This will be the last blog I post for 2016, a year that happened. It wasn't a great year but it wasn't the worst. It was a year of change, of readjusting and changing directions only to figure out I was already going in the direction I needed to go. As I sit here and listen to Simon and Garfunkel's "Old Friends", I can't help but to get sort of sentimental about the past year though I'm glad in its passing. I've done my list of all the things I learned, all the things I have been grateful this year. I wrote a blog about the coming year was going to be the best yet, where I was going to change my attitude in the coming days to be a better me and I will most certainly try but a resolution wears its welcome out in about a week. My daughter turned sixteen a few days ago. We went to the coffee shop that I would often take her to when she was little. I remember teaching her how to write on those big plushed red chairs and it made me smile to know that this life regardless of the year comes full circle. We are creatures of habit and constant constellations in old familiars. I was affirmed that day that she hasn't forgotten the memories I gave her. I was assured that even though right now she doesn't listen to a word I say, she has heard everything I have said. My husband has begrudgingly supported my coffee addiction but I don't know if he will ever understand the emotional connection I have to it either. It was in the bean roasting air that I would lose myself in words for hours, constantly refueling with another cup of joe to continue the creative chaos in my mind. It was in that same air I realized how being alone for so long as painful as it was made me that much stronger of a person. I watched the new Gilmore Girls on Christmas Day. I am not going to lie. It gave me some tears. It gave me lots of wonderful feelings and so many memories of what it was like when it was just me and the kid but because it had been many years since I last sat down with LoraLei and Rory, I watched it differently. There were things about LoraLei I related more to and parts of Rory that mirrored me, too. Because I have grown and accepted my life, there were parts about these two beautiful characters that I could truly sit with. There was a moment, however, in the last episode where LoraLei is trying to find coffee but finds that beautiful view instead and ends up going home without taking the hike. Her line was, "of course it had to do with coffee," made me smile in so many ways. Sitting at that coffee shop, I thought of that line and I realized that of course this child wanted to have coffee in that particular place on her birthday. It's where her story began.
My mother once told me that coffee would stunt my growth. Considering the females in my family tapped out at 5 feet, I wasn't all that worried about it. The day I reached 5'3 (and stopped) was a big achievement. I tower of my mother and sister. My poor kid might not even reach my height but there is an advantage of being vertically challenged. I don't think it was coffee that tipped the scale on that one. Coffee just became a friend to me over the years, a companion that never disappointed and I didn't have to say much to. It didn't care that I was sad or happy or indifferent. It never cared if I spoke or wrote or stared off into the distance. It was a cup on a table full of delicious goodness and it made me feel warm inside. It inspired the swirls in my head into coherent, lovely thoughts without the stress of actually producing them. A cup of coffee and a cigarette, that's all I needed to find my solace. Every day I would go to my particular familiar and get lost for hours. Sometimes people would join me over the years. Other times all those people would disappear. I never minded it either way. I would put my headphones on and let these fingers dance across that paper. For years, I never put anything on a computer. Writing was such a personal thing for me. Reading back through particular journals my words were so raw, so vulnerable, so incredibly painful. Others were so pure, so full of joy but I never wanted to share them either way. That hour at the coffee shop with my paper and my coffee and my cigarettes was mine, all mine. I gave myself permission to be just a girl, just a girl. I became someone's mother so early in life that being just a girl for a moment was such a simple, lovely thing to be. I don't regret the steps I have taken, the choices I have made. I never will even the decisions that led me into peril but I will take pleasure in the small moments when I can just be, just be for a moment. Somehow sitting with a cup of coffee takes me back to those moments, those quiet moments when life wasn't so complicated. All of my life changing moments had something to do with coffee. There are worse things.
