Pandemic Birthday #2

Yesterday was my birthday — my second birthday during the ongoing Pandemic. It’s a weird milestone. But then, I think everything, from the mundane, everyday things to the milestones, feels weird right now. How can it be otherwise, in a world that has turned topsy-turvy? I remember, at my birthday last year, thinking, “So it all feels eerie and strange. But next year at this time, I’m sure everything will be back to normal.” And yet, here we are: One year farther along in my own, personal odyssey of life, and, still, nothing is normal.

There was no gathering of friends and family. There was no fancy dinner out with my husband and daughter. There was no weekend trip into the city to celebrate. There were none of the things that we are used to doing and having in order to mark down the special occasions and milestones in our lives.

But there were other things. There were beautiful roses — my favorite! — from my husband and daughter. There was a lovely and cheerful Spring bouquet from some dear friends. There were phone calls from family and well-wishes over Facebook and text. There was a rainy, chilly day spent feeling cozy and comfortable in my office space as I worked on nail photos, wrote a nail blog, and watched a show on Amazon Prime BritBox. There were cuddles with the dogs and the cat. There was a beautiful cake ordered by my sweet husband and watching movies with my little family. There was a session of Zelda: Breath of the Wild with my daughter, staying up late to watch videos on YouTube, and reading a good book before I finally turned in for the night … or early morning.

In all, it was a quiet day, quietly spent with those I love the most in the world. And you know what? I think it was just what I needed. I needed some time for my brain to sit quietly, forgetting the constant anxieties of making sure people are 6 feet away from me or whether I remembered to bring my mask, or whether my elderly parents are able to stay safe. I needed some time to take a deep breath after a tough work week and enjoy puttering around doing things I love but so often have to put off to a time when I’m not so busy. (And you know what? “Not so busy” never seems to come!)

I wonder if, maybe, this is “normal” now — a “normal” that is quieter and hums contentedly in the background. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I do miss the “normal” of my recent past, from before the pandemic. I miss not having to wear a mask and, especially (!), not having to be afraid of catching a virus that might kill me or those I love. I miss being able to head out to eat in a restaurant or go to a bar whenever I want, without having to worry or plan ahead. I miss being able to travel for a weekend trip on a whim. I miss seeing friends and family in person. And, yes, I do miss those more public types of milestone celebrations that we blissfully enjoyed in the past.

And yet, this new “normal” is lovely, too. There is something graceful, beautiful, and comforting about celebrating a life milestone quietly with those few people you love the most in all the world. There is something soothing about celebrating yourself with the kindness of spending time doing things that you love and that bring you joy. For me, I feel like these things got a little bit lost in the past.

If we get past this pandemic and are able to go back to our old “normal”, will I be unhappy about that? No — not in the least! That’s not what I’m saying at all. But I think it’s important to stop and think about and realize all the beauty that is in our new “normal”, too. I suppose the point, for now, is just this: It was a good birthday. And I am ready to face another year.

A Pandemic Birthday …

It was my birthday last Friday (April 10, not April 17). Honestly, I’m not much for birthdays, in general. I love to remember and celebrate my husband’s birthday and my daughter’s birthday. But I have never gotten all that excited about my own birthday. I believe I have mentioned this before. I have probably mentioned it once a year in here — you know, in connection with other birthdays. I didn’t go back to check, but it seems like the kind of thing I would say. It seems like the kind of thing I would feel obligated to say, in a way. I mean, most people love their birthdays. I’ve always felt kind of weird and out of step in this regard.

This year, it was a strange birthday. Even for me. I always like a quiet celebration with just my little family. And, of course, we had a very quiet celebration this year, since we are all still social isolating. Or quarantining. Or social distancing. Or … whatever you want to call it. My husband sent me a beautiful bouquet of roses. We took a walk together as a family. I FaceTimed with my parents, who were supposed to be visiting us for my birthday but, of course, couldn’t. My daughter waited on me hand and foot for the entire day. We had ice cream sundaes and take-out from a couple of places I particularly like in our new town. And we watched two movies together. All in all, it was a lovely, sweet day. In so many ways, it was perfect. I think I will have warm memories from it for many years to come.

