It’s approaching not only the end of a year, but the end of a decade, and I’m feeling reflective. Also, I’m going to call this decade “The Roaring ‘20s – Pt II” because it amuses me. Time for a revival of the Charleston and the phrase “the bee’s knees” because I laughed for 10 minutes straight the first time I heard it.
Anyway, the teens were an interesting time, weren’t they? One huge, life-changing decision for me (leaving a toxic job) ups and downs, shameful memories and glorious victories. Publishing my book “Life Songs” in 2018 was a lifetime dream come true. It was one of the most heart-filling things I’ve ever done. I never expected to get rich, I think my royalties were an amazing 50-odd dollars, but that wasn’t the point. It’s done, after 25 years, it’s complete.
This blog is also a victory. After two years of false starts I’ve finally got a handle on it, I finally managed to get some traction in my mission to help and advocate. I also have a captive audience for my groaner jokes, and that’s just fabulous. I can call myself a writer again. That is part of my identity, and I’m over the moon. Next I need to pick up my poetry; I can’t call myself a poet until I do.
It hasn’t been all good of course, it never is. Bad things happen, either brought on you or that you bring on yourself. I have done the latter a lot. More than once I have considered closing this blog and its Facebook page because I felt like a fraud.
Who am I to encourage people to do their best, to make a true assessment, be gentle with themselves, get back up when they fall, when I can barely do it? I need this page to be honest, unblinkingly so, and yet I come and I cheerlead and I say things that I sometimes don’t feel in my heart at all. I’m behind a keyboard; you can’t see my face. I write when I’m cripplingly depressed and I say words I don’t embrace. Or I disappear, unable to muster any thoughts. Who am I to present myself the way I do? At these times I feel self-loathing and every bit a charlatan, even a hypocrite.
I have a very high bar for myself; it sets me up to fail, all or nothing. The pressure to be authentic, to say the things that come from strength and the need to be absolutely in control of myself, essentially be perfect or not write anything, is paralyzing. Am I dishonest with you if I don’t share the bad things too? I fear so much hurting someone else with my doubts instead of acknowledging that we all have them, that it’s the human condition. How can we grow if we aren’t witness to each other, if we allow our horrible thoughts to consume and define us?
And that’s the trick, isn’t it? My best friend once asked me, while I was sharing my horrible inner monolog, “If I came to you with this, would you say those things to me?” Of course not, not in a million years. I might say, “That’s not awesome, what you did, but you’re human, I love you anyway, let’s figure it out.” Or I’d just shove a cookie at her and say “Oh my God, eat this and let’s go play with your Legos.” She has a huge collection of Legos, just so many kits. (This is assuming she wasn’t in a real depression; that’s a totally different conversation.)
The new year, the new decade is just a number, it has no real significance beyond what we attach to it. But for most of us, myself included there is still some sort of magic, figuratively speaking. A new beginning, a time of resolutions and reflection and hopefully not an unhealthy amount of booze, if you drink.
There’s a thing I heard many years ago, you probably have too, that whatever you bring into the new year sets the stage for the next one. I don’t really believe that. I don’t believe in predetermination but I still try to have a peaceful night. If Chris and I and our middle-aged selves make it to midnight we toast with sparkling cider and collapse in bed.
This New Year’s Eve we’ll be with two of our dearest friends at their home in Sonoma. They will toast at midnight with sparkling wine, I will toast with my Martinelli’s (seriously, you knew what I was referring to) and then we’ll probably all collapse because over 50 does not equal all-night partying. I’m at peace with that.
I am, actually. I’m at peace with my age; I’m fine with it. A lot of people would have lost a lot of money betting on me not making it to 50 or even 30! So every year I get is a treasure. Every year you get is a treasure. I’m going to try harder to remember that.
So I won’t be closing up this blog or deleting its Facebook page. I will continue to do what I set out to do. There are some changes to it I’m considering, but that’s also a conversation for another time.
I am excited. I am looking forward to the next year and what might be. New adventures, big decisions, new books out. I’ll write like so much about it.
I wish for all of you a happy turn of the decade. I wish for you to enjoy whatever it is that you do to ring it in. In the new year, I wish for you celebrations of your victories, and gentleness with your mistakes, and good friends who will help remind you that you matter, that you are a flawed and beautiful human, as we all are. And I wish to believe what I just said in my own heart.
And please, if you do have a problem with alcohol find a way to take care of yourself. Have a buddy with you who you can trust to keep an eye on you, go to a sober party, let your friends know you can’t drink with them, and make sure you’re with people who will respect that. And whether you are an alcoholic or not, if you drink, do not drive!
On that note, thank you for reading this, and my blog. Thank you for being a part of the community I’m building, it makes me so happy to have you here. That sounds trite, but I mean it.
Happy new year, a happy new decade. You are all just the bee’s knees. I will bring that back.