When there is sun, I rise with the dawn. Winking at it as tendrils of light as they weave their way into my room. Mornings are a time of silent reflection. No, that’s not right. Mornings are peaceful. They are quiet and time seems slower.
I can coax my brain into focusing which is why even with my love of mornings, it is hard to get myself up. If the snooze button wasn’t on my phone, it would broken by now. When my feet finally hit the floor, there is usually only one other person awake. We say morning because who knows if it is going to be good or not. I get my coffee, maybe a spot of breakfast and listen to the radio.
NPR is my drug of choice. During the summer, I listen all morning and well into the afternoon. The only break walking Luke.
Luke knows my routine well. As I write, he has parked himself on my freshly made bed. He will wait napping on and off until I get my shoes. He is a most patient pup.
Often I see things comparing morning people to night owls. My mornings help prepare me for the day. I wasn’t always this way. More than a decade in education has transformed my relationship with the dawn.
According to a 1998 study, cognitively I am doing just about the same as my night owl friends. Although, they may indeed be wealthier. Another study in 2012, pointed to them being more prolific lovers, but also having a tendency to have more bad habits like smoking and drinking. You can read more about larks (morning people) vs owls here.
There are a lot of articles talking about the benefits and success of larks. Contrary to the mythology of morning people, I don’t jump out of bed with a spring in my step. I am not always chipper and coffee is my fuel of choice. I am not healthily, wealthier or wiser for my morning habits as Ben Franklin predicted. It just works for me.
Good friends function quite well as night owls. The early morning or late night depending on your point of view are perfect for them to work uninterrupted.
What works for you? Do you thinks larks are better than owls or vice-versa?
But, they aren’t as bad as I thought. I made a mountain out of a foot hill.
I felt so lost because I didn’t know where I wanted to be. My heart, my love was in New York and I wanted to be with him. I also wanted to be in the mountains. My last message to him didn’t go well. Now, I still don’t know where I want to be as I look around but I know where I am going and things aren’t so bad. Don’t get me wrong my heart is broken. Tears are pretty constant right now. I wake up wanting to have another conversation and re-write my last messages to him. I wanted him to see my intents were good and change the narrative he has about me.
These are things I have no control over. The control I do have is where my focus is.
My narrative. What I tell myself about myself. The way I see things. I don’t see him as a villian or myself a victim. I won’t paint him that way or myself for that matter.
I live with depression and anixety. They are constant companions. Sometimises they invite friends. A panic attack came to visit last night and ended ump staying for hours. It pressed on chest while I was trying to sleep. Flashed images on my mind that forced my eyes open. So I wrote for hours and got most of the way through today’s word count goal.
The moment where I felt so lost I couldn’t take it anymore happened twice. Once for the things I could talk about and once for the things I couldn’t talk about which ironically I can talk about now. Both moments were poured into writing.
Yes, I don’t love the fuck out of my job, anymore. But, I know this and I know the reasons why. I needed to admit how lost I was to be able to come up with a plan. It is a ever evolving thing.
Quitting just because I am not in love with it or because I am stressed out isn’t an option. It goes against everything I was taught growing up. And I have prided myself for my increased ability to take care of my own messes.
A year from now, I plan on quitting my job. Why a year? Why not now? Well, I need to put some things in order before I quit and go on the the next chapter. I have some serious life editing to do. Not everything I want to do is going to get done.
Change is painful and taking a year to make this change isn’t going to make it any less painful. What it will do with a little luck and a whole bunch of work is give me a few more things to deal with that pain.
This is my Papa. I met my Papa when I was thirteen years old. I was already taller than him. And he still had some color in his hair. Since then we have both grown quite a crop of steely gray hair.
According to legend, he fell in love with Momma over homemade spaghetti. She didn’t cook it mind you. He did and he had forgotten to stock up on red pepper flakes. When he mentioned it, Momma pulled a large container of them out of her purse. .
