Monday, June 20, 2016

All About That Base

This weekend marked the beginning of my part-time job at the ballpark.  So far, it's a home run.

In Boston, my office had no windows.  To that extent, this job is a huge improvement.
Speaking of dad jokes... Happy Father's Day!

Yesterday - Father's Day - was my first non-training day of work.  In other words, it was the first day I would be showing up to a ballgame and doing the job by myself. The timing of my schedule ended up being something of a happy accident, as a minor league baseball stadium ended up being a great place for me to clear my head and reflect a bit on my late father.

My dad was one of those old-school baseball fans who would purchase a scorecard and keep score of the game as he watched.  To me, that practice felt a bit too much like schoolwork for me to want to do it.  There is a certain irony to that, as my job now is essentially to make sure that there is an accurate record for the results of each pitch for the purposes of record-keeping.  Statistics in baseball are very important to both fans and teams alike, so I make an effort to keep things professional and take the quality of my work seriously - but at the same time, I'm getting paid to watch baseball.  It's awesome.

This is the most recent picture of me at Fenway Park, taken with my friend Rich who loves baseball more than anything.

Most of my live baseball experience comes from Fenway Park.  The differences between the fanbase of Red Sox Nation and the crowd at my job were stark - here the crowd is about 10% the size of Boston and there are far less drunken bro-dudes and a lot more families with children.  The difference in vibe is noticeable:
  • The park has a lot of things for kids to do during the game, including bouncy houses and a stand where kids can throw pitches and get their speeds checked.  It takes some professional restraint not to partake in these.
  • During the seventh inning stretch, kids are picked out of the crowd and invited onto the stadium to sing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" with the mascot.
  • There's a character named "Roofman" who stands on the roof of the press box - literally directly above me - and throws shirts and baseballs and other souvenirs.  The kids go crazy for this.
The differences in size and audience lead to a much safer-seeming environment for children.  I always see little groups of kids exploring the park together, sort-of watching the game and roaming around in packs and having adventures.  It's honestly a pleasure to watch, way more than I think I anticipated it would be when I signed up to work there.

Mascot race between innings - the hamburger won.
I used to be one of those kids.  My dad took me to a handful of New Haven Ravens games when I was growing and they were always fun.   He'd get me peanuts and hot dogs and would let me run around when I inevitably stopped paying attention to a three-hour baseball game.  I eventually became a teenager and lost interest in baseball, but the times were great while they lasted. 

Going into minor league baseball games twenty years later is obviously a far different experience.  While I no longer experience the magic to the degree that I used to, I now get to experience it as an observer.  I would argue that I appreciate it even more as an adult than I did as a child.

The hardest part about getting older is finding a way to not grow cynical, especially in a world where social media is there to make sure we focus our conversational energy on tragedies and politics.  It is genuinely helpful for me to be able to separate from that world for a little way and to surround myself instead with families having a good time with each other.  I appreciate being able to see the world vicariously through the children at the ballpark - it helps me understand and appreciate why my dad brought me all those years ago.


My softball team in Boston - a group of people that I miss very much - was created by a son for his father to allow him to play.
I spent the first two nights of the job with my co-worker as he showed me the ropes.  The job itself is relatively straightforward and only needs one person there each night - it's actually tougher with two people since it becomes tempting to converse with each other which takes attention away from the game.  It was fun working together, since I love talking about baseball with other fans of the game but don't really know any out here on the west coast.  It's probably not a coincidence, but he also used to go see baseball games with his father as a kid, and he similarly appreciates the opportunity that we have to see a new generation of kids getting into it on a nightly basis.

Last night I had a lot of fun, soaking in the vibe of Father's Day at a minor league ballpark.  Baseball isn't the fastest paced game - something my friends who aren't into it constantly point out to me - but that gave me a lot of good time to reflect on the things my father (and, to be fair, my mother) did for me growing up.

When the Simpsons premiered I was a lot like Bart.  It's still on the air, except now I'm more like Marge.
All in all, I'm genuinely appreciative for the opportunity I've been given.  This new job provides me with a few things - namely income and a reason to leave the house - that have done a lot for my sense of self.  With those things taken care of, I'm once again at a point in my life where I can spend time writing without the fear of failure looming over my head.  Work doesn't feel like work when you like what you do.

