What I Learned from Hamilton

Writing a book is something I’ve always wanted to do. I could go into all the reasons I’ve never seriously sat down to write one. I won’t. There’s no point. They are all just excuses. At the end of the day, the real truth is I have never felt worthy enough to have a story to tell and I was scared.

I am still scared. But I am worthy.

In October 2016 the children and I evacuated to Alabama during hurricane Matthew. I braced myself for the worst. The car was packed. The Volkswagen was busting holding the five of us. We knew we would be like that for about six hours – if the route I chose wasn’t crowded with other evacuees. Fun right?

Turn out to be a blast!

I had heard of the Broadway play Hamilton before in passing. The cast performed for some award show I watched. The accolades, awards, and Pulitzer news had made its way to me. My oldest daughter had mentioned it and was a fan.

Once we were on the road, she asked if we could listen to it. The other children seemed excited. I agreed.

It would be the only thing we listened to for the totality of the 12 hour, round trip car ride.

For the next month, I rarely listened to anything else. I almost felt guilty turning some other type of music on. As a writer, I already knew how hard it was to take nouns and verbs and put them together in such a way that is meaningful. It’s really fucking hard. Sometimes, it seems impossible.

Lin Manuel Miranda did it – within the boundaries of history and the restriction of musical movement in the art of storytelling without crutch and with passion.

The body of work struck me as genius in its entirety. I ranged emotions. I was engrossed in the story. I moved, felt, wanted, loved, feared, rejoiced.

Over and over again a thought kept coming into my head. “How in the hell did he do that? How did he birth a body of work into existence? How did he manage? Why can’t I?”

And the answer, when it occurred to me, was so simple. He just did the work. He allowed the process. He encountered a piece of work, Alexander Hamilton’s biography, found inspiration, and worked it out. Six years he did the work. Sure he had help, collaborators, supporters. But he did the work and this is his reward.

I do not do the work. I want to do the work. I want to want to do the work.

Nina Crespo once told me that writing is a muscle – you have to work it out or it gets soft. I have neglected the gym for a while. I have played with it like the bench sitters that go to the weight rack to be seen and not sweat. I have held the fear of failure and fear that the work will be too hard. I worry that it won’t be good.

Unfortunately what I have managed to achieve is worse. It won’t be anything if I don’t commit to the process.

If You Don’t Believe in God

I am Catholic. There are some who would argue with me because there are a lot of things about me that are very unCatholic. Well, they wouldn’t argue with me, they would argue at me as this is not a debate I would entertain. You don’t get to tell me what I am and what I am not. Folks are entitled to their opinion. To that I will simply say: 1) I am Catholic & 2) I am not perfect.

I have amazing relationships with folks all over the “what is the space made of” spectrum. The diversity of belief is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It tells me that my faith is not programmed. It shows that the human brain is what I thought it was – special and unique. It shows that humans, at least as far as I can tell, are led by something more than biological programming.

This diversity also lends itself to interesting conversation concerning inclusivity, tolerance, connection, and the general Venn diagram of how non overlapping beliefs have overlapping consequences and are held by folks who require some kind of lap. (Yeah, I’m not even sure what I just did right there, but we are going with it.)

I had one such conversation today. We were discussing the idea held by some that love is nothing more than a biological reaction to hormonal stimulation. This coincided with a atheistic belief system.

I don’t believe that’s true. At least, I don’t believe the whole truth. I proposed a different idea.

I started with a fundamental belief that I have shared before – all emotions are rooted in and can be traced back to either love or fear. Additionally, I believe biology is real. I also believe that biology, while broad stroke standards exist, functions in the minutiae (which matters greatly) differently for each of us.

I also believe that there is an extraordinary characteristic to being human that is different from all other biology. I believe it cannot be tested explained, quantified, denied, or proved. I believe that is the soul. I believe that is God.

This conversation has been in my head the rest of this afternoon. There is a reconciliation that I have in my head that I am usually comfortable with. Occasionally however, I have to revisit. Conversations like these often require the reconsideration.

