Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When the Lights Go Out...

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in the "big picture" that little things can pass me by.

So much is going on in the world. So much that takes our attention and seems to need our immediate response. My mind is constantly preoccupied these days as I follow the news and try to figure out what I am doing that's making a difference. 

But there's still day to day life. There still needs to be food in the fridge and some kind of dinner plan (does anyone else feel like 90% of their day is trying to figure out dinner?) and not forgetting to get gas before you go to work and shit did I forget to wash my work pants again?

Maybe you have it a little more together than me. I envy you if you do. 

Last night, I settled into bed and found a show on Netflix to fall asleep by. I can't sleep in silence and the light from the TV helps Mr. McKay find his way to bed. About forty minutes after I had tucked myself in I sat up with a startled gasp. I blinked against the pitch black that had consumed me, trying to clear my eyes and squint to see. 

I heard Mr. McKay coming up the stairs. I grabbed my cell phone, using the screen as a flashlight. 

"The power's out," he said as he met me in the hallway.

I grabbed a flashlight from the closet. "That's weird."

It was weird. It wasn't windy or snowing, or doing anything outside that would make you think some power lines got knocked down. 

We made our way to our bed and settled beneath the blankets without the glow of the TV between us. We talked for a few minutes. I was groggy from the short amount of sleep I'd already had. But then a thought occurred to me.

"Is everyone's power out?"

"Yeah... I think."

"Did you pay the electric bill?" There was one thing I knew for certain, I had not paid it. 

The division of labor in our house is fairly even. Cooking, cleaning, food shopping—all that stuff doesn't fall on just one person and I am grateful for it. The same with the bills, but it becomes a little tricky when we have a conversation that: "the cable bill, car insurance, and electric bill need to be paid." Sometimes I think this conversation means he is handling it, sometimes he thinks my acknowledgment of this conversation means I am doing it. In the end, they all get paid.


"Yeah," he said in a way that did not invoke confidence. Then he lit the flashlight and walked to the window to peer through the blinds. "Everyone's out, streetlights too."

"Okay, good."

He climbed back in beside me and I snuggled into him. "I knew I paid it," he whispered into the dark, almost as if he was assuring himself. 

I woke up a few hours later to blinking clocks and the low hum of electronics around us.

We're trying to be good neighbors and good citizens. We often feel powerless in these uncertain times. I don't think we should lose sight of the big picture, of the world around us, of issues bigger than those in our everyday lives. 

But we remembered to pay the electric bill. And I have milk in the fridge for my morning coffee. I just realized there is still a container of pineapple stuck in the back, way past its prime that's slowly decaying because we keep forgetting to toss it when we take the garbage out. We'll get to it eventually.

We keep ourselves informed and support the causes we care about. And we can still make each other laugh when we're plunged into darkness for some unexplained reason. That's the hope that I cling to.

"By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two together in their sleep will defeat the darkness"—Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Becoming Un-stuck

Hi everyone! We are 10 days into 2017 and the only conclusion I have come to is that I really, really hate cold weather.

Other than that, this year is treating me fine. 

Last year was not my best year for writing. Believe it or not I set goals every week. I try to complete projects and get them out there to share with the world. Apparently, 2016 was not my year for that. I had the best intentions. But it was a weird year.

Anyway, having published one book in 2016 makes it kind of easy to at least double if not triple my output this year. I've been doing some reflection in trying to figure out what exactly stunted my creativity.

The conclusion I came to (without going into every minute factor that affected my daily life) is that I don't think my creativity was the problem. I think it came down to motivation, time, and the actual joy I was getting out of writing. 

Just recently I started revising the very first book I wrote and published, Catch a Falling Star. It's funny to read something that I wrote four years ago. It's weird to see how much my writing style has changed, while pretty much staying the same. 

Sure, I cringe at some of the things in there. The way I wrote things, the words I used. Apparently, I really, really loved commas (I don't think that's changed). But I'll tell you what's refreshing about looking back at this book, remembering how it just kind of burst out of me. 

Yeah, I didn't know what I was doing. But I wasn't writing it for anyone. I didn't even think anyone was going to read it. I didn't care. I was just writing. Creating my own world with my own characters, just for me. 

