One thing at a time: Managing a baby and everything else

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One thing I quickly realized when my baby boy was born was how hard it suddenly became getting things done.

People did warn me that babies, especially breastfed ones, take a lot of your time.

I considered this and told my mom, “I guess I will need a week to figure it out.” I asked her then, woman to woman, to pass on to me all her secrets about managing motherhood and balancing it with work.

Yes, I was super naive. There are no secrets. My mom is just a super-woman who managed to raise 3 children while working, not unlike many other mothers out there who are not me.

Six weeks later, I can only congratulate myself on being able to keep my child alive and healthy. As for getting things done in the mean time, I am struggling.

I am a mess of a stay-at-home mother/aspiring author. Dishes pile up, the bed doesn’t get made, laundry doesn’t get folded, food gets burned; also blogs don’t get written, stories don’t get published, novels don’t get edited or sent out. Instead I increasingly find myself (figuratively) sitting in a corner of my apartment reciting all the ways that I am a complete and utter failure.

Combine that with sleep deprivation and you get depression lurking at every corner, sharpening its claws and teeth, ready to attack.

But, I should be happy with my life. I have wonderful husband and a healthy, sweet baby boy…what else could I want?

I want to get things done. I don’t want to be just a mama; I want to be an accomplished mama whose son will be proud of her.

Take one step at a time.

When I had difficult projects at my former jobs or at college, I panicked for 5 minutes, got depressed for 10, but finally I made checklists.

Accomplishing one thing at a time not only made me feel good, but got me closer to my goals.

I thought, if I do one new thing a day, get used to it, make it part of my routine and then introduce another, I will, maybe, be able to get things done!

It may not make me an overnight success as a wife/mother/author but each day will be a success.

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Excuse Me While I Go Throw Up

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Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash

It’s been some time that I have not been publishing regularly on Ceecee’s Stories. The reason is that I got pregnant and the nausea was crippling.

While this is so #blessed, having to admit it puts me in a weird place.

On one hand, I feel guilty and ashamed that I let nausea keep me from writing regularly, mostly because I had lots of help with the housework and cooking. Truly, I asked myself every day “How can I be taken seriously as a writer if I pull things like this?” and “What kind of work discipline do I have if I stop working every time I feel sick?”

On the other hand… Excuse me while I go throw up.

It might be just the tired version of me talking right now, but: Are the expectations we have for the modern woman actually healthy?

I’m not talking about me, but for the every woman out there, who is expected to perform 100% at work, while maintaining a stellar home, being there for her kids and looking like the tireless fairy of your dreams, despite the constant changes of her body including hormones, periods, pregnancies, and menopause. Something has got to give! When it does, we are told this why some believe the sexes could never be truly equal.

But we are! It’s just that more is expected of women than of men.

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Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

I hate the “us versus them” argument  because I love, respect and appreciate the men in my life, but how many men are expected to be successful businessmen, while spending a good amount of time with their families, work around the house after work, and actively try to look like the Greek gods while their bodies undermine them?

I am sure some perfect men exist, like there are superwomen out there who are able to do it all, but the thing is, men “doing it all” do not set the bar to a man’s success. With men, it’s enough to be successful at one thing, mainly with their career, and this is not the case with women.

Yes, it’s definitely the tired version of me talking right now, but can we cut some slack to the business woman whose house is a mess? And to the family woman who sacrificed her career and settled for a job with lower pay—or, gasp, quit her job altogether—so that she can have more time with her kids?

No, I am not asking for sympathy because I was not fruitful for 3 months. I am definitely not setting the ground for making excuses for any future shortcomings. I know that if don’t produce good enough work in a competitive world that does not take into consideration individual shortcomings, I will never be successful. The point of this blog is to say screw it, my house is going to be messy sometimes. On some days I WILL leave the house knowing full well my hair is all over the place and you can’t say anything about it. Sometimes, I have to throw up all day.

I am not weak for it. We are not weak for having the bodies we have. Our minds make us weak, our minds make us strong, and if we are not superwomen all the time, that’s OK.

Now can I be excused?

The First Diary Log in a Long Time

I started to write again daily logs a few weeks ago as an attempt to make myself write when I am not in the mood to write creatively.