I believe in the God of the Bible. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the Red Letters.

I do not feel any kind of way with others who do not believe those things. I do not believe it is my job to convert them. I do not believe those things are required to be a good person. Moreover, I know that believing those things do not make you a good person. Assholes are assholes regardless of their relationship to theology or biology.

I realize there are red letter believers that disagree with me on this point. That I am soft or uncommitted. That I am turning a blind eye to the salvation of souls. That I am okay with damning people to hell because an earthly checklist has not been followed. To them I say they should reconsider how comfortable they feel holding that kind of opinion so far outside of their paygrade. I’m not privy to the Trinitarian annual board meetings. I don’t pretend to begin to know how all that works. All I do know for certain is Jesus always loved and he was never afraid (no, I don’t think fear was the motivator in the garden of Gethsemane) and he let God’s business be God’s business. Oh, and he loved his momma and daddy. So I do those things and leave the rest up to who’s really in charge.

I realize there are those who find faith and belief in God to be a ready characteristic for ridicule, condescension, and judgement. To them I say welcome to the world of the asshole proselytizer that you claim to hate. The message is different. The behavior is exactly the same. And trust me, it sounds the same and is just as effective when you do it.

I am still noodling an slip of an idea that I have that suggests that hypersensitivity and shallow judgement are directly proportional to manufactured diversity, but I don’t have it all flushed out yet. What I am pretty confident in is that if we continue to scream diversity and conversation while beating alternative thoughts until lips are swollen shut, we lose connection.

The truth is, was a time in my life I wouldn’t have had that conversation or written this post due to fear of offending. This is not the only topic that sparks that type of reaction and most people I know have those things they are not comfortable talking about for that very reason. Consider the wealth of ideas and progress we have effectively burned down because our pearl clutch barometer is set to “everydamnthing.”

So this is me opening up a discussion about religion, ideology, belief structure. I used to talk politics all the time. Maybe sex will be next.

 

Picture from http://davidshrigley.com

Avoiding The Crack Up

[…] the test of a first-rate intelligence is
the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind
at the same time,
and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald,
The Crack-Up

This, one of my all time favorite quotes, read like the first time for me today and became new again. I love it when they do that.

When I first came across this Fitzgerald gem, it resonated quickly as I was engaging in a civil disagreement over matters of social and political opinion. I really enjoy those types of conversations with people who know how to have them; people who can hear and consider the idea of another yet still hold their own thought and give both their just due.

A few days ago I had a really rough time finding my center, my groove, my chill – whatever it is you call it when you are overall really fine, there is no major or even minor, crisis, but something about your day is just a tinky bit off kilter (I’d love to hear what you call that).

After some really involved, and frankly overly dramatic, self “what if” statements, I determined I was feeling over stimulated. And bored. And resentful. And thankful. And neglected. And cared for. And lonely. And loved. My hitch was that I had found myself unable to retain the ability to function while evaluating the truth hidden in the myriad of opposing feelings. I was unable to give myself permission to have conflicting feelings at all.

I do not believe all feelings are truth. I do believe all feelings are indicative of a truth. There’s a difference. I had gotten so caught up in defending the need to feel centered and “normal”, that I had became unable to process the alternative idea that there was a bit of internal information processing that really needed to happen. The harder I was on myself, the more I berated myself for being ridiculous or too much, the worse the situation became. The opposing idea was not just going to go away. It was there. It needed to be heard, understood, and moved through.

Today I want to encourage you appreciate your ability to consider opposing ideas – may they be yours or someone else’s. The act of doing so does not make us weak, wishy washy, soft, manipulable, too much, uncommitted, or any other manner of discreditable thing you may say to yourself. Being able to function while doing so creates space for relationship, connection, and growth – may that be yours or someone else’s.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Update (Warrior vs. Fairy)

I was/am super excited about participating in my very first NaNoWriMo. There is a lot about it to be excited about. What a neat little concept to challenge writers and want to be writers to commit to an average of about 1,700 words a day in the month of November to hit a 50,000 word count goal that looks something like the first draft of a finished novel.

