2023 and Me:The Year I Put the Pedal to The Metal

 

My trusty old suitcase finally gave out at the end of 2022  and I like the symbolism of that. It represents a former life and all of the places I went before. I am grateful for that life and those experiences and also ready to close that chapter and move on to do new things. 2022 was about leaving my old career, healing and finding a new path forward for myself. Now 2023 is all about going for it!

To this end, I’ve got 3 big projects going down this year:

  1. I am publishing my book baby, Falling Out of Love with My Career!

Writing this book has been a growth experience like none I’ve had before. I learned so much about myself and life transitions and I can’t wait to share it. Even though sharing with a wider audience also makes me incredibly nervous! I am a private introvert who has somehow managed to write a book that lays myself completely bare. Scary to put it out there, but doing it anyway.

  1. I am starting a publishing business!

That’s right, I’m gonna be a publisher. Bonfire Books Press is in the works because I believe writers deserve a better deal than what most traditional publishers offer these days. More creative control, more money, better marketing. I will test the waters with my own book and then open it up to other writers with unique voices who are looking for a publishing home.

  1. I am writing my next book: Desperately Dating!

I had a blast doing the Desperately Dating Podcast with my dream of a stepson, Zac Shomler, so now I’m going to turn that content into a book. Some of the questions I will explore in a fun, approachable way are: What is true love and how do you find it? Is it possible to enjoy dating without losing your mind and becoming totally discouraged? How do you maintain a soul-satisfying relationship?

desperately dating

I am really excited for this year! These three projects will be incredibly fun, but I am also looking forward to enjoying more of my daily joys that keep me grounded and happy as well. Like reading good books or swimming (only reason to have a gym membership in my book) and cooking for those I love. Or discovering and sharing quirky new kitchen gadgets to delight and amaze. Spending quality time with my man visiting dive bars, drinking martinis at home or enjoying restful Sundays on the couch with good shows and popcorn. I will also continue to advocate for my mom as she navigates our challenging American healthcare system – at least there is still a good use for all my training and experience working in the medical field. The big stuff matters, but the little stuff also gives my life a lot of richness and texture.

Symbolically, I have replaced my old faithful case with this snazzy new number, in Caribbean Blue (of course). We are ready for new (ad)ventures! Here I come 2023, it’s gonna be a great year.

 

 

 

The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss

It is a tantalizing title, isn’t it?  Many of us would love to escape the bondage of the 9-5 life, but does this book deliver us from that evil? Maybe or maybe not, but it is an interesting read nonetheless.

I love how the big ideas in this book really got me thinking and dreaming of a life better structured around my actual priorities rather than those of some rando employer who could care less about my personal well-being.

I am a non-conformist at heart and this book speaks to my subversive side. The working norm in this country is just that – the norm. Doesn’t mean it’s the only way to go about it. Tim convincingly presents examples from his own experience of how it really is possible to redesign your life to maximize enjoyment while making a living. Really.

He goes into a lot of detail about certain ways to go about this kind of approach to work with an emphasis on building a business that can be automated to free up your time to enjoy life. It makes sense, but he kind of lost me in these parts since I do not have an interest in building such a business. However, there were still a ton of tips to streamline work and increase effective use of time that were insightful and apply to anyone.

4 Good quotes from the book:

“Most people aren’t lucky enough to be fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years of tolerating the mediocre.”

“Don’t only evaluate the downside of action. It is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction.”

“Don’t save it all for the end. There is every reason not to.”

“Let’s define ‘laziness’ anew – to endure a non-ideal existence to let circumstances or others decide life for you, or to amass a fortune while passing through life like a spectator from an office window.”

 

Life wisdom obtained:

He points out how dumb it is that we all play along with this deferred gratification model of saving for a retirement that may never come. Or when it does, we might be too old or infirm to enjoy it. He is so right.

He really got me thinking about money in a new way. I’m paraphrasing Tim, but he convincingly shows us that the goal really isn’t gathering lots of money. It’s about the lifestyle we want and that is where we need to put our attention. Many of us think and dream about having an abstract pile of big bucks in the bank, but why? Why do we want that money? To live a great life filled with experiences that make us feel alive, fulfilled, happy, whole. Those are the things that actually make you rich and are often surprisingly affordable. Even right here, right now in this very point in your life, so go get ‘em, don’t wait.

