over the years. I just never shared them.  I was reading Karen Walrond’s blog Chookooloonks and love what she said:

I think a great photograph reveals almost as much about the photographer as it does about the subject of the image.  ~ Karen Walrond

Over the years, taking photos has helped me pay more attention, hone my eye for the things I love and I’d rather say see things differently.  Not to mention – I’m STILL learning about myself with a new camera and the things I’m able to capture.  About the things I find amazing and beautiful.

Capturing photos has truly been a way to tell the story.  To tell a story that I may not have seen was there before.  Capturing images also relieves a writer from having to bear his or her soul when they can’t put the words on the page that day.

I dare say, it’s brought me closer to myself and God.  I get to notice the beauty He creates along with the challenge of capturing it the way my eyes and spirit see it.  I’m relieved to have the camera.  It’s been the best gift I’ve bought myself in possibly ever.  It’s forcing me to peel back the layers and stay true to myself.  Funny how something seemingly so simple can cause the largest shift.  Something that should have been obvious was hidden to even me.

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Layers

I was headed home on Monday night to cook. Heading home, I realized I needed a few items. Equally upset that I hadn’t used my lunch hour during the day, as I rode the crowded blue line train I tried to figure out where it was convenient to stop and get what I needed.  If you’ve lived in DC and took the train, you know the grocery store isn’t always easy access from the train.  If it is, it can be pricey or not have the things you really need.  It takes clever manuvering.  I opted to get off at Eastern Market to head to Hills Kitchen.  First of all, I love the shop and the classes they offer.  If you’re someone who loves to cook, or love someone who loves to cook, they have all sorts of beautiful things and salts, extracts, books and things cooks love. I stop in and lo and behold no confectioner’s sugar.  No worries – I can surely find a way to use my time and look around.

Check the gallery below!

 

But little to my knowledge, there was a fundraiser happening.  With a cheese class being the allure for the guests.  I happened to be in the right place at the right time.  A very nice lady (Hi Diane!) had an extra ticket and offered it to me.

Listen.

Normally, I would say no…I can’t.  I have to go home and do whatever it is that’s so important that I need to get home.  But it isn’t that type of party this year or going forward.  This is a year of saying yes and doing new things and doing the things I WANT to do. How was I supposed to say no?  I wasn’t.

I was so blessed to meet Pamela Hess who is the Executive Director of Arcadia Farm.  They offer affordable food access to those in food deserts.  I love their Mobile Market offered during the summer and I plan to head on over there as soon as the weather warms up.   Last night’s class benefits the farm.  You can also follow them on Twitter @ArcadiaFood.  I love that you can donate and sponsor visits for people!

The star of the evening was the cheese.  Firefly Farms offers the most amazing and fresh goat cheeses.  Never tried goat cheese? You’re missing out. They served a series of cheeses paired with wines for the evening.  We even learned how to make our own ricotta! So guess who will be making ricotta at home? This girl!  We had the chance to learn about the process of cheese making, about their creamery and the best part is if you’re in the DC Area you can go to the Dupont Circle Market and buy their cheeses or order them from the various Whole Foods in the area! Check them out on twitter and follow them at @FireflyCheese.

As you know, I have to admit, a few lessons were reinforced to me:

Say Yes.

Sometimes, we just need to say yes.  Break out of whatever routine we have and go with the flow.  Had I not been there, had I not talked and been friendly or said yes, I might not have had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people and try new things.

Be prepared.

Since I got the camera, I pretty much have it with me all the time.  Great photo opportunities don’t wait.  Photography has been teaching me so much about myself.  About what I find beautiful and interesting.  [another post in the works] The thing is, at least I was able to take pretty pictures! Who doesn’t like pretty pictures? Funny thing is when I turned the camera on – the battery started flashing red. Of course I’m thinking Rae you better have that extra battery with you… and lo and behold the extra battery was with me. Jesus help me to be ready.

I had the best time there! I had amazing food and had the opportunity to meet an amazing group of people who care not just about food, but about the community.  What better way to spend a Monday night?  If you happen to be in the DMV, make sure you support both @ArcadiaFood and @FireflyCheese.