Except I am averaging 281 words a day.

Well, in all fairness, my overall word count is much higher, they just aren’t all book oriented. I’ve done a ton of work with things I had already written, published a few more things here, and made headway on this writing thing actually paying bills. While those do not count for this particular project, I have decided they do count as considering this first full month of answering the question of “What do you do?” with “Writer” a win.

The actual act of book writing itself has not been the scary monster I thought it was going to be. It is true that the more you put words together, the more you are able to put words together. Writing follows the same rules as everything else in the world; inertia and practice payoff are really things.

I gave more credence to the power of what I didn’t know to what I did know. I have been so hesitant to write outside of my comfort zone (long form fiction) because I just couldn’t imagine how I could pull it off. How would I describe places I hadn’t been? How would I make real things that I knew little about appear authentic? Could I create a whole story of people and places I totally made up in my head? The answer is yes. I give credit to the guys over at the Self-Publishing Podcast for turning that lightbulb on. They talked about “writing around” those things you weren’t an expert on or that felt unauthentic. Eureka!

I thought that would be the hard part and the actual act of writing would be the easy part. Turns out I had it exactly backwards. Figures.

For nearly 18 months I have been trying to figure out the new rhythm of my life. I had grown very accustomed to the steady, waltz like beat of 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, of the time before. I woke early in the morning, if I was writing, I wrote. If I wasn’t, and there were long periods of time when I wasn’t, I filled the morning hours with other things to distract me from the fact that I wasn’t writing. I handled my regular life during the day – work, kids, house. I went to bed. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

I now function more like an alien on milk at my first rave. My calendar has given up the ghost, I can’t even fake a schedule, and making sure the kids are getting everything they need to be successful is the only thing I can absolutely guarantee. Most days I can’t even tell you what state I’m going to be in. Learning to write outside of a set time or place and becoming accustomed to finishing projects in pieces versus one sitting is taking some practice. I’m kinda getting the hang of it, but learning that talent while working on a totally different type of project (i.e. a book) is a bit of multitasking that is not going well.

The way I write is a bit different too. Or at least it is becoming different. I am working on being more open and confident. I am attempting to become a more fearless writer. Sometimes nouns and verbs go together in ways that are a bit scary to own. In my life from ago, those things would be immediately deleted. Today, they are thoughtfully considered and sometimes allowed to breathe whatever air they need to work themselves out. This process has made it more difficult to switch to projects that aren’t real (fiction writing) or not about the work I am doing (that wedding toast that I swear Ann is going to be great).

So while I am finding greater peace and enjoyment, the clock suggests a bit of a challenge. I need to write about 7,200 words a day to “win” NaNoWriMo. Gracefully, the folks over there also offer another cute little stat – at my current pace I will still finish on April 27, 2018. And honestly, that doesn’t sound so terrible.

The warrior in me balks at that, chides the fairy side of self on settling for the out, finding the justification where ever it may be to give me comfort in accepting defeat and failure. I own that. I think there is some truth to the fact that I could have been more disciplined in the the task. I could have taken the whole thing more seriously and been more confident in just getting words on paper. There is a piece of this project that is a failure. I do not expect a trophy for simply showing up. And, while admittedly unlikely, who knows what magical word count feat I’ll be able to pull off at the end of the month. Ever seen Rocky IV?

But the fairy wins today. I will not apologize for taking the time I need and doing the things I need to do. I will not feel guilty for the mornings I chose to steal minutes in bed when I could have been up putting words on paper. I will not begrudge the chaotic because I am all too grateful for both the chaos creators and the freedom of life to rock the rave.

