Writing, blocks and the woods

I went to the woods today, and I didn’t come out overwhelmed with inspiration.

Normally, I go in with a million thoughts swirling around in my grey matter, and come out with dirt stained pages of ideas, snippets, new directions for existing projects, lines that may fit places and just an overall clarity about life.

Today I went in without much of importance on my mind, and came out feeling kind of bleh.

It’s just been that kind of week, honestly.

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It’s still so beautiful, even if it didn’t clear my block.

I’m coming down off a crazy creative high. I rode the wave, got all of the things in my head out on paper, and now the wave has deposited me back on the shore with a lot of stuff to work through and not a lot of motivation to work through it.

I have pieces of poems stashed in random notebooks, some poems that right now are two, but are likely different drafts of the same piece. I have some I’ve literally cried over because I can’t get right. Some I’ve spilled beer on because I’m frustrated (and also clumsy).

This is the time when writing feels like work. When the words don’t come smoothly sailing out of my pen and on to paper. When I don’t feel like a creative genius. When I feel like everything that comes out sucks and is worthless.

I hate times like this.

It’s not even writer’s block, it’s…editor’s block? It’s a lack of motivation? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what it is. All I know is that it’s testing me.

Testing my resolve to make this work and make something of myself.

That’s why I went to the woods. It’s my happy place. The place I can usually find clarity and direction and all of the things I need to be successful.

Today I just discovered I’m really dehydrated, and that hiking three miles in direct sunlight with no shade was not my brightest idea. I miss my mountains terribly.

The trees in the woods I hiked in today valued their personal space too greatly. I didn’t feel enclosed in a comforting blanket of branches and leaves and Spanish moss. Today I felt exposed. I felt like anything I stopped on the trail to write down would be instantly out there in the universe not simply scrawled on a dirt-stained page of my notebook.

I have a strict no music rule when I go into the woods. I like to connect with myself, connect with nature, and let’s be honest….listen to know if any snakes/gators/bears/cougars might be trying to plan a sneak attack.

Anyways, today I didn’t even have thoughts swirling around in my head. I didn’t have anything I was overthinking about or anything to even get out. So I turned on the music to simply have something to occupy my brain other than when this steaming hot, seemingly never-ending hike would be over.

It was that kind of hike.

It sucked.

I’ve word vomited everything. I’ve said all that needs to be said so now it’s just working with it.

I don’t know how to do that. I’m good at the initial dump, and I love the catharsis that comes from that. Once it’s all out there? I’m not good at that. I’m not good at doing something about things, or in this context, polishing poems and other pieces.

It’s an interesting space to be in creatively. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work it still takes after I have everything down on paper. The projects I’m working on still have so far to go. It’s terrifying and exhausting.

The woods didn’t work for me today, but maybe that isn’t their job. Maybe I need to stop looking to so many outside things for motivation and validation in writing and probably a lot of other parts of my life, too.

But that’s a different story for a different time.

If anyone has any motivating tips, playlists, suggestions, etc., send them my way. I’m always open to suggestions!

The dog days are over

Late summer.

I was a mess. I’d just lost my husband. I’d just lost my best friend. I’d just lost the person I’d (wrongly) expected would be thrilled to see me come home. The rug had been ripped out from under me. Rather, I’d ripped the rug out from underneath myself. In what feels like a never-ending blame game, it has been pointed out to me that am the one who did this to myself.

It’s true, I did. But it’s also the best decision I ever made.

Anyhow. On this particular day, I sat on my friend’s couch clutching a bottle of tequila because who needs to dirty a glass when you are trying to drown a pain that feels insurmountable?

We sat there together. Him playing video games, me guzzling tequila like my life depended on it and drowning out the thoughts in my head with music because I still couldn’t formulate words of my own.

“The Dog Days are Over” by Florence the Machine came on.

 

 

The two of us were coping with heart break, and the dog days were far from over, as he so kindly pointed out.

Cue my guzzling more tequila.

I remember sitting there in that moment listening to the lyrics. “Happiness hit her, like a train on a track.”

I felt like I’d been hit by a train, but a train of pain and tears and an endless hangover.

I immediately started ugly crying because how on earth were the dog days supposed to be over? How was I supposed to put back the pieces of my life that I shattered with a sledgehammer? I remember wondering why I even did this to myself –why couldn’t I have just continued to suffer in silence? I still hadn’t realized I deserved far better, we both did.

I didn’t think there was any way I would possibly get through it. My dog days were just my life. They would be over when I was dead.

“One day, the dog days will be over, and we will sit here listening to this song and think about how ridiculous we both were.”