Journal 1060

When you’re blogging, how much do you suffer through in the attempt to tell the truth?  How much do you reveal to people?

As a writer, who blogs about her life, I’m often at odds with how much I can actually tell, what I can actually share.  It’s one of those conundrums where we reach an intersection of the “let me maintain some privacy and not embarrass my family and friends” x “I feel trapped because I can’t share these things that happened.”

I mean, I could talk about the dates I’d gone on some years ago, past relationships. Most of that stuff has expired. The situations that didn’t work out and why.  I can talk about the things that happened in my twenties.  But what happens when I want to tell the story of a date that failed – recently?  Honestly, some of the best blog moments and juiciest tidbits have happened in the last few of years. It’s when life became even MORE interesting and fabulous.

What about working through some current personal issue and how complicated it is? I find there is really only space for that sort of cathartic writing – in a journal.  The one that will only be published after I’m dead.

I met a man on the train sometime last summer.  He lives around where I live, a few blocks actually.  Handsome, tall. We stared at each other on the platform for a while.  When the train came, I sat in the second seat from the one open to the aisle.  He sat in front of me.  I knew him.  But you know, DC is small.  Small small.  If you start going out, attending events, go out long enough, it shrinks.

Within a few minutes as the train went from in the darkness of the tunnels across the Anacostia River, we were talking and exchanging the usual pleasantries.  I found out he was best friends with someone I went to high school with in Alabama.  Mind you we’re in DC.  I realize he knows a lot of the same people I know.  There was a moment of hesitation because you’re guaranteed that he will ask this person about who you are…and I wasn’t the girl who was popular in high school.  I mean I was there.  I had friends, I was present.  But I wasn’t part of the “in” crowd. College and a stint of sitting out of college led to many nights out between Birmingham, Huntsville and Atlanta.  Also small.  It all shrinks.  But still… sometimes you still wonder how you were perceived then.  How you’re perceived now even. By now, because we know the same people, there’s still some kindred.

When I gave him my card, there was a hesitation.  ”Oh, you’re a blogger.” He quipped.  I asked what do you mean by that? He said “well, I hate bloggers.  They never have anything good to say.”

And there it was.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard this come from someone’s mouth.  It won’t be the last.  It’s the bloggers who have no concern for what they write and who or how they write about the person or the event. [see certain articles about certain bloggers who have recently been in the news]

But the damage was already done.  We talked for a bit longer and but you could tell he would be reluctant to say anything else to me.  It’s unfortunate.  I never did speak with him again.  I figured I’d see him around in the neighborhood.  Most who know me, come here to read the blog know I’m against embarrassing people.  I know how it feels to have the rug pulled out from under you.  I don’t ever want to be the “blogger” or the woman people don’t want to be around for fear that your story, something you said to me in confidence will end up on the web.

I’m of the rule, that if you upset me, I will most definitely write about it.  It just won’t reach daylight for the eyes of others.  I also may just use it in a short story or novel somewhere changing a few parts.  Maybe that’s not fair – but no one will ever know who the person of offense was.

One of the tenets I go by is if I want to tell someone else’s story on here, I speak with them about it first.  If it’s OUR story together, then I also try to make it plain it’s from my point of view. Which means there will always be some bias because it’s mine.

More days than I’d like to admit, I suffer and struggle, teetering on the edge of what I should tell and what I shouldn’t.  What I should discuss and what I shouldn’t.  What if such and such reads this?  What if my father decides he wants to Google me today and comes across this specific post?  More of it is am I ready to stand with what I’m publishing here on the blog today?  I realize, even as a blogger, I’m one who chooses to protect others.

Mostly, I ask myself – what am I trying to accomplish?  What do I accomplish by speaking negatively about someone or an event?  What would be the point in that?  What impression am I trying to leave with others?  While I can’t control how people view me, I know I have full control of what I release and put out into the Universe and onto the net.  Anytime I press publish or schedule a post, I am fully aware of what I’m doing.

It doesn’t mean I can’t speak about difficult subjects or topics.  It doesn’t mean I can’t talk about others.  But when I know them, there’s a process.  If I don’t know them, I try to take a full view of the situation.

