Social Madness

Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that something has to change. It is getting increasingly hard to focus on things, to find joy in the moments. I’m pulled in different ways by different things. It’s time for a break. So I am; effective immediately I am off social media. A digital vacation, if you will.

I love Instagram, but the algorithm drives me crazy!

I enjoy Twitter, but my feed is a mess.

I hate Facebook and haven’t used it in months.

I don’t understand Snapchat and it’s just an excuse to say I have it.

There are a few other sites and apps I use, all boil down to the same thing; it’s not important.

I get news from multiple sources. I listen to music and podcasts. I have friends that message me and call me. Social media isn’t making me happy. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. So, I’m taking a break.

I have a book I am still writing. I have a family I want to see and spend time with. I have books to read and albums to discover. I’m a busy guy.

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Well, a happy new year to you too…

My new year has started off with a bang…almost two weeks of a strangely powerful, yet mild, attack of Depression.  I’m fine for hours, days, then all of a sudden my brain chemistry goes all to pieces and I can feel my soul being crushed.  Nothing in particular started it, and so far my usual fixes haven’t worked to stop the cycle. I just feel…bad. 

So, I’ve been trying to walk more. To contact friends I haven’t heard from, to check on them. To listen to more music that makes me feel good. To write and work on projects that have gathered far too much dust. I’m trying to enjoy the moments I do feel better. 

At the end of the day, I know I will feel better. I know that my levels will normalize and I will get my life back. I know that I’ve come so much farther, that progress is being made. It just takes time.

In the meantime, stay safe out there. It can be dangerous to walk alone…

…until next time.

Christmas Is Here Again

I love this time of year. I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas-time with family. Of carols and movies and decorations.

Normally today I would repost my Wednesday entry, but on this day, I wanted to say something different. I wanted to say thank you. I wanted to say that you are all wonderful and beautiful and broken. I wanted to say, to those of you hiding from family, you are not alone.

Mostly, I wanted to tell you that I hope your holiday is full of peace and happiness. No matter the holiday or occasion, this time of year is the perfect time to take a few moments to remember our fellow man. To show some kindness to those that are locked on this rock with us.

This year, which has been so full of divisive rhetoric, it is important to set aside our disagreements and anger, to remember that there is more that unites us than not. We should all take a moment to be thankful for what we have, and to recognize what we can do to help those that have less this season.

So, to those that celebrate, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Life Day (for those Star Wars fans) or anything else you choose to celebrate.

Until next time, stay safe friends.

Thoughts on an Early Morning.

It’s early for me; as I sit to write this the sun has yet to peek over the hills.  The streets are still quiet, and the cafe that I’m sitting at is still empty.  I’m sure it won’t last.

I am not an early riser.  My ideal day is to wake up at 9, read some articles and browse the internet, before finally getting up, eating breakfast, and finally getting dressed.  A successful day off is not getting dressed before noon.  That is decidedly not this morning.

It’s fun to see people in their usual routine: the guy on a motorcycle that just pulled up, greeted the barista by name, laid perfect change on the counter, and picked up his already made drink; the man in a suit on the phone as he walked by, firing questions to his assistant; the woman out for a run with her dog.  We all have our rituals and routines.  We all have a way we want to see our day go, a way to help us move the day forward.

How do we continue to move our lives forward though?  The time keeps passing, but are we moving it?  Are we pushing the day, or is it pushing us?  In a sea of Yesterdays and Tomorrows, are we adrift on the raft of Today?

We spend so much of our time exerting control on the everyday nuances of our lives: there is an app to control the temperature and lighting of your home, we can find exactly the show we want to watch when we want to watch it, we can have our coffee in incredibly complex and ridiculous ways.  We spend so much time trying to control the mundane, perhaps because we have now feel we have so little control in every other way.

I have felt my days getting away from me.  I have felt the moments and the time getting a little too far in front, always keeping me off-balance.  It’s time to slow down, to make sure I have a solid footing.  To take control of my Today, to get the Tomorrow I want.

Until next time…

My Best Friend

I want to tell you about Max.

Max is my dog.  He is 7 years old, a chihuahua and dachshund mix (more commonly referred to as a chiweenie).  And he is my best friend.

