It’s been six months since my family had our house fire. I’ve experienced losses I never imagined, and I don’t mean the ‘stuff’ under that roof. Thanks to the firemen, the damage-restoration service was able to save 99% of our belongings. That’s a HUGE blessing, but we’re still never going back. Financially, it makes more sense to move elsewhere.
Our two kids were ages three and one-month old when we first moved into our home in 2000. I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear a bazillion times to my babies there. We had pumpkin-carving parties each October and ‘Pizza, Family Movie Night’ on Fridays (’til the kids became teenagers and preferred hanging out with their friends over us on the weekends).
My husband and I laughed and screamed and cried together in that house. We had a Gawd-awful 1950’s pink bathroom in the hallway I always intended to redo but now, I’ll never get the chance.
If that’s not enough pain…
I get the added bonus of grieving several other losses (past and present): Revisiting old wounds from my dad’s death over 30 years ago. Lamenting my mother-in-law now living in an Alzheimer’s unit; she doesn’t know us anymore. Our youngest will leave for college soon. We’re about to be empty-nesters. Meanwhile, all this upheaval has shown me a few less-than-desirable characteristics about myself: unyielding to change and compromise (sort of biggies for a strong marriage).
I’m a ‘fixer’ by nature. When there’s a problem … BOOM! I want it fixed there and then. I hate pain (for myself and others) and want to go straight from problem to solution.
NEWS FLASH! Life NEVER works that way!
It’s frustrating, but patience is a lesson I must learn over, and over again.
I’m not the only one. I hear from you about your struggles, too. Financial challenges, family drama, anxiety, depression and addiction. Real-world worries.
Nobody’s life is perfect.
On top of all that personal turmoil, I had 300 pages to a sequel to Pennies from Burger Heaven that I couldn’t let go of. Something about it wasn’t quite right. I kept worrying that it was just my fancy form of procrastination — resistance or good ol’ fashioned fear to publishing again since my heroine Copper Daniels is so beloved.
I’m delighted to report that wasn’t the case. One the many, strange blessings this house fire gave me was to find the RIGHT Copper-Daniels story. I finally experience that ‘home run’ or ‘true north’ feeling; excitement whizzed through my body when I came up with the new plot.
I thought, YES! This is it!
Can I do this?
Noooo. It’s too hard.
Why not at least try?
Yes, that’s actual footage from my brain.
Writing a novel is sometimes like digging for buried treasure. You have to go deeper, sometimes far into the crappola, in order to find the gold. By the way, that’s true in life, too.
It has not been easy to write amidst dealing with the insurance company, adjustors, stress, exhaustion, other family issues, as well as self-doubt, but I work on my novel every day.
Want to know how to make your dreams come true?
Celebration and Other Gobbledygook
Pennies #2 will be published Summer 2018!
Seriously. My deadline to turn in my manuscript to my developmental editor is March 30, 2018. This is happening, baby!
We still haven’t finalized the title. I have three or four that I’m playing with now, but need YOUR help to find the right one. I’ll email you in a few weeks with a survey.
Bottom line: Life is full of ups and downs, frustrations, and other gobbledygook, but keep trying.
I appreciate all of you who email me, leave comments on Facebook, or send me private messages to say how much you enjoy Copper Daniels and her stories. The wait isn’t much longer.
How do you deal with the frustrations/gobbledygook of your life?
Please leave comment. Let’s talk.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
My level of frustration is a 9. This the worse year I have had in a long time. Money was taken out of my bank account by a family member who did not have permission to due this. My car engine “blew up” when a family member borrowed it and then ran it with no oil in it a had still drove when the warning lights were on. The good side is they can’t borrow money or the car since I have none to give them..Things will get better but it is frustrating in the mean time. Thanks for telling your story. I’m glad things are looking up for you!
Oh, Connie. I don’t even know what to say. I think your situation is worse because yours includes the betrayal of family. That’s much more painful. I hope things get better for you!
Thanks for your comment.
Y,es that really is the worst part..The hurt is much worse than the items I lost. I am better every day. I am thankful that I have a house that I love and it is paid for. Thank you for your comments.
Knowing my family as you do, you won’t be surprised to hear that patience is not an attribute I have been able to manage well either. It’s possibly genetic, in the same way that our sarcasm is impossible to do away with. But all that aside, I’ve had a pretty fabulous time in the last year and feel very blessed.
Hang in there my friend. You never really learning anything when you’re having fun, so this must all be a growth thing.
Good for you for having a fabulous 2017. I’m ready to put the drama of last year behind us. I didn’t mean this post to sound as gloom-and-doom as it did. We’re in a MUCH better place and things are looking up! Thanks for your comment.