I also realize, no matter how well-intentioned some posts are, there are people who misconstrue and warp what I’m trying to say.  People who will say “that’s not true!” Or people who will say “this doesn’t seem right.”

It’s not my job to control interpretation.  It’s my job to write.  It’s my job to be fair, to inspire and to encourage.

If my friend from the train, many months ago reads this, just know I heard you.  I want other bloggers to hear you too.

 

IMG_0946

Chambray.  I have a well-known adoration for the fabric.  It’s the fabric that looks like denim, but feels like heaven.  It’s soft.  Sidenote: I’m always looking for new items in chambray. But the history of the fabric is even more interesting than my love for it.

Chambray was the fabric used for official Navy uniforms during WWII and became a staple of factory and defense workers – along with all of those doing manual labor.  Hence why the term “blue collar” worker arose.  The fabric and the shirt are synonymous with American workers.

I realized this would be a grind year. I dubbed it the “Blue Collar Work Year” far ahead.  Mostly because I know what needs to be done. A lot of work. Good and necessary work – still a lot of it.  Some of the work won’t be pretty, but it’s absolutely necessary.  It’s like ordering a Sears house kit and having to build a little bit every night when you get home.  You call your friends over to help you build the house.  You work on it daily. You may even find you have to hire people to help you build it.

The Sears Kit house. My love for bungalows also knows no bounds.

The Sears Kit house. My love for bungalows also knows no bounds.

This little house is so perfect.  It would have been the house I would have ordered, wanted to build.  I still want to build it honestly.  Peep how the description of the house reads “This design embodies strength, dignity and gracefulness.  It presents a most pleasing appearance and is of a character that will long retain popular favor.”  I want my life to read like this.  I need my life to reflect these qualities.  I’m well on my way.  However, the Sears house kit and chambray pretty much symbolize my life.

Yup – it’s that sort of year.  The work where you find you’re tired but satisfied because you can see progress and the progress keeps you motivated to do more, be faster, do better.

I’ve had fires turned up under my ass as the years have gone by.  Deadlines, relationships, wanting to impress other people.  It’s part of the process of being young at times.  But this year feels different.  Because it is.  I’m not focused on the same things as I used to be.  But it happens like then when life gets real.  I lost my the tolerance and care for the bullshit. I even call bullshit on myself.  I mean who gon’ check me boo?

I’ve also let a lot of things slide over the years.  Work needing to be done.   Sometimes it’s the things that are biggest on the list.  The things that need to be done but you’re afraid to accomplish, tackle, deal with – whatever it is.

I keep talking about it because it’s something each of us has to deal with – I mean, if you’re not dealing with it and haven’t had to – then you and I need to talk.  You’re not afraid of anything? There’s nothing you put off?

I think of my grandparents often.  My grandmother used to work in a defense plant here in Maryland.  She and her sister would ride across the Delaware line to work every day. My grandfather worked in a tire plant, making tires for over 30 years.  My parents have worked extremely hard.  When I was telling my Dad it was about to be a blue collar grind year, he chuckled and said “I know about those.”  This space is just a year where things that need to change, are changing and being changed.  It’s a process.

It used to be that houses took a year or more to build.  Possibly because people were ordering Sears house kits and needed to start from scratch, or at least with a solid foundation.  I’m heading back to the old model of structuring my life.  Maybe that’s why the houses have lasted through the years.

I’m thankful for the ability to plan, work, build and the hope of a lasting product and a good life.

What’s your year look like?  Is it a year of work?  A year of reaping the benefits?  Strategizing? Planning? Building?  Loving?  All of the above?

IMG_0760

In this photo above are you focused on the branch or the sunset?  Yup – hard to decide isn’t it?  That’s how it feels when you’re writing and trying to avoid distractions.  Some days I’m not sure what’s easiest to focus on. The branch, the sunset or the branch against the sunset.

I, Rae, the owner of this blog should be writing at this time.  I am – technically. I’m writing this post.  In the midst of making coffee, I realized I might be avoiding the obvious. Actually sitting down and writing.  When I heard the amazing Berniece McFadden talk about her ways of avoiding sitting in the chair and writing in 2012, I didn’t feel as alone anymore.  Here I was thinking I was fearful and lazy (when it comes to writing anyway).  Come to find out, that’s not really the case.  It’s something most writers do.  I’m not sure if painters, sculptors and the like do it as well, but I can see where depending on the art, the avoidance may be different.