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As I went to bed that night, it hit me that the day had felt entirely normal. For once, I didn’t think about COVID-19. We didn’t watch the news or read reports about new cases in our county and state. We didn’t scour the internet in search of toilet paper and paper towels. My husband and I didn’t talk about how likely it would be that this virus would come back with a vengeance once we all start socializing again. I didn’t sit and think about how weird and different and uncertain everything feels. We laughed and ate and enjoyed ourselves. We told silly stories and jokes. My daughter and I sang along to all the songs in Moana.

Now that I think back on it, I feel it might have been the very best of birthdays. Over the last few months, life has devolved into something I don’t quite recognize and don’t quite understand. Or, maybe it’s more that I don’t want to understand it. Or, let’s be honest: it’s probably that I want to deny any of it is happening. Even as I wear a mask and gloves on my infrequent trips to the grocery store and disinfect every item that comes into my house and studiously maintain at least 6 feet of distance between myself and others when out in public and avoid walking on favorite paths and trails for fear they will be too crowded and wash all my clothing in hot water — just in case … And on and on. Even as I obsessively perform these new and slightly exhausting daily behaviors, there is a part of my brain that wants to sing, “Lalalalala … None of this is real!”

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And yet, it is real. And it grows more terrifying by the day. I am afraid for my husband, who is high risk. I am afraid for my daughter, who still has her life in front of her. I am afraid for my elderly parents. I am afraid for friends that I love and who live in areas with a greater number of cases than my own town and county. I pray for strength and faith. But, inside, I am still afraid.

And so, a day of “normal”, even if it feels somewhat bittersweet in retrospect, was exactly what I needed. It was a day to pause and take a deep breath. It was a day to remember how lovely life is. It was a day to remember in the best of ways.

It was a good birthday.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today is the anniversary of the day of my birth, better known as my birthday. I sat down to write this post in order to reflect on my thoughts and feelings about the turning of another year in my life. But … I dunno. As soon as I started typing, I realized I don’t really know how I feel about today. Or about the year that has just passed.

I don’t feel bad about it. Not really. At the same time, I don’t feel fantastic about it, either. Like many things in my life right now, I feel kind of “meh” about the whole thing. It’s sweet to be remembered by my dearest friends and my beloved family. That part is always great. I love feeling loved. Dessert is good, too. I don’t let myself have dessert very often, but I splurged a little bit today. There was also my favorite dinner at my favorite restaurant. This was good.

But how do I feel about life? About my life? That is the tough question, isn’t it? I think that’s the question that has kept me up for the last two nights, tossing and turning while my family sleeps.

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If I’m being honest with myself … And, really, I should be honest with myself at least once a year, right? So, if I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit I’m not where I would like to be in my life. There. I said it.

I am not where I would like to be with regard to my weight and weight loss. At this time last year, I felt pretty good about my weight. Well, that’s not true. At this time last year, I was stuck in the midst of trying to help my husband recover from his heart attack and surgery. So I have to go back a few months before this time last year — to November or December. At that time, I felt pretty good about my weight and weight loss goals. I had lost quite a bit of weight (almost 50 pounds!), and I felt optimistic about things. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I could at least see that goal and a clear path toward it.

And then, the heart attack happened. My life has been in a constant state of stress ever since then. We went from panic and stress and anxiety over the heart attack and surgery to panic and stress and anxiety over my husband’s work situation, as well as panic and stress and anxiety over my daughter’s school situation. I am ashamed to say this, but I gained back a lot of the weight I previously lost. Not quite all of it, but enough to make me feel as if I am starting over again, from Square One. It’s … frustrating. And disheartening.

It doesn’t help that I’m stuck in this darn boot. It hurts my back, and I can’t exercise. This contributes to my frustration. Even with the high pollen counts wreaking havoc on my allergies, I want to be outside walking for an hour a day. I am mentally ready to try and get back to normal, to the extent I can. I am mentally ready to throw myself back into exercise as a stress relief. But it seems my body and mind aren’t quite in synch at the moment.

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And then, there is the other horrible sink-hole in my life: my writing. Or, should I say “lack thereof”? I am nowhere near my writing goals. I’m so far away from them that it sometimes feels as if I am going backward. I can’t see a light at the end of this tunnel. I can’t even see the tunnel.

