Boredom Update

By this time each year, most people have let their new year’s resolutions slide into oblivion. So, it made sense to wait six weeks before reporting on how my boredom experiment is going.

It’s been an abject failure.

Let me explain.

My life has improved dramatically in just a few weeks. Last year I read 16 books over the year. More than one a month. I considered it acceptable, though for a writer, less than stellar. This year, on Goodreads Reading Challenge, I committed to reading at least 50 books. With largely TV free evenings and weekends, I read 9 books in January. (So far, Beneath a Scarlet Sky – a true story of a 17 year old Italian boy during WWII, is my favorite.)

With more free time away from screens, I began meditating regularly again. I decided on the schedule of 20 minutes, twice daily. Yes, it meant getting up earlier, which I am loathe to do. There have been many mornings when I thought about going to just 1 evening session a day, but I wanted to stick with it until it was a habit — give it a fair shot. I’ve reached that point. I look forward to the time on the cushion, and am reaping the benefits of a regular practice, though some mornings, I would still rather sleep another 20 minutes.

It’s great I’m reading so much more, after all, I recently heard that every hour of reading is like an hour of studying writing. But, I also have a shelf full of writing books, many of which I’ve never read. It made sense to add more academic endeavors to my reading regimen.

After looking over the titles, I picked The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. In just the first chapter I saw things I could do to improve both books I’ve been working on. It felt like my opening chapter of Fear Unleashed didn’t grab the reader like I wanted it to. My intention was to create a slow build of getting to know the main character, but I don’t think that helped sell the story. It has inspired me to rethink much of my first novel, and since I have a lot of passion for those changes, I think I’m jumping tracks and letting my current work in progress go for a moment while I rewrite Fear Unleashed.

The truth of my boredom update is this… I have failed miserably at being bored in 2019. I now see that I already was bored and screen time was just a lazy way to fill the boredom. So I guess I am sort of breaking my resolution. I no longer resolve that 2019 is the year of boredom. Instead I resolve it is the year I switch boredom off and reengage with the things that give life meaning. It’s an easy resolution to keep.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Have you also tried less screen time? How is that working for you?

Read any good books lately? Please tell me about them, as I’m constantly looking for my next book.

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I’m bored.

I remember whining “I’m bored” from time to time when I was a kid. Most of us over the age of 30 did. Apparently kids today are saying it less and less often, because they’re never bored. They pick up their phone, their tablet, their game controller, or the remote control.

Back in the olden days, you know, the 70s, do you remember what happened shortly after uttering those words? Our parents would either suggest something to do, which sounded good, and we did it. Or, they would threaten us with chores if we continued to complain about boredom. And with that, we would evaporate from their presence before chores could be unleashed. Out on a farm, 12 miles from a town of 400 people, there didn’t seem to be a lot of choices, but the sheer weight of boredom would force out some creativity. I would go work on my fort in the trees, maybe build something, or pretend I was on some adventure in the barn or pastures. Much of my love of writing comes from being bored and losing myself in a book, or being bored and playing out some story I’d invented in my head. Obviously, being bored isn’t fun, but it makes me sad that today’s kids aren’t enjoying the adventures that come out of boredom.

The problem is, I now feel sad for myself, as well, and doubly so, because I’m trying to launch a creative career. You see, I, too, have ceased being bored. There’s always something to watch on Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu, or Sling. And if that’s not enough to entertain me, I’ll play a game on my phone while watching. Then there’s Flipboard, which lets me read all the news from so many sources and viewpoints, that it’s a black hole that can suck me in, leading me from one story to the next. I might sit down to write, but then YouTube seems infinitely more interesting than pounding out the next chapter. I mean, you can tour abandoned sites, learn about cults from those who’ve left, hear inspirational Ted Talks, watch a video on history, telling yourself it’s research for future ideas, watch music videos… again, a black hole that can suck one in for hours.

And then I complain that I just don’t have time to read. I just don’t have time to write. LIAR! I do have the time for both those things, and if I were bored, I would be clamoring to do them. My mind would be filling the boredom with ideas, just like it did when I was a kid.

