Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Moment of Reflection: Dreaming of Sunset

I stopped halfway through my run to watch the sunset. @La Jolla, San Diego

I remember when I first started this blog. It was a little scary, and admittedly, it sometimes still is. At first, all I really wanted to do was chronicle the adventures I had abroad. It has grown to become so much more--to become a memoir of a sort--of my life for the past few years. I'm not sure if that's what I intended. It's been a wonderful escape, a refuge, and something that appeared to be the only thing constant in the midst of a life that was always unsteady--always shifting beneath my feet.

I don't entertain the fantasy that life is simple. Life is anything but. Nor do I wish for simplicity, for it's hardly in my nature to sit still and be given what I feel I must work hard to earn.

I think a lot about what motivates people--what makes them see the world the way they do and why they behave the way they behave. My quest to understand has only led to more questions unanswered. It's then that I realized: growing up is about not having all the answers--not even most of them. Life is about discovery, it's about making mistakes, getting lucky, and feeling the pain of being unlucky. It's about seeing sunset for the first time with eyes that truly recognize what it means to appreciate such beauty. To feel that aching pull in your chest that you realize is your heart beating, wondering what it is you did to deserve to see such magic. 

I'm a sucker for sunrises and sunsets. There's something indescribable in the feelings it brings forth. The colors: dirty rouge, dusky reds, and flaming licks of orange kissed by the dying glow of gold, creating a landscape that seems utterly surreal. The knowledge that this day is another day to begin anew, that all your troubles of yesterday are nothing but a choice: to relive or to enclose into a vault of memories untouched. Personally, I favor sunsets over sunrises. It feels like the release of a long sigh after a full day of holding my breath. It feels like saying goodbye to a friend--sometimes tearful, sometimes full of joy. It captures your attention, forces you to slow down, watch the light and lose yourself in the wonder that is life. 

I encourage you to slow down, to stop and just watch the sky. Breathe. Close your eyes and then open them again, and then thank God--thank the universe--you're alive. There's never a wish, never a moment better than this to embrace the very real fact that you are not guaranteed tomorrow. So stare at that sunset, watch it for all the seconds it has before it disappears, and pray you're given another day to watch it again. 

It's not often I get this philosophical or poetic on this blog. Maybe it's the glass of wine...I'm packing for  a week-long business trip to Singapore. Too many emotions fill me as I do this task for it represents a metaphorical sunset to a day where I'm filled with such deep appreciation for all that I've been given...

Keep dreaming, stay hopeful, and never lose yourself in the busy-ness that can so easily swallow up your days. You might find yourself waking up one morning to find a face unrecognizable, staring back at you wondering where your days have gone--the word "waste" tripping from your tongue, tasting bitter as you swallow back the weight of regret. So catch that next sunset and let time slow. Embrace the pull of a promise for a new day ahead, and find some meaningful way to express your gratitude when it comes. 

~Anna 

Friday, February 1, 2013

What it Means to be Dedicated

It's past midnight and I've got writing on the brain. Mostly it's emotions for the lack of writing I feel like I should be doing (oh, and I apparently have a family of wild rhinos upstairs for neighbors). I know I'm not fully to blame what with it being busy season at work and having to fly all over the country.


Already I've been to San Diego, LA, and Atlanta. This weekend will be a couple days in Ithaca, NY, followed by Pittsburg, and then quite a bit of time in Singapore. And to think it's the slower of the two recruiting seasons I manage. My job and all the people I meet and all the stories I hear makes my life all the more adventurous and it feeds my writing like nothing else. Except for real life of course. There's nothing like the truly hard, slap-in-the-face, shit happens, kind of life to give your writing fuel. Oh you know...those sometimes humorous but downright awful moments that just comes with living on this earth and being human.

Anyway, back to the writing. Until I Dream No More has been painfully hard to write, and for many reasons I think. One, being that it hits a little too close to home in that the protagonist goes through some painful godawful heartbreak, and second is that I think I enjoy writing science fiction and fantasy so much more. Until I Dream No More is supposed to be a novella, around 20k to 30k in words which makes for a quick read. But despite my previous discipline, when I'd written and completed Violet Storm at around 90k words and had the stamina to sit for hours on end writing with intensity and enthusiasm, this romantic tragedy is a little like trying to write while listening to nails on a chalkboard...over and over again. I do a lot of banging-my-head-on-the-wall coupled with copious amounts of coffee, heavy sighing, and pen on paper twirling to make it through the measly hour I have in the mornings to throw-up 1000 words per day.

Despite the difficulty of being out of my element in writing Until I Dream No More, I am happy to say, that there's no way in hell that I am dropping the story. It's likely it won't be my best, but I am damn well going to give it everything I've got, and pour into it all that I've learned about the art of writing a damn good story, and finish it...and then publish it. I promised myself one thing this year and that was to get this novella written and into the hands of the people who wished to read it, myself included.

The lesson of the day is on dedication. I've learned in observing others and their actions that dedication is more than just hanging in there; dedication is choosing to work harder despite adversity, even when the easier thing to do is to give up and try again later. People often times call "giving up" by many other names, and some sound a whole lot more like excuses.

I've made a lot of changes in my life the past few months and there are still many more I wish to make. I've decided to dedicate myself to my writing, to my job, to my health, and to my faith. When I'm not traveling (and sometimes even when I am), I wake up every morning at 6:00am to pray, and then I write for an hour or two, work a full day and then some, go home and hit the gym for an hour, work a little more, and then end my day with a prayer of gratitude. I do this every day. I hope to be more disciplined in life so that my dedication will bear fruit. It's a little severe I know, but right now, what I need is just that: a routine. Oh, that and nice abs. Nice abs would be great. I've got this four pack deal going on, but can't seem to uncover the final two. They have decided to remain hidden until I stop eating donuts.

Completing Until I Dream No More is going to be a challenge. Lucky for me, challenge seems to be my nickname (ha ha), and dedication will be my friend until I reach The End.

Readers, I'd like to know more about you. What are you dedicated to? How do you achieve that which your heart desires and what do you do on a daily basis to get you where you want to be?

~Anna


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