It was impossible not to remember the first time I started a diary and compare. I must have been around 15 then, or a bit older, still it was fun to remember how I was then versus now. As with all of us, some things changed and some didn’t and I discovered fact that most of my demons are still here, that I hadn’t faced them.

In the middle of that something happened, I gave a voice to my demons so I decided to share.

The following is my diary log as it is in my copybook (though edited, and run-on paragraphs have been omitted):

***

The last time I started jotting daily logs I was around 15, and carried on doing so till my 20’s.

Now at 33, I can’t help but look back at how different I was at 15, how I have changed, and what are the things I have and have not accomplished.

It makes me smile to think, that although I have achieved many things, I did so differently than my 15 year-old self would have wanted and that’s actually not only OK, but for the better. I am happy that my life did not end up being a dream come true for my 15 year old self, but a happy life for my now 33 year old self.

If I had to point the greatest change to my character these last 18 years have resulted in, it would be the loss of most of my idealism, in favor of realism, empathy, leniency, and pragmatism. The area where age least affected, I suppose, would be my optimism… I still a few negative traits I thought I would have shed by now, but I haven’t. I don’t want to mention them, as they may still go away if I don’t give them any attention… like I said I am an optimist.

I learnt a few things too growing up. I know now that some things are attainable if we reach out, and I also know, that hard work does not always result in success. I learned that failure does not mean incompetency, but that an unfinished work never counts as an accomplishment. It cannot even be a good indicator of potential, only a finished work can be. An successful person does not talk about the things he/she can accomplish, only the things he/she already did.

A good discovery I have made since I was fifteen is that I have never, ever regretted following my moral compass. Every single “great opportunity” that I didn’t take, every little oversight that I did not commit, and every time I was tempted to settle for something and I didn’t, it turned out for the best. Never there has been an instant in my life that following my moral compass did not only let me keep my dignity as person but also protected me from harm.

15 year old me will be positively surprised that following my unwavering faith to what love should be has led me to loving and marrying the most wonderful and amazing person that Johnny is. In retrospect, this just amazes me.

Well that’s all fine and dandy, 15 year old me would say right about now and then ask “so are you a published writer like we always wanted to be?”

Well, about that…

I could give a “clever” answer to why I have not been able to be there yet. I could say that maybe life sometimes guides you away from what you want in life in favor for gaining experience in other areas so that I can become a better artist or writer over the long run, but the truth is, this explanation  would only serve to make myself feel better. The no-bullshit-short answer is “No, because I am a lazy coward.”

While I have been published  a few times (in a couple of magazines like Time out Beirut, and Entrepreneur, I have a children’s story on the Lamsa app, and have self-published on Amazon and the ibookstore), I am nowhere near being a successful author.

Like my 15 year old self would want, I still want be a published writer, a capable illustrator, an artist that can create engaging works of art. I also wanna be a frequent blogger to entertain often and get in touch with people. I love meeting new people and getting to know them, even though I am such an introvert that just thinking about it physically tires me.

Even though I have published blogs, and I have published small pieces of my work, still the idea that i have to give others a piece I have written terrifies me. It makes me feel exposed, and ashamed.

(You are only reading this piece because I have been “psyching” myself up for it for 5 weeks now and some of the raw material has been stricken out)

I think this is the reason that whenever I come close to finish something, I just can’t. I try and I try to hide any detail that may reflect upon myself, what I truly think and how I truly am. I edit and edit until my work becomes a total bastardization of my original idea, it becomes devoid of any depth and just blunt. In the end, I become frustrated as the work becomes so irredeemable that my only option is to start another project.

This is not the worst part, the worst part is that it’s a cycle. If I stay like this I will never publish a book, not now, not 18 years from now. If I don’t fight it, if I don’t even try, I would have not lived a fulfilled life.

I had many paths to choose all along my life, I chose to try and be a published, to be successful writer and I have a plan. I am going to be a blogger and work my way up to a successful writer. Even if every blog is a fight against my demons. I will have to face them, one day right?

