Writing through the Fear

Like most writers, I am definitely an introvert. I crave time alone and behave like an evil genius when I get it. At least, I used to. Now? Now I have all the freedom in the world to write, and I can’t think of a blasted thing.

I can, however, find a million things that have to be done – anything to pull me away from my rough draft. Like binge-watching ten seasons of Supernatural….seriously, it had to be done.

I took a gigantic leap a couple of months ago and made writing my priority. I was on fire, excited and eager to turn my dream into a reality. I was determined and absolutely positive that I could do this. Nothing was going to stop me.

It’s funny, really. When I was working, all I could think about was writing. I would jot down notes on anything, anywhere, at any time – ideas came easily and the desire to write was insane. It was like an itch that I couldn’t quite reach until I was able to steal a moment at home.

I finally have to admit to myself what the real problem is. I’m just plain terrified. I’ve put all of my apples into one basket and I’m scared to pick it up. The desire is still there, and the urge is still strong. But I’m letting fear beat me to a pulp.

Oh so true:

That epiphany pisses me off. I’m facing the fact that I’m afraid of failure, and I’m allowing it to paralyze me. I’ve had sixty days that could have been filled with writing. Sixty days. That’s a lifetime for a full-time writer. For a rough-draft, that’s about 60,000 good words that I’ve squandered.

Sure, I’ve fiddle-farted around with my rough draft. Reading it aloud, fixing things that didn’t sound right, adding / deleting little snippets here and there. But it’s still sitting there, far from finished, staring back at me like the bully that it is. I can hear it taunting me: what are you gonna do now, crybaby?

as long as u get beyond 4:

What am I going to do? I’m going to write crap because that’s precisely where I am right now. I wasn’t afraid of writing crap before, so why should I be afraid of it now? It truly is part of the process. It’s akin to any sickness – you gotta get it out in order to feel better.

I’m officially declaring September 1st as World Crap-Writing Day. Heck, we could even extend the dates into a World Crap-Writing Festival.

So, let’s go write some crap!

Keeping it Simple

It has been a little over one month since I walked away from a “normal” life.

It has been a beautiful awakening.

What I’m about to say may sound like I’ve taken refuge in a hippy-commune (which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing – peace, love, and happiness ya’ll). I’ve come to a place where I totally understand why people choose to walk away from lucrative careers and live off-the-grid.

I won’t lie: this place is a bit scary because of the sheer amount of introspection that occurs. But, it is also an eye-opening experience that I welcome with open arms and zero regrets.

We purchased a cozy little camper, just big enough for the four of us, and spent the first two weeks of my freedom camping. It was just the two of us for week one. It rained off-and-on for four days of that week, the pitter-patter of rain-drops only adding to our contentment. We would wake at dawn, share the quiet mornings with a cup of coffee, and simply be.

We had nowhere to rush to, nothing urgent that needed to be addressed. There were no outside pressures to clog my brain or my spirit. We did alot of walking, sometimes talking to one another and other times just enjoying our surroundings as no words were needed. A peace settled over us both in that first week.

Surrounded by the song of cicadas and the scent of forgotten camp-fires mingling with the mossy aroma of damp earth, I found myself again. That wasn’t my intention, but my soul began to feel as I filled a spiral notebook with descriptions of what I was seeing, hearing, and smelling.

I cried alot as my emotions became words on the page, a sweet release of tension and pressure that had surreptitiously taken root over the last several years. I bled out, getting rid of infection that was full of societal expectations and perceived responsibilities.

The kids joined us shortly after that, the second week being their last hoorah before going back to school. It all clicked into place as I watched my step-son head off to fish, looking like a teen-aged Opie Taylor (from The Andy Griffith Show) with his pole slung over one shoulder and a tackle-box clutched in his other hand.

My heart’s desire is a simple life. Uncomplicated, uncluttered, unfettered by what is currently considered “the American dream”.

 

Before anyone explodes, let me explain. By definition, the American dream is freedom for all to pursue prosperity and success. You may ask, what’s wrong with that? Nothing – not on the surface, anyway. Let’s dig a little deeper.

What is the definition of prosperity and success? Most would say wealth, or financial freedom. Financial freedom, in my humble opinion, is an oxymoron. We are all slaves to our bank accounts, regardless of how much or how little is in them.

Now, my idea of the American dream is the freedom to take risks, to follow our hearts and chase our dreams. It is the freedom to fail, and to fail fabulously. But, it is also the freedom to get back up, dust ourselves off, and march on.

So, now when I’m asked what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a writer. My answer is often met with raised eyebrows, which makes me smile. I already know the questions that are flying through the minds of the askers. One simple sentence should answer all of their inquiries, though: Because I can.

I’m a writer. That lone statement is the creation of my future, my American dream.