Frustration is totally a choice. How do I know? Because I used to get frustrated over a lot of the same sort of things that you are talking about. This changed in a matter of minutes when I had a really bad accident and came very close to dying, literally, in November of 2006, five months after my fifty fifth birthday.
I did not die. I !merely! became “permanently and totally” disabled, according to Social Security, which does not mean that I cannot do anything, just that either I cannot do anything that anyone would hire me to do or that just doing the minimum to keep myself alive is so hard that I cannot be expected to work in a job as well as take care of myself.
Sounds very frustrating, doesn’t it? But the funny thing is that every time that I am tempted to be frustrated, I am reminded how close I came to being dead in that accident, and I think about all the good things that I would have missed if I had died that day, and I rejoice in stead.
It is easy to blame circumstances and your human nature when you are frustrated. But it really is a choice that you make each time. Once you have a good enough reason to make a different choice, you will probably wish that you had made a different choice sooner. Do not even be frustrated about that. Just rejoice that when you finally knew better you did better. That is all any of us are asked to do.
Copper Daniels has a lot that is objectively very hard in her life, but is only occasionally frustrated. If you can make her so resilient, you can bring that resilience into fruition in your own life. I know that as a writer you have the imagination to see what your own life would look like if you stopped choosing to be frustrated, and chose instead to rejoice that you are alive long enough to try again. And again, as many times and in as many ways as necessary. Be the drops of water that create the Grand Canyon, if that is what it takes to create your dream. Dare to dream big, because even if your dream is not obtainable in your lifetime, you can inspire generations that come after you. Dare to dream small, because after you achieved one dream you can always dream another one. Whatever you do, see today’s obstacles as just part of life, and rejoice in being alive today. All we have is a series of days, and each day has both obstacles and opportunities. Be aware of both the obstacles and the opportunities, so that you can choose which to focus what part of your energy on today. You do need to put energy into overcoming obstacles, but not all the obstacles and not everyday. Some obstacles go away if you ignore them. Some become minor and easily conquered with the right opportunity.
I learned to knit because I was disabled, and therefore did not want to risk going out during three days of icy snowy weather. I had tried off and on for years, but instead of buying milk bread and eggs at Walmart and borrowing a few good mysteries at the library, I borrowed several knitting books and bought needles and bright yarn and decided that I was going to learn to knit before the storm passed. It took most of my waking time for two days and about five different books to figure out how to cast on and make knit stitches. I got about six inches of a three inch wide garter stitch scarf made on the third day and eventually bound it off. For the next six months or so I knit garter stitch scarves in a variety of yarns until I could literally do it in the dark or with my eyes closed. Then I learned how to purl, increase and decrease, do yarn overs, do lace and cables, how to do short rows, and every thing else I could imagine or read about, including modifying patterns to fit better and designing my own patterns. But it all started with deciding that I could do this if I was not willing to get frustrated and give up, no matter how badly my first attempts went. And I discovered while untangling my first ridiculous attempts that yarn is extremely forgiving, and will still look the same after being untangled over twenty times as long as I am gentle. So I can be a fearless knitter. And I can be fearless in many other ways, as long as I am gentle. Life is often forgiving of gentle beginners. I am not by nature inclined to be gentle. I want to surmount obstacles or plow through them. But being gentle often works where force does not. So I am slowly learning gentle persistence as a first choice, and scorched earth as a last resort!
What a great attitude adjustment you’ve given me. I feel like I’ve moved beyond the frustration and in a much better place.
THANK YOU for reminding me that I created Copper Daniels, and can emulate her more in my own life. Blessings!
Wow. This reply was magnificent, fearlessknitter. I applaud your struggles and triumph. “I can be fearless in many other ways, as long as I am gentle” is going to be my new mantra. Thank you!
Marcy Mason McKay
I love this, too, Adan. Fearless, yet gentle.
Hello Marcy- loved your blog. I hate you’re going through all this. But it will make us stronger once we come out on the other side. I’m a recovering alcoholic so I have to be careful with how I deal with stress. So I’ve learned that anything I have stressing me isn’t bigger than God and Jesus helps me to know this. So prayers (sometimes non stop) until I feel peace truly helps me. So I’ll be praying for you and hope everything calms down in your world soon. I can’t wait until Copper is revisiting our lives. I’m so excited.