(Around here I was thinking maybe I should post this on my blog, and then my demons came as expected… I wanted to face them, to fight them, so the following happened– heads up: in my mind it happened colorfully like the hybrid of the movie where Scott Pilgrim fights the exes and Epic rap battles of history, except it is not a rap battle… in fact I am the least qualified person on Earth to rap anything)

Cynthia Fights Her Demons

ROUND 1: Me VS. the Self Doubt Creature (SDC)

SDC: You are not going to post this, are you?

me: Well, I was thinking it could be entertaining for people to see me talking about my demons, right? and it’s personal, truthful and real, and hopefully grammar error free.I think they might like it.

SDC: People you know may read it

me: Yes, I know. I usually never want people to know that I am struggling with anything. I want people who know me to think of me as happy, content and hopeful all the time, because I am! but this is just a struggle they could also identify with.

SDC: You should remove it from your Facebook feed, or create a new blog without any ties to your personal social media accounts.

me: I could do that, but the whole point of sharing this in my own established blog is that it is a personal experience. It could inspire people to face their own demons in amusing ways.

SDC: Now we’re being a little full of ourselves, why anything you write can be an inspiration to anyone?

me: This is more of a hope of mine. The log could be entertaining too.

SDC: Aren’t you kind of old to be doing what you are doing right now? You have too much self doubt to have any ambitions about writing. better not embarrass yourself with any of this.

me: Why have I always felt that I was too old to do anything? I swear I remember being 4 and thinking I was too old for ballet, because I got it in my head that “you gotta be 2 to start learning ballet.”

SDC: What would Johnny say?

me:  I could ask him

SDC: THIS WHOLE THING IS STUPID, once you think about it, you will realize it. Go ahead post it and be spontaneous. You’ll regret it, the minute it gets published. All this sharing and being an “extrovert” is not who you are. Better stay true to yourself.

me: Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone

SDC: … you’re hopeless

me:  I could write other things  suppose, instead of this. I don’t have to write personal things.

SDC: Whatever, it is probably going to be boring anyway. You are not that interesting. Why do even you think you could be special enough to be interesting

***Enter the Over-excited Optimistically Fantastical Fairy(OOFF)***

OOF: OMG! OMG! OMG! If you post this conversation between you and your demons, it’s going to be HUGE! This is soooo interesting! You are going to do GREAT THINGS!!!

SDC & me: Shut up!

SDC: Who left the window open?

me: I did, I needed someone to balance you out. Hopefully one day I can be strong enough to mute you both, forever.

SDC and OFOT: You will never get rid of us

me: Probably not, it wouldn’t be human, and I think I have wasted enough time talking to myself today.

I am going to ask Johnny what he thinks of this.

End Of Round 1!!!

*************************************************

….And this is how I ended the first diary log in a long time. Giving voice to my demons gave me a visual of how my subconsciousness works, and where it blocks me. 

I asked Johnny this is how the conversation went:

– me: so I have started a diary where I talk to my demons and it is actually helping me with my self-doubt as a writer

– Johnny: Cool, you should share that on your blog, it is interesting…

So after I took the approval of my hubby, I got a new sense of self-confidence and went right away to publish it on my blog… No I am kidding, I have battled with this for 5 weeks, and if you are reading this now I won… See why I need to face my demons? I will never get anything published if I can’t publish a frigging blog.

And here’s  something to look forward for next week. Next week, I will share the next log in my new diary. It is about facing the the demon that always seems to have the upper hand on me. If you are reading this, it doesn’t mean I won a round with him, it just means I am hiding from him.  Shhhhhhhh….

Cynthia Attempts Nanowrimo

nanowrimo-logo50,000 words in one month. It doesn’t seem like much, and it shouldn’t be. I have written words before in numbers like these. I brag because these words mostly made meaningful sentences and formed a homogenous story. Maybe I shouldn’t brag after all as none of that has happened of late.

I have not even come close to writing novels in the last few years, only short stories, articles, and children’s stories. It was easy to write before when I was still at university. I had lots of free time between semesters, when I wasn’t working. I just had to sit in room alone by myself, and dream up of exotic people in impossible situations. If you haven’t already guessed it, yes, I was the girl who would turn down party invitations, to watch a movie, read a good book, or write.

