Imposter Syndrome and Radical Gratitude

For the last two years I’ve been working on Step Nine in alignment with my recovery, which is to make amends to all the people I have wronged. This is a particularly raw process, especially since I have a pretty large ego, and I’m not very good at vulnerability. Making amends is the definition of being vulnerable. It’s telling another human that you’ve not only screwed up, but that you harmed them in the process and until now you’ve been unwilling to admit that, probably causing more harm or distance from them. It’s humbling, and it should be.

The saddest part of my recovery is the amends I can’t make because some of my harmed loved ones are dead. This has led to a number of new emotions that I’m working through – regret, shame, and deep grief. These are new emotions for me, and without pills to mask them it’s even more raw than I imagined.

Recovery means developing new coping skills to beat back these new demons, and the others that spring up because of the new vulnerability. My newest demon is imposter syndrome. I’ve always felt capable, even while in the throes of addiction. Actually, my addiction fueled my illusions of grandeur. I had boundless energy and was able to produce quite a lot of work. Sadly, the work was shitty, but I really didn’t see that until much later. Now I question everything. How can I hold myself out as an expert if I’ve failed so spectacularly? How can I give business advice or marriage suggestions or parenting tips? All things that people ASK me for, mind you, not things I hold myself out to be an expert at.

But then it occurred to me. They might be asking me because I’m overcoming adversity – I’m still in the state of it, but I’m coping. I’m progressing. I’m not stuck. Maybe I’m not an imposter after all, but someone that can continue to just simply say, “Here’s what’s working for me. Maybe it will help you.”

I’m learning to be less of an ass in this regard, I hope. Radical gratitude helps. I’m grateful for sobriety. I’m grateful for the forgiveness and love of my family and friends. I’m even grateful for the friends that shun me now because they remind me of what’s at stake if I screw up again. I’m grateful for work. For people that trust me. For grace. For a clear mind. For the health I have, and the health I’m working toward.

Imposter syndrome sucks, but I’m grateful for it as well, because it reminds me that people are looking to me for answers. I have that responsibility. And it’s a chance to do good, be transparent, and remind everyone, myself included, to just do the best you can. That’s my amends to myself.

Stupid Ass Lifehacks

Now THAT’S a lifehack.

Some shit just irritates me. Mainly the shit that poses as a lifehack, but ends up being so complex that you feel lifehack shame because you couldn’t possibly do the thing.

http://www.marthastewart.com/1505953/how-color-code-your-calendar-less-stressful-life

This one, for example, tells you to unfuck your calendar by color coding your day according to the 7 chakras. As if I could remember to do that. I barely remember to feed my poor Charlie. Remembering to code that blue or indigo would be completely ridiculous.

Also, what’s the difference between indigo and blue?

Please Find New Land to Colonize

This guy would have had my vote before our new president-elect.
This guy would have had my vote before our new president-elect.

One of my colleagues is on a cruise right now, after the 2016 Election last night. In case aliens are reading this long after we’re dead from the imminent nuclear winter, let me put a pin in the chronology. At 6pm, the globe was poised to shatter the glass ceiling by electing Hillary Clinton the first woman president of these United States of America.

At 10pm, against every pundit, pollster and reasonable persons good sense, we elected a flaming hot Cheeto named Donald Trump. Literally the least qualified man on the planet. There is no way we could have elected someone – or something – worse. I would have voted for an empty Starbucks cup. A broken vacuum. A used tissue. Anything. Anything else.

I’ll let you do your own research, explorers from Planet 8j6, as to why. It’s well documented. In case you’ve licensed “The Google”, start your search with the keyphrase “grab ’em by the pussy” and see what comes up. I apologize in advance.

This is my new manifesto today. All joking aside, I am in shock, and incredibly sad.

If you’re gay/bi/trans – I stand with you as an ally and against any form of “conversion therapy” – I support your right to love who you love without fear of retribution or judgment. Love trumps fear.

If you’re a person of color, I stand with you as an ally and against mass incarceration and systemic racism. I stand against building a wall, and against shattering families through mass deportation.

If you are disabled or have a pre-existing condition, I stand with you against repealing the law that protects you from discrimination and overbearing cost.

If you are a non-Christian, I stand with you that this country was founded as a safe haven for you to worship (or not) practice (or not) and believe (or not) as you are led. I stand against the fear of humanely accepting those fleeing the brutality of war, which our own countries policies have created and sustained.

If you are a woman, I support your right to choose for yourself and your own body and I reject the notion of being punished for it. I stand with you in support of not being objectified and reduced to a size, standard or gender. I believe in the right of equal pay for equal work.

If you eat, I support your right to know what chemicals are used to produce it and reject them if you choose.

If you drink, may it be clean water.

If you breathe, may it be free and unpolluted air.

If you drive, I hope the company you buy from shows respect of the land and traditions of indigenous people, without overbearing corporate greed.