So, I am doing something I don’t know that I’ve ever done before. I am making a New Year’s Resolution.

I do hereby resolve to be bored in 2019.

Often and frequently.

I will be getting rid of several of my streaming services. Not all of them. I am not a troglodyte, after all. I will be removing the games from my phone. The iPhone OS now lets you monitor your screen time, and I will keep an eye on that, perhaps creating time limits if I feel that’s necessary. Anybody have any other suggestions?

How often are you bored? What distracts you from boredom? Want to join me in my New Year’s Resolution and get your boredom on in 2019?

Let’s get bored!

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Don’t Quit… Rest

In my last post, I was feeling hopeful. Not long after, that feeling faded. I decided to take the month of December off. A quiet little nudge inside me seemed to make it clear that it was the right thing to do. As the month went by, the voices that had been nagging at me and bringing me down, got louder. You’re not a real writer. A real writer doesn’t take breaks. A real writer lives to write. You’re a hack. Your writing is always missing something essential.  You are, and always have been, a failure. Just quit. Face the fact that the best you can hope for is to be scraping by the rest of your life, and working until you die. 

Even when I tried to turn my thoughts to the hope of publishing, the voice got even louder. The publishing world is no different than the film and TV world. You don’t fit their mold. They want young, pretty women with lovely writery pictures on the back cover that they can trot out on stage to sell books. You are not that. Once again, you have to jump through their hoops, play their games, all with the understanding that in the end, you just won’t cut it. Why bother. Just self-publish and let the public decide, except they likely will never get that chance, because of the sheer volume of self-published books and your lack of experience with marketing. So really, Just quit. Face the truth. Quit, already, and end the embarrassment of trying.

After weathering the onslaught of negative voices in my head, I woke up in the middle of the night a few nights ago and gave myself a talking to.

Look, you chose this. This is what you wanted. You put everything at risk to do this. You could have chosen an easier path, the kind most everyone else takes, but you didn’t. Is it fair that your work will somewhat be judged on your appearance and age? No, it isn’t. But for many agents and publishers, that’s what’s happening. But, there will always be some who are simply looking for a good story, and  you have to go through the effort to find them. Again, this is what you chose. Put on your big girl pants and see it through. Pending any disasters, you’re aren’t going to be homeless for another 2 years, and maybe even longer, so stop stressing, do the work that needs to be done, and have some fun with the process.

The spring unwound and I came to realize that during the fallow period, even as I fell into an anxious depression, my batteries were actually recharging. I came up with two short story ideas, which is important, because my query letter is woefully short of credits. Winning a contest or two could help with that. During December, I read more from agents on what they do and don’t want and came to a conclusion my instincts were actually right for a change. Chapter one, as is, is the way to go. I’m eager to give

book one another pass to make sure my edits are consistent. I’m eager to hire a junior agent to help me with my query letter. Eager to get short stories out there. Eager to then get back to book two, do a rewrite on that, and then begin to move forward. All that anxiety and fear is gone. I’m ready to work.

I think I got the lesson loud and clear this time. When I feel defeated, anxious and all the voices in my head are telling me to quit, what I really need to do is rest.

Are you tired and ready to give up, especially after a stressful holiday season? Can you take a break from at least one thing that is causing stress and draining your time and resources? Find a way to take time off. Get your balance back. Your feet underneath you. Take a deep breath. Then when you’re rested, ask yourself if you still want to quit. I bet you won’t. I bet you’ll be ready to go at it even harder.

 

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What does that feed?

The move across country has brought many longed for changes, and some that are completely unexpected. Recently I took the time to go through my Netflix queue. Usually there are anywhere between 150-200 movies, documentaries, and TV shows listed there. Most have been there for years. I went through, one by one, and found myself recognizing that I either was no longer interested, or knew I would never take the time to actually watch that show. By the time I got done, I had less than 50 shows remaining. As I thought about what had been cut, it fell into two categories – dark horror/thrillers, and sad documentaries. I thought about my what entertained me while living in LA, and realized much of that repulses me now. I was not expecting that change, and it got me wondering what was behind that shift.

