breakthrough.

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When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Ten years ago, my novel, ONLY YOURS, got rejected by its last publisher.
I was drowning in debt and financial troubles.
I was a single mom, living in an apartment with the weirdest neighbors ever, and working in a job that was… hard. (The work was great, the co-workers were great, but the culture was challenging.)
My boyfriend (now poor husband) at the time was long distance.

My writing well was draining. I tried, and only produced crap. Well, there are a few good parts here and there, but for the most part? Nothing. No novels, not even short stories or poems. Just snippets and false starts and oh God, it was hopeless.

So I gave up on publishing.

That was ten years ago.

After I moved to Chicago, I decided to focus on “real” things. Things that made me money. It was hard at first. The job market in Chicago is tough. But somehow I found my way and now there are times I have to turn work away because I get so much. This is a blessing.

I worked in advertising agencies. Long, demanding hours. Six day workweeks. Plus freelance! I was making so much money but I was sick and unhealthy and stressed. I started getting grey hairs!

Lily Pads & Yellow Flower
 

I trained to be a yoga teacher. And while I will *never, ever* regret that year—really one of my happiest, most intense, and most amazing—I decided I didn’t want to teach yoga.

I was an extra in a movie, and decided I wanted to be an actress. That journey was one of the hardest things, and I don’t mean the trying to get famous or even book jobs part. I mean the research, the studying, the self-exploration, the creativity it takes to embody a whole new person and make that person real and whole and true. I liked acting, but friends, I just didn’t love it enough for the amount of hustle it entails. So I was content to work as an extra for a season, and hang out in the background, eating junk food and hanging out with my friends who were extras.

That last experience yanked me back to my writing roots. I’d been writing crap on and off this whole time, but often abandoned stories about five thousand words in. Then work got too demanding and I couldn’t write if I wanted to. But being on set? It’s like being IN a story. And I guess the combination of background work and acting classes woke up my creative mind. I also went back to my roots. I love writing love stories. The day I woke up and said “I’ll just write a love story,” things clicked. And the words began to flow.

I finished my first novel since 2006. It was a hot mess. It still needs work. But I did it. I DID THAT.

I started writing it without the intent of pursuing publication. I was rusty. I was out of the loop so I didn’t have critique partners or a writing community to guide me through. This story was meant to be fun. But then it kept growing and developing into something more. Something that someone else might want to read. So I changed my goal. And started working harder. I found critique partners. I began studying the craft again. I wrote and revised and wrote and revised… and there is STILL work to be done.

But it feels like home.

I often lament about the publishing journey. It’s hard, and the constant NOs and rejections and “go back and try agains” can really do a number on one’s self esteem and dreams. I tried to quit writing again last summer after a heartbreaking rejection. I moved all my documents to the recycle bin. I muted all my writing friends on twitter and facebook. And I grieved. and I can’t think of a time when I felt more WRONG in my life. I’m a writer. I have to write. So I decided, I can write, but I’m done with publishing. My manuscript was with agents and I was seriously considering pulling them off submission, and settling into my “real” life of freelance and contract editing, cleaning up cat poop and vomit, and trying to figure out where to put all my stuff. I have a lot of stuff.

But something kept giving me hope. My writing friends pulled me out and pushed me. They put things in perspective for me. They told me to send my work to them if I felt like deleting it again. (I did have to do that, quite a few times.) Those conversations often blew up into encouragement. And so I lived to fight another day.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

I had a few more close calls earlier this year. Not quitting writing, just publishing. But remember, I still had those manuscripts out with agents. Something told me *not* to pull them off submission. Instead, I focused on my recovery and brainstorming TWO new books (which is wild, because I was scared I had nothing else in me), watching Netflix, sleeping all the sleeps, and catching up on reading.

I’m glad I didn’t pull them. I’m glad I didn’t quit. I’m glad I saw a McDonald’s commercial with a little girl who reminded me so much of little me (with better hair), and a brown father. I’d NEVER seen that before. Ever, ever, ever. That commercial touched me so much and reminded me how much representation matters. I’m glad I kept going, and that I *will* keep going.

