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One of the demons I wrestled with on my driving trip out west in January–and one of the biggest reasons for my pissy attitude at the time–was the overwhelming feeling I’d had for the previous six to eight months that it was way beyond time for me to stop being a burden on society and find something constructive to do with my time, talent, and experience (other than writing this blog–ha, ha). Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful I was able to “retire” there for a bit and do nothing more constructive than read and write to my heart’s content…go out to lunch with my friends…play golf…travel when I wanted…and…and…wait a minute, what am I bitching about? Oh, yeah. Activity dedicated to little more than self-gratification. Yeah, yeah, that. Well, believe me, it’s only fun for so long. Really. I’m not kidding.

Thankfully, those long miles alone in the car gave me the time and space I needed to properly sort my thoughts and to come to some conclusions about what my future might/could/should look like. The result: I applied to the Master of Social Work program at the University of Kansas shortly after I got home. Then I waited…and waited…and waited to find out if they’d take me. Every day since late March–when I was told letters of acceptance would start going out–I’ve gone out to the mailbox with high hopes of finding The Letter. And every day since late March, I’ve been disappointed. Walking back into the house, I’d repeatedly ponder all the possibilities for why I hadn’t yet heard from the school, comforting myself with the fact that I’d also been told that letters would continue to go out through the end of April. I’d wring my hands and wonder what I’d done wrong on the application that would cause the powers-that-be to question my suitability for the program and my qualifications to be a social worker. ARGHHHH! It was torture.

Finally, yesterday, as I walked out to the mailbox, I told myself that if The Letter wasn’t there (and it wasn’t), I was going to call the Dean of Admissions today and just ask. Put myself out of my misery. So I did. Call, that is.

See, I told you I have no patience.

Turns out none of the letters have gone out yet. The first batch, which includes mine, gets mailed tonight. More importantly though, I learned that I am, in fact, being offered a spot in the program for the fall semester. Woooo Hooooo!

So, if all goes according to plan, three years from now I’ll walk through the campanile and down the hill as a KU graduate and licensed clinical social worker; ready to start re-paying the universe for the untold blessings that I have enjoyed throughout my lifetime; ready to put my life experiences as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, community and school volunteer, neighbor, former teacher, student, business woman, reader, writer, life-long learner, instructional designer, and walking peri-menopausal hormone to good use. The relief is overwhelming. Truly.

Tom’s excited, too. Now he can tell everyone he’s dating a grad student.

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After 15 days and 4, 072.7 miles, the Tedster and I finally pulled into our driveway last night, spent but happy for our efforts. We were ready to be home even if home was covered in snow and the car thermometer barely topped 20 degrees F. Tom made sure the cold crap-ola outside was negated by the warmth inside. He had a pot of potato soup steaming on the stove, flowers on the island in the kitchen, the house cleaned, and was standing in the doorway smiling when the garage door went up. Damn, it’s good to be home. Teddy doesn’t even seem to mind the snow covering the grass.

That’s the great thing about Teddy. He never complains about anything…except being left alone (see my post about Midland, TX). No matter where we went or what we did, he was a perfect gentleman, accepting love and attention from everyone we encountered. He never got cranky because a meal wasn’t offered at the normal time, never fussed about being in the car for long stretches of time, never complained about the hotel we stayed in (I repeat, avoid the Guesthouse Suites in El Paso at all cost), never whined because the only place to have a wee was a windswept muddy patch of ground with RVs pulling in and out, never bristled at the comments about his bum leg.

And here I must pause for an aside. Since I’ve never had a handicap (at least a visible handicap–bumfuzzlement is a handicap, isn’t it?), I’ve never fully understood why people with handicaps complain that others see only their wheelchairs, their braces, or their white canes. I mean, I understand the lament on an intellectual level, but haven’t on an emotional one. After traveling with Teddy, I think I now have a little better understanding of how they feel. I was blown away by how many people we encountered who first commented on Teddy’s bum wheel. Forget that he’s as well-behaved as any dog on the planet, that he has an adorable wrinkly face, that he’s wearing a jaunty red neckerchief that makes him look quite dapper, or that he spins his tail in a complete circle when he meets someone new. People first noticed and asked about his leg. I did my best to patiently explain his condition, and Teddy eagerly exchanged howdy-dos with anyone who stopped to chat, but after a while I wanted to scream, “He’s a great little dog! Forget about his leg! HE HAS!” Please understand. I’m talking into the mirror here. This rant is all about me. I’m just letting you know I will be making a concerted effort in the future to look beyond visible handicaps to see people. Thanks to the Ted-meister.