One piece fell into place when recently I was listening to a talk by Eckhart Tolle on my short commute to and from work. He talks a lot about something he calls “the pain body.” According to Tolle, this is his term for the accumulated, old emotional pain that we all carry with us. It is made up of negative emotions that were not processed and dealt with when they arose. We all have a pain body. Sometimes it is dormant, and we don’t even know it’s there. Sometimes it flares up and takes over.

After one of his talks, Tolle was taking questions from the audience and one person asked, “Do violent movies and television feed the pain body?” After a moment of silence, as the entire audience waited for his great and copious wisdom on the topic, he simply answered, “Yes.”

That one word answer was all I needed. The lightbulb went on.

The last few years in LA, I was living full-time in my pain body. Old, accumulated pain completely took over my life. I was not happy at work, at home, on my commute, and especially in my head. I never seemed to get my feet firmly under me before another wave hit and knocked me into a swirl of constant emotional pain.

During that period, you would think I would have sought out the peaceful… the calm.. the quiet, but that is not how the pain body works. Once it is in charge, it feeds the person’s ego and makes it stronger, making it harder and harder to let the pain go. It becomes completely entwined with who the person thinks they are. Let go of the pain? How could I? I would cease to exist. You’re asking me to commit suicide!

Oh, I remember that feeling well.

Now it makes sense that when I wanted to be entertained, I was drawn to the pain of the victim whose life was detailed in a soul-searing documentary. It makes sense that zombies, mega-disasters, and action-packed thrillers filled my queue. Pain, pain, pain! I wanted more pain to feed the pain body that had become me.

Right now my pain body is dormant, and I have no desire to witness pain (which is part of what makes recent events so awful). The pain body is still there. I am well aware that I still haven’t dealt with it properly. It will re-appear, though hopefully I’m better equiped now to deal with it, and hopefully the waves will be smaller and fewer inbetween. But the other thing that will surely help, is that being aware of what I’m drawn to will be a useful tool in understanding whether or not old, accumulated pain is taking over. It will help me deal with it all much sooner, and that’s definitely a good thing.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Letting your pain body grow stronger, is pure suffering.

So, take a lesson from my experience. Look at what entertains you, and ask yourself, “What does that feed?” Adjust accordingly.

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One Year Later

A year ago around this time, I ended a stress-filled life in Los Angeles with a mega-stressful day. First there was a rushed packing job, followed by running late and getting stuck in Friday night rush hour traffic out of the city. As soon as it got dark rain started to fall, and I had to navigate Phoenix through windshield wipers, squinting against the wet, reflective roads, all while my cats cried for a home that no longer existed. One particularly stressed cat turned into a devil-cat and delayed my start the next day by hiding so well it took several hours to discover her wedged under a filing cabinet. I don’t want to relive that 24-hour period any time soon, and thankfully I’ve settled in nicely here, so I shouldn’t have to.

My leap over the chasm was a strong, solid leap. I can’t say I’ve landed safely on the other side, but at the very least, I’m gliding comfortably, still waiting to see just how things turn out. So far the view has been delighful. From time to time, someone will ask if I miss LA or the life I had there. The answer is still, “no,” though it doesn’t rush out of me quite like it used to.

Recently I’ve seen interviews with two other survivors of late night, though they are just a little bit more famous than I am – David Letterman (my old boss via WWP) and Jon Stewart (briefly my boss when he filled in for a week hosting the show). Despite our different levels of success, I learned we’ve arrived in the same place.

In an interview with a local Montana paper, the Whitefish Review, David Letterman said about his career, “you believe that what you are doing is of great importance and that it is affecting mankind wall-to-wall. And then when you get out of it you realize, oh, well, that wasn’t true at all. It was just silliness. And when that occurred to me, I felt so much better and I realized, geez, I don’t think I care that much about television anymore. I feel foolish for having been misguided by my own ego for so many years.”

