The Trouble With Success

People are always asking me what I’m doing now that I’m no longer writing about hockey.  Do I struggle with finding some sort of identity?  No.

I have a day job that paid for my hockey writing career.  I was promoted last year.  That promotion meant bigger responsibilities.  These days, I have more and more meetings, later work hours, and more travel.  Trust me, hockey and writing…I have to designate a few days off in order to write about hockey these days.

So that means…next week, I’m doing a little writing for Inside Hockey…while I’m in Dallas.  [Sorry, Devils.]  Yes, I still get asked to cover the Rangers, too, but I’ve been saying, “No.”  This season’s schedule, I probably would have had a heart attack already.  Hockey once a month is all I can handle right now.  And at least when I take the time off to go to a hockey game, I can relax.

I know there are a lot of people that have been lamenting that I’m not covering hockey this season.  At least it’s nice to know that I’m missed rather than hearing, “Good, I’m glad she left.”  It’s hearing people say they miss my coverage that I decided to write a couple of pieces for Inside Hockey while I’m in Dallas. 

No, Mr. Jagr, I won’t be in the locker room.  I’ve already spent $500 on tickets.  I’m not giving up those tickets to head into the locker room.  Fans may think that’s crazy, but keep in mind, I’ve been in locker rooms for the last 5 years. 

If Dallas really wants to give me a great story to write while I’m there…END THE BLACKHAWKS STREAK…or the story will be about the Blackhawks…maybe.

The last time I wrote about the Dallas Stars, it was during a very weird period.  Sean Avery was playing for them.  Mike Modano wasn’t retired yet.  Remember that infamous non-fight between David Clarkson and Sean Avery?  David literally chased Sean around the ice wanting to drop the gloves?  Well, it was what Modano said to me after the game while I was in the locker room that made up my mind about the Dallas Stars.

He came up to me while I was waiting in the locker room and told me that Sean did not represent what this team was about, so don’t hold his antics against them.  Modano offered that up to me and walked away.  I didn’t even talk to him or ask him anything.  After that, Modano became more vocal in the media on what he really thought of Sean.

Two other Dallas Stars came up to me that night, basically apologizing on behalf of the team.  I had no idea why they were apologizing.  Their goalie at the time came up to me and told me that I shouldn’t take what Sean said seriously, because if I did, it would hurt me.  I still had no idea what was going on.  They must have assumed one of the Devils told me what happened and I was there to tell Sean off.  It was only much later that I found out what in the world was going on…that is, after he was suspended by the NHL.

It’s very rare that hockey players go out of their way like that to make sure you are aware that they are true gentlemen…despite what crap happened out on the ice.  They don’t normally distance themselves from their teammate or call them out like that to the media.  I headed to the Stars locker room to find out what happened that night, because David Clarkson wouldn’t say, only to be apologized to by 3 different Dallas Stars…all mentioning Sean Avery.  I didn’t even ask them about Sean.  They walked right up to me and said something to me about it.

The Dallas Stars…those guys are gentlemen.  That’s why when Jaromir Jagr said he was signing with them this season, I actually sighed with relief.  I’m okay with watching Stars hockey.  Better yet, it seems like I’ve been writing a little about Stars hockey anyway, so why not just write something for Inside Hockey?

I could have just said “No” again, but my meditation the other night told me I needed to turn around.  I needed to embrace who I am and not completely walk away.  I need to continue to embrace my creative side.  I need to continue to write more, paint more, photograph more, and create more.  In other words, I haven’t been embracing my creative side these past few months.  I need to return to that…even if that means writing about hockey every now and again…[once again, Devils, do not get your hopes up too soon…you may not even see me this season]. 

blissRight now, I’ve been planning for the big apartment remodel. I’ve been upgrading my furniture.  I spent the last year trying to decide on a couch before I finally made the decision to go ahead with the Bliss Sofa from West Elm.

And yes, like the photo, there will be lots of blue printed pillows [see photo below of the blue pillow set I purchased to go with the Bliss sofa].

After the living room is done, the bedroom gets a touch up with new mattresses and frame (it’s way overdue…the bed is sagging, the box spring is broken and the frame is dead).  Then it’s time to redo the office. 

The priorities of my office have changed a bit.  When I first decorated it, it served as my library, photo studio and place where I write.  Now that I’ve taken on more artsy projects like blowing up my photos to bigger than lifesize canvases with an artistic twist, sewing, and many other DIY projects, I need to redo the office again.  Essentially, the office and my creativity is growing.  Pretty soon I’ll need a whole new house so I can have a bigger office space.  I can tell you right now, the library is now officially bigger than my apartment (that’s why it’s my new year’s resolution to read as many of the books I already own and get rid of them afterwards). 

pillowsThere are plenty of magazines (Food & Wine, Country Living, Clean Eating, Whole Living) that are starting to build up.  After doing much debating on how I was going to organize the magazines I was keeping, I found some file cabinets in my favorite color.  MINT.  CB2 now makes mint file cabinets [see picture, I’ll be getting this exact look with white console table].  This is perfect in helping me store the magazines I’m keeping by month.  Originally, I was going to store the magazines in magazine files, only to find out that my bookshelves cannot accomodate the magazines.  I swear my tape measure has become the number one tool in my home right now. 