That’s not all I learned on our trip. I learned that Teddy likes Elton John…a lot. He also likes Kenny Chesney and the Eagles, but Elton’s the man. I learned he hates rumble strips and slowing down for the tollbooths on the Austin turnpike…totally unnecessary interruptions to a good nap. I also learned that he’s willing to sit in the car and wait for me to have my own potty stop as long as I park the car where he can watch me go into the building and come back out again. If I want to leave him a Beggin’ Strip to nibble on during my absence, well, that’s just fine, too.

Hey, where'd you go?

He learned a few things about me in the process, as well. For example, he now knows that I have little tolerance (and more than a few bad words) for idiots…um hum, excuse me, drivers…who drive down the left lane of the interstate for miles and miles without passing anyone…often without even GOING THE SPEED LIMIT. Deep breath.

He also now knows that if he uses just the right tone of voice I will get out of my hotel bed at four in the morning to take him outside for a wee even when the spot for weeing is surrounded by idling 18-wheelers and that, if he waits me out, I will resort to hand-feeding him to ensure that we don’t get on the road in the morning with an empty stomach. Little shit.

Together, we discovered that the stretch of Interstate 10 between about 60 miles east of El Paso and about 60 miles west of San Antonio runs through some of the prettiest scenery you’ll see anywhere. Albeit, as desolate as you’ll see anywhere, but gorgeous nonetheless. It’s also a great stretch of wide open road for…well, if you must know…for driving fast. My dad, who worries about me a lot, reads my blog, so I can’t tell you exactly how fast Teddy and I were going, but let’s just say that my little six-speed G35 with just over 300 horsepower was very happy. Very, very happy. ‘Nuf said.

Because I have no idea what this little peak is called--and because I can be very juvenile on occasion--I've dubbed this little outcropping "The Texas Titty." See the wide-open highway? It was like this most of the way.

Mostly, we loved our trip because we got to see (or in Teddy’s case, meet) a bunch of people we know and love in Arizona and Texas. I want to thank them all for adjusting their schedules to accommodate our visit. Spending time with them went a long way toward adjusting my pissy attitude. It certainly didn’t hurt that they fixed us great meals, regaled us with hilarious stories, and–in a couple of instances–put us up for several nights. We had a blast with each and every one of them and miss them all like crazy already. Just know, if I ever get to be Queen of the World, I’m going to make it illegal for family members to live more than 100 miles apart from one another.

Is it just me, or does Dad look rather pleased about our departure?

My only regret is that our fifteen-day-long jaunt was an interstate trip–a trip more about the destination than the journey–and not a two-lane county-road-type trip that encouraged lots of stops and dilly-dallying along the way. If we’d stopped at every interesting little town, scenic overlook, and point-of-interest, we’d still be on our way to Arizona. So much to see. So little time. I’m guessing the road will beckon again soon. Teddy and I will be ready.

I grew up during the Vietnam War. As a child, I had no understanding of the politics behind our involvement in a conflict half a world away; but, I was acutely aware that whatever was going on over there was often creating a great deal of conflict here at home. The evidence was everywhere, including at some of our family gatherings. My mom came from a family of highly intelligent, opinionated, and politically passionate debaters who loved to argue every aspect of most any topic, including the war. When I was little, I found their “discussions” fascinating and their anger un-nerving.

Even in the quiet serenity of our own home, getting completely away from the turmoil was difficult. Most afternoons, while Mom fixed dinner, my sister and I watched the kids’ shows which preceded the evening news. Many times, if we didn’t get the TV turned off quickly enough, we were subjected to clips of the fighting in the jungles of Vietnam or footage of anti-war protests here in the States. Why were people so angry and violent?

Not surprisingly, it was with relief that I heard Walter Cronkite declare one evening during his newscast just before the holidays that both sides would be observing a ceasefire for Christmas that year. My relief quickly turned to amazement. Even as a 8- or 9-year old, I wondered why–if they could stop shooting at each other for Christmas–they couldn’t stop the war all together. Couldn’t we pretend that every day was Christmas? It didn’t make sense.

This memory came flooding back on Sunday morning as I scanned the bulletin of the church where we’d gone to hear a good friend sing and play the bells in her church’s Christmas Cantata. As we sat waiting for the service to begin, I read their Christmas Creed:

I believe that Christmas is a spirit…not a season of the year, but a way to live. It comes whenever wise men and shepherds bow down at the same shrine; whenever charity displaces intolerance; whenever old enemies forgive one another; whenever kindliness takes the place of ill will. I believe in the Christmas hope as the way to live for all persons and nations. I believe that peace on earth and good will among all can become living realities in this generation.