And Jon Stewart realized the same thing. In a recent interview on The Axe Files he was asked if he missed what he did, and the summary of his response was that he did not. That while he was in “the soup” he thought what he did was important, but once out, he saw the world differently. He pointed out that only LA and New York foster that kind of arrogance. To me, that says nothing about the cities and everything about the entertainment industry that operates in those towns.

Compared to me, both of those men are extremely fortunate, not just becasue they walked away from their careers financially secure, but because they didn’t have their awakening until they were out of the business. I saw the truth while I was still in it, and I had to go to work every day knowing I was contributing to this massive lie. That caused serious stress, and seeing the people around me buy into it only made it worse.

You see, the worship of celebrities in our culture ensures that self-importance and entitlement isn’t just a problem for the stars, it trickles down to everyone working in the business, and it gets reinforced every time someone gets excited over what you do. It’s like being the popular kid in class, and you really start to believe you are cooler than the other kids. We know behind the scenes stuff that they report on entertainment shows. We know famous people. Famous people know us. Everybody wants to work in the entertainment industry, but we actualy did it… aren’t we special!

Not really, no.

Whether it was because I was thinking of the anniversary of my leaving that life, or just one of those things, I got triggered a few weeks ago by an old memory. It sent me spiraling into shame. From shame, came sadness, from sadness came fear. I was afraid that nothing had really changed. I was afraid I was delusional and that there is little to no chance I can earn even a modest living as a writer. In a few years I will be broke, and the end of this story will be me in a pile at the bottom of my chasm. Negative, fearful thoughts filled my mind, just like they did in LA. It seems that no matter where I choose to live, I am going to die an unfulfilled failure.

Thankfully, now that I am in a healthier, more supportive environment, this funk lasted days, not weeks, months, or years. A few kind words, a lack of being poked and prodded by new jabs, and a conscious effort to focus on the positive brought me back to myself.

Sitting in my backyard, enjoying a warm breeze on a sunny day, I looked at the deep green that surrounded me and the blue sky above. I thought of the beautiful life I’ve built here. I thought of my job – contributing to the health and well-being of people, and also being a small part of a program that drastically improves the lives of Parkinson’s patients. I remembered all the good friends who reach out to steady me when I stumble. I thought of how full my life is, and realized, whether or not I ever earn a cent from my writing, I can never be called a failure.

To put it in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is Success?
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.

No longer misguided by my ego, I’m successful in the ways that really matter.

Cheers to Dave, Jon, and I for surviving television and finding our way back to life.

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Savoring Life

Finally! The mix is right.

A few weeks back we had a girl’s night out… at my house, which I guess for me made it a girl’s night in. A portable firepit was brought over and we sat in my backyard on an unseasonably warm February night and had a marvelous time – telling stories, laughing, and just enjoying a night of friendship around the fire. It was so nice, i realized the next day that I wanted my own portable firepit.

When I got a larger than expected tax return, I decided to take a little piece of it and get a firepit. The first night it was operational I sat there, basking in firelight, leaning back in an adirondack chair, looking at the stars through the bare, siloutted branches. My cats were excited to be outside after dark and flitted around my chair as they explored the place at night. Then it hit me. I finally got it right.

Back when I lived in LA I would spend 99% of my time in an overcrowded, noisy, competitive, and lonely environment. The other 1% was comprised of when friends and I would head up to a cabin in the mountains, or a tent in the desert. Sitting by the fire, or listening to wind in the pines in the morning, I would think, “I’ve got it all wrong. Out of the city is where I’m whole. This is where I feel happy. This is where i can breath. I need to spend 99% of my time here, and 1% there. What am I doing?”

Sitting there at that fire in my own backyard, I realized I had finally done it. Any night the weather cooperates, I can sit by the fire. And just about any morning, I can sit on my sunporch and listen to birds and/or wind in the trees. I was able to step back from a fast-paced life and high-paying job and tranistion into a slow-paced life with far smaller financial rewards.

