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!

Love Purposefully

I got married yesterday…!

It was nothing fancy – kinda spur of the moment, actually. It was early morning, and we stood at a fountain just outside our local library. (People were still sleeping in the gazebo and I didn’t want to disturb them. Truth.)

The people who had been sleeping on the benches woke up and watched.

Our wedding party consisted of two teenagers and a dog. Yes, our little maltese was clutched in my step-son’s arms because he’s our third child. Deal with it.

The Justice of the Peace who married us just happened to be a guy I went to school with and hadn’t seen in 25 years. He wanted to catch up and connect on Facebook when we just wanted to go to IHOP and eat breakfast.

Some people would gasp, wag their tongues, and swear that we had to be crazy to get married that way. But, I wouldn’t change a thing.

It’s funny how life experiences change your perspective on things.

Our bench-sitters smiled as we exchanged vows, one woman wiping tears from her eyes. I can only hope she was remembering / feeling something beautiful as she awoke to a surprise ceremony.

A gazebo-sleeper woke, too, and scooted his sleeping bag to the edge where he could watch. He laughed with us as we struggled to exchange rings (swollen fingers, ya’ll).

Perspective.

These were people who had nothing invested in what they were witnessing. Yet, they were moved anyway. Did I feel like our moment was being intruded upon? Absolutely not.

I saw humanity in a way that I hadn’t before.

A grandmother had brought her grandson to the library too early, and I watched as they perched on a bench alongside the homeless. I could hear her explaining to him what, exactly, was happening. She smiled as he giggled and covered his mouth with a tiny hand.

More than my last name was changed yesterday. My heart was moved in an unexpected direction. I am compelled to do something. I don’t know what. Yet.

As you go about your day today, be aware. Be conscious. Be open.

Even a passive act of love can bring a smile. Just imagine what would happen if we did it on purpose.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

Pets

This is my ever-present (and persistent) writing assistant, Henry. He struck this pose just this morning, and I was compelled to write about him.

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What? I’m helping you….

Henry is a rescue, found a little over two years ago, half-starved in a machine at the plant where I work. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for cats. The phone at my desk rang at 6 a.m.- the guys on the production floor couldn’t get near him and asked if I’d come get him.

He was covered in grease and fleas. I carried him to my office, where he immediately made himself at home on my desk or in my lap, whichever was available. The then-President of my company was an animal lover, so I called him and he brought cat food and a small litterbox so that I could keep him with me that day.

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Day One – I’ve been rescued!

I pretty much accosted everyone who entered my office that day. Didn’t they want to take this sweet baby home? I sent emails, text messages, put up pictures on bulletin boards. There were no takers, so he went home with me that night, much to my fiance’s chagrin because we already had two cats (one being a bottle-fed foster).

Over the next three months, I continued to try to find Henry a home to no avail. By then, though, we had all already fallen in love with the goofball, including our oldest cat, Charlie. Needless to say, we kept him. He’s been a member of our family for two years now.

Charlie is an excellent big brother. Talk about unconditional love. He grooms, loves, protects, and helps raise the foster babies we (aka me) bring home. He’s awesome. Camera-shy, but awesome.

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I have found the best hiding spot EVAH!

A trip to the vet told us that Henry was part Maine Coon, and that he was going to be a whopper of a cat. They weren’t lying.

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Treat time! Charlie (the small one) is five years old. Henry (the big one) is almost three years old.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m writing this. I just couldn’t help but share a little joy this morning, after a few too-hard head-butts from Henry as he sat on my desk. He likes to aim for the nose, make a person see stars. Truly.

Animals can be a perfect representation of unconditional love. I know that my two boys remind me every day that love can bring a smile even on the worst of days.

We could learn so much from them.

We all need to be rescued from something. We all struggle with something. Some struggles are bigger than others, but we all have them.

Be kind to others. Be a reflection of God’s unconditional love. Make an effort to put a smile on someone’s face today. Let someone know that they’re loved. Even the smallest act of kindness can have a huge and lasting impact on someone’s life.

My cats are great teachers. I get to begin every day with a smile.

 

Rhythm of Life

Have you ever heard the saying that someone is “walking to the beat of their own drum”? It seemed to me that it was always used to imply that a person was a little bit odd, a little bit different than what others would consider normal (whatever that is).

