In light of the last few days and the horrible loss of nine lives in the California mountains, the most well known being Kobe Bryant, many of us have been plunged into thinking, into wondering, into questioning whether we’re living our lives to the fullest and doing the things that matter and make a difference and make us happy.
I’m not an NBA fan, but one can’t deny the impact off the court that Kobe Bryant has had and the light he was for so many, and the countless messages of inspiration he left in his wake through soundbites from interviews, through his books, his documentary about the game he loved.
He did what he loved. More than once. His career as an elite basketball player. Then, as a father who was fully immersed with his family.
Sometimes I wonder if I still do what I love, the thing that makes me happy, the thing that I would miss if I didn’t do it anymore.
I’ve always written. Since I was in Jr High and going through some personal things at home. I’ve written stories, books, flash fiction, poetry. I’ve written to escape reality and to put reality in a form that I could dissect and understand it. I’m almost 49 years old and I’m still writing. It wasn’t the thing I aspired to do when I was growing up or when I graduated high school. I wanted to be part of the music industry. A roadie, to be honest. And a concert flautist. And a composer. And… And… And…
Being married and having children was not on my radar and the things I’d wanted to do and the things I actually did do were so completely different.
I miss music. I miss playing. I can still finger a scale in the air the way a guitar player can finger chords on an air guitar. I can still see the music in my head of pieces I played my junior year of high school which won me medals in competitions. I still have my flute, my music, and so many I wish I had… thoughts.
I wasn’t the best at all times. I was sometimes, but not at all times. But I never gave up. I used to spend hours a day practicing. 6 hours. 8 hours. 10 hours. I loved it. And I never stopped. Not until life changed and I didn’t know how to be one thing and still chase this other thing that meant so much to me.
I miss it so much some days.
I used to write like that, too. I used to write for hours and not stop. I used to write books that meant something to me, to readers. I used to write and write and write. Even while I was raising my kids and homeschooling. And then… I did stop. I did get discouraged. I did lose my nerve.
I keep coming back to it.
But I don’t chase it the way I once did. And I wonder why that is. I have no idea.
Do I miss it when I don’t do it? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.
There are always ideas in my head. There are always stories that run in circles through my brain, like the bunnies that hop through my backyard. But could I leave it behind and in 25 years still miss it? Or would it just something I did once upon a time? These are the things I wonder when I’m being honest with myself and to be honest with you, I don’t know what the answer is.
Music still flows through my bones. It’s still embedded in my blood. It’s still part of me. It’s something I need in my life that a day without it sets my teeth on edge and I start getting really grumpy.
There’s a song for every emotion. There’s a melody for every mood. There’s a harmony for every memory.
The one thing I will say about writing, about music, is that they go together for me. I have to have the music right before I start writing. And maybe for me that’s where the two meet and mix and mingle and bleed together. Maybe that’s how music is part of my life now. Not in the same way it once was, but in the way that fuels this job that I have chosen to do.
The other thing that goes with writing for me is reading. I do a lot of it. More recently than I did the last few years. And the more I read, the more I start wanting to write. Wanting. Needing isn’t part of that vocabulary. But wanting, is. So, maybe as long as I’m a reader, I’m going to want to be a writer.
There are always stories to tell. There are always my stories to tell. There are always words to express what I’m feeling, what I’m going through, what I’m trying to understand about reality, what I’m trying to heal from the past. And as long as there’s music, I’ll be able to put those words down, I’ll be able to write and in that way… I do love it. I do still love what I do. I do still have passion for it.
And maybe, in this, I will have made my own mark and inspired someone else to find a way to marry their passions enough love what they do, even if it’s not a straight line. I think that would have made Kobe Bryant, a man, an icon, and one who sought to inspire others to follow their dreams, proud.
When I was growing up, my grandma and I would visit yard sales and flea markets and the like and she built up this collection of crystal and glass goblets. Most of them have fancy names. There’s a book that you can find the designs and year and maker, etc…
This is one of them.
For years, the goblets were housed or displayed, I suppose, in my grandmother’s china cabinet. I’d look them over every time I’d visit her house. It was always unspoken that when she passes away, that I would be the one who’d get the collection. She’s still alive and well, but I now have the goblets. They’ve been sitting behind closed doors in my cabinets. I had almost forgotten about them. They are items that I love and I was beginning to overlook them, beginning to not remember their existence except in the abstract or in the sense of…they’re taking up space.