I thought I would take a moment to talk about it.

The Avoidance Tactics

Writing this Blog Post

Listen, when I can’t sit and write stories – which seems to be an issue at this time, then I just end up here on the blog and jot a few notes down.  However, it can be a time suck because the MOMENT the publish button hits, then most of us are looking to see if there are any views, feedback, comments, etc.

Feeding the Birds

I sat here for a good while and watched the birds as I put out food for them. I have a lot of blue jays that appear here.  Who would’ve figured back here in the hood? But the way the trees are on my side of the building it seems to be an area, the birds, cats, possums and whatever else happens to enjoy.

Taking Photos

While this isn’t a futile endeavor, I keep staring out the window at this shot I want to take of the raindrops on the tree.  Then I devise that I might want to use various lenses.  Then the tripod comes out.  Tuh!  You get the idea. Note: that’s not to say I won’t stop and take the photo if I need to.  I realized the other week when @socamom and I were out shooting still shots in the city, it’s important to get the photo when you see it.  The light, that moment, that thing may not be there again. I’ll also add, the photos are the most productive distraction to date.  I still got that photo though.  I just snapped.  Through the window.  See how pretty and sparkly the rain drops are? You’d be distracted too.

rain distraction

Cleaning | Cooking | Domestic Behavior

I went into the kitchen, made coffee and started the dishwasher.  But somehow, as I looked around I was thinking to myself – I should clean the table off.  As I type this, the table is yelling at me from behind.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  Or the laundry.  Or how I want to re-arrange the books then go and take my closet apart and re-arrange it too. Or I start looking at recipes.  Which could then result in me going to the grocery store.

The Innanet | “Research” | Social Media

Listen. I can sit and do “research” for days.  Can’t most of us?  I’m not immune to it.  But it’s some bullshit sometimes.  Then as I wanted to start a story, I found myself thumbing through my Kindle wondering how other authors started their books.  I’m obsessed with the first pages of novels.

Comparison

The moment I start looking at stats, looking at sales, looking at hits.  Yeah.  It can bring me to that moment of wanting to believe I’m not good enough. Which then leads to the proverbial ‘fuck it.’  I work hard not to compare.  But every now and again, it’s difficult not to do.

The Solutions

No Social Media | Electronic Communication

I can’t tweet, email or do anything while I’m writing.  I need to sit here for a few hours and comb through my stuff.  Or comb through all of the snippets of unfinished stories I’ve already written. Some are stuffed in email (many) so I’m allowed to go through my drafts folder.

Alerting Others

I tell everyone I’m writing.  Basically in Rae-speak that means – I’m not available.  Unless you’re dying – or someone we know and love is dying – please leave me alone until I come up for air. Writers need an extraordinary amount of solitude.  I also have loved ones who will check in and ask me if I’m writing or working, how many words I wrote today.  You know. Basically a writing overseer.  What?  It really keeps me honest.

Reading

There are approved forms of reading material.  For me this may be starting a new novel or reading a short story.  It may mean going back to a previously read novel to re-read something that inspired me.  Sometimes, the reading is more of a case study than it is an escape. You may just need to look at how someone else did it just to find your voice.  That’s ok too.  I read a lot of content on other writers, publishing, etc.  Those are productive for me.

No TV

I have banned myself from turning on the tv and trying to write.  I’m one of the people who can write with music (a pre-designed playlist) or I can write in silence.  But TV?  Nope.  I’m guaranteed to be off watching it for hours.

Writing this Post

I’m about to sound like a hypocrite but, well, you know…. listen.  I wrote.  This post is currently 900 words.  Give or take.  I got some writing done.  I identified where I’m having issues.   That being said, I feel like I did something I was supposed to do.

What are your avoidance behaviors?  How do you fix them?

