occupying MY MIND

I love being praised. oh, come on, who doesn’t? who doesn’t love the oooh’s, and ahhh’s and oh my god this is the best thing ever … ever… written, sung, painted, acted, created, baked.

yesterday was not one of those praise days.
it was filled with oh my god, maybe i oughta get a job at florsheim (shoes).

you know what i’m talking about. i know you do.

but being praised, i have found out, doesn’t get you to go down deep. it doesn’t get you to take stock. it doesn’t get you to crawl into a ball and rethink your entire life. it doesn’t get you to sit in silence — while other folks are speaking your words — and ask/beg silently for another life skill, one that includes healthcare and a pension plan, and if not that, then at least a cafeteria where one can sulk into their dispensed warm coffee and powdered milk. being praised doesn’t get you to think about how much you love, or don’t love, what it is you do.

yesterday, sitting next to ken in the car, heading uptown in unbelievable NYC traffic – i thought about what i can do with the rest of my life since i felt like a complete and utter failure as a writer. it was not – i repeat NOT – a good writing day. it was definitely one of the worst i ever had. it washed over me like bad shampoo – leaving a film and frizz. i stared out onto the streets of new york city and looked at all the folks who were on their way home (or going somewhere) from their 9 to 5 jobs. out of say, a couple of hundred folks, a few seemed absolutely content. most seemed pre-occupied, disinterested, unaffected, bored, self-centered. i sat there, staring, watching… and thought about how many of them had dreams they probably gave up because they hadn’t been afforded the opportunity to pursue their passion. how many of them tucked their creativity in the back of the drawer, deep in. how many folks wished and prayed and hoped to find a few hours to explore what’s buried inside them, but don’t out of complete and utter self-rejection.

which brings me back to praise.

it’s like someone telling you they love you all the time. even when you say something awful, or shitty, or mean spirited. it doesn’t help you grow. it doesn’t make you a better human being. it keeps you off the hook. it keeps you from being bigger. smarter. brighter. alert.

for about a good few hours i wallowed in this ‘oh my god what am i gonna do with my life now since i’m not a writer, i’m a make-believe, fake, oh yeah sure i had a chance once or twice or three or four times but that’s over now writer, and god only knows i have no skills whatsoever, none, zip, zero, no ‘job’ skills anyway, what am i gonna do with the rest of my life if i live to say 97?’ this truly occupied my mind, this ‘what am i gonna do thing/scenario/drama.’

i did what i always do when my mind is racing, i took an ambien and went to bed. upon waking this morning, after i fluffed/spiked my hair – i was about to head down the what am i gonna do with the rest of my life rant – i stopped cold.

holy shit, i thought, i get to write every single day.
i get to do what i love.
i get to wear pajamas.
i get to fart out-loud and then point to bella and say things like, ‘uh oh smelly cat.’
i get to tell ken things like, ‘please don’t disturb me, i’m trying to download the new improved solitaire app.’

the aha moment, the oh my god, i get it moment: being praised is all about someone else loving me/you. all you have to do when someone praises you is say, thank you so much i’m so glad you love me.

being criticized, disliked – squirming uncomfortably in a chair with no cushion – is all about falling madly in love with what it is you do. writing, painting, bowling, singing, dancing, teaching, nursing … falling in love with you/yourself; not giving up on you. not losing faith in you/yourself. it’s the moment you take a deep breath, swallow hard, and determine that you will win the pulitzer. or nobel prize. or booker. or academy award. or tony. or emmy. or peabody. or best teacher of the year. best nurse/doctor/bowler of the year. and it isn’t about proving something, anything to someone else. it’s not about someone else loving what you do, it’s about loving what you do.

oh. my. god.

i get to be the best at something for me.
i can not tell how how relieved i am.

i get to praise, honor, love, appreciate, approve of me … to me.

ps: never give up on yourself. that has tragedy written all over it.

Category: Uncategorized 5 comments »

5 Responses to “occupying MY MIND”

  1. Madgew

    Agree. Got to love yourself first and foremost then allow others to love you and accept it.

  2. Debbie

    Great post. I have pondered these things as well. I will be 55 on my next birthday … all of my life I’ve been a secretary – big whoop, but then I got laid off and I was laid off for a long time and I started to blog. Then I met you and you were so encouraging and full of “praise” for little ol me … which was amazing for me. I found something that I had so much fun doing. My little blog is not going to win awards or change the world and I’m not writing the next great novel or a screenplay but it’s something that I love to do and when I’m doing it the hours fly by. “I get to be the best at something for me” .. and that’s what matters most.


  3. Carolyn Wyler

    Just what I needed to hear. So well written. Thank you

  4. Debra DeAngelo

    Oh my heavens. Amy, I think sometimes you don’t see yourself accurately. In my mind, you are not just a star, you are an angel. You are one of the inspirations that finally dislodged me and got me writing fiction… a big scary barrier so far. But, I’m doing it.

    I understand that “coulda, shoulda, woulda” thing. About five years ago, I won a national talent search contest, and was picked up by a new syndicate, and was in 45 newspapers at its peak. Then the newspaper industry collapsed, and the syndicate went belly up. At about the same time, I went from four local newspapers to two. And I’ve stayed bottomed out at two since then.

    I was feeling like, what’s the point… I’m done. I’ve already peaked. About that time, David Lacy contacted me and said he wanted to write again. He asked if he could link his website to mine, and I laughed bitterly because I told him that linking to my website was a fast way to make sure nobody saw his writing.

    But… we started talking… maybe.. what if this, what if that… and this was where the idea of iPinion was born. And the experience of writing ANYWAY, and shining ANYWAY, even when you feel washed up has been very positive. Even more positive than that has been the experience of working with others who were unsure of their abilities and didn’t think they were writers… coaxing and coaching them along, and then like little birds in the nest… one day they just launch. That has given me so much satisfaction.

    I think at this point in life… I still entertain the notion that something I write might be the next big hit. But, I’m also enjoying helping others along who might be the next bit hit. I might be a catalyst for that, and that gives me satisfaction.

    But as for me, I felt washed up. And then I took a gulp and shared my next venture with you and Sunny… that little blurp I wrote and showed you. It was like exposing myself naked and cringing to see if anyone would barf. And… YOU, Amy Ferris, whose writing I just LOVE… YOU did not barf. You encouraged me. You may not realize what a huge thing that was to me. I have not written ANY fiction before. If I finally finish something…. you will have participated in that.

    You are succeeding in ways that maybe you forget to consider… you are succeeding as an angel, a catalyst, an inspiration…. we’re all interconnected in this web. YOU are a strand in that web. YOU make the web better and stronger.

    And… never doubt yourself and your achievements as a writer, because you are in inspiration… your raw honesty and bravery, and mastery of pace, tempo and white space are BRILLIANT.

    I love you, Amy! You love you too…. don’t just love what you DO… love who you ARE. 🙂

  5. Sunny

    What Debra said. 😉
    Seriously, I’m beginning to think that you and I were separated at birth. DEBRA – YOU WERE RIGHT!
    My life as a coach/mentor is all about this (and the pajamas and the mind racing and the Ambien.) I’m doing amazing things now in my life since I’ve decided to major in Being Me.
    There IS nothing other than that.
    Hope to get to chat with you soon!

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