Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

challenges or not

This week, I had a friend tell me that I don't choose to have challenges in my life which in short, I guess, means I am playing it safe and not doing new things. This came at an interesting time, as a blog I sometimes read had asked if we (old folks) have had our best jump which meant-- is the best yet to be and do we live that way?

Well, you know I am a writer, writers are interested in exploring emotional issues. So I was bound to look more deeply at both of these not only for myself but for how we end up thinking as we do. 

In the conversation with my friend, who does know me but maybe not as well as she thinks, I asked-- what challenges am I avoiding? (I myself was thinking I wrote three novellas, put them out as well as two full books all to less than favorable reader response-- you know that because you don't get sales-- Didn't that qualify as taking on a challenge?) I've also tried to learn marketing (see above for success ratio) which is definitely a challenge for me. Add to it that I have stuck to writing what I believe even when it was not popular. Not challenging?

Guess not as she then listed off the things that I had said I don't like as well as that I still wear my hair the same way I always have. She said:
 "Reread what you have been writing just here. You have closed your mind to doing more abstracts for your trailer (for eBook trailers). going on cruises.  playing games. pleasing romance writers, or anyone else."
Our conversation before that had been about some places I was not happy; so that led to some of this question about challenges. I think what she was saying was that if I took on more challenges like maybe cutting my hair in a pixie cut or going on a cruise, I would be more satisfied. Basically, what she listed as the challenges I have rejected are things she likes to do-- please others, play games, go on cruises and paint abstracts. (I had earlier said I don't like big parties, and it didn't make the cut but maybe she doesn't like them either). Anyway that led to some introspection on my part. 

When I got to sixty, one of the things I decided was that I had done everything I felt I had to do or that society said I should do. I'd been through a lot of diverse experiences (okay I had never gone on a cruise or gone to a drunken party) which included having and raising a family, ranch life, deep immersion into a religion, leaving said religion, and other things I won't be mentioning here (or to my friend). I had felt at sixty, which is a full lifespan, I now had the rest of my life for me-- for only doing what I wanted to do. Which means I didn't have to take someone else's challenge.

One of the pluses of being my age is I have tried a lot of things. Some I liked and kept in my life. Some I rejected. Some I reconsider once in awhile to think if I have changed or the activity has and I might then like it. 

Maybe as part of being a writer, I have an imaginative ability to put myself emotionally into a situation to assess how it'd be if I was physically in it. Based on what others have told me about the cruises, which they love, I can imagine what it's like on a cruise. The only part that would remotely appeal to me would be seeing say the coastline of British Columbia if that was the only way, watching whales or porpoises-- in short the part about nature. The things others love about cruises (like organized play activities, casinos, shows, parties, gourmet food, and tours where someone else plans what you see and gets you there) sound very 'unfun' to an introvert, which I joyfully am.

I can't please other writers or other people for that matter if what I am doing doesn't please me first. I can't write their stories. I went through counseling some years back (actually three experiences with different professionals, not to mention a few times with psychics which can be like counselors), and one thing I learned was what it means to be a people-pleaser and how it was no longer working for me-- if it ever had. 

So making someone else unhappy or that I won't do what they want, that's not on my agenda of caring about. Sorry, but that's their problem.  This also doesn't mean I never want to do something for others. Sometimes it's what I want too.

I can be convinced by hard facts to rethink a position but by almost 71, I do pretty well know myself, what I like, or don't like. I don't feel a need to prove anything to anybody including me-- which can seem contrary to someone who would like me to do what they think would be better for me. Sorry... wait, not sorry and not going there again ;).

As for always the same hairstyle... well, there is curl and less curl (two photos taken within a week of each other)) But otherwise I found a way I like to wear my hair-- give or take an inch or four-- and whether I have bangs. I do evaluate it once in awhile, but I had short hair in high school and haven't wanted it since. Why should I change to a hairstyle that doesn't suit me emotionally even if it would be more flattering-- and it might be. So what. There are other reasons to do things than that.

As for whether my best jump is yet to be, my best experiences are yet to be lived, I never say never, but I am pretty sure I had my best jump years ago. I knew it at the time. I savored it at the time. I don't live in it today nor the need to relive it.

One life lesson I fortunately learned early is always live fully right where I am. I still do that. That I believe my best jump is behind me doesn't mean I cannot still have great experiences and successes ahead-- or not. I never say never ;)


Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Your friend who suggested that you do not want to take on new challenges is totally off her rocker. Every word, every sentence, every finished script represents a giant risk. Yur hair is a crowning jewel. Go girl!

Rain Trueax said...


Celia said...

Mercy, we love our friends but we don't have love their viewpoints. Your hair is gorgeous and I'd love to have it. She may be nuts.

It's taken much of my life to cut back on the unproductive people pleasing and to rely on my own self knowledge and go with that. Anything else would chew away at my being authentic and not some caricature of myself.

Cruises are not my thing either. Everyone doesn't like cruises. I went on an Alaskan cruise with my sisters and best friend who has MS. It worked out well for my friend and her serious disability. My sister is very social and made friends with two other teachers she met and they had a ball. For me, Once was more than enough. I did see things I enjoyed but it's just not my thing. I like to go somewhere and stay for awhile and get to know the place. Fortunately I'd been to Alaska that way too.

I cannot imagine a bigger challenge that writing and putting your work out for the public. I still make art but the marketing selling part is a big challenge, and I too, and my artist son, are introverts. I hope you keep creating and find your market.