Did I miss 1060

While travelling during Christmas, I sat next to a man who was trying to make it to his connecting flight.  In fact, most of us were.  As fate would have it, the weather wasn’t trying to cooperate.  He needed to catch his flight in Philadelphia and make it to Florida to catch his ship.  We were sitting a seat apart.  I was in seat C and he was in seat A.  When they announced our flight would be delayed, we hadn’t left the terminal.  They hadn’t moved the walkway.  The pilot, in no uncertain terms told us we might be delayed for more than an hour.  All of us groaned – except the family headed to Bermuda for Christmas.  The crew on our flight was the crew for the Bermuda flight as well.  So – no worries there – they weren’t going to miss their plane.

While I sat there, the man next to me made calls.  He called his friend – who happened to be in Boston and was pretty much in the same predicament.  Delayed.  He called the airline to see if he could get a workaround for the flight.  No haps. But I know he said he needed to be there by a certain time.  We’ll say 2pm.  While it was 8am, we were still sitting at 9am.  A missed connecting flight and you never know when the next one will be.

I asked him – where are you sailing to?  I was wondering since it was two days before Christmas, was he headed on a family trip?  A private boat? A special cruise?  Neither.  He was trying to catch a tank liner and sail out to sea with them.  He would be gone for three months.  You see, he’s a marine engineer and was headed out to study the way the ships operated.  First hand experience at the mercy of the crew.

All I know is that he knew they weren’t planning to wait for him.  So even though that was December 23 – 17 days ago, I’m still thinking about him.  I wonder if he managed to make it.  When the plane landed in Philly I wished him luck and prayed he would get to his connecting flight and make his way.

I thought about him as I was wondering the same thing – wondering did I miss MY boat?  Am I really THAT late?

It’s difficult sometimes when you’re not where you want to be.  Maybe you missed out on a job offer or opportunity.  Maybe you made the wrong decision and lost big.  Maybe you are seeking something you can’t quite hold in your hands.  I know for me, it’s the things I can’t quite hold in my hands.  It’s also that moment when you look at how others are doing and we wonder – what am I doing wrong? Is it me?  Or is it that it’s not part of the plan for me?  Am I not working hard enough?  Smart enough?  Then to make it all worse, finally, you’ll (read I) will wonder – am I good enough?

It’s not difficult to take those moments and wonder – did I miss the boat?  Was I supposed to be at a connecting flight and didn’t get there?

I don’t normally write in real time, but maybe I should.  I don’t have a lesson here… just to share with you that even when you think someone might have it together, they’re wondering if they are on the right track, on time.

Maybe my flight companion made the boat that day.  I’m hoping he did.  I’m thinking I’m at least close enough to the dock that I might be able to make an official run for it and still make it.

But what happens if I did miss it?  Right now, I don’t know.  I believe that’s where overall strategy comes in.

I hope to have the answers for it soon.  I’ll still keep you posted.

Sending you love and a light-filled weekend.

regret 1060 large

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

I was sitting here reflecting, as most writers and those of us who think too much when life gets to be too much do and I came across this tangle of regrets.  The moments I just lay in bed and pull the covers up over my head in hopes that reality isn’t really real.  The moments when I have a thought of a mistake and wonder – what in the hell was I thinking?  How did I end up HERE?

Then of course, as one regret sneaks up on me quietly, the rest continue to show up.  How many mistakes could I have really made in the last 20 years?  Was it just one or two wrong decisions?  Or has it been dozens? How do I cope with those and tuck them away?  Or should I just sew them into my days and assume the position, wearing them with a sort of pride?

I’ve managed to live with them.  Some are newer than others.  Some are created at the reading of what others say or think.  None of us is impervious to criticism.   But it’s not always the direct criticism.  It’s the things we see being tossed around by those we look to for a word from time to time.

Moving forward is really the key.  But here are the five ways I’ve gotten better at moving past regret quicker in the last year:

Deal with the likely fact you’ll have a couple over your lifetime.

I rarely meet people who don’t have any regrets.  When I do, usually they’re speaking from a place that they no longer regret something.  They’ve moved on.  I also have lost all pride in asking people how they managed to move past something – especially when they’ve been open about what they regret, how they have managed to live life after and how they used it.   For the most part, if you’re breathing, you’ll regret one or two things.  It’s ok.  It just means you’ve been living, you’ve taken chances and hopefully working towards a better life.

Learning to forgive yourself for ‘stupid’ mistakes or ‘bad’ decisions.

