Recently, I read “Becoming…” by Michelle Obama and it has helped me to not only see the former First Lady in a new light, but look at my own story with less judgement and more honesty.
How did I become a woman who not only embraces her curves but also her gray and silver hair? How did my fourth decade on this earth become the one where I feel more at home with myself, my past and my pain? How did I become a person who takes selfies at the gym?
One blog isn’t going to answer that question. Ten blogs won’t, but that isn’t the point. Becoming or being my true self isn’t about reaching a mystic destination. It is about excepting where I am, where I’ve been and working on being the best version of myself. My New Year’s blogs were about goals. Goals are about getting closer to the version of myself that I wanted so many years ago.
There is a TED talk about being the person that you needed as a kid. I am not sure the person I was then would have had the strength to listen to who I am now and who I am becoming. So much of my life has been defined by lost. Something I learned to do from those around me. The lost of loved ones, a home, innocents and so on. It is a long list. I don’t know if she would have been able to conceive of actually living life closer to her Aunt Judith’s life than the one her mother and grandmother lived.
I love the life I have right now. I love going to the gym after work with my little brother. I love living in a house where we eat dinner together several times a week and walk the dogs around the high school track. I love waking up and being able to see the mountains. I love how the moonlight touches the corner of bed at night and how even though depression and anxiety are still deeply entrenched in my psyche, I am better today than I was last year.
Last night, I challenged myself to write a hundred words on the current project after having spent the last three days sick. I did it and a bit more. Today, I went to the gym without my little brother and pushed myself to complete our normal routine. Tomorrow, I am not sure what I am going to do, but I will do something.
I have become… no, I am becoming the person I needed to be when I was younger. The one that pushes through the mental muck and finishes what she started. I do it little by little, with a plan, but also with a mirror. One that reflects the whole me not the me that I want to be or the me that I fear I am, but one hundred percent me. The good, the bad and the depressed. All of me including the scars is beautiful. And it is that me that isn’t going to stop working towards her dreams and goals.
I may get sidetracked by cold or by a hectic day at work. I may given into my personal demons from time to time. Still, I am not going to stop working or becoming.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.
This last year has been rockiest of my life. In early July 2017, I wrote about my heartbreak when my relationship of over a decade ended. By early August, I had decided to move.
It was a long time coming; little of the move had to do with my Ex. He only helped in determining the place. My beloved fairy godfathers had offered several times to help me move back to Virginia and get settled. Looking around, I realized that there was nothing holding me back anymore. Well one thing, telling Papa that I was going.
September came with Hurricane Irma. My little yellow house, my precious little house survived the night. The power lasted until 5:20 am. It flickered on and off until going out with a crack. It stayed off for four days, I was out of work for a week while they worked to restore power.
On the second day after the hurricane, I got a roommate and lost my office. It’s a long story and only parts of it are mine.
One causality of the hurricane was my purple PT cruiser. The hurricane froze the brakes then electrical system decided it wanted attention. For two weeks, I had to pop the hood every time I stopped the car to remove a fuse.
My incredibly wise sister convinced to go looking for a car. I came home that day with a new car. The man who sold it to me turned out to be a distant cousin. (thanks again, Cousin Martin) Papa was there helping me make one of the biggest purchases of my life. It was one of the last times we went out. The next time would be my birthday.
Since May 2017, Papa’s was growing worse. His cirrhosis which we were lead to believe was treatable was not so willing to be treated. He was and out of the hospital. The road ahead for my parents looked bleak and was bleak.
My second year as a middle school teacher wasn’t going any smoother than the first year. Mentally, I was checking in and out at work knowing that I won’t be at the school for another year. Professionally, I had a lot of things to do to prepare for my move. Motivation to move was strong. The motivation to do the things necessary for the move was not. The paperwork for my new teaching license was left to the last minute.
Eventually all the change meant putting my plans to start a page on Patreon on hold. I was writing, but not finishing much of anything. I couldn’t see myself asking for me to support my heart if I wasn’t producing it. Starting and not finishing projects. My mind was too scattered. My life was being to be summarized by a series of things that I couldn’t get myself to do.
