Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thankful. That's all. Really Thankful

Thanksgiving is over.  Oh, there's still plenty of leftovers in the fridge, though I've done my best today to put a sizable dent in the stuffing, the bacon sage brussel sprouts and the apple pie.  It was a day of baking and pretending to watch football while really focusing on knitting and baking.  It was a day to spend with my family - my mom, my dad, my grandma and my boyfriend, Greg.  And it seems like it was over all too fast, that somehow, we should just be getting up from the table laden down with food, but here I am, passed the big meal, past two leftover feasts and almost ready for a meal with a different set of food components.  So instead of going to bed, I find myself here, reflecting on this particular Thanksgiving, because it passed so simply and easily after a battle of a year to get here and I'm thinking about the things I'm thankful for, because I realize I said one tiny thing when we went around the dinner table but there is just so much more.

That tiny thing is not so tiny, well she is, my little wisp of a grandma, but her presence is huge.  And I am so thankful for her.  At 96, when most of us have closed up shop and settled in for the LONG winter's nap, she's still out till the cows come home partying like a rock star.  Seriously, she has a better social life than I do.  We could all learn a thing or two from Mimi - like don't stop.  Excercise so long as you've got limbs to move.  You're never too old to drop a few g's on a macbook air and an iphone so don't forget how to use email, she's got it down better than some of my peers.  And really, just keep living like life is fun.  We'd all do better to take a little of her attitude to heart everyday.  I love having her in my life.  How can you go wrong with a grandma who's down for some sushi and a pedicure?

But there's more.  I am, and I know it sounds over the top, but I am so beyond grateful to be alive.  And to have the standard issue leg I came with.  I almost didn't have either of those, and that doesn't always hit me, but then sometimes it does and I just sit still for a minute and think about not being here.  It makes the tough stuff melt away for a minute or two.  That's all usually, I'm no superhero.  I hate the aches and pains, the struggle through rehab.  Normal stuff pisses me off too - I swear in bad traffic, have been less than polite to inept front desk workers and frequently fall victim to petty jealousy, fear or anger over the mundane.  But that's just life.  So it's kind of awesome, when you think about it, because I get to live it and have all these petty, silly feelings, and that's a victory.  Though I'm thankful there's this bigger thing that pulls me out of my everyday many times a week and gives me the kick in the pants reminder I need that the life you have isn't always the life you get to keep.  I thought I'd already learned that one, but I guess I needed the first person approach.  Duly noted this time.

And, yes, there's still more.  Because I'm thankful for the people around me, the ones I've argued with, the ones I've married myself to in business, the ones I've been friends with for years and years, the new ones I just made, the ones I'm related or almost related to and the special one I fell in love with.  Sharing my joys and fears, facing the challenge of confrontation, helping others, leaning on some, learning to communicate and work together in both business and love partnerships, it's all been rewarding, scary, awesome and a hell of an education.  I am a better, stronger person than I was a year ago and that's because of you.  You know who you are.  I've learned that sometimes you let go and sometimes you hang on, because when you've got the right team, it might be a wild ride with ups and downs, but it's all worth it in the end.

I thought I knew what scary was.  I thought I'd already been down the rabbit hole to the darkest places and come back out.  I didn't realize I was still hiding in the shadows, just inside the edge of the opening.  I know what scary is.  I know fear.  I stared down both sides of that, pardon my french, two-faced motherfucker.  And I'm still here, some days hanging on better than others, but still here, and I think that's something to be proud of.  A good place to put my feet in the ground and start walking forward.  Yeah, it's still baby steps, once in a while a leap or two, sometimes, who am I kidding, oftentimes a tangent here or there down a side road for a bit, but I always get there somehow.  I just have to remember what I've learned: that sometimes you gotta hang on, that the life you have isn't always the life you get to keep, and that really, the best thing you can do, which is a proven theory from a 96-year old, is just keep living life like it is fun.  It's like a monkey on a vine, hang on and swing baby, hang on and swing.

Monday, February 18, 2013

On Writing...

It’s been a while since I’ve been here.  In front of a blank page listening to the sound of the keyboard as I try to tell a story that isn’t in the form of an instruction manual or a marketing letter.  You might call it a creative writing rut.  I’ll just blame it on the opening of a new business, an untimely emergency appendectomy and an onslaught of holidays, all falling between October 28th and January 12th, better known as the toughest part of my year.  But if I’m going to finish my memoir, a challenging task under the best of situations, I’m out of excuses and it’s time to get back to the creative business of creating.

Don’t ask me why I was reading it, but February’s issue of Cosmo had a little segment on how to get started on turning a goal into a habit, using writing a novel as the example.  Timely and convenient for me, though I’m not sure about the majority of the Cosmo reading population.  At any rate, they suggested finding something to act as the catalyst before you start writing each time.  Something to connect to that will help mark the activity as a habit.  Then pick a reward to give yourself at the end of the activity to reinforce your good behavior.  Okay, I can do that.  I feel a little like a puppy in training but I’ll give it a shot. 

So this afternoon, I headed to the little exercise room next to my office.  It doesn’t get much use these days because I now have my own giant exercise room, also known as Crowbar Cardio.  But this tiny little corner holds my super-fancy yoga swing.  Yes, yoga swing.  As in yoga, not anything else you might be thinking.  I figured it was as good a catalyst as any, if not pretty brilliant, all things considered.  I would invert for a few minutes before writing.  A good dose of blood to the brain would do the trick, it would raise my energy level and hopefully boost the creative mojo.  I could definitely use some mojo.  I hung there in the dark, in an upside-down, feeling a little like a bat, thinking creativity boosting thoughts, till my head felt a little swimmy, and then slowly pulled myself and walked carefully to the computer.

And then I stared at the screen.  At the pages already written.  At my notes, which were an interesting challenge to decipher.  I wrote some more notes, a little more legibly this time.  I rearranged some things on the screen.  I wrote about three new sentences.  An hour and a half slowly crawled by.  It was hard.  Part of me wanted to bolt out of the seat.  But at the same time, it felt good.  In that way that something really hard means, well, something.  As I looked at the words on the page, I felt pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, and optimistic about what lies ahead.  I quit after 90 minutes.  I was supposed to do two hours, but nobody’s perfect on the first go.  I rewarded myself with a Girl Scout cookie.  Okay, two.  When the box is empty, I’ll have to come up with something else.  When the going is tough, and it will be, I’ll have to come up with something bigger and better.

A few hours later, as I drove to the studio to get ready to teach class, I thought about today.  I thought about writing a blog today, it is Monday after all, and I remembered that I once wrote about leaving Los Angeles and how it was kind of the end of a love affair – like I was breaking up with someone after a long relationship.  It got me to thinking that writing is kind of like a great love affair, at least it is for me.  It’s scary to find yourself in a great love affair.  What if you fail?  What if the words don’t come?  It’s going to be hard and there will be days when you can’t write a word, don’t know how the page, let alone the chapter or the whole story, is going to end.  But just like in a great love affair, you have to try, you have to persevere.  You have to keep writing, even when you don’t know the next word.  Because you don’t want to live without it.  Every word, every sentence, no matter how awkward or faltering, is another piece of your story on the page.  And, like a great love affair, when the sentences flow beautifully into one another like magic, as if they can’t run fast enough out of your fingers, every challenge becomes worth it and every fear falls away unfounded.  And in those moments, life is just a little bit perfect.