Indeed. What if we did spread the true spirit of Christmas over 365 days instead of trying to cram all into a few short weeks at the end of the year? What if we all were on our best, most generous behavior all year long? What if we based our decisions not on the almighty dollar, but on the dignity and humanity of others. If you ask me, that would give real meaning to Christmas.

As for the quote itself, I have no idea who wrote it or where it was published originally (if it wasn’t written by someone at the church), and I apologize for being unable to give proper credit, but I sincerely thank the writer for putting the musing of a young child into such eloquent and thoughtful form.

In the most recent post on her website, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, the current Poet Laureate of Kansas, writes:

In Kansas where I live, particularly in the western part of the state, the land is curved and lined with beautiful stone fence posts, each one holding the wire fencing from one place to another. We have such fence posts in our lives too: moments, events, occasions that stand as strong posts leading our lives along the same route or turning us new directions…Fence post moments are the times we want to remember because they changed or reinforced something vital about who we are, how we live, why we’re alive.

What an incredibly vivid analogy and beautifully worded thought. (Thanks, Jordana, for introducing me to Caryn’s website!)

In the same post, Mirriam-Goldberg challenges her readers to make a list of their own fence posts moments and to write about them. So, always up for a challenge, I sat down at my computer this morning and began contemplating my own fence post moments, unsure where to start.

About that time, Teddy, who was–and still is–snoozing away loudly under my desk, popped the cheese. Stiiiiinky cheese. As I wrinkled up my nose and began looking for something to fan away the blue cloud, I inwardly grinned when I realized that Teddy is as good a fence post moment to write about as any. A fence post I never saw coming.

Snoozing--among other things--under my desk

I won’t bore you with the re-telling of how Teddy came into our lives. You can read all about that in a previous post titled “Meet Teddy.” But I will tell you this: our decision to adopt Teddy was totally an instinctual response to the moment. All heart, no head. I couldn’t then–and still can’t today–offer up any plausible rationale for why we brought that wrinkly faced, squared-butted little mutt home. Instead, I can give you numerous reasons why we never should have, including–but not limited to–the extremely expensive fence we’ve had to put up; the vet bills for ear infections, skin rashes, teeth cleaning, grooming, et al; the loss of freedom to come and go without worrying about an animal; the interrupted sleep when someone–who shall remain nameless–whines while chasing bunnies in his sleep; and the definite deterioration of the air quality in my office on a darn-near daily basis.

Still, I’d fight you to the death if you tried to take him away from me. To the death.

Teddy reminds me–and everyone else around here–every single day what’s really important.

Had a bad day? The boss making you crazy? You say he’s making you work this weekend? You have to travel to meet clients where? For how long? The doctor made you wait for more than an hour before seeing you? You have to have your blood drawn again, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, and you have to wear braces? Damn. Well, just lie down here on the floor. I’ll curl up next to you and make sure you understand that nothing is more important–nothing–than a good snuggle and a belly rub.

You want me to come inside so you can go run errands? Have you been outside today? Have you felt how warm the sun is and seen how green the grass is even though it’s already December? Have you ever just parked yourself here in the liriope belly up and watched the clouds? No? Well maybe you should consider it. Trust me. The errands can wait.

Still haven’t fixed the splotchy paint in the living room and kitchen? Floors need to be scrubbed? Yeah, those windows are pretty dirty, but how about if we go for a ride in the truck instead? You drive, and I’ll perch myself on the console and nuzzle your arm as we go. I’d be extra happy if you’d turn on the vent so my ears get blown around a little bit. See, isn’t this much better than housework?

Every time Teddy sits up on his square butt in anticipation of a Beggin’ Strip, I’m so pleased I followed my gut instincts and brought him home. Every day, when Teddy is following me around like a shadow, intent on keeping me company, I’m grateful Tom honored my “knowing” and didn’t argue with me about adopting him. Every evening, when Tom and Brian are trying to teach Teddy how to play Gotcha (the poor little guy still doesn’t get it, but he’s trying), I’m giddy that I ignored the perfectly practical reasons we didn’t need a dog. And every time Teddy positions himself between me and a contractor, the mailman, or a delivery person and woofs, I’m thankful to be so well loved.

