Every once in a while, I’ll get on a kick where I am a little obsessed about something for a week or two. Then I calm down and leave it alone for a while. About a month ago, I went nuts looking for essay contests to enter because my New Favorite Thing is writing essays. I’ve entered a few so far with mixed results.
If you read my Facebook page, you will know that I did not win the sword.* So far, I haven’t won anything else I wrote essays for: a pair of fancy women’s running shoes (not enough people entered), a year supply of Junior Mints (I actually might still win, I don’t think the contest is over yet), a three-month supply of chocolate for me and a friend (ok, I was robbed here – it was on a website and some nabob wrote a stupid essay about her kid and we all know people who write about their kids get all the stuff).
But I did win one thing: four life coaching sessions over the phone. Frankly, before the experience, I didn’t think life coaching had much to offer me. Not like I have everything in order by any means, but I looked at it like I look at expensive wine – great for people who want to pay for it but not so much for me. Now that I’ve completed my month of life coaching, I really think it can be helpful in focusing and re-focusing and checking your progress toward your goals.
Here’s how it worked: We spoke for half an hour the first time, and then every week for one hour for four weeks. I got along well with her – she’s no-nonsense but warm, firm but kind. We talked about my short-term goals and what prevented me from reaching them. We did exercises, I had homework. Homework was things like, “make a list of all the reasons you feel blocked from your goals.” My goal, ultimately, is to be a full-time freelance writer, by the way.
It was hard, at times. This gal didn’t let me squirm away from anything – the fact that I still harbor a lot of resentment toward a group of kids from my childhood, that I’m pretty much terrified to consider being a full-time freelancer without a steady stable paycheck. The homework was uncomfortable (writing a letter to myself as a kid proved beyond my ability for three weeks) but helpful and useful. Getting me to start that website was pretty big, in my opinion, because I’d been shying away from it. It was interesting to feel so accountable – not just to her, but to myself.
By the end of the month, I really had accomplished quite a bit. I became aware of certain events from my life that I still carry with me in a negative way. I made a list of all the reasons I am not moving to my goal and then a list of counters for each one. I have some tools I can keep using to help me reach those goals. I started a website for my freelance work.
If all this sounds a little hooky New Agey goofy, I will agree with you because it felt that way to me a little, too, but it also felt like I had accomplished something in just one month. I can’t afford to talk with her again – at $125 a pop, unless my freelance dreams come true in a big way, I won’t be life coached again for a while. But it’s nice to know more about this resource, should I ever be able to participate in it again.
So here’s to winning essay contests. This was better than a sword anyway.
* I entered an essay contest about a series of books and the prize was a real live actual choppy choppy sword with a jewel-encrusted handle and a name – Madame Isis. Husband would want me to include this: The contest was around a series of fantasy books about a black female vampire hunter. She’s the chosen hunter, has the sword, blah blah blah (See also: Buffy, except for the sword). I was totally stoked about potentially winning a lethal piece of weaponry. Can you blame me, really? Husband would also want me to point out that I have never read a single book in the series. When I tried, I gagged. The writing is pretty terrible. But whatever. I wanted the sword. So I just read a lot ABOUT the series and wrote the essay answering the questions, “What themes in the series did you connect with? Why are you the best keeper of the Madame Isis sword?” I did not win. Cue sad guitars.