Dear 2020

Dear 2020,

We welcomed you quietly–one kid in bed, the other at a sleepover, watching a late night movie on the couch at home. It’s too quiet in this house without Electra. Losing her right before the crush of the holidays and the long vacation from work somehow hurts more. I found myself caught between moments of melancholy and just needing to keep busy so I could stop missing her so much, so I could stop walking into the living room or looking out in the yard and expecting to see her there.

I spent several days grief-cleaning. I vacuumed, dusted, and rearranged Henry’s room. I moved Cadence’s room to the old spare bedroom/office, and then decided to redecorate a new spare bedroom/office/writing space complete with fresh paint and new furniture (which is due to be delivered next week).

And I gathered all Electra’s leftover food, dog treats, blankets, dog bed, kennels, unused medications–anything that could be needed and used–to donate to the local Humane Society. I didn’t want all of Electra’s things to be gone, but I sort of needed them to be. It made the pain a little more manageable. And I’m thankful that Stevie has been so sweet and patient as I fumble through the grief.

The calendar page turns, and a new year always brings excitement. You double down on all the things you’ve been wanting to do, meaning to do, procrastinating. You start out hopeful, start fresh. I’ve never been one to go overboard with a fancy New Year’s Eve party or a detailed list of resolutions, yet it’s hard not to buy into the magic and promise of a fresh start. The excitement this year has been tempered by loss and the introspection it always brings. It has made me think a little harder about my priorities, about the balance lack of balance in my life lately.

I need to be better–a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. I need to be a better leader at work. I need to be a better human in general.

And I need–really need–to make time to write again.

I made the mistake of telling one of my colleagues (who is also a writer) about the 365 Project I completed a few (ahem, like 9) years ago, and he threw down the challenge that maybe it’s time to get serious about another one if it will help me shake off the dust (and we’re talking about a real one, not the bullshit I tried to limp along last year by just finding random photos and quotes and lying to myself that it somehow counted). I’m swimming in ideas and unfinished projects–it’s starting to drive me insane. And since I just spent half my holiday break setting up a brand new home office, he kinda has a point. It might be time to get serious and actually get some shit done.

I mean, if I really want to continue to call myself a “writer,” I need to be writing. Right? That’s sorta how it works.

But I gotta be realistic–there’s no way I can do a 365 Project blog again. Not now.

A blog a week? Now that I can probably do. But to be completely honest, the pressure of trying to write something I actually feel like putting out there in the universe for actual people (other than me) to read is a whole lot of pressure and anxiety I don’t need in my life. I always want what I put out there to be good (or at least a couple levels above shit) so if someone does read it, they don’t feel like they’ve completely wasted their time and burned off precious brain cells.

What I am committing to–seriously committing to–is writing every day. Just writing. A journal entry, a letter, a chapter, a scene. Hell, even a poem if the mood strikes. And who knows, maybe some of it will end up here, but a lot of it won’t. And I’m okay with that. What matters is I’m making space for it, and I’m holding that space sacred. That’s my gift to myself this year.

So here we go, 2020. I’m walking in with no expectations and no specific plans (because dammit that somehow seems to be what always works out the best for me). I’m just going to be here, doing the best I can and then getting up and trying to do even better the next day. And in this new decade, I promise I’m going to have more meaningful conversations. I’m going to connect with old friends and make a few new ones. I’m going to read more books, taste (and cook) new foods. I’m going to travel to a few new (and visit a few favorite) places. I going to live and learn and love, and I’m going to try like hell to fall into bed each night knowing that I’ve squeezed as much joy as I possibly can out of every day.

Sounds like a pretty tall order, but I’ve always sort of enjoyed a challenge. And lucky for me, I’ve got some pretty rad people along for the ride.

Day 89 – What life wants from me

I had someone ask me recently how I got where I am. She wanted to know if I had all this planned. If I’d always had a master list. If I planned this life, step-by-step, and crossed off each task that added up all led me here to this place.

In all honesty, I’ve never been a super-detailed planner, unless the situation warrants it. It’s been my experience that life just never quite goes the way you plan. So I like to leave things a bit open. I like to read the room, to readjust and strategize as needed. I like to respond to the circumstances and be adaptable when life starts leading me in a new direction.

Shortly after Stevie and I moved to Arizona I read the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I enjoyed Tolle’s focus on being present, on separating the “noise” that clouds our minds from who we really are beneath it. It was around the same time I started working on my memoir, and the deep introspection got me thinking a lot about my purpose. You know, the whole “Who am I? And why am I here?”

So no, I never had a detailed master plan for any of this. I never sat down and plotted out my life. I’m just here, every day, doing the best I can with what I’m given, making the choices I think are right as each new situation and issue arises. And I’m blessed beyond measure to have a beautiful family and loving friendships and a job that lights me up and challenges me and makes me feel like I’m spreading some good energy out in the world.

While I may have some goals and lofty dreams and things I’d like to accomplish, I’m excited to see what life has in store for me, where I’ll have the opportunity to go from here, the ways I can continue to grow. And whatever life wants from me, I’ll be up for the challenge.

Day 8 – Sleepy thoughts

When I can’t sleep, it’s usually because there’s something my brain just doesn’t want to let go of.

Isn’t that always the reason?

It might be some issues lodged in my mind from work, a running list of random to-do items that I’m afraid I’ll forget, or some random line of worry that revolves around the health and emotional development of my kids–like whether the coughing fit that just erupted in Cadence’s room is the natural byproduct of the dry winter air or the beginnings of a bout of bronchitis.