My creativity is … stuck, for lack of a better word. Or, maybe that’s the perfect word. It’s what it feels like most of the time. I have all these ideas and thoughts and THINGS inside my head, wanting to get out. Begging and screaming to get out. But when I sit down to let them out, nothing happens. It’s uncomfortable and horrible and scary — a constipation of the creative part of my brain. The ideas are there, but they are mired down in a flood of anger and frustration and guilt. Plus, there’s all this emotional baggage from my childhood, and there are all these secrets. Secrets I’ve kept my entire life in order to protect others. But it seems like, the harder I have to hold on to these things, the less room I have in my head for creative stuff.

I’m sure the constant state of stress in my life isn’t helping. I keep waiting for things to settle down, but I am beginning to think this isn’t going to happen. My husband is mad at me over the writing thing. I am mad at me over the writing thing. It’s just not a good situation. I’m not sure how else to explain it.

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And there you have it. The state of my union, or something like that. I feel like my life is topsy-turvy and constantly whirling out of control. I feel confused about this a lot of the time. I can’t figure out how or when this happened. It seems like, one day, I had everything figured out and under control. And then, the next day, it all went to heck. Maybe my husband’s heart attack was the downturn. Or maybe everything was a mess even before that, but I didn’t realize it. It’s funny how fragile life can be, how one thing can turn everything on its head.

Here’s what I know. I can’t control the things around me. I can’t control my daughter’s annoyingly inconsistent teachers. I can’t control the stress and worry around my husband’s job and our living situation. I can’t go back in time and make the heart attack never happen. But I can control myself. I can make a plan, and I can do my best to get my own mind back on track.

Hopefully, I will be out of the boot and into a brace this Thursday. If so, then it’s time to get moving again. I will have to be patient with it, but I am determined to work my way back to a good exercise routine. I am researching different strength-training exercises, and I plan to incorporate those into my routine, too. I know from experience that this won’t be easy. It is hard to stay motivated and in motion when sitting still is easier. Well, it’s physically easier. I need to remind myself that it’s not mentally easier.

And I’ve decided to start journaling again. I need a quiet space where I can let go of thoughts and feelings and secrets I’ve kept inside myself for far too long. When I started this blog, I intended to talk about them in here. I quickly realized that was not going to be possible. Maybe it will be one day, but it’s not possible for me right now. I’m too afraid of offending people I love. Not that any of them pay a bit of attention to my blog. But it would be just my luck they would stumble into one of the posts where I talked about my childhood and my feelings and emotions surrounding it. But I still need to let these things go. I need to release them into the ether so I can make room for newer, better things.

It’s time to make a move and see what the coming year will bring.

Birthday Days

Today is my daughter’s birthday. It’s a day I have dreaded since the moment she took her first breath. You see, today, she turns 13. My sweet, lovely girl is officially a teenager. Cue the ominous music and eye rolls.

No, not really. In many ways, my kiddo isn’t quite as much fun as she was when she was younger. Like when she was five, for example. Five was a very big and entertaining year for all of us. Lots of giggles and good memories happened in Year Five. But in other ways, she is just as much fun; I might even go way out on a limb and say she is even more fun now than she was when she was a baby … when she was a toddler … when she was in elementary school. Yes, more fun even than when she was five.

If I am going to be honest, I would have to say my daughter amazes me. I realize this sounds horribly melodramatic and, maybe, even a bit lame. The word “amazing” gets tossed around so much these days that, in some respects, I feel it has lost its meaning. It’s difficult to feel the true impact of that word. And besides, I’m sure every parent feels this way about his or her children. Or, well, every parent should feel this way. If you don’t feel this way … If you don’t let yourself feel the true weight and beauty and joy and sheer amazingness of your children, I think you’re missing out on the best part of the whole parenting gig.

But, anyhow, I’m not here to ramble about parenting. No, this is about my daughter. Who is turning 13 today. And who is truly, incredibly amazing.