Thanksgiving came and Papa was in the hospital. We celebrated our last Christmas as a family and then Papa went into the hospital for the last time.
He passed on January 8th of this year. Momma, my brother Eric and I were with him. The whole night remains surreal.
Two weeks after he passed, I reconnected with an old friend. Not only did I have a mini adventure on Sanibel Island, but I am now planning on going to France next summer.
June 15th, I moved back to Virginia. Papa wasn’t told I was going. It was an open secret before his death. Before I left Momma handed a framed picture of Papa to me. It sits on my writing desk.
I feel at peace here in my new writing nook looking out the mountains. There are walks everyday. The writing routine that was pushed aside is coming back.
I still miss Papa. I don’t think I will ever stop missing the man who choose to be my father.
This Thursday, Papa will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery. Our family hero will be laid to rest with dignity and respect. I can not thank my friends and family enough for their patience, love and understanding this last year. The brightest spots in the year were because of all of you.
My heart broke recently. If my life was a book, the reader would have seen it coming before me. They might have been screaming at me to see what was a happening. Cursing at me for seeing it myself. Most of my friends did. They saw the doom on the horizon and braced themselves. But, I am stubborn and kept sailing toward it; right off the edge.
Once I love someone I don’t know how to stop loving them.
So I cry. I write. I cry. I plot and I write. I’ve done a lot of writing in the past week. Last night is the first night since it happened that I got any sleep.
In years past, I would have pour everything into expressing that heartbreak as if that is all I am a broken, tangled heart. There would have been lots and lots of bad poetry. Some drunken texts and heartfelt emails. Tears in the grocery store and at red lights. Days and weeks where I would gave shut down. My work would have been suffering.
Whether it is an increase in maturity, a lack of fucks to give or the way it ended, I am not a hot mess. I am still a mess. You don’t love someone for over a decade to be over it in a week. We first got together when I was twenty-eight. A year out from a devesting heartbreak and I fell completely and utterly in his thrall.
Maybe he is fine, right now. I don’t know. He had been pulling back over the last couple of months. He would say he has just been busy and this is true. As a writer and director, he has a ton of work obligations on top of other things.
From his perspective, I am the one to blame. I see it as both of us, but ya mostly him. I didn’t speak up when things bothered me. He keep putting off phone calls and visits. I looked for and saw reasons to explain his behavior. A recent health crisis only added to the list of reasons. But the postponing of things I needed to stay health in the relationship was a constant. Samantha on Sex in the City might just have turned to me and said “Honey, he just isn’t that into you.”
And she would have been right.
It is also true that I set the pattern where that behavior was acceptable. I was always waiting for him. I wanted to do it. I believe that by doing so I was being supportive. I own my own behavior. I own it so I can forward.
Asking some of my friends, why I got so much venom tossed my way at the end? Why did his last message not only kill our relationship but scorch the earth. It didn’t make sense. I wasn’t asking for much. I wasn’t trying to put anything on him. I just wanted to see him. Yes, I am just as naive and innocent as they statement sounds. That really was the intent of my last communication. I just wanted to see him.
I have waited for the time to be right and finally I got tired of always waiting. I have been supportive over the years to his career. If a job meant that our time together had to be rearranged, I was ok with it. I helped in any way I could. He did support me just not to the same extent. Truthfully, that bothered me.
The physical distance didn’t do communication any favors.
I accepted a smaller place in his world just to stay in it. A place I now realize means that many of the people who call him friend, don’t know about us. So why when I asked so little did I get so much venom.
The answer is simple. It makes this whole thing easier for him. If I am the villain or at least trying to make him one then it is easier to move on. He doesn’t need that negativity. He really doesn’t. If I am crazy and obsessed then he doesn’t owe me anything. It is in his best interest to get the hell away from me. People will congratulate him on getting away from me. If I was cheating on him, something he insinuated more than once over the last couple of months then even more reason to do the hell away.
