Stay the Course
I'm writing this for you and for me. For both us. There have been many times in my life in which I want to quit. I want to throw in the towel, give up all the hard work and call it a day. I'm going through one of those times now. When I want to quit, I stop myself and ask:
And then after I get that answer, I ask:
Is it healthy for me to keep going?
That's the trickier question to answer. There's a quote that keeps getting battered around and it's often misattributed to Albert Eintstein:
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
(Einstein never said that, rather it was mystery novelist Rita Mae Brown who had her character "Jane Fulton" say the quote in her 1983 book Sudden Death. This Business Insider article goes through a bunch of misattributed quotes and is worth reading.)
I keep asking myself that question again and again: Is it healthy for me?
But lately, to break the mold, I've been changing how I address hard decisions and adding on another question:
What do I want? Along with: What do I need?
I've found that in the day-to-day trappings of life that I sometimes go on autopilot. There's work to go to, chores to go, dinner to make, kids to raise, and the list goes on and on and on. The infinite juggle of one hat to the next is difficult to keep up with and I look around and see the struggles that my friends go through. Some number themselves with alcohol, others on prescription drugs, while some pick on others, sniping at people to build their own lives up.
Middle age is a bitch.
The dreams that I had as a kid are filled with a hard world. I dreamed of escaping my dysfunctional family that shaped me and overcoming the shame and secrecy of my family's darkest secrets. I dreamed that I would rise up, be a shining light and that my life would be amazingly great. I would have overcome all my problems and forever be happy.
But life isn't really like that. It's filled with ups and downs. In the down times, like now, I sit back and lick my wounds and I ask the question: What's next?
Again and again, the voice within me, the little boy I was when I went through the horrible nightmares of my childhood, is forever strong and true: Write. Share your stories.
There are times when I want to throw in the towel and stop writing. To run away and start a new life and become someone new. To overcome the darkness around me and to re-invent myself.
Many years ago I was going through a rough time at work. I had a boss that was unstable. She was narcissistic, temperamental and team members kept quitting. People couldn't stand working for her. I wanted to quit, give up, go somewhere else to get away from all the drama. But I had a good job and had been at my work for many years. I was respected, earned a good salary--I just couldn't take the stress.
I went to the CEO of the company and was able to talk to her about my boss. I was honest, told her that I wanted to quit and she gave me some advice that I hadn't ever thought of before: "If you quit, any time you meet up against a boss or a problem similar to what you're going through now, you'll want to quit again. You'll not know how to solve the problem."
I listened, took the time work through the problem at work and in a few short weeks my boss was fired. Instead of running away, I faced my problem, hung in there and made it through.
Today life is more complicated for me than that as I feel several fronts pushing at me. But what do you do when you're in a difficult way?
For me, I write and share how I feel. I admit it by saying: This is hard. Really hard.
Then I look to my sources of strength: Family, friends, and God. That third one may not be popular with many people, but I do believe in God. Part of what has sustained me in my darkest moments is this simple line from the 12 steps of adult alcoholics anonymous: "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (That's step 2 if you're unfamiliar.)
And when I'm really going through a rough time, I shorten that to: "Let go, let God." It's simple and easy to remember. It's been a mantra that's gotten me through the worst of times in my life.
Right now, I feel like the world around me is going to hell in a handbasket. I know that I'll get through this challenging time, but I'm in the beginning stages yet and I have some difficult choices to make--choices that I never thought I would have to make.
What's helping me is being honest, taking care of myself and listening.
I'm a big fan of Tori Amos and her song "Upside Down" is one that I turn to again and again when I'm going through a rough patch. If you've not listened to her song, please listen to it all the way through. But there's a part toward the end that she sings: "I found the secret to life: I'm okay when everything is not okay."
What I love about Tori's singing is that she builds up what she's found, like she's brought you into her personal little circle, and she opens her heart and her hands to you and tells you the secret to life. And what she shares is one of the most important lessons that I have to re-learn every now and again. "I'm okay when everything is not okay."
That's a great life lesson and I share it with you today. It's just us, sitting down and I'm leaning forward running my hand through my hair and a spark of life comes up within me and I smile. The weight of the world falls away from me and I feel that joy within me. I am okay when the world around me is not okay.
I wanted to share this with you today because it's important. When you read my books, I infuse them with a part of me. My struggles, joys and dreams. Today might be a dark day, but it's also one of reflection and of hope. I know that in time I will be okay. I've a rocky road ahead, but I will get through this hard time.
I hope that what I shared will be of help to you and that you are well.
Before I go, I wanted to share with you Heather Hildenbrand's novel Remembrance. Heather has helped me with marketing my own Cinderella's Secret Witch Diaries books. She's given heartlessly to other authors by teaching them what she knows and I've been honored to learn from her. If you've not tried a book of hers before, do head over to Amazon and check out Remembrance. The description to the book is below. Thank you for going on this journey with me.