Resolution: Keeping Sane When Everything Falls Apart.

New Orleans in 2005 and 2015

New Orleans in 2005 and 2015

So everything fell to sh*t last week. I made a stupid assumption that if I worked hard, I could control the outcomes in my legal practice, my writing career, my family life. NOT TRUE.

I’m not God. I’m pretty much on this rollercoaster called life and am unable to stop the worst of life from destroying people I truly care about, the work I give my heart to complete, the relationships I think I have a grasp on. As I struggled with one disaster, another bit me in the ass. At one point, on a plane to New Orleans where I was supposed to enjoy a carefree weekend, I scrambled to make something work out, to fix one of the tragedies that was beating me down. I couldn’t bring anyone back from the dead, but I could resurrect my story, and I could tighten the bonds with the one person who matters more to me than anything. The plane hit the tarmac as I tried to pull a brilliant idea from my exhausted and emotionally void brain. I fell asleep in a hotel and woke with no motivation, not ambition.

Instead, I roamed the streets of the city alone for two days. Drinking coffee, watching the city that had been completed devastated resonating with life. Tourists walked through the French Quarter headed for beignets and coffee as though nothing had ever interrupted life here. Yet this city had gone through a hardship of biblical proportions. Hard work and faith brought the city back from complete destruction (only 15% of the city was inhabitable at the end of the Katrina). Time had also healed many of its wounds.

Did I have time? Had I already used up too much of it chasing the wrong dreams? Had my priorities become so twisted that what really mattered in life had fallen from my radar screen? Suffice to say, I was unsure whether to head back to bed and hide under the covers or dive into a mountain of work to fix whatever was wrong in my life.

What pulled me out of my funk? Hours on the phone with my girlfriends from every corner of the country and a few hours at a coffee shop with one of the dearest of writer friends.

Now that I’ve had time to think about all that life has thrown at me, I’m ready to accept my limited role in things that happen and move on. I can’t change the past, but I can learn from it.

I’m headed back to work this work with thicker skin, a refusal to back down from challenges, and the love of an army of friends who have my back and my heart.

I care about the braided life I’ve created with law, writing, and family, and I do make a difference in the world. I just can’t guarantee all HEAs in life, although maybe I can in my stories.

50 Resolutions Before I’m 50: Number 15 Live My Passion, No Matter What

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Today is my daughter’s last day of high school. It’s hitting me harder than it is her. I taught her to read and homeschooled her until seventh grade when I thrust her into a school setting and told her to swim. Although at first, she nearly drowned, she came back and is Olympic level now. This is a kid who is mastering not one, but two foreign languages, excelling in cybersecurity classes, and kicking ass in Calculus. And I couldn’t be prouder.

Yet, I see society pushing her in a hundred directions. Major in Y and you’ll earn a boatload after college. Do job X and you’ll make even more money. Can you fit in another foreign language? Z is super popular now with employers. Just become fluent before you graduate.

Yes, even I’ve been pushing her in that way parents everywhere have of making their kids miserable adults, but limiting their options into the safe and economically feasible.  So I’m taking a step back and telling her what I’m trying to do in my own life. Live your passion.

Put everything into that one dream that fills you with joy, even on the worst days and there will be horrible days in pursuit of your dream. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it won’t matter. As a writer, I hear people questioning why I suffer so much, taking up my nights and weekends and holidays to put more words on paper that I may not even like and then suffering when my editor or agent may not like them either. My answer to them is that my worst day writing is better than all those other days living in limbo, doing what I’m expected, but not anything that strikes at my heart.

Perhaps the test should be to put out your hand and offer up your pinkie as a sacrifice. If you want to keep your pinkie attached to your finger, rather than pursue an activity, then it isn’t your passion. Because for every good day writing, there a bunch of bad days and even some downright sucky days, but I’d still prefer writing to just about anything else.

So my oldest daughter, I hope you find a life full of adventure and love, and in the mix of it all, find your passion and never let it go.

50 Resolutions Before I’m 50: Number 14 Slow Down

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There’s something sweet outside right now. A floral, citrusy perfect scent that has no manmade substitute. My quest to inhale the perfume of spring pushes me outside on every non-rainy day. Why? Maybe because I can only find it when I leave my house, my work, my daily chores and breath it in.

For the past year, I’ve been in a hurry. I wanted to fix the problems with my career, my family, my fitness.

ASAP.

Yet change doesn’t happen overnight and where exactly am I trying to get to anyway?

I love my family, I love my ever increasing careers, I love my friends, I love my house, and I love life itself. So why am I so stressed out?

My next resolution is to slow down. To enjoy every blessing I have in my life and I have a lot of blessings. Some I’ve worked relentlessly for and others came to me as a gift.

What’s the point of my kids going to a million activities to better them if they’re miserable?

Why do I need to publish a bazillion books in a year, or bill a hundred hours per week if I have no time to enjoy the view my husband and I worked so hard to find?

How do I keep friends or connect with family if I never see them?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still climbing the mountain, but now I want to enjoy the hike, smell the sweet flowers, and remember why I started the journey in the first place.