Teddy is a very special fence post for me, one–no doubt–that will lead to many more.

Riding in Dad's car isn't nearly as fun as the truck

For longer than I want to admit, Suzi, my hair stylist, has been trying to get me to stop forcing my hair into a style that goes against “the way it grows.” She’s tenacious. A real trooper. I’ll give her that.

For several years now, after painstakingly cutting and shaping my short locks, Suzi has added a dab of gel or styling mousse to my wet hair and then blown it dry into a soft, easy style, using nothing more than her fingers to finish her handiwork. After a quick toot of hairspray, she sends me out with door with hair I can still run my fingers through. Once home, I have stubbornly re-wet my hair and blown it dry, using a brush, more product, and lots of contortions to “fluff” up the hairstyle Suzi has just given me (and I’ve spent good money for). If I’m lucky, in the process, I’ve tamed the mind-of-its-own cowlick that dominates the back of my head. Suzi has never tried to hide the cowlick. Instead, she has accentuated it…really…like it’s an enviable feature other women should covet. I’m not convinced. Anyway, after I’d get my “do” just like I wanted it, I’d blast it with generous quantities of hairspray to secure my efforts into place, and I’d be happy. I could no longer run my fingers through my hair, but I’d be happy. That is, I thought I was happy.

I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. I finally get what Suzi’s been subtly–and not so subtly–trying to get me to understand. Maybe she wore me down. Maybe all those products have finally seeped into my brain. Who knows, but for some reason, after my haircut last week, I understood, and I’ve since stopped trying to wrestle my hair into a style it has no desire or ability to hold. Now, like her, I give my hair a squirt of gel, blow it dry with my fingers, and give it a light toot of hairspray. As a result, getting ready the last few days has been a breeze, and–with the exception of my goofy-ass cowlick–my hair has never looked better (purely personal opinion). Please understand, I have no delusions, the back of my head still looks like a dog’s butt, but for some reason I don’t care. How did that happen? Why do I know think my hair looks fine–really fine, actually–when before I hated it? I have no answer. The only thing I can tell you is getting ready is now so simple. So very, very simple.

I wonder what else I’m doing in my life that goes against “the way it grows.”

I had really hoped to sit down and write today. I’ve had all these things rattling around in my head that I want to write about, but no time to give them form. I’m not complaining, really. Since I last posted, I’ve enjoyed a visit with a sister-in-law I rarely get to see; a few wonderful days of having Tom home on vacation; several fun outings with Tom, Carey, and Austin; a trip to a local farm for fresh sweet corn, green beans, peaches, and basil; lunches with good friends; and a couple of good movies. I’ve managed to get the dog groomed, the car serviced, a contract written for our fence project, an estimate for having some trees trimmed, the sweet corn and green beans from the farm frozen and stored, the laundry done, and my bags pseudo-packed for my trip to Texas tomorrow. Oh, and in the middle of all that I successfully crossed over to the dark side–chronologically speaking–without any major body part breaking, shriveling up, or falling onto the pavement. But today, I had really hoped to write…

It wasn’t meant to be. All good intentions evaporated as I flew around the house, arms waving, hair on fire, clock ticking, accomplishing…well, I don’t know what. In the middle of the chaos, as I’m trying to get out the door to meet a friend for lunch, I realize Teddy hasn’t been out to have a wee yet. Ye, gods! He’s normally not interested in going outside for any reason much before 9 a.m., but it was after 11! Surely, the poor little guy was about to burst, so I start clapping my hands and slapping my thigh, squealing, “Come on, Teddy! Let’s go outside, buddy!” and generally acting like I’d lost my mind. How could I be so distracted? And what was I going to do if he didn’t hurry up and pee? Holy cow, I was going TO BE LATE! After much effort, I got him heading down the stairs, out the door, and into the backyard. Whoops. Wait. I went running into the backyard, slapping and squealing; Teddy made it as far as the patch of liriope on the edge of the patio before throwing himself down in the middle of it with the biggest, most satisfied grin on his face you can imagine.

ARGHHH! Teddy and I have had a discussion about the liriope before. From my vantage point, it’s part of the landscaping–something IMG_0006[1]to be looked at, not sat on. From Teddy’s vantage point, it’s really thick, fluffy grass with little, smelly-good, purple flowers–a perfect spot for a pause in the sunshine. The first time he decided to park himself there, I fussed at him, and he reluctantly moved out into the yard. Since then, I’ve generally given up the struggle and allowed the indulgence. You have to pick your battles, right? But today, as he sprawled there grinning at me as I ran crazed circles in the yard, I had an epiphany. There was more to lying in the liriope than defiant behavior or ignorance of previous discussions. He was blissfully happy. I, on the other hand, was a raving lunatic. He was enjoying the glorious summer day. I was sweating like a whore in church. Even if he did have to pee, there was liriope to lie in. What was I going on about? He could whiz later. It could wait.

