Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

On the Verge

Cliff Edge

Today is the day we prepare to launch ourselves head first into the “holiday season”, which, in my book, has always meant those weeks starting with Thanksgiving and ending on the first Monday in the New Year when I pretend I’m still working but I’m really not. Not much, anyway. As little as possible.

Oh I know, we’re all still “at work”, but what are we doing, really? Between the increasingly infrequent emails, the meetings that suddenly get cancelled, and the conference calls that no one shows up for, aren’t we really shopping online or arranging lunches/drinks/dinner/brunch with as many friends as possible before Christmas, organizing our family get-togethers (who’s bringing the green bean casserole?), and trolling YouTube for funny cat/dog videos? ANYTHING but actually working. Well, ok, we have to do something work-related, if only to justify our paychecks, but out of a regular 8 hour work day maybe 2 hours gets spent on actual work – the rest is just filling time. Am I right?

Of course, now that I’m self-employed and work from home you’d think I’d have gotten over this mentality, right? Wrong. For some reason, even if there isn’t really anything to do (or anything that needs doing right away) I still find myself at my computer, standing by just in case I get an email from a client or a new task from one of my colleagues.  And while I’m waiting, I start “goofing off”, just like I used to do when I went into an office. And actually feeling guilty about it, which is beyond crazy.

I’m a contract worker. Once the terms of the contract have been fulfilled, I’m done. I can do what I please with my time. I get paid for the work I do, not a certain number of hours in the day. And I am extremely close to being done with my contracted work this year. A few odds and ends, and that’s it! There’s some non-client-related stuff we need to do before the end of the year, and we will, but honestly, unless something changes, I’m looking at a very quiet December, work-wise.

So what will I do with my time? Hmmm . . .

  • I’ll bake a lot of cookies and give them as gifts. I did that last year and it was fun.
  • I’ll get my house in order. There are some cobwebs in places that have been there way too long.
  • I’ll read books.
  • I’ll work on stuff for my theatre company; we’ve got exciting plans for next year!
  • I’ll do things that make me happy, like listen to music and look up new recipes to try.
  • I’ll go to parties and concerts and movies and plays with my sweet hubby.
  • I’ll spend more time with my family.
  • I’ll do some writing (see, I’ve already started!)

Mostly, I’ll try to find the quiet in the middle of the holiday frenzy to be present, and to acknowledge how astonishingly blessed I am. I am loved, and I love. In this harsh world we live in, to love and be loved is an extravagance that millions of people can’t even imagine. When I think about that, my “problems” become very small indeed, and the simple joy of baking cookies or sitting down in the peace of my home to read a book seems luxurious.

So here, on the verge of the madness, stop and take a breath. Close your eyes. If you have love in your life, be thankful for it. It’s the only thing that matters, because it’s the only thing that will endure. Everything else can be taken away, even life itself, but the love you have given and the love you have received will always be there, waiting for you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

photo credit: Cliff via photopin (license)
 

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Dazed and Confused

feet in sand

If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling a bit unstable these days. Like walking on a sandy beach with the tide going out; what you’ve been standing on – that seemed so firm – is disappearing from under you, and you start to wobble. That’s how I feel, anyway.

We live in a crazy world. Awful things happen daily, and we’re subjected to a non-stop onslaught of hatred and fear and death on our televisions and radios, from friends and acquaintances on Facebook, in our Twitter feeds, on the front pages of newspapers and magazines. The world is screaming at us all the time that we are not safe, that gigantic, unstoppable forces hate us and are out to get us and there’s nothing we can do about it because our government is weak and our leaders incompetent. It’s the background music of our lives, and recently the volume has been turned way, way up. It’s drowning out everything else.

I’m not going to go on a rant here; there’s too much of that going on already. I don’t think it’s helpful, and sometimes I think it can be actively harmful to us to listen to too much ranting. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the emotions and forget that there is good in the world. It’s so easy. I have a hard time fighting it, too, and I find myself getting outraged by the messages I see coming at me from everywhere. It’s overwhelming.

I’ve been reluctant to write anything at all about the “current state of affairs”; if you want to know what I think, ask me in person (preferably over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine) and I’ll tell you. There’s too much room for misunderstanding in this format. And I have too many friends with opposing viewpoints to feel comfortable sharing my opinions here. I love all of my friends, and it grieves me to see so much hostility coming from both “sides”.

And honestly, what are these “sides” anyway? Don’t we all want the same thing? To live in peace and harmony, to be protected from the bad behavior of others while at the same time maintaining our right to self-determination? I’m sure there are those who prefer that we stay at war, for their own profit, and that’s sickening. But I don’t think I personally know any of those people. I also don’t think I’m going to persuade anyone to lay down their deeply held convictions and open their hearts to at least hear someone else’s perspective. I wish I could, but I can’t.

My friends, the world we live in isn’t safe. It never has been, and it never will be. Your home could be destroyed in a tornado, or a flood. You or someone you love could be killed in a car crash today. Someone could walk into the restaurant where you’re enjoying your dinner and open fire. A teenager with an assault rifle and a grudge could shoot your child as she sits in a classroom. There is no safety, anywhere.