I am not sure how a large container of pepper flakes made it into her purse. Maybe she was using them as a cheap version of pepper spray? Throwing the whole container at would be assailants and hoping that her aim was true to hit them in the eye or at least the shock of seeing a flying pepper flake container would slow them down.
A few weeks or months later, Momma came by to pick me up for an outing with Denny. After Denny came into her life I saw Momma more and more. If he did nothing else he brought my mother back into my life. (But, he did do more)
You see a year earlier, we lost our house. Momma went to stay with friends and I returned from my annual stay at my grandmothers house to live with my father. The separation would last nearly a year. It wasn’t by choice on either of our parts. In the meantime, life became a serious of events where I tried and failed to win the approval of my birth father and stepmother. Every decision I made questioned and denounced as immature and lacking thought. My interests were weird and I was disrespectful. I didn’t know how to please them and eventually just retreated to my books and imagination.
My father and mother had divorced when I was six. He told my mother that he didn’t love her anymore. And she told him to leave. I don’t know what it cost her to do it; to go against everything that she had been taught about life and marriage. She came from the work it out generation. Her parents were married for over fifty years. The only way out of marriage was death. And she let my father go alive. She could have killed him for cheating on him. She could have raged against him. She never did at least not in front of us kids. She told him to go. Told him that he had to go that they weren’t just going to go through a divorce sleeping in the same bed or living in the same roof . She told him to go and where the boundaries were. I love her for that and everything she did that followed to do right by us. We never made it easy.
Sadly in the months following the divorce I blamed my mother and tried to fight her. She rocked and held me close until I calmed down. She didn’t understand that my father had just told me he was going on a business trip not that he was leaving permanently.
My father is not a man known for his sense of humor or love of literature. Actually, I don’t know why people like my father. I do know that he hated my nose was always in a book and wanted me to get out and do things. I wanted to do things. The things in the books I was reading. The characters had horrible lives to be sure (I was a huge VC Andrews fan), but their lives were filled with excitement and love.
Love is something my father still has difficultly communicating to his nearly forty-year old daughter. He rarely says it and every time I hear it, I question whether he is sick or not. Dying being the event that would induce an out pouring of emotion from his tight lips.
Papa has never had trouble communicating his love, frustration or anger with me. It hasn’t always been smooth and he has been so angry at me that I am sure he was seeing cross eyed. I was never the rebellious teen. No, I did all my stupid, worry the parents stuff in my mid to late twenties after I came home to live with them. When I was a pain in the butt, he let me know. And while we will never agree on politics completely (so far we both hate Trump), we always agree on the fact that I am his daughter.
Maybe he didn’t provide half my genetic sequence, but he did provide all the love and support a child could wish for. He showed me what it was like to have two loving and strong parents in the home. He gave me what I missed as a child of divorce the feeling of a strong family unit.
Father’s day is hard on a lot of people. Some people like my Papa didn’t know their fathers or have fathers like mine who won’t accept them for who they are. Papa doesn’t always understand me, but he loves and accepts me. All of me. It is what a father does.
Writing was slow this weekend. Not because Captain A returned, but thanks to a lovely winter cold.
I spent most of Saturday in a hazy followed by a nap. Then another nap. I did make it in to the land of the cognizant for a couple of hours to watch Deadpool with a friend. (Great movie, but please don’t take your kids. Seriously, don’t do it!) I thought about writing, even opened the notebook to begin writing. It was a fail. I ended up crawling into bed and staying there.
Sunday wasn’t much better. Although I did watch two more movies while I was at my sister’s house enjoying some homemade treats and doing pretty much nothing. (Thanks, Zee-Mama) I came home and went straight to bed.
This writer has been laying in bed all morning trying to summon the energy to get into gear. And you know what it isn’t happening.
The dishes aren’t going to get done. The laundry will stay slightly stinky and I will spend most of the day drifting in and out of napping.
And that’s alright. It is ok, to take care of myself and not to push myself. It is ok to let my house get a little messy.
It isn’t a permanent state.
What I can do right now is get some rest and take care of myself. Burning the candle at both ends won’t help the next book get written or grade the student papers. All it will help do is give my cold a lease to stay longer.
