Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Do It Anyway

I think a lot of us are coming off a rough year. 2016 seems to have been a beast for a lot of people I know. The last four to six months have been a complete stress sandwich for me as well. I swore that I would not make resolutions on New Year’s Eve for the coming year. And I have kept that promise. But I thought I would share a little post by one of my favorite inspirations who seems to know how to give us a kick in the butt when we need it.

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Chuck Wendig wrote a post about writers’ resolutions and how most writing advise is BS anyway. But he asked us to do one thing in the coming year. Write, despite.

This has stuck with me for the last few weeks as I have continued to face stress and change in my life. Challenges in my personal life or in my day job tend to make me less creative. Let’s face it – when you are worried about a loved one’s health, or a major life change that is coming down the pike, you don’t have a lot of energy to focus on anything beyond breathing in and breathing out.

And the end of 2016 was no different for me.

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Every word written felt like it was dragged kicking and screaming from the depths of my soul to be splashed unceremoniously on the page or post. I have postponed my virtual meetings with my editor on book #2 until things settle a bit. I have not written any new fiction and have even struggled to focus on reading for pleasure, an escape that I have always turned to when the going got tough. If someone asked me about my writing in the last few months, I have felt like a total fraud.

Phew! There I said it. Full confession. These last six months, I have become a writer who doesn’t write. Not much at least. A blog post a week and not a word more.

Does this make me any less a writer? No, I like to think not. It makes me a creative person struggling in the face of life. And I think I have a lot of company there.

So, Chuck’s advice – Write, despite. What does that mean?  It means no matter what we are facing, whether it is worry for another, a personal struggle, a big but happy life change, or fear for the future of the world, we write. We push through it and drop our words like breadcrumbs and hope that we can follow the path to the other side. It means that we write even when the problems or challenges we are facing seem so much bigger than our little story, when our words seem insignificant and frivolous, when we can’t get past “why bother?”.

I remember writing my first novel. It was such a sweet release to come home from a long, stressful day and just lose myself in this fictional world I was creating. Even when I came across a major plot issue, or felt like my story would never find an audience, I kept going because it was an escape.

I am going to take Chuck’s challenge to write, despite, or in spite of it all. I am going to find that escape again.

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Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

Stay Together and Hold Hands

Fear has a way of stopping us in our tracks. Sometimes, though, life decides it knows what is best for us and delivers a good swift kick in the butt, forcing us out of our comfort zones and into the unknown.

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This has happened in my household over the last six months. My husband and his parents have closed the doors to the company that they called their work home for their entire lives. My in-laws are finally going to retire and give themselves some well-deserved downtime. My husband, however, is in that unenviable position of looking for another job after 30 years.

There have been the expected stages of grief -denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. At times, I think all of them have been warring against each other in his heart and mind at the same time. He finds himself asking, “what do I want to do when I grow up?” The problem, of course, with this question is that what we want to do may not pay the bills, and what we find to pay the bills may drain the life out of us. This is where we seek a balance.

So, do we take a job that isn’t our dream job because it will earn some income and act as a bridge to a better job? Or do we just go for it and follow our dreams, start our own business, take a chance?

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I have written about chasing dreams and fear. The catch is that I have not had to chase the dream in lieu of the day job. There has always been the safety net that allows me to throw caution to the wind and put my writing out there. If I failed, at least I wouldn’t starve.

My husband doesn’t have that luxury with this decision. Thankfully, we are okay at the moment. We have saved like crazy on the off-chance that something like this would happen. So there is grocery money without dipping in to savings. I have my job and that will keep the lights on. But at some point in the next year or so, some choices will have to be made.

I am far from an inspirational guru. God knows, I have let fear turn me into a quivering mess on more than one occasion. But I have learned this.

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It is always easier if you go through the bad stuff together and hold hands. That is what I offer. And each day, I pray that along with my unshakable belief that he is capable of whatever he puts his mind to, this is what he needs. Support and someone to hold his hand. 🙂

This will pass. Deep in my heart, I know that this will pass and he will find the perfect place to be work-wise.

I also know that sometimes we have to leap and build our wings on the way down.

For more on this, see here, here and here.

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Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

From the Mouths of Angels

We started the new year with a funeral. Not the best beginning. A friend’s father had passed away at 87, after a long illness. As we signed the guest book and took our place in line to pay our respects, I found myself strangely choked up.

At first, I thought it must be because this funeral signaled us getting older. As we have friends who lose parents, it brings home the fact that we, too, will some day be standing at the front of a similar line of well-wishers. Coming on the heels of my mom’s serious health scare in the fall, I thought maybe this was the reason behind my sudden emotion.

But I didn’t think that quite hit the mark.

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Here was a man who I had known only in name; I had met him maybe once. And I was there simply to show my support for our friend and his wife and family. My eyes were drawn to the family pictures and his typewriters and I felt my eyes tearing.

