A New Year Begins…

With the approaching of a new year, we all begin making resolutions or at least dreaming about what might be.

Blank Notebook

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”

― Brad Paisley

I love this quote not only because it pulls at my writer’s sensibilities, but also because it’s true. Obviously we are not always in control, and lots of what will happen may not be of our own doing. However, we can at least strive at doing the best we can.

Every year I have all these dreams of what I will accomplish or at least try. Like with most people, those things normally end up at least partially undone. As I get older though, I developed this sense of hurry, of urgency that was not there when I was younger. I’ve always been patient, willing to wait, never rushing. But for the past three or four years, I’ve had this need for speed. It’s almost as if, as my life draws near to the end, I realize I still have so much to do and possibly not enough time to do it. When you’re young, time just drags and old age is a very distant and abstract idea. When you get to my age, the end is suddenly very concrete. Most of the adults of your childhood are either dead or dying, your heroes, your idols, everything is dwindling down and you know that you’ll go sometime next.

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I had always wanted to be a published writer. I had a knack for writing and did it constantly since very early on. My dream finally came true four years ago. Nine books later, I still find it hard to believe it actually happened. My next “dream” is to actually be mildly successful at it. It’s a very slow process and I get antsy. I don’t have a life in front of me to wait patiently for the world to discover my stories, I need it now. Talk about self-induced anxieties, lol.

Those of you who are in the last quarter or so of your life, getting ready to become silver foxes, do you feel this way too? This anxiety to accomplish a thousand things all at the same time and frustration of not having enough time for it? Or energy? It has gotten so bad for me, I avoid things I used to love (and still do) and that helped me relax so that I have time to finish that story, or work on that ad, or interact with my audience. It’s exhausting.

So for this new year I still want to accomplish all of that, but I also want to learn to relax, to allow myself those moments of blissful peace when there is nothing to do, no place to go.

What are your plans for the new year?

Sparkler

The Slandering of Fairy Tales

A few days ago I was watching a news’ report about how several female celebrities are raging a war against Disney movies, claiming they’re sexist and promote rape culture (I’m paraphrasing). I get very upset when people bad-mouth Disney movies. I’ve been a groupie my whole life and before Disney, I was a fairy tale nut (still am) and I really don’t like the insinuation that I am supporting sexism by watching those magical creations of human imagination.

Fairy tales were written a long time ago when things were very different from today, but they are also works of fiction that ooze symbolism while trying to teach important lessons. No, I don’t think the lesson is “girls can only succeed if a man comes to rescue them”. Instead I’ve always thought that the message is that nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams, and that kindness and honesty are always rewarded. The men in the stories are the mere personification of the girls’ goals and not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

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I’ve been on a solid diet of fairy tales and Disney movies since I was a little girl and never once hoped or expected a man to come and make all my dreams come true. Yes, I dreamed of being loved (who doesn’t?) but I wanted to succeed on my own, have a career I loved, achieve my dreams. Never did I make plans for a big wedding and wished to stay home and take care of babies while my husband went to work and reached out for the stars.

Fairy tales don’t teach girls that they are helpless without a man. Cinderella dreamed of “moving up” and she did. The Little Mermaid wanted adventures, to learn new things, and see a new world. And she did.  Snow White (not my favorite character) managed to control seven guys on her own (Reverse Harem anyone?) and got rescued by a kiss. She was an unloved child who, like everyone else, needed to be loved and have someone to love. Love does not equal subjugation or dependency. It’s a vital emotion that all humans need for a happy life. Does it have to be the love of a man? No, but fairy tales are simplistic stories trying to convey a message in a way that will grab the attention of readers. The man in fairy tales represent dreams to be achieved. And yes, back when these stories first were imagined, the world was a very different place and marriage was indeed a female goal because there weren’t many other options for women. But what those men symbolized then hasn’t changed: they still represent dreams come-true, wishes realized–even if those dreams have changed substantially.

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Don’t underestimate your daughters. If you teach them right, they won’t think that the message behind a fairy tale is that the only way for a woman to succeed in life is getting married. I’ve been a feminist my whole life and I love fairy tales for what they are: magical stories about finding what we always dreamed of. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you think? Do you think fairy tales and Disney movies are sexist and they give the wrong message to little girls everywhere? Or do you think they are simply stories that entertain and feed the imagination of children around the globe?

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When Life Seems To Pass You By

I’ve been pretty depressed lately which makes me the person NOT to be around when you are trying to have fun. Even as I packed to go on a much deserved and wanted vacation, my mood was determined to ruin everything for me and my husband.  On top of the depression there was the guilt that comes from realizing that you are unwillingly ruining things for those around you, as well.

You see, when you have the blues everything seems to fall apart. I have always been a believer and a practitioner in the power of positive thoughts. But this past year was so tough emotionally that I could feel the hold on the positive side of things slip away from me. Even the publishing of my first book could not take me out of my funk for long. In fact, in some ways it made it worse. The book sales have been abysmal enough to just make me want to quit my dream altogether. I think I have been so low, I have been emitting some kind of bad vibes to the world around me. I feel as if life is passing me by and I stand helpless against it.

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Then there is this big world we live in where people can surprise you by being amazing or just horrifyingly cruel. The news are scary in more ways than one. There is so much hate talk on TV I wish I could convince my husband to just stop watching the news. The horror of what humans can do to other humans in the name of just about anything they can pull out of their delusional and morally skewed hat is terrifying and depressing.

Yesterday I woke up in tears and ended up going to bed in tears again. This morning I woke up and my first instinct was to turn around and go back to sleep. I dragged myself out of bed—mostly because my bladder was not taking no for an answer—and started my second day of vacation. I had decided that I was going to go to yoga this morning no matter how bad I felt. I even bought myself a new pair of yoga pants and a top considering I couldn’t use the one I brought (apparently my old yoga pants got depressed as well and gave up).

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After I had a cup of coffee I did what I always do every morning. It’s my “business hour”, the time of the day I go through messages that came over night, swoon over the pretty book pictures on Instagram, and check (and clean) my inbox. I’m sweeping through all the Twitter notifications and other junky email when I see one from a publisher I queried to about a month ago. I brace myself for another rejection and I open it. Before I was even finished reading it, I was in tears. The good kind. They were offering me a contract for my second book (which happens to be one I really, really love). As if this was not enough, they sent me the nicest, most encouraging letter I have ever received from a publisher or an agent (and guys, I have been doing this for almost 30 years). The kindness in those words hit me hard.

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In less than five minutes I went from “I want to drown myself in bed and never come up for air” to “Let’s go exercise and zip-lining” (not really! My husband will be doing that while I relax in the lazy river). The power of a handful of kind, encouraging words is truly amazing.

I apologize for this longish and rambling post. I think what I’m trying to say is don’t give up on your dream (even if it looks hopeless) and always be kind to others. Trust me, your kind words or actions can make a world of difference to someone who is not too thrilled to be alive at that moment. Pay it forward. One day you may be the one in need of those words.

Namaste.

Do what makes you happyBe with who makes you smileLaugh as much as you breatheLove as long as you live

 

Requiem to Dreams

Note: I wrote this short poem inspired by the picture prompt posted by my very creative writing group.

Ten thousand air balloons floating up above,

Laden with hopes and dreams, into the lofty clouds they climb.

Thousands of hope-filled, happiness-bloated balloons

Soaring away in colorful, wistful waves of light

Away from me and my reality, leaving me grounded behind.

Beauty molded into oval shapes,

Bodies of airborne grace,

I wish they could also carry my problems and worries away

But I am left staring in longing instead.

Where did all my hopes and dreams go?

When did it all go wrong?