Hello everyone. What an emotionally rattling week this has been. First of all, I am going to discuss the writing gig. As a writer, is is important to know where your audience is. I remember having to respond to the following prompt: “Who is your audience?” What ensued was a whole compilation of word vomit about who I thought my audience was.
The best writing advice I ever got was “just start a blog.” It was like, “just do it, and do it now.” Of course, there are a ton of articles out there about all the things you should do before starting a blog, and all the steps you should take before starting a blog, and ya-da ya-da… Now, I am not going to discount this info because obviously some of these people are successful and have way more blog hits than I do. Maybe I committed blog suicide by just jumping into a blog but here are a few things I have learned:
- One can not figure out who their audience is if they don’t just start a blog.
- It’s like fishing, you never know which blog posts are going to arouse interest if you don’t just get your damn line in the water.
- Having a humble little blog, allows one to make a lot of mistakes by trial and error, and there’s not as much pressure when you are gambling with a handful of readers versus thousands. A small readership is more forgiving.
- Blogging is like fly-tying. You can spend hours tying the perfect fly, doing an intense amount of research, and pouring your heart into it, and not even get a bite.
- Other times, you can throw something out into the void in a haphazard way, and others are biting like hot cakes (Okay, maybe six responses, but six out of maybe…a hundred? I’ll take it).
- There are urban legends about people who have posted something with little or no interest, only to be approached by someone rather prestigious who actually liked what they had to say. Umm…have we all seen the movie La La Land? In practically every writing class I’ve ever taken, I was always reminded about the number of times Stephen King’s Kerry was turned down.
- Nothing happens if you do nothing.
- Like fishing, writing can also be about timing, how can one know if they are not testing it? Maybe my agonizingly ambitious “fly” might have acquired more bites if I had just placed it into the water at a different time, season, or moon cycle. (Just an FYI, I have heard many fishermen proclaim that the moon cycle does impact fishing).
Disclaimer: I provide this pep talk to my readers just as much as I do myself. I’m also willing to bet, if you are a blog reader, you are blog writer, so let’s keep this community of support going.
I interrupt this blog post to check on my son, who is ecstatically going to show me that he learned how to play a “Yaz” riff on his keyboard.
Now here is the icky part, these are some self-realizations I’ve learned in this process.
I never had my audience pegged. There have also been a few surprises. That is the joy of writing. Things are not as they seem. I don’t know why, and maybe this has more to do with where WordPress readership is, but I was expecting to get zero foreign followers. I thought that only those who could relate to what I was writing about would read what I write about. I am learning that sometimes interest lies more within what seems foreign or lies across the pond.
Where I live, sagebrush is everywhere. I mean everywhere! To some it’s this mystical plant you tie up in bundles and use for energy cleansing. If I wrote an ode to sagebrush my neighbors probably wouldn’t be interested, but for someone who does not know what it’s like to live and breathe sage and to have to check yourself for “wood-ticks” every time you go venturing off into it, well that could possibly be fascinating. So shout out to any readers who are from places like England or Australia. You seem like long lost pen pals. I enjoy your stories and I hope you enjoy mine. Is there sagebrush in Australia?
Okay, another cautionary tale. Tread lightly when writing about politics. This is hard for me because I care an awful lot about the environment. Now, for some reason, caring about having clean drinking water, breathing clean air, and the possibility of roasting a whole chicken over the pavement of Arizona has dubbed me as someone who is highly political, unpatriotic, and a heathen.
I don’t feel that it’s that people necessarily hate politics, it’s just that an awful lot of us are getting politics in mega doses and we’re all burned out. Politics are everywhere. Okay, so here I go…I can see why some of you may be interested in how a person in America is feeling about living the day to day in this country right now. All I can say is that yes, it is a complete and total sh*t show and many of us are growing absolutely weary of it.