My kitchen has also been getting an ongoing upgrade.  I bought a new sea green console table to put my microwave and conventional oven on.  It opened up so much space in my kitchen that even the cat saunters through like, “WOW!  There’s more room now.”  It’s amazing how switching out a baker’s rack for a console table completely changed the entire kitchen.  I can now store the trash/paper recyclables under the console…keeping it out of the way of foot traffic.

go-cart-white-console-tableAnother key upgrade in the kitchen is my new KitchenAid mixer.  All bakers and cooks dream of KitchenAid mixers…but do you dream of them in Tiffany Blue?  I do. 

[See a color scheme here?]

Bloomingdales had a sale on KitchenAid mixers last week.  The $440 mixer was marked down to $349.99.  I had a coupon for 20% off with my Bloomies card…saved another $70.  $279.99 for a Tiffany Blue KitchenAid Mixer.  Completely unheard of.  It’s my goal this year to master baking, so getting the right mixer was very important for me to do this year.  Next, I’ll be getting the Caribbean Blue Le Creuset cookware…that is, when it goes on sale…

To add to all of the updates, I’m doing a lot of photos to canvas in the mint/sea glass/Tiffany Blue color schemes.  All of these canvases range from 3×3 ft to 4×4 ft and 5×5 ft.  Wow, right?

photoWondering what I’m talking about?  Here’s a tutorial I did last year on Photos to Canvas.  I’ll be doing the 2nd option.  I have so many amazing photos from all over the world.  Blowing them up onto a huge canvas with a background color to match the decor? A photographer’s dream come true to see their work on a larger than life canvas. [Pictured here is one of the many shots I captured of the architecture of the Notre Dame in Paris.]

So why all of the changes?  Since the promotion and the extra money coming in, I had to really ask myself what would make me happy.  I keep looking at my house and thinking…is this what I want?  Is this who I am?  I look at home/home decor magazines and see so many looks I want to try out, only to look up from the pages and think “I really suck at this home decor stuff.”  Simply put, I am so BOHO it’s not even funny.  It’s a matter of tying in all of those things I’ve picked up in my travels and making it complement my home…that is the trick…and making it look like something out of the magazines! 

I see so many fashionistas tweet pics of their apartments and I think, “Why does my home not look anything fashionista like?”  Yeah…that’s all changing…all the way down to the coffee table books.  That also means I’m doing a whole heck of a lot of decluttering and getting rid of stuff.  It’s time to just upgrade my life.

That’s something I’ve been struggling with this year.  UPGRADING MY LIFE.  There’s a part of me that got used to dreaming of the ‘someday’.  Now that ‘someday’ is here, I look around me and see so many people struggling.  People complain about money all of the time.  People tell me that “high end” is now the Gap, while I shop at Bloomingdales, Saks, and J. Crew for my basics.  I’m the person spending over $600 at Target, and it’s not for a new TV.  I used to think West Elm was out of my price range (along with that Bliss sofa).  Now, I’m sitting here thinking…how did this happen?  How is this all of a sudden affordable?

I have to continuously watch myself, because between the designer clothing and my way of life, I have to keep pulling back.  This isn’t the economy to show your success/wealth.  That’s why this is a very hard adjustment period for me. 

I like clothes.  I love accessories.  I like to travel.  I like nice things.  Now that I can finally afford those nice things, I keep slapping myself thinking…you shouldn’t.  Why?  Because sometimes appearing like you’re doing better than others can warrant evil glances and evil wishes towards you from others.  That can mess up your karma big time.

Any time I use a service, from cabs to eating out, I tip big.  Anywhere between 30-50%.  Why?  Because of that whole reading minds thing.  I can see what a person’s life is really like and how they struggle.  A cab ride down the street…do you know how many cab drivers outside of American Airlines Center turn me down?  The one guy that does take me, he gets 2x what the fare was.  The server at the restaurant, she has three kids and is busting her tail at the airport restaurant.  I leave her an extra $10…even though my meal was less than that. 

I was taught that I needed to share my wealth in the best way that I saw fit…in a way that I know would help people, because I could see they truly needed the money.  People work hard for their tips.  Even those cab drivers in Dallas…they give you a little tour, give you information for your stay, just so they know they’re actually working for their tip.  The one African guy that drove me home from the airport a couple of weeks ago, I told him something so funny, he laughed so hard.  He told me that he hoped that the rest of his day would be just as good with his other customers.  I gave him an extra $20…he had no idea that was coming.