That one thought, one day last week, hit me. And hit me hard. This is a connection to my past, to one of my favorite people, to some of the best times in my childhood where I was with my grandparents and I was safe and loved and I was forgetting about it, I was feeling a sort of UGH! about these tangible memories. This bothered me. A lot.
I’ve been slowly, ever so slowly getting rid of things, simplifying possessions, minimizing. And I wanted to start this early last year when I read the ever poplar, The Japanese Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, the same as everyone else it seemed. Now, it usually takes a while for something to sink in and I go in fits and spurts when it comes to actually taking action, but I began and felt amazing and empowered and able to breathe a little easier. And that was only by getting rid of, purging, tossing, donating maybe 1% of things. I still have tons more to go. But I was looking through my cabinets and looking for where I could lessen things and maximize with what would be left and these goblets caught me. We’d been talking about getting new drinking glasses for a while, though hadn’t done anything about it. I have a hoard of mason jars and ball jars and use them from time to time, but… I also have all these gorgeous goblets that have a past and a history and I don’t know them, but I know mine with them and that was the important thing, the important part.
I took one out and began using it for coffee and water. I wanted to see how it would feel. And I loved it. My neighbor said it was fancy. Another friend said it was beautiful and look at that detail! And I found that I loved it again. Loved using it and I imagine that maybe there’s some memory in the glass, in the crystal, in the designs that remembers being of use.
As we age, as belongings age, as things we once held near and dear age or outgrow immediate use, as we minimize and downsize… There are things that matter, things from our past that it’s important to preserve. These goblets aren’t worth much money, but it’s not about the money for me. I wouldn’t sell them if they were. The memory of my grandmother and I looking for them is too precious and I think we sometimes forget things like that when we talk about the past. We’re so eager to forget or rewrite or move on from that we don’t stop to take in what happened, what was, what it meant, what it was for, what came from it, what changed because of it…These goblets have given me a different perspective, or perhaps reminded me of a different perspective.
Miranda Lambert has a song called Old Shit. It’s one of my favorite songs because it’s like these goblets to me… Things out of style. Hand-me downs. Memories. Home. There’s something about preservation that if we let everything go and disappear because out of sight out of mind, more than just a connection with those who came before us will be lost.
Today is the first time I’ve had my computer on in about a week or so. I took a break from it. I’ve been working on getting the rest of my home office set to rights, figuring out my writing and business plans for the new year, watching some college bowl games, napping. I also wanted to try and find some holiday spirit. I didn’t really find it, but that was more me than anything. I mean, I was in bed at midnight when the year changed over and spent yesterday getting the Christmas put away and tidying and doing some housework so I could go into today ready to get started.
But I wanted to take a moment and say Happy New Year to anyone who is actually reading this post. There are things I am working on, new writing, old writing, ideas for more connection with you. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to exploring all that 2020 has to offer. I know I am.
Also, even though my computer has been off, I have been seeing what is happening with RWA. I haven’t been a member for years, but what’s going on… Just no. It’s not right. Racism, bigotry, homophobia, discrimination… Nope. I don’t care who you are or who you vote for, this type of behavior shouldn’t be fostered or tolerated or given a pass. It should be called out every single time. If you don’t feel that EVERYONE deserves a chance, deserves a seat at the table, and deserves to have their voice heard, you can go. EVERYONE regardless of color, sexual identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, nationality, religion, political party… All deserve a voice and a place at the table. That’s the only way we’re going to bridge the gaps and finally make some headway toward fixing the rest of the shit going on in the world. Hate is not the answer. Pushing people out is not the answer. Love. Listening. Education. Open minds. Open hearts. That’s the way through to the other side.
And I know I have said or done or written something that has upset or offended and that is never, has never been my intention. I am trying to be better, to pay closer attention, to make sure I’m not continuing to do so, asking the questions, and asking to be held accountable.
Nora Roberts has an excellent post about what’s been going on, so does JR Ward. Both say things far better than I ever could.
I’ll talk to y’all again soon.
Thursday, February 22nd was my 47th birthday. And this year, I felt…different.
