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 151 – Pathetic

These days it’s almost impossible to find time to write. There’s just too much going on. And in the moments where nothing is happening (which are few and usually quite late in the evenings), I just can’t quite seem to corral my thoughts and make much sense of anything. I hate that. Yet, I haven’t been able to find a way to remedy it.

I used to be able to write anywhere, anytime. I used to be able to shut out the distractions and throw a harness on my thoughts to bring out at least a few pages of something.

But somehow, I’ve just fallen way out of practice. Life has gotten busier, and a whole lot more complicated.  The distractions have grown larger and more persistent. So, I’m left with half-formed, mushy thoughts that never quite make it fully-formed and onto the page.

Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.

The words are just getting lost. I can’t explain it. And that inner critic is barking loudly.

“You’re kidding yourself.”

“You don’t have any ideas. No original thoughts.”

“No one wants to hear what you have to say anyway.”

“Do us all a favor and just give it up already.”

“You’re no writer. Writers write things. You’re not writing shit.”

And repeat.

But my thoughts keep returning to the unfinished manuscripts, the projects that keep getting shoved aside because everything else keeps taking priority. And the new ideas keep coming too, but I just can’t carve out the time to devote to any of them. I hate myself for it. I’ve never been my best when I’m not writing. Somehow the world just spins on its side and feels unbalanced.

I hate sounding like such a fucking whiner. If you want to write, fucking write. Stop blaming the world for not having enough time and admit that you’re to blame for wasting a lot of the time you could be putting pen to paper.

I think the problem is that I’m waiting for the perfect words to come. I’m waiting or some epic inspiration, some magi that will ignite the pen in my hand and burn words onto the page that will somehow change the world.

The blank page has gotten the best of the, and it’s as if I am suddenly incapable of finding a way to turn the tables and re-establish myself as the one in charge.

But I’ll keep going. I’ll keep writing. Because if I’m nothing else, I’m too stubborn to really quit.

Day 106 – Do what you love

Day 99 – Work in progress

I’ve got a confession to make…I’ve been phoning it in a bit with this 365 Project.

I know that’s not coming as a shock to anyone who’s actually been reading this thing.

There have been far too many late nights, far too many days that got away from me and the writing became an afterthought. And wasn’t that the point of this whole project anyway–to get me writing regularly again?

I”ve got no one to blame but myself. No real excuses, other than the fact that life is busy and there’s so much going on during the day at work that sometimes it follows me home and takes over those hours late in the evening after everyone else in the house has gone to bed, those hours when I should be writing or sleeping or doing anything BUT working.

What can I say? Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.

I’m finding my way, slowly. And I’ll get there, eventually. I just have to give myself some time to adjust and find my balance.

Until then, I’ll just keep trying to do some good and do a little better every day.

Bear with me.

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 73 – #Goals

My life goals, in a nutshell.

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