Wrangler Dani

Writer, editor, marketer and communication strategist. I'm also a wife, mama, hiker, cowgirl and experimental cook living in beautiful Central Oregon.

Archive for the ‘job angst’ Category

April 8th, 2016 by Dani

Stress-shopping and Plastic Breakfasts

Today I stress-shopped online, bouncing from swim suits to place mats in a desperate attempt to feel better. The trouble with stress-shopping online is that I rarely actually buy anything – it just makes me feel worse about my messy house and fat rolls, and I waste valuable hours that should be rejuvenating, browsing Williams-Sonoma instead. Stress-shopping is a lie, a silky seductress who beckons me with new stuff and pretty pictures, taunting me as I prop up my soul with her instead of a good talk, a good book or a good walk.

It’s not that my stress is so bad, either. I’ve had some upheaval in my professional life that is causing anxiety, but I know it’ll be OK. Addy is teething, which is a fussy process and I admit I’m tired, but we’ll get through it. She’s still wonderful, she just hates her teeth and I don’t blame her.

For many years I’ve believed the falsehood that I can fix anything. I can bootstrap that problem right up, if you just give me half a chance and some leftover baling twine. When life starts running off-kilter or when the unexpected comes, my response is to power up and FIX IT, by golly.

But now I’m a mama to a little person who needs me to power down quite often. I don’t get to set my own hours or run my own show – as every mother knows, this show is now running me. I still have plenty of time to work and play and be Mama, but I don’t get the luxury of a frantic, powered-up pace when life feels out of control. I don’t get to work until the job is done, I just work until she wakes up or we need to eat lunch.

What does this mean? Well, it shouldn’t mean anything, other than a bit of a new schedule and more flexibility in my life, but I find myself feeling stressed and desperate: desperate for control over my schedule, desperate for time and space to think this through. This is silly, I’m well aware. My life is wonderful, my free time is still there, I’m still working, my baby is easy, my husband is supportive and loving. So, why do I feel this way?

I think my identity as creator of my own destiny and maker of my own future is coming unraveled, probably for the best. The truth is, I’ve never been in control of my destiny or my future, I’ve just pretended like I am, like a child with a play kitchen making breakfast for the family. We all play along, but the plastic bread and fruit aren’t actually delicious.

Today, I can fret and freak out because I’m worried about my plastic breakfast and whether it’s good enough for my family, or I can recognize that maybe this breakfast doesn’t matter after all, that maybe the real breakfast is coming from somewhere else. Maybe all of my striving won’t make me successful, any more than worrying makes me healthier or happier.

It’s hard to learn a new way of living when the old way feels so empowering. It’s hard to remind myself that I will still have time to get stuff done after the baby is rocked to sleep or after I’ve cleaned the smushed strawberries out of the carpet. Maybe, if I can figure this out, I can be one of those awesome zen-like yoga moms who wears an adorable outfit with a matching workout headband to the kid-date in the mountains and somehow manages to squeeze in a professional life while planning imaginative educational activities, making homemade jam from handpicked blackberries and doing pilates. I’m joking, although if you are one of those moms, teach me your ways!

As nice as it sounds to be an adorably put-together yoga mom, it’s probably more important to be content to be me. I’m not in charge, sometimes I’m unsure and scared. My scary moments aren’t mitigated by the intensity and take-charginess that used to make me feel better, but hopefully I’ll learn to live with a little uncertainty and a little patience. After all, it’s just a plastic breakfast. Stress-shopping doesn’t make the plastic breakfast become real, and banging my toy saucepan on the painted burner doesn’t either.

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” -Jesus (Matthew 6:25-27)

March 14th, 2016 by Dani

New on Trochia: Does Fruitfulness = Exhaustion?

I have a confession to make: I’m tired.

I’m trying to do all the right things and volunteer in all the right places. I say “yes” when my church needs me, when friends need me, when work needs me and when my family needs me. I took stock of my heart last night and realized that I am exhausted, that all of this working isn’t making me better, it’s just wearing me out.