Taking care of yourself isn’t a waste of time. It is necessary.
So, it is back to bed for me.
Love and Sneezes,
P.S. Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon. It is only .99 cents for the month of February.
It would be nice to think that when things are going well that Captain A would have no cause to come visiting. The Fraud Police would stay in their precinct and every thing would be hunky dory.
But, Anxiety is an A-hole and doesn’t care about failure the way that it does about success. Success provides it with so much fuel for doubt.
My fellow writers and creative friends know this to be true. We are afraid to do what is most authentic at time because we are afraid of how people will react. How they will see us? Will we face harassment ? For our art, personal appearance or both? Will be reject wholesale for sharing?
Captain A also doesn’t play the same game every time. Sometimes it speaks in whispers. Sometimes it brings us panic attacks. More than one friend of mine, it has brought on the horrors of agoraphobia. For the past couple of months, I have been afraid to see how my book sales have been going convinced that looking would just confirm that my book was a failure. I have advertised here or there, but no plan of attack. I just kept hoping that someone would see it and buy it. Once or twice a month some did.
And slowly but surely, reviews came in. All good. Friends told me how much they liked. One sweet lady who was brought to my book signing by friends has passed the book on to all of her friends who equally loved it. Her words of encouragement have brighten more than one sad day for me.
But, still I thought I was a failure. Or the next book will be and I will be found out. When my new bossed bragged about all of his Amazon offerings, I thought of Blood Child as a sad little book. Nothing to brag about.
Then Bowie died and I made the decision to work more on my writing, my art. Life is too short to wait for the right time. So on a whim, I offered my book, Blood Child for free on Amazon. I didn’t expect much as a result of this as I done this before with mediocre results. Mr. Anxiety predicted that I would get the same results.
Then I checked the unit numbers and over a hundred and fifty people had downloaded my book. Overnight, Blood Child made the top ten on Amazon’s list of Short Reads for Mystery Thrillers. And it stayed there for three days. Over 503 people downloaded it.
For three days, I was a Best Selling Author on Amazon. On day two, Mr. A and his companions, the Fraud Police stopped in. They stayed most of Sunday and only really departed today around noon. I did very little promoting on Saturday. My mind was set on cleaning up my grandmother’s thread case. Sunday, things happened, but I don’t remember working much. There was an attempt at work. Some posts here and there. Monday was spent in the doctor’s off and a last minute push to get my book into more people’s hands. More hands means more reviews and eventually more sales in theory.
I could have done more. A dear friend of mine gave me so advice to help Blood Child stay on top and I didn’t do it. I hear it and didn’t act on it. I was too much in my head. Everything seemed like it was too much. There was a weight on my mind. I felt like I was swimming through my own day. I spend hours not working just watching TV and feeling like I messing up. And I was. Sunday night, I tried to sleep in my new bed and ended up fleeing to the sofa.
My dogs came with me, which was awkward since they out weigh me. Laying there in the chilly winter air being half smothered by dogs I felt ok. Not great, but ok. The kind of ok that you get after you have been crying. I hadn’t been crying. Just beating myself up mentally for all my mistakes.
Like waiting to long to pay my traffic ticket and incurring another fine. For not doing more to promote my book and work on other projects. Not speaking up enough at work and not holding my tongue when it counts.
I could have done so much that weekend and I didn’t. And Captain A and his friends would have me believe that it wasn’t a success that it wasn’t a big deal and in the grand scheme of things it might not be, but you know what I did something. I said “Hey, Universe, here is my book. Check it out.” And it did.
It doesn’t matter what Mr. A and the fraud police think. Seeing my book climb in the ratings even for a couple of days made me feel good. Thinking about it now, I am smiling. I am ready to brag, no, because I still have a long way to go in my writing career.
A long, long way, but I did something this weekend it was a success.
This latest brush with Captain A and his Fraud Police was a light one. I didn’t descent into a full panic attack or depression.
When I wrote “Anxiety and the Writer”, I was a little afraid to put myself out there. Things were going good so why ruin it by talking about good days. Especially when you know that bad ones are coming.