Regret and unforgiveness go hand in hand. I’ve found when I can look at myself in a moment of decision and think about how I was thinking and then figure out why I made the decision, I realize sometimes I just wasn’t equipped to handle some of the things I’ve come up against. Given a few choices of how to fix something, we often choose what fixes things right now – not what mitigates damage in the future.  As we mature, we tend to make better long-term decisions.  I know now, at 17, 21, 25, 32, etc there is only so much you know.   Forgiving ourselves helps us not to hold onto it.  

Making actual moves to improve your life.

This can appear in many forms.  An actual move, a new job, starting a volunteer project or working in a hobby you’re passionate about.  Closing the gaps on the things left undone. Getting to a place where we don’t have to ‘look back’ all the time and have a space to enjoy the now and plan for the future is key.  When I started writing, when I began to do what I’m good at and share, it changed everything for me.  This is an important step.  It’s not about talking about things all the time, it’s about taking action.  Movement.  You know, the “Git up, Git Out” theory as brought to us by the good brothers OutKast.

Regret can be used as a learning tool.

I keep saying this, but I started writing 1) because I had a passion and 2) I felt like I had things others could learn from.  Funny enough, when I go back and read some of these posts, I find actual gems.  Guess what?  There’s beauty in ashes.  We have to learn to build from mistakes.  Absolutely no one is perfect.  It doesn’t give us the license to be awful human beings, but it does give us a point of where we may need to improve.  Improve more and enough of your already wonderful self and next thing you know?  The sting of regret isn’t as bad as maybe it was on the realization on day zero.

Counseling

I come back to this often.  Mostly because I know and understand the benefits of it.  If you realize you can’t deal with the guilt, the regret and aren’t able to manage it, the important thing is to find someone else to talk to.  Sometimes it’s your family and friends, but sometimes you need a professional who can hear the story from a new angle.  It may even take you a while to open up to find the right person.  Maybe you’re not comfortable with talking to anyone and admitting either 1) your mistakes or 2) that you’re having trouble dealing with them.  Listen, you absolutely have nothing to be ashamed of when you’re asking for help.  If your arm was broken in three places wouldn’t you go and have it reset?  Your answer needs to be yes. My point is, our mind and emotions are just as important as any other limb or organ we have checked.  Not to mention, with the rate so many Blacks are suffering and going untreated, I believe it’s time we ask for help when things seem to be too much.  I’ve been… so there, it can’t be that bad can it?

John Wooden says, “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”   I have to agree with him on this one.  The point is regret can hold you captive.  Don’t let it.  Start the year in expectation and hope.

I’m curious – how have you manged to move past regret?

As the year winds down 1060

 [Eiteljorg Museum + Central Canal. Indianapolis 2013]

As 2013 winds down with just days before the New Year begins, I thought it would be great to do a post mash up.  First, if you’ve been reading From Rae with Love, I’m thankful for you. Each and every one of you.  All of you who comment, email, tweet, RT, watch the Stepsisters Blog, encourage me, talk with me off line and who I have grown to know and love – I really and truly am grateful.

The blog was born out of what I’d like to consider the smouldering ashes of a life needing examination.  Add the fact I was secretly writing and not ready to share anything and well, there was a ready platform for a blog. I never knew what would happen and if anyone would read it.  Turns out, more of you read it than I thought.  It also turns out, that I have a high percentage of male readers – who knew?  I wouldn’t have known unless I was paying attention to Google Analytics (also why it was important to move to a self-hosted blog).  Honestly, that anyone chooses to read any work and finds it great, amazing, inspiring is a honor and it’s humbling. The fact you’re reading my work and find it interesting is a blessing. Again, I can’t thank you enough.

Here are the Top 10 Posts of 2013 on From Rae With Love:

1.  29 Blog Prompts for Inspiration

2.  Lifestyle Blog? Meh

3.  21 Things Bloggers Do When You’re Not Looking

4.  Thousands of Hours: The Search for Love – Changing Woman

5.  The Art of Guarding Your Heart

6.  From Rae With Love: 2014 The Year Ahead

7.  Too Easy to Date: The Promise Not to Struggle Date

8.  The Close of 2013: Reflections on the Year

9.  Wrong Love – Get Your Ass Together

10. Fight for It: Fight for What You Want

Funny enough, many of these were written after I moved the blog.  So what was written before now, while I count it and could still check the stats, this is what you’ve been reading since that time.

