Quest To Be a Morning Person

As I reflected on my need for more me-time to focus on achieving my goals and making my dreams come true, I determined I needed to carve out that time and take it back for myself. As I looked over my busy schedule, the answer became clear to me. As I know Santa won’t be bringing me any extra hours in my day nor will he be bringing the magic hand that automatically puts everything in its place that my youngest daughter imagined, the next best thing would for me to become a morning person.

I reflect on how wonderful it would be to wake up at 5:00 AM refreshed and ready to start my day. I would have two peaceful, wonderful hours all to myself to do whatever I wanted — no children, no husband, no phone calls or chores (that might wake someone up). In the early morning hours when everyone else was a sleep, I could work on my writing, edit my photos, do a little Wii Fit… The possibilities are endless. I could get so much accomplished with no interruptions.

The only problem? I am the snooze queen. I typically set my alarm 20 minutes earlier than I actually need to get up, just so I can push it at least twice. I am not going to let that little fact deter me though. I did a search on “becoming a morning person.” Believe or not I found hundreds of hits and quite a few good tips. Of all the articles I read there were three tips most sleep experts agreed on. 1. Go to bed at the same time every night by no later than 10, if possible. Even on weekends. That didn’t seem too hard.  I could do that. 2. Get up at the same time every morning. Even on weekends. I can do that too. Although, sleep-in Saturdays would be a thing of the past, it wouldn’t matter because I would love the morning anyway, right?  3. No snooze bars. None. You have to get up as soon as the alarm rings. Move the alarm across the room if you have too. Hmm. #3 is not so easy. I have been known to walk across the room to push the snooze and then get back in bed. But, this time however, I am determined. I am going to do this; I can do this. I won’t be long before I will be enjoying beautiful sunrises as I sip a hot cocoa and work on the latest revision of my book. Yes.

So, last night, I set my iPod touch for 5:00 AM. I was tucked into bed by 10:30 and asleep by 11:00 PM. I was only an hour off my goal, not bad. It seemed like my eyes had just closed and I’d nodded off to dreamland, when my alarm started to go off. I stumbled out of bed and went to turn it off, when I glanced at the other clock on my dresser. It read 2:00 AM. How could that be? What time is it anyway?  I checked the setting on my iPod. The timezone was set to auto-locate. For some odd reason, it thought I was in San Paulo where it was in fact 5:00 AM. I still had three more hours to sleep. Hurray I thought to myself. I turn autolocate off and selected the correct time zone. I went to the bathroom and then snuggled back under the covers and laid awake another 30 minutes until I finally feel back asleep.

Another five hours and fifteen minutes later I heard the keys in the door. My husband is on night shift this month and was just getting home. “Crap” I think to myself, what time is it? I glance at the clock and it reads 7:15! Great now I overslept. I check the alarm settings, somehow in my grogginess at 2:00 AM, I turned the alarm off. Sigh. The mad morning rush is off again (while my husband is home from work, he is busy doing well I’m not sure what. I try not to get angry at my perceived unfairness in life (as in why do I always have to get three people ready in the morning and he only has to get one ready?) as life isn’t fair you know. So, I wake the girls up. Shower, dress, hair, make up, brush teeth pack lunches, help the little one get dressed, sign the older one’s school planner, find the missing shoes and library books…I manage to get it all done and no one missed the bus and I’m on time for work. Success. Everything is good.

Tomorrow is another day and my alarm is set for 5 AM and the time zone is set to Eastern. I’ll be a morning person yet. Zip-pity Doo-dah…

The Dream

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore– And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over– like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

-Langston Hughes

For some reason this poem has stuck with me from the first time I read it back in high school English. A Dream Deferred.  At the time, I didn’t think that would ever be me. My high school self was not going to put off my dreams. I was going to be a creative writer and photographer. Those have always been my two passions and creative outlets. As a small child I was constantly writing stories and poems or taking pictures. I wasn’t shy or afraid about my creativity back then. I was all about reading my work to others or giving it to them to read. I had confidence in my art. The idea that someone might criticize my work  did not cross my mind. The fear that someone might not like what I wrote or the picture I took, did not stop my from doing what I loved to do. I had confidence. I felt I was good at what I did, and I felt others would naturally see that I was good too.
However, somewhere along the lines between college, marriage, making the mortgage payment and two ki my confidence waned, the fear that I might actually not be as good of a writer or photographer than I thought I was took root and grew. I wrote creatively less and less. My photos focused on my family. My dreams were back burnered, put on hold, side-tracked and stagnated – they however, did not “dry up.”
And so now at 41 years old – I am middle-aged. I never imagined being that old back in high school. I look back on my life and ahead to what’s to come. I ask myself to I want to continue to let fear hold me back from my passions in life? The answer was a resounding No! And so I took it as a sign from God that I should pursue my dream to be a published author when I saw a contest offered by one of my favorite authors. The contest was for a 20,000 to 25,000 word novella in the romance genre! Perfect, I thought. I have always been a romance novel junkie and knew the genre well. I had toyed with writing a romance novel off and on for years, but never got around to it – this was just a “short story,” according to the contest rules.
I was proud of myself, I pushed through and wrote the story in a little over a week. I stayed up late and got up early and pushed through the burn. 20,000 words is more than you might think. However, the words seemed to flow, the characters played in my mind even when I wasn’t writing and the story came together.Writing was exhilarating and even better than reading a romance. With the help of my mom, my sister and my best friend, the story was proofed and submitted to the contest with a few hours to spare. It felt really good. I really liked the story and secretly hoped I might win -even though it was a long shot. My editors and the handful of others I let read the story all liked it and told me they thought my chances were good.
Which brings me to today. Alas, I did not win the contest. I didn’t really expect to win and yet I found myself disappointed. Now what? Do I give up? Do I persevere? Does it even matter if I am a published author, if I like my stories? These questions and more haunt me. I finally let my husband read it. He is not a fan of romance novels and in fact has often scorned me for reading them. I was not eager for him to read it or offer his criticism and deflate my ego. However, he was upset at not being given the opportunity to give his feedback to me. He felt he could be professional enough to put his disdain for the romance genre aside and give me some honest feedback (whether I wanted it or not). He told me at dinner he finally made it through the story. He was most concerned that I had modeled one of the negative characters after him. I assured him it was purely fictional. He proceeded to tell me I needed to be more descriptive and make some of the side characters less negative.  I agree with the description part, but given my word limitations I was not able to. Now that I am free to have as many words as needed I can fill in the lacking description.
The question is though, is it worth it? Is there even a point to it? Self-doubt has started to creep back in. Maybe I am kidding myself and fooling myself into thinking I could be a published author and yet does it even matter if I am or not, Can I be content writing for myself?
Will my dream be deferred again? I don’t know. It’s getting late. I will think about it some more tomorrow…