Read more at Trochia, here.

May 24th, 2013 by Dani

Am I Good Enough to Say This?

I took a day off yesterday (not of my choosing, a nasty bladder infection laid waste to all sensible thought or ambition) and it gave me time to think. Actually, I’ve been thinking for a couple of weeks now – what am I doing?

The only thing I’m good at is now the only thing I do, frighteningly enough. I realize that I’m a decent writer, but I’m certainly no Jane Austen, and maybe it’s just sad to toil at something every day only to be mediocre at it. It’s slightly unnerving to think that I switched my major in college from a marketing communications degree to print journalism, and that heady, sudden decision at 19 changed my life forever. Did I really know what I was doing then? Do I now?

I still do a lot of “marketing communication” – after all, that is most of what Wrangler Dani offers, so I guess maybe I’m overstating the point. But inside of the workings of this little media company I’ve built, with my corporate blogging accounts and social media presences, is my own voice, wondering if it still has anything to say. Better yet, is it talented enough to say it?

Desire is one thing, talent is another – together they are formidable, and make our giants: the Brad Paisleys, Elizabeth Gilberts and J.J. Abrams – those people who somehow have sweated long enough and thought hard enough (and been given enough natural gifts) to make us swoon at their revelations and hang on their words. They speak for us, they say what we never could, what we aren’t talented or gritty enough to declare ourselves.

I guess I’m having a completely normal artistic crisis – where I feel boring and dumb and supremely under-talented for the story I want to tell. The funny thing about blogging is that you can see the rolling hills of my angst – from feeling fresh and inspired to dejectedly wondering why I would ever choose a profession which is best known for “bleeding on the paper”. So I won’t even try to pretend that this is some original moan or logical level of blah.

But it’s there, nonetheless, and I’m stuck with a degree and a decade of work and really nothing else that I’m even remotely good at. I don’t have a conclusion, other than I’ve been itching at this for a couple of weeks now and it’s hurt like a peeling scab until this moment, when I put it on paper and mused in print. So that has to count for something.

Right?

March 25th, 2013 by Dani

In My Life, Love Does

Writing and editing for Trochia is a terrifying experience for me. I constantly feel like I’m not wise enough, winsome enough, like I’m not articulate enough or good enough at what I do. Frequently, my insecurities sweep into my mind until I’m more tempted to watch reruns on the Food Network than actually do anything, because I’ve convinced myself that I’ll fail.

What God is teaching me, though, is that when I am cowardly – when I shrink back from people or professions that he’s placed in my life – I’m not only cheating myself out of enjoying his gifts for me, but I’m limiting an incredible chance at a front-row seat, seeing what He can do.

Read more at Trochia, here.

October 9th, 2012 by Dani

Math {31 Days}

It was a cold, early morning and I was working at a drive-thru coffee stand in Bonanza, Oregon, population 350. I was 15 years old, it was my second day on the job and I was dutifully brewing coffee, turning on the heater, making sure espresso beans were in the grinder.

A farmer pulled up in his beat-up Honda, wearing good jeans and a clean ball cap, obviously headed for an early morning run to town instead of a day in the fields. He ordered two 16-oz mochas and a cookie, and waited patiently while I ground beans and frothed milk, chatting kindly with me. As I carefully placed the lids on the drinks, I realized that I had to add up a total for his order. I hated math, I’d never been good at it and I’d always feared being put on the spot. Well, this was a spot alright, and I was teetering atop it as my kindly customer fumbled with his billfold and looked expectantly at me. The coffeeshop’s owner had left a calculator in the stand but I wasn’t sure where it was, time was running out and I felt my face grow hot. I blurted out, “that’ll be $6.50, sir” and made change out of the ten-dollar bill he handed me, giving him his $3.50 in change with the shaky-handed assurance of an unconfident banker. I added up his order again as he drove away, and was pleased to realize that I had indeed done the math correctly, and even given him the right change.

After that, I started to trust myself with numbers, realizing that they weren’t as scary when they paid for simple things like coffee and cookies.

