Month: December 2019

Wanting to Pause in Between

On the last day of 2019 I find myself longing for a between space. I don’t want to cling to the year just past. It was too full of upheaval and stress for me to want to linger. Yet I’m not ready to launch myself into a new year yet. After tomorrow the holiday pause ends and the world will speed up again. I’ll need to find my work brain so I can pick up business tasks. I have Kickstarter obligations to fulfill. I need to remember how to be a writer, creative, and business person. What I would like to be able to do is let all of that lie fallow until my daughter’s wedding in two weeks. Just extend the holiday pause so I can do these family things while untroubled by all the rest.

I can feel that “all the rest” beginning to move and chew at the doors I’ve hidden it all behind in my brain. I would love to be in a place where I could throw those doors open, joyfully ready to tackle new projects. I’m trying to get there. One of the things I’ve been working on the past week has been the family photo book for 2019. Through placing pictures and words onto pages, I’m reviewing the year I just had and re-processing the experiences of it. It was a year where the financial and stress blows just kept on coming at a pace where we could barely keep up. We reached the point where we just laughed when yet another thing showed up in our lives.

This year ends with us five figures deeper in debt than we were last year. It also ends with important relationships built and lots of personal growth for everyone. We gained a family member (officially linked in two weeks.) Turned our house upside down by suddenly renovating half of it because of disaster clean up. Put two kids into college. Withdrew two kids from college. Paid a lot of therapy bills. And had creative projects significantly slowed down by all the uproar. And yet I treasure every bit of this year because the best bits -the bright, glowing, shining moments- were purchased with the crazy, stressful, upside-down bits.

I don’t feel like I have had enough time to really examine the impacts and gains from the past year. I don’t feel ready to launch into the year that is about to begin. But ready or not, time marches me forward into 2020

The End of a Difficult Year

We are eleven days from the end of the year and the turn over into a new decade. Tonight is solstice, the point where night is darkest and longest. After today every day will be a little bit longer and dawn will come a little bit earlier. Halfway out of the dark.

I’m seeing quite a lot of social media posts from people who are very ready to say goodbye to 2019. They had hard years for one reason or another. My year was high stakes, high stress, high anxiety, and very complicated, yet I’m not angry at 2019. The hard stuff that happened this year made the best stuff from the year possible. I have a new appreciation for the fact that it is difficulties which make us grow rather than comfort or ease. Since many of my people have been in desperate need of growth, I would feel ungrateful to complain about the very things which triggered the beginnings of that growth.

This year had a bunch of hard things in it. I’ll spend portions of next year dealing with ongoing consequences of those hard things (Hello debt hole which still needs to be filled in.) But I would not wish away the year I had. I gained too many precious things as a result.


“How do you get yourself motivated?” My 17 year old son asked me on the way home from therapy. I could tell it was a question his therapist suggested he ask me, and probably several other adults in his life. It is a good question for this young man to be asking because he struggles with self motivation.

I didn’t have a ready answer for him. Instead I had to pause and think about why (and how) I get myself moving, particularly on the days that I don’t want to. Some of it is a desire to be there for the people who depend on me. I’ve got 24 years of practice at having dependent people who will suffer consequences if I don’t do the basic household things. Yet now my dependents aren’t really dependent any more. I no longer have to carefully manage my days so that naptime falls into the convenient window of time, but the skill of being able to do that has shaped all the years since then.

As I talked I realized that most of my ability to motivate has nothing to do with other people at all. Instead it is about who I want to be and how I want to live. I’ll do dishes before bed, even though I’m tired because I want to have a better start for the morning than waking up to a kitchen disaster. I do the work things because I want to live in a world where I’ve completed the project in front of me and they only way I get to do that is if I work on the project today. This source of motivation depends on me having a longer viewpoint than how I feel in the moment. Developing the ability to see that viewpoint requires practice. Developing the ability to still reach for a future I want despite a haze of depression or fatigue is an additional level of skill.

That is about as far as the conversation got before we arrived at home. It was enough for now. He needs a chance for the new ideas to settle. Then he needs the chance to practice self-motivation, fail at self-motivation, and try again. This kid has so much potential if he can use the next six months developing his self-management skills, then there will be no stopping him.