It's not that I even need coffee every day... (but I do need coffee everyday). I just need to go have coffee with myself every few days if that makes sense. As much as I love that glorious, bitter liquid, it's not so much about the actual coffee. It's about the experience, the experience that I taught my daughter about early in life. LoraLei needs coffee to function, any kind, good or bad, from any kind of regular old pot. It may be the one thing we differ on. I actually need good, quality coffee (one of the many reasons that particular coffee shop is my favorite). It's about taking a moment to sit down, to relax, to clear my head either for the day I am about to start or the day I just had. It's finding clarity in this life that we lead that sometimes in the moment we can't see. It's about breathing, simple breathing. I enjoy sitting on that patio, lighting up that smoke, and taking that first sip, sitting back and watching the sky above me, listen to the people around me. I don't know why but I adore the experience of that world. I do believe that I would have been the best Beatnik but I was born in the wrong generation. Coffee isn't about the coffee. It's the one thing places like Starbucks forget. It's not about the coffee or having Wifi or making sure corporate dummies have a place to sit. It's about the community that it blooms. It's about the people who come in every day and say hello every morning and ask about your kids or your job or about the bunyon on your foot. It's about sitting around a table and talking to each other... or not talking at all. I used to go to a lot of Open Mics when I was younger. A lot of what I heard was pretty awful but it didn't matter because we were there in the moment sharing a little bit of ourselves. I fell in love with the culture of it more so. I want to sit with you and ask about your day or just to sit with you. I found out so many wonderful things about myself sitting at a coffee shop. I taught my kid so many silly things giggling at a coffee shop. I've got to know some pretty amazing people and I've said goodbye to some pretty awesome ones, too. To me, it's where I had my A-Ha moments, my greatest realizations, my deepest truths. I sat in my corner. I fell apart and put myself back together. I fell down and quietly learned how to stand all over again. We sat in that coffee shop the other day and I wondered how many times I had cried in that place over the years. I tried to remember how many times I got into some tiff over things that didn't matter and I laughed to myself. I fell into a memory of a boy I once loved making out with his new girl in front of me at the table just outside the doors, getting lost in these memories that stopped having meaning years ago but still they are there. My husband asked me something and brought me back, back to where I belong and I smiled at him. He was now a part of this familiar just like my daughter was and I realized that being there in these last moments of 2016, I had made him a part of this piece of my puzzle.
This brilliant life that I have been given has been both blessed and cursed. Coffee wasn't the one thing that made all that better. It was the one thing that made me sit down for a second, to catch my breath for a moment, to understand how important it was to find a community not just with people but within myself as well. I found a home within walls that were just that, just walls, with a cup of coffee that was just coffee, just coffee. Within those walls and inside that mug, I was just a girl and I'm still just a girl with her journal sitting in a corner, lost in the words that carry me away in the wind. My coffee addiction is often confused with an actual addiction. I admit. I drink a lot of coffee and probably should cut down a bit but, eh... I know. The first step is admitting a problem. I got a problem but my real problem is that I enjoy the solitude more than anything. As a writer, I love to get lost in my own thoughts, in my own creations even if they make no sense, even if they are all trash ideas that are going nowhere. I love that creative process of sifting through the brilliant ideas and the ones that should stay as doodles on a scratch piece of paper. We have tools that we need to get our jobs done. All I need is a pen, some paper, a cup of coffee, and a quiet afternoon. But I get inspiration out of you, too. I want to sit down with you and talk and let go and remember and plan. I know I ask my friends a lot if they want to meet for coffee but it's more about being with them than it is the venue. And coffee makes me feel good :) When I ask my daughter to go have coffee with me, it's because I know that she feels just as comfortable in that environment as I do. I know that she can just be my kid for a moment and not worry about school or jobs or college or friends. We revert back to Rory and LoraLei, talking too fast about something inconsequential and I love those moments when she's just being my kid. We sat in that coffee shop the other day and I realized that she chose that for her birthday as much as for her as she did for me. She will never truly understand it but I knew the other day that by her choosing that particular old familiar it was her way of aknowledging how hard it is for me that she's growing up. She brought us back to a place where we began, her way of offering me comfort. She will move on one day but we'll always have coffee. We will always have our coffee.