Oh, for crying out loud. Scoot over and let me sit down, will you?

“Hi, I’m calling to enroll in the Basic Cooking Skills classes—all four of them. I’d like to enroll my husband, too.”

“Great! Have either of you taken classes here before?”

“Well, my husband hasn’t, but I took a cookie baking class about a year ago.”

“So neither of you has taken the Basic Knife Skills class?”

I was afraid she was going to ask me this, “Ummm, No.”

“Well, we do recommend that you take the Basic Knife Skills class before starting the Basic Cooking Skills series.”

Nuts. I’d read this in the course catalog, but I really didn’t want to pay $120 for the two of us to take a class on how to use a knife. I mean, come on. A knife? Maybe a food processor, but a knife? So I opted to play dumb. “Really? Do we have to take the Basic Knife Skills class before we can enroll in the others?”

She wasn’t going to give me a break. “Truthfully, you don’t have to, but we strongly recommend it,” she said patiently and with great emphasis on the words “have to” and “strongly.”

Rats. Time to come clean. “Yes, I read that in the catalog, but I was hoping to just jump right into the cooking courses. You see, we’re both well over 40 and have been using knives for years. It seems a bit unnecessary.”

“Yes, ma’am. Most people feel that way. But I promise you won’t be sorry if you take the class.”

Big sigh. Not wanting to have a black mark next to my name before ever even starting the classes, I enrolled us in the stupid Basic Knife Skills class.

Crazy, but true, it’s one of the smartest things I ever did.

For years, my mother had been giving me the business about my dull knives. She lived on the other side of the continent by then and wasn’t in my kitchen often, but when she was, she’d mention the inadequacy of my knives every time she cooked with me. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I managed to put meals—facile meals, but meals—on the table with those knives every single day of the year for twenty-some years. Why couldn’t she just suck it up and use them without giving me such a hard time?

Why, indeed. Once I took the Basic Knife Skills class, I understood why, and I marveled that Mom hadn’t been more militant about the whole thing than she was. Ye gods, she showed restraint!

The course description of the Basic Knife Skills class read, “Any chef or serious cook will tell you there is no substitute for proper knife skills as the foundation for all other cooking skills.” In hindsight, all I can say is, “Amen.” And after taking the class, I would go one step further and add, more specifically, there is no substitute for the right sharp knife, either. For me that knife is a Wüsthof 6½ inch Santuko knife, a knife I learned about in class that night. I seriously can’t cook without it or, at least, without something comparable.

Need an onion diced up? No sweat (and usually only a few tears). With my beloved Santuko and the techniques I learned in the class, I can dice up an onion—or any other veggie or piece of fruit, for that matter—without any drama whatsoever. That was not true BTC (before the class). BTC, it routinely took me way too much time to prepare the ingredients for something as simple as a stew or a salad. Not surprisingly, I often went to great lengths to avoid preparing certain dishes all together just because I didn’t want to go to the hassle of cutting up all the ingredients. Even worse, when I was truly desperate, I would resort to the more expensive and way-less-nutritious option of buying the already-cut-up-and-frozen versions of the ingredients. How silly.

Today, I can mince garlic, dice red peppers and tomatoes, chop carrots and fennel, slice avocados and mushrooms, and chiffonade basil without thinking very hard or spending much time doing it. I have found I truly enjoy the time I spend standing at my cutting board, mincing, dicing, chopping, and slicing. Even though I have since purchased a number of other kitchen gadgets designed to help me cut up ingredients, I still, more often than not, reach for my Santuko.

And I love using words like “chiffonade” and “Santuko.” Tossing the word “chiffonade” into a sentence makes me sound like I know what I doing in the kitchen, even when I don’t (which is often). It impresses my non-foodie friends and gives me the confidence to try new things with food that I would never have attempted BTC.

Today, I live in my kitchen and love experimenting with new recipes and new foods. I’m mortified to think I might not ever have expanded my vocabulary nor my culinary horizons had I insisted on skipping that one class or had I failed to treat myself to the one kitchen gadget I now know is essential to any serious cook.

