Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Been a While...

Not much new going on in Fredericksburg right now, and I am enjoying the relative calm. I have been using the time to work on improving myself--namely by flat out telling people what I need in order to be a happier, less stressed person.

Of course, I am doing it in a good way. Recently at work, I was asked to take over my sixth county. Since it's a county right near our house, I thought this would be a great way to do some work closer to home. Still, it's another county. After a couple of months, I was just spending too much time in the car. So on Monday, I decided to screw up my courage, hitch up my pants, and ask my boss to take away my furthest territory, and the territory I hate the most: northeastern Prince William County.

I took this turf over from another colleague who was having some trouble managing his caseload. And I met some real nice people out that way. But it was too far. So I spoke to him about it and he about bent over backwards giving it away to someone else. It was amazing and empowering that I could stand up for myself in an assertive way and get a positive result. The thing I feared--being in for a fight that I would ultimately lose--did not come to fruition. I can feel my blood pressure falling.

I've also started to demand some respect for myself from others. It is no longer OK with me that people treat me like a doormat. This is something my husband has been coaching me on for years and all but begging me to modify my expectations about how I will be treated by other people. It's not easy. Some of the chief "offenders" are the people I love the most. But I have finally stood up and said, "It's not OK for you to treat me that way, and you wouldn't if you had any respect for me as a person." This, of course, has not been met with as much success as my previous paragraph's raging success, but I hope that someday in the very near future, it will work itself out and I'll get just a little bit of the respect I'm finally starting to understand that I deserve.

Jacalyn and I have started our writing club, and I am sharing my books with her, which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay outside my comfort zone. We sit in a coffeeshop and Tuesday nights and I read her stuff and she reads mine. Not only is it really difficult to have her reading my stuff, but the pacifist in me does not want to give an honest critique of what she's written. I want to tell her that everything is brilliant. I want her to tell me that my every word is brilliant. But neither of us is going to progress as a writer that way. So I'm trying to screw up my courage again and be constructive in telling her what, from my perspective, could be improved and listen with an open mind to what she's telling me from my book could be improved. And I'm making progress. My goal for this week is to do my bang-up cut and paste job of my last 2 NaNoWriMo books and squeeze them into one big book, and then start editing the hell out of it. The bad part is that Jacalyn is telling me to add, add, add, and I feel like I need to subtract, subtract, subtract. I know it will all come together in the end, and I feel so proud of myself for having accomplished as much as I have. Having read book 2 to Michael recently and gotten his extremely positive reaction to the story, not necessarily the details, I feel like I'm on to something good.

Speaking of things in the fear department, I faced a minor fear head on (literally) last week. I had a new client to go visit, and this new client (I'll call her Ann) owns her own horse farm. I hate horses, I'm going to be honest. I can't recall ever wanting one, I've definitely never ridden one, I may have pet one when I was about 8 years old or so, but they kind of scare me. They're so big and powerful, and the idea of falling off one or getting kicked in the chops by one or some other tragedy has kept me away from them. One of my other clients also has a horse farm and as I was writing my NaNo book this year, I stopped to take some pictures of her horses in their riding pen. Her horse Sunny came over to the fence to see what I was doing and I literally hopped in the car and peeled out of there. That tells you something about my feelings for horses.

So, Ann asked me about my feelings towards horses, and I was honest with her, stating that I fully respected her love of her horses, but that I was somewhat afraid of them and didn't really like them. She announced that we were going to the barn when the evaluation process was over. I swallowed the fear and followed her out there.

We no sooner got in the gate when this horse ambled over to me. She was a big brown pregnant mare. Ann informs me that this mare is a real lovefest. And then this old white horse ambles over, and Ann informs me that he is about 20 years old and loves people too. So there I am, back to the gate, being stared in the face by two of the biggest horses I have ever been near. And I kid you not, the brown horse puts its head on my shoulder in a sort of a hug and the white horse licked my hand.

I obligingly scratch their heads and pat their noses, smiling in a hopefully non-threatening way when Ann hands me some horse treats and I actually fed them. Ok, ok, maybe horses aren't so bad if they're like those two.

As for books, I have thus far completed 11, and am in the middle of four more. I am struggling to get through Malika Oufkir's Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Prison, which was recommended to me by a friend. I've been soldiering through against my better judgement, but there are a number of other great books out there that I'd much rather be reading that I am considering ending the quest. I've put it aside at any rate. Most of my January books have been non-fiction, and they take me longer to read. In fact, 7 of the 11 I've completed are non-fiction, and of the 4 I am "currently reading", it's a 50/50 split. It's interesting, I have never been much of a non-fiction reader, but suddenly, I'm really into reading people's memoirs.

Next week marks the 9th anniversary of the day the General and I became an item and started going steady. :-) We are looking at our options to celebrete ten years together next year. It hardly seems possible, and yet, it is. I'm grateful he's put up with me and all my baggage for this long. I hope he'll continue to do so for at least another 9 years!

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