A New Life

Hello lovely readers. Today, I wrote a blog for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge. The challenge this week was to write something with the prompt new life. 

A New Life — 650 Words

When Star turned thirty-one she wished for a new life. She even wished for a new name. The commitments of everyday life seemed too much, and like her name sake, she almost wished she could fizzle out or be sucked up into the nothingness of a black hole.

On a Thursday, she went to her job at Thomason’s Bolts. She sat at the front desk, staring at the wood-paneled walls, waiting for a customer to call or come in. The clock on the wall ticked away, reminding her of how little time she had left to really make a difference.

Mr. Thomason, who had a red mustache despite his head full of black hair, walked in, threw a file on her desk and said, “What the hell happened with the Parker contract?”

Star took a deep breath and stared at him. For years she had been waiting for this moment. She stood up, put her faux Michael Kors purse on her shoulder, and walked out much to the gaping Mr. Thomason’s surprise. She had felt like cussing him out, but instead she walked out with her pride still intact. A silent revolution of sorts.

Star had always trusted her intuition. She trusted it when she met Bobby Dixon at a night club five years back. She trusted it when she walked down the aisle with him two years earlier. She trusted it when she followed him to a Motel 6 on the edge of town three weeks before, and saw him walk into Room 504 with a bleached-blonde tramp wearing hooker heels. She even trusted it as she packed up the boxes in the two story end unit townhome they owned together and walked away from Bobby. Their relationship had grown stagnant, and she knew his transgression was as much her fault as it was his. At night, they had started to politely ignore one another. And she realized their life together had become boring, monotonous even, and who could fathom living out the next 50 or so years that way. Not her.

On Friday, Star sat in the airport. She had turned off her phone after approximately 52 phone calls and about 150 text messages from Bobby. Mr. Thomason had only called her once and left this message, “So I take it you quit?”

Star bought a one-way ticket to Peru. She had been there before. She had been a teenager, on the brink of adulthood, when her parents had dragged her to the rainforest. They had taken her to small villages tucked along the Amazon where they provided medical services for people in need. Her parents had been upset by the poverty of the people. Star had been entranced by the happiness they found in their simple life.

Star couldn’t explain it, but when she stepped off the plane and shook Señor Arizmendi’s hand, she told him not to call her Star, but to call her Zora.  Señor Arizmendi complied, despite the contradictory evidence of her passport.

They took a bus then a boat to the small village. When Señor Arizmendi stepped off the boat, all the children gathered around him, asking for candy and staring with their big brown eyes at Zora. She smiled and patted their heads, and she handed out the candy Señor Arizmendi had given to her in preparation for this moment. The children flashed toothless grins at Zora, and one small boy, who couldn’t have been older than four, placed his pudgy hand in hers and led her toward the one room school house.

Zora sighed in relief as she found her way in this new life. Zora found new meaning in this simple way of life. She found a way to relax and be happy with just being, surviving, teaching, and letting the children help her grown into the person she knew she had always been capable of being.

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In Control

Today’s blog post is a Flash Fiction piece for Terrible Minds again. The assignment is to pick lyrics from one of your favorite songs and use those words as your theme. The song is In Control by Greensky Bluegrass, and the video is after the story. Enjoy!

The Theme:

Though I am not without weakness I will define what lies ahead; I’m not out of control    -Greensky Bluegrass from their song In Control

In Control — 1123 words

What are you going to do when you get out?

His words echoed in my head. Not this, I wanted to respond to his ghost. I didn’t know how much I’d miss Peter. I hadn’t thought the ache would drive me to the needle. I closed my eyes as the liquid seeped into my veins. I could see Peter’s face, his delicate eyelashes that looked too feminine against his scarred face. His bright blue eyes beacons of light which seemed to beckon me back to him.

What are you doing?

I could hear his words, as if he were speaking to me, echoing in my head before the sudden blackness hit me. Too much or not enough, my last thought.