This man was a writer, a journalist, who loved his family and fly fishing. That is really all I can tell you about him. But it was evident from the displays around his casket that he was a happy man, one who had lived life on his own terms and followed his passions.

On the ride home, it struck me that that was the reason I felt so unsteady. Here was a man who had lived out his dreams and filled his life with the things he loved. Was I doing that?

2016 was not a great year in my world. Many people have said this as we saw the door firmly close on it. I spent the last six months running from one stressful life event to another. As I look back, I realize that I haven’t written much of anything in that time. I haven’t quilted or crocheted. I haven’t read books for fun. I haven’t met up with friends for dinner and drinks. I have gone to work and worried. I have slept a lot, napping for hours if I could – a sure sign of stress and depression.

I thought, what would be on display at my funeral if the last six months were an indication of my life? And I was keenly aware of time’s passage.

My husband has been struggling with things lately as well. He told me that he, too, felt choked up at the funeral. He had known the man where I hadn’t, but still it was an emotion he hadn’t expected.

He said the whole thing brought home how short life really is. Even 87 years is too short. And here we are not doing things we love and want to because we are letting the stress and day-to-day drag us under.

Maybe attending a funeral at the very start of the year is something we should do regularly. It reminds us how fleeting it all is. And you hear the angels whisper in your ear, “Do it now; live; find your passion.”

So this year, I plan on doing things that kick my skirt up a bit. I want to spend my time with those I love, doing things I love. I want to tell those angels, “Yes, I hear you!”

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Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Monday’s are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I wanted to share a little something that made me smile.

A Blank Page, A New Year

As 2016 draws to a close, many people who I know are happy to see the tail end of that has been a difficult year. The final week of December is a time of hope and planning. People usually start to contemplate the coming year and the changes they would like to make. They make grand resolutions that fall flat some time around January 3rd. The best of intentions run amok, and we feel heartbroken that we didn’t have the stamina and wherewithal to see them through.

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I am one of those people who flog myself mercilessly if I fail to do something that I set out to do. Mind you, this does not in any way guarantee success of any kind. Instead, it adds a lot of self-imposed pressure to the beginning of a project. I dread the moment when I get distracted or my goals run off track. Even if no one else knows what I have set out to do, and so no one else knows that it isn’t happening in the time frame I had hoped, I still beat myself up.

There have been years when I have refused to make resolutions, and I have ended up feeling bereft by mid-January with nothing to strive for.  I do better when I am working towards something in my life.

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I came across an article titled, “Forget New Year’s Resolutions! Six Alternatives to Create Real Change in the Coming Year.” I highly suggest you check it out. One of the suggestions is to make 12 monthly experiments. Instead of focusing on the permanent change, which can seem insurmountable, you ask yourself what would happen if you did something (or didn’t do something) for 30 days. What would happen if you wrote 500 words each day for 30 days? What would happen if you ate fewer sweets for 30 days? It makes a goal seems more attainable. The author also suggests breaking your goals into more attainable chunks. Instead of setting yourself up for a whole year, focus on a month, or even a week. This is the approach I took in the gargantuan task of self-publishing my first book last year, and it works!

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Another post I found titled, “Why You Shouldn’t Set A New Year’s Resolution (Do This Instead),” tells us to just be. Take all the pressure off yourself with all the shoulds and rules and musts. Just allow yourself to be present and receptive. Allow yourself to listen for what will really feed your soul and do that.  I love the idea of this. I do feel like the last year, especially the last four months, has left me broken and laying on the floor in a puddle. I have no desire or energy to undertake any major projects. If I were to listen to my heart, I would give myself a few months to just spend whatever spare time I can manage to eke out wallowing in books and fabric and spending some quality time with my sewing machine.

I am looking at the new year like a blank page to fill with whatever kicks my skirt up. Yes, I have goals. I am a planner at heart. But I do believe that forgoing resolutions this year will go a long way towards healing my soul and getting my psyche back on track. We cannot force ourselves to constantly improve and perform. We must allow time for the wallowing that feeds our soul. So go ahead and wallow in whatever makes you smile – cats, dogs, chocolate, hobbies, good food, good wine, good friends. Because life cannot always be about the quest for the next goal. Sometimes life just needs to be about living.

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And after you have given yourself ample time to relax and refresh after this last year, I have found some other great resources to help me tackle the changes that I want to manifest in my life:

A Year to Clear: A Daily Guide to Creating Spaciousness in Your Heart and Home
Your Spacious Self: Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You are
This Year I will…:How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True
Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals 

 

 

Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Let’s face it. Mondays are rough. The end of the freedom that came with the weekend, the start of a long week, the return to work. To help ease you into your week, I would like to share a little something that made me smile.

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