I have been fairly open about my Depression and anxiety.  Max has helped me through all of it for the last seven years.  He curls up with me.  He lays with me.  He doesn’t mind spending the day watching movies, or letting me pet him for as long as I need to, trying to quiet the racing thoughts.  And while this sounds just like any dog you might find, Max is special.  He comes to me when an attack starts.  He curls up in my lap, or paws at me, or just lifts my hand onto his head.  He cuddles and licks me when I hurt.

Max was a rescue dog; abandoned by his former owner as too high maintenance.  We adopted him, walking into a Pet Smart to find a bed for our first dog Milo.  We saw Max and couldn’t stop looking at him.  I asked if I could hold him, and as we walked around the store he fell asleep in my arms.  It was love.  Now, seven years later, he still falls asleep with me.

Today Max is going in for surgery.  He has a growth on his lip that needs to be removed and sent to the lap for further testing.  Under the best circumstances I wouldn’t be handling this well, and these are currently far from the best of circumstances; in the middle of a move, between trips, and during a fairly busy time at the day job.  He needs to have the surgery, and I know that the vet is excellent.  But anytime a dog has to be put under for a procedure, just as with a human, there are chances you take.  And then we wait for the lab results.

I have tons to say about Portland, a wonderful wedding in Olympia, and a crazy road trip.  I have things to say about moving and living in our own space for the first time in four and a half years.  I have things to say about the election and politics and the current state of our world.

But tonight I wanted to say that I love my dog.  My Max.

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 PUPDATE (8:00pm):  Max’s surgery went very well. A mass was moved from his lip and was sent to the lab. He is resting at home and everyone is happy to have him here. A big thank you to the Las Tables Animal Hospital. 

Return

It’s been a rough month.

Not in any big way, but in a million little small ones.

I have been fighting with my depression, like spinning with a pail full of water; if I slow down my rotation, the water will come spilling out.  I have felt the pull of depression a lot the last few weeks.  Not wanting to get out of bed.  Being short tempered with friends and family.

And not writing.

When I write, I tend to look inside myself, and sometimes I just don’t feel like I will sruvive the process.  But now it is an infection, swollen and painful.  I have to dig it out, before I can start to heal.

So, after a year on this blog, I took a month off.  I let the bad parts of life win for a little while.  I allowed myself to feel bad.  It’s time to get back.  It’s time to get better.

A Writer’s Predicament

The last few weeks have been fairly steady in the writing department for me.  I have been able to not only put out a regular post every Wednesday, but I have been able to post a quick blurb and recap every Sunday.  I wanted to try this kind of a format and see if it was sustainable for me, especially during a time when my schedule would allow it.  It has been wonderful to get be able to put out pieces on a fairly regular basis and the feedback from people has been positive.

However, now things are coming to a point: I am getting ready for a vacation, I am developing an idea for a novel, I am actively writing a novella, and I am helping to edit a colleague’s book.  I’m a little busy.

Believe me, this is a wonderful problem to have.  I started this blog a year ago to try and push myself to be a better writer.  To develop the ideas inside of me.  To work through problems.  To evolve my own voice.  I have been able to do that, and will continue to work at it.  I am finding ways to create content, and, more importantly, to get it out on time.  This is a very big thing for me.  Deadlines have not always been my friend.

My current predicament, however, is just the kind of problem I have always wanted; I have too many ideas.  I have struggled writing posts precisely because I have so many things to say.  Most of my creative writing efforts are going into the long forms that I’m working on, leaving me with more non-fiction works for my blog.  But even those need research, fact-checking, drafts, editing.

Last week I was getting fairly discouraged.  I did not feel that I was putting out my best work on the blog, I had stalled on my novel, and all of my writing just felt flat.  I emailed a long time collaborator, and she asked me a very simple question; why do you write?  Her answer is the same as mine.  The same for most people who write.

I do it because I have to.  I write to not go insane.  I write to get the stories out.  I write to create worlds and tell tales and to get my point across.  I write because I’ve tried not writing, and it almost killed me.

Maybe I will never finish the stories I’m working on.  Maybe I will never be on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Maybe I will never make money on my writing.  But that isn’t why I write.  I write because it is who I am.  I write to survive.

I will continue to write.  Sometimes it will be good, and sometimes it will be bad.  Sometimes I will be uninspired and struggle to put out a post saying I am having a hard time putting out a post.  But sometimes, every once in a while, I will be great.  And I will keep trying, and keep improving, because I have to.

Thank you for coming along for the ride.


I’m on vacation this week, but please stay tuned for a very special post this week from Krisann Gentry.  She has been my friend, editor, and confidant for many years, and is truly a wonderful person and friend.  And I can’t wait to see what she has to say on Wednesday.