When I woke up I wondered if sheer blackness was what we had to look forward to when we died. I still had a faint hope in God, but why would he give me so much pain? I tried to move but realized my arms were restrained. They took it as a suicide attempt instead of just falling off the wagon.

I opened my eyes and looked to my left.

Peter, my rock, sat in the sunshine next to the window. My eyes struggled against the too bright light to make sense of him there. I had not seen him in months. He looked good, his scar faded slightly, his eyes twinkled, as he leaned forward setting his elbows on his knees. His face emanated kindness and concern.

“Astrid.”

“I’m sorry.” I mouthed the words. My throat felt dry as if I had walked through the desert.

Peter stood up. He looked larger than life. He pushed a button over my bed. A nurse came in wearing a white cap.

“Water.” She nodded at Peter and left.

The wise man built his house upon the rock. The children’s song went through my mind as I gazed at my wise man, the rock, piedra, Peter.

“It doesn’t have to be this way.”

I couldn’t talk. My throat felt like sandpaper. The nurse returned with the water. Peter propped a pillow behind my back and grabbed my elbow, helping me up. He held the cup to my lips and I swallowed the water in one gulp.

“Don’t gulp it down. You’re already weak. You don’t want to throw up.”

“I don’t remember anything.” My voice was scratchy but there.

“Your mom found you. Called me here. It was touch and go at first. But they pulled you through. You were lucky. She let herself in two minutes or so after you overdosed.”

“I guess she’s sending me back.”

“You know it’s a voluntary program. Next time, you get the desire to use will you call me?”

I nodded.

“You know, you’re in control of your life. You’re the one who says whether you live another day clean. Whether you decide to use again. It’s hard. Trust me, I know. I make that decision every day.”

Peter brought his hand up to his face, touching the scar etched against his skin—a constant reminder of his weakness.

“Tell me the story.”

Peter grimaced. “I’ve told this story hundreds of time—to all of my sponsors—but it never gets easier. It’s a reminder to me that weakness has the power to destroy, but can be overcome. Your weakness does not define you. Through my tragedy, I took control of my life. I defined the way I wanted to live.”

He sighed releasing the pain into the story.

“It was Matthew’s eighth birthday. You know, the name Matthew means ‘gift of God,’ and he was. My wife and I couldn’t have kids. Or at least we didn’t think we could. We tried and tried, and when we gave up, Matthew came along. He didn’t seem like other children. He came into this world with his eyes open so wide. He always seemed precocious, like he knew something we didn’t. That day, I had to drive him to Chuck-E-Cheese for his birthday party. I wanted one hit. One hit before I left. I’d done it before, taken him places while I was high. It wasn’t like I was drunk. I felt like I had control when I did meth. Felt like nothing could go wrong. ”

He sighed again. He sat on the edge of my bed, smoothing down the wrinkles on the white hospital sheets and looking over my head.

“But of course, that was just the drug. It made me feel happy–invincible. Or I thought it did. And then we were in a wreck. And Matthew, Matthew who was only eight but acted older, Matthew was gone.” Tears sat in Peter’s eyes.

“I went to jail for 18 months for manslaughter. Driving under the influence. But the worst punishment was losing Matthew. Meg left me. I’d hit rock bottom. And then in prison, I met my sponsor. He took me under his wings. He taught me to forgive myself and to take control of my life again. He taught me to fight against my weakness, my addiction, every day. He told me nothing could bring Matthew back, but that I, like everyone else, deserved a second chance. This scar—” Peter touched his face, “reminds me of Matthew every day, but it also reminds me of the decision I made to change my life and take control. And I know, Astrid, this is only a minor setback for you. I know you can do it. If I can do it after losing everything, you can do it too.”

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” I said, finishing his story for him.

“You have the power inside you to change and to take control. It will be hard to conquer your addiction, but if I can do it anyone can.” Peter said.

He took my hand in his, warmth against cold stone, and squeezed it. In that moment, I felt my blood start pumping again. I felt alive, like I hadn’t felt in months. I felt willingness and control seep back into my veins, passed from Peter to me. Strength, like no other.