***

During construction at home, I learned in a similar way. If you have a 12-foot board and you need a seven-foot board, how much should you cut off? Well, five feet, I would think, pulling my metal tape measure over thick, hairy pinewood. How many inches in five feet? 5 x 12 = 60. 60 inches. Yes, that’s right. The skilsaw revs, my pencil marks emblazon the wood, a board is cut.

Boards are cut, they fit together like puzzle pieces, they form a wall, a roof, a room, a shop, a house. Numbers aren’t as scary when you’re building something valuable, when they’re being used to make a life.

***

Now, I use numbers in my business, to see if this whole “writing for a living” thing is working out or not. My awesome husband always believes in me but we do the figures just the same, and are pleased to see profits instead of losses.

See, I think to myself, this isn’t so bad. Numbers and math show that words matter after all. I think that’s a good use for them.

March 28th, 2012 by Dani

It’s time to go all Office Space, y’all. You know what I mean.

So, I’m going to say something right out front. Numbers are not my friend. I have been a successful manager of my personal finances for the last decade, and I get the basic ideas that you can’t pay for stuff without money, something my friends in DC have yet to figure out.

However, beyond such rudimentary ideas as “let’s not bounce checks” and “let’s pay bills on time” I’m a little in over my head, and I usually rely on an expert to tell me what the hell I’m looking at on any given piece of paper that the bank is mailing me with alarming frequnecy and regularity, because apparently their greatest heartfelt desire is that I become a victim of identity theft.

So, one day a few weeks ago, a Banker Dude calls me.

“Hey” he says. “Since you have so far escaped the clutches of identity theft, we want to change that by sending you a giant Sequoia worth of paperwork and convince you to get a new account that will change your life forever and make glitter rain on your parade. Great, right?”

Me, being an idiot, succumbed to his stupid pitch, opened this new glitter-filled account and was promptly smacked in the face with what I now call the Wells Fargo Black Hole of Office Space-Style Despair, You Made Money But We Can Keep it From You HAHA Oh And Also, You’ll Need to Talk to 1o Different People For Lotsa Hours and They’ll All Tell You Something Different, Good Luck Ever Seeing Blue Sky Again SUCKA.

I tried to deposit into the new account.

Suddenly the next day, no money is in the account.

I go to Wells Fargo and very politely ask why my money is gone.

They explain that I put it into the new account, which means they have the right to hitch it up to a horse and carriage and send it to Ohio, after which it might come floating back to me in an empty Coke bottle, if I’m lucky.

I cry.

They don’t care.

I demand that they shut down this stupid new account and give me my money.

They say that they did so, but they shrug about the whole “give me back my money” part.

Two weeks later, the check I’d already deposited once comes back to me via carrier pigeon.

The sun is shining, I’d had a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling optimistic, so I go back to try to deposit it again.

No can do.

They tell me that the account was not deleted, my life is not better, that everybody who made me cry before was wrong and I have to start all over.

I leave in a huff.

I went back today, only to discover that I had to delete every account I’d previously made, all the ones that Banker Dude said were all glittery and whatnot, and sit and stew for two hours at the desk of Incompetent Teller #35.

At one point, she asked me what my business was (as I was trying to set up business accounts). I said “writer” and she, all small-talky, despite the fact that I was searching for some sleeping pills in my purse to overdose on, asks if I like it and if I’m busy with it.

IT TOOK EVERY PIECE OF MY SELF-CONTROL TO NOT SAY:

“I do love it, actually, although sitting in this bank has started to make me doubt if I’m even alive anymore, as it sucks my creativity and my hope away and I am on the verge of banging my purse on the desk like a real nutjob and stowing cash under my mattress rather than ever coming here again. In answer to your second question, yes I am incredibly busy, and I’ve spent 10 hours IN THIS BANK in the last few weeks, so you asking me about my business makes me want to scream, as to-do lists dance before my eyes and I stare at some terrible photo of a kid and his birthday cake, which is supposed to make me believe that ‘We’re here for you’ when that is laughably untrue. Also, I write about my life, about my adventures and my husband and my business, and this debacle is SURE AS HELL going on the blog. All I want is to deposit my money and not cry when I do so. IS THAT SO HARD.”