At one point, while recently getting my college degree, it occurred to me that I was probably the only student at the school who was getting their degree with the knowledge that they would use it to earn less money. It goes against everything our culture tells us we should do, yet it is what led me to joy. It’s made me think. Where did we get this idea that life is about toil? Talking about how busy your are has become a badge of honor. Hard work is admired. Savoring life is not. Every generation sacrifices themselves so that the next generation will have it better. However, rather than having a better life, the next generation, learning from the previous, then sacrifices themselves so that the next generation has it better. And so it goes, lifetime after lifetime after lifetime sacrificed. At what point does it stop and a generation actually get to savor the better? It isn’t just our individual lives that are on a hamster wheel, it’s our entire culture. Maybe the best thing we could pass on to the next generation isn’t a better life, but living life to its fullest.

Now I fiercly defend my slow-paced life. I balk at over-scheduling myself, even as I feel guilty for doing it. I know my friends are going from morning to night, and if they do it, why shouldn’t I be willing to do it? And then I remind myself… that’s not the life I want. I didn’t come here to run, run, run. I came here to live, maybe for the first time in my life. Savoring life is a glorious way to live.

The mix is right. Finally.

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Homeless

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about home. The other night I was driving “home” to a house I rent in a town where I was a stranger a year ago. The road to and from work has already become familiar enough that I can mindlessly drive it, but put me on a road just a few blocks away, and I would be in completely unfamiliar territory. In fact, most of the city is still a mystery. How can I call that home? Do I have a home?

According to Mirriam-Webster, home is a place where one lives. Simple. If that’s the case, then yes, my home is the rented house in a new town. However, the word ‘home’ is filled with so much more meaning in our culture than that simple definition. Sanctuary, refuge, a safe place where you can be yourself – that is all tied into the word ‘home.’

Then there’s “home is where the heart is.” That’s a lovely sentiment, but without my own family or spouse, it still leaves me drifting. It leads right back to asking myself, “What is home, and do I have one?”

Is home the farm where I grew up? That one was easy. No. In fact, I felt so out of place in my community, school, and even family that from the moment I knew I could go somewhere else, I started dreaming of my escape.

At 17 I made that escape to college, and never looked back. I felt I belonged in my college community, and reveled in the friendships I made there that have lasted a lifetime. It’s good to visit those friends, and there is a sense of coming home to people who know me, but it’s still not home.

Perhaps my home is Los Angeles, where I lived longer than any other place. However, in a city of millions, I was no one’s priority, and when I needed help I was usually on my own. Life there felt like a 25 year walk on a tightrope without a net. There was no place of refuge – no soft place to land. When I think of going home, LA definitely does not come to mind.

Which brings me here. Is Missouri home? For the moment it is. It’s where my bed is. It’s where my stuff is. I feel accepted and supported. If I were to fall, there are people who would try to catch me. It’s where my rented house actually provides me security and a safe place to be. But is it home? I’m not sure.

Looking back over my life, I realize that my early experiences of not fitting in have sent me on a lifelong quest to find home. Perhaps it is one of those journeys where I will realize one day that I was always home. The only thing I know for sure is that If I were Dorothy, and clicked my heels while repeating, “there’s no place like home” I have no idea where I would wake up. For now, Missouri will do, and with time perhaps it will become home.

Where is your home? What makes it home to you? What wisdom can you share about finding home?

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Ebb & Flow

One of the things many of us forget quite often in our chase for happiness, is that life is in constant flux. I’m not sure why many of us believe that happiness and contentment are just a goal away. Once we achieve X, then life will be good. For a while it is. We revel in our new state and think this will be how life is until we die. That’s why it seems so shocking when sometime later stress piles up and things aren’t going so well. Then you think, “Wait a minute! I had this figured out!”