I made a list of everything that this year taught me the other day. Why? Because it is good to sit down for a second, catch your breath, recap the steps you have taken so that you have a better idea of where you are going. This is the time of year we get stuck in the "What ifs" and "Should haves" of the last 365 days but the reality is we can't take back any of the choices we made, any of the actions we took, any feelings we hurt. We can celebrate all the wonderful we gave and take the lessons for all the mistakes. I was cleaning up my house this morning, thinking about that list as I folded my daughter's blanket for the millionth time and picked up the continuous trash off the floor that no matter how many times I pick it up she finds a new way to leave it behind. I thought about that list and realized that I am happy to leave 2016 in the past. It wasn't necessarily bad. I lost in both this year and the year before. It just wasn't great. It was a year of confusion trying to figure out how to fill these holes that somehow formed inside of me over night. It was a year of trying to figure out how to make myself feel all right in this skin and I made progress... and I made mistakes. And I was thinking about all these things as I washed the dishes that piled my kitchen counters and gathered three bags of trash in my house. I was thinking about how I should have made different choices than perhaps I wouldn't be facing the choices that I face today and then I laughed at myself because I realized none of it really mattered anymore. My two adorable kittens followed me around all morning, from one room to the next, curiously watching me pick up all the tiny treasures they laid on my carpet to play with at a later time and I smiled at their tiny faces. To be a cat, right? To only have the moment in front of you. And, sure, maybe I'm just becoming that crazy cat lady but I'm all right with that. I got on the floor to put fresh water in the Christmas Tree and my sweet, curious kittens were right there with me. In their innocent faces, I understood it's not what has already happened that matters. It's what I do with the days ahead of me that will count.
I am not discounting the past in any way. I do believe that every breath you have taken will always be a part of you and what that breath was able to accomplish will always be something to be proud of. We can take the lessons of what is important with us but we don't have to carry the baggage of all the things that aren't. If we don't learn from the moments that mattered, we are certainly doomed to repeat them. I will take with the joy of my sweet puppy's life but I can let go of the sadness that she is gone because her joy will always be a part of me. I will always remember the way my father called me Red but I can let go of not being with him again because his love is what I will carry with me. Our past is a clear definition of who we once were and why we are the way we are today much like today will become the reason why we are the way we will be tomorrow but we can choose to not bring the bad along with us. I wrote some books this year that didn't sell very well. It wasn't a matter of content or talent. It was a matter of me not having a very clear marketing plan and that is all right. Do I cling to the negative of my books not selling? Or do I instead celebrate that I was able to produce them and publish them and have the courage to once again put my heart out for the world to break? I choose to celebrate. What good would it do for me to sit at this desk and be angry at something I cannot control at the end of the day? I can write the words but I cannot force people to read them. Some things take time. Most wonderful things take patience. In the humdrum of this year, I do believe that is the one thing that I learned the most. Patience. I am not in an optical work situation for my well being. I am in limbo with my living arrangements currently. My kid is a teenager in that awkward stage between being an adult and being a kid. My writing is moving along at a snail's pace (but moving so no real complaints there). I have had to have great patience because right now I am in a waiting game and there are no moves that I can really make. Everything leans on the other thing. If my writing career took off, then I wouldn't have to wait tables anywhere and I wouldn't have to wait for this apartment complex to get their act together and I could set up my kid for even greater success as she grows into an adult... but right now this is where I sit with a lot of "what ifs" at my table and that's all right. It's just life. It's just this moment.
This moment won't last forever. I have so many more moments in front of me. I thought about last year as I was cleaning up my house this morning while the kid is at school and the husband is at work, while my kittens were following me around reminding me that life is much more about the moment you're standing in and I shrugged off this last year. I filed all those things I learned and experienced and I made space for all the things I will learn and I will experience. I made room for the new me I will become as the days fly by. I understand now how we all change with time. It's important to adjust just as important to stay true to the core of who you are. I understand how I can change without compromising who I am. I think that was the most important lesson this year has taught me. The tears that were shed this year were like the skin a snake sheds, remaining who I am but changing just the same. This year I want to go into it with a clean slate. I want to leave the confusion, my sadness in the past and be a slightly different happy, silly girl again. I want to be able to laugh freely again without this guilt that I have been carrying around. I want to be stronger, to be able to stand my ground more firmly and to not allow my convictions to get muddled up with others' selfish intentions. I want to write more honestly like I once did when I wasn't thinking about becoming something. I love how in the last two years I have found the courage to put my words out there, how I've presented my heart to this world but I think last year I got swept up in what other people would think. I understand now that the reason why most of my earlier stuff is as raw as it is. I wasn't writing for you. I wasn't writing for any reason other than expressing myself, to rid myself of the demons that haunt me. In the next year, I want to go back to that rawness and I don't want to be scared of how people will react to me. I want to be as lovely and real as the prose that these hands create. Tomorrow is yet to be determined but I want to have aspirations of wonder again. I want to wake up and believe that something beautiful will happen that day even if it doesn't. I want to leave this feeling of dread and boredom and anger in today. And I know that is asking a lot of the world around me. I know that it is expecting a lot of out of my own sometimes not so sunny disposition but I can make the decision to change my behavior. Right now my small kittens are lying in front of the window, soaking up the sun. All that matters to them is that sun right now on their soft fur. This next year that's where I want to be... allowing myself to soak up that sun, too.
