I don’t know for sure when it happened although, if I were to go through my old journals, I could probably pinpoint it. I only know things have changed. It wasn’t even a subtle shift—it was more like two pieces of a model railroad track snapping together with a click. It was the moment I changed from being a writer looking for credibility to a writer who had things to say. It is a welcome change. I’m still dealing with the dynamics of the shift. There are bits and pieces needing to be put away, organizing to be done, and more. But I’m not waiting for everything to be perfect. I’d be waiting the rest of my life. In fact, I’ve already started. I’ve been gathering resources, dipping my toes in the water, and trying to learn as much as I can.
I may have just sold my first, no second, piece of writing. In fact, the first piece I was commissioned to write might have been the catalyst. To discover I could be paid for my work. Or it might have been the end of my part-time casual job. I could look for a new job, or I could focus on writing, and see if I could earn enough to have the odd weekend adventure. Or it might have been signing the contract for my first book, as though I put a big checkmark next to “Get Published” and said, “Ok, now what?”
The thing is, I have time. A lot of time. And while it’s (almost) possible for me to survive on my disability check, a little extra cash makes for a nice cushion. My current situation gives me a little wiggle room. To explore. To change.
I’ve never been fond of change. I find myself clinging to the familiar. Maybe that’s why I stayed in my marriage as long as I did. God knows it was terrifying to walk away, not knowing what the future might bring. And maybe that is why I am so much more comfortable with change now. Change is an adventure.
I started the year by signing up for five different free on-line writing workshops, challenges, etc. The one I found most useful was a one-day workshop hosted by a friend of mine. Without going into too much detail, this is what I learned –
You don’t close the door on the year just past. Instead, you look at it critically. Make a list of the bad things that happened. Make a list of the good things that happened. The bad things are the lessons you learned. The good things are the memories you created. Instead of closing the door, you want to build on that.
I was surprised to find my memories were a longer list than my lessons. I want more. I want more memories, less lessons. I sat down and created my Live List—a list of all the things I’d like to do this year, no matter how impractical they might be. (Ziplining. Really?) Now, my goal is to find a way to achieve as many of them as possible in the coming year. I’m never going to get them all done. But I found my Live List contained a lot of things that could be accomplished, with a little effort and planning.
Whew! That’s a lot of preamble just to tell you one of my goals is to do at least one blog post per month. But this year is going to be a little different. My focus is going to be a little less on the backroads and a bit more on what is right in my own back yard. Oh, I’ll still be hitting the backroads on occasion. I have an addiction to road dust and wildflowers. But with high gas prices, I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to visit some of the places I’ve heard of but never seen. I want to do a little walking, a little writing, and just exist in the moment.
Today seemed like a good day to start.
I didn’t go far—just to the beach across the street from the park I live in. While I have been walking daily, trying to build up my strength, I’m not far enough along to walk all the way there. No, I drove, parked, and used my energy to do my walking on the beach. I knew I wouldn’t be able to push my walker over snow, grass, and sand. So using just the steam of my own two legs, I went for a walk on the beach. Even though I wore full length pants, a shirt with sleeves, fingerless gloves, and the cloth coat I’ve owned for more than 30 years, it was freaking cold out there!
The wind off the lake went right through me, but the sun and clouds were playing tag over the water, and I didn’t give up. I walked right down to the water’s edge and parked myself on the sand. The mallards were having a spa day, splashing and preening both in the water and on the shore.
There were no geese in sight, but they left their distinctive three-toed tracks and piles of slimy green evidence to mark their territory.
There were also no people. I got back up and continued my walk down the beach, stopping to take pictures of whatever caught my eye.
Sun, cloud, waves, shore, the braided bark of the willow trees – there was plenty to keep me entertained. Even the sharp bite of wintery air on my face felt good. Damn good. Euphoric, even. My word of the year is Adventure. And my new motto:
Do More. Be More. Live More.