Nothing is ever static. Whatever you’re feeling today will probably change tomorrow. I’ve been doing better about remembering this. Experience has shown that any time there’s an improvement in life, the euphoria from the improvement lasts about six months. Then it’s back to the same old happiness set-point. Something too many people forget is that “this too shall pass” applies to joys as well as sorrows. So, I watched for this shift after my move. Still waiting…

There were small dips along the way, but in general, my joy and contentment of living here has not faded… until the holidays. There were a variety of stresses going on in life at the time, which led to some insomnia.  A part of me was shocked at how quickly my frustration levels rose again. I thought I was back to my old, happy, chill self. It felt slightly embarrassing that my stressed, less-than-my-best-self came back so quickly.

Then I was surprised again when life settled back down and the joy and contentment returned. I was cooking in the kitchen one night when I was suddenly overwhelmed with the joy of it. I find such pleasure watching foxes, geese, joggers, dog-walkers, drone-flyers, metal-detecting treasure hunters, and today – a flock of turkey vultures, doing their thing in the park across the street.  After having an LA-style 45-minute drive going home in an ice storm, my 10 minute commute suddenly seemed notably wonderful again. With the return of the sun, I feel excitement at the coming spring. There will be thunderstorms, afternoons and evenings spent on my sun porch, fire flies, long walks, and all manner of critters singing me to sleep in a thunderous chorus every night.

It’s the same with my novel. While it’s a constant project that never leaves my mind, it definitely has its ebb and flow too. As discussed in my last post, sometimes I’m slogging, sometimes I’m flying. I’m trying to understand the shift. Does slogging mean I’m off course? Just haven’t had time to daydream so I don’t know where the story is going? Or is it just the normal ebb and flow of life.

I am back to a bit of a slog at the moment. Thankfully I’ve learned to fill that time with editing. It frustrates me when the word count doesn’t rise as quickly as I think it should, but the editing has to get done too. Experience tells me eventually an idea will spark and I’ll be off to the races again.

The trick, I’m learning, is to simply relax into it. It’s like surfing. When the wave is coming in, paddle like crazy and catch the ride. And when the water goes back out, let it take you past the breakers so you can catch the next wave. Don’t worry about either phase. They each have their role. Just relax. Whichever state you’re in, this too shall pass. And so shall the next one. Ebb and flow – that’s just life.

 

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Wading Through

Well, we did it. We muddled through the holidays and made it to the other side. Thank goodness we don’t have to do that again for another year.

Sometimes lessons seem to come in clumps, and lately the clump I’ve been dealing with is wading through the muck. Just keep moving forward and eventually you make it through to solid, and usually better ground.

The first noticed lesson on this subject was when I went back to college at 48 years of age. In some ways it was incredibly easy because I was finally studying a subject I loved. In another way it was incredibly difficult because I hadn’t read critically or written an essay in almost 30 years. Week after week I would face an assignment, tell myself I just couldn’t do it, and contemplate dropping out of the class and trying it again later. Week after week I would realize that would set me back from my desired graduation date and I would give it another try. Week after week I waded through the muck and felt proud of the papers I turned in. It became obvious that if I was willing to wade, there wasn’t much I couldn’t accomplish.

When I decided to pick up and move, I knew there would be a lot to coordinate to make that happen. It was overwhelming. It was scary. So many decisions to make. So much hard work ahead. So much upheaval to go through. I just knew I wanted what was on the other side of that upheaval more than I wanted to continue where I was. So I made one decision at a time, dealt with one unpleasant task after another, and surfed the waves of upheaval. I slogged through the muck, and somehow made it all happen, and pretty smoothly, too.

Most recently I discovered the power of the wade in my writing. Here’s how it goes for me with story inspiration — the idea hits. There’s a brain high that goes with that. The mind starts playing out the story. It seems fresh, original, exciting, and I can’t wait to tell this story. Then, as the high fades, reality sets in. Some of those ideas I had under the influence of an idea are ridiculous and won’t work. When I find enough that does work, I can start. However, once it becomes a daily slog through the muck, it becomes more like work. The excitement fades. It’s just trying to add more to the word count every day.