50 Resolutions Before I’m 50: Number 13 Being Happy with Me

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I had new author photos taken this past weekend. I found the most amazing photographer, Lori Mann, who looks at photos as art and helped me show the exact feeling I wanted to portray. After having more makeup on me than I generally put on in week and my hair curled into something closer to Veronica Lake than my normal flyaway frizz, the photos showed me that nearing 50 is sexy, and fun, and a place where I can be me without apology. Yes, it would be awesome if I could keep Aleks Ambrose, the brilliant makeup artist with me on a daily basis and have someone expertly “shade” away some of my lines, but let’s face it, going into that fantasy world is better when you arrive from an everyday life.

Was there airbrushing? Ummm, yes. I’m excited by what I look like now, but let’s be realistic. I don’t exactly have my 17-year-old daughter’s perfect skin. So I’ll allow my aging to appear to the photos, only a bit softer.

My resolution this week? To embrace my external appearance as much as I embrace my internal essence. They are both me, and they both affect my mood and well-being, for better and worse. And with the help of my friends- I’m even better!

50 Resolutions Before I’m Fifty: 12 – More Meditation

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Does meditation work? For me, yes.

My mind runs in circles. It’s not gathering amazing bits of information for future books. Not generally. Most of the time, the focus of my thoughts involve a lack of time, too many body aches, deadlines, dinners, family dynamics, a need to be alone, a need for friends, a need for family, a desire to be in nature, to find comfort in my own home, an urge to help others outside my circle, and total exhaustion when I can’t reconcile everything.

When I’m in sync with a current activity, everything flows together and creates milestones in my life. A finished book, a painted room, a planted garden, or a stack of bills being paid. At other times, when there are too many issues to think about and too much emotion and pressure piling around me, I fade into nothing. I can maintain basic tasks at these times, but the quality isn’t top notch and my overall feeling of accomplishment is empty. Those are some of my toughest days. Going through the motions of life without passion.

Meditation has changed that. Each morning I take ten minutes. I’d like to brag to you and say I’m in the zone for an hour, but for now, ten minutes is all I can spare. I sit on the sofa in my office. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. I get comfortable, which for me involves clasping my hands together and tucking feet under my legs. Exposed hands and feet freak me out and I can’t relax. It’s my quirk and I refuse to fight it.

I listen to the guru from Headspace guide me through a breathing exercise and an ability to separate from the crush of ideas and thoughts in my head. When I emerge ten minutes later, I still feel a bit crushed (it’s not a miracle cure), but the intensity of life dies down so I can find my focus for the afternoon, whether it’s spending time with my children who need someone to listen to them, staying clear on my clients’ need and wishes, or writing a story where I can be present with my characters’ thoughts and actions.

The new resolution? To embrace meditation even more than I had. During emotionally draining situations, if I have a chance, I’d like to take an extra ten minutes and clear my head so I can handle what ever life throws at me with clarity and calm.

BEGIN AGAIN: 50 Resolutions before I’m 50.

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It started as a way to improve my life. Yet, the joke was on me. Life somehow ended up kicking me in the ass instead. Eleven weeks into my resolutions, I became depressed and angry and nothing seemed to matter. Except my kids.

When the world falls apart around a mother, there is no hiding in bed for days or running away. You have to get up each and every morning, put on the best damn smile you can muster and face the world. The kids deserve that.

What else got me through? A few of those silly resolutions I’d made that had become habit. Exercise, meditation, and thinking about gratitude made each moment better and better. Everything else? I’m working on it.

So where am I today? One hell of a lot stronger than I was. Bring it on world, I can handle it.

So I’m beginning again one month into my forty ninth year. I want a better life and I’m going to continue to move toward it.

So what is my 12th Resolution? To never give up on resolutions. When I backslide, I get right back into it. No excuses.

Are you ready for a journey? I am.

 

The first 11!

  1. Journaling
  2. No television after 8pm
  3. Exercise everyday
  4. Eat better, at least one salad and one nutrition shake per day.
  5. Meditate everyday.
  6. No sugar.
  7. Finish the meditation, the exercise, the journal first thing in the morning.
  8. Look over my To Do list before I go to bed.
  9. Write at least one blog post per week.
  10. Watch something in French once per week.
  11. Add gratitude into my journal.

 

Fifty Resolutions in Fifty Weeks Before I’m Fifty. Resolution 11

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Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes, goals remain out of reach even though you want them so bad and you try with all your might to grasp them in your hand. My habit for the past few weeks has been to focus on all that is wrong with my life in my journal. I complain and whine and declare how unfair life has been to me. Then I head out on my day and things become brighter. The sun is shining, my children are happy, and my circumstances are not nearly as bad as other people’s. In fact, it becomes almost embarrassing to have complained at all.

This week, I’m adding a twist to my journaling resolution. I have to start each journal page with a blessing, something in my life that provides me with joy. My goal is to leave the negative behind and find something positive in everything that affects me. If I can’t change something, I can lament that fact on the pages, but then I need to move on. If I can change something in my life to make it better, I can begin my plan right there. Ultimately, my happiness is my own to make and there are so many things around me that foster joy, I’ve just been overlooking them.

Until next week!

Resolutions so far.

  1. Journaling
  2. No television after 8pm
  3. Exercise everyday
  4. Eat better, at least one salad and one nutrition shake per day.
  5. Meditate everyday.
  6. No sugar.
  7. Finish the meditation, the exercise, the journal first thing in the morning.
  8. Look over my ToDo list before I go to bed.
  9. Write at least one blog post per week.
  10. Watch something in French once per week.
  11. Add gratitude into my journal.