This year, honestly, if I look back on it, has been truly phenomenal for me.   I came to terms with more of who I am, the things I want to do and the person I really want to work towards becoming.  I became much less apologetic for wanting the things I want and living the way I want.

I learned my level of expectation needs to consistently be turned inward.  To expect something of myself and from myself is the best gift.  Placing those expectations outwardly on others isn’t fair.

I learned in order to encourage people to be themselves, you have to be yourself.  Fully. There’s no half-stepping here.  Trepidation doesn’t bless you in that way,

For full and open communication, you have to offer an environment that can support it.  I don’t need or want anyone to walk on eggshells around me and I don’t want to have to do it around anyone who is close to me.  I had to learn to be more open to different conversations – as well as get better at listening to people’s truths – even if it was something I wasn’t going to like.  Truth isn’t often convenient for us.  But if we let it, it will bless us.

I’ve learned collaboration is beautiful.  I’m an only child. I don’t like to share.  I don’t typically like group projects.  But my Stepsisters: Eva, Shai and Tanisha have taught me when you have the right chemistry and the right co-conspirators collaborators all sorts of amazing things can come to fruition.  We encourage each other, laugh and come up with great ideas regularly.

I do know, as I’ve said many times before, this year was so difficult!  So many things happened but it’s as if the difficulty factor also allowed for the amount of goodness to exponentially increase.  I mean, why is it I was thinking anything good was going to come without some heartache or real work to it?  It doesn’t normally. There’s always work to be done.  There’s always something we will have to work on.

I’ve said it before, but it remains even more true today – if someone can outwork you, they don’t need to be more talented than you.

That being said, for me, this year coming up will be a year of “doing more and talking less.” Less time will spent comparing myself to others and all of the things they’re doing and more time with my nose spent to the grindstone to chisel, sharpen and produce a beautiful body of work.

I want to wish you an amazing close of 2013 for the remaining hours and days.  I want to wish you an amazing 2014. Choose your goals wisely for the year, but most importantly truly LIVE your life. It’s not promised and it’s meant to be lived – fully, well and unapologetically.

The year ahead 1060

It’s important to plan the year ahead.  While I’m not the kind of girl who has every day planned out to a tee (it would drive me crazy), that’s not to say I don’t believe in the value of long term planning ….

What I’ve come to realize is as the years pass, they also happen to speed up.  They’re moving faster.  There’s so much I didn’t document over the years.  In some ways it might’ve been better that I didn’t.  But these days, I want to capture these moments, the beauty and the love I encounter.  I feel a sense of urgency to document things in a way I haven’t in the past years.

Maybe it’s because I’m headed for my 39th year in 2014 – and then on to countdown to 40! I’m less concerned about how people perceive me.  And well, Sir Anthony Hopkins said it best, “My philosophy is its none of my business what people say of me and think of me.  I am what I am and I do what I do.  I expect nothing and accept everything.  And it makes life so much easier.”

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  But as I mentioned above, time starts to move faster. Before you know it, five years have passed and you haven’t done anything you wanted to do. That stops.  We waste so much time without direction.  I need rules and order or my creative self just floats.  As a result, I work better with promises to myself and goals.

Goal 1: Face my fears 

This may seem like common sense.  However, all of us have things we’re afraid to do or tackle. This is a year I’m planning to tackle some key fears.  For me this involves a few things – but one the top of my list is money and how I manage it and handle it.  Why is money always such a touchy subject?  Well, when I get a handle on it, I’m going to blog about it.  There’s much to be said for budgeting, the way we work, the way we choose to manage our money and even what we spend money on.

Goal 2: Be on time 

Listen, I used to run late to everything.  I don’t anymore.  But now, being on time means trying to be early when it’s at all possible.  I’ve seen a couple of posts about it from @myleik of curlbox and a post from Sincerely Daja where she speaks about how she’s on time everywhere she goes even though she doesn’t have a car.  Man, that got me together.  I need to be on time. I need to make sure I’m there early.  Woody Allen says “80% of success is showing up” – that being the case, for me it means I need to show up early.