 

*Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Happy Thanksgiving

I have messed around for about an hour an a half trying to decide if I was ever going to touch these keys this morning. There is too much personal emotion to even think about my book. It is Thanksgiving, so while personal emotion is appropriate, I don’t feel like getting too heavy is appropriate. That same Thanksgiving gratitude is bringing me back to matters of the heart. I start to wonder at what point do I really need to write about something else.

I guess the answer to that question is simply when I don’t feel like writing about it anymore. In truth, that is one of the beautiful things about writing for yourself. You can really write about whatever it is you want. The downside of being overly concerned about what people think is that, in order to write about whatever you want, you have to spend two paragraphs explaining yourself before you just say…

Can I tell you how Thankful I am right now? My eyes popped open like a kid on Christmas morning. This IS my Christmas morning. It is Thanksgiving Day. It is my favorite holiday of the year.

The smell in the condo is perfect. Proof that the turkey is in the oven makes it all the way back to our room. It’s early, but there is no way I am getting back to sleep; not this morning.

But I do lay there for a minute. There is no reason to rush. He is so warm when he sleeps, the closeness is comforting. The ease in his breathing, the safety his form provides, the reach for me even when he is dreaming; there is no desire to move from this place quite yet.

The stark contrast to the Thanksgiving morning  a year ago is not lost on me. The thought feels a bit disloyal. That’s strange, I know. That is one of those feelings that I always get, right or not, when a condition of this life overcomes a condition of my life from ago. Like it is unfair to ask this life to make up for the other. But it happens and there’s no stopping it. I have come to the conclusion that the attempt would actually be worse. While it is true that it is not the responsibility of the others in the present to repair the others of the past, it is their gift.

Gift is so much different than responsibility. I have no expectation or right to a gift. The gift giver has no requirement or obligation to tender it. But, because love does what it does, it is there. Just what I needed, just for me, just because. And I have always thought it bad form to refuse a gift.

It is with this perspective that I choose to frame this morning’s recollection in tandem with the comfort of my present. The recollection is painful. It was the only point in the whole of the scorched earth that I cried.

I awoke Thanksgiving morning last year with a lot to be thankful for. There was a freedom I had never experienced before. The burdens that I had carried for so long, the eggshells I navigated were gone. My life was mine again, even if I wasn’t yet quite sure how to live it – it belonged to me. I had found what I hoped was going to prove to be unconditional forever love in the most unlikely and unexpected place. I had gratitude, I had love, I had hope.

I awoke Thanksgiving morning last year to an empty, quiet, smelless house without any prospect to the contrary. Preparation had not been needed. Cooking was not my responsibility. There were no children eagerly awaiting their next helpful task. No timers, no oven schedules, no setting up, no thawing out. Just me, in a house. I sat in my thinking chair and sobbed.

As the tears came to an end and I began to sort through the hurt, there was still gratitude. I was grateful that I still had the ability to be soft (I had begun to wonder). I was grateful for the prospects I did have. Although it was not the Thanksgiving I had come accustomed to (three days of cooking, mimosas, full house), there was a beautiful day planned with family, a road trip, a reunion, and the promise of connection. There was a lot to be Thankful for. Even though the heartbreak over what was no more was real, the gift of what I had and what was to come was worth it.

This Thanksgiving season, we have been on holiday since Friday. The children have had a excellent time taking in all the uncrowded, off season wonders to be had in Gulf Shores. They have been a delight and are delighted in. There are always smells and sounds and preparation.

This Thanksgiving morning I awoke to a full, anticipated, aromatic condo with all the promise that those things suggest on this, my favorite holiday. In truth, this is still a bit different from the Thanksgivings I have carved for myself in the life from ago. And, in the spirit of being completely open and transparent, there is a part of me that mourns just a bit for the rhythm that is familiar.

I have no guilt in that feeling. There is an understanding I have that I am not sure I am skilled enough to convey here. There are pieces of happy that I created in the life from ago. They were the things I clung to waiting for the rest to sort itself. I am appreciative of the work I was able to do there, the memories I was able to make. To miss those things that, not unlike a child’s security blanket, gave me comfort and normalcy, does not seem unreasonable to me. Missing the baby does not require the missing of the bathwater. That’s nearly terrible but I am at a loss to explain it any better. At this moment, I don’t feel compelled to.