Keep your chin up and shoulders back and soldier on.. you’ve got this:
Love and hugs: Tonya ❤️???❤️
Thanks, Tonya. The worst scary part from the fire is over. We’re in a MUCH better place now + I found the Copper Daniels story, so I’m a happy, happy girl! I soooooo appreciate friends/readers like you. Y’all make it all worthwhile. xoxoxo – m3
I’ve lived with a hoarder for many years, but we haven’t had much problem until he retired about ten years ago. Now, he keeps getting more and more stuff. I want to get out of our two story house and move into something on one floor, but we have all this stuff to get rid of or give away. The task is overwhelming me, and he doesn’t want to get rid of anything. At the rate we’re clearing the junk away, we’ll be 100 before we can even think of moving. Any suggestions on how to get him to get rid of more stuff. Help!
I was forced to downsize a few years ago, from a 3 bedroom house to a 1 bed apartment. It meant getting rid of a hell of a lot of stuff, but was pretty easy for me because I wasn’t attached to much of it. One way you could use is to say something like this… “Have you used it in the last week/ month (or any time you think fits). If not, it’s going.” If something’s ignored or of no use there’s no point in it being around. Which is also true of how I sometimes see relationships. Good luck!
Marcy Mason McKay
Sweet of you to offer a suggestion, Em. Thanks.
Marcy Mason McKay
That’s tough. I’m by no means an expert, but isn’t hoarding often associated with anxiety or depression? I have some thoughts, but would rather talk privately to help your husband. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcy, I love you, your family, and your sweet Copper. You’re so strong and such an inspiration to so many. Impatience is a virtue in this house, so much so that it’s a chapter title in one of my stories!
2017 was a very frustrating year for me. Health issues meant I had to go against what I believe in (focusing on me) and that was incredibly difficult. I hate doing it and would much rather focus on those I care about. But, I finally came to realize that I can’t give them energy that I don’t have, so I, kinda, accepted that I had to do a little refocusing.
And now, as my sister fights for her life against a very very rare and aggressive breast cancer, I’ve got more of a perspective on things. Yep, my own health still isn’t great, but it never will be if I don’t make changes. So yesterday admittedly against medical advice, I worked out very gently for the first time in a long time. It is baby steps for me right now, but as my strength improves they will become strides and I’ll eventually reach my goal, of scheduling the charity challenge four years after it was postponed.
It’s been a very long four years, and there have been some extreme low points mentally in that time, but I’ve come out of it stronger, thanks in no small part to you xoxox
Marcy Mason McKay
I don’t even know what to say, Em. I’m so sorry for your health struggles and especially your sister’s breast cancer. Life can be so difficult sometimes. The only positive I can think of right now is that you’ve changed your focus and are taking better care of you, so you have more energy for yourself and others.
I absolutely believe in the power of prayer, and will hold you, your sister and your entire family in my heart.
What’s your sister’s name?
Thank you sweetheart. Her name’s Gayle. Please message me via Facebook or email me if you’d like any more information xoxo
Marcy Mason McKay
Gayle, Gayle, Gayle. Thank you so much, and again, peace to you both. xo – m3
Marcy, I’m so glad to hear that you were able to keep most of your possessions. You know, it’s funny; most people will tell you, “It’s only stuff!”, but it’s not, is it? Those possessions – pictures, furniture, even dishes – are memories. They’re memories of the good and the bad and all those times we can never get back because the past is behind us. Losing them is hard, because it’s the only thing we have left sometimes, so I’m thankful you got to keep most of yours.
I can admit that I haven’t always dealt with the frustration of life very well. The wiring of my brain is such that I tend to the dramatic, the doom and gloom, and the glass-half-empty. But something changed last year, and though I can’t put my finger on it, I can feel it growing in me… something better, something calmer. My health has been on the decline in fits and starts since about 2013, and in the past year, I reached a really low point. I started meditating in an effort to get more in touch with my real feelings and work past the depression that keeps me low, and it has given me moments of peace that have literally brought me to tears at times. I’ve been able to be gentler and more understanding with friends, loved ones, and even strangers.
I’m by no means better, but I’m looking hopefully at some appointments in the near future with specialists that might be able to help me make sense of these strange, unyielding points of pain within me. I’m still meditating daily, drinking more water, doing some yoga, and learning how to take care of myself. And I’m on the path to something better. It might not be the ideal, but it’s something, and I think that’s worth striving for.
Thanks for this today, Marcy. I needed it.
Marcy Mason McKay
Good for you for taking care of yourself, Adan. It’s interesting because my husband and I started meditating after the fire (sometime in the fall). We were just doing it once a week or so. However, we’ve been doing it more regularly (10 – 20 minutes per day), and we’ve both commented on the positive results. I told him I now crave that mediation time because of the calming effects. Sometimes, my mind races the full time we meditate, but that’s okay. The point is, I keep showing up and that’s the victory…not that I “empty my mind”, or find some zen state.
Congrats to both of us, and let’s both keep up the good work. THANK YOU for your comment… your words always encourage me so much.