I don’t blame ONE PERSON for what is going on here, or in other pockets around the globe for that matter. I heard a pod cast that hit the nail on the head for me. Such and such (and you can insert any number of names or events here) is very much like a herpes cold sore. There is an underlying disease here and this is how it’s presenting itself. (Insight from a Podcast that I have been listening to that I will discuss later).
Writing about my anxieties has been beneficial for me, but not necessarily for readership. Writing about one’s anxieties is highly unpopular because people are reminded about their own anxieties. Especially, when anxieties are presented without any real solutions. For the most part, people crave hope.
Deep, deep confession, there are many within my inner circle who struggle to be around me lately. OUCH. Did I just say that out loud? Okay…the catalyst for this has been my fears about going to war with Iran. I am a mother of a Marine after all, but the likelihood that my daughter could be called into this conflict are practically Nim. For one, she’s female, she’s in the reserves, and her MOS does not exist anymore. However, her husband is active duty, and his MOS could possibly be impacted.
I called my daughter to check on her since the announcement was made that we will be sending troops to Iran, and that did not go well. Also this week, unless you have been living in a bubble, was a big week for the UN panel on climate change, young climate activists, and Nancy Pelosi dropped a bombshell that was surprising but not surprising…AND BLOWBACK! Here it comes, everyone brace yourselves! Impeachment Inquiry.
I had a moment of humility when my daughter told me that each day my mood has been totally dependent on the news. She’s right. I start my day, seeing what’s on the national plate for the day, setting the intention, and going from there. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Why would anyone want to read about this?
This entire thing was bigger than me and I realized I had a problem. At first, I was rather defensive, “I’m not the problem. Everything out there is the problem.” I’m sure I was experiencing a combination of mother’s anxiety, minced with eco-anxiety, crossed with mourning for what I have perceived to be a decaying democracy.
I have no solutions, and to some out there, things are going splendidly on track. Nearly half of the United States to be exact and I am right and they are wrong and blah…blah…blah…we all know this narrative. We are LIVING this narrative.
This was bigger than me, and I really had myself a few good cries over the week, and to be honest they weren’t necessarily about this. I found myself getting emotional over things like “parents a adopt a family of foster kids” or “someone rescued a dog” or “look at these young kids who are doing this…”
I am a hot mess writer folks. Nobody wants a hot mess writer in their midst. This is where everyone pulls the plug. Mayday…going down.
Ha hum. So this is where I start to say, well I’ve got to pull it together.
So these are some things that have helped me, and I can not take full credit for this. This came after a few good cries down on my knees, saying, “I can not handle this sh*t any longer.” This was a shout out to someone, that did not fall upon deaf ears or get lost in a void.
First of all, I realized that I have got to change my routine. It did not matter what I did, it just needed to be different than something I had done the day before. Rule numero uno: Start the day out with something that sustains rather than detains. What is something that I can do for myself that was foreign from the day before?
So, it was random stupid stuff. I had fried tomatoes for breakfast, I took a different route to school, I brought my kids a lunch to school so I could see them in the middle of the day, I read print novels over media, I read in the morning instead of at night, I read aloud instead of silently, I went to bed at seven and forgave myself, because I was mentally exhausted.
It is weird how this worked, but my life started feeling like someone else’s life, not mine. Not the current one that was draining me. Was it better? Maybe…not exactly…but it sure as hell felt different and I needed to feel something other than what I was feeling.
I allowed myself to be open to what “the Universe” or whatever laid at my feet. I had plans to go with my daughter to Climate Strike at the Utah State Capital. I showered and fidgeted with my hair, my wardrobe choices weren’t cooperating with me. My hair would not blow dry for some reason and wanted to remain wet. I missed my daughter at her school, the sky turned black. Thunder and lightening and torrential rain were about to unleash their fury. I did not want to leave my son to walk home from school in the rain, even thought he volunteered (I love that kid).