I don't write like that anymore and I am wondering if that is part of the problem. I'm too much in my own head "are people going to buy this?" "what will readers think if I write this?"

When I wrote this first book I didn't think about any of that. I didn't care because it wasn't even a factor.

Somehow writing evolved from, "this thing I love and make time for" to "this thing I try to do." I don't know when it stopped feeling like an outlet and started feeling like work. I think I got into the mindset that if I kept pushing on it would feel right again. 

And I don't even think I realized it happened until I started reading Catch a Falling Star and I found myself smiling. When was the last time that happened? When was the last time I sat down at my laptop and didn't worry about this scene developing the characters, or the dialogue moving the plot along? 

When was the last time I was excited about writing?

Too long. I'll tell you that. 

I'm thinking about not thinking about it too much.

I'm planning on having less of a plan. 

I'm going to stop being in my head and let my heart have a bigger role.

Maybe it will be a disaster. Maybe I'll be sitting here on January 10th 2018 saying, "Guys, that was a really stupid thing I decided to do."

I'm okay with that. 

On that note, I do have a couple of projects in the pipeline. One book that I have been working on for months. I'm getting to the end of it and I think it might actually be pretty good. 

A second book that came out of a dream I had one night. It's still in the thinking out process, but it's been rumbling around in my head for a month or two now. Sometimes I think I write the best when I let the idea ferment for a while. 

It's going to be different than the usual thing from me. We'll see how it turns out. 

I won't know until I try.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New You? Probably Not.

I will take this moment to wish all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year, because that is what you do at the beginning of the new year, right? But does that mean that I don't care if you're happy and healthy in July? I mean I guess the January wish is supposed to carry through all year long. I'm just saying, just because it's the dawn of the new year doesn't mean anything has changed. 

I want my friends and family to always be healthy and happy.

I'm not a resolution person, mostly for this reason. The same reason why I don't believe in diets or any other kind of "Change your life overnight!" thing. It's crap. 

It is a new year, yes, technically, it is a new beginning. But we're all the same people we were two days ago. Nothing is going to change just because we wish it will. 

I am an optimistic person by nature, I don't want anyone to think I'm being negative here. I guess I'm just being realistic. Yes, I also thought, "Goodbye 2016! You sucked. I'm not sad to see you go. 2017 will be so much better!"

Then today, on January 2nd, I woke up with a crippling headache. I'm not surprised by this, I have been headache prone my entire life. Waking up with a headache is the worst. And mostly my first thought is always, "Shit, what did I drink last night??"

Truthfully, I did have a few beers yesterday and I had a headache all afternoon because once in a while a very hoppy beer will hit me the wrong way (yet, I still drink them, because who doesn't like a little Russian roulette to liven up their life?). 

I was headache free when I went to bed last night and then woke up with a beastly one. It's a sinus headache, it's pretty much under control now. There are still hoof beats in the background, but I'm not letting it ruin my day.

My point is—is 2017 off to a kick ass start? No. I spent all day yesterday exhausted because I only slept 5 hours the night before. Today, I have an awful headache. Does that mean my entire year is shot?

Well, let's hope not. But I fear a lot of my friends would think exactly that. At least judging by their ever hopeful facebook posts. 

It's a new year and it's a clean slate, but I'm still the same person. I'm still going to get headaches and not make it to the gym as much as I should. I'm still going to procrastinate. I'm still going to drink hoppy beers and then curse myself for it. 

But I'm also going to remember to enjoy the little things. I'm going to make time to see friends. I'm going to work out, not because I should but because I feel better when I do. I'm going to cook more with my husband because I love him and I love eating (best of both worlds). I'm going to continue setting goals for myself. 

But when I don't meet them I'm not going to beat myself up. I'm going to try harder.

It's not a new me, it's the same me. 

So, my friends, I wish you more good days than bad days. I hope you laugh more than you cry. I hope you discover what makes you happy and you hold onto it. I hope you remember that one day does not define you.

I hope in this new year that you are still the same you.

A Happy and Healthy everything to everyone!