This year I want to find time and write something longer than a short story, and I am so serious about it I entered the Nanowrimo challenge. If I succeed, I will not only have a first draft of a novel, but I also get to brag again.

There is one thing bugging me though, if I succeed with the writing part, who’s to say  I will do the editing part. I hate editing.  It makes me crazy. I desperately don’t want to put another finished story on the list of “to-edit-in-the-near-future-in-other-words-never” pile.

Maybe they should dedicate a month for editing, call it : National Novel Editing Month; or Nanoedmo. It should not be right after November, so as not to suck the joy out of writing something right after finishing. Plus Christmas would be extra distracting and let’s face it Christmas is a good excuse for not putting in all the hours needed. It should be in May. May is a happy month, the delight of having summer approaching could balance the misery of editing.

With that I should go back to writing, I didn’t do so good the first couple of days and I have to catch up.

Do You Believe in Santa?

I discovered that when you are starting your own project,  life is going to be full of highs and lows. Plenty of highs and lows during a short period of time.

If you work really, really hard and you know your business, you tend to reach people who are The Ones to talk to in the business. In my case that would be important publishers. And if they happen to say “wow, you have a product there” you are at the highest of highs.

That doesn’t mean you have made it, though. It only means that maybe you haven’t been wasting your time.

Success is such a beautiful word and it means to each of us a different thing. While I have been successful in one or two things, the one thing that truly matters to me which is being a successful writer and publisher is proving to be an uphill battle.

There are days I just want to give up and ask myself why would I be successful where many, many others have not.

After a year and half of concentrating solely on books, publishing and meeting with people, it proved to be a financial strain, so I took up a job.

I thought about quiting on my dreams and on my hard work, but because I have had positive meetings, I just couldn’t give up.

Every evening after 5.30 I go to my other job, where I write draw and make books till 10pm. There are nights I get so tired  I just want to cry, but that would mean I am letting self pity take over me and I don’t want to do that. If I am not strong enough to believe I can make it, I will pretend to believe until I am able to make it. Will I have to pretend my whole life? It’s an option I am willing to live with.

I have been writing lately for Time Out Beirut.  My latest piece was about adults believing in Santa. The article basically says that adults write to Santa as a way to visualize their goals.

http://www.timeoutbeirut.com/thingstodo/article/13081/do-you-believe-in-santa.html

That’s a good idea. I won’t send a letter but I going to write something here for Santa:

Dear Santa,

Adult life sucks. I wish I hadn’t had to work this hard.

P.S I have been good, I swear.

I got interviewed on this blog

I got interviewed on this blog. Check it out

http://bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/2013/09/interview-with-author-cynthia-khoury.html

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Fishing for Good Luck

Too bad Felix Felicis, Harry Potter’s good luck potion, isn’t real because there are times, I could really use one of those… I swear, though, I would not use it wastefully.

When sitting within the constraints of an empty room with playful lighting, it is safe get to let my mind wander to made up places whether fantastical or realistic and get high on imagination alone. If I ‘m lucky a story-line may form, but I wouldn’t use my good luck potion to secure that.

While I was working for a company that conducts statistics for commercial purposes, I came across a problematic project. For the results to be accurate, the process  involved an interview over half an hour long and had to be conducted at the interviewee’s home. As you can imagine, finding a willing participant and who also fit the criteria was not an easy task; and I thought I needed a whole lot of luck if I was to conduct at least 5 interviews per day. Well I succeeded in doing much more than 5 per day and it was more about persistence than luck.

It is a universally known fact : writers need a lot of luck to be successful.

There is nothing I ever wanted in life more than creating stories. It’s not really about getting published. Don’t get me wrong, my ultimate goal is getting published regularly, but that is only  because my writings would obtain purpose, and my obsession with stories would have meaning. Do I need perseverance or luck to get there?

There were times I didn’t  believe in pure luck and there were times I was convinced it was ill luck to blame for my failures. In saner moments, I figured good fortune may only come when one works hard enough. So let’s just assume I had a lucky potion. There is still so much work to be done.

With persistence one may get lucky. OK, that could have been phrased better: what I meant to say was with hard work you may get to score…
When  you do your homework, you just need only a push, a bit of good luck,  to go all the way.
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