Because friends, I’m now repped by Caitie Flum of the Liza Dawson Associates, and I could not feel more excited to be working with her! I’m so thrilled that she gets me and my book, she is a fierce fighter, and looks out for her clients. I’m eager to see where this journey will take us.

I still have a long way to go to realize that NYT best-seller dream. A lot more work, a lot more angst. But now I have an advocate, someone who believes in me, even when I might not believe in myself. (That happens a lot in this industry.) In the meantime, I’m so happy to be part of #teamcaitie!

jammin’ in the jungle!

Animal Kingdom

previous posts:
epic disney world!!
a magical day.
two worlds.
a slow start for hollywood.

Our last day at Disney World took us to Animal Kingdom, which is painfully underrated in my opinion. Of course, there is the safari, and Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest, but it’s just a beautiful park in itself. It’s one of those parks I’d like to just go and hang out in and read or something, except there’s too much to do and see to just sit! Ha.

We’d had mild weather all week, and this Friday was the first day we’d gotten to experience the true Florida summer sun. Even I wasn’t prepared for it… but I still loved it.

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We didn’t ride much at Animal Kingdom. Aidan and I rode Dinosaur. I was really impressed he wanted to ride it–it’s kind of a scary ride! I still have to close my eyes at parts… but we still had fun.

We spent some time over at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I like to go over there because I get to do things like make Falandos hold a big pile of poop.

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All four of us did the safari, and there were lots of animals out. Our Fast Pass time was later than I’d normally have it, so I was worried. I needn’t have.

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We finished the safari just in time to see the Jammin’ Jungle Parade! YAY! Now that I know most of the dance steps, the parade dancers like to come over and dance with me. It’s really cool!

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It's Sarah!
yay, sarah! she’s one of my favorite disney performers.

This was our last day at Disney World. :( After finally making our way back to the park, it was a mad dash to meet our car (this time an Escalade!) and head to the airport. Where the travel snags started again.

Our flight was to leave at 7:45. Imagine our shock when we saw that our flight had been delayed until 11pm. And as we stood there, the numbers flipped until after MIDNIGHT. Well. We figured we’d just relax, shop, have dinner… except randomly, they gave us another flight, which left at 8:15. I was convinced we were going to miss our flight. It was 7:45 already. Security was taking FOREVER. Talk about stress… trying to make it our gate on time…. where they weren’t even boarding. We made it home OK. Hungry, tired, and sad that the trip was over, but happy we had a few days together to talk about it and relive it through our pictures and stories.

So naturally, we’ll be planning next year’s trip soon….

That’s all of the trip reports for this Disney vacation. If you want to see all the pictures, just click here! :)

Till next time!

a magical day.

Giving 'Tude

No matter what, I always like to start my trips to Disney World off in the Magic Kingdom. I mean, it’s the Magic Kingdom! That’s where Cinderella Castle is and that’s where the magic really begins. With all the music and beautiful “lands” and the yummy scents. Magic Kingdom is the most crowded and congested park, but it’s also the one everyone thinks of when they think of Disney World.

So of COURSE we had to go there on our first day. We got there just when it opened and when we walked through those gates, all was right with the world.

Falandos and I have the sort of relationship where we tease each other relentlessly. So when he asked “Can I just say something?” while we were walking down Main Street, I was expecting him to say something smart. But instead, he grabbed me and hugged me and kissed my cheek and said “Thank you.” That made me feel like a million dollars.

We took loads of pictures!

Magic Kingdom

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Magical

Celebrating!

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After all that, we headed back to the new Fantasyland to ride the new Little Mermaid ride. Everyone liked it. Then we made our way over to Storybook Circus, where Aidan and I rode Dumbo while Mommy and Falandos hung out in the souvenir gift shop. Oh, we also made a stop to meet Minnie and Daisy!

Meeting Daisy Duck

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We met my friend Dara for lunch, and then headed to the Hall of Presidents. After that, we got stuck under an awning to wait out some major rain!

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It could have been a bummer, but it wasn’t. We just waited it out and hung out and chatted. We dodged the rain a lot as we made our way back over to Tomorrowland for Carousel of Progress, the People Mover, and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, which has been updated to include Monsters University stuff!