I knew he was right. I had to try and believe in myself, to take control of my life, and to conquer the evil that had invaded my life and tried to wrestle control away from me. I had to take it back. I had to become a rock like Peter.

2 Timothy 1:7 <em>For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.</em>

 

 

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On My Mind

I realize I haven’t been posting as frequently. I’ve been working on my novel. It’s slow going. I have 5,000 words, but I’m also doing in depth character sketches. I have an idea of where the book is going, but after juggling several characters I felt spending time on research and character sketches was the way to go.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and I guess this makes me a better writer. But a lot of what’s been on my mind can’t be shared with you all–not at this point. Most importantly, I’m trying to get myself organized in my writing and in my life. I’ve had some issues with my kids, but I try not to write about them in the public sphere unless it’s something positive. I don’t want them reading something later on and saying, “Mom, why’d you write that about me or say that about me?” I find that wholly unfair to them. Especially now that I have an almost teenager. Lord knows my very existence is embarrassing enough to him.

Most days, I still feel like I’m pretending. I feel like I’m pretending to be a writer. I feel like I’m pretending to be a good parent. I feel like I’m pretending to be a friend. I guess writers think too much, which can be debilitating. Maybe I haven’t taken enough risks in my life. I’m timid in a lot of ways (Hubby would say I’m a bulldog, but not where it matters). I always think, “I could have done this or I could have done that, but I didn’t follow through.” Follow through is important. Taking calculated risks are important. I seem to always play it safe. I’m tired of safe.

The other day, Middle Son said, “Maybe when you’re a rich and famous author we can go to London.”

And I said, “It’s hard to become a famous author.”

And he said, “But you will, Mom.” No question in his heart that his mommy would be famous one day. I wish I had the faith my child has in me. I’m endlessly hard on myself. And I fear I’m endlessly hard on my kids too. I’m hard on my friends. I hold grudges for no reason, or because someone said something to me that hurt my feelings. I probably don’t listen enough. Life, success, friendships–they’re all so hard to navigate.

Last week, I decided I would count my calories again and exercise. I ran 4 times last week. I plugged my food into MyFitnessPal–when it was convenient. Again with the half-assedness. I keep asking myself why I’m not losing weight as I stuff another chocolate bar in my mouth! Okay, not really, but at 140 calories for 1 1/4 cup, eating a whole bag of Chicago Mix surely adds up.

I’m not where I want to be with my life, writing, friendships, weight because of ME. I tell my kids that they are responsible for their grades and their schoolwork. I tell them they will do well if they try hard. I tell them the only person they have to blame if they fail is themselves. Yet I can’t seem to figure this out or apply it to my own life.

On the whole, I’m happy, but I still feel like there is something missing. My sister said the other day, “You’re like me, you get bored. You have to be driven.” And that’s true, but my drive waxes and wanes like my moods. Perhaps I have ADHD, never diagnosed. A not-so-wonderful Kindergarten teacher told my mother that I’d never go to college. Perhaps she could see my desire to give up. It seems innate in me. When the going gets tough–give up. When there’s too much work–sit and watch Netflix for an hour. When the kids are driving me batty–run away to a hot bath. But isn’t even saying it’s because this or that a form of blame–a form of not looking in the mirror and seeing my flaws and my positive character traits–seeing myself for who I am: me. I need to face things head on. I need to make the hard decisions and take the risks necessary to make my life meaningful and to feel fulfilled.

But why is that so hard for me to do?

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Embracing My Mess

I’m trying to get myself organized. Today’s post was brought to you by the article in the NY Times Making a Marriage Magically Tidy. I read the post, and then I posted it to my personal Facebook page.

My sister responded, and I quote, “…did you write that article under a pseudonym? That part about the panty liner was hilarious!! Well, we do the best we can, right!”

