Life is fragile… and absurd

standard May 4, 2015 1 response

On Saturday morning I woke to the news that Sheryl Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg had passed away unexpectedly while on vacation. Now, to most of the world, this is a sad news tidbit people learned about over their morning coffee and forgot long before the day had grown warm, but to our corner of the country, where he was well known and loved, the news threw everyone for a loop.

Successful, healthy men aren’t supposed to die at 47.

To me, the news was particularly poignant, as is all news about dead parents these days. It doesn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes or make me relapse into my grief funk.

I rallied as best as I could. Took the little and a friend to a skate boarding lesson and rallied as best as I could.

And then, while meandering around downtown, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and discovered that she was battling bone cancer.

I felt panicky for the rest of the day. Short of breath. Shaky. Terrified. Life felt just too fragile to bear.

Most of the time, we live in happy denial of all the things that can tear our friends and family away from us. We don’t know about most of the illnesses that can claim or radically alter lives. We conveniently forget about how dangerous it is to even walk down the street or up the stairs.

And then, sometimes, you get hit in the face with one reminder or three. And BAM, the mere thought of how fragile life is, of how easy it is to lose someone, brings you to your knees and steals the breath from your lungs.

I’d love to say that this temporary epiphany made me more loving to my family, made me want to hug everyone close, but really, all it did was make me want to hide under the covers and lose myself in a book. Even when fictional characters die, they’re never really gone. Just flip a few pages back, and presto, they’re back.

I’m sure that in the not so distant future my denial will be securely back in place and I’ll be, once again, able to get on with my life without gasping for breath every time I glimpse what life would be like if it were missing more of my people.

In the meantime I feel about as fragile as life really is.

Life is Fragile

Dreaming of a different kind of life

standard March 10, 2015 1 response

90% of my days are the same. I get up, get dressed, pack lunches for the kids, schlep them to school, come home, eat a little breakfast, and sit myself down at my computer.

Most of the time I already know what I’m going to write. I have articles to write, social media posts to craft, ad campaigns to conceptualize. The words are there, somewhere in my head, I just need to let them out – via my fingers – into the computer.

Other days I just stare at the screen. Tired. Drained. Completely tapped out of anything creative or original to add to the miasma that is already swirling around the Internet.

Those are the days I long for a regular 9-5 job where I can just react to what is handed to me instead of having to create something from scratch.

Those are the days when I give in to my endless daydream of owning a little country inn. Couple rooms, kitchen, small common area. My days would entail lots of cleaning, some cooking, administrative duties, and maybe a couple surprises here and there.

It sounds like an insane amount of work. And yet, it sounds like the most restful thing I can think of.

Imagine a life where you always know what to do, where you always have something concrete to point to at the end of the day. Today I did that and it had that effect on that person. Such bliss.

So when people go and do something crazy like offering up their incredible country inn, not for sale, but to the winner of a writing contest. I almost have trouble controlling the drool pooling in my mouth.

Inn! Words! I mean DUDE. I could be all over that.

And then I remember that I have those children that I have to tend to every day and that husband who actually likes his job (most days) and that we actually enjoy living in California. And Maine, while pretty, just ew on the whole snow and winter thing.

And I love the writing, the sitting at my desk with the puppy at my feet, letting the words flow freely from my brain to the screen.

It’s just that some days I think I’d rather be baking a pie for my paying guests and planning out a week’s worth of breakfasts before I go clean up a room that has just been vacated and give my brain a bit of a break.

Until I remember once again how much love to write. How much I need to write. Then I sit back down, put my fingers on the keyboard, and get to work.

Where the magic happens.

Where the magic happens.

2015 Your Word is: Cry

standard February 9, 2015 Leave a response

January slipped by in a haze of carefully crafted headlines, subheaders, body copy, and million little or big edits to those same carefully crafted words.

I wrote little else last month. Advertising is fun, but it’s definitely eating up huge chunks of my days and even bigger chunks of my head space.

Instead of wandering around my days imagining smart, insightful blog posts or pondering deep thoughts about worldly issues, heh, instead I wander around noticing all the banners and headlines around me.

Some impress me. Others, not so much.

And so, a whole month slipped by without me really giving any thought to what my word of the year should be.

I thought for a bit that I’d just skip that this year. I fell flat last year. I haven’t embraced a thing. Instead, I think I spent a large part of the year doing the exact opposite. I feel like I’ve been fighting my way through my days, through the choices I’ve had to make, though the situations thrust upon me.

And I’m tired. Really, really tired of fighting.

Exactly the same way I was last year, only more so.

I sat down last week, in the middle of a tiny lull, and pulled out my Leonie Dawson workbook. It’s hoakie, and pretty, and cheesy, and everything I love. The goal of the book is to help you close out the previous year and prepare for the following one. The business aspects don’t 100% apply to me because I don’t have a product to sell, other than my words and my expertise, but the personal life stuff? It’s spot on.