Like the crowd at the stadium after a huge home run - things are looking up.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Character Creation

I'm going to start this story with a quote from an old post:

"We liked to joke that every life lesson was like gaining a level in a video game, and the goal was to get as high-level as possible so we could go on epic quests to go slay the metaphorical dragons of life. And like in a video game, our senses of style evolved (we called our favorite outfits our 'avatars') because they reflected the amount of confidence we had in ourselves."

I wish so badly that I could send this picture to me from ten years ago.

I've been using the "life is like a role-playing game" analogy for years now. It's so good!

For those not in the know, Wikipedia describes role-playing games as "a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making or character development". Put as simply as possible, role-playing games (RPGs) are games, usually set in a fantasy world, in which players create characters and then pretend to be them as they go off on adventures.

RPGs were my preferred form of escapism growing up:
  • My earliest memories of reading came from watching my brother play The Bard's Tale on the Commodore 64 when I was in the first grade.
  • I skipped a day in high school because of Final Fantasy 6 - I got to a certain point in the game where I was far more invested in the outcome of the imaginary world than I was in getting good grades.
  • 15-year-old me once forged my father's name on a permission slip to go play in a Live-Action RPG where people spent their weekends pretending to be in a fantasy world.  My parents - to whom I lied and said it was just a normal campground - came to visit me.  Some of the RPers, assuming they were in the game, started to interact with them.  My parents, completely put off by this, found me and dragged me out of there crying.  It may have been one of the more embarrassing moments of my life.
  • In the earliest days of the internet, I used to hang out in a chat room on the Prodigy service known as the "Para-Dice Inn".  It was a unique game - there wasn't any combat or rules or anything like that, it was just a place where we could pretend to be characters and interact with each other as them.
  • When I was 21-22 years old and starting to really question my gender identity, I got sucked into a game called DragonRealms.  It was the first time I ever got to experience playing as a female character.  It was great; if anything, it became a problem when I realized that I liked the fake life I had made online far more than my actual real life.
Regaining lost HP/MP.
While RPGs were a huge part of my past, they became something that I phased out of my life once I transitioned.  Once I underwent the process of becoming my idealized self in real life, the idea of just pretending to do it lost a little bit of its appeal.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to just start treating real-life like it's a role-playing game.

Chapter 1:  Name

It's time for me to make a confession: my legal name isn't actually "Shelly Moonbeam".

It's actually "Shelly Moonbeam-Hatter".  ;X
That name started out entirely as a joke.  A few years ago, I signed up to play a forums-based online version of the TV show "Survivor".  That's not a joke - I am a gigantic fan of the TV show and have never missed an episode, so when I saw a chance to experience playing I jumped at it.  I wasn't sure that I necessarily wanted a bunch of internet strangers to have my real name or e-mail address so I decided to make a throwaway account for the purposes of that game.  I was trying to come up with an email address that would make me look like a non-threatening Survivor player, so I figured it would be both smart and funny to pick a name that sounded as over-the-top like a hippie stoner chick as I possibly could.

Three things happened that I didn't anticipate:
  • The Survivor game introduced me to an online community of people who play similar games (mostly Mafia), and I wanted to stay in contact with the friends I met through the Survivor game, so I continued using that e-mail account.  
  • Some of my roommates at Eleanor saw the name "Shelly Moonbeam" on my computer screen and thought it was hilarious, and slowly but surely it started to catch on around my social circle.
  • I realized that I rather liked leaving a starting impression of people on me as an over-the-top hippie stoner chick.  Unlike my former label ("transgender"), I got to pick this one.  
When it comes to new adventures I'm always willing to get my feet wet.
The new nickname came at an appropriate time.  It was the first time in my life that I was figuring out who I want to be now that all transgender-related issues were more or less resolved.  Sure, "Shelly Moonbeam" paints a certain picture of who I am when people here it, but I like that picture.  I love that there are two distinct impressions the name Shelly Moonbeam can leave on someone.  Am I really so much of a dumb hippie that I don't get how over-the-top that name sounds, or am I actually self-aware enough to have chosen it having thought about how it would be portrayed?

Shelly Moonbeam became the name of my idealized self, just like the character I would create in an RPG. This blog, at its essence, is the story of how I no longer feel the need to differentiate between her and myself.

Chapter 2:  Experience Points

For years I thought that I would never be able to overcome the fear of coming out of the closet.  No way. Even ignoring how much internalized shame I had at the time over what I was, the logistics alone of telling every single person I knew that I wanted to transition made the task seem impossible.  I used to cite my largest fear as "rejection", and I simply wasn't ready to handle opening myself up to it on such a large scale.