A couple of months ago, as often happens at this low point in story telling, I got hit with another idea for a book. That idea high kicked in. I wanted to jump ship on the boring slog, and start working right away on the new idea. Thankfully I have enough experience under my belt to know that would be foolish. I’d hit the slog soon enough with the new idea.

So I waded through. Day after day, step by step. Not to say I didn’t do a little research on the side for the new idea, but I didn’t stop working on the old idea. Miracle of miracles, there was an end to the muck, and I didn’t have to wait to finish writing the book.

No, right in the middle of the muck I hit solid ground. I got to the point where I can’t wait to write, because I can’t wait to hear the next bit of the story. With screenwriting I had become a slave to a pre-planned, intricately outlined story to assure I hit all the right beats. Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” took me in another direction, one where you let the story tell itself. I think I’m beginning to master that process, because I’m really and truly excited to know what happens next. Such an exhilarating feeling. Last weekend I discovered a character that I’d included… for what reason, I had no idea. I often considered cutting him… this character was vital to the story, and would have a major character arc. Who knew? The power of organic story-telling is heady.

I think I’m finally getting it. No matter how hard the road ahead seems. No matter how much you want to just give up and crawl in bed and cry, if what you want is across the muck, it’s totally worth it. Put on your hip waders, take one step at a time, over and over and over and over. The goal is always attainable, if you’re just willing to wade through.

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Happy New Year’s Eve Every Day

Today is the day we Earthlings have arbitrarily decided is the end of one period and the start of a new one. It would probably make more sense to choose the Winter Solstice. That is the day the earth begins to turn it’s northern hemisphere, where we live, back to the sun. However, the pre-Christian Romans chose this day to honor Janus, the God of new beginnings. Then when Pope Gregory XIII came along, he took over that day to remember the naming and circumcision of Jesus, despite the fact that it probably didn’t happen on that day at all. So here we are, celebrating a day as the end of one year and the start of a new year, and pretending somehow that tomorrow will be so very different than today because we use 2016 at the end of the date.

Many people use this arbitrary day to start over, set goals, and make resolutions for what they want to accomplish. It’s a noble endeavor, other than the fact that most of us never really start over, our goals fall away, and those resolutions get broken almost immediately. We just keep doing more of the same, over and over.

I went into 2015 knowing that wouldn’t be the case for me. I had known for some time that our show was ending. I knew there might be a possibility of continuing there, but I also knew that would mean the end of who I truly was. I would be lost forever. Because I had time to make other plans, I was able to set a new course. Looking back, I can see how it all came off as planned, but of course last year at this time, I had no idea if it would work out. I planned to sell my house, but you never know if that will work out. I planned to move across the country, but had no idea if I would really like it in Missouri. I worried that I had been so unhappy for so long that it had become a part of me. I looked forward to 2015 with excitement and some fear.

Now looking back over the past 365 days, the job did end, the house did sell, I did love Missouri, and most thankfully of all, the unhappiness fell away almost instantly and I recovered my true happy, optimistic nature with ease.

Looking forward, I hope the next 365 days brings a cessation of sugar eating, better water intake, less fast food, more exercise and generally better health. I also plan to finish my novel and begin the process of publishing it.

There is no magic about tomorrow. I could have been, and have been, starting those goals now… Well, not the no-sugar thing, but I admit I am weak when it comes to traditional family-made Christmas treats. And the cold weather while visiting family in the frozen tundra didn’t help with exercising. I don’t do frigid cold, which is a big part of why I didn’t move closer to home.

At the end of this arbitrary period, we all look back on the past year and reflect on what we did with the time. It’s over. We can’t change it. We can only accept and learn from it. Yet today, and every day from here on out, we will be creating our year. Our goals and resolutions are long term, but we must not forget that these grand goals are only accomplished day by day. What will you look back on? What will you do? Who will you be? Each choice you make will create the New Year’s Eve you have next year. As stated in the song Unwritten – “Today is where your book begins, The rest is still unwritten.” Write your book well.

So happy new year’s day today and every day. It’s where your next New Year’s Eve reflections will come from. Make it one you’ll be happy with.

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