The selfish life.

Maybe that title is a little misleading. What I’m thinking of here is about the time I take for writing. My first urge was to write that I am “selfishly” taking some time this morning to write when I “should” be cleaning house. Sean is still asleep, though, so I don’t want to make too much noise. And really, is it selfish to do what comes naturally to me? Would a painter say they were selfish for doing a landscape or portrait? There’s a weird dichotomy that comes with doing what you love for pay. It erodes a little of the enjoyment, at least for me. I mean, good on you, if you get paid to paint or sing or dance. But then it becomes work, something you want to put down at the end of 40 hours. I’m still trying to come to terms with how to write for publication. Yes, I’ve published two engineering books and countless user guides, but I’m talking about writing my heart. Writing my soul.

This blog is simply a place to talk to you out there in the ether, and to sort out what I think, to paraphrase Didion.

I started a chapter of a new book — writing it, not reading it — last weekend. I’m the worst for editing while writing. It’s where I get stuck. But I know that what turned out to be three pages should have been six, at least. My descriptive writing has sort of dried up. Where there once was a river, there is now a puddle in the middle of a cracked landscape. I’m nurturing that puddle one teaspoon of water at a time, trying to get it going again. I’d like it to aspire to be a creek. Someday, maybe it will be a river again. You never know when too late is too late.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I told my ex-husband that there would never be enough years in my life to do all that I want to do. At times, that also meant there wasn’t enough money to do all the things I wanted to do, such as travel. Now I’m getting ready to enjoy the last year of my 50s, and what have I done? Traveled a little. Been married a couple of times. I’ve had and raised two amazing kids and lost one of them. I’ve lost so many people that I love. I almost lost me. I think that was the real kicker. After spending years battling clinical depression, suffering through times when I thought about ending it all, here I was on the edge of the cliff staring into the abyss. Breast cancer is very treatable “when caught early”, they say, but mine wasn’t. I was very near stage 4, but I wasn’t, thankfully. I don’t know about you, but that definitely woke me up. I’m still in the fight, with radiation yet to go, but I feel like I’m on the downhill side of it. I want to do everything possible to thrive now.

For me that means making some changes in my life. Big, scary changes. I’ll be meeting with my Realtors soon and with a contractor to determine what to do to get my house ready for sale in late summer. I am planning to downsize. It’s just me, the pup, and two cats now. Eventually, it will be me and the pup. (The cats are middle-aged.) This house costs me a lot to maintain. It is more than just the mortgage payment; it’s the utilities, the maintenance, and all the things I have to pay others to do for me because my body just doesn’t cooperate. I want to still be close enough to my son that we can tend to each other’s animals if one of us is out of town, and so we can still visit and have those great Sunday breakfasts together. That means moving to North Carolina again, where I spent so many happy years. Like I said, BIG life changes.

I’m also exploring a job change within my current company, mostly so that when I write, I’m not writing manuals anymore. I’ll be sitting down to flesh out characters and describe exciting places and dive into a twisted plot. I hope it works out for me. I realize I’m still going to undergo some more treatment, but like I said, I’m on the downhill side now. This isn’t a change I planned, necessarily, but some serendipity happened. The job is there. I have the training and experience. I just need to get past the interview process and hope for the best. Whatever is meant to be will happen. You can put things in motion, but a lot of stuff is out of your control. At almost 59, I can tell you that has been a guiding principle that has worked for me. You can fight and kick and scream at life, trying to bend it to your will, but eventually you’ll see that certain things just happen. You can go with it or you can be bitter and angry.

It’s a rainy Saturday here in Maryland. Gloomy. But it’s been a good morning to think and to write. My son is up now, so I’m going to get to my other work — light housekeeping! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and remember to find and follow your bliss!

Peace, J

P.S. – I got my first (Moderna) vaccine this week. The hospital called all of their oncology patients and gave us appointments. I will get my next one near the end of March. Get yours as soon as you can! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to be able to hug my friends again.

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