Sure, I understand that right now I may be a little euphoric, promising myself that I will let all the bullshit go and tomorrow I will start off a brand new me. I understand that one small trigger will probably flush a lot of my good intentions right down the toilet. I know that a few somebodys at work will bring their horrible attitudes through those doors and they will rub me the wrong way. Instead of smiling my way through it, I will probably slam some stuff and start screaming in my head over and over again "I quit! I quit!" without ever really quitting but trying to promise myself I will soon and wishing full heartedly that I could... but that's all right. Becoming Pollyanna doesn't happen over night. Life is still life. It still has so many moments that are going to just plain stink. I am not fool enough to believe that just because I say next year is going to be a great year it will indeed be a great year. It could be the worst year of my life but what a pessimistic way to go into it, right? What we put out into this world is what we will receive in return. So, I am choosing to believe that next year is going to be a year of wonder. I am choosing to believe that next year a million people will pick up my books and love them. I am choosing to believe that people will see my doodles' and want ten prints for each room of their house. I am choosing to believe my husband and I will find our feet and off we both fly to careers that nurture us, that grow us, that make us feel like we're doing something towards something glorious. I am choosing to believe that my daughter will learn valuable lessons that will help her into adulthood, that she learns where the trash can is, that she washes at least one dish, that she will recall how to say please and thank you at least twice... and that she truly grasps how very valuable she is to me, to my husband, to this world. There are a thousand things I hope that I do this year and probably a million more that I won't ever get close to but I want to walk into this new year with a better understanding of how I want it to go. I think we all want a new year to be a better start than the one before. It's human nature to want to improve the things we didn't do quite right before. I think the mistake is that we are to trying to do something over. I'm not trying to fix what I already broke. Those things will mend on their own. I don't want to live this life over. I want to live my life better. I want the moments to come to be something I've not yet known. I step into this new with an open heart, an open mind, with open arms.
I think there is a time in our lives where we settle and start to accept that the worst is going to happen. We become tired of trying to keep this sunny disposition because more often than not clouds move in. You begin to expect the worst out of people because really how many times have you been left disappointed? You start to believe that no one has got your back so you let this negative energy start swirling around you like your own personal destructive tornado because really how many times have you been left out to dry? I know this blog is starting out being pretty down right hopeless but (as always) I have a point that is brewing. Sometimes I must throw all my random thoughts in the pot for them to become something tangible, something we can all sink our teeth into. It's hard to see the possibilities of what could be when we're often faced with all the things we know we will never be. It's hard to truly put blind faith into people (even the rock steady ones) when mankind often cowers when faced with a hard choice. It's hard to decide where your energy should go, what things we should be upset at, the simple question of where do we go next when there are so many things, so many people that can take you down a dark and twisted road but really aren't the pockets of light worth the outcome? There is a constant battle within myself between the wonderful things I want to do for people at the expense of myself and the beautiful things I should do for myself first. I battle with where to put my energy, my chaotic and lovely energy that most the time does not get utilized to my best potential. And as easy as it would be to point fingers, most of that wasted potential is on me, at least for a large portion of my life and that's all right. I get angry at myself for all the faith I have in people who I know will disappoint me anyway, for all the people I disappoint in the same way... though I wish we could all prove each other wrong far more often.