We ended up missing the parade, but with the weather so bad, I wonder if it even showed. We were watching part of the Dreams Come True show but it got rained out. Eeek.

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Falandos and I got Dole Whips. Yum. Not sure what we were thinking, having them so close to dinner, but who can resist them right? I had one for breakfast once….

We ate dinner at The Crystal Palace. My mom loves her hot sauce and managed to get a tiny bottle.

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We had fun meeting our friends from the 100 Acre Wood!

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After Crystal Palace, we headed over to First Aid and the bathroom. I’d taken a yucky fall and needed a Band-Aid. By the time we got done, it was raining AGAIN. Aidan really wanted to ride Pirates, so we braved the rain drops and went for it. My mom and Falandos were wary of Pirates–for some reason, they were under the impression that it was outside and they were sick of being wet. When I explained to them how the “waterfall” worked, they were still a bit wary but went for it. (Falandos was actually terrified, but don’t tell him I told you that.)

My mom LOVED Pirates of the Caribbean!

Then we made our way to It’s a Small World, and watched Wishes, from behind the castle. Then we made our way to the front of the park–we were all getting tired and we were pretty tired of the damp.

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But as we were leaving, a Cast Member stopped us and talked us into staying for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Which Falandos really, really loved.

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the one picture i really liked!

Attractions Experienced:
The new Little Mermaid ride (I can’t remember the name for the life of me!)
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
Mickey’s Philharmagic
Peoplemover
Carousel of Progress
Pirates of the Caribbean
Dumbo
it’s a small world

We didn’t ride a whole lot, but we still had a lot of fun. And for your viewing pleasure…here’s a short (44s) video of some of our morning at the Magic Kingdom!

And with that, I bid you good-bye for now. More soon! :D

Back To Myself

Flamingo

Ah. I feel so much more like myself today and let me tell you, THAT is a relief. I got to work in an office I enjoy, and I got to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in months and I even saw someone from my past life at Ogilvy. It was cool to see him! Sometimes I guess I just need some good energy to help clear out the cobwebs in my brain.

My sleep schedule has become way more conventional in the past few weeks. Disney World helped do that. It’s weird to wake up at 6am and think to myself “Wow, I can sleep for another two and a half hours!” (It helps to live very close to the offices I typically commute to, or in most cases, have the office in my living room.) I woke up feeling well-rested this morning and definitely less cranky. And I was greeted at the bedroom door by little Fi again. He must hear me moving around when I am getting ready so he goes to wait for me, and when I open my door, he’s sitting or standing there looking up at me. So sweet and cute.

He’s curled up beside me right now. :)

Last night, Adam made chicken nuggets from a recipe he got from YouTube, I think. They’re to mimic the Chick-Fil-A nuggets. He does a really good job with them, and they taste AWESOME. But then the leftover cooking smell drives me bananas 1. I diffused some lavender essential oil (I am anxious to receive the purification oil) and then I had to burn two incense sticks. Deep-fry smell lingers and lingers and gets onto everything. I’m not a fan. My friend Jen is the same way. She cannot stand cooking smells. I don’t mind them WHEN cooking is taking place. But once I’m done eating, get it away. I’m the same with strong food smells. Stew? Ketchup? Beef n Noodles? Get it away from me when I’m done or I’ll get nauseated. It’s weird.

Anyway, I’m not even sure how I got on that topic. I really just wanted to write and report that I’m feeling so much better today. OK then. Til next time! :)

  1. Unless it’s bacon. I’m surprisingly very OK with the place smelling like bacon all the time

Time to Rest….

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Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a day early, but I am not sure how much time I’ll have tomorrow to write. We’re hosting an early dinner this year and we’re going to have four guests. Plus, Aidan is here! I’m so happy!

It’s been a busy few days for me! (I’m sure Mommy Bags is thinking “what else is new?”) but the next few days, I will get to RELAX and enjoy the holiday with my friends and family!

No More Curls!
It’s Aidan! No more curls!

Here’s the lowdown on what I’ve been up to since the last time I made a real update!