Most nights it’s a damn miracle my brain shuts down long enough to get any real sleep at all.

There was a time when I used to keep a dream journal. Nothing fancy, just a notebook and pen placed close enough to my bed that I could reach out and grab it easily in those moments I hung in that fuzzy space between my dreams and waking, those moments when I could still remember some of the details. It’s honestly an exercise I wish I’d kept up.

I learned a lot about myself by analyzing the patterns and paying attention to the things my dreaming mind bubbled to the surface. I learned that I dream of storms and tornadoes during times of high stress and upheaval in my life. In the dreams, I’m never afraid of the storms. Instead, there’s a heightened and palpable feeling of responsibility and focus. I find myself taking charge, ushering others to safety, and then always turning around at the last moment to stand up and face the storm (or maybe to stand up in spite of it) and get one last good look before it blows over.

Funny what your dreams can teach you about yourself if you just learn to pay attention.

Project Life 365 – Day 60 – You Today

After a long night plagued by bizarre dreams and a few sleepwalking episodes (or rather, sleep-bolting-up-in-bed-and-scaring-the-shit-out-of-myself episodes, including one where I actually sat up and turned on my bedside lamp before waking up completely), this was pretty much me today…

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Three cups of coffee couldn’t even get me up to full speed, folks, and that’s a rarity. But I survived, and it actually ended up being a pretty productive day.

Let’s just hope tonight is a bit more restful.

Project Life 365 – Day 54 & 55

I posted these two photos on facebook, but wanted to share here too, for anyone who is keeping up with my Project Life 365.

Day 54 – When I Grow Up

At this point, I don’t know what Cadence will be when she grows up–an artist, a rock star, an actress, a stuntwoman. What I do know is that whatever she decides to be when she grows up, she’s going to be AWESOME at it. 🙂

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Day 55 – Good Night

Anyone who knows Cadence knows that this is one kid who hasn’t been able to fall asleep in public (or anywhere other than a dark, quiet room) since her infancy. Seriously people, it’s like she feeds off other people’s energy. This kid can go full speed from the moment she wakes up, all day long, no nap, running and playing and dancing until the early morning hours (like she did at several weddings this past year) and never run out of battery. If I could find a way to bottle that energy, I’d be a gajillionaire for sure.

So, when Cadence crawled up into my lap and surprisingly began to doze, you know I couldn’t miss the opportunity to document it.

Good night my little Energizer Bunny…

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Project Life 365 – Day 44 – Steps

Break it down to its most basic, and life is just a series of steps.

From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are moving, nudged along whether we like it or not with every second that ticks by on the clock.

Some people fight it, wasting their lives trying to cling to all of the things that inevitably move away from them. Others rush foolishly forward, without even considering the consequences.

The trick is to find the balance and appreciate the journey.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to stay focused.

Life is full of hardships, obstacles, frustrations. We move forward, fall back, stumble. We make dumb choices, start down dangerous paths that take us farther and farther away from our goals and dreams. We backtrack. We burn bridges, and mend others. We find ourselves moving in directions we swore we’d never go.

Sometimes we walk so far so fast we hardly remember where we came from. Sometimes we waste a whole lot of time and energy spinning in circles and making ourselves sick. Sometimes we get trampled and suffocated by the crowd. And other times we have to face our deepest fears and forge a path alone.

The thing I’ve learned about life is that we all have a destination. What we don’t have is a roadmap to get there.

And that’s really the point of it all isn’t it? The journey. The choices we make.

I learned the hard way (the very, VERY hard way) what happens when you get lost. I got so lost, so far off track, that I honestly believed the only option left was to give up. Funny thing about that depth of darkness though…even the tiniest pinpoint of light, even the faintest glimmer of hope is enough to turn around. All you need is one tiny thread to hold onto to begin pulling yourself up out of the abyss.

See, the Universe will always give you the signs you need to keep moving in the right direction. Of course it does! We are all here on this earth to fulfill our own personal potentional, to be the absolute best that we can be. Sure, we’re dealt a certain set of circumstances, and some of us have a much more difficult hand to play. But we all have issues. Every single one of us.

Truth is, we’re all “broken” in one way or another.

Maybe we can’t read as well as someone else. Maybe we’re genetically predisposed to obesity or cancer. Maybe we’re born without something, or with something extra. Maybe we can’t hear or can’t see color or can’t see at all. Maybe we had a shitty childhood or suffered an abusive relationship. Maybe we never had enough to eat. Maybe we always got everything we ever wanted, but never learned how to value anything at all.

The unfortunate thing is that too many of us have bought into this idea that our circumstances are enough to hold us back. We’ve begun to believe that being broken can beat us.

Truth is, the only thing that can beat you is you.

Truth is, we all have a destination. We all have a purpose. We all have a very unique reason for being put here on this earth.

No one can ever live like you. No one can ever be you or take your place. Your potential, your absolute best, your soul is yours and yours alone. So what an unimaginable waste to throw it away. What a waste to give up, to give in, to say “I know I could probably do better, but I’m just so tired.”

Bullshit.

We all get tired. We all get to a point where we feel weighed down by the burdens in our lives. We all sometimes feel like we can’t possibly go on.

And that is the moment when you will take the most important step in your life. That is the moment when you make a choice.

So, take a moment and look around. Appreciate this extraordinary moment you’re living right now. Appreciate the blessings, and the hardships too, for they have taught you so very much. I promise, the Universe will give you a sign, a nudge in the right direction. But it’s up to you to follow it.

Be still.

Listen.

Now, take the next step, and keep going…

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