Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Month: January 2017

Becoming A Real Adult: Twenty-Five With Five Years Experience

When I was 19, I dreaded turning 20. Losing the “teen” at the end of my age seemed to signify a huge shift, and I was convinced that suddenly I would be expected to be a real adult. I didn’t want to let go of the freedom to make bad choices and blame it on being a kid. I had a real fear that I would be expected to just stop having fun and change all my interests to reflect my new “adult” status.

Then, my birthday came and nothing changed. I was still just a college kid figuring out how to operate in the big, scary world. My parents and grandparents still helped me out when they could and questioned my choices. I still made mistakes. I still had fun. I continued to learn and grow and held onto the same interests that were decidedly “childish”. I still felt like me.

My 26th birthday bothered me, too. I had just become a mother and it hit me that at my age, my mom had already had two kids and been married for 8 years or so. I thought back on my childhood, feeling like my parents had always seemed like real adults to me, and I certainly didn’t feel like one. That year, instead of an all-you-can-drink boozefest, I threw a proper “adult” party. I spent all day cooking a turkey with five or six sides, plus a pie and a cake for dessert. I invited everyone over to eat, have a moderate amount of alcohol, and play board games, while I tended to my three month old daughter.

In all honesty, it was one of the best birthdays I ever had. Again, that lingering feeling that I wasn’t a “real” adult was there and it turned out that I was still very much the same person at 26 that I had been at 25.

When I turned 29, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in the last year of my twenties. I also had lived my whole life with a clear idea of the things I would have achieved by age 30. Again, I was operating under the assumption that I would wake up on the morning of my 30th birthday a completely different person. I’d be a “real” adult. I’d have to stop dressing the way I like and listening to the music I like. I’d have to let go of my dreams and turn into some kind of fuddy-duddy.

I think you know where this is going.

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional Chili Davis quote

Tuesday, I turned 30. I woke up two hours after my alarm went off and then kicked myself for it just like I would have any other day. I grabbed a bottle of Coca-Cola out of the fridge to kickstart my brain like I would have any other day. I sat around and watched The Simpsons for hours while I worked on the draft for my next novel. Later, I treated myself to an at home spa day while listening to the same tunes that have always brought me joy. I got out my coloring books and colored pencils and let my mind drift as I filled in the shapes. I still felt like me.

I still laugh at inappropriate jokes. I still make bad decisions from time to time. I still have things I want to learn, places I want to visit, and dreams I want to chase. I still want more tattoos. I still prefer black t-shirts and ripped jeans. I still consider a swipe of black eyeliner adequate makeup. I’m still keen to seek out new information and adjust my views accordingly. I’m still figuring out how to operate in the big, scary world, while simultaneously teaching my child how to be a proper human. I still don’t feel like a “real” adult.

This isn’t to say I haven’t come a long way from the 19 year old who was scared of turning 20. I have seen more, done more, and experienced more in the last 10 years, so of course I’ve changed. I’ve traded in parties for get-togethers. I’ve learned to manage our funds better and eat healthier meals. I’ve learned the importance of a good night’s sleep. I’ve become adept at thinking before I act and put the needs of my family before my own. I’ve gone from idly fantasizing about the things I want to achieve to setting goals and working to achieve them.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go of expectations.

Who says being an adult has to be boring?

I will always be something of a child at heart. I will always strive to be a better person than I was yesterday. I will always want to have a good time and try my hardest to make this ride as fun as possible. I will always be a little weird. I will always be me.

age is of no importance unless you are a cheese billie burke quote

I have set my sights on making my thirties my best decade yet by giving myself permission to follow my own compass and define for myself what being an adult looks like. I will focus on living a life that I am truly proud of, regardless of any negativity that is thrown my way. I will continue to work my hardest to make my dreams a reality so that I can show my daughter that anything is possible. I will make the most of this life and live authentically and without fear.