We do the best we can. That’s what I tell myself on Saturdays when I’m binge watching Netflix but should really be cleaning. Let me tell you, my floors will never be fit to eat off of. There will probably always be a layer of dust on by bookshelves. There will be crumbs on my table. My kids’ toys will be littering the floor until the sad day they ship off to college.

I read that book mentioned in the article, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I rolled up my clothes and put them in drawers. I felt whether clothes sparked joy in me or not, and the ones that didn’t were given away. I threw away A TON of stuff, donated things, and basically went on a mad-cleaning spree for about a month. In Kondo’s book, she said something like (and this is paraphrasing because I read it over a year ago) “no one who has gone through my program has ever relapsed.” Well she never met me.

Several things I learned from Kondo’s book:

  1. She probably has severe OCD
  2. Her siblings most likely hated her growing up – she organized and threw away their things
  3. I’m inherently missing something that makes me want to keep things neat and tidy
  4. When I start to clean I always end up finding a box of nostalgia and falling into a state of schaudenfreude. I find that inherently not worth it. But also could probably fix this problem but just tossing my old memorabilia yet there’s no way I can actually let go of that stuff. Catch 22.

The thing about me is I am at both extremes. When things are neat and tidy, I freak out if people so much as put one thing out of place. It’s a problem. It’s easier for me to have organized unorganized chaos than to deal with the crazy that comes out in me when things are neat. Maybe this comes from being a perfectionist. Or maybe there’s just something wrong with my brain.

Plus, I’ve read the news: kids growing up on farms with dirt have better immune systems and less allergies than other kids. I’m just giving my kids a leg up. They have zero food allergies–that’s something, right?

Seriously though, sometimes I think I need an intervention. I’ve been trying to tidy up my room for 12-18 months. Something always gets in the way. Over that period of time, we culled the toys in the kids’ rooms and helped them clean theirs. But I have a mental block for cleaning out my own shit. I’d like to talk to Helen Ellis about how she got through that mental block. Did podcasts do it? Because I get obsessed with those for like a week, and then move on. Perhaps I have adult ADHD. That would explain why I can’t freaking finish anything to save my life, including my novel, and why I jump from one thing to another. And why I’m such a major underachiever even though I have idealistic dreams of being MORE!

I guess I’ll start this weekend by going through my closet. Then again, I’ve been telling anyone and everyone that I’ve intended to do that for the last eighteen months. Some things never change…

Messy Room

What end of the spectrum do you fall on? Are you tidy or messy? Have you been both? How did you change your ways?

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Intentional

I’ve been working on being more intentional in my life. It’s a thing, you know. I’ve felt, lately, like my life is passing me by. I have a lot of goals, but I haven’t done much to achieve those goals. A friend of mine told me to just write the book (he may have inserted a curse word in between). Friends tell me this often. They don’t realize it’s a process, but they have the best intentions.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I might have done some things differently years ago. That’s called depression. Or hindsight. To quote George, from Life As A House, “Hindsight. It’s like foresight without a future.” I try to tell myself that often. Because nothing good comes from the what-ifs.

When I graduated from college back in the dark ages, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. This big adventurous part of me wanted to go to Bangladesh and get involved in microfinance. But this homebody, security-seeking part of me, wanted to do what was safe and get a job in the United States settle down, get married, have a kid or three, and just be settled. Back then, I chose safety over risk. And, you know, it worked out for me. I have a wonderful husband who cares about me, three great kids, and we’ve built a very comfortable life where we can travel when we want to, provide for our kids, and are generally pretty happy.

Except. There’s always a “but,” right. Except, there’s this part of me that wants to take a risk. There’s a part of me that wants to make a change. Write the book. Change my life. Feel more fulfilled. And for about a month or two, maybe three, I was letting it get me down. I felt lost. And when I feel lost I tend to push people away and watch Netflix and actually chill (not chilling the way the kids teens/young adults mean).