 

4 Must read chapters:

  1. Rules That Change the Rules
  2. Dodging Bullets
  3. System Reset
  4. Beyond Repair

 

Will I keep it on my bookshelf or donate it? I will keep it and refer back to it when I am feeling weak about taking a socially unsanctioned approach to work.

Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be, by Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield’s books are tiny, but mighty inspirational for creative types like me. I personally adore how he eliminates much of the preamble, discussion and repetition that other writers deem necessary and which tend to bury the all-important point. He delivers a short, no bullshit form of wisdom that prevents me from hiding from myself or getting wrapped up in looking for faulty logic in what I’m reading. Pressfield just says what I need to hear without all of the nuts and fruitcake around it. Brevity like this that retains meaning is deceptively simple, but in fact requires great depth of knowledge and immense skill. I thank him for it.

 

4 Good quotes from the book:

“Any time I tried to take the intelligent course, i.e., get a real job, I became so depressed I couldn’t stand it.”

“At some point the practice of our vocation moves from being a challenge that we must will ourselves into accepting and enacting to become simply…our life.”

“This is the job. There is no other job. This is the job.”

“When you’re tired, stop.”

 

Life wisdom obtained:

It is possible to be 100% committed 10% of the time.

The ability to self-reinforce is more important than talent.

Things are not as bad as you are imagining them.

Show up in a predictable fashion so the muse knows where and when to find you.

 

Must read chapters:

Book 6

Book 8

 

Will I keep it on my bookshelf or donate it? Definitely a keeper for when I need a kick in the ass to keep going.

 

There Goes Gravity; A Life in Rock and Roll  by Lisa Robinson

 

This memoir from music journalist Lisa Robinson is like catnip for me. Not just a glimpse, but a long, deep, satisfying look behind the scenes of the music world from someone who got up close and personal. It is a bit misleading to constrict the title to “rock and roll” because it covers way more than that genre. Sure, most of the usual suspects are there – The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, U2 and more, but she also takes substantial forays into punk rock, blues, rap, hip hop. As well as other artists who sort of stubbornly defy categorization – where do you put David Bowie, Lou Reed or Lady Gaga? Even with everyone who is in here, you get the sense that it has been carefully curated and there is tons of other dirt that didn’t make the cut. I reckon you could ask Lisa Robinson about nearly anybody in the music biz over the past 40-ish years and she would probably have a story to tell. I enjoyed it tremendously and her writing and style are inspirational. She was there, with all those amazing people, yet her writing is clear-eyed, crisp and never feels name drop-y.

After finishing this book, I had to ask myself, “Why do I like reading about rockstars (sounds better than “musicstars”, though less inclusive)?” Hmmm. First off, I am a music fan. From a young age I can remember feeling moved in an almost indescribable way by the loud 70s rock music my brother subjected the whole family to at ear-splitting decibels. There was no escaping a basic, though forced musical education in my house. I found my own way into appreciation for punk and new wave (which my brother heartily derided), “discovered” Bowie, sang along to the oldies through my crappy first car’s AM radio, lived through grunge (so depressing), got the blues, educated my kids about all of this, “discovered” Lady Gaga and now am experiencing a second, forced musical education courtesy of my kids who like all kinds of “new” music. Whatever that means. And I love it all! Good music inspires me, makes me feel things, feeds my creativity, makes me want to be a better me. God, that sounds so incredibly cheesy! But it is the truth. Music isn’t just in the background of my life, it feeds who I am and who I want to become.

Part of why I find musicians so inspiring is the absolute fearlessness that is required to make a go of it in that business. There is no school for rockstars. No formal internships or competitive training programs. No surefire path or playbook to greatness. They are born, not made (the good ones, at least). The concept that someone can feel so moved internally by their own creativity that they have no choice but to make music is both intriguing and inspiring to me. What confidence they must have. And tolerance for risk. Singlemindedness, dedication, direction and purpose. Not to mention talent. All traits I admire and, sheepishly, envy.