If nothing else, I hope I can inspire each and everyone of you to do the same. Be who you are, do what you do, and never let somebody else’s standards get in your way.

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Dandelions

Every night when I put my child to bed, I lie next to her and we play a game called “What do you see?”.

It’s a simple game, really. I ask her to close her eyes and tell me what picture she’s creating in her head, and then she asks me to do the same. We go back and forth for a while, and then I tell her to close her eyes and try to go there in her dreams.

Of course, she still finds 8 billion reasons to jump out of bed before finally succumbing to the sandman, but it’s a fun exercise in creativity that we both enjoy. As frustrating as the bedtime battles are, I know that the reason she doesn’t want to sleep is that she wants to know what she’s missing out on. To us, there’s nothing to see. Mommy and Daddy are just sitting on the couch watching TV before we hit the hay ourselves. To her, however, everything we do is fascinating and she wants to be a part of it.

In fact, she wants to be a part of everything anyone is doing at all times. She’s naturally curious and seems to just absorb knowledge. She’s always asking questions and seeking out new information, trying new things, and performing experiments. It’s amazing to watch.

I feel like I can safely attribute some of her curiosity to genetics. Not only is her father a chronic ponderer and taker-aparter of things, but I have always been addicted to gathering new ideas and factoids as well.

My mother likes to talk about the “experiments” I had lying around as a very small child. I have no memory of the earliest of these: shampoo bottles full of water to be left on the side of the tub, leaves left sitting around, and what-not. I do, however, remember mixing shampoos as a small child and rolling mud into marbles that I’d let dry in my toy oven in the backyard. I’d find mulberries and crush them up to paint when I was around 5 (and, let’s be honest here, I still like to do that).

I very clearly remember letting a baby carrot dry out in a dish in my playroom at my grandmother’s house until it was shriveled up and gross. Then, I put it in water to see what would happen. I left it there until it plumped up. I think I was around 8 years old then. I have no idea what sparked the experiment, but then again that’s always the case.

There were many, many others but none of them stick out in my mind as much as the time I decided to try to grow dandelions.

I was 10 or 11, maybe 12 when I got the idea. I’d always liked taking the closed up dandelions and pulling out the seeds. In fact, I always like dandelions in general. Where most people saw a weed, I saw a misunderstood flower.

growing dandelions, weed or flower, pretty

I gathered three cups and filled them with dirt. Then I put the seeds in. One cup got watered with plain water. The second got water and plant food. The third got water from a “special” bottle that contained the stems from other dandelions, because I figured there were good dandelion nutrients in there. I placed all three cups on the window sill in my bedroom and dutifully carried out my experiment. Unfortunately, cats are jerks and they got destroyed before I ever got to see the results.

It seems a little silly now when I look back on it and it seems even sillier that such a “big kid” still had the urge to play. Hell, it seems a little silly that I still want to play and experiment and explore. But when I look at my daughter, I find myself hoping that she never loses her curiosity and that her thirst for knowledge will take her far in life. I hope that she never stops playing around and being silly. I hope she embraces the things that make life joyful just like she does now.

It makes me sad when I see so many people who believe that becoming an adult meant letting go of dreams and ending all play. Somehow we stop asking “why?” and “what if?” and decide that all we know is all there is. We stop seeking simple pleasures and turn all our attention to just maintaining. We get so wrapped up in our responsibilities and problems that we don’t notice the beauty all around us or the answers that are right under our noses.

Life really is full of wonder, and I think this is a lesson we should hold on to. We should cling to that sense of awe. We should make it a point to never stop questioning, never stop learning, never stop growing. Above all, we should enjoy the process.

Every now and then, let’s do something silly. Let’s dance to that song. Let’s ride on the shopping cart. Let’s do the things that make us smile.

Let’s grow some dandelions.

When The Universe Tells You To Slow Down

Awhile back, we talked about how crucial self-care is to one’s mental and physical health. I’ve even mentioned how important it is to slow down. As much as I am a firm believer in taking the time to enjoy life and to relax and recharge whenever necessary, it is something I tend to fail at from time to time.