I am not any of those things. I didn’t cheat on him. If I was approached by someone, I told them I told them I had a boyfriend. I didn’t make a big deal of it. Still I would get text implying that I was?
I did distanced myself as soon as realized what was happening. When I realize that this was the end. I didn’t wait. Weeks ago, I had decided that if we broke again I would do what I needed to make sure this break was for good. I only begged a little and tried my best not to demand answers. Mostly I was in shock.
Would I like those answers? Yes and no.
Yes, because my heart wants to understand. No, because the mind knows that even with the answers the likelihood that I am going to be comforted by them is slim.
Heartbreak gives me insight into my own character as well as how to write characters. Fear has ruled me for most of my life. I could have moved to New York, I was willing to move, I just needed a word from him. I was afraid. Afraid that he didn’t really love me. Afraid I won’t be able to find a job. Afraid I couldn’t deal with being up close to his other partner. Fear of rejection was a big part of the decisions I made. Some of which he didn’t ask me to make. I did it because I thought it would help. I was wrong. Hear that I was wrong.
While he has been in New York for the last couple of years, I dreamed of seeing New York with him. I wanted to go to shows and see the Met. It is one of my favorite museums on the planet. I daydreamed about the changes that live in one of the greatest cities in the world. I didn’t voice those desires to him. I didn’t say that I wanted more than to visit. When he mentioned me being there as an aside. I jumped on it. I didn’t discuss it. I was too afraid. I kept waiting for him to say more.
My own motivations are messy. How could I think that my ex or my characters motivations would be simple?
Sometimes they need to be messy. If they are too straight forward then they are boring. They need have layers just a like an onion and they don’t alway smell pretty. (Thanks Shrek) They have to have that human quality of relatablity.
Recently, I finished reading the Prisoner in his Palace by Will Bardenwerper. It is the story of “Saddam Hussein, his American guards and what history leaves unsaid.” History leaves a lot unsaid.
Saddam Hussein was sadist, a tyrant and a whole lot of evil things. He had two of his son in-laws gunned down after convincing them to return to Iraq. He was also an affable old man who expressed concern for the soldiers guarding him. He even gave one of them his watch before being excuted. He is a villain, but he was also a husband, grandfather and friend. Although, the latter provide to be quite dangerous to many Iraqis.
The book showed the complexity of Saddam’s character and how even knowing the evil that he did, it was hard not to like the guy. Reading it was eye-openoing in a lot of ways. Saddam was a villian, but his motivations were complex. He did awlful things because he thought they were the good things. He wanted the best for his people. His methods were evil. His intents according to him were only good.
Thank you, my love, my characters have just gotten a whole lot more interesting. The character that I patterned after you will still continue to make appearances in my work. I know you were pissed when Anthony was created. You thought people would judge you because of him. You didn’t see that Anthony was one of the heroes. I promise not to take my heartache out on him.
And thank you for all the things that you did to help me on my journey as a writer. This blog is here because you encouraged me. You gave me advice when I needed it. You are an amazing man, writer and friend. I miss you, but I get it.
If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook. Her novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon. You can also find her on Instagram where she posts pictures of foster critters and other adorably evil things.
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.
How does one deal with being so lost that they have finally gotten tired of throwing their hands up in the air? Of starting all over once more. Of staring at the end and knowing how much work it is going to take to make it a beginning. If one is a writer, you write. You talk about it with people and then you write some more.
This is me doing just that.
This is me working it out.
Today, I crossed off 11 of the 14th things on my to-do list off.
I did good, today.
All and all, it was pretty spectacular for someone who has been sleeping through much the last month of her life one of two sofas. My living room is a mixture of items I have been given over the last five years. There are only a couple of items in the room that I purchased. A lamp shade I purchased with an ex-boyfriend from Ikea that looked vaguely like one of the chocolate oranges you see around the winter holidays. It is absolutely hideous. And fits perfectly. It works in the space. It adds something to it The rugs and one of the bookcases as well as the TV make up the rest of the items that I purchased. Well, beyond the books which even some of those were passed on by the dearly departed.