I think this time it got to me because I was having a creative loll. Everything I wrote felt exactly like everything else I’ve ever written. I wrote about unrequited love. Blah blah. Same old, same old, dealing with issues from the dark ages that will never be dealt with. Let it go already, Lauren. Adultery. Divorce. The South. I was just writing without feeling the creative bug whispering in my ear. I was just writing to try to make myself feel better. So I kept getting bogged down in the middle. I wasn’t giving it my all. I wasn’t being intentional. In fact, for awhile now I guess I hadn’t been living intentionally.

The thing is, sometimes things seem dark, and it can make aspirations feel so far away. And sometimes life can feel so overwhelming that we sort of fold into ourselves. About two weeks ago, I decided to make a habit change. I started cleaning out the kids’ rooms. I started helping more around the house. I started putting down my phone at night, not getting on the computer, and sitting down and doing something productive or fun or just meaningful with my kids. And it didn’t help me feel better at first, but it did make me think about them and how I need to give to them. It made me think about how I have this wonderful family, and how we can support and love one another. And I know it made a difference in how they think about me. And I know that it helped drag me to the surface from just-below—that’s something how taking an action can change an outcome instead of just sitting still and watching it all fly by. And slowly, I started taking that intentionality into my writing again. Very slowly. Still slowly.

I’m writing about 500 words a day plus occasional blogs now. But the next thing I need to do is make a plan for how I’m going to get where I want to with my writing. I can’t do that without taking a risk, even if that risk means failure. I don’t want to look back on my life ten years from now and have regret or hindsight about how I didn’t go for it. And it’s hard and it’s scary to put yourself out there. And I’ve never been great at that. I’ve never been great at expressing no or “I want” or taking the ears by the horn cow by the horns – whatever the eff that metaphor is– and going for it. I mean, some people in my life would say that Lauren’s “I wants” rule the roost, but not in the important ways. I haven’t been assertive in a way that is meaningful to me. I haven’t been able to get from Point A-B. I always seem to get hung up somewhere in the middle, scared or paralyzed, unable to move forward. This might be called perfectionism. But I’m ready to let go of that fear and do something intentional with my life. Happiness comes from the doing.

The thing is, I don’t want to die wondering why I never went for it. I don’t want to keep wondering why I’m not living my life in the way I should be. I just want to live it instead of watching it pass by. And I have to do that by dropping the woe-is-mes and living more intentionally.

intentional

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5 Second Rule

I’m not one to read self help books. But every now and then I see something motivational, and I feel like it applies to me. Like, remember a long time ago, when everyone was reading The Purpose Driven Life. Then it was The Secret. And I’m sure about a billion others. I never read them. I do have respect for the people who wrote them and who make millions of dollars selling words about how to better live your life. Because that’s what everyone wants to do, right? Live their life better.

Yesterday, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and I came across Mel Robbins. She wrote The 5 Second Rule. It’s the latest in self help books to take off. She makes a great point in this extremely long interview:

From the time you decide to do something, you have 5 seconds to launch it. I believe this is true. She is truly funny when she talks about how she goes from staying in bed to being successful. The interview is worth listening to even if you don’t believe in self-help garbage (I don’t really, but I do think there are some tricks and tidbits that people like Mel Robbins can teach us). Plus, for some reason I love writing about self help, even though I probably need it the most!

If your brain is like my brain, it’s brimming with ideas. You want to start something, but you lose motivation. You want to write a book, but you are risk adverse. Let me tell you something: being afraid of failure and success are probably my biggest weaknesses. The most successful people in this world aren’t afraid to fail. They know it takes failure to get things right. We are flawed humans, and we learn from our mistakes. Living by Mel Robbins’ 5 second rule helps with the initiation process. So say you’re thinking: I want to write a great novel, 5-4-3-2-1, pull the computer up. Don’t come up with all the reasons why you can’t write the novel, why nobody will ever read you, why you’ll never get published. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DO IT! Sometimes, I need to take my own advice.

