World news … tomorrow, maybe?

Breaking news coverage
Breaking news coverage

The morning of July 20, 2012, my boss called and woke me up. “Candace, there’s been a shooting,” he began.

I immediately thought he meant at our office or the Seattle office.

“At a movie theater in Colorado,” he continued.

Now I was wondering why he called to tell me that. Oh, right, because we’re in the news business and it was our job to cover it. He asked how quickly I could get to the office to help the overnight editor. By that time, I had jumped out of bed in my Midtown West apartment and started pulling on clothes.

Now it wasn’t often that I got called out of bed to do my job, but the first thing I did upon waking up was check what breaking news alerts had come in when I was sleeping. That would generally determine how quickly I got out of bed.

I was updating the homepage from home while Superstorm Sandy was beating down on my building. I peeked out the window of the sixth-floor kitchen and watched the winds pick up and the sky turn dark around noon. I appreciated working because I didn’t know what else to do. The storm was coming for Manhattan. If I wasn’t working on this story, I’d be reading all I could about it anyway.

It was the Sandy Hook massacre that really took a toll on me. After hours of work on the story, I had to step away from my computer to take a break. In news, you often have to delay feeling until after your shift. You just have to to get through it. This wasn’t one of those times when I could just deal with it after work. The long days of Sandy Hook coverage changed my feelings about journalism. It was heartbreaking to see pictures of children grieving their classmates. To hear stories of the 6 year olds whose lives were lost.

I stopped paying attention to news in my off hours. I’d leave the office at 3:30 p.m. and avoid TV and news alerts until 6 the next morning.

Now 12 days since I left my journalism career, I find myself really enjoying the peace of not knowing all the details. I catch the headlines and my aunt fills me in over breakfast, but it’s not my job to know anymore. I’m sure after my detox, I’ll start following news again. I know it’s important to be informed about ISIS, ebola and what the King County council is deciding.

But for now, burying my head in the sand feels really good.

Bring back that excited feeling

“Are you feeling excited about anything?” Navani asked me the other night when we were texting. As I mentioned, I was feeling blue about a number of things, capping the night off with learning that my Papa had died.

At that moment, no, I couldn’t think of one thing I was excited about. Thankfully, as tends to happen, I felt more positive in the morning. Those anxious feelings gave way to more reasonable thoughts. Yes, things aren’t exactly as I’d like them to be today, but was I any closer in New York? No, that’s why I made a huge move to get me closer to my dreams. I knew it would be uncomfortable for a while. Now I’m in the uncomfortable. Here’s what I’m excited about:

  1. Writing a book! How cool is it to leave my job to write a book? Eveyone I’ve told has been so excited about the project. It’s huge! I’m really doing it.
  2. Magazine writing. I am taking a class now with an executive editor at Redbook. She’s helped me hone my ideas and write pieces to sell. She taught me the ins and outs of this market and what to expect. Let’s do this!
  3. Severance + unemployment. OK, it’s tough to work full time plus write a book and pitch story ideas to magazines, but when your life is subsidized with severance and unemployment, it’s a little easier (even if there’s an end date circled on your calendar.)
  4. Being surrounded by friends again. Have I mentioned how many awesome people I know in Western Washington? I don’t have a number to tell you exactly, but my tribe (to borrow Pam’s word) here is big.
  5. I’m excited to live in a space bigger than the shoebox I lived in in NYC. I’m all about living a minimal life, but man, it’s nice to have a bedroom with a door that can close. What a tiny luxury.
  6. I drove 1,696 miles by myself! I did it. 24 hours just me and Gatito. We’re a good team.

This is a no-stress zone

I’ve been so stressed this week. Like, sick-to-my-stomach, I’ve-developed-a-rash stressed. Why? Oh, I just quit my job, my boss was in town (he’s a good boss, for the record) during another intense news cycle while the how-tos of my job change daily (sometimes hourly), so I constantly wonder if I’m doing things right or if I missed some email, telling me the sky is now yellow, and I am now the photo editor, not the content editor. I struggled through some freelance writing and to finish a class project on time. I’m moving in two weeks (!) and more.

So, I declared it stress-free week. Obviously I still have to do my job well, but anything I can let go, I’m letting go and doing what I love instead. And there’s so much I love. Want to know what’s making me happy right now?