 

No Regrets

Last week I did the unthinkable, the unimaginable. To some, it may seem irresponsible, irrational, and every other ‘un’ and ‘ir’ word.

I’m told I did it with dramatic flair, even though I didn’t mean to. I made a few people cry, and made a few others angry.

I quit my job. Cue the shock and awe.

I submitted an eloquent, yet brutally honest, resignation letter. Hence, the drama, I suppose. Yep, I burned more than a few bridges with that one.

For me, it was about survival. It was about being true to myself, and creating my own future rather than continuing to struggle in a current that was moving way too fast.

I’ll be 43 this year, and time does not go backward. I’ve missed out on so many things with my family because of that job, and I’ll never get that time back. Never.

With each passing year, time seems to speed up, reduce, and condense itself into this infinitesimal speck. I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth, but I want them to be fruitful ones, happy ones. I don’t want to spend them at a job that I am passionless about, working long drudge-filled hours just to collect a paycheck.

Naturally, I was met with the expected “What are you going to do?” and “How will you survive?”.

Well, I’m going to live. And, I’m going to do more than just survive.

I’m going to THRIVE.

My Daddy worked himself right into a hospital bed, where he spent a month before passing. His last piece of advice was to not finish our lives with regrets. I’m taking that nugget and running with it.

No more 18-hour days on four hours of sleep. No more phone calls in the middle of the grocery store or during dinner. No more interruptions while spending time with my family.

I’m not going to lie – I’m nervous. But, I’m laughing more and so are my kids. That’s enough to tell me that I made the right decision.

So, here’s to the future. Here’s to sacrifice and chasing dreams. Here’s to letting go of the almighty dollar and joyfully embracing what’s real and right in front of me.

Here’s to the struggle of choosing the road less traveled. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
                            -Robert Frost

 

I choose.

There are times, like this morning, that I wish I wasn’t jaded by experience. I wish I hadn’t felt a need to build walls, a fortress to protect myself from the deceptions of others. I wish that I could be open again, ready with a kind smile and free laughter.

I haven’t been that person for quite some time now. I’m older and wiser, but I’m also harsher and more cautious with that smile and laughter.

I used to be a “glass half full” kind of person. I used to look for the best in everyone. I used to enjoy every nuance of everything.

I am so guarded, now. I carry an immense amount of baggage, if I’m honest. And I have to be honest in this moment. I have to realize that those hurts are in the past, and that I’ve spent more than enough time analyzing them, tearing them apart, reliving them. It is time to let them go.

To truly live is to experience disappointment and, yes, even pain.

I exhale now, thoughts to the future. Facing forward, I need to be excited for what is to come. I need to work on myself, still, but this is a start. This release. This unloading. This letting go.

Today is not yesterday, and tomorrow is not yet here. This day is what I have been given, and it will be what I make of it. My life is my choice, my doing, my decisions. My thoughts direct my path, not the actions of some specter from my past.

As the sun rises, so I do, too. I am creating my tomorrow, today. I choose to be proactive in my own life. It is up to me to create it, my future.

I choose happiness, I choose freedom from those chains, I choose life-loving energy.

I choose to not wait anymore. I choose to not be passive in my own life. I choose to love and appreciate all that I have been given. I choose to find the good in everything, letting go of negativity.

I choose.

I choose to release the negative energy that others bring into my life. I choose to release those people, and the power I’ve allowed them to have over me.

I choose to surround myself with like-minded people, people who have already chosen happiness and positivity.

I choose.

I choose to be thankful, every day, for everything around me. I choose wonder and amazement. I choose love. I choose life.

I choose.

I choose to support those around me who are also working on themselves. I choose to be a light in the darkness. I choose to be a beacon to a better destination.

I choose.

I choose imperfection. I choose ebb and flow. I choose the unexpected and the unplanned.

I choose to be life uninterrupted.

I choose.

Secrets and Lies

Secrets and lies are poison. They are toxic, deadly, and destructive. We, sadly, are not immune to them, and can never build up a tolerance against them.

Why do we do it? Why do we create a circus of secrets and lies that leads us to jump through hoops and tame lions as the truth tries to swim to the surface?

I am currently watching a loved one go through hell because of someone else’s secrets and lies. I have been there, and my heart aches for this person. The anguish, pain, confusion, and fear caused by someone (whom you believed loved you) desperately trying to maintain a facade can be unbearable.

I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

The truth doesn’t just make the facade crumble. It causes it to explode with atomic force. The wake is usually far-reaching and devastating.

Why is it so hard to be honest?

Fallen out of love with someone? Leave them. Over-drawn the bank account? Tell your partner. Behind on several bills? Talk about it. Check your priorities and make an effort to straighten things out.

The truth is so simple. Secrets and lies create more work than they’re worth.

