Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Today is a New Beginning.

2008 was not a good year for me. Yes, I published my suspense thriller Dead Witness and received excellent reviews, but the year was dark and depressing from the get go. I keep a journal, and after looking back at most of January and February, I quit reading. It was too depressing to continue. I never quite got over 2007. We lost a loved one at the end of 2006, and consequently 2007 is mostly a blur. I entered 2008 with no direction. Survival instincts took over and most of the year was spent just coping.

At the end of February, I was stricken with that terrible flu sweeping across the country. It took the wind out of my sails for most of March too. April, I honestly don't remember. I could go back to my journal to find out, but why? Summer came and went. Our youngest was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of September. Winter rushed forward. My husband and I didn't even put up a Christmas tree. Our hearts weren't into the season or the celebrations. Is it any wonder that I couldn't wait for the year to finish?

I'm grateful I'm still here though. I'm grateful that readers contacted me to say they loved Dead Witness. But gratitude isn't enough. When did I stop believing I deserved to be happy? If you've ever been in the thralls of depression, you know your reasoning stops working after a time. You recognize that you're depressed, but the tools necessary to help aren't readily available. Logic and motivation and yearning are flimsy.

It begins with the desire for change. I want to be happy again. I also understood that first I need to believe I deserve to be happy again. That's a lot to ask for when you're in a dark place.

So it started with a desire and grew to a necessity. I am going to learn how to love myself again. It doesn't matter that I don't know what to do next. That is what's so thrilling. Since I made this declaration New Year's Day, a life-changing decision, the pieces have been falling into place. In less than a week.

I very seldom watch Oprah because there are too many commercials. I sit down with every intention of watching, but then these commercials keep interrupting and before long I'm off doing something else.

Only Monday, I sat down and stayed put.

Has anybody been following Oprah?

Over the years, she and I have experienced similar stages in our lives. Except when she turned 50 and thought it was a wonderful age. I thought she was nuts. But that was then.

I'm definitely with her now on this self-love mission. And as corny as that sounds, if you're not happy with your life, if things seem downright shitty, rest assured it's something to do with imbalance. As Oprah explains it: to be happy means to have all aspects of your life in balance: relationship, career and spirituality. And don't forget: fun. The secret is to believe you're worth it and to love yourself enough to be happy. I'm finally getting that. If I want a successful career, I need to be fulfilled and to have fun at the same time. If I'm not, then it's my love of self that determines the changes necessary to turn it into fun.

To wake up everyday with the motivation to make my life better, I need to love myself enough to see cookies and ice-cream and cake for what they are: poison. If I love myself, then seeing sugar as something that is cutting my life short makes sense and is very simple to do.

I went to bed thinking about this last night, and guess what I dreamed? I was sitting in a room surrounded by tables of glazed donuts, cookies, squares, chocolates and some fabulous whipped dessert... and suddenly I saw them for what they were. It was both exciting and freeing. I don't know exactly how this self-love stuff works yet. But if you'll come along, maybe I can help you while I'm helping myself. Couldn't hurt. And besides, I haven't been this excited in a long long time.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Stay excited. Life is an odd thing to deal with sometimes, but it's what we've got (or what we've got in these bodies, depending on your perspective/belief/faith). Regardless, life's a big deal. I think you're on the right track to think you should be spending it as happily as you can. This is the day. This is the moment. Now is the time to be happy.

    Lately, as far as my happiness, I find it helpful to forget the past and ignore the future. So I'll "preach" that.

    Look at now. Feel the love of family and friends if you're lucky. Feel the comfort of home if you have a good one. Feel your body sustaining you if you're healthy, your warmth if you're sheltered, your full belly if you've enough to eat, your comfortable bed if you've decided to nap or sleep through the night.

    I'm lucky. I find I can be happy in this moment. When the next moment comes, I find I can be happy in it too. If I get feeling anxious, I try to concentrate on this happy moment and then the next. Sounds easier than it sometimes is, but really, isn't happiness a "now" thing? I think it is. If I'm happy now, I'm happy.

    That's my focus for happiness lately. I hope it doesn't sound trite or weird. I hope even more you find what works for you and have a wonderfully happy 2009...and beyond.

  2. You are my inspiration, Keith. When in doubt I look at your emails and I'm immediately on the right track again. You're a good friend.

  3. Now THAT makes me happy. *smile*

  4. I'm jumping in here without really knowing you or your past situation (which I believe forms us and to an extent controls our emotions), so...
    I had a bad medical scare last year and I didn't realize anything different than I already knew. My family was what meant the most to me and I didn't want to leave them any sooner than was absolutely necessary. If it had been my time, I was ready, as ready as possible, but I didn't want to go just then.
    I had to make some big changes. One was to basically give up sugar. Sugar was a big part of my life, when I was driving (I drive and 18 wheeler), I only ate 2 candy bars a day, that was my breakfast, lunch and supper. I love Oreos, cherry nut ice cream and banana splits. My Christmas treat was always chocolate covered cherries, walnuts and tangerines. I could go on and on, but the point is now I can't have any of them.
    I also have to cut out almost all meat. This is pretty hard too and exercise. Oh my!
    I had to make other changes too and I did them all. Some I do better at than others, but I try because I want to be here on this earth a few more (lot) years.
    The winter blues attack me too and I want to sleep as soon as the daylight seizes for the day.
    Sorry this is so long. I just wanted to let you know you're not alone in making changes and it is hard, but it's worth it.

  5. Thanks for your thoughts, Cherley. I totally agree that sugar is not my friend. I actually gave it up a few years ago. It's a metaphor now for what I think is missing in my life. Silly me. That's why I'm on this quest to love me again. My body has been good to me; it's time I showed my appreciation.

    Come and visit again. Have a wonderful new year.

  6. Your idiot friend is still trying to leave a comment for you. Maybe you need to come down for a visit and show me how to work this thing? We could write it off as a business trip??

  7. OK - I have it figured out - I think. That burned a few brain cells! Now, the point I wanted to make to you Jo is: whenever I feel sad, or unappreciated - I call you. I like your 2009 mind set. It is about time you started giving to yourself a little of the love and warmth you share to everyone else that you come in contact with.

  8. My idiot friend is adorable and the most precious person ever.


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