Its not just rockstars either, though they are arguable the most fascinating of the bunch. Writers, especially but not always travel writers, often fall into this category for me. Peter Mayle, Frances Mayes, Anthony Bourdain, Ernest Hemingway, Roxane Gay. Other inspiring folk are found in a multitude of settings but share similar appealing traits: Albert Einstein, Tara Stiles, Richard Branson, Julia Child, Lousie Hay and Wayne Dyer. So many more, but they all go (or went) their own way on their own terms and proceeded to make a life that is creative and uniquely, honestly, true to themselves. I may very well be seeing everything through rose tinted glasses, sure, but this is what these people’s lives and work represents to me. And I want that.

Gift from The Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This book is tiny, but mighty. Written by an obvious introvert, so she basically had me right there.

It’s a little dated, but still relevant. There is an assumption that the majority of women do not work outside the home, but remember this book was written in a totally different generation when that was true. When you look past that, there are all sorts of gems found here.

Beautiful words and imagery couch some incredibly deep analysis of changes women (primarily, but also men) go through, particularly at middle life. Her writing speaks to me on a deep, heart level. She has eloquently put into words the internal and external struggles I have been feeling over the past few years. Who am I, where am I going, what is my purpose, why am I not satisfied with what I have?

I feel understood and validated that this is a less well-defined but nonetheless predictable developmental stage in life and it is ok, even expected and natural that I am feeling this way. Most developmental theory seems to kinda gloss over these middle-aged years (especially for women). Lots of emphasis on your body beginning to break down, your mind starting to slip and how you just soldier on with raising kids, working and making money with nothing particularly interesting happening. Oh, except maybe you are also lucky enough to be caring for your aging parents as well (right here) or perhaps having a middle life crisis. But this is a crock! Not the part about helping parents (that’s a privilege, at least for me it is), but the part about this stage of life being a yawn-fest that sometimes culminates in an epic, tragic, negative struggle.

It sounds a little cheesy, but I prefer to think of this transitional time in life less as a “crisis” and more as a huge opportunity to start a new and fun chapter. It is not without any struggle to be sure, but overall, I feel like my life has gotten richer and deeper. I enjoy using my brain which feels powerful – like a muscle car amped up on experience, creativity and wisdom. It is fucking fun to drive this thing around! I feel like I am breaking new ground, letting go of shit that no longer serves me and I am excited to see where this new creative phase of life leads me. This book is a great reminder that getting older doesn’t have to be a downer, but rather, offers its own charms and opportunities to those of us who choose to see it this way.

The Artist’s Journey

This book really kicked my ass. Into gear.

I’m taking a lot of liberties here, but the main messages I took away from reading this succinct little book of wisdom include:

    • Our creative or artist side (whatever our medium of choice) exists on kind of a parallel plane to normal everyday life.
    • It is up to us to find our way and tap into this other reality and let our creativity flow out of us.
    • Problem is, we let stupid shit get in the way of this = resistance.
    • The best way to access our internal wisdom and creativity is to regularly sit down and just fucking do it. For example, if your medium is writing, you’ve got to create habits that get you in front of that keyboard on a regular basis.

I also appreciated how this author’s voice careens back and forth between classical literature to pop references, brass tacks tough love to woo-woo wacky existential stuff all the while merrily ignoring the accepted “rules” of how to write a traditional book. This delights me to no end! It’s a wild ride of a trip through one artist’s stream of consciousness about how to unleash your own brand of creativity but does not suffer for this format. It is at once entertaining and incredibly inspiring, but thankfully, avoids the pitfall of shaming readers for not just doing it already.

50 for 50

I can’t believe I’m in my 50th year of life. How the fuck did that happen?!

I like birthdays. Its like your own personal holiday. And I’ve never felt weird about my age or getting older. I’m not feeling bad or sad or mad about turning 50 in 2021, but I do feel a certain sense of wonder. Like, wow, that’s a lot of years on Earth.

I am also reflective; a lot has happened in that time span! Both good and bad, happy and sad. Hard to believe it is all part of the same story, my story.