Here’s the final tally:

Wells Fargo = 10 million clusters

Banker Dude = 1 glitter turned to poop

Incompetent Teller #35 = 5 unsuccessful small-talks, but apparently successfully dodged all my stabby-eyed attempts to make her feel bad about this

Dani = needs a margarita, I don’t care what time it is.

 

September 26th, 2011 by Dani

On not knowing what I’m doing (Blog Sugar 11)

It’s been quiet ’round these parts, because I haven’t known what to say lately. It’s not that life has handed me lemons and I’m out of sugar (and thus can’t make the proverbial lemonade), it’s that life has handed me starfruits and green mangoes and I’m baffled about what to do with them. There’s nothing big and wonderful or giant and terrifying happening in my life at the moment, and I don’t know what to do with a lot of small, grey pieces of nothing. I’ve been feeling uninspired and underwhelmed and unable to even come up with a pithy reaction to my blase state.

This was the state of my heart going to Blog Sugar, a blogging conference that I attended yesterday in hopes of finding inspiration, or a friendly face, or a relatable topic, or SOMETHING to tell me that just because I make a living as a blogger doesn’t mean I have to know what I’m doing or feel good about it all the time.

And guess what?

I got all that, and more. I met a few wonderful girls who actually read my words by choice, and several who’s words I’ve been mulling over ever since. I realized that it’s OK to admit that I don’t always have inspiration, that I don’t always do things right, that I’m not always vacuuming in pearls (or ever).

I have a unique voice and a little personal corner of the world wide web, in which I want to craft beautiful words, stick to my convictions and say something worth saying, which is sometimes the simple admission that I don’t have anything figured out. Thanks, Blog Sugar, for reminding me that it’s OK to admit that how to handle what life has given me, but I’m probably better at this whole blogging/writing thing than I give myself credit for.
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June 23rd, 2011 by Dani

Gussy Sews’ Inspiration Workshop: Spend the Day Playing

ocean kayakingIt’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve been SO busy, and all I can think about is playing instead of working and it really is kindof tortuous. So when Gussy‘s prompt came up about “spending the day playing”, all I could think about is how I want to play this summer. I started getting a little grouchy (insert little-kid whine: “but I want to play NOW!”) until I realized that playing isn’t much fun unless you’ve earned it. A great weekend off is only great if you’ve had a week on, ya know? So, grouchy face begone, I’m going to keep working hard so that I can take Louise out for a paddle or my hubby out to dinner and feel satisfied by my time, on and off the clock. Good pep-talk, Self, I feel inspired.

Anywho, I bought Louise, my lovely Hobie ocean kayak a few years ago (that’s me and her on our maiden voyage, above) and I adore her. Adam and I love to spend weekend mornings fishing, paddling, spitting sunflower seeds and lazing around on the water, and this fourth of July we’re even going down the Colorado River on kayaks! I know, right? I really am the luckiest girl – despite being SO busy, our play time is pure gold.

I’m so excited to earn some fabulous play this summer… long hikes, bar-be-ques and beach days with friends, the woods, salty ocean-water kisses, sun tans, girl-talk, big burgers and cold beers.

Hiking in Idyllwild - more perfect playtime

It’s going to be a great summer, and I can’t wait to work hard and play hard. How are you balancing working and playing this summer?

June 15th, 2011 by Dani

You are HERE now. Be here.

be here now poster

From farouche on Etsy. You can buy this for me any time.

Last night, Adam and I got home from a meeting at church around 8:30. I puttered about, folding laundry and other housewifey chores for about 20 minutes, then laid down on the couch and CONKED OUT. Seriously. I was out like a light. Out like a kid on the first day of summer. Out like a cat in a sunshiney spot, roughly 22 hours a day. Adam says I was a meanie when he woke me up to go to bed, but I don’t remember that. I think he’s fibbing.