The other day a situation occured. I won't lie. It boiled my blood. When I was younger, I would have just allowed that blood boil over and screw who it hurt along the way... but getting older lends discretion. So, no, I held the anger, smoked a cigarette, and let the incident go because regardless of the frustration, it did not surprose me. I'm being cryptic but honestly the details of what happened don't matter all that much. What matters is what I learned coming out of it. I sat outside smoking the cigarettes I should have quit years ago and I thought about energy, all my wasted energy over the years over things like what had happened ten minutes prior to lighting that cigarette up. I realized that as disappointing as people can be I don't know if that disappointment should carry all that much power. We allow negative energy to attach to us because it is always easier to sit in the dark, then to flip that light switch on. Someone left me out to dry and it was annoying but honestly it wasn't worth being upset over. What they let me rot over was inconsequential to my life, to my being, to who I am. I finished my cigarette and walked back inside, shaking off the residue of someone else's negative energy, and let it go. I chose to redirect my energy into finishing the night on a positive note. I focused my energy on helping my husband do his out work and looked forward to crawling into bed after a long day. We get stuck in these situations that are not healthy for us but sometimes the exits that are presented aren't quite right be it timing or whatever. It's hard sometimes to keep the negative energy at bay when you're stuck but eventually there is always a better way. I choose more carefully where I place my best efforts these days. I learned in the last year not everyone will appreciate them, deflating my good intentions, but I will always present the world the opportunity of what I can offer. It's part of my own personal battle, part of the question of how disappointed do I want to be today? Just posing that question frustrates me because I've fought hard to live my life in a more positive way. It goes to show that even when you do try to direct your energy to a brighter place, you can run yourself right back into that gutter.
We have a choice every day of what we want to put out into this world. We lay our own path and what lies ahead on that path whether we realize it or not. Sometimes when I am at work, I feel myself go down that dark, twisted road where the people I work with are frustrating, the people at the tables are frustrating. I get stuck in that space where I feel like no matter how hard I work, no matter how far I stick out my own neck, no matter how many people I pick up after means nothing and the energy that I am putting out into the world is taken for granted. I have moments when I feel like all the things I do for my family, for my friends go unappreciated. And I get angry when someone who does something as simple as just part of their job gets praised but the small things I did in the background go unnoticed. Sure, I don't think I am any different than any other person in this world. We share so many traits even if we are completely unaware. I feel myself go down that dark hallway and I have to readjust myself. I have to step outside, smoke that cigarette, and let go of all the stupid stuff that blinds what is really important. That customer not getting their ranch is not worth me being upset. That coworker's inability to fill a pitcher is not worth my sanity. The fact that sometimes I am made to look like an asshole really does not deserve the energy that I wasted on it. I can't say that just by typing these words I have instantly cured myself of being human but it is a reminder of this journey I am still on to be the best me I can be. It is a reminder to take that energy that I put into trying to be everything to everyone to be someone far more important to myself, to my daughter, to my husband, to the people in my life who I love more than anything. When you put your energy into anger, there is not much left for joy. We need to build each other up, not bring each other down. I struggle again with what kind of energy I put into people, too. Sometimes I don't know initially the difference between people who truly need a helping hand and people who are just leaching off me. I think over the years I've become a better judge of character, going from one extreme of trusting no one to giving too much to everyone. Over the years I've learned what to watch out for. There is a difference with being careful with yourself and allowing yourself to be open for the world to loot. I have to let go of that frustrating energy I allow people to inspire out of me when they disappoint me. I cannot control what they put into this world but I can decide what I do. I decide, not react. And when I have the opportunity to offer someone a helping hand, my hand will always be extended.
The other night I went out for drinks with some very awesome people. There was love and laughter, too many drinks, the obligatory cry session, and some definite tomfoolery. It was the first time in months where I actually laughed honestly. The energy that surrounded me that night was a reminder of the kind of energy that I am. I saw clearly the negative abyss I had found myself in. Though the exit right now is hazy, I know clearly what I am looking for. I decided that night surrounded by their beautiful smiles I was no longer going to waste my energy on things that will never change even if they need to, even if they should. One single rock doesn't always start an avalanche. Even if you know that the change would be for the better, sometimes it's hard to make people understand how dentrimental their stubborn energy can be. I also realized that maybe I need to change the equation altogether and the solution would become less complicated. I don't want to waste my energy on things that don't deserve my energy in the first place but, yes, I know it won't happen over night. I want to wake up every morning and feel the sun on my skin and not be bothered that the sun won't always shine. I want to live my life every day always believing in the best possible scenario. I don't want to dread what is waiting for me outside that door. I want to greet my tables (for now) with the best version of myself and know that I will receive a smile in return. I want to write my poetry and my books and my blogs with love in every word that pours out of me, with the purest form of honesty I can offer. I want my energy to be spent being better than I was the day before not for your sake, not even for my kid's sake. For my own. I want the energy that I put out into this life to inspire not just you but me, too.