I finally submitted myself to the forces of nature, and said, “not today.” I am going to have to trust that this will all go on without me, and be okay with it. My active participation or non-participation will not change the outcome. I have to “trust” the events that have transpired in this scenario. My children and I went to Chic-fill-A for ice cream and like an idiot, I could not just sit and enjoy the ice cream date without wondering about the politics associated with Chic-fill-A.
Something inside me snapped and said, “Just enjoy the damn chick-fill-A Ice cream for what it is for heck sakes!” (I am from Utah after all). It was tasty, it was creamy, it was delicious. It felt good in that moment, to just eat the damn ice cream already and set politics aside. On a deeper note, I was reminded of Toni Morrison, “Lay it down, sword and shield, just lay it down.” I licked that ice cream to my heart’s content. I even threw away the paper.
Perfection is not attainable. Nobody can stand on a platform of perfection. The biggest catharsis I have had with awareness and the earth has been stated to me many times. “it’s not about a few people doing something perfectly, but about a bunch of people doing it all imperfectly.” A handful of people using metal straws is not going to save the world. Perfection is an unachievable goal that is a hinderance to anyone even desiring to give any effort a whirl. People need to get out of here with so and so did this…but I saw them wearing that… or they have been known to eat THIS on occasion, and blah blah blah.
If anyone is expecting to the letter veganism, or that all my waste exists in a mason jar, or a facade of wellness from me at all times you will be disappointed. I’m a regular hot mess some days and I will be the first to admit it.
My friend Jennifer has been such a wonderful lesson for me. She and her husband are hard core conservative republicans, her house is solar, they plug their car in at night, she rescues animals, they recycle. She brought me cupcakes when I had a sluggish day over the announcement that some of our troops would be sent to Iran. Honestly, her attempts at home energy-efficiency far exceed mine.
When did I start judging people by such things? When did I start finding differences before trying to find common ground? When did I start judging myself so harshly? As if everyone were measuring me by the same ruler and impossible standards that I was measuring everyone else?
I really gained a lot of insight from a Ted Talk titled, “My descent into America’s Neo-Nazi movement and how I Got Out.” Ultimately, it had a strong message about disconnection, and how we feel about “the other.” The “other” does not have to necessarily be tied in with race, although that was the subject of this talk. It touched on deep rooted needs for belonging and how powerful the forces of empathy and compassion can be, especially when they come at a time when one perceives that they least deserved it.
So I am making a solid effort to have more empathy and compassion for whatever “other” there is out there that seems to be swinging from the opposite end of a pole that I’m swinging from. I’m trying to find that connect before seeking out the disconnect.
I have been realizing that my friends who are doing “better” with things are immersed in community involvement. They’ve discovered that you find your “pod” and forge impactful change within that pod. That sense of not having a community has been killing me. I am completely surrounded in this Mormon community and I’ve always felt alienated, especially since “the move” which I’ve mentioned has launched me into a tailspin. My desire to seek out my tribe and my people has been rather non-existent. This introversion gig I’ve been doing, is not working out for me.
I may have mentioned that one of the most beneficial communities I ever belonged to was my dance community. My Wednesday nights cutting out dance routines with my tribe of “sisters” was so therapeutic for me. Volunteering at my friend’s zero waste shop and helping her launch her Kickstarter were also edifying. I have lost touch with both. Kudos to my friend though, her business is now self-sustaining without necessitating volunteers.
As providence would have it, I have been reading The Overstory and loving it. There is humor in it and the writing is brilliant. Trees are depicted as sentient beings with their own agenda in this grand scheme of life, without being plantamorphic, if there is such a thing. I never realized what a huge part they played in the human experience. It’s a secret glimpse into a world concealed in a scene, but trees have had far more to do with the overall plot than many of us have realized or have even acknowledged. It is as if the smoke screen has just been lifted, and I am just seeing trees for what they are and have always been for eons of time.
This sounds crazy, but I have also been listening to a podcast that has doused my fears, by actually setting them on fire. I see how divided our country is. I even recall having a conversation in my living room about guns over fried ice cream dripping with raspberry sauce, and hearing my mother say, “we are headed for civil war.”