Drinking out of a kiddie folding chair back in 2011 after an all-night party.  We wore costumes but weren't role-playing.
So what did I do to get over that?  I gained levels.

I figured out which people in my life were most likely to be cool with the news, and I told them first.  When I came out to my close friends, I oftentimes couldn't even say the word "transgender" because I was too embarrassed by it.  In each case I could clearly imagine the looks on my friends' faces as they curled up in disgust and made fun of me for it, and in each case nothing like that happened.

It's obvious in retrospect - my closest friends care more about me as a person than they do what gender I identify as.  At the time, I didn't have that sense of confidence.  But with each person I came out to, I got a little bit better at it, and I started to approach those conversations with more of an idea of what to say.  By the time I told my family, I had given the "I identify as a woman and want to take steps to correct" speech a half dozen times, and had a lot more of an idea of what I needed to convey.

The fact that I needed to come out to essentially everyone I know ended up doing me a lot of good.  Not only did I start to feel very comfortable talking openly about my gender identity, I started to build up a network of people that I knew would support me if and when I ever needed it.  Eventually I got to the point where coming out doesn't phase me in the slightest - these days I try not to talk about my gender identity unless it's relevant to a conversation, but I'll never shy away from talking about it if it is.

RPGs use this type of system a lot.  Whenever you defeat a monster, you gain what are called "Experience Points" (XP), which are in turn used to strengthen your character.  If you run into something tough, like a dragon, you might not be able to defeat it because you don't have enough XP.  When this happens, the solution is to find easier things, like goblins, that you can defeat and to go after those instead.  Eventually you gain enough experience to kill the dragon, and eventually you get to the point where the dragon doesn't even inspire fear anymore.

If you've asked for advice from me within the last few years, I've probably referred to goblins and dragons at one point or another.  It's my shorthand way to say "break up daunting tasks into smaller ones, and you'll grow better at what you're doing along the way".

Chapter 3:  Quests

The thing about XP, though, is that the amount that you need in order to improve starts to scale up.  Once you get to the point where you can easily slay a dragon, going after goblins just doesn't cut it.  No one ever stays in the same place in an RPG - the goal is to constantly find new adventures to go on.

I drew this, which says "I am bored with my life here", days before we made the decision to leave Boston.  
I am of the belief that if you're not constantly trying to expand your horizons / challenge yourself, life can start to grow boring and unfulfilling.  When I left Boston, I had a pretty good thing going, and yet I felt like I had to leave it primarily because I couldn't find anything new and interesting to do there anymore.  What good is becoming ones' idealized self if there are no longer any quests to go on?

When I look at my life through an objective eye, I can split my life up into different eras based on my primary struggle at the time.  From transitioning to socializing to dating to figuring out my purpose in life - quests are the process by which we experience new things, learn new lessons, and undergo personal growth:

  • Are you shy?  Why not go somewhere interesting and force yourself to talk to people?  Eventually you'll realize that most people also go into new interactions wanting to make friends, and that it doesn't matter if you find the occasional person who doesn't.
  • Are you lonely?  Go on dates.  Don't worry if some of the dates are bad - they make interesting stories and don't really matter once they're over.  Have you gone on lots of unsuccessful dates with no end in sight? Focus on improving yourself / your life and eventually you'll become someone that other people will want to date.
  • Is there something about you that you don't want people to find out?  Own that shit!  Be open and honest with other people and you'll probably find that your fears were unfounded.  Never let anyone's opinion of you hold more weight than your opinion of yourself.
  • Are you ultimately dissatisfied with your place in life?  Take conscious steps to improve it.  You're the only person you can count on 100% of the time, so you need to make sure that you're proud of the decisions you make.

One day you're shy, the next day you're dressing up like a wizard at Mohegan Sun Casino just for laughs.
I know that some of those things might come off as hokey, but they're all based on mistakes that I've made in the past and lessons I've learned as a result.  And I'm not trying to paint myself as better than anyone else and acknowledge that in many ways I've lived an easier life than most.

That's the fun part about both RPGs and real-life:  we're all unique.

Chapter 4: Avatar

Kayla and I did a whole lot of partying in the years that we lived together.  At that point in my life, I was switching between two whole wardrobes:  a normal set of clothes that I would wear to work, and a set of "festival clothes" that I would save for going out.  In keeping the two sets of outfits separate, I realized something - despite the fact that I wore work clothes five days a week, I had much more fun picking out party clothes.