I’ve been trying to make little changes to my life to be a better person. I’m super messy, and honestly probably was never diagnosed with ADHD as a child. My lack of executive function skills is appalling. This weekend, I’m going to use the 5 second rule to stop procrastinating and to clean up. I’m going to use it to work on my novel that I keep putting on the back-burner. I’m going to use it to set goals of being more present with my kids. Basically, I’m going to trust my first instinct and let all the anxiety, risk-adverse thoughts, and bad behaviors fall by the wayside. I’m going to take the risk to live my dreams.

What changes do you want to make in your life? What goals do you have? How could you apply the 5 second rule to live a better life?

Initiate. Dream. Live. Risk.

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Thinking Errors

Blame Game

Every once in a while I start to question my ability as a writer. When this happens, I usually take a break from writing. Or I procrastinate. I put my writing on the backburner as if this will solve the confidence problem I have when it comes to my writing instead of just making my confidence plummet more.

This week, my husband went out of town. He works from home. As such, he also does the majority of making dinner and cleaning the house, and he picks up the kids from camp, etc. He is basically Mr. Mom. I’m not sure what I would do without him, because he LOVES doing that sort of stuff and I don’t. I was lucky, because my niece and nephew were in town so we went over to my parent’s house most nights. Taking care of the kids and making dinner became a collaborative effort. Single parents: I have the utmost respect for you. I could not do it.

But my tween seemed to be having a hard time this week. And he was blaming everyone else besides himself. This is common among kids, tweens, and teens. I was upset by my tween’s behavior. I went to the internet to search why he always deflected blame, and why when I addressed it the whole thing blew up into a huge fight between us, ultimately ending with me feeling guilty. And then I read this great article and realized: It’s a classic thinking error. I found out from reading this article, how to challenge thinking errors when dealing with my tween. His classic thinking error is in thinking the whole world is against him. He has painted himself as the victim, instead of the aggressor. He has done this over and over again, because he has limited problem solving skills, probably because his parents (aka me and his dad) have not modeled correct problem solving skills when faced with certain issues, or we’ve been inconsistent in addressing issues when he’s in the wrong. In his way of thinking, when he hits a kid or gets into a fight it’s the other kid’s fault because that kid was “bothering” him. I challenged him yesterday. And I think it hit home. I’m trying to change the dialogue between us so he can start growing up and realizing that making himself the victim is a thinking error and won’t help him in the long run.

And in thinking about this, I started thinking about my own thinking errors. I have no time to write. I’m not a good writer. If only, I didn’t have a full time job, three kids, and 5,000 activities. I’m laying the blame for my failure to write everywhere else besides in myself.  I’m not taking responsibility for the fact that I’m ceasing to create. I’m making excuses. I’m procrastinating, when in reality I have the ability to change the dialogue. I have the ability to tell myself I can write. And I know this, because I’ve done it before even when I was busy. I made the time. I stopped making excuses.

Overcoming thinking errors is hard, because thinking errors aren’t just mistakes. Thinking errors occur over and over again, because we’ve learned to use them as coping mechanism so we don’t have to face the reality of our actions or the intensity of our emotions. People use thinking errors to try to protect themselves from getting hurt. Thinking errors are justification to ourselves when we’re doing something wrong. They serve a purpose of trying to keep our self esteem intact when our self esteem is plummeting. When we don’t take the blame, we perceive an injustice to us that’s not there. When we procrastinate, we tell ourselves that everything else is more important than what we’re meant to be working on. These are all ways to protect our ego and to protect our identity as we see it. But the problem with thinking errors is that they’re destructive. Do we really want to go through life feeling like we’re a victim of our circumstances? Do we want to make excuses or procrastinate until the opportunity doesn’t exist or we feel so hopeless about our own destiny that we throw up our hands and we cease to create, cease to strive for better? I don’t want to be that person.

I’m rewiring my thinking error about writing today. I’m telling myself that I do have time to write. I have time to blog, even if it is 5 words a day. I’m going to stop using procrastination as an excuse not to face my fears where writing is concerned. I’m going to do what I’m called to do even if I suck at it (which I don’t think I do). When we overcome thinking errors, we become more emotionally aware. We also become more capable of being happy, self-confident, and achieving success.