There are a lot of things in my home that came from death. The death of a friend or love one has filled my living room with furniture. My favorite lawyer bookcases and the desk where my TV sets all came from a friend’s parents. They gave me these things after her death because I needed to furnish my new home and they were moving. It was too much for them to stay where she had died. So much of the last two years of her life were spent with them watching her.
I wear a set of rings they gave me everyday. These belonged to my friend. It is my way of remembering her. Of honoring her. I feel naked without them. If I forget these things then I will dash back into the house.
Death and the past are constant companions. Maybe that is why I have such a hard time mapping out my future direction. So much of the home I cherish has come from the past. When you walk in my house, it is clearly that I have an affliction for darker things. I stopped repacking the entirety of the Halloween decorations years ago.. My living room, the first room, that you see has seven skulls in it. One witch, two bats and a couple of dragons. The only room without a skull or something Halloween in it is my bathroom.
Then there are the books. Lots and lots of them. A great deal of them are histories from around the world. Scattered among these are the skulls and various nick-nacks.
My house sometimes scares my landlord. I have been a good tenant for the last five years which combined with being a writer as well as teacher has ensured the good will of the landlord. Thus he has learned to humor me. I may be odd, but I pay my rent on time and don’t cause trouble.
Drapped in death and the slightly macabre my home gives most visitors a sense of peace. What is more peaceful than death? The long sleep. The goal for me in decorating has been to create a place that is inviting. So far, it seems to be just that. I have worried in the past that my collections and love of skulls would turn people off, but as far as I know I haven’t scared anyone away. And if I have then I have no problem with it since they didn’t tell me they were uncomfortable. I can’t fix what I don’t know is a problem.
The map I am trying to layout currently is going to take me away from this place sooner or later. This is the second place that has been totally mine in adulthood. I have lived here longer than anywhere else since I graduated college. Before that I lived with my birth father after my mother and I lost our home. I would spend the next three years living like a guest in his house. My picture rarely made the wall of family photos and when it did, it was only for a short time. If you walked into my father’s home, you would never know that I was his child. There is no evidence of me there at all.
The house I live in now is home. I love the idea of the life that I have built for myself. I am proud of how far I have some in the last couple of years. And then there is the shame I feel for not having gotten farther. Why don’t I own a home? Why do I live so close to the edge? Truth be total, my family won’t allow me to fall too far. They have always been there to save me from rock bottom.
Another truth be told, I have been coasting for the last couple of years. I am smart. This isn’t a bragging. It took me a long time to realize that I am in fact intelligent. My mother and sister are genius so being an intelligent woman runs in my family. I am not a Mensan like them. I haven’t bothered with the test or like my mother has suggested on more than one occasion when I as in therapy had a psychologist sign off on the paperwork. She believes in me. She has always seen the intelligence that has been bouncing around in my head. Years of being talked down to by my birth father, grandparents and the rest of my siblings taught me that if I wasn’t as smart as my sister and mother I wasn’t smart at all. So I never pushed myself academically. It was either sink or swim. I am good at floating.
My mindset was that I only had so much intelligence. There was no way I could be as smart as other people. Talent was something I lacked and could not develop. Psychologist Carol Dweck calls this a fixed mindset. I didn’t really see that I was coasting a great deal of the time just below success. I honestly thought that if I was meant to be successful it would just happen. I never quite got there but I am never far off from it,
Don’t get me wrong, I do work hard. Sometimes I work too much. But that is mostly to make up from having coasted. Or when things really need to get done. Or when I get the energy. Lack of energy has been the theme of the last couple of years. Truth be told, I believe that I burnt out before I ever became a teacher. Ironically, teaching is where I finally began to believe in my own intelligence.
I have been working since I was 12 years old. Given the nature of the employment, I worked long days and made little money (75 to 100 a week), which at twelve was big money since I didn’t have any money. I saved pretty much every penny I yearned for either school clothes or my college fund. I made it through college and went where life and opportunity lead me. I didn’t explore much. Kept waiting for a sign or something. The course catalog was the sign I missed.