My daughter is full of laughter and smiles. And yet, she is also full of sarcasm and witty one-liners. She is quick to speak out against things that are unfair or unjust. She is brave in a way I never could have been at her age. She has pink hair. She loves Pokemon. Sometimes, she even lets me play Pokemon Go with her. She is patient with my mother, even when I can tell she doesn’t want to be. It’s hard to be patient when you are young. When you are young, you want everything to go quickly. She has a soft and kind heart, although I can see her trying very hard to hide that from the rest of the world, as if she wants to protect something precious — something that is part of what makes her “her”. She loves to watch football with her dad. It makes me smile to hear them cheering on their favorite college team. She loves music and plays the flute. She is learning French, which she quite likes, and Algebra, which she doesn’t. Singing in the Rain is her favorite movie. She loves country music. We got Alan Jackson tickets for her as one of her birthday gifts, and she was crazy-happy about it. Hufflepuff is her favorite Hogwarts house. She is a cat whisperer who is, sadly, stuck with a mom who is a dog person. We play Dragonvale together. She is loving and sweet and annoying and maddening and crazy and fun and giggly and grumpy and creative and clever and wise. In short, she is All The Things. And, really, isn’t that kind of the definition of “amazing”? Someone who is, somehow, All The Things … ?? If it isn’t, it should be.

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The funny thing is that I can remember bringing her home from the hospital: this little lump that tended to cry a lot and wave her fists. I remember her as this complete and rather terrifying unknown in my life — this strange, sort of wrinkled little creature with whom I was immediately and completely enamored. I remember her as a second grader without her two front teeth. I remember her first day of preschool and her last day of elementary school. I remember her sitting in my room, watching Backyardigans on the TV, with our cat sitting right next to her. Back then, I tried to imagine what she would become as she got older. I tried to picture her growing into a teenager and, then, an adult. I wondered what kinds of things she would do, what kind of person she would be, and what kind of future she would have.

Now, I look at her: my beautiful, precious, kind, loving, sweet girl, and I see glimpses of the woman she will become. Part of me wants to slow all of it down, just so she will remain my little girl for a bit longer. All of it is going by much too quickly, so there is a bittersweetness to every birthday we celebrate with her. At the same time, I look at this person — this  young woman, who now stands where, not that long ago, there was only a child — and I think, “No. Let the time pass. Let the birthdays come. Because I want to see what happens. Because I want to be amazed.”

A Birthday Wish

Yesterday was my birthday. I’ve never been much for birthdays. It’s not that I hate them or that they make me feel depressed or sad. Well, not really. I think it’s more that I’ve just never really thought about them very much. My birthday hasn’t ever felt important to me. I quite like celebrating other people’s birthdays, though. I especially love doing special things for my husband and daughter on their days. For myself, though … I don’t know. It just feels like much ado about nothing. I’m a fairly low maintenance kind of person. (Although I could be someone who thinks they are low maintenance but who is, in fact, high maintenance. Scary!) So I find myself feeling a bit uncomfortable with all the fuss.

This year, my birthday felt … Well, I don’t want to go so far as to say it felt bad, but I definitely didn’t feel all that great about it. I am now firmly planted in my second twenties. I’m closer to 50 than to 30. I’m not sure how I should feel about that. I firmly believe age is just a number. That I am only as old as I think I am, or as I feel in my heart. I understand these things are handy little sayings — the kind of thing one might expect to see plastered on an inspirational poster or an internet meme. And so, they are, perhaps, a little cheesy. But I also think they are true.

Lately, I’ve felt very old, indeed. Life has been pushing in on me from every side, it seems. There are some big sources of stress in my life. And there are what seems like dozens upon dozens upon dozens of little bitty sources of stress that love to pile up on top of me every day. It’s the little stressors that have been getting to me recently. I think it’s because the big things are easier to spot. You know they are coming, so you make sure you’re on the lookout for them. But those little things –the rude people you encounter every day, the broken nail as you’re trying to get the gas cap off of your car, the weird knocking sound in your engine, your computer suddenly deciding to shut itself down repeatedly, your child talking back to you, your dog barfing on your freshly cleaned floor, your front door frame suddenly falling to pieces — all seem to come at you out of nowhere. You try to shrug them off. You tell yourself they are just little things. You remind yourself these are just the normal annoyances of daily life. But, sometimes, small things can all pile up together to create a big thing.

And, if I’m being brutally honest with myself, I have to say my life isn’t where I expected it to be at this point in time. When I was a kid and teenager, I didn’t let myself dream very much. I had dreams, but I kept them in close — hidden, even from myself. Dreaming felt too risky and too dangerous. It felt like a sure-fire way to lead myself to disappointment. But, in those moments when I dared to let myself dream, I would look forward many years into the future (at that time, 30 was “old”), and I tried to picture what my life would be. I thought I would have accomplished so many things. And I would be so much more sophisticated and sure of myself. By the time I was 30, I thought, I would know who I was, where I was going in life, and how to get there.