I’m not going to tell you what you should do to deal with the insanity coming at us from all sides; plenty of others are already doing that. All I can tell you is what I will do:

  • I will stop watching the news.
  • I will go outside and look at the sky.
  • I will pursue my passions diligently.
  • I will pet my cats.
  • I will read a good book.
  • I will go to a play.
  • I will cook tasty meals.
  • I will travel.
  • I will give to charity.
  • I will pray without ceasing.
  • I will love my family, my friends, and people who piss me off.
  • I will be grateful for the extraordinary life I have been given.
  • I will do my best to be kind to everyone.

This is my act of defiance: I will enjoy life. I will seek out the good. I will refuse to be afraid, or angry, or outraged. Life is too short, and I get to choose how to spend the time I have. I choose Joy.

photo credit: heart via photopin (license)

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A Writer Writes

Typewriter and coffee large

My life, whilst awesome, has been in overdrive for a number of months now, and even though I’ve been struck repeatedly by great ideas for blog posts I haven’t allocated the time to write any of them down. And after so much time, all the possibilities piled up and up and I had no idea where to start, so I didn’t. Until today.

What’s so special about today? Oh I don’t know. I just decided that I would re-shuffle my priority list and put this on top. Not that my priority list is all that long at the moment, which is a big change from where I’ve been for some time now. Let me explain – no, it’s too much. Let me sum up:

  • Since early June I’ve been either in rehearsal or production of a play (for those who don’t remember, I’m a stage manager and a board member for a local theatre company), which means that I was out of the house pretty much every night for months;
  • My wedding anniversary and birthday happened;
  • Work has been VERY busy with deadlines;
  • I took three work-related trips in August/September, in the middle of all of that rehearsing and performing;
  • I had the honor of stage managing a dear friend’s wedding;
  • Lalalalalaonandonandon . . . .

There’s been no time to quietly reflect on all the thoughts that have been running around in my head, and any downtime I got I spent on the couch watching television in a vegetative state. There really are just so many productive hours in the day, and once the power supply in my little brain got all used up, I was done. I couldn’t make myself wax eloquent after one of those marathon days, so, no writing for me.

I’m surprised how much I’ve missed it. I mean, I’ve been over-feeding my muse lately, right? All this theatre must have filled any possible artistic void in my soul, right? Apparently not. I’ve been itching to sit here and do this, and I’m really happy right now, clacking away.

Don’t misunderstand – I am a theatre person. It isn’t just what I do, it is incorporated into my cells, hammered onto my brain, burned deep within my heart. What a fool I was to think I could live and be happy without it. Idiot. Well, I know better now.

But writing has always been part of me, too. My father just sent me a photo album of pictures of me as a child, and he included a stack of papers that he’s held onto – some of my report cards, some pictures I drew, birthday cards I made. But the things that blew me away were the bits of writing. I was quite the poet from a very early age. There’s also one page from the play I wrote (and directed and starred in) that I made the neighborhood kids perform in our garage. I’m sorry to say that my handwriting hasn’t significantly improved. These things amazed me, not because they were any good (they weren’t), just the fact of them – I did that, I wrote those things. I had the impulse to do that.

I know I’ve said this many times, but I’ve never seen myself as a writer, which seems ridiculous given all the evidence to the contrary. I wrote as a child. My skill at writing has always been a safe haven for me in the business world. I’ve written articles for which I have been paid – the very definition of a professional writer. I’ve been working on a novel. I have a blog.

And this happened – my alma mater printed a blog post I wrote after a Homecoming weekend two years ago in their alumni magazine. So there it is, out there, with my name on it. More evidence that I should be able to call myself a writer.

But can you call yourself a writer if you don’t write? I think at the end of the day that’s my biggest hang up. I feel like a phony, calling myself a writer and not writing (creatively, that is) every day. I can’t say to people “Yes, I’m working on thus-and-so” because most of the time I’m not. I’m too busy doing everything else – or at least I think I’m too busy. Which is the same thing.

I daydream about taking a week off and locking myself in a cabin in the woods to finish my novel. I’d really like to get the damn thing done, to get it out of me so I can move on. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I can’t see it happening, though – always too much to do. I’m self-employed, so there’s no such thing as paid time off. No work, no pay (or at least that’s how it feels). So, again, no writing for me.

I think about the story of Stephen King, how he wrote Carrie on a typewriter he balanced on his lap sitting in the tiny laundry room in his tiny home. That’s commitment. That’s dedication. Compared to that, I’m a total hack, a journeyman, at dabbler at best.

I am convinced that to be successful at anything creative – painting, dancing, acting, writing – you have to do it, every day. I know this to be true. I’ve written about it myself. This is why sometimes very talented people don’t “make it”, and why lesser-talented people sometimes do. It is a basic human struggle between action and inaction, and success cannot be measured in dollars. Although we are promised that if you follow your passion, the money will follow. I’m not sure that’s true – I know several dedicated, talented artists who have completely committed themselves to their artistic pursuits who haven’t achieved this promised success. At least not yet. I admire these people. Their dedication inspires and intimidates me, but their financial struggles give me pause.

So what does all this mean for me? No idea. I will probably continue to want to call myself a writer but believe I’m a phony until I can find a way to write every day, which will always be a challenge. That won’t change.

I also know that writing occupies a separate, important part of myself that I wasn’t aware of until I took this extended break. There’s a void that only writing can fill. I can’t easily ignore it any longer.

All I can say for sure is that today is a new day, and I have a chance to start over. I’ve written a blog post today. That’s a good start.
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photo credit: Remington via photopin (license)

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