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!

Rattling My Cage

It’s been one humdinger of a week. A small head-cold went all mega-beasty, transforming and rampaging through our household. It beat the crap out of all of us. The kids, however, fought valiantly and won their battles rather quickly. As for my husband and I? Well, we’re feeling our age right about now.

Image result for funny pics of people with colds

My tastebuds started working again yesterday, which was extra nice since I decided miniature Reese cups were a great source of protein.That decision was based solely on the fact that they were sitting on the end-table and I didn’t have to move off the couch to get them.

I am feeling much better today, though. THANK GOODNESS!! Maybe there really was something to the Reese cup madness….

Anyhoo, I didn’t get alot of writing done this week, which saddens me. But, I did get some reading in and found my battle-cry, as written by the amazing Cristian Mihai. He gets it, and I just had to share his profound words. Thank you, Cristian!

“People only get really interesting when they start to rattle the bars of their cages.” – Alain de Botton They say irony is the song of a bird who has learned to love its cage. They also say that none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who believe themselves to be free. We all live in […]

via The cage — Cristian Mihai

 

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.

 

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.

Opioid Addiction

I want to talk about opioid addiction. It has become a national epidemic, fostered by the numerous “pain management clinics” that have sprung up across the country.

According to American RSDHope,  “A pain clinic is a health care facility that focuses on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. Some specialize in specific diagnoses or in pain related to a specific region of the body. Also called pain management clinics, pain clinics often use a multidisciplinary approach to help people take an active role in managing their pain and regaining control of their life. These programs are focused on the total person, not just the pain.”

My family is one of millions who have been affected by the over-prescribing of opioids, so yeah, this is a hot-button issue for me. Chronic back-pain due to degenerative disc disease. Fifteen years of “pain management”. Multiple surgeries, injections, etc. I’ve seen the results first-hand, and I call B.S. on the above statement.

Giving patients an “active role”? That’s actually laughable. The only action that the patient takes is having the prescription filled. “Regaining control of their life”? Seriously? Do these people watch the news? Does it sound like people have control?

And, let’s not forget that they are “focused on the total person, not just the pain”. Sure, they do pill counts and urine tests. But trust me, an addict will make sure they pass both in order to obtain what they crave. As long as those two hurdles are jumped, another prescription is written.

Pain getting worse? They’ll increase your milligram in an effort to get the pain under control again. Eventual surgery? Absolutely, and they’ll give you more pain meds to control the pain from that. Believe it or not, addicts will go under the knife just to continue getting their fix.

But here’s the kicker: opioids can prolong and intensify pain. Meaning, patients receiving opioids aren’t really getting any pain relief at all. Thus begins a deadly spiral. I dare you to Google it, but I’ll give you a link to make it quicker:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201605/unexpected-double-whammy-opioids-prolong-and-intensify-pain

This, my friends, is how addicts are created. And, this is how the so-called “pain management clinics” stay in business – they’re basically  gathering guaranteed repeat customers.

These clinics are prolific in my area. In response to the fast-growing rate of opioid addicts, methadone clinics have sprung up everywhere, too. Our unemployment rate has skyrocketed, with people receiving disability checks due to their addictions. The poverty level has increased, more children are living in shelters, and families are being destroyed.

We, as a society, know that there’s a problem. Our government knows that there’s a problem. Research proves that there’s a problem.

So why the hell isn’t anybody doing anything about it? I’m so frustrated by the lack of action on this front.

Now, having said all of that, I realize that these clinics are a God-send for some people. Those people may not have an addictive personality (yes, that’s a real thing) and may never have an issue with addiction. Each person is different, and each set of circumstances is unique. I understand that.

But, I can almost guarantee you that no one walks into one of those clinics thinking, “Gee, I want to become addicted to opioids.” For those people who do become addicted, that clinic is nothing more than a dressed-up drug dealer, doing business legally and getting a large paycheck for it.

It’s the availability that makes me angry. It’s the ease of getting a script that makes me angry. Fifteen years of taking a highly-addictive pain med. Fifteen years of increasing pain levels, due primarily to the extended use of this pain med.

All the while, there are non-narcotic pain-control alternatives. I realize those may not work for everyone, but are people even being given that option? Are they being educated on the choices that are available, or are the highly-addictive opioids simply being prescribed without discussion?

I’m now off to educate myself on the subject of addiction versus dependence. Apparently, dependence leads to addiction, and there is a fine distinction between the two. Sounds like splitting hairs to me, but I want to understand as much as I possibly can.