On previous birthdays… I’d say at least the last 4 or 5, I’ve been increasingly sad, depressed, wanting to soak every moment out of my birthday while at the same time, wanting to crawl under the blankets and hide from it. But as I said, this year felt different. And here are my 5 reasons/things why I think that is…
Embracing Letting Go … This year I’ve spent a great deal of time working on myself, on figuring out who I am, who I want to be, who I don’t want to be. I’ve been in the doldrums for a long time, in some ways, all my life. And since I started keeping a journal, I’ve been able to work through some of the questions of why I am the way I am and have been able to understand, accept, and let go of a lot of horrible feelings. I used to be somewhat afraid of what letting go of things I’d held onto for so many years (since I was 6 years old, to be honest). If I let go, what would happen to me? Who would I be if I were no longer this negative, dreary, holding onto the hurt and anger and pain and guilt? I’m a happier person, that’s who.
Yoga/Meditation/Talking to the Universe … Last year I challenged myself to walk for 30 minutes for 30 days straight. I wanted to see how I’d feel at the end of it. I wanted to see what changes I encountered about myself, what changes I encountered to my body, if any. In the end, though, the only thing I that I had to show for it was the fact that I’d done it and I was proud that I had. Other than that? Nothing. My joints hurt. My body felt bloated. I had no energy. I tried to start it up again, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to. Yes, exercise is important, but what’s more important than exercise in general, is the specific exercise that speaks to you. And a walk every once in a while is awesome. But that’s not my exercise happy place. That my exercise bliss. Yoga is. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I feel incredible afterward. I am not focused on losing weight, but feeling good within my body, mind, and soul. I follow an at home practice. Yoga with Adriene. She’s awesome. Bright, open, knowledgeable, energetic and her motto is Find What Feels Good. I have embraced this. Yoga feels good. I’ve been doing it no less than 5 days a week most weeks of 2018 so far. I have noticed changes in my body, in my stress levels. I am kinder to myself. I am full of gratitude toward myself when the practice is over. Yoga helps focus me and calm my mind. I have more positive energy.
Meditation … This is new for me. Or, re-new for me. I’m trying to take at least 5 minutes a day to close my eyes and just breathe. Just exist in the breath, in the moment. It, too, has helped calm and center me. My goal is to work myself up to longer periods of meditation to help reduce stress even more, to silence the noise in my head and connect with the part of me where ideas and creativity and peace reside.
Talking to the Universe … You can say it’s God, or your version of God … I call it the Universe. It’s a free form conversation I have daily. A lot. There’s a lot of gratitude in it, a lot of asking for help in different areas of my life, asking to be of use, to be of service, to be kinder to myself and to others, to be more open to letting go, to receiving, to ideas, to change. This has become a… I don’t even have a word for it. It’s an experience. It’s not inside my head. It’s spoken with my mouth when I’m alone, when I’m in the shower, when I’m doing chores, when I find that my thoughts are not good, are negative, are judgmental of myself or others, when I’m disgruntled with family or friends … This conversation has been altering for me because it never ends. The lines of communication are always open.
Having a Plan … This part goes back to my recent blog posts about my writing and publishing career. Writing is a HUGE part of my life. And I needed a mindset change. We can’t change how we think or feel unless we have the conversations with ourselves and are ready for change. And as y’all know, those conversations with myself and then with you, were not easy, were not pretty, were not fun. They were, however, necessary. And I’m all the more glad for them. My plan for the moment is simple: write and release books. Yes, I need to market. But I’ve spent years dwelling on nothing, on fears, on jealousies, on inferiority, on inconsistency, on not knowing where to start so not starting at all. But now, I have a publishing plan. And starting to look at the marketing side of things, on the branding side of things. Writing, though… Writing gives me joy, fills me with creative energy and this propels me forward, this keeps me moving forward. I’ve defined Lissa Matthews and I’m working on continuing to refine the definition and pick up the momentum. And for the first time in years, I feel hope and happiness as Lissa Matthews.
I am also going to be launching a new name and I’m hopeful that I can launch Ella Claire the right way from the word GO!
Having a plan has been awesome for my mood and dedication to my writing career. I didn’t realize how essential it was to have a plan. Now I do.
Reading … I read a lot now. Over the last year, I’ve begun to read a lot more than I had in the previous few years. I read big books, small books, print books, ebooks. I read YA fiction, crime thrillers, sweet romance, chick lit, some romance, writing craft books, personal development books, entrepreneur mindset books, marketing books. I read. It lets me get out of my head. It lets me escape. It lets me experience other things, other worlds, other imaginations. It opens my mind. It empowers me. It energizes me. It moves me through the whole range of emotions. It prefer reading over television. It keeps my mind, whether business or fantasy, sharp and curious. And curiousness was something missing in my life for a long, long, LONG time. Being curious helps us embrace the child within and this for me was something I’d been missing on a regular basis. Curiosity is one of the things that can help keep us feeling younger, feeling better, feeling more open.