When I wore normal clothes, I kept things pretty safe.  I shopped at Kohl's and Macy's and Marshall's and stores like that, and basically did my best to fit in with other women at my job.  Meh.

When I wore concert clothes, I went all-out.  Colorful ponchos, silk scarves, tye-dye shirts, patchwork pants, and velour clothes in every color.  I hated shopping for work clothes and loved shopping for festival clothes - this grew inconvenient given that I only went to a handful of shows a year while working five days a week.  It was frustrating and expensive to find new cool outfits that I wanted to wear, given that I had so few opportunities to wear them.

Sage and Warrior, 2012
One day, I had a similar revelation regarding my wardrobe that I had when I decided to quit DragonRealms. What was the point of dressing like my idealized self if I could only do it two days a week?  Was that really good enough?

I thought about it and made a decision - I got rid of all my clothes, except for all of my most favorite stuff.  I stopped worrying about fitting in altogether, focusing only on "what types of clothing do I like wearing the most?".  I stopped worrying about whether or not I looked "professional", put my hair in dreadlocks, and focused on dressing the way I would if I could wear whatever I wanted.

I don't typically wear denim, but if I did it would look like this.
It feels like a natural progression.  The more my life grew towards that of my idealized self, the more my clothing choices reflected the type of person I want my fashion to convey.

Chapter 5: Backstory

Who is Shelly Moonbeam?

I'd like to see her as a magical being, someone who uses her magic to solve problems and help her fellow adventures succeed.  A goofy trickster with a way with words, who loves being mischievous but would never be malicious.  A pacifist who prefers diplomacy to conflict.  A dancer always in search of music to move her body to.  An empathetic being who holds the bond between trust and communication to a high regard and seeks to understand it as best she can.

She grew up and found herself in the city of Boston, where she and her closest friend Kayla spent years adventuring together.  Through thick and thin the two supported each other as they gained levels together grew into their idealized selves.  They no longer live in the same city, but each rest well knowing the other is no more than a few hours away.

She fell in love with a rogue Mad Hatter who whisked her off into the woods, and together the two are on a quest to bring magic to the rest of the world - but that's a story for another time. ;)
My only objection to role-playing games is that it's far more rewarding to just actually live life like the character you'd create.

I'm not under any delusions that I'm some mythical character from a fantasy world.  I'm just a goofy hippie who does her best to make decisions that make her happy.  The only difference between who I am now and who I was when I played RPGs is that I'm making those choices for real this time.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Self-HelpDesk

The Problem:  Part 1 (written two weeks ago)

So here's the thing.  Even though I am happy with my current living situation at the homestead, I've still been struggling a little bit lately with the fear that I don't know what my purpose is here out here on the west coast.

My friend Jesse, who takes awesome photos, came down to visit me on my last day in Forks.  He's always keeping it Rial-to.
I can't remember the last time I've gone more than a month without employment.  My last three jobs spanned over a decade in which I worked full-time.  In that span, the idea of having this much free time to pursue my interests seemed like a total pipe dream.  So when I set out to leave Boston and start something new, I left with the full intention of grabbing the bull by the horns and creating something for myself.

And in a way, I did.  I'm happy that I've put as much into this blog as I have already, and I gain a lot of pleasure in knowing that I can share things about my life in a way that people find interesting.  Part of what makes me me is a desire to be an open book; I like the idea that people involved in my life know exactly where I stand on things because it makes it easier to connect with me.  So on that note, so far so good.

However, I've started to slack recently, to the point where it's frustrating me.  And so in an attempt to be true to myself, I'm going to try and use this blog to not only talk about my problems, but to try and solve them. I've always said that I wanted to be an advice columnist, and so it's almost unacceptable to feel stressed out without feeling comfortable writing it out.

So here we go:

"Dear Shelly,

I recently quit my job and moved across the country with my boyfriend.  I originally left with the intention of writing a lot and trying to find a way to turn that into a living while simultaneously helping my boyfriend run his internet shop, but when I look at the progress I've made in that time I'm not satisfied.  As the days go on, I feel more and more anxiety:
  • I'm writing fewer and fewer blog posts, and haven't written about any of the causes that I'm passionate about for almost a month now.
  • It's hard to jump into my boyfriend's store and take over parts of it and I get apprehensive when I feel like I'm not fulfilling a promise that I made to him.
  • Without a job, I have less money (and more time to think about that) than I've had in years.
I feel like I'm all talk.  Sure I'm writing a blog, but who cares?  What good is it doing?  Cody's store hasn't really gotten more visible since I promised to talk over that part of the store - if anything, it's gotten less visible.  I haven't really made a push to use my writing for any sort of a tangible good, outside of a story about drugs and a request to donate that I never really followed up on.

