Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!!!

It feels like just a few weeks ago that I was writing last year's New Years Eve post. As I review previous year's posts I begin to see a pattern. It's as if each year embodies a specific aspect of my life journey. There's always one or two things that rise to the surface as the most significant discovery or lesson for that year. When I review the events of 2014 I find two things rise to the surface of my thoughts.

1. Toxic people.
2. I seem to always be re-inventing myself.

As for the first, toxic people, there always seems to be plenty of them in my life. Or more accurately, TRYING to be in my life. I'm happy to report I have become much better at recognizing them and setting boundaries. But I find that when they happen to be members of my family, it's a little tougher. Well, a LOT tougher.

This year I found it necessary to draw a line in the sand with my own child. After nearly a decade of trying to rebuild our very damaged relationship, she decided to revert to old behavior and I had to say no to her in such a way that I don't know if we'll ever be close again or not. It was a very painful and difficult decision, but I have reached that point in my life where I simply have to put my own well-being first for a change. She is 30 years old and you can't help someone who is not interested in helping themselves. They are a destructive and selfish force that will drain every bit of energy you have, and then blame you for their own self-created misery. I know there are those who will disagree with me, and that's okay. I hope they never have a person in their life that is so toxic that they change their minds and decide I'm right after all.

As for the second, I once again find myself learning a new skill. I enjoy learning. I always have. And throughout my life I have often taught myself whole new skill sets for whole new careers. Sometimes as a matter of necessity, sometimes as a matter of interest. I have done this so many times that I have grown to recognize a learning pattern that leads to what I call "The Wave."

First, you have to decide what you want to learn, and if it happens to be something you know little or nothing about, you flounder around for a good long time. When you don't know what you don't know, you don't even know what questions to ask or what information to seek out, so you just start casting around and trying different routes until you find something that feels right. Then you have to just buckle down and start learning. Initially, the learning curve is huge and rapid because there's just so much new information to soak up and you often find yourself wondering if you're learning the right stuff because it doesn't necessarily make sense or fit together in a logical way. But, if you stick with it long enough, you will eventually start to feel that wave.

The Wave is a sensation of being pulled along, like you've finally figured out how to use the paddles and get the boat going in the right direction so the current can help you. That's when all the random pieces of the puzzle start to fit together and you start building momentum toward your goal. You can see the goal and it's starting to feel like you can actually reach it. It's a great feeling because it feels "right" in a way that's hard to explain unless you've experienced it.

The big mystery goal I set for myself this year? I have always wanted to write adventure fiction. You know, stuff like "Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter." For as long as I can remember, I have been utterly fascinated with archeology, mythology, and ancient religious doctrine. I have wiled away many hours of my life imagining fantastical stories about why Neanderthals drew animals on cave walls or what the writers of mythology or the Bible were really trying to describe, and these contemplations have always evolved into some kind of adventure story in my mind. But I never knew how to get the stories out of my head and onto paper in such a way that others might find it worthwhile to read.

This year I decided to do something about it. As always, I stocked up on "How to" books and started studying, but that wasn't enough, so I also joined an online writers boot-camp founded by a successful published author and took the brave step of putting my efforts in front of other writers for critique. The experience has been rewarding and educational and in the final months of 2014 I began to feel that coveted Wave.

I have rearranged my workspace so that I can easily transition back and forth between the crafting I enjoy so much and the writing that is quickly becoming a passion. I even carry a stack of index cards in my lunch box to jot down notes about ideas that come to me while I am at work. Some of my co-workers even seem to enjoy hearing about the crazy ideas I have at times, often inspired by something as simple as a stray twig that just happens to look like it's covered with eyes. My brain takes that odd twig and puts it together with some juicy bit of history or archeology or mythology and spins it into something fun.

So, 2014 will be the year I remember taking the first baby-steps toward a lifelong dream. I look forward to seeing how far the Wave carries me in 2015....

Happy New Year, everyone!!!