Mindset … I know I talked about this last week, but it bears repeating, at least for me, that a shift, a change in mindset has allowed me to become and embrace more of me, more of the me I want to be, more of the me that’s been wandering lost for years.It’s one of those things that when it comes, if you paddle and stand up to ride that wave, it’ll take you somewhere you have been trying to find, but that’s been right there all along. It’s not easy to change a lifetime of negative thought, of hate speech toward yourself, of ugly words about your appearance, of judgmental thoughts and words for things that happened to you that you had no control over. If you’re down and negative, you attract down and negative. I never bought into that until this year. But it’s true. So is the opposite. If you’re up and positive, you begin to attract up and positive. If you let go, you begin to receive because you’ve opened up. If you smile, smiles will come back to you. What you allow in is what you end up showing the world. I didn’t believe any of it. Until this year. Until I was ready. Until I stood up to ride the wave.
A year or two or five ago, I dreaded every birthday. I wanted it and at the same time, I didn’t. I didn’t want to get older. I saw older as the end coming that much closer. I saw it as wrinkles and my mind beginning to shut down, my body breaking down. I greeted each birthday with fear and a desire to go back. To be 20 again, to be 16, 14, 10 again… To go back and make different choices, different decisions. To go back and live again. But that’s not possible. We can’t go back. We can only go forward. We can do so in stagnant waters, or we can do so in an inner tube floating along in crystal clear spring waters, riding the ebbs and flows and engaging with ourselves at each interval. This is what I’ve begun to do. I am open to the Universe, to finding what feels good, to smiling at myself, to being kind and generous with myself, to being open and receptive, to being grateful and accepting of challenges, to putting myself out there and learning new things, to having goals and higher standards for myself. I have gray hairs and I’m finding I like them. I’ve lived 47 years in a bit of darkness. The gray hairs I have are more white than gray and they’re part of the brightness in my life now. I’m embracing color and sparkles and things that bring me happiness.
I’m 47 years old now and I feel as though I’ve just started my life …
Birthdays come once a year and mine’s today. I turned 46.
Over the past few years, I’ve both looked forward to my birthday and dreaded it. Usually by the middle of the day, I’m depressed and disenchanted.There are no friends to celebrate with. There are no surprise parties or presents. I always expect it to change or get more festive, because when I looked on social media, it seemed everyone else had great celebrations and boy what a loser I am that I don’t/didn’t/haven’t.
This year, today, has been different. I can’t really explain why, except that I am looking at life a little differently and maybe that’s been the switch I needed to spark something.
I have spent less time on social media and more time with myself, my thoughts, the things I can control. My participation has picked up some, but it’s still not and won’t be what it used to be. For my business as Lissa Matthews, though, I do recognize it’s limited benefits and I adjust accordingly.
But blocking out all the stressful, angry, hateful noise has allowed me to think like me again. I am writing more and and loving the process. I am reading blog posts and writing articles and creativity articles and listening to podcasts. I’m looking for the positive, the happy, the creative, the productive, the engaged.
So, as my birthday approached, I thought of things I might want and the list is long. I can always find more things to want. And it’s not always material, but most things do require some level of income. My birthday wish list will take more than this year to achieve and to be honest, I hope I’m always working toward something new, always learning, always wishing and wondering and trying.
Here’s my current list:
There isn’t just one thing that creates all of this. It’s multiple things, actions, motivations. And I’m already taking some and seeing change and results that are different. When I was looking outside and at others, I was stagnant and deteriorating. No longer.
So, yes, Happy Birthday to Me. I went out with my family and we had incredible burgers and fries, some free banana pudding. I strolled through Barnes and Noble and left with a whole list of books I want to read and write, but exited the store with a Writer’s Digest Magazine that I am planning to read from start to finish.
And I received a birthday gift from a friend that I will let all of you know about as soon as I have more details.
For now, I have a movie to watch and chocolate covered strawberries to devour before my special day comes to a close.
Tell me, though… What’s on your birthday wish list?