The woman on the other end of the phone that day was right. The Basic Knife Skills class was a game changer for me. I will be forever grateful. But you must excuse me now. My roasted vegetable ragù is ready to come out of the oven.

In my previous life, my to-do lists were generated by the demands of a busy family and exacerbated by my professional life: get the laundry done, finish the user documentation for Client X, shop for the ingredients for the taco casserole you’re taking to the soccer banquet, compile and distribute the meeting agenda for Organization Y, call and invite Prospective Customer Z to lunch next week to discuss possible projects. If I failed to check an item off the list, I ran the risk of causing a problem for a family member, a client, or my business. Now that my children are grown and gone and I no longer have a “professional life,” per se, the items on my list are all of my own creation and have little potential for impacting others negatively if I fail to get them done. So, why in the world am I stressing out over checking off the tasks? For that matter, why do I even bother to make lists in the first place? One word. Guilt.

I’m finding I feel just as much pressure to make my lists and be as “productive” now as I did when I was working. Actually, I feel more pressure to be productive, in large part–I suppose–because I’m not contributing financially to the household anymore. No paycheck, huh? No, but I’m baking homemade cookies and tackling home improvement projects and preparing yummy, nutritious meals every evening and writing every day and…and…  Ironically, no one around here but me cares that I’m not employed and adding to the family coffers at the moment. No one around here has ever complained about the lack of homemade goodies or the projects that have gone undone in the past. So why the guilt? Why can’t I sit down to read a book, stretch out on the couch for a hour-long afternoon nap, or watch the Barefoot Contessa make yummy chicken pot pies and enjoy myself? Actually, I would be lying if I said I never take an afternoon snooze or that I never watch my favorite cooking show. It’s just that I do those things sparingly and never do them without feeling guilty. I can never just “be” without guilt raising its ugly mug and ruining what, by all accounts, should be a pleasurable past time.

Strangely–and maybe fortunately–the guilt comes in multiple strengths. For example, I can sit down and read a book or magazine article without guilt if I’m reading the book as part of my research for a writing piece. That type of reading is productive, right? I can sit down and read a book with minimal guilt if I’m reading the book for my book club. Not income-producing maybe, but still productive. Read purely for pleasure? Now that is clearly non-productive. Guilty! I’ll give you another example. I feel guilty if I go out and play golf during the day without Tom. However, I can lessen the guilt if I walk instead of ride. Then the round can be considered exercise, and that’s productive, right? As for naps, I still haven’t figured out a way to rationalize those. No matter how good I feel physically after a nap, I always feel I need an excuse for having taken it even if no one asks for one. It’s goofy. I know it’s goofy, but I can’t seem to make it stop.

I suspect there are many like me. I know at least one, a dear friend who lost her job a couple of months ago. Before three weeks had passed, she had–among a number of other smaller projects–cleaned out every closet in her house, cleaned and re-organized her entire basement, and re-painted her living room and dining room. Now, with all of her home improvement projects completed, she’s offering to help me with mine. She’s nuts. We’re kindred spirits.

With the exception of vacation days, I don’t know if I’ll ever learn to fully enjoy “non-productive” days. Even though I love the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a particularly productive day, I can’t help but think I would be healthier and happier if I could occasionally embrace a day–or part of a day–in which all I’ve managed to do is enjoy the singing birds, the setting sun, the building storm clouds, the back of my eyelids, and/or the company of my favorite author. Without guilt.

For the eight years prior to January 1, 2009, I earned my living as a technical writer. For most of that time, I enjoyed working for wonderful clients on challenging projects, but as the years passed, the actual content I was required to produce grew ever more repetitive, so repetitive it could have written itself if it hadn’t already bored itself into a stupor. I couldn’t do it any more. I declined new projects, shut down my business, and enrolled in a creative nonfiction writing class at the University of Kansas. Along the way, I discovered that I wasn’t burned out on writing after all. I was just burned out on technical writing. Whew! What a relief! I couldn’t imagine not writing. Now my problem is, even though I was good at making a living as a technical writer, I have no earthly idea how to make any money writing the fun stuff…the stuff I’m interested in…the stuff that makes me laugh, or cry, or learn something new. So, while I’m figuring out what my next career might be (and there have been many careers over the years, but that’s another post), I thought it would be a good idea to put myself in a situation that requires a bit of discipline, a situation that provides some motivation to put my backside in a chair every day and tap on the keyboard constructively, a situation in which I might possibly rub elbows with other writers. I hope this is it.