Today is the last day of the 20teen decade, an epic one for me in so many ways. In my life as a re-committed writer, 2019 was a productive one as well.
My first post of 2019 talked about a possible Lyft/Uber side hustle. That plan was sidelined with reports of assaults on female drivers, but I definitely exceeded my writing goals. I took a chance and submitted my Semper Fi, Sister marathon story in February, and it was published June 4th in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good. I attended three local writing conferences (and pitched an agent at one of them), participated in a monthly writing circle, started a local Write Club, traveled to Santa Fe to attend The Gathering of the Creatives, participated monthly in the Badass Women Warriors Workshops, and tried my hand at writing fiction for National Novel Writing Month.
I’m not making any specific goals for 2020 except to continue working on the craft of writing. And reading more. And having more adventures. And maybe start planning for retirement from my day job in the next 2-4 years. Everything else will fall into place.
Last year, I shared my favorite DIY Christmas card from seasons past. This is another favorite with my granddogs from 2005. Sadly, both Tessa and Maddi have passed on, but this card puts a smile on my face every time I see their sweet faces.
It’s hard to believe there is only one month left in this decade. My wife tried to tell me 2020 belongs with the 20teens, but I’m not buying it. Remember the chaos of the pre-Y2K days and the impending doom of the new millenium? Again, hard to believe it’s been 20 years because it’s been largely forgotten, overshadowed by what happened 1 year, 9 months, and 11 days later.
At The Rally of Writers conference I attended in April, Jan Shoemaker, the workshop facilitator, gave us prompts and we had about 5-10 minutes to write our response. The topic was: Waiting for it to explode. We also had to include the following words “wherever there is life, there is a twist and mess.” In response, I wrote this:
Y2K, New Year’s Eve. We escaped to our off the grid cabin unsure whether the world we left would survive. We each wrote letters to our future selves imagining what our lives would be like in a couple of decades; I wrote of my writerly dreams. With a circa 1999 cell phone, we buried a time capsule, sure that we nailed the future. But wherever there is life, there is a twist and a mess.
I’d forgotten about the time capsule, a 18″ x 12″, 6″ deep plastic tote sealed with duct tape. We had unearthed it from it’s hiding place in the California Central Coast when we sold the cabin. We hauled it to Michigan and from one place to another, then I got custody in the divorce.
The tote is heavy and it rattles. My daughter and ex remember what’s in the time capsule. I only remember the three letters we wrote, and the cell phone.
Our lives today look nothing like we could have imagined. And what did we think we would need to preserve to show what life was like at the dawn of the new millenium? I look forward to finding out soon.
I tried writing a post for Thanksgiving yesterday, but I finally gave up. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty to be thankful for, yet I was filled with a sense of melancholy that I found hard to express.
This is that time of year when my thoughts inevitably turn to days gone by and those no longer with us at the Thanksgiving table. The memories surround me. I ate the Thanksgiving dinner my wife prepared at the sturdy ball and claw oak table that was my paternal grandmother’s. The same table where she changed my diapers, taught me to play Crazy 8s and Go Fish. The table that bears the dice dimples from countless games of 6-5-4 with my father.
I know I’m blessed to have had so many happy memories of holidays spent with loved ones. Lots of people are not so lucky, which I was reminded of when I saw a blog post from Sark called Happy Thanks~Grieving While Wildly Living. She beautifully captures the complex emotions many of us feel and shares her “love and transcendent wishes for people to be able to deeply grieve while wildly living.” Thank you Sark for helping put into words what I could not.
So on this, the day after Thanksgiving, I’m filled with gratitude for all that has happened over the last year and memories of past Thanksgivings. I also recognize that grief will sometimes sit beside me at the table and I’m okay with that…it reminds me of those who have loved me. I live wildly as their legacy.
Memorial Day is a time to pay homage and remember the sacrifice of those who have been killed in action serving our country.
Today I’m remembering my marathon guardian angel Megan McClung, who as a Marine Corps Major served as a Public Affairs Officer in Iraq. A triathelete and accomplished marathoner, Megan was the first female Marine officer killed in action.
The flag-lined Blue Mile at the Marine Corps Marathon is a stark and emotional reminder to all the runners of fallen warrior sacrifices.
I will never forget yoursacrificemy Marine sister, and Semper Fidelis.
I’m at an age where I could retire from my day job, but I am my father’s child and work gives me purpose. I’m hoping to have established myself well enough as a writer so that when I finally leave the day job, I’ll have momentum and works in progress to keep writing and creating.
With the new year, I’ve changed my day job schedule to give me a day off every other week to enjoy 3-day weekends. So 2019 is the year to settle into a writing routine that works for me to avoid burnout, to keep working on my memoir, and explore fiction and new creative ventures.
Recently, I applied to be a driver for Lyft and Uber. My father worked as a shuttle driver until he was 83 and it kept him young. He thoroughly loved meeting and connecting with new people, finding out what was going in the world outside his door, and exploring different parts of the city. Though it will be a very limited side hustle, I’m hoping it will provide fodder for my fiction exploration.
This year I also intend to connect with a local writer’s group, attend a writer’s conference, and continue expanding my blog. I’m committed to writing five days a week, whether it is just a quick note in the morning, an essay, or a blog post. I want to have more adventures, artist’s dates, walking meditations, and camping, lots of camping with my girl and The Bookends.
I’m not going to lie, 2018 has been a year filled with challenges. Between my grief hibernation and my partner’s job chaos, there were no adventures or camping in 2018. We vow to change in the new year.
So cheers to new dreams, careers, and side hustles…bring on 2019!
Back in the day, before Shutterfly made fancy photo Christmas cards easy peasy, the one Christmas custom I had was designing and producing a photo card. It was literally a production — one year cutting palm fronds to stage a California beach Christmas or renting Lederhosen another year for a German-themed card. Living far from family and friends, it was a great way to keep in touch through the years and my elderly aunts looked forward to getting them every year.
Some years the ideas came easily, like the year my ex had a Harley so we were born to be wild in our black leather.
Other years, not so much…like the year we were doing a routine Christmas shopping trip and a chance photo op with Santa turned into our card. No production, no dress-up, just the crazy mis-matched clothes she was wearing. Of course while we were in line, I dashed off to the nearest Claire’s for a hair accessory to tame the mane.
Turns out, it’s my favorite card of all. The perfect Santa from Central Casting and my sweet baby girl wistfully thinking about what she wants for Christmas.
Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas…and I hope all your wishes come true!
It hit me like a gut-punch this week. In a year of firsts since my father passed, this would be the first Christmas without him. I crumbled at the thought, but sucked it up, stuffed my emotions, and went to work.
“Guess what I did Pa? I joined the Marines.”
“Guess where I am Pa? I’m in Vegas and I just got married.”
Yup, I was that kid that would turn a parent’s hair prematurely gray. My father was my Rock. No matter what I did or where I was, he’d respond, “You did what?!” and then want to know all the details. He was always a shoulder to cry on and a soft place to land through two divorces and the death of my mother, his first wife.
The cycle of life is inevitable but getting older sucks. I know I’m lucky he was in my life for 63 years but it doesn’t ease the pain of the gaping hole his passing left.
I’m fortunate to have had a lifetime of loving memories with the man I’m proud to call my father. This weekend, I’m taking a stroll down memory lane looking through pictures and watching all the 8mm movies my father took that I had digitized. It will be another first, watching our younger years without being able to call and reminisce with him. Please pass the tissues.