Do you have a thinking error that’s holding you back from achieving success, establishing friendships, or facing your own demons?

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Letting Go

DIGITAL CAMERA

By Camdiluv ♥ from Concepción, CHILE – Colours, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19871961

A few years ago, a movie came out. If you have little girls, you certainly saw it. My own little girl was still really little, and we didn’t go to the movies. Instead, we waited patiently for Santa Claus to deliver the little case with Frozen inside. And we sang and listened to the song a million times: Let It Go. It’s good advice, and if you listen to the song it’s about letting go of fears, expectations, and the past.

As I said in my blog last week, I’m reading The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Kondo writes about how purging and cleaning out allows you to let go of the past and live in the present. Being someone who has suffered from depression for most of my adult life, I have problems with living in the past. I go through times where my past seems to haunt me, almost a present-being within my life, absorbing and sucking all the joys from today. I think we have a lot to learn from the past, but I also think some people, including me get stuck trying to relive the moments that made us happy.

I cleaned out clothes this past week. And I must have had 8 or 9 bags full. I threw out American University t-shirts I hadn’t worn in years. When I held them in my hands, I felt the memories sitting in them taking up space in my life where new memories could be made. I hesitated, and then tossed them. This was a milestone because for me, I have a hard time letting go. When people leave me or move on, and as life moves on, I mourn the past joys, excessively. Recently, I read that happiness is a moment. Those glimmers of sunshine where you know a memory will stick. Humans have a want to hold onto those moments and try to make them permanent when really the beauty in them is their impermanence.

I look at happiness as an action. Happiness has to be created. One has to stop living in the past or the future and focus on finding happiness every day. This can be done by influencing your happiness. Surround yourself by people you love, exercise, smile, laugh, find a sense of humor, be accepting and loving and giving. These are all ways to make yourself happy through action.

I haven’t gotten to the hard part of cleaning out: mementos. Last time I went through all of my writing and letters from the past, I ended up severely depressed. I’m thinking of scanning the letters this time and throwing out the originals. I have letters from my grandparents at camp when I was a kid. I have letters from ex-boyfriends and ex-wannabe-boyfriends. I have letters from friends who are no longer friends. Perhaps the funniest thing I kept was a fax from my mother when I ran out of funds in Spain asking me if I had drank all of my money away (I had). Boy, she knew me!

Since I started purging, my creativity has blossomed again. I don’t think it’s coincidental. I think the act of purging is redefining my desire to be a full time writer. I know writing makes me happy and defines who I am, and in purging I’ve realized the more I run away from that thought the unhappier I am.

How do you focus on the present? What are some tricks you have for letting go? What’s your dream in life?

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Live Life to the Fullest

My car has been covered in pollen for the last week. I’m happy my doctor put me on Singular last week, because I haven’t had one headache. I’m feeling a little down today, because over the last few weeks several people I’ve known have died. People who died who shouldn’t have. Or people who died suddenly.

I love the spring time, because it’s a time of rebirth. And when I’m feeling the impermanence of life it makes me feel better when I see trees sprouting green leaves, flowers blooming, and even the pollen on my car. Spring, to me, always seems like the world is opening up to possibilities, giving birth to a new cycle of life.

Every day we have a choice in how we live our life. We can live our life in the past, hemming and hawing over things we cannot change. Or we can have anxiety about the future. But living in the present, being fully there for every moment is what we should strive for, even though it can be so hard to do. When we live in the present, we feel the most alive. When we find awe in everyday occurrences, look for the best in others our lives take on an intangible quality of happiness, pureness, excitement, but mostly contentedness.

The other day, I brought a magazine of bathing suits home to show my daughter. She’s five. She has enormous blue eyes and a smile that can light up any room. I fret over how she’s growing older, because I loved the baby days. I know she will grow up and become an intelligent, beautiful young woman, and she will no longer climb into my bed in the middle of the night, no longer cling to my neck with her dirty five-year-old hands, or look for my lap first thing in the morning. I try to be there for her, but as everyone know parenting is not easy in the busy world we live in.