Mostly I think he just wanted me to stop crying, because I sat in that spot with a bottle of something or a pint of ice cream at least three times a week for a while. I stared keeping ice cream and tequila in his freezer so I could listen to Adele and cry with someone next to me.

If you’re reading this, and I haven’t thanked you recently for holding onto all my shattered pieces so I could put them back together and for being my safe place and for all the things, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

That moment has stuck with me. I think about it often. Usually when I’m drunk and confused, but more recently in a better light.

The song came on our playlist at work, and I immediately started singing along and jamming out while I was doing my little barista thing.

Then all of the sudden it hit me, like a train on a track.

The dog days are over.

The dog days are fucking over.

I’m happier now than I think I’ve ever been. Life isn’t without it’s struggles or stresses, obviously, but I’m so happy.

This move to Florida was good for me. It was without a doubt exactly what I needed to do. I’m writing more than I ever have. I’ve met people who have inspired me and pushed me and who believe in me.

I’ve healed relationships that have needed healing for a while. Life has just been an incredible whirlwind of good things lately, and more good things are coming.

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Everything it must belong somewhere. I know that now, that’s why I’m staying here. 

The dog days are fucking over. I survived the worst thing I thought could ever happen. I lost everything I knew, everything I thought I wanted. I threw everything away because I knew I was miserable, and it wasn’t fair to anyone involved.

The dog days are fucking over, and I couldn’t be happier.

Finding happiness in the dark

Yesterday was a magical day.

It was one of those days I never wanted to end, where you just soak up every moment. I played in the woods and enjoyed some time away from the craziness of Orlando and drank good beer with a pretty fantastic person.

You ever meet someone who just…gets you? Where it immediately feels like you’ve known them forever? It doesn’t happen often, but it’s pretty incredible when it does.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining and we walked and walked and talked and talked, and it was amazing. It was one of those days that proved this was the right move for me. I’m appreciating where I am and who is in my life and all the good things so much more now.

I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time. Remember when a few months ago I said there were good things coming, I could feel it? I was right.

But those are different stories for different times. They’re not ready to be committed to paper, I’m still enjoying having them in my brain to day dream about.

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Forests of ferns

Waking up this morning was awful.

I woke up to news of the attacks on Syria. I woke up to news of the attacks on Stockholm. I woke up to news of the shooting and murders that occurred outside of one of my favorite pubs in my hometown.

I woke up with a smile still on my face, but it quickly fell.

How can things be going so wonderful for me, yet so terribly for so many others? Why am I so lucky to be stressed about paying for summer camp for my daughter when there are people literally fleeing for their lives?

How can people be so downright shitty? There may be a more eloquent way to word that, but at this point I don’t care. Yesterday’s events are just plain shitty.

Emma put it best, I think. I hope she doesn’t mind my stealing her words, “How am I supposed to explain to my child someday that I’m scared to let her stay out late because she might get shot? How do I explain to her that people fucking bomb each other in the name of defense and loyalty to countries?”

I wanted to have all the answers. I wanted to pretend I knew exactly what to tell her, what to tell our daughters, and what to tell everyone else who is as confused as I am about why the world is the way it is.

I don’t, though.

Why am I writing this, then?

Mostly because it’s the only way I know to attempt to make sense of it. Maybe if I write enough about it, I’ll understand. Or at least come to a place where I accept that I’ll never understand.

Sophie was so excited when I came home from work today. Her face lit up, “mommy! mommy!” she yelled. “How day?”

How am I supposed to tell her anything but good? One day her questions when I come home will be much more complicated then how my day was.

One day I’ll have to tell her that people suck.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those parents who can just brush stuff under the rug. I’ll always want to answer her questions.

But there are some I just can’t because I don’t have the answers myself.

My heart is heavy. I feel everything too deeply, and I know that. I’m not one of those people who can separate myself from the terrors of this world. Especially when terrible things happen right in my own back yard.

I just want to always feel the way I did yesterday.

Happy. Free. Beautiful. Excited. Relaxed.

But those feelings become replaced with such anxiety, sadness, anger, hurt and confusion when things like this happen.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel to other people? How do people feel like it is their right to just take away someone else’s life?

How is there so much anger and hatred in this world? It breaks my heart.

Maybe I’m far too idealistic in my wish for people to just get along and be happy. I always strive to see the good in people no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been. I look for the best in everyone I meet and have a hard time accepting that some people do shitty things just because they can.

I’m naive, and there are some people who try to make me see the darker sides of things, who try to make me be “realistic.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a realist.

I can see the slight pity in people’s faces when I start going off on a tangent filled with child-like excitement about something going on in my life. Things don’t always work out the way I want them to, but I haven’t let any of it break me yet.