This Thanksgiving morning I have prepped and planned. My heart is full. My children are asleep. My thoughts are sorted. On this, my favorite holiday of the year, I wish you and yours all the happiness in the world. I am going to go back and enjoy a few more snuggles from my happiness and steal a second Thanksgiving awakening with smells and anticipation. May your turkey be perfect, your mimosas mixed right, the pies free of calories. From our family to yours.

Clarity Overwhelming

In the past 72 hours I have touched, in some way, shape, or form, 224 Constant Contact Emails you probably know better as “Turn Around Tuesday.” This was necessary as I only had some of the TATs in my blog database. When I stop using Constant Contact (which will be very soon), I will lose the ones I don’t have elsewhere. Unfortunately for me, I had no idea which ones those were. Ergo, I had to open each one and crosscheck it with my database.

At the onset, I knew it was a big, time consuming task. That’s a lot of opening and crosschecking. What I had not anticipated (maybe I should have) and was not prepared for (not sure that would have even been a possibility) was the overwhelming emotional toll the whole project took.

I started Turn Around Tuesday in April 2007. My life, myself as a person, has changed so much in the last 18 months; the last ten years was a lot to digest in three days. There was so much there, even just skimming the pieces to figure out what I had and what I didn’t. Friends who are no longer with me, thoughts that needed revisiting, ideas that have changed, my ex-husband, former professions, forgotten dreams, misplaced pieces of me.

About halfway through I considered maybe I had taken too much on. But, at halfway through, I could see the end in sight and I just kept pushing on. Actually, at that point, I was so emotionally overwhelmed I couldn’t imagine what other productive thing I could do instead. The systematic open, verify, process, repeat was the only real thing I was capable of at that point. I couldn’t even begin to think about what I was going to do with all that when I finished.

Then this morning, as I was down to the last 6, I opened a TAT from August 2011. In some weird, wonderful, beautiful way, it gelled all my fragmented pieces from the last 72 hours.

Everything was kind of right there. A lost friend, funky juxtaposition of thought, desire to accept self, shit I wish I would have paid better attention to for my own well being but wouldn’t until years later, and permission from my 34 year old self to just be okay with all that.

TATs are almost always written real time, meaning, the TAT you get is often very reflective of some process in my current life. When the last piece was processed, I went looking for a reference for what was moving around in August 2011. Say what you want about Facebook, it has been instrumental in reminding me of where I am going and where I have been when my brain doesn’t quite cooperate. Sure enough, I found this blog post that I had written the day before.

Again, there it was. The seeds of me. The beginnings of a real woman trying to find her way out of some crazy ass confinement she had put herself in. The acknowledgement that there was more, even if I couldn’t come right out and say it. The need to be open and honest even while I wasn’t in the position to be.

There is also the reminder that so much time is lost and wasted due to fear. I was afraid a good bit of the time. I still have a healthy dose of residual scaredy cat lurking around. But it is just a little feline now – not the starving tiger it once was.

Ok, so that last sentence right there isn’t entirely true. I want it to be, but I have found that most often when I end a sentence like that and then have no idea what to follow it up with, I have hit on a bit of falseness. Fear for me now is an extreme shape shifter. It is always there and is either a big fucking tiger or a sweet little kitten. While I control it better now, the the last three days have found the bounce back and forth to be the main source of the overwhelming nature of it all.

Going back through random snapshots of the last 10 years of ones life is staggering. At least it was for me. The compounding fact was the self insistence that all these snippets were going to, at some point in the future, need to be processed with full acknowledgement of all the untold backstories and my new perspective while resisting the urge to kick myself in the ass over and over again.