Rubye Jack said...

It sounds like she's talking more about changes than challenges since I can see absolutely nothing not a thing challenging about going on a cruise. Except for perhaps surviving it. Some personalities like that sort of being stuck in a crowd of very ordinary follow the trend people. That doesn't mean you should also like it. My guess is being alone might be her biggest challenge. And, if you like your hair (which many women don't) why should you change it? I really hate it when people tell me what I should do and think much of that sort of behavior and way of thinking is projection.
I like you just the way you are Rain!

Rain Trueax said...

Thanks for the additional thoughts on this. I must add about the friend, she and I are the kind of friends who will be blunt with each other. There is not a thing she would ever say to me, nor I to her, where we would not mean it for our friend's best. But that said, she often ignores my ideas as I do hers. That's what makes us such great friends. We need those who tell us what they think in our lives. It's one of the things I like about blogs when I get commenters who speak their mind as you all have :). I come back here and get some new ways of seeing things.
That's a big plus.

Sounds like we are birds of a feather and should all get together... oh wait, there's that 'should' again ;)

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Having been on a few cruises, I have observed variations in the kind of people who take them. There are party types, of course,drunks,widows and widowers looking for romance. Some are families escorting their elderly or handicapted, and there are introverts too. Some stay in the more expensive suites and never leave. Services can be delivered. There are those with incurable health who want to dye surrounded by family having a celebration with them. There are study cruises and self improvement venues. I have seen more than one writer sitting quietly writing when the herd is off site seeing. A cruise is not only stimulating human contact but solitude as well for creative pursuit.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Feeling non-pressured to do my very best ever performance might be good as I advance farther into the golden years. Only with my own painting, I always think I am progressing on my journey and what I am doing and will do is more interesting than what I have ever done before. It is difficult to measure what painting is my masterpiece and never will be matched. I just don't think of there being any single one. What I think about most is the journey between each one and how they are as a body of work. I wonder if writing can be approached like my journey in painting.

Rain Trueax said...

It could be, Diane. My best book always is the one I am writing or reading. I literally love them all. Right now i am re-editing 'Her Dark Angel' and going to redo the cover. I just love that hero.

But I thought about it given what I have heard other writers saying -- I never want to be these people nor do I think of myself as one of the characters. I see myself as creating a movie in a way. I am the one behind the scenes, pulling the strings to try and tell the story in my head. I enjoy it as i would a good movie. As for my best, it's all of them to me ;). If that is my best jump, well it might be ahead of me if I someday come up with one that I adore more than the rest. It hasn't happened yet though

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

I know I am not going to convenience you on taking a cruise. And I have had my fill of them and getting sick on every voyage. I guess you have had enough experience to write for several more life times and don't need to be around crusie ship miserables for inspiration.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It really bothers me when someone tells me what they think I am NOT doing and then proceeds to tell me what I SHOULD be doing!

Your friend is so way off base with her opinions about you-----You are constantly challenging yourself Rain.....And you do know yourself better than anyone....Maybe she is talking about herself. Projection??
Just keep truckin', my dear.....live your life, as you do. I think you are Amazing and I think your friend doesn't really know you at all!

Rain Trueax said...

thank you, naomi. I really appreciate that coming from a creative woman such as yourself -- and creative on so many levels

Hattie said...

Go on the cruise to Alaska and see the Inland Passage and Glacier Bay. You won't be sorry.

Rain Trueax said...

That is literally the only cruise that tempts me, Hattie. It won't happen this year but maybe someday. I love that coast of BC. I've been up Vancouver Island and on the islands.

There is another way to see it and that's a ferry where there are no perks and it takes your auto which means we could drive the AlCan one way and take the ferry the other. Not this year though

Ingineer66 said...

It is all about perspective. What does she expect you to do? Go skydiving? I would think you have lived plenty of adventures raising a family and living life. For some people living on a farm would be a big adventure. Sure you could travel more if you didn't have animals to care for, but if that's not your thing then so be it. Personally if I was in your place in life, I would be selling the farm and moving to Tucson or some place else that required less work. But that is me and I don't expect everyone to do what I would do.

Tara Crowley said...

Last August I took the Alaska cruise and I loved being up there. But I did not like the cruise experience. Loud, overblown, crowded, sales pitches everywhere you turned. Won't do that again. But I'd love to get up to Alaska again. I'd never been in that kind of wild before -- our day trip into the Yukon was amazing.

BTW, I have a friend like that: we are dedicated to real honesty with one another. He's told me he likes my hair better long, but would never assign its length to me being up for a challenge. That seems an odd one.

joared said...

Isn't it fun when our friends stimulate our thinking by challenging us to consider how we're living our life! I agree with Old Lady's observation there might just be a bit of projection going on -- revealing more about the friend's life than yours perhaps.

I recently encountered from a younger friend her perspective of my current living arrangements with a new rationale for my relocating -- interestingly, closer to her and husband -- but would be to a coastal retirement community. I remain committed to living in place in my home -- at least so far. I won't go into detail, but her view is not a reflection of my need.

It's nice we have friends with whom we can engage so freely with each other without being offended.

I, too, have declined big cruise ships as being unappealing except for any nature aspect. If I wanted to spend time in all the "little city" features that attract so many, I'd just stay on land.

The smaller ship with limited passengers that goes to Alaska has seemed more attractive based on reports from a family member who appreciates nature and took such a trip.

I think some of the European river trips might be pleasant, too.

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