  1. All the well wishes I received when I went public with news I’m moving.
  2. The show, “Welcome to Sweden.” Have you seen it? I’m a bit obsessed with the country of my heritage – and the people remind me a lot of Minnesotans.
  3. Kangoo. Last night, I just felt like bouncing, so I went to Kangoo. I walked in 5 minutes late and didn’t care one bit. When the teacher saw me, she ran back and got me my size. She knows me so well. (PS does anyone know of Kangoo classes in Seattle?)
  4. Yoga retreat with Liz or the amazing Kristin. Seriously, listen to her talk for 2 minutes and you’ll be all “ahhh!”
  5. Magazines. I bought a ton as research for the Women’s Magazine Writing class I’m taking. I have always loved the glossies.
  6. My amazing friends who offer help before I even ask. Pam told me I could ship boxes to her house, and she’d hold onto them for me. Tara listens to my ridiculous rambles and helps me see things differently all the time. I’m so glad I have them in my life.
  7. My friend Betsy is having a baby girl! I can’t wait to hold her and read her stories. Does she like “Madeline,” Betsy?
  8. Writing my blog, other people’s blogs, articles for class, whatever. Makes me happy. I really can’t wait to do more of my freelance projects.
  9. My urgent care bill was $100 less than I expected! Always good news, right? (Think I can get it reduced further since it was a misdiagnosis?)
  10. Trader Joe’s sells stuffed grape leaves. Have you had? I eat them for dinner sometimes (OK, often).

My ass is going where my heart wants to be

In my daily search of job listings yesterday, I found one that looked interesting, challenging, paid really well, but was not for me. I sent it to a friend/co-worker. This morning I had an email from him, saying it looked interesting, but why wasn’t I going for it.

My answer was simple: It’s not something I’m passionate about. In my 11 years since college graduation, I’ve done some jobs for the paycheck. I’ve also worked for free because it was something I was passionate about. Now I’m in a place where I want to feel fulfilled at the end of every day.

I mentioned reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.” A friend gave me a heads-up that he was on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday last week (How much do you want to be on Maui with them right now?).  I just watched the video over Saturday morning coffee and waffles. The interview confirmed my decision not to go for that job. It confirmed my decision to “turn pro.” To overcome resistance and “put my ass where my heart wants to be.”

We all know that the hardest thing is starting. Whether we’re getting out of bed, going for a run or writing the next “Great Gatsby.”

I am taking a couple days off my paycheck job next week. But I am committed to using at least one day of it to put in a full 8 hours writing. Not working on freelance jobs or homework for class. Writing my passion project.

After all, as Pressfield says, “The pain is worse not doing it than doing it.” It’s time to “move from a petty, narrow, ego-based point of view to something grander.”

Look for me on the bestseller list next year. Quyn, will you shoot the cover photo?

Another great article/video:

Award-winning author shares personal struggle to write

What’s your secret passion?

In my last post, I asked what you would keep doing if no one was watching.

Today I have another question. What would you try, if no one was watching? Don’t be shy, it’s OK to tell us in the comments. There’s no judgment. We’re all friends here on the internet.

Writing, Hemingway-style.
Writing, Hemingway-style.

I’ll start us off. I’d

  1. Sing. Despite a couple years of middle school choir, I can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop me when I’m alone.
  2. Headstands. I was always anti-headstands in yoga class. I usually go out of my way to protect my head, so balancing my body weight on it doesn’t sound like the smartest idea to me. But recently I did one with the help of a private yoga teacher. Know what? I didn’t hate it. I’d do it again.
  3. Write a book. My friend Navani and I decided just to go for it. We came up with an outline at a strategy session. Now we’re filling it in. Best-case scenario is we get a book deal and a tour. That turns into a hit TV series, more books and luxury apartments in Chelsea and Fort Greene with washers and dryers, room for dogs and separate bedrooms with doors that close.

OK your turn (REALLY!) tell me what you’d do if no one was watching. Come on, I told you about my singing thing. I’m going to go practice the “Frozen” song now.

What would you do in a world of no selfies?

If you were the last person on Earth, no one was left to impress, would you still do the things you do today?

This is the question Steven Pressfield asks in the book “The War of Art.”

I'd definitely keep wearing this dress.
I’d definitely keep wearing this dress.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read the last paragraph on the train yesterday. Would I still go to the gym a few times a week if I had no one to admire my hot ass, sculpted obliques and toned legs? Strength would still be an asset, but part of the reason I like my gym is the people in the classes and having a leader to follow rather than winging it on my own (and not pushing myself hard enough).

I’d have no reason to be a journalist, if I had no one to report the news to. But I think I would still like storytelling. I make up stories for my own entertainment all the time. I can’t imagine I’d stop doing that. In fact, I’d probably do more of it.