I’ve been to hell and back so many times they should give me a VIP parking spot, or at least pay my tolls. My point is that, I’ve seen some shit. I’ve been some dark and twisty places, to quote Meredith Grey. I’ve crashed, burned, fallen flat on my face and failed more times than I can count, especially over this past year or two, but none of it has broken me the way some people must be to do the horrific things they do.

None of it has made me lose hope in the world. It’s fading, sure. I’m afraid for the future. I’m afraid for my daughter. I’m afraid for the battles that are coming. I’m afraid to lose the light in my eyes because this world is just so dark.

I don’t know what to do with all of this. I have such a small place in this world, but I want to make my place count. I guess I also just have this terrible need to save everyone and take care of everyone.

I can’t, but sometimes I wish people could see things the way I do. I wish they could see that the shitty stuff isn’t forever. That yes, it’s shitty, it hurts, it sucks. I fully believe in people wallowing in their hurt and dealing with it and even letting consume them for a little while.

But don’t let your hurt cause you to treat others like they don’t matter. They do.

The consequences of your actions might not go away, but the hurt goes away.

It always goes away.

Then you have beautiful days where the sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky and you walk through the woods and admire the ferns and hope the rustling sound behind you wasn’t a snake with someone who makes you feel alive and beautiful and happy.

Somehow, some way, we will all be okay. All we can really do is keep trying to find happiness in even the darkest of times. What’s that Dumbledore said? We just have to remember to turn on the light.

And sometimes we have to be the light.

Love can change the world in a moment, but what do I know?

Too beautiful for this world

I remember when I found out.

I was lying in bed, mindlessly scrolling through social media like I do every day.

I sat straight up when I saw it. I couldn’t believe it, but it was true. My friend had taken his own life.

It’s been three years since that day. It still doesn’t seem real. We hadn’t talked in ages, probably since I’d moved away, but it still hit me when I found out he wasn’t around anymore.

I think it’s because of the way he went.

I knew Eric during a particularly dark time of my life. He knew the me who was trying to navigate the dark tunnels of depression for the first time. He knew the me who regularly contemplated suicide. He knew the me that had cuts on her arms and legs and a razor blade in her pencil case.

There were days when he would tell my angsty, depressed, twelve-year-old self that it would be okay. That this wasn’t forever. To smile. Then he’d give me a hug and be on his way. He was a light on some dark, dark days.

The small things made a difference to me. Small acts from a lot of people helped me dig my self out of that dark place. I may have visited a time or two since then, but overall, I reign champion over my inner demons.

I attempted, contemplated often and am here now writing this. In a cemetery of all places. How ironic that I would be at a funeral on this anniversary. We buried my beautiful great grandmother today. She lived a long and happy life. She met her soul mate, had a beautiful family and lived a fulfilling life.

I often wonder why some people live forever and others are ripped away cruelly far too soon.

Sometimes I forget and think he is still out there making kick ass art and putting smiles on people’s faces.

Then it hurts all over again.

From my own struggles, I know how he must have felt when he died. I know what it’s like to feel like the world is just too much and the pain is just too much and there is no way out. I know what it is like to feel hopeless and helpless. No one deserves to feel that way.

Depression is very real. Anxiety is very real. Pain like that is real and dangerous. As much as I know that when it gets to that point, very little makes a difference, I still wish there was something someone could have done.

I’m sure the people that loved him, that were a part of his daily life, feel the same. I cannot even fathom how that must feel.

I watched them grieve from afar and just wanted to wrap them in a giant hug and make the hurt go away.

The shitty thing about something like this is that you can’t make the hurt go away, you can only learn to live with it and hopefully turn it into something good.

The strength I have seen, especially from his sister, as time goes on is incredible. She knows it, I’ve told her. I hate that I never got to tell Eric how much those little things he did for me meant to me so I make a point to let people know how much I love/admire/appreciate them while I do have the chance.

You really never know when it will be gone.

Something Danielle said about him has stuck with me: he was too beautiful for this world.

Some people just are.

I hope that he is out there in the universe somewhere watching down on us knowing how much we all loved him.

It’s unfathomable. I’ve written about it over and over and over again, and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that something like this is possible.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

I think I’ll always question why we struggled with some of the same things, but I get to be okay and he doesn’t.

I’ll just take the hurt and keep writing until my hand cramps. I’ll keep remind the people I love that I love them and that they matter.

Love is the only thing that cures us anyways.

 

If you’re hurting, struggling, contemplating, or whatever, please get help. Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255. If talking on the phone gives you anxiety, google it and they have an online chat. Reach out if you need a friend. Sometimes people really just have no idea what someone is going through even if you think they should.

Take it from me, things really can get better if you work to build your better. I promise.