Kept waiting dreaming of that door to open. Kept dreaming of it. Didn’t know how to manifest it. People kept telling me I could do this or that. I didn’t believe them. Seriously, I thought because of my learning disablity (dysgraphia) that I would never be a writer. Mmm, who was an Amazon Best Selling Author? And who is going to continue to write no matter what? Me.
I follow some very talented people online. Some of whom I am friends with and the thing about their talent. The secret to that talent is that they work at it. They keep working on it, made mistakes and kept working on it. They do the work. (Thank you, Lisa from Halfmoon Creative Works for reminding of this. )
I wrote Blood Child in a heart beat. I did the best I could. I got help from professionals and friends to make and after months of hard work, there were mistakes. There are always mistakes. No matter how hard you work there will always be typos and things you can do better. You have to learn to do them better fix them the next time around.
The next book is coming slowly, but it is coming. It is going to take more energy and way more work. It is time for me to take the skill I have and begin to refine it. I just need to shake things up and make a new map for myself. One where I am growing. Get out of the comfort zone and back to my happy. My happy often comes from learning new things, traveling and having conversations. Things that my depression and anxiety nearly robbed me of. Things I can’t always do from where my life is right now. From where I have directed my life.
Happy isn’t easy. Happy doesn’t always mean that you feel well happy. There isn’t a glow to it always. My happy maybe more of a flow. When I am flowing, I am growing I moving with my life and better able to see opportunity when it presents itself. I think though for me it is a little bit like the lamp in my living, not always pretty by itself but given a chance a thing of beauty. The trick of manifesting that thing of beauty is seeing the potential, not listening to doubt and doing what is necessary to make it shine. The lamp shade, didn’t natural fit the lamp. The lamp itself had to be taken apart and reassembled. It is still a little wobbly when bumped.
My new map is going to be made day by day. Word by word.
My last post about my current work situation, which is still pretty messed up, but it wasn’t really focused on the ups and downs of being a writer and the need of a day job. There is a myth that if you only had enough time you would be able to get your next book done and that book will bring an end the day job.
It is a myth. Not sure a dream.
The idea of being a writer who is able to rely on their works as your only source of income is both a fantasy and a nightmare. A fantasy because many of us firmly believe that if we just had more time to write then we would be able to accomplish our goals. John Green, the author of Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, found that more time he had the less productive he was at first. Eventually, he found a community of people who helped provide him with the interactions he needed.
To make money as a writer, you have to write. Write, edit, publish repeat. It is easy and nearly impossible all at the same time. Yet, people do it. Just not as many as you may think do it without a day job.
Writers have to hustle to make a living. They don’t just spend their days on their next great novel. They are writing articles, critiquing movies and play and generally doing whatever they need to keep a roof over their heads. Most don’t write full time at least not in the way we like to think they do.
They bust their fingers day and night to make things happened for themselves and their families. They write for magazines, blogs and any outlet that they can. They do talks, pick up gigs here and there and I am sure more than a few can be found behind the wheel driving for Uber. They update their Patreon page and communicate with readers. (Engaged readers are more likely to become fans. Fans buy your books and tell their friends.) They create their stories late at night and in the moments in between whatever they have to do to put food on the table.
In the next couple of weeks or months depending on how it goes, I will be looking for a new day job. I can’t live without it. I need insurance and having rent money is a necessity as well. I will dream of not going back to work after the summer. Dream of spending my days at my writing desk and three hour workouts. Although, truthfully when I have a lot of time to myself I don’t get much writing done. I am, however, willing to try and see what happens provided I win the lottery or my book gets a mega movie deal.
In the meantime, I am going to work harder at making the time I do have count and use my day job as inspiration for my writing. There are numerous characters rambling around my school everyday begging to find their way on to the pages of my next book.
A day job doesn’t need to be a hindrance. Use it as a source for your next work. Write what you know. Take inspiration from all around you.