In fact, failing to take a rest has manifested in no less than three separate occasions where I have totally crashed and slept through something important.

slow down, take a break, it will all be okay

 

The first was when I was in high school and had a part-time job watching a child after school. I had just gotten over a case of mono and was pushing myself to keep up with school, work, and a social life without regard to my health. One day after class I decided to take a short nap before picking the child up from school. I slept through my alarm and the poor kid was left there wondering where I was. By the time I had it worked out his parents had gone to pick him up and, as you can imagine, I didn’t have a job much longer.

The second time, I was in college full-time, working on 3 majors, and working overnights (10pm to 8am) at the local crisis center and women’s shelter, as well as going about the normal life of a girl in her early 20s. My youngest brother was about 3 years old, and I was to pick him up at 11am at the bus drop-off from preschool. I got off work, came home to catch a quick snooze…and slept through my alarm. I remember dreaming about the little guy being stuck on a carousel and crying for me to get him off of it. I woke up to an angry phone call from my mother. I felt terrible!

The third time, happened just a few days ago. After spending most of Christmas break battling the flu, I decided that I should just keep pushing on. My sister-in-law took my child overnight for New Year’s Eve and we planned on her dropping her off at home around 9am. I set the alarm for 8 and went to bed after ringing in the new year at home with my husband. I woke up at 1030 to a bunch of missed texts from everyone in my family wondering why I hadn’t answered the door to collect my daughter. I spent the entire day (and most of the next) feeling like the world’s worst mother.

Three times, I have failed to be there for a child due to me being utterly exhausted. Three times.

Why would I risk making myself look like an awful person to tell you this?

I have a couple of reasons.

For one, I think it’s kind of interesting that my failure to slow down has yielded the same result over and over again. I mean, what are the chances?

For another, I think this is a shining example of how important it is to examine our shortcomings and find ways to improve. It also perfectly illustrates how important it is for us to take a break when we need to so that things like this don’t happen.

Alan Cohen quote virtue in work and virtue in rest

Knowing when to take a break has always been tough for me. I tend to start on an activity and then completely zone in on it until I burn myself out. I tend to just keep going no matter how overwhelmed and exhausted I am, always trying to “get more done”.

In fact, I’d even gotten to a point where “self-care” became just another chore to be completed. Another item on the check-list.

I became blind to how much I was taking on and didn’t realize how much I needed to slow down.

The drive to accomplish it all right now can come in handy when the end of a project is drawing near and I need to bust my hump to get it done. However, it is mostly a giant pain when I can’t bring myself to tend to other important tasks, leading to longer to-do lists and more stress.

Somehow, my brain is wired to think in all or nothing terms and until recently, I hadn’t really considered that it could be a problem. To me, it was a sign of productivity and perseverance. I didn’t take into account the fact that I wind up running out of steam and make careless mistakes, or have to fight to finish the project.

More importantly, I didn’t take into account how catastrophic the crash can be when I finally hit my limit.

slow down and rest so you don't screw up your life

She just sat down for a quick rest, now no one is there to pick up her kids.

I have decided to work on this particular issue and learn to pace myself a little better. Learning to keep my goals in mind without getting swallowed up by them is going to be quite the undertaking. As will be learning to distinguish what is truly a priority versus something that can wait. However, I am confident that I can break this cycle with a few old tricks that have helped in the past, as well as some new ones.

A good place to start is reinstating my “quitting time”. No work, no cooking, no cleaning, no stressing after 7pm. It’s a habit I started a few years ago when I was feeling overwhelmed with my duties as a stay at home mom, but have somehow drifted away from, which has lead to many long nights and reduced hours of sleep. It’s time to get those hours back!