Honestly, I don’t remember anything until waking up this morning at 7, after a whopping 10 hours of sleep. I don’t know if it’s because I got an unusual amount of sleep, or if I can only run so hard for so long before something in me just quits, but today is different. I’m simmering in inspiration this morning, working well – not with ten things happening at once, but slowly, checking off tasks one at a time and embracing the simple movements of a quiet workday.

I’m in front of people a lot more often these days than I ever used to be (a struggle for an introvert) selling myself, explaining my services and even, like yesterday, teaching a roomful of people “how-to”. Sometimes I’m so busy cultivating the me that I market that I forget about the me who needs to go for a long walk and comes back inspired, who cooks for therapy instead of necessity, who loves people more than I am annoyed by them.

I want to be Here now. I want every day to be like today. I know it can’t – yesterday I thought I might collapse from all the hither and thither – but even in the frenzy I am praying for peace, devotion and dedication to launching myself into my craft with both feet, not checking email on my phone or worrying about what might be happening elsewhere or obsessing about my growing list of to-dos.

The to-dos will be there, the work will always be work, and I will probably always struggle with a sense of place; with being Here, because Here can be damn hard to hold on to when there are so many other “heres” pulling me away. But today, I’m Here. I’m savoring doing things one at a time, rejoicing in the simple acts of work and holding on to peace and gratitude. Here is where I’ll stay.

May 5th, 2011 by Dani

On physical work (and horses. Of course.)

therapeutic horseback riding

Audrey, Dance and I

In my daily work, I use my brain and my fingers and not much else and I get paid to do it, which is very handy. So three afternoons a week, when I teach therapeutic horseback riding lessons, I squeeze into a well-worn pair of Wranglers, lace up dusty boots and smash a hat on my head, and sometimes I wonder why I leave Important, Thoughtful Work to go sweat in the dust for half the pay.

I do it because it grounds me. I’m really not too smart, too educated or too proud to physically work for a living, and teaching reminds me of that truth. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the big things going on, and I need a tangible reminder that little things are equally important.

I love talking to our warm-hearted volunteers, helping them learn their way around our horses and kiddos, explaining what goes where and why. I love hearing their stories – why they love horses, why they love kids, why they care about special needs individuals. We talk about everything over the backs of dusty horses and in-between games of red-light-green-light – about religion and faith and hope and politics and great recipes and sports and the meaning of life. We laugh together when Dance, our giant draft horse, tries to untie herself and gives a cheeky glance over her shoulder, hoping we don’t notice. We laugh with April, a toddler who yells, “HI MISS DANI! I LOVE YOU! HI HORSE! I LOVE YOU! HI LETTER A! I LOVE YOU!” as she runs towards the gate, eager for a helmet and her turn on horseback. We laugh when Joe, who has autism, gives up on answering a particularly tough question and simply lays down on his horse’s broad back with a sigh as his only explanation. We smile with pride when Anna trots by herself, when Bryce figures out the obstacle course, when Kate brushes her horse by herself for the first time. I yearn to give them independence, the feeling I had when I realized that I’d just found not only a best friend but infinite liberation in my horse. Horses are therapy, not just for those with special needs, but for all of us, I tell new, concerned parents, bringing their child to ride for the first time. After one lesson, they believe me.

My boots and jeans are dusty when I get into Rocky (my truck, for the uninitiated) at the end of the day. My face is usually sunburnt, my back is sore and I smell like a horse. But I feel sunkissed, renewed, like a just got a glimpse into life that moves a little slower and is a bit more connected to the Earth. That’s why I still teach, why I’m so grateful that I still get hugs from little arms around my waist, horse snot on my shirt and dirt in my hair.

Eventually I’ll have to cut back as I get busier, and sometimes I admit that I feel pulled in too many directions. But I hope I never forget what it feels like to earn a paycheck by hoisting saddles, hollering instructions, hugging necks and sweating buckets. It’s earthy, serious, beautiful, hard, joyful, painful work and I am so grateful for it.