I don’t give to beggars or the homeless.  They won’t use the money the way it should be used…to help themselves get out of the situation they’re in.  I’ve given food to homeless guys before and they handed it right back to me.  They wanted money.  Those are people you don’t give to, because those are they guys that are making more money than most honest people.

I give according to the people I meet in this life.  Most of the people I give to are the ones I get to know in the brief minutes or hours that we come into contact.  I judge based on that time, without them telling me their life stories, what their true situation is.  I give to the point they are not handing me my money back.  Yes, there are people that will hand you your money back because they don’t believe they earned it.  To me, those are the ones that are the most deserving.

You see, when you give, you give to someone you know will continue the good karmic action.  They won’t waste your good deed or generosity on gambling, booze, or other bad things.  They’ll use it to help pay their bills, pay for their food, transportation, or even a candy bar for their kids.  They’ll put what you’re giving into good karmic use.  NEVER give to anyone that will not appreciate what you are giving.  Take for instance the homeless guy that got a new pair of shoes from a police officer.  A few days after it made the news across America, I found the guy camped out in Port Authority…without the shoes.

It totally threw that good karmic action that officer had done into the trash.  Those are the people you do not give to.  You give to people that understand the value of giving and generosity, who will also continue to pass on the good karma to the next person and the next person.  Don’t give to wasteful people that will not appreciate what you are doing or sharing with them.  Some people choose to not get out of their dire circumstances.

For me, having way more than enough is a strange world for me.  I’ve always been the dreamer…the one who said ‘someday.’  But when you finally become successful, it’s just a strange learning curve.  You’re caught between the Haves and the Have Nots.  Part of you doesn’t want to be treated any differently, but you know you will be.  You don’t want to be compared to the ungrateful rich folk that trods on everybody.  You still want to maintain that connection with people and not be treated any differently than before your success…even though you know it’s coming. 

Redecorating my home is a way for me to hide that success within my own walls.  I still walk and take public transit.  I still like to travel on the cheap.  I still like to do DIY projects on the cheap.  I still shop in dollar stores, Target and KMart.  Discount retailers like Home Goods, TJ Maxx and Marshalls…I still love to find deals there.  It’s an adventure. 

At the same time, I worry that I might bring too much attention to myself, because my bag is designer or I’m wearing a coat identical to something you’ve seen the Obama girls wear.  After all, I got it from the same store as them.  [But Michelle Obama still shops in Target.]

With the people that I encounter, many are still trying to struggle through these hard times in our economy.  People worry about how they’re going to pay the mortgage or put food on their table.  Kids go to bed hungry, dreaming about the food they can’t eat.  People work crap jobs, because they need money.  Recent college graduates can’t even get a job, let alone all of the people that are laid off.  Businesses are folding every day.  People are scared they’re going to lose it all.  Success isn’t something they see as possible in this day and age…even if people are succeeding somehow.

Ten years ago, I was dreaming about this day.  I remember back then, I’d look through all of these expensive home catalogs, dreaming of the way I would decorate my home.  It would be filled with so much amazing stuff.  It was a dream.  When the dream becomes a possibility or even real…the term ‘surreal’ defines the moment.  It’s weird in every sense of the word…but at the same time, it reminds you that you are doing something right.

I grew up hearing, “A woman will never amount to anything.”  My entire family said that.  What happens when a woman does amount to something?  I can tell you, I lost my family for it.  They tried to look down on me, even when very prominent politicians that knew me told them that they should be looking up when they look at me.  I wasn’t a nobody.  That’s what they were trying to tell them. 

That’s what makes success a weird thing for me.  I should be proud, but I’m not.  I’m afraid to be proud of my achievements.  I’m proud of women who succeed in what they do.  They are inspiring.  That’s why I try to ultimately think of others and not myself when it comes to all of this.

I mentor a lot of different writers trying to make it in the hockey writing realm.  It always makes me proud to see them doing well.  This is their dream job.  I just try to guide them on their way so they’ll stay within the rules for success. 

That’s the true key to success…never embellish it like a badge of honor.  People will see you for your hard work and your success at what you do.  You’ll have a better life when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.  You’ll have bigger and better opportunities.  People will grow to respect you in your chosen field. 

While you’re working hard, inspire those around you.  Sure, there’s room for the fun stuff, but that’s what you earned.  It doesn’t become you.  Your work is what you lead by…not your stuff.  If you want people to not see your stuff…lead by showing them who you are…even the good stuff you’ve got going on inside.  Share what’s good about you with the world. 

That’s something I have to keep reminding myself as I go through the next phase in my life.  After all, if I want to keep the good karma going in success, I have to help others with their dreams.

About these ads