Earlier this week, I had a conversation (aka argument) with my fiance about our differences. I explained to him that our individual rhythms were total opposites. His is loud, erratic, and chaotic. Mine is quiet, steady, and orderly.

Naturally, his children follow his beat and I totally get that. It’s just that, at times, I am outnumbered and overwhelmed. Together, their drumbeats are so much louder than my own, and it completely drowns out my peaceful rhythm.

Not being able to hear my own drum causes me to lose my pace, to stumble , and my little private orchestra falls apart.

This does not make for a happy maestro.

This has been one of those weeks. Work has sucked, so let’s just add that to my pile of crap, too. I have been incredibly irritable, short of temper, and a general joy to be around.

He even had the audacity to ask if I was pms’ing, to which I emphatically replied, “NO.”

I’ve got to give the guy credit: he knows how to read me. He was right on that one.

Anyhoo, as my hormones balanced out and I became somewhat rational again, I realized that I can bang my drum just as loud as they can. I decided it was time to get the band back together.

On good days, our rhythms blend to create beautiful music. On bad days, we can make your ears bleed.

But, we still maintain our rhythm. We occasionally have to adjust our steps, skip a beat, and then flow back into the music that is our life. We can each bang away at our drums, so long as we’re mindful of the others in our band.

Every now and then, someone needs a solo and that’s okay. We each deserve a moment in the spotlight.

This, apparently, was my week to be a diva. I pushed, shoved, and elbowed my way to the front. It was not my proudest moment, and I plead temporary insanity.

But, my family banged on, backing up the horrendous piece I played. They wielded their sticks with fervor, trying to keep up with the crazy tune I created.

They really love me.

So, bang away, guys. Swing your arms till they hurt. We’re all listening, ready to join in when we pick up on your unique rhythm. Let’s make some music.

 

 

Youth

Why do we grow old?

I’m not exactly sure why that question occurred to me while driving to work the other morning. I haven’t been thinking about it, obsessing over it, or even wondering about it.

I think it must have been something I heard on the radio that triggered it, a song which provoked a memory, which in turn produced a curiosity.

I’m not talking about the physical body growing old – the answer to that is sadly obvious as I push into my mid-forties. A sedentary job makes my bones pop and creak while my mind protests what my body is trying to tell me.

Rather, I wonder why our minds grow old?

I vividly remember being curious about everything when I was young. Beyond that, I was fearless when it came to asking questions, never caring if someone thought it was a stupid question. I simply wanted to know an answer.

But, with age comes responsibility and the only thing I’m truly curious about these days is the damage to my bank account. Oh, and if I have enough laundry detergent (I never knew four people could make such epic mountains of dirty clothes).

Yet inside my brain is this curious little girl, with big blue eyes and a pony-tail. Dressed in blue shorts and a dirty white t-shirt, skin tanned from hours of being outside, she remains perched on the arm of her Mamaw’s chair. She’s still asking questions, still full of wonder about the curiosities she sees every day.

Someone captured this particular moment in a polaroid, and I carry it with me every day, in my purse. And, not just because my Mamaw is beloved by me, missed by me, cherished by me.

But because I am still that little girl.

Sure, I’ve gotten bigger and older. I certainly can’t climb trees anymore, or play with my brother’s Tonka toys (I was a bit of a tomboy until puberty struck). I can still ask questions, though. I can still be curious about stuff. I can’t break a hip while asking a question.

And, I think this is why I love being outside so much. My indoor-life is my forty-something life. It’s full of chores and other things that have to be done. But outside?

Outside, I’m allowed to be nine years old again. Life slows down outside, an afternoon seeming to stretch out into forever. There are no worries, no responsibilities, no time constraints to be found outside.

That’s the true measure of youth. Life was slower, lazier, yet still full of vibrant energy. We had no concept of time, the annoying tick-tock missed by our young ears.

To put it simply, we lived in the moment.

Right now, my rose bushes are bursting with buds that are just beginning to open in hues of red, yellow, and lavender. My salvia plants are already like frozen fireworks of bright purple. I, myself, am bursting with excitement about the impending display of color that will happen in the coming weeks.

So, today, I will be nine years old again. Today, I will be outside and will marvel at what nature is doing.

My mind is still young, still curious, still full of life. And my bank account can afford to buy this nine year old some more flowers.

Life is good. Now, get outside and play.