I will also be taking more time between projects to gather my thoughts and recharge before jumping right into the next one. This is going to be a bit harder for me, but taking a bit of a mental vacation between large projects (like books!) feels like a necessity.

I am also working on a timer system now to avoid getting sucked into one thing for too long and neglecting other areas. For example, setting a timer for 45 minutes when I’m cleaning instead of allowing myself to go from the goal of a quick pick-up to reorganizing my closet for the third time in a month. This is something I’ve come across in many articles about coping with ADD (which I’ve struggled with all my life), yet have never given a try.

Above all, I’m bringing back my motto: “All you can do is all you can do”. Again, this is something I developed to help me stay calm when the stress of new motherhood got me down. I was fighting to live up to an impossible standard of “supermom” and it was wearing me down. In an effort to be more kind to myself, I would remind myself daily that I had done the best I could that day and that whatever I didn’t get finished could wait until tomorrow. Somehow, I lost sight of that.

Armed with these changes, I will bring myself out of this. I can’t wait to share my progress along the way and put an end to the stress cycle before I sleep through another important task!

What about you? Do you have any useful tips for avoiding burnout? Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Ringing In The New Year And Celebrating My Blogversary!

How is it a new year already? I feel like just months ago I was setting up this blog and embarking on a whole new journey. So many amazing things have happened in the 12 months since I launched this website, it’s incredible.

In the last twelve months I’ve gained a little more traffic here, released two full-length novels, got married, gone on a fabulous trip to Mexico, spent many nights laughing with family and friends, quit my day job, watched my daughter grow by leaps and bounds, picked up some new guitar skills, read countless books, took in some great live shows, made some new friends, unloaded a lot of clutter, and ultimately rediscovered a part of myself I had forced into hiding.

It’s amazing how a year can seem to go by so fast, and yet be jam-packed with goodness!

I love this time of year because it gives us a moment to reflect on both our successes and our shortcomings and create a game plan to further our growth. I love making my new goal lists and setting new intentions. I love the feeling of a fresh start.

new year's eve champagne

And I love champagne. What’s New Year’s without champagne?

Personally, I often find myself setting too many goals and then being disappointed when I fall short. Last year I did a great job of keeping my goals small and manageable, but this year I’d like to make them even more concrete.

  1. Post more often and with less fear.
  2. Get better at using social media.
  3. Release at least 2 more books in my current series.
  4. Work on being more mindful and present.
  5. Create a better overall routine for my family.
  6. Carve out more time for just me and my daughter, as well as time for me and my husband.
  7. Take better care of my mind and body.
  8. Get my finances under control.
  9. Spend more time with my family and friends in the real world.
  10. Take my music to the next level.

Pretty easy right? Surely I can accomplish all of these things in the new year!

In fact, I’ve already got a jump start on some new ventures. You may have noticed the new link in my sidebar (or under my posts, for those of you on mobile devices) for Pure Romance. Normally, I’d be against this sort of direct sales ordeal, but I truly love their products and like any one else, I could use the extra cash!

Since my novels center around love and intimacy, I figured this was a logical addition to my revenue streams. With this link you can discreetly purchase wonderful bath and body products along with lingerie, intimate items, and bedroom accessories.

I have also added some merchandise for the “Instruments of Life” series, which you can access from the “Merch” tab in the navigation bar (or drop-down menu for mobile users). Currently you can choose from 4 styles of t-shirts or a coffee mug for each of the bands, featuring the names of the members of Fallen Angels and Pretty Deadly. I’m looking forward to expanding this product line in the future with tour shirts and other fun items for those of you who can’t get enough of these bad-boy rockers!

I cannot wait to see what great things this year has in store for me, or what challenges I will face. I also can’t wait to share these things with all of my lovely supporters right here on this blog!

I hope this year treats you all wonderfully and that you accomplish everything you set out to. I also hope that for every missed goal and hardship you have the strength to find the lessons and keep moving forward. May your year be filled with light and love!

happy new year

 

 

 

 

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