I respect the office of President and hope that the wishes and hopes of the popular vote will be heard. I respect the electoral college and its outcome.

We are a deeply divided nation. May we all continue to work toward a more peaceful land.

So, my friend on a cruise is happily sailing along. I’ve asked him to find a new land but since the Cheeto now has the nuclear launch codes it’s a sure bet that the whole world is fracked. I’m assuming that you’ve seen our reruns for Battlestar Galactica and you know what that means. Good luck with this desolate and probably uninhabitable world. If you’ve got a time machine you could lend a hand and rewind to 6pm last night. Chances are good you could also rid the world of its newest dictator and most of his minions by zapping the most obnoxious gold plated palace in New York and all Hooters with scheduled watch parties. That’s his demographic.

Boob Food. And Other Things I Shouldn’t Talk About. 

This week Leah and I are on the road meeting freelancers in Dallas and Houston as part of our role as evangelists for the Texas Freelancing Association. I’ve also scripted a podcast, written 6 blog posts, launched a couple of websites, met with our favorite client and edited our monthly magazine. 

In short, just another week in paradise. Sleep is sporadic. My poor BMW is riddled with Starbucks cups. Also, I just took the opportunity to humble-brag about my car. Catch that? I know you did. 

The most fun part of road trips is the fact that we go hard. We stop only when my car says 3 miles until drop dead empty or we hit a Bucees. Leah is secretly horrified. We also barely stop for food. Since she’s diabetic and I’m gluten free we shoot for better choices. Like tacos. Lots and lots of tacos. 

But I digress. 

Oatmeal is a big favorite. Starbucks is pretty reliable. I also have a new oatmeal source apparently. My boobs. Since we are traveling I use my go-bag from travel industry days. Reusable outfits. Lots of black. You get the gist. I just swapped clothes for the next leg and found a treasure trove of blueberries between the sisters. Handy for the coming end of days. 

The best part is the reaction from the squad. 


Please note two things. Leah is very encouraging. Jackie is practical. What you don’t see is her final line, which sums up the hot mess that is life and writing at the moment. 

Zactly. 

Highs and Lows for the Week

Please consider giving to my new support group
Please consider giving to my new support group. No one wants this.

Remember when you were sitting around the dinner table with your family and you went around and said what your highs and lows were for the week?

Yeah, me neither. As a child, I was sitting in front of the TV watching Laverne and Shirley eating my Swanson’s meatloaf while my mom was working her second job. As a Mom, we were driving to volleyball practice. Welcome to parenthood in the modern age. No hate. We hustle hard, Moms.

Anyhoo. I thought it would be fun to do that with myself this week.

High: I made, and pretty much stuck to, my task calendar this week. I crossed a crap ton of stuff off. Yay, me. “Drink all the coffee” was a particularly well-completed task.

Low: I went to the doctor on Monday morning. Early. Like, ridiculously early. Like, I-didn’t-even-know-this-hour-of-the-day-existed early. My doctor is a super cheery person, and is always put together like she’s about to hit a Junior League luncheon. She’s too lovely inside and out for me to hate, so I just roll with it. She’s used to me by now. So, I show up, wet hair in a messy bun, looking the epitome of frazzled writer or bag lady, or whatever. No makeup (sorry, Mom) but, you know, showered and closer to presentable than, say, the Uni-bomber when they found him in the woods.

I was so organized that I brought a list of all the things that WebMD told me I was dying from. She told me to stop googling my symptoms. Psssh. Like THAT’S going to happen. I mean, Scurvy is still around. So, it could happen. She did tell me that I have high blood pressure. Duh. Election. She also told me I had high cholesterol. I told her to shut up. In my head. Really mean-like. She knew. She patted my hand anyway in that super comforting way she does.

Then I showed her my skin cancer. And do you know what she had the audacity to tell me?

I have BARNACLES OF AGING. It’s a thing. It’s a total thing.

I slapped her. In my head. She handed me a print-out. About barnacles.

Then she hugged me goodbye. I kicked her in the butt as she left. In my head. Off she went to her lovely luncheon, while I, of course, now had images of Pirates of the Caribbean in my head.

Then I left with my print-out and went to Starbucks so I could research support groups. Doesn’t seem to be any, so naturally I must start one. I’ll post the links later.

I don’t think I’ll do that whole high/low thing again. Didn’t seem particularly helpful.

Are you kidding me with this election?

timeoutIt’s like watching a horrific movie while you’re strapped to a chair. It’s like a drinking game gone off the rails. I am unable to even. 

I have never had high blood pressure before, but lately? I’m about to stroke out. People that I thought were sane have gone INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE. I’m not even talking about what candidate they’re voting for – I’m talking about the sheer quantity of posts designed to maim and kill. No one is trying to change opinions by having conversations – they’re shaming anyone that doesn’t agree with them. Bridges are burning. We are branding each other forever as red or blue.