I love stories, especially those found in books. Fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, travel books, self-help, philosophy, memoirs – you name it. Books have been constant and treasured companions during my life.  So I’ve decided to include them in a little commemorative challenge I have set out for myself during my 50th year  – read 50 books before my 50th birthday. That’s a lot of books! And my social media consumption is likely to suffer, but I am committed. I’m a little over a week in and already 3 down, stay tuned!

Hunger, by Roxane Gay

Hunger Roxane Gay Recipes Are Merely A Suggestion Karyn Shomler

I read this book in one day over a month ago and I am still thinking about it.

The subject matter is relevant, to be sure; I think we’d be hard pressed to find an American woman today without “body issues” and/or a history of some sort of sexual abuse.

The honesty and artistry of the telling though. That’s what really got to me. The openness to her own vulnerability and willingness to share it was incredibly awe inspiring. I felt exposed myself by virtue of her exposing her deepest self. There could be no hiding anymore after reading this account.

So beautifully written too. A casual tone and an economy of words, but with nothing left unsaid. How does she do that?! Truly a work of heartbreaking beauty. Makes me want to run right out and read everything she has every written and give her a hug of gratitude (which she wouldn’t want, the latter that is).

KC Shomler

Hunger Roxane Gay Recipes Are Merely A Suggestion Karyn Shomler

Hunger Roxane Gay Recipes Are Merely A Suggestion Karyn Shomler

Hunger Roxane Gay Recipes Are Merely A Suggestion Karyn Shomler

 

Laptop Confessional

I’ve got a confession to make:

I’ve got a big ol’ crush on Richard Branson!

This book –  Like a Virgin offers a glimpse beneath the mane. Great business mind, kind heart, likes to break the rules (for good), empowers his employees to take exceptional care of customers. An all-around Rockstar who is not afraid to take risks. And he owns his own private tropical island.

Yeah, that last bit kind of gets me. The risk part, not the island part. I could take some lessons from Sir Richard’s example and dismantle my own aversion to risk. One of his mottos after all is “Screw it, let’s do it!” I could definitely benefit from more of that attitude in my life, more courage to go for it and pursue what interests me and what I find personally fulfilling. Damn the consequences!  And… that tropical island bit wouldn’t hurt either.

 

Your Are A Badass

This book spoke to me on many levels. The author’s voice is delightful and was a total joy to read! I wish I could write like this, goals.  Like a trusted, potty-mouthed friend who wants to help light a fire under your ass so you will reach your goddamned potential already. No Eeyores allowed!

There is so much no-nonsense wisdom packed in here as well. One bit that sticks out in particular for me (and I may or may not have it framed on my wall as a reminder) is about how you shouldn’t assume that just because something you enjoy comes easily to you it doesn’t have value. And can (hopefully) make you rich. That was sort of revelatory for me because I think I had it in my mind, somewhere deep, that work is both hard and, well,  kind of sucks. I like this idea much better!

This is a book I will probably go back to over and over again when I need a shot of courage. Well, this and maybe some tequila. But seriously, it is very difficult to step out of the socially sanctioned rat race and try to do your own thing. I’m doing this and I often feel simultaneously naughty and terrified. It helps to have a voice of reason and encouragement to turn to at these times.

I like just seeing it on my shelf too  – its a good reminder that I am indeed a badass! And I’m getting closer to owning it.

 

Black Sea is Brilliant!

Black Sea; Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light by Caroline Eden is my kind of “cookbook”. 4 things I love about it*:

  1. It has a sexy cover
  2. Lots of beautiful pictures of food and places.
  3. Provides historical background.
  4. It includes Turkey! The next big stop on my lifetime itinerary.

*Noteworthy that none of these mention recipes, heehee!

Do Yourself A Favor And Read Chillpreneur

4  valuable things I learned from Chillpreneur, many thanks to Denise Duffield-Thomas:

 1.       Making money doesn’t have to be hard or painful.

 2.       Just start! It doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate.

 3.       Protect the golden goose (take care of myself or I will lose my creative energy).

 4.       I have valuable stuff to share and it won’t suit everyone’s taste, but that’s ok.