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I’m way past 30, and I don’t know any of those things. I’m not sophisticated. In fact, I’m a complete dork. (Do people still say “dork”? I have no idea.) I don’t feel confident. I feel fragile and brittle and a little bit squidgy around the edges. I have no idea who I am. And I feel I have accomplished exactly NONE of the dreams I had for myself. I think I managed to accomplish a couple of dreams that other people had for me. I suppose I could put those things into the “win” column, but, honestly, those things don’t feel like victories. Even though they are good accomplishments, I am not proud of them. And thinking on them leaves me feeling bitter and hollow. The truth is that I’m nowhere near accomplishing any of my dreams. As I sat and thought about it the day before my birthday (which was a pretty horrible day, all around), I felt like I was closer to completely giving up on those dreams. It seemed easier and felt more right to throw in the towel than to continue slogging forward, particularly when I feel most of my life is pretty much stalled out right now, which means not much forward progress is happening.

But yesterday, a couple of my friends sent me birthday wishes that said they hoped my birthday would be the start of a great year for me.

And you know what? I realized I was looking at this birthday thing all wrong. I had fallen into the trap of looking BACK at my life and regretting where I had and hadn’t been. I was so busy looking backward that my birthday felt like an ending, of sorts: the period at the end of my long list of unfulfilled dreams. I forgot to look AHEAD. Maybe some of my dreams won’t ever come true. This is a fact. None of us can make all of our dreams come true. If we could do that, we would be Disney princesses who dance through the forest and sing to birds. But I still have dreams. They aren’t unfulfilled; they are still-to-come. They are works in progress.

I love the idea of looking at my birthday as the start of a new year, instead of some kind of sad and dismal mile marker on my march toward my inevitable end. I like beginnings. They are full of potential and hope. And you know what? I think I could use a little bit of potential and hope in my life.

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Yesterday was my birthday. Yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. I think it might be a good one.

Today

Today is my birthday. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve spent most of the last couple of days thinking on it, processing, trying to figure out what it means for me and to me. I’ve spent today with family and friends, but, still, it was in the back of my mind.

I’ve never been one to make a big fuss about my own birthday. I’ve always thought it was just another day and found it a little strange (nice but strange) that people go out of their way to do nice things for me on this one day of the year. I try to do nice things for the people around me all year long, and I guess I always just expected the same. Plus, I’m shy, so I feel a little — okay, a LOT — uncomfortable when people make a fuss over me. For a lot of reasons, I guess I’ve never given my birthday much thought.

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This year, though …

I dunno. This year feels different to me. This year, I am 45. 45 … 45 … 45 … The number keeps echoing around in my head until I think I will go crazy from having it on a continuous loop in my brain. It sounds so strange. And final.

“Age is just a number.” That’s what people say, right? I know it can sound simpering and insincere, but I’ve always believed this to be the truth. I guess that’s why I never felt overly fussed about the passing of my own timeline. Until now.

Realizing I am closer to 50 than I am to 30 — and that I am light years away from my 20s — has hit me particularly hard. There are things I had expected to have done by this point in my life. There are dreams I had. There are things I still want to do. But life, being the fickle mistress she is, doesn’t always work out the way we expect or hope or dream.

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Age is just a number. I do think this is true. I really do. But I don’t know how to let go of those dreams I have held closely for so long that, now, I know will not come true. I don’t know how to figure out who I am, even now. There are things I still want to do, but I don’t know how to look at 45 as a beginning for new adventures, instead of an ending to lost dreams.

Perhaps, by the time I am 46, I will have all the answers I need.

Or not.

Today’s Your Birthday

Today is my birthday. I’ve never been much for birthdays. Even as a kid, I didn’t want a party or much of a big deal made out of the fact that it was my birthday. Presents are nice, as is cake, and the addition of either of these things to the day was (and is) appreciated. Birthdays, mostly, fall under the category of “just another day” for me.  I never could figure out what the big deal was about them. There is something spectacular about knowing you made it through a whole year without dying. In that way, I guess birthdays could be a big deal. On the other hand, I am often just as happy knowing I made it through a typical Monday without dying, and without any major catastrophes or dramas popping up to ruin the day.