And I’m not talking about one or two people – I’m talking about the whole country! Families are turning on one another. It’s madness. The whole world needs a time out. And a cookie. And maybe a nap.

What’s Your Book About? And Other Questions I Currently Hate.

6awpomtI think the most dreaded question asked of me right now is “what’s your book about?” which seems innocuous, but isn’t, and here’s why.

There’s this horrific little secret I’ve been harboring all summer.

Deep breath.

Hi. My name is Chelle and I like to read terrible books.

Lots of terrible books. 187 so far this summer, in fact. Calling them terrible might be a little unfair since the writers (probably… maybe?) took a great deal of time and effort crafting them, but nonetheless the genres are a little ridiculous. Here’s my current favorite:

The Alpha Werebear Billionaire Bad Boy’s Secret Baby, Book 147 of the Killer Flames Motorcycle Club Series.

I’ve changed a tiny bit of this to protect the actual genre, but this isn’t far from reality. Alpha Billionaires are big. Paranormal Romance is big. Bad Boys are big. Motorcycle Clubs are big. Smoosh them all together and throw in a secret baby? HELLLLLO! I’ve spent the summer reading this stuff, one 42 page disaster at a time. I would like to say that I read the sheer number of these gems as part of some antidote to all the high-brow books on my shelf and the obvious literary superiority I possess, but the truth is… not that.

I read them initially because they were mindless and some part of me found them endlessly entertaining. I read them because I have Kindle Unlimited and for $10 a month I have 400,000,000,000 books to choose from. I read them as I was trying to decide what to be when I grew up. I read them because of the horrified texts my daughters sent when looking at our shared Amazon queue. Texts from my girls with the facepalm emoji make me giggle, I don’t mind saying.

Once I got serious about compiling my writing into an actual novel I got a little more serious about reverse engineering how and why they sold. THAT became fascinating. I started to learn about writing to market, beats (as explained by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt), tropes and the art of indie publishing. I absorbed as much as I could and then started reading these offbeat books from a new perspective. What makes them tick? Why do they sell? What does their author actually look like? Do they have a fantastic website?

scarlett_oharaMy marketing brain flipped. Damn you, marketing brain. (dramatically shakes fist like Scarlett O’Hara)

Writing software became important. Book cover analysis became important. Analytics on what writers earn and from what sources became important. Readers’ motivations became important. Editing budgets became important. Website design, newsletter automation and author promotion tactics became important.

Which brings me back to the question at hand. What is my book about.

Glad you asked! <insert fake cheesy grin here>

It’s about a consultant. Who consults.

In all seriousness, I’m trying to decide. Do I go for something I can publish proudly? Something in a genre that won’t make my mother fly out from California to do a well-check? Something that my girls could post on Facebook? Yeah, probably that. Chances are it wouldn’t sell and the marketing brain hates that ROI.

Marketing brain wants me to write to market a little better than a series of 147 books and make a little money. Write for the market that’s going to read this, like I did at the beginning of the summer. Money would be nice. Literary Integrity? Meh.

But then there’s the whole threat idea of a “well-check” from my mother. And those never end well.

90 Day Novel – Shoot Me Now.

I procrastinate so hard.
I procrastinate so hard.

Those that know me know it’s no secret that I lack a certain sense of… oh, how shall I put it?

Discipline.

I’m chronically late. I’m often finishing 11 things at one time. I’m on Facebook way too much and I read past my bedtime. I work hard in sprints right…up…to…and…almost…passing… DEADLINES.

I both love them and hate them. They’re the only things that keep me from procrastinating right up until my deathbed.

In short, I’m the worst.

So for some reason (looking at you Jackie Dana) I decided all on my own (::cough, cough::) to join a group of writers prepping for NaNoWriMo this year. I was/am actually excited about this. It’s designed to help you exercise the muscle of writing daily while you work through the process of a quick first draft.

Right up my alley. Just what I needed. Alright. Here we go.

Kickoff. Hey! I read the night before. I’m actually prepared. Go Me!

Days 1-2. Awesome. Only a day behind.

Days 3-4. Catch up over some iced coffee at Kerbey Lane. Could be doing better, but we’re still in the game.

Days 5-6. Welp. There’s always the weekend. No problem. You can do this.

Days 7-8. Off the rails. Nice, Honiker. Real nice.

My group is now on Day 13. I’m like the little short-legged child chasing after taller siblings. I love the super encouraging Facebook Group and I’ve actually successfully pulled off a couple of posts convincing them I’m not a tater tot. I am actually doing quite well with the structure and sequence of the novel. I am. And I’m pretty sure the book and discussion with my tribe around it is what unstuck me. So I’m not completely back in the ditch of procrastination.

And guess what? It’s the weekend. I’ll get caught up. Really. I will.