At the time I remember thinking, “Is that even possible?” So, I have been listening to a pod cast that was strangely introduced to me by someone from my former dance community titled, “It Could Happen Here.” Oddly enough it does entertain the idea that yes, a second Civil War could very much happen here and to some it has already started. Insert Catalyst…there was mention of backlash for impeachment scenarios, and a reference to Michael Cohen’s cautionary statement about there not being a “peaceful transition of power.” This podcast was made well before Nancy Pelosi’s announcement.
So, some of you may be thinking, “Whoa…calm your ponies.” Strangely though, exploring my worst case scenario via podcast has been therapeutic for me. I’ve allowed my thoughts to run rampant, because a lot of anxiety came from just trying to restrain them.
Now that I have looked my fears head on and completely unbridled, it seems much easier to tone them down a few notches. Also, the podcast was laced with a tremendous amount of satire and humor for what was actually a serious matter. Never underestimate the power of good humor even if it seems terribly inappropriate.
The podcast also covered the possible “up side” if there were ever to be a second American Civil war. This was backed by statistical data about how worst case scenarios have actually statistically brought out the best in people, and how humans are more resilient than we realize when we are put to the test.
I was also reminded that two heroes involved in a train stabbing that occurred previously in this country in Portland, could not have been more different from one another. One was the stereotypical persona of “the left,” and the other the embodiment of “the conservative right.” They were also complete strangers. As one of them lied dying, he proclaimed that he wanted everyone on the train to know that he loved them.
We need more stories of unification and love out there from opposing sides. The finale of the podcast went something like: “Now, let’s get out there and unf*ck this country.”
There was also a comedic advertisement about another event that addresses eco-collapse and the climate crises. It was presented as “somewhat depressing” and “anxiety inducing…sure” but at least if it does happen, listening in would ensure that one could “easily explain to friends and co-workers why it was happening.” I laughed out loud at that, because it is a hell of a lot better than crying.
Finally, escapism is working out for me, and a little bit of escapism can go a long way. I realize that I need to divvy out a little more time for escapism in my life as part of a wellness regime. There is a reason why the movie industry thrived during the World Wars. It was all part of the experience and I am sure anyone from the past can cite which movies were impactful in the worst of times. I have said it, and I will say it again, god bless the Humanities!
I am a firm believer that eco-anxiety has become a real psychiatric diagnosis. I heard it in Greta’s voice as she addressed the U.N. assembly. Anxiety is not symbiotic with lacking strength. Perhaps it is a symptom of facing what is terrifying. I have no idea where the psyche community is going with eco-anxiety. These are things not seen before at this magnitude in recent times. As for my country, I would just settle for “Make America stable again.”
I can not steady America, or the world, but I can fruitfully attend to steadying myself. I find peace in knowing that there are forces at work that go beyond me and I thank god that I have been able to explore this by simply examining trees at the moment. There are far more stabling forces out there that go beyond the ones that I perceive to be taking up the entire story. There are plot twists and splendid surprises where meek things become strong and the strong become weak. Never underestimate the underlying forces out there that have been with us all along. I have to believe this.
My goals are simple for now, I have been in somewhat of a lurch and I only ask that I have a more productive and edifying day than the day before. I leave you with two final quotes:
“I promise that if you keep searching for what is beautiful in this world you will eventually become it.” – Tyler Kent White
”Everytime you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past, or pioneer of the future.” – Deepak Chopra.
I will be going to Capital Reef with my husband in our sheep camp next week. A place where we were married on a bridge. I have always done this trip in the spring, and not the fall. I will be excited to share the splendor of it all with you, and to privately contemplate the symbolic nature of bridges further because there are some serious ravines out there folks. You know it and I know it. It will require a serious feat of engineering to manuever beyond this, and we all could use a little stabilization when it comes to our own harness.
More to come. Thank you for reading.