There is a tiger fear that moving through this process – a process that I have already decided will be transparent here – will open me up to a vulnerability I am not comfortable with. It will be proof positive that I am not perfect and there are a ton of reasons for you to distrust and not like me. I want to delete that sentence so bad, I can’t even begin to tell you. But there it is. And I leave it there to remind both of us that the fear is an irrational one. I am who I am and you are who you are. We are either tribe or we are not. There is no judgement there, no right or wrong, it just is and that is okay. At the end of the day, it is honest, and whatever results that produces, I am comfortable in the fact that the realness is worth it.

There is also the simple fact that my perspective, recollections, assumptions, conclusions are different than those held by others. That is a big challenge for me. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time focusing on the “what ifs” of those occurrences. I detest being unfair. I have conceded ideas more often than I ought in an effort to reconcile. I will question my position more harshly than I expect others to question theirs. I defer to the intelligence of others because I lack confidence in my own. That practice has stunted more personal growth and happiness than any other one thing I can think of in my life. To that end, I have concluded that functioning that way is unacceptable. Instead, I will, as always, remain open to the ideas of others, discussion, connection. I will continue to encourage others to find their truth and tell their stories. And, I will unapologetically share mine.

Photo credits to Wild Woman Sisterhood and JM Storm

Thinking Deeper

Dig a little deeper.
Think of something we have never thought of before.

~A. A. Milne (1882 – 1956)

It is no secret I am a huge fan of social media. I have engaged online since the very early offerings. It has been a lot of fun connecting with old friends, making new ones, learning about different places, and finding new ways to photograph food. I enjoy almost everything about it – almost.

With this ability for virtually anyone to say anything to anyone anywhere, there has also been a few setbacks in our growth as people. I blame the meme. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of them. But this trend toward the bumper sticker, shallow idea has begun to thwart our vision of our best selves and hindered real connection with others.

Those two things – vision of best self and connection to others – are, in my opinion, where nearly all the magic happens. It is where challenges are overcome, goals are realized, new adventures take shape. It is, essentially, where life happens. When we give in to less than in exchange for the easy, when we allow the fluff to take the place of substance, we zap all the amazing out of what it could have been. Kinda like window food. Sure, some of it is great, fast, and easy. But it can’t begin to compete with the smell that comes out of a kitchen when someone is wearing an apron and the anticipation of what is coming next.

Today I want to encourage you to think a little deeper. Pick any topic you want. Current events, social issues, a work project, a recipe, anything. Take a minute and consider all the things you think are a given about that idea – no white after labor day, salting the water before the potatoes, why democrats are considered liberal – you get the idea. Think about those things and consider them in a new light. What if we turned them around just a bit, maybe attempted to imagine our background was different, our worldview was altered, anything to adjust the thought and dig a little deeper. We may still think the the original thought, but the practice of thinking actual thoughts and having actual conversations will encourage our best self and greater connections. Promise.

Thanks for the coffee,

~A

I am not Defined by Lost Stuffing

Success means doing the best we can with what we have.
Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.

**************

The real test in golf and in life is not in keeping out of the rough,
but in getting out after you are in.

– Zig Ziglar

A few days ago, I found a very sad three year old at my knee. “Momma, my bear has a boo boo.” Indeed, the beloved bear had a small rip in the seam of her leg and the stuffing was ever so slightly poking out. I am not surprised. This bear, loved daily, has seen her fair share of tea parties, swing sets, rescues and other amazing adventures. The fact that this small tear was all she had to show for it was, in itself, impressive.

After I assured her the bear would be fine after a little “surgery” that I promised would not hurt, she placed the bear in my care and went back to her play happy enough. Looking at this bear, I can’t help but be encouraged.

This little bear is not perfect. It can’t be. There is room for improvement in the design, material and manufacturing. Then, even if all those improvements were made, all we would have is a bear few could afford, few would enjoy playing with and minute details would still just miss perfection.