But this particular day, I opened the magazine, and her eyes glinted with excitement. She pointed and said, with genuine excitement, “Oh my gosh. I love that bathing suit. It’s beautiful!” Her voice wavered at the excitement. And I thought, wow, she has such a lust and love for life. She’s only had five years of experience, and she makes the most of every moment because things to her are so vivid and new in her limited scope of experience. And that’s the kind of awe I’m talking about. A zest for life. The expression on her face that says she’s truly living in the moment, truly eating up what she’s experiencing. Wouldn’t it be great if most adults could do this too, instead of just going through the motions?

Children have a way of seeing the world that adults don’t. They see a sunrise and exclaim, “It’s so beautiful.” “That’s amazing.” They are in awe of the world. Awe-inspiring events happen every day. Don’t lose your awe. Look at the sunrise, think and reflect on the beauty, and live in the present for a happy, fulfilling life.

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Let’s Have a Ball

Meet season is finally over. We sprung forward this weekend, and on Sunday we enjoyed a 70 degree day with the sun staying up until almost 7. We played a game of baseball in the front yard, in which my 11 year old decided it would be fun to peg us with the ball as we ran to the (very far away) first base. This resulted in a lot of screaming and crying from the 7 and 5 year old, a few meltdowns, stern talks, and even a threat of no-dessert. Aww—the joys of parenting.

In case you noticed, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort of blogging and scheduling my blogs. I generally try to write on Mondays, but I was a little late this week. Monday is my top day, because I post it to a discussion on a writers’ group I belong to. I enjoy reading others blogs, especially budding authors and people who I wouldn’t know or even have heard of without the group.

I’m trying to be more deliberate in my life. As you know, because I’ve blogged about it before, I have a problem with procrastination. I tend to be of the camp that if it’s due tomorrow start it at midnight the day before. I sometimes feel overwhelmed because of this, and I’m trying to stop this behavior or at least adjust it a little bit. It’s hard, and I’m not sure I’ll ever achieve this goal in my life. I’m stuck in my ways and have been stubborn for far too long.

This weekend, my son had to attend a Spring Ball. He was not happy about it. In fact, I was ruining his life. But I spoke to him, again, in the fashion of life lessons, of having to do things you don’t want to do. For a parent this is an everyday lesson, but it also led me to reflect on my own life.

You see, Caden, gets a lot of his tenacity from me. I’ve always been a mule when it comes to doing something I don’t want to do: school work, cleaning, cooking. I have a knack for passing these things on to other people. I simply refuse to do these tasks if I don’t feel like doing them. To.this.day! But I often feel guilt associated with that refusal to do tasks that are expected to me (I wouldn’t be a true Southerner without the guilt, right?) And I’m sure Caden has learned his behavior from me. On the way to the Junior Cotillion Spring Ball yesterday, he said, “Why don’t I have a choice? Why are you making me do something against my will?” Oh, lovely tween years. I can’t wait for the full blown TEEN years. But in that moment, when he asked that, I felt bad. I felt bad I signed him up and didn’t ask him. I felt bad, because he’s asserting his independence. I felt bad, because I remembered how I felt when I was forced to do things I did not want to as a child. Powerless. And no one likes to feel powerless.

Dance 1

But it was just one day. Just one dance. And I knew he’d survive. I knew, from the experience of the last dance, that he’d even enjoy it. It’s a good lesson to learn. Sometimes, quite a lot of times actually, as adults we are forced to do things we’d rather not do. And somehow we learn to stop complaining and just get it done, and sometimes we find some fun in it. Even my son learned how to do that at the Ball I made him go to. Smile just a little bit. Have a good time, and realize the sun will still be up when you get home and they’ll be plenty of time to play outside, at least for this brief moment of his life where he still wants to.

Dance 2