I’m not naive. I know that relationships are a many-layered thing. I know that there are nuances to the way every couple communicates. I get it.

I just don’t understand wasting precious, precious time with secrets and lies. It takes entirely too much effort in up-keep, and it usually never pays off.

I wonder if people need to be more introspective.

If we have an inkling that our partner is going to be hurt by something that we’re doing, why do we continue on with that activity? Maybe, just maybe, we need to stop and consider our own motivations for why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Is it for the thrill of having a secret? Ask ourselves why we need that thrill. What is lacking in our current situation that would create such a need?

I totally get that people change with time. I know I have. When that happens, it’s difficult to make things mesh. So, we need to ask ourselves if it’s worth it.

Is what we have worth fighting for?

Sure, the truth will cause an argument. It absolutely will be an unpleasant experience. That’s why we lie and keep secrets: to avoid the pain of finally telling the truth.

Sometimes, it can be worked through. Other times, the damage is too great.

I suppose my perspective is skewed, having been on the receiving end of said atomic bomb. Maybe it’s not as easy as I’d like to believe. Maybe I am a little naive.

Or, maybe I’m just too honest. Trial and tribulation can do that to a person.

 

 

Just a weird week.

The universe has a strange way of folding time. We carry happenings within ourselves, particularly the bad ones, unprepared to stumble upon someone who was in the same murky tide-pool when a nightmarish ripple changed everything forever. It’s been more than twenty years since the stone was thrown, yet the surface is still broken and the dirty water laps at muddy shores on a daily basis.

I never expected to meet someone who was in that water with me. Much less someone that I’ve worked with for eight years, and have always considered a friend. The things we don’t share with each other can be the exact thing that draws us together – kismet, I suppose.

Random conversation brought truth to light this week. Funny how that happens.

As we talked, the hair on the nape of my neck began to stand. She knew. The utterance of one name leaving my lips, the look of recognition on her face. The sobs that followed, bursting unbidden from us both. Her, too.

A busy office is not a good place for a revelation like this to occur. We were ushered into a private office, where we spent the morning talking of trials and testimony from a lifetime ago.

And then the awkwardness set in.

We are, to each other, walking reminders of something we’d both rather forget.

I called my Mom as soon as I got home. (Yes, I’m 42 and I still run to my Mama when crap like this happens.) “That’s weird,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about that all day today.”

Kismet. Fate. Destiny.

Now I’m wondering what I’m supposed to do with what has been handed to me. What am I supposed to learn from this experience? Or, is it simply the last sentence in the last chapter of that particular story? Do I finally have an ending?

To close the book would be sublime.

As for me and her, we made it through the week. She’s a tough cookie, like me. There is a new acknowledgement when our eyes meet, and an iron strength that we pass silently to one another.

That part is pretty cool, actually.

 

 

 

Aging with Grace and Gratitude

I literally cried when I turned 29. I knew that it was my final year in my twenties and it terrified me. In my mind, 30 was old and I didn’t want to be old. I desperately wanted to hang on to my youth.

Oh, how naïve I was!

I blossomed in my thirties. I found my strength and my voice in my thirties. I was on my way to figuring out who I wanted to be, and began to recognize the toxicity of those I had surrounded myself with. I began to fight to become the “me” that I am today.

I am now almost 42 years old, and I’ve never been happier. My happiness is not dependent upon how much money I have, what my job title is, or what zip code I reside in. I no longer wonder if people are judging my appearance, because I simply no longer care (in no way am I saying to stop showering or basic hygiene practices!). I just don’t feel pressured to conform anymore. I wear what I want to, have burgundy hair and purple glasses, and my nails are painted teal. The opinions of others no longer matter; it is my opinion of myself that has utmost importance now. I am making myself happy, which in turn makes it much easier to keep those around me happy, too.

Over the years, I have developed real empathy, for I have suffered, too. To witness compassion and kindness now brings me to tears, for I know that those moments are far and few between. What once held only a little sweetness in life is now amplified beyond description, because I have such a deep appreciation for those fleeting moments. Only wisdom can bring that to a person, and only age can bring wisdom.

I have become richer in spirit, and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do so. I have become a better person through my trials. I have been blessed beyond expectation with two beautiful (inside and out) step-children; I have the love of a good old country boy who treats me like gold, and I know he’ll still hold my hand when we’re both silver-haired.

Now I look forward to growing old. I know that my inner riches will increase, life experiences will be bountiful, and I will continue to grow as a human being. I can’t ask for more than that. And, I’m not scared anymore. I am at peace with who I am, and who I am still becoming.

Grace and gratitude….there’s so much more to look forward to, friends! Life does not end when the blush of youth begins to fade from your outward appearance. Take a look inside yourself, because there is something even more beautiful blooming in there….