I think the answer is in what author and poet, Cecilia Rodriguez Millanes, has said over and over to her students and readers, “If you are afraid to something, that is what you need to write about.”
When you do that you are finding your voice that authentic voice that all writers and author dream out. The voice that will pull readers into your stories, into the worlds that you have created for them and you create space for others to express themselves.
Friday, seventh period, screams ring out and I go running into a classroom. Not my own.
Not a minute later, it is over and it is time to clean up the chaos.
There are lots of things to say about the forty-five seconds or so of fighting that took place that it is hard to describe the aftermath. Shoes, earrings and weave scattered about the classroom, way too many people looking at us like were were exhibits at the zoo and the expectation that I automatically knew what to do next. I wanted to stay and comfort the senior who might have tossed her education out the door.
Instead, I gave my seventh period a quiz.
The two combatants were largely unhurt. I came out of Room 130 with a few scratches and a kick to the stomach. One of the student’s who intervened ended up dealing with the aftereffects of a punch to the face. It was a turbulent end to a largely uneventfully week.
The weekend was beginning to look like I needed a stiff drink and some quality time with my friend, Jim Bean. I ended up getting a nice long shower, an hour and a half drive to Lake Wales and a down home Southern dinner. There my problems didn’t have any traction and I was forced just to relax and let myself experience the here and now.
Bad things happen everyday. Friday, two students had their emotions erupted and the lava flow took over the science classroom. It could have been the start to a very bad weekend. I had already burnt my hand; the fight at the end of the day just seemed like the icing on a very dry cake.
Then I was given the gift of time. Time to decompress and not think. Not think about the papers that need to be graded or the repercussions for the students involved. There was time for me to take a deep breath. There was nothing I could do for the students after I gave my statement. Their fate is in the hands of administration.
I could be still recounting the fight, instead I am living my life.
How you begin this year should not indicate how the rest of it is going to go. A few bad days doesn’t mean that the whole year is going to suck.
Please remember that as you move through these first couple of weeks of 2016. It is a new year, but the only magical thing that happens at midnight on December 31st every year is an agreed change in our perceptions.
Universally, the decision was made that when the clock strikes midnight everyone gets a chance to start over. Articles are published about New Year’s Resolutions, people share their hopes and dreams, and we all move forward as if something momentous has changed for all of us.
The problem is that we wake up the same people that we were when we went to bed. We have accepted the narrative that while New Year’s is a great time to make changes while also accepting no one is really going to hold you to those resolutions.
Sometime in February the articles on why we didn’t succeed in our resolutions and we will feel better about letting ourselves down.
We have gotten use to disappointing ourselves and looking to others for inspiration. We tell ourselves that if others can do it we can do it and then we beat ourselves up for not doing it.
My 2016 has been a little rough. Yep, three days in and things are a little bumpy.
My first day of 2016 found me in bed after being sent home from my mother’s house for being sick. My family looked at me, declared that I was deathly pale and sent me packing. Not the best way to begin the year, but it is how I began my year.
On the second day of 2016, I tried to dye my hair purple and ended up dying the bathtub and my finger nails. Don’t ask me how, just know that I really did this things.
And today, the third day of 2016, I am cleaning the house with a headache and trying to write a new blog. True, I am sick. True I still have the bills that I didn’t pay staring at me and a house that really needs to me to attend to it. Oh, and I forgot to pay a traffic fine in 2016.
However, it is also true that yesterday, I baked two sweet potatoes that came right out of my garden, that last night I was able to spend time with a dear friend on her birthday and that there is still a pretty comfortable roof, albeit a messy one, over my head. I have gotten myself up every day even when not feeling well and gone for a walk, done some stretches and done some writing.
The good is mixed in with the not so good. Oh and there is a nice pot of chili on the stove.
I think it is important to note not how you begin a thing, but how you finished it and all the little steps in between. And it can’t hurt to listen to the wise words of Julie Garland. Have a great 2016. Make it a great one.