What if

When I face moments of stress, it’s not hard to find myself slipping into a negative place. What ifs are a great way to stop a good day dead in its tracks. Today I decided to work on my book. The last three days has been dedicated to paid work, which is nice and all, but I need to fill my heart with something that fuels my soul. So, like a star cluster forming, I’m letting the dust and particles and plasma gather and form into the idea I want to ignite into the story today. One way to do this is to write my thoughts down and carry myself forward with the momentum.

The what ifs I face lately are stressful and enough to just throw a bucket of ice water on the whole creative process. They might be enough to tell me that instead of giving my brain a break, I need to recharge, otherwise the work I do will be sloppy and I’ll spend the next couple days doing rewrites. You have to pace yourself.

It’s not hard to manifest the negative. What if my book sucks? What if I am fooling myself? What if I’m everything my detractors say I am? A dreamer with no talent, a dillitante, a bum, a loser? What if I’m no longer living where I am in a year because everything has fallen to pieces? What if I’m not worthy of so many things. It is so easy to manifest all of these negative thoughts. On the other hand, what we look for to make these thoughts some kind of self-fulfilling prophesy can be worked the other way as well.

What if I continue to work hard and get better at what I do? What if I take risks? What if I keep my heart open? What if I seek out opportunities to improve myself? What if I am exactly where I need to be at this moment in my life so I can finally make that push to take myself to the next level? What if I detatch myself from the white noise of social media and feel that sting of loneliness a little more often because I am building something great for myself, and it deserves my full attention? That the number of “likes” you take that whole half second to give or receive from somebody else isn’t filling your buckets. That finishing a scene, or a chapter, isn’t so short-lived as that micro-dose of dopamine you get from social media. That I can sleep a full night or feel amazing for at least a day knowing that I accomplished another step in the direction I can sometimes see like land on the horizon.

What if all the stuff I’ve ever wanted is within arms reach? What if I will find the freedom to go where I want? What if I can have that library with the big comfy leather chairs that I keep liking on Pinterest instead of just daydreaming about them? What if I can do what I love and feel like I’m cheating the system because whoever heard of doing what they love and getting paid for it?! What if you can manifest all the good things just as easily as the bad?

Anyway, the cosmic dust has collected. Time to throw a match into the whole thing and watch it explode.

How I spent my Christmas vacation

This year, I didn’t have the luxury to spend time with my son. But that’s a whole other story for another time. I just hope and pray that next year things are different and I will get to have the Christmas we always wanted. Making cookies with Grandma. Sledding down the hill. Ice skating. All the things my kid ought to be doing during the holidays. For now, I just need to be patient. All of those things are what Should have happened. But they didn’t.

Tomorrow, I need to work my guts out to make sure that future happens. I need to start making money again. Which has been a stressor…I can’t even begin to explain that. But today, Christmas Day, I took time off. I took time off yesterday too, spending time alone with my thoughts. I dropped off in a near meditative state, just letting the quiet seep in. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life and found myself overwhelmed by so many scenes in that movie. It’s an all-time favorite and one I watch a couple times a year. Same as Love Actually, because I’m a dyed in the wool Romantic. July? May? Watching those movies probably.

Today began as a blah day. Christmas without your kids is just another day. I had dinner with my folks. Did a mountain of dishes I had let stack up at home. Took a nap with the dog.

This evening, I decided to treat myself with a cigar and some good scotch in my writing room. I very, very rarely do this, but it was nice. I listened to London Grammar and scrolled social media and bantered back and forth with friends. I didn’t feel alone. (Thank you all!) We joked and laughed and I wished a bunch of people a Merry Christmas. That felt really good. Even though we are all spread across the world like a dog’s breakfast, it put a smile on my face.

Penny and I shared a cheese plate with dates and coffee and it was nice to just sit and be mellow and enjoy a cigar. This year I had felt pretty forgotten. It seems that everyone has their own lives with their families or social groups and sometimes the thing that I used to worry about the most has been looming over me lately. The Fear of Missing Out. Alone for the holidays. Forgotten up here in my fortress of solitude. It snowed over the last few days. We got about a foot and a half of heavy, wet snow. It would have been perfect for sledding too. We (Penny and I) went out and took pictures of the beautiful sunset earlier on. It felt like a blessing right there just to see the sky lit up like this, like a Christmas present from God Himself, letting me know He didn’t forget about me.

So many things to think of and to feel, even though in a lot of ways I feel like things are really tough.

There are moments I just think I made a mistake. Maybe several mistakes. Like a nightmare that won’t stop. But tonight I enjoyed so much of just being at home enjoying my own company, as well as chatting with friends. I know that sometimes it feels like a waste of time to let people in, but it’s worth it. Tonight I felt more like myself than I have in a while.

I know that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you hoped they would, but maybe that just means that things have to follow many steps as you go from A to Z. All too often we jump into things without those little steps in between and what we might have been left with is something hollow. It’s frustrating but maybe that journey is worth taking. It won’t happen all at once, but with a little hope and a leap of faith, maybe what we hoped for isn’t nearly as good as what it could be?

Tonight I am happy. (Tomorrow, I have to work).

The takeaway from this is that it is okay to be yourself. It’s okay to feel how you feel. There’s no shame in any of it. We are only on this rock for a short time and nothing is guaranteed–Covid should have taught us that by now. Buy the ticket. Take the ride. Scream your head off on the rollercoaster and get back on again. Love with your whole heart, unashamed. There’s no shame in it–you’re just using that organ for what it was made for; and what an adventure! Smoke the cigar inside once in awhile because this exact moment is good enough to live for and sometimes it is exactly the moment you have been waiting for to celebrate.

For too long, I’ve lived life feeling like if I did the “wrong” thing, there would be consequences. What would the neighbors think? Will this go on my permanent record? What if I wear my heart on my sleeve and it gets hurt? That’s all life. That’s why we are here.

I hope that one day when I die (many years from now), my humidor is empty, the scotch is gone, I bounce my last check, I’ve hugged everyone who needed it and they had no doubts that they were loved, brought joy to another’s day with a random gift and no expectations back, kissed someone until we were both speechless, danced, disconnected and enjoyed a lazy day or ten, sang off-key with all the songs, fell asleep feeling gratitude, and people will say at my funeral many years from now, “He really did live life to the fullest. He wasn’t afraid.”

Merry Christmas!

Don’t Count Your Blessings

Everyone always says “Count your blessings.” I don’t agree. If we keep an inventory of our blessings, we risk becoming hoarders. Blessings are things that are shared. If we hold onto them, and count them, we aren’t sharing them. I think we should know that we are blessed and show gratitude for being blessed.

This holiday season has been hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it. We had so many plans. Plans that might never come to fruition. But it isn’t about me. It’s about my son, my family, and everyone else whose light touches our lives. It’s about being that light in the dark even if you are just down to a spark, because this time of year, the nights are long and cold.

If I focus on what I don’t have this season, the list is long. And if I focus on what I do have, I run the risk of holding onto it too tightly. If anything the last couple of years has shown us, it is how everything can change so quickly.

So, this year, I’m just going to be grateful. I’m not counting anything. Because my blessings, in spite of the hardships, are beyond number. Though I won’t be seeing my son this holiday, I can still feel his love for me out there. We are both still fighting the good fight. Thank you everyone for your support and kind words.

Have a happy holiday, Merry Christmas, and squeeze your loved ones just a little bit harder this year for me if you would. Just don’t make it weird for them.