I also think it would be super fun to break into West Elm and Anthropologie and find beautiful things for my home and to wear. I wouldn’t have anyone to like my selfies, but that doesn’t mean I’d have to look a mess – especially if I keep working on my abs and arms.

Spoiler alert: If you would keep doing your thing if no one could admire you for it, you’ve found your passion. So, would you keep being a painter, writer, baker, candlestick maker?


Commonly asked questions about my blog

1.  Do you ever go back and read your posts?

A: All the time. I don’t deny that I’m my biggest fan and responsible for most of my page views. Here are my four favorites.

A former roommate/song writer used to talk about “emotional vomit,” fueling his songs. These two are raw emotion. I was literally crying on my keyboard as I wrote them.

Life, challenges and love

The recovery

I wrote this one after finding out my sis-in-law is expecting Baby No. 2. I can’t wait for a new little.

I love — the really, really most

I don’t read this one often, but I think about it often, like every time I have my serious face on in yoga class.

Yoga teacher wisdom

2. How much do you edit your writing?

A: I try to do minimal edits. I don’t ever want to go back and edit out the emotion. I write, read through and fix typos and sentence structure. Then I publish. I read it again when it’s live to fix typos. I feel like I catch them better when I’m reading on the actual page.

3. Is there anything you won’t blog about?

A: Absolutely! Some parts of my life are for me. They aren’t for sharing. This is especially true when someone else is involved. My friends and family, of course, get mentioned on my blog, but I never want to tell their stories. I’m not in their heads. That’s not fair to anyone. This is my blog. I’m the star, they are supporting characters. But in real life, we’re all the stars.

Here's Candace Nelson's ass at the paddleboard parking lot.
Here’s Candace Nelson’s ass at the paddleboard parking lot.

4. Will you show us pictures of your ass?

A:  Um, all right “Candace Nelson’s ass” is a top search term on my page. Here you go. Just don’t ask to see my belly.

5. Do you ever go back and delete posts?

A: I’ve deleted one or two. They were both too whiney. I don’t want this blog to be a place for my complaining. That’s definitely not my goal. My goal isn’t to fool readers into believing my life is perfect either. I don’t go back and delete ex-boyfriends or posts about bad days. What I truly love is being honest. The best compliment is when someone emails to tell me they completely relate to something I wrote. That’s the goal of my blog. To be a place where people can say, “hey, I’m not alone in this.” I also want to give my readers hope. Hope that things can and do get better. You are never stuck where you are. And if anyone gets to a therapist or life coach’s couch based on something they read, here, then mission accomplished. I believe that self-awareness is the key to feeling content and fulfilled with your life. It just takes a trained professional to spot it sometimes. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

6. Why don’t you write more often?

A: You know, I just don’t always have something to say. I like to write when I have something worth sharing. Quality, not quantity.

7. Are you staying in New York City forever?

A: No concrete plans to leave, but no, staying is not my plan. To be continued …

What are you searching for?

This is how people found yesterday. So sorry to disappoint, but I don’t think nude pictures of me exist — well not since babyhood anyway. My net worth is nothing to brag about. I went to Lakeville Senior High School, but it no longer exists. Thanks for inquiring!

Screen shot of searches
Screen shot of searches

If you ask, you might hear “yes”

You know that quote about how if you don’t ask, the answer is always no?

My story
My story

I asked and the answer was yes!

My passion is writing. Right now I write headlines. It’s a fantastic job, don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I remember years ago when I started, my co-worker and I were talking about how we get paid to read the stuff other people sneak to read when their boss isn’t looking. Here we were, spending 8 hours a day reading the Internet. We know what funny cat videos were buzzing. We got to try the newest web games. We always knew what was happening in the news. We picked up more relationship, healthy eating and 401k advice than I ever knew existed. Plus, I adore the people I work with.

But I just miss being the one writing the articles. It’s a satisfying challenge to come up with a great idea, find people to interview about it, find just the right words. Then rewrite as you read through it. And again. Until it’s just perfect. Then you sell it to the editor. The rejections are many, but the wins are so sweet.

So I just asked. I asked the health editor if I could write a piece about rosacea. He said sure. His fellow editors on the health team loved it. It got posted to social media. It didn’t blow up the interwebs like a cute kitten video does, but I’m thrilled.

I also asked another editor if I could write for her. She didn’t have anything at that moment, but she told her colleague of my interest. Things are happening.

All because I asked.

So go ask!