Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Relinquish, Renew, Resolve . . . 2016 into 2017

I know many aren't, but I'm a fan of the New Year's Resolution.  Sure, time is a construct and all that, but I still like the whole "tabula rasa" vibe of it all.

January 1 = blank page. Clean slate.

A chance to start over again.

Okay, well, make that January 2, because there are too many good leftovers in this house the day after New Year's Eve.

Still, I admit it is hard. This year more than ever before.

Those who read me regularly in any forum know how I feel about our world and country right now: It is hard to feel hopeful and renewed in any sense, hard to feel creative or to plan. Hard to feel anything other than panic and despair.

No mincing words. If you are a democrat, a liberal and/or a progressive, if you are a person who truly cares about our earth, other people, and our world, if you try to live by the motto, "first do no harm," 2016 was a motherfucking assclown, and 2017 is poised to make last year look tame.

So, at first, I was thinking, "Fuck it. I make no promises. I just need to get through."

But I quickly rethought that, because if I'm going to get through, I'm going to need to commit to some things to help get me through. Because, quite frankly, the message running through my brain for the past several weeks: "Eat all the crap! Sleep late! What does it matter, we're all going to die in a nuclear wasteland?!?!" isn't going to help me help my kids. It isn't going to preserve our planet for their kids. It is no frame of mind for the resistance.

What's that old motto? I can tell you what it's not: It's not when the going gets tough, the tough sleep in and eat all the cookies."

And anyway, it isn't how I want to spend my last days if they are those anyway. So if it takes a construct that I'm used to, so be it. I liked who I was becoming before that bloated, gloating, orange carnival barker ransacked the landscape of our country. Time to plow forward with new resolve.

1. Relinquishing & Resolving:

Boyz to men: 
It's time to LET GO. 

Story one: November 8th at around 9:30 pm, the quickly-escalating texts from boys, who were both away at school, began to roll in:

"Are you worried?"

The younger one is taller. . . 
"What's going on. . .?"

"Are you scared?"

"What's going to happen if he wins. . .???"

I did my best to steady myself.

"It's still early. . . " I responded. "No way our country will elect him."

"Yeah, a little. . ."

As the night wore on, texts wouldn't suffice. I found my breath -- barely -- and made the calls to them.

"Yes, it's awful. No, I can't believe it. But, we'll be alright. We've weathered bad periods in history before. . ."

My voice shook as I lied. I didn't believe my own words.

How could I let this happen in their world. . . ? 

In the days since the election, my boys have made more peace with our country's politics than I have. Maybe it's youth. Maybe it's willful distraction and putting aside. One thing is for sure. They know the biggest truth of all, now: I cannot protect them from the evils of the world.

The fact of this truth is excruciating. But they are practically grown men. The only thing I can do is let go.


Story two: Last week, as I began to type this post, my younger son was on the road from LI to PA, making a drive he had never made before. To those who don't live in NY or Chicago, or LA, I imagine a kid's first big drive from home to anywhere is different than if you live here. But for those of us who live on Long Island and have tried to get from LI to anywhere else, skirting the city to get on to the GW Bridge or Throgsneck, or other such similar maneuverings, is its own kind of dangerous hell on earth. It looks like this, but in motion: The trucks. The aggressive driving. The confusing, last minute, lane changes.

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. . . 

Before our older so made such a drive, he did it WITH us multiple times, so we could instruct him and be another set of more experienced eyes. But with our younger son, the opportunity kept alluding us, and the one time we did have him try, I was too nervous in the backseat and made my husband pull over and switch drivers.

Suffice it to say, as I worked on this post and watched the clock tick, it was an excruciating exercise in working to let go -- but a fantastic opportunity to practice. Every time, I panicked, I whispered to myself, "He is smart. He is capable. Let go."

In a few hours, he had arrived safely, in good time, and did the ride home a few days later, no problem, as well.


Story-ish three: My older son has been engaged in a really wonderful form of therapy called DBT therapy which has a huge mindfulness component to it, and once a week, he, my husband, and I participate in a large group session with him. As such, we get to learn the units and components of DBT. There's a piece called "Radical Acceptance," and, as part of it, we work to get rid of the word "should." 

Spend a day doing that alone -- subbing out the word should -- and you'll see how much our brains are constantly focused on what we think should be rather than what is.

So, this is my biggest resolution for 2017: Let go. LET GO. Get rid of the word should.

2. Renew and Resolve 

1. Go back to healthy eating. Hello again, Whole 30. Already under way.

I've got my "don't grab my pussy"-cat hat
and I'm ready to march on 1/21. 
2. Commit to Political Action. Before my forties, I was never very politically involved. Though I was a vocal Bill Clinton fan, Obama's first election was probably the first one I felt incredibly strongly about, enough to feel deeply, deeply invested on election night. The truth is, I never have had huge confidence in my political "smarts," in that fact that I know enough from an in-depth perspective, to fairly have an opinion worthy of sharing  with others.

Well, guess what 2017? You elected the wrong guy, a bad guy, one who stirred the worst underbelly of our society, so I'm done worrying about all that.

I'm reading trusted, neutral sources. I'm sharing action. I'm marching. I'm speaking out. And as a proud member of ATLI , I plan to fight back any fear, insecurity and lethargy on my part, and get more and more involved.

And, last but not least,

3. Be boldly and confidently creative. I made a silly joke on Facebook the other day that I was going to become an arrogant egomaniac in 2017. But I'm only half-kidding. Put it this way: Four books sold to some of the most reputable publishers in history, and three released into the world to pretty good reviews all around, and I'm ready to believe that I am truly a writer worth reading. I'm ready to write with confidence. I'm ready to believe that my stories are published because they're goddamned worthy of being out there.


But yeah. Fuck it. I am.

Something like that anyway. And on that front, 2017 has started out strong:

  • In addition to appearing on many year end favorites and best of lists, THE MEMORY OF THINGS just won me my third Nerdy Book Club award (thank you, NBC!!) and comes out in a fancy new paperback incarnation in August 2017. 

  • My IN SIGHT OF STARS revisions were just accepted by incredible editor, Vicki Lame, and 

So amidst all the muck, stay tuned for great writing from a writing badass in 2017.

Happy New Year to all. Feel free to share your relinquishments and resolve in the comments below.

xox gae

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