Because it is not perfect, the discussion must be when it fails, when it breaks, when it lets down – not if. That is, if the discussion really has to be had at all. The truth is, the bear is quite capable of fulfilling her role as my daughter’s playmate without considering the “what if” of either of their short comings. My daughter my be careless or overly aggressive. The bear may be poorly designed or equipped for the task.

However, this never prevents either of them from enjoying the relationship or their roles in it. In fact, there is no focus at all on the brokenness until the brokenness effects the situation. Even then, there is no judgement in the deficiency of the bear, no statement of character made about the child. There is concern for the injury and graciousness in the attention to the need. The shortcoming is brought to the one who can fix it and the issue becomes solution based and challenges are overcome. The lost stuffing defines neither the bear nor the child.

Today I just encourage you. In a climate of perceived or actual scarcity, unknown and fearful, accurate or sensationalized, be encouraged. We are all broken people that sometimes find ourselves in broken situations. This does not make us less than or speak to a hard wired character flaw. It makes us humans interacting with other humans in a meaningful way. It makes us a community. It makes us great because these interactions create the humanity that brings about all good things. I, you, are not defined by lost stuffing.

And as always, thanks for joining me for that cup of coffee…

*Originally published as a Turn Around Tuesday, November 2, 2010

440 Days Later

August 15, 2016

When I first got out of the Navy and into real estate, I was operating on little start up money for advertising. But I wanted to make a go of it in a big way. While my funds were limited, I did have one big advantage – I was tech savvy.

In 2006, this was a huge deal. Websites, search engines, social media – this stuff was just gaining steam. I was easily adapted to this new changes and embraced them early on.

That and I really like the attention…and some part of me believes that putting all these words out into the universe will make me an accomplished writer some day.

(Look at me attempting to write more honestly without the fear of other judgement and side eye)

Therefore I have been on Facebook and Twitter since almost the beginning. As of this writing, I have well over 2000 pictures attached to my Facebook account. I’ve been adding pictures for a long time.

I met my ex-husband in 1998. We married in 1999. For those who don’t know, this was back when you had to take film in to get developed before you could see them.

Every single picture taken since the inception of Facebook has been taken while I was married.

I had not considered this until a conversation with a friend during my divorce included a general remark about processing, separating, and moving on after a divorce. The remark included the pruning of Facebook photos.

My first reaction was, “I’m not going to do that.”

I still feel that way.

First of all, what a monumental pain in the ass that has to be. To go through all those photos…the time, the emotional energy…yeah, fuck that.

Second, many of those pictures have our children in them. So there’s that.

But most importantly I just don’t feel it.

He was my husband for 17 years. While being married was something we could no longer do, we are still parents. I hope we can even be friends. Erasing pictures just seems dishonest somehow.

I had all the different thoughts go through my head…when I start dating, when he starts dating, when the last glass of wine makes my heart hurt, when the temptation to wallow gets too strong…what then?

Then I deal. Do you for two seconds think that taking down pictures changes any of those things? That somehow new people we meet won’t know we spent the better part of our adulthood married to each other? That it changes one single thing about what’s going on and how that fits in the story of my life? I don’t.

Honestly, I’m way more concerned about the “On This Day” feature…but I’ll think about that later…

So the pictures stay. Maybe I’ll think differently about it tomorrow. Maybe he’ll ask me to different one day and I’ll think about it again. But today, this is what it is.


October 29, 2017 (440 days later)

I did think differently about it tomorrow. I think about a lot of things differently. A lot of different things have happened.

As you can tell, I never did publish that little bit from up there. I didn’t have it in me yet and it just sat, along with quite a few other things in the draft file of uncomfortable things I have written and haven’t quite decided what to do with.

But it is time for me to discuss what is going on with some of this “push publish” business and address some of the really old stuff that is being republished.

My subscribers are going to get quite a few emails. I looked for a way to turn that off. I can’t find it. So you’ll just have to forgive me, maybe enjoy some old stuff or just hit delete. But I needed a new space. And I needed to, for the first time, wrangle all the pieces of me and my words in one place.