This year, I find myself waxing nostalgic and delving into the realm of introspection. Perhaps it stems from feeling I am firmly entrenched in middle age. After all, the clock isn’t going to turn itself backward. I’m not sure I would want it to, but that’s another story for another post. Whatever the reason, I find myself thinking about the year that has passed, as well as looking forward to the year to come. Where have I been this year? Where am I now?

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At this time last year, I was lost, in many ways. I felt stuck in a life that didn’t fit me, or like I was wandering around a strange building looking for an exit amid a warren of deserted hallways and wrong turns. I was struggling with depression and health issues. I was not writing. Writer’s block had hung around for so long that I was beginning to believe I had fooled myself with the whole writing thing. I wasn’t attending church. I felt isolated and afraid of life. To say I was unhappy is a massive understatement. I was miserable. I was trapped, weighed down by the expectations of others, by their fears, and by what they wanted from me and for my life. I wanted something different. I wanted freedom. I wanted everything. And yet, I didn’t know what I wanted at all. Although I had made progress in many areas of my life, I still felt like I was spinning my wheels and accomplishing nothing. I wasn’t sure things could change. Thinking back on it, I am not sure I had any hope for the future. When I think about myself a year ago, sitting at my desk in front of my computer, everything is a big splotch of black. I remember feeling like such a failure — the biggest, dumbest, most ridiculous failure ever to walk the earth.

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I wish I could go back there and give “last year me” a hug … that I could tell her to hang in there because things will get better. I don’t think she would believe me, but, perhaps, she would appreciate the attempt. When I think of last year compared to this one, I am stunned and amazed at the difference a year can make.

The most wonderful, most profound, change in my life has been finding my way home to the Church. It had been years — more than ten but probably less than twenty — since I had attended church. Going back to God wasn’t easy. I felt I had failed Him, that I had failed myself, and, even worse, that I had failed my family and my daughter. I was afraid. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if God couldn’t forgive me? What if I burst into flames upon crossing the threshold of the church? Okay, so that last one is a bit of a joke, but the fear was real. A combination of fear and uncertainty — not knowing where I belonged or where I should be — had kept me away from God for many years. At long last, almost out of desperation, I sucked up my courage and headed to church. My hubby is Catholic, whereas I was raised Baptist. We decided to go to Mass first. Then, we would explore other Protestant churches in our area to figure out what was the best fit for our family. Once I walked through the doors of St. Mark’s, I knew: I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I didn’t want to try other churches. I had come home. I attended inquiry sessions for a couple of weeks, and then I enrolled in RCIA. Eleven days ago, I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil. At last, I am at home, happily in the embrace of the Catholic Church, and thankful beyond measure for forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I find myself all smiles each time I approach the priest for Eucharist. What a wonderful, amazing gift it is!

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I am writing again. I started this blog in October 2013, more or less as a last-ditch effort at writing. Again, I was desperate. I didn’t feel capable of communicating or connecting with others through my writing. I had come to believe I was not meant to write, but I needed to know for sure. I figured, if this isn’t meant to be, then no one will read. If no one reads, I will know. Maybe I can stop this ridiculousness and find the thing I am supposed to be doing with my life. But people read it! The impact of this simple statement on my life cannot be overstated. Blogging gave me the courage to write poetry. I am an unskilled poet, but putting my thoughts into poetry gave me the courage to write more. I wrote a short story. And then another one. I had ideas for a few more. On Monday, I pulled my forever-in-progress novel out of a drawer, blew the dust off of it, and started working on it. It needs a lot of work. I see massive edits and rewrites in my near future, but, for the first time in a couple of years, I don’t feel overwhelmed or terrified by this task. Yes, it is a big undertaking. But I have ideas. I have direction. Finally, I have somewhere to go.

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This year, I have hope. I find more humor in life. I laugh more readily. I worry a little less. I smile more, and I look forward to the challenge of each new day. Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle. I still have days filled with depression.  I still have days when I wonder where I belong, or if I really belong anywhere at all. But those days are spaced apart a little bit now, instead of coming at me all at once. Ever so slowly, I feel I am learning to find peace in my life. Things aren’t perfect, but they are better.

Happy Birthday to Me.