It's clear to me that I either need to get back to a place where I'm riding positive momentum, or buckle down and get a job.  Hell, probably both.  And yet even though I've had a week to move forward on these things, I haven't been.  When I look at the job hunting process I feel like I'm selling out and giving up, especially when I consider that most desktop support jobs require a drug test which goes against my principles.

What do I do to get over this and feel motivated again?

Sincerely,
Shelly
"

Rejected names for this blog included "Shelly Sunset".
That's as real as I can be about how I've been feeling since leaving Boston.  Living in Forks was a distraction for me - since I didn't feel like I was ever home there, I felt like I needed to resolve my living situation before I could feel free to start working on my professional one.  But I'm here now, and there's no longer any excuses.

So what advice would I give myself here?

"Dear Shelly,

Motivation and success go hand in hand.  When you're motivated to do good work, you're more likely to experience the success of a job well done.  That, in turn, will motivate you to go on to the next step.  What you're feeling is the opposite - you've gone too long without a tangible improvement in what you're doing, and that's subconsciously sending the message to you that if you get too invested, you'll fail.  Your sense of motivation has been replaced with a fear of failure, and you can't let that be the dominant thing driving your decision-making progress.

I want you to make two lists.  The first will be a list of all the things that you want to happen - this will be the list that you use to motivate yourself.  The second will be a list of all the reasons that you feel like you're not succeeding right now.  That will be the list of problems that you're going to need to figure out so that you're more likely to experience success.

Write those lists, and then cut out all the bullshit.  No more excuses, no more distractions.  No more talking about the things that you want to accomplish that you'll probably get around to doing tomorrow or next week.  You have to take responsibility for making the things you want to happen happen, because no one else is going to do that for you.

Force yourself to make moves even if you don't feel like doing it, and trust that once those first few things pay off, it will only get easier to improve.

You got this!

~Shelly"

You can't just wait around hoping for life to show you a sign.
The Problem:  Part 2 (written today)

I wrote the upper half of this blog entry two weeks ago.  Suffice to say, I wasn't really able to ride the wave of motivation that I was starting to feel as I wrote it.  Instead, I lost momentum.  Not only did this result in the longest space between posts that has occurred since I started writing again, but it made me feel like a gigantic hypocrite.  It's not easy to finish a post about how I plan to succeed while being aware of the fact that I'm not taking my own advice.

"How am I going to finish that blog post?" has been in the back of my head for the last two weeks.  The whole idea behind it - examining the relationship between motivation and success - felt almost ironic to me. The whole idea of this blog is that it's supposed to be a creative outlet for me.  It should relieve stress, not cause it!

Thankfully, I've had nothing but time to sit back and reflect on this.  I decided to take time today and bring my laptop to a coffee shop so I could find a way to finish this blog post without any major distractions. Interestingly, I had forgotten the specifics of what I had started with, so the answer to my hypothetical call for help came as a surprise to me.  I decided to take my own advice and wrote out the things that I want in my life that I think will make me feel more like I'm succeeding in life:
  • steady income
  • sense of purpose / direction
  • sense of being heard
  • creative outlet
  • relative autonomy
  • social circle / hobbies
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Resolution, Part 1:  A Paycheck and a Place to Be

Thankfully, I found what appears to be a really creative solution to this that I'm looking forward to.  I found a part-time job that I think plays perfectly to my strengths:  operating technical equipment for a minor league baseball team in nearby Salem.

As I've mentioned in the past, I am a huge baseball fan.  I've talked about my love for the Red Sox in the past, but I don't think I've talked about my relationship with fantasy baseball yet.  Long story short, I got into fantasy baseball in 2009 and have gotten into it more with each passing year.  When I first started playing, I was in a small league with my friends, but eventually got to the point where I wanted to play in a more competitive environment.  My current league, of which I have been a member since 2011, is filled with a core group of players who pay a lot of attention to the sport.