That’s not the easiest thing I have ever done.

  • Some of it is irrelevant. I’ll just retire it.
  • Some of it is really bad. I will either retire or rewrite it.
  • Some of it is untrue, no longer true, or whitewashed to suit the situation of the time. I will either retire, rewrite, or amend it.
  • Some of it blessfully, is fine the way it is and I’ll just republish it.

But there is a lot of it and I am trying to both create new content, complete projects for clients, and give the old stuff careful and due consideration. Oh, and I have committed to NaNoWriMo starting Wednesday. It’s a lot. I am hoping most of the reconstruction is mostly unnoticeable. But if you see it, your patience (and maybe a bit of encouragement) is appreciated.

Take that unpublished post from 440 days ago. I considered it. It was how I wanted to feel when I sat down and tried to figure out how I feel. But if you ask anyone who knows me even in the most cursory way, I am not the same version of myself I was 440 days ago. It is not the way I feel today.

Therefore, this post fell into the “untrue, no longer true, or whitewashed” category.

I considered what to do about it. I have decided that just because it wasn’t a completely accurate representation of how I felt then, isn’t at all the way I feel right now, it is a completely appropriate way to feel. Figuring out what to do to with the mountain of “stuff” left over after the dissolution of a marriage is overwhelming. Deciding what works best is such a nuanced and individual decision, I can’t imagine the gall it would take for one to declare the “wrong” or “rightness” of process. Whatever that amount is, I don’t have it. So I left it as a testament to the truth that people to the best they can with what they know. I know something different today than I knew 440 days ago.

But I obviously could’t just post it as it was. So here is the amendment. Where I am now. Why there is all this dust around the construction of my new space.

I am excited about the new turn the adventure has taken. I am looking forward to having the space and freedom to work out all the neat things that go on this beautiful world around me. I adore the sense of community it is already creating among folks who read something in the words, feel something in the spaces, and say, “Yes!” The biggest gift has been the freedom to just be April. To be able to sit down at this keyboard, do what it is I do, and know that my world is secure.

It took a little demolition to get here. The construction process is ongoing. You’re welcome to peek behind the curtain.

On Writing Rules

Just start with a word and see what happens…that’s the rule.

Write a little everyday, it should be a habit…that’s the rule.

Don’t censor yourself when you are writing; speak your truth even when it scares you…that’s the rule.

When you are writing, don’t worry about what other people think…that’s the rule.

I consider myself to be a person who does pretty well with rules. I am not typically a rule breaker. There was that one speeding ticket…and the way I refuse to run with traffic…but outside of that I am a pretty stick to the straight and narrow kind of girl.

But writing. I find it super hard to follow the rules when it comes to writing.

First of all, I really like to write about writing. I don’t know if that’s breaking a rule or not. But I am certain you are probably supposed to expand your field of subject matter outside of the very action itself.

Except there is something about the very action itself that is at the core, for me of all other subject matter. There is a ribbon through all the things that I am, see, do, taste, love, fear, dream, denounce and that thing is writing – putting words to my chaos to give that chaos some order.

Writing, for me, is the act of taking out the brand new puzzle, hunting for the end pieces, making some sense of the outline, sorting through the middle, and then hoping like hell all that work takes some kind of shape. Often times that happens for me and I get to look back on what I have written and think to myself, “There is is. That’s what I think today.” Life then moves on, sorted and in order so that I can continue experiencing and being a part of this journey that belongs to me.

Then there are the other days.  Forget finding any end pieces. It takes all the energy I possess just to open the damn box. Once I finally do get in there, there aren’t any end pieces, some of the pieces are already missing, and extra pieces that don’t even belong have been thrown into the mix. My brain hitches. Thoughts swirl. These days require significantly more effort to remain engaged and present as there is no order to experience. The ribbon is knotted.

Eventually the knot loosens and the order comes. There is always a first word, that beginning match of two end pieces.

Just start with a word and see what happens…that’s the rule.