I didn’t over think it. I didn’t analyze my answers before committing them to paper. I let myself be vulnerable and honest, secure in the knowledge that no one would ever read what I wrote.

And when the workbook asked me what I wanted to open myself to in 2015, even without realizing it, I wrote

“I want to allow myself to feel all my feels.”

I am the queen of masking my feelings, of denying them, of walling them up, burying them deep, and turning my back on them before they can cause a chink in my armor.

As one friend has recently pointed out. I have mastered the art of grinning and bearing.

I am strong. I endure. I get on with my life.

Feelings just get in the way of that.

I think part of the reason I’m so tired, so drained, is that I’m losing the battle with the feelings. There are just too many. Too many demanding to be felt.

I think it might be time to start taking down the wall, time to acknowledge the feelings behind it.

I cannot think of anything more terrifying than that. I worry that the ocean of tears that lies inside me will drown me if I let it. I worry that all those denied feels will each extract their pound of flesh as they make themselves felt.

And yet, I’m more worried about what will happen if I keep denying myself the luxury of wallowing in my hard earned emotions.

In the past I’ve strongly adhered to the notion that it simply takes less energy to not fall apart than to fall apart and then have to rebuild yourself.

But in the past I didn’t have the support I have today.

I have a husband who keeps proving to me over and over that he’s there to help me. That he wants to help.

I have amazing friends who not only watch me cry without judging, but who have come to my rescue when I’ve been at my lowest, feeding me exactly what I need to feel strong enough, supported enough to be vulnerable.

I have family who is always there, loving me for who I am, proud of who I have become, silently and not so silently supporting me in every way, and reading between the lines of what I write to see what I really need.

In the past I always worried I’d have to rebuild on my own, and I always knew I wouldn’t have the strength required to do it.

Today I know I’m not alone. I know I’ll have help.

So, my word for 2015 will be Cry. Which I know sounds really sad, but is really a strength. I will feel the feels. I will embrace the emotions. I will let myself be vulnerable.

It won’t be easy, and it sure won’t be pretty. And I know that I’ll be scared to let it happen. But I think it’s necessary. Because maybe the reason I failed at embracing everything last year is because you can’t embrace what hasn’t been felt , what hasn’t been named.

But scared is just another emotion to embrace, right?

The only one standing in my way is me

standard September 8, 2014 1 response

I woke up this morning to discover that I had double booked myself on Friday morning. Two meetings, at the same time, that I’m supposed to be leading, in two different towns. A problem 100% caused by my own fault.

I can fix the problem. I can even try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. (Duh. There’s a reason people use calendars instead of relying on their own human brains.) But as I stewed over the situation all while packing school lunches and getting the kids ready for school, I realized a hard and unpleasant truth.

The only one standing in my way is me.

These last few days I’ve found myself constantly overwhelmed and frustrated. I’m overwhelmed by work and frustrated that it’s not the work I keep telling myself I want to be doing.

I’m like a petulant child, throwing mental tantrums, raging against the world.

I groan and gripe and tell myself that  I’m being forced to do work I don’t really want to do. I stamp a mental foot and whine about not being given the mental space to do the writing I crave doing.

But if I’m honest with myself, and apparently it took this calendaring snafu to get there, there’s nothing to really rail against.

I’m actually really lucky and grateful to have two, possibly soon three, clients who value my experience and opinions. I love the consulting work I do. I love being sought out for my knowledge and ideas. I come to life on consulting calls. I thrill at being able to connect people. It’s fun and I’m good at it. There’s really nothing not to like.

I think it all – the frustration and overwhelmedness – boils down to one thing. Fear. Pure, simple fear.

Fear. The dragon that stands in the way of success.

Fear that I will fail. Fear that I’ve oversold myself. Fear that, at any moment, someone will realize that I don’t really have anything of value to bring to the table.

And maybe, if we dig even deeper, that’s why I’m not using any of my available time to write, to finish my second novel.

It’s fine, at the start of a busy week, to bluster and grumble about the lack of time. There’s nothing to be done about it this week. There will definitely be no time to dive into the book. But, really, there was time last week and the week before, and I didn’t take advantage of it then.

Fear. Fear of getting lost in the work. Fear the book will be no good. Fear that I can’t deliver a second time. Fear that even a second book can’t help bolster the sales of the first. Fear that I’ll fail at this thing I value so much and that I’ll have no reason to keep going down that path.

Not getting it done is so much easier than facing those fears.

I am my own biggest obstacle.

I need to get over myself, to tell the voices in my head to hush up already.

There’s work to be done.

There are dragons to slay.