I got asked to be a workshop manager at Moksha! This is a big deal, you guys. It’s a lot of responsibility, and they don’t ask just anyone. It’s a big commitment, but I accepted because I knew I had to. Five sessions a month, I’ll get to make sure the workshops are running smoothly. In return, I get great experience, more time with the master teachers, and free workshops. Plus, I get to wear a BLUE Moksha tee-shirt. I wore a purple one for my video review, I have a white one for work study, and a pink one that I just bought for fun a long time ago. I’ve already done my workshop training, next I have to do my front desk training. Then I’ll be ready to rock and roll. Rock on! :)

I finished the Tias Little Anatomy of the Chakras intensive workshop. I got a LOT of information. Right now, it’s all residing in my notebook which is now in my bedroom. I’m just taking it easy, letting my mind take in what it wants and moving from there. It was really amazing, and one day I’d love to go study with him at his center in Santa Fe. I don’t know… he has a really golden soul.

I went downtown to do some Christmas shopping and I went up to visit the big tree at Macy’s. :)

The 2012 Macy's Tree

I worked one day (today, actually) at Tris3ct, one of my favorite freelance clients to work for. They are so awesome. Such a nice atmosphere and I got to leave early today because of the holiday. :) I always enjoy helping them out when I can. They make me feel welcome and valuable. Really wouldn’t mind working for them part-time or full-time (but only after I’ve gotten my teacher training certification). Yeah…. I would really be OK with that.

I finally got a KitchenAid stand mixer! I got the red one, the Classic Plus. I haven’t sent in my rebate form yet, but once I get that $30 check back, the total cost (not counting tax) will be $179.99. Considering that the mixer’s retail value is $379.99, I’d say I DID PRETTY DARN WELL. I’ve wanted one for years. It arrived today and I used it for the first time tonight–OH MAN it is awesome.

It's Here!!!

I finally got a The North Face jacket. I actually got two. Not the big, fancy winter coat, though. Not yet. I got a yellow venture jacket and a magenta salathe fleece jacket from Nordstrom Rack (so the prices in the links are NOT the prices I paid). I’m very happy with both of them. :)

I got a makeover! Well, sort of. The day that I was downtown shopping, a girl from the Benefit counter asked me if I wanted to try some stuff on and I told her sure, as long as the look was natural. This was me in the morning, waiting on the train:

Just Me, Waiting on the Train

I usually don’t wear any makeup except face powder and moisturizer. She used moisturizer, a pore minimizer, some foundation, some eye shadow, light blush, light lip gloss, a bit of eyeliner, and some crazy mascara that made my lashes look a million miles long.

This was the result:

Makeover!!

What do you think? I kinda dig it. I got the pore minimizer and the mascara (they had a little bottle on sale) because I liked looking/feeling more polished and smoothed out. I also got a sample of the foundation, but I didn’t buy any of the colors because I very rarely wear that kind of makeup.

I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow! It’ll be the first day since sometime last week that I get to stay home. It won’t be a pajama day, but I don’t have to leave the house if I don’t want to. Considering the high is supposed to be 63F, though, I might want to leave the house.

So many stores are opening tomorrow night… I’m not sure how I feel about that. It just seems like there should be one day where we’re not thinking of going out and buying more stuff… but you know, that’s me. Other people don’t feel that way obviously. Hell, I barely feel that way. I’ve shopped on Thanksgiving before–I’ve gone to Garden Ridge on Thanksgiving before. And it IS tempting to go and REALLY immerse myself in the Christmas shopping experience, get all the deals, stuff like that… but I’ll probably get most stuff on amazon.com like I always do. We have prime again this year, which is truly a godsend. I’ve never been one for the door busters (like I’m going to get up), so I doubt anything changes this year. Although Adam’s gone to some of the *ahem* less popular stores and not had a problem with crowds… and Aidan is asking to go to Toys R Us (GOD HELP US ALL). So I guess we’ll see!

I’m thinking of putting the tree up this weekend while Aidan is here. It’ll be fun to have him help decorate. :)

I am so grateful for so many things! :) But most of all, I am grateful for the opportunity to relax tonight, sleep in a bit tomorrow, and spend Thanksgiving with my family and friends.

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