When I get into something, I tend to get really into it.  I like absorbing data that relates to my interests. Fantasy baseball is perfect for this because there is a wealth of data out there for those who enjoy that sort of thing.  I like keeping up-to-date with player news, I'll watch games on MLB.tv simply because I like watching baseball, and I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of statistics that I use to determine the relative value of players.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a Craigslist ad looking for someone with a combination of technical skills and baseball knowledge!  It specifically referred to "Pitch/FX software", something that I immediately recognized from watching games on a near-nightly basis.  I excitedly sent in an email expressing interest, and after a phone interview with the company that was hiring it felt to me like the feeling is mutual.

The job isn't exactly high-paying, the commute is a bit more than a half-hour each way, and the hours are a little bit odd since the schedule is directly tied to when home games are played.  But on the other hand, I'll essentially be getting paid to watch baseball - something I already do for fun anyways.  It will be nice to have a steady source of income and an excuse to meet people outside of the homestead with a shared interest in sports.

Resolution, Part 2:  Writing, not Wrong-ing

There's another reason I've had trouble finishing this post, and it's a little bit uncomfortable to write about.

I have always been on the record as saying that while I want to be a professional writer, I don't want to use this blog as a source of income because I felt like it would compromise the quality of my writing.  Also, it all just feels like such a pipe dream - to say something like "my blog is so interesting that I want to do this for a living" feels... I don't know, arrogant?  Pretentious?  I want this blog to be a labor of love, not means to an end.  But at the same time, I know that writing is what I want to do.  I've felt that way for a pretty long time.

It's been a little bit tough to reconcile putting effort into writing for free while simultaneously not having a guaranteed source of income.  It makes me feel like writing in here feel like a distraction that is taking my time away from doing things that are productive, like I'm pretending to be a writer to give myself a false sense of purpose while the truth is that I'm lost and unemployed.

The honest truth is that I'm not trying hard enough to succeed at this.  Writing one post a week and then sharing it on my Facebook where a handful of people who know me personally "like" it isn't enough to make me a writer.  And when I look at it realistically, I feel like I'm hedging a little bit - if I continue to write at the pace I'm doing it and things don't take off, then I can always fall back on the excuse that there's more I can be doing.

So with that said - I think I need to try a little bit harder at this.

I've always been aware of Patreon - a website where writers and artists can essentially write for tips.  To this point I had never really considered that to be an option, because it feels like it's essentially begging for money.  This blog doesn't really provide a service other than hopefully being enjoyable to read - who am I to declare that I should be paid for this?

But at the same time, if I am really preaching about the link between motivation and success, I need to put up or shut up.  Right now, there's no metric by which to measure the success of my blog outside of looking at pageviews on Facebook, and clearly that isn't enough to motivate me to keep doing this.  My biggest fear is that I'll fall into a trap that is familiar to me - losing momentum with a creative project only to drop it when something new comes along.

Writing will always be fun for me, but if I really want to do this for a living I need to expand my comfort zone a little bit.  That means putting actual work into this blog, like setting up a schedule and actually sharing my work outside of my circle of friends.  I'm genuinely frustrated at the way things have been going with my blog to this point because I feel like my standards aren't set high enough.

For the sake of holding myself accountable, my short-term goals for this week are as follows:
  • finish this post that has taken me two full weeks to finish
  • dedicate myself to putting time into this blog instead of making excuses for not writing
  • spruce up the formatting of my blog so that I'm proud to share it
  • set up a Patreon page so that I have the ability to set tangible goals for myself
  • make a conscious effort to share my work outside of my circle of friends
  • find a way to engage potential readers and make this blog more than what it is
  • get back to writing about things I feel passionate about instead of sporadic life updates
At the end of the day, my goal is to find my one true calling - I think it's writing, but I won't know for sure unless I give it my all.

It's a little bit surreal for me to reflect on the fact that my life is completely different now than it's ever been.  I was sick of life in Boston for sure - I wouldn't have moved out here if I wasn't - but I can most definitely say that I was taking things for granted.  Right now I have more freedom than I think I ever have had in terms of being able to dictate what I want to do with my life.  Sometimes it's hard to tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  

One thing that I know for sure:  I'm never going to be successful at this (or anything) if I'm not willing to challenge myself.  There are too many people out there who are willing to put the work in, and if I'm not one of them I might as well give this up.  This project started out with the idea of redefining what it takes to "make a living" - I can't just stop now because it's harder than I thought it would be.

I'm going to end this by thanking everyone who has shown me encouragement so far.  It means a lot.