Goal 3: Set up a schedule

To set up a schedule for the blog and work to maintain it.  With work, life, other commitments, I tend not to write here as often as I should.  Also, while having a personal blog is cathartic and all, sometimes it’s difficult to discuss what’s happening in my life.  Mostly because well, I haven’t wrapped my mind around it yet.  I don’t like blogging in real time, so I long ago imposed a statute of limitations on telling certain stories.  I digress.  Blog calendar.

Goal 4: Publish my first book

I decided a while back I would turn some of the best content from the blog into a book. Believe it or not, I’ve heard a few times “don’t do that,” but as I asked around and asked respected authors – the collective response was, why wouldn’t you use that material? My gut tells me to use this here good material and dammit I’m going to do it! Editing has been tough but I think it’s that more discipline is required.

Goal 5: Take and publish photos, show my view of the world

A friend of mine once told me my pictures were amazing.  I took him at his word because he said it to my face and he had no reason to lie.  He then told me that because I’m creative, writing isn’t the only way to tell my story, or anyone else’s.  He told me to “write with my camera.”  I bought myself an amazing Canon DSLR T3i so I will be bombarding the site with photos and my perspective of the world.  You will deal.

Goal 6: Stop doing things that don’t excite me | Cease the distractions | Get this work 

I am a great supporter.  I tend not to say no very often.  But when I do, it’s really a hard NO.  I need to say no – more often.  I need to work on my own projects more in 2014.  I realize I was jumping at other projects in order to distract myself from being responsible for my own.  That’s wise right?  Deflection at its finest.  ”I didn’t get ______ done because I was sooooooo busy| tied up |stressed out working on ________.”  As I say to myself to literally shut up and sit down and get this work done.

Note: I rearranged my house a few days ago to accommodate and encourage me to sit my arse down and get this writing done. Inviting x pretty spaces = completed writing assignments. I didn’t buy anything new but candles. I just rearranged what I have.

Goal 7: Attend a literary workshop

I’ve said this over the last few years. Believe it or not, I got into one late 2012  (to attend for 2013) and couldn’t work all of the logistics out (logistics in this case = money).  This year?  I’m back with a vengeance and applying again and hopefully attending with bells on and in cute clothes.  The blog is incredibly important to me.  All of my writing and the ability to share it is important.  In addition to the blog, I write short fiction and need to make sure eventually the short fiction turns into a stellar collection for you to read.

Goal 8: Fill out the entire Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook by Susannah Conway and fill up my vision board.

In my last post, reflecting on a few lessons I learned in 2013 I talked about how I was afraid to fill out 2013′s workbook in 2012.  I’m not for it this year – refer back to No. 1 in this post. It’s a great way to review the year and then to plan the next year.  If you want a great way to reflect and to plan – work through this.… get a glass bottle of wine and pray before you do.  With that, I need to work on making sure my vision board is full this year.  Last year, I bought it and put a few things on there – this year? IT NEEDS TO BE FULL AND SPECIFIC!

Goal 9: Quit my part-time job and make my writing my official gig. 

This isn’t that big of a deal.  But it is.  I have been working some form of a part-time job for as long as I can remember.  There was a time I didn’t.  Then somehow, in 2007 I got sucked back into the vortex that is part-time work.  My father told me not to rely on that money.  Somehow, I got used to it.  But you know, I’ve worked every Saturday (less about five) over the last few years.  I wanted my Saturdays back.  I wanted to write on those days.  I wanted consecutive days off.  So last week, I quit.  While I can’t recommend this for everyone, I know I needed to be able to focus.  I wanted to keep the promise to myself that I wouldn’t carry the job into 2014. So I did.  I can’t say I won’t miss the money, but it will force me to work harder and make sure my creative efforts are a success.

These are just a few of the goals I’ve set for the year.  I have many more and as I knock them off the list, I’ll share more about them here. As always, if you have comments or questions, you can email me at rae@fromraewithlove.com!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for updates!

What are your goals for 2014?  Have you created a vision board? Is it just me or do you find the time is passing quicker?