  • Check out last week’s post, A letter to my son.
  • My friends at Nicolife have released the 5th episode.  Enjoy.
  • Found a fun data chart of The Beatles, answering many questions you never knew you had.  Give it a look here.

 

Sometimes

Sometimes it happens without you realizing it.  All of a sudden you look up and see that you haven’t written in 2 weeks and that you have been fairly distant, and have tried to keep people at arm’s length.  That maybe, just maybe, you’re fighting some depression.

Having a bout of depression doesn’t always mean that you don’t want to get out of bed, or that you don’t have any energy, or that you start crying for no reason.  At least, not for me.  Sometimes it just means you feel raw.  Exposed.  It means tapping into feelings and emotions is not feasible that day.

Sometimes it means that I don’t have the energy to write.  Sometimes it means I can go to work.  I can survive that, help my clients, do the small talk that is expected.  I can crack jokes and laugh and do what I can to keep people just far enough away.  When it is like that, it means that I have to budget my energy.  I have to figure out what I can do, and be comfortable with that.

That doesn’t mean I stop striving for more, or to be the best i can be, but sometimes I have to accept what that means.  It also means I need to keep watching and learning what this disease looks like for me.

I travelled for work last week.  I spent a week living out of a hotel room, in a place I’m not very familiar with and with people I don’t know.  I missed my son and my wife.  I missed my dog.  I wasn’t eating how I normally do, and I wasn’t sleeping very well.  But it still took me until I got home to realize that I may have been experiencing an attack.  A minor bout, but one all the same.

I set a goal to write a four part story last month, and I didn’t.  But I am not going to let that stop me.  I am still finishing it; Part 3 will come out on Wednesday, Part 4 next Wednesday.  The rest of February will be a break from that format, but I’m going to try again in March.

Keep fighting friends.  We are all in this together.

Goodbye & Godspeed

It is December 31, 2015.  It is tradional on this day to look back at the year and try to make sense of it.

2015, you made no sense.

With that in mind, I will attempt to explain my year.

I survived.  My family is healthy.  I have a job.  I have a wonderful son, and a beautiful wife.  Depression hasn’t beaten me.  I got to meet my writing hero.

All of these things have been written about on this blog.  I have been posting consistently for less than a year.  My first post was in April, This is why I drink coffee.

The next week I decided that I needed to be honest with my friends about my depression, and mark Mental Health Awareness Month, so I wrote #IWishMyFriendsKnew.

June and July brought Unfinished Stories, a collaboration with a few friends to write stories together.

A Love Story was told in August, and September was a very rough month with Trigger Words and Bagels flowing freely.

October was all about Passed Away Relationships, while November told of my struggle with Bell’s Palsy.  But mostly, it was about Paris.

December I got to talk about meeting The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, and being Furiously Happy.  I also got to talk about an Awakening, have you felt it?

My stats page tell me that I have had over 1,900 views.  That #IWishMyFriendsKnew is my most read post, that I have sent people to my friends pages through Unfinished Stories, and that I have had readers in 42 countries, and have posted a total of 39 times in 2015.

And I am just getting started.  Goodbye 2015, hello 2016!

 

Well, at least I didn’t embarrass myself…

I have spoken a couple of times about Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.  She has an amazing blog and a couple of great books.  She is amazing.

Last week I travelled to Bookshop Santa Cruz in, perhaps not that shockingly, Santa Cruz, California, and met my hero.

Jenny wrote a book this year, Furiously Happy, and was doing a book signing.  I had bought the book (twice technically…) and I was going to the signing.  My wife had jumped at the chance to go, even reading both books to “prepare.”  I’m still not sure it is possible to prepare for something like this, but I appreciated the attempt.  The night before the signing we realized our son was coming down with a little bug and we had to do some real soul searching; taking a two-year old to a book signing a couple of hours away already seemed like it was an idea bordering on insanity, but the thought of taking a sick two year old on the same trip sounded like something that would get you murdered by a group of very angry people.

My mother wonderfully volunteered to go with me, saving me the unsightly task of begging.  We drove to Santa Cruz, arrived on time, mostly, then walked to the Bookshop.  It was packed.  Like bursting at the

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This was our view.  I may, or may not, be standing on a shelf.  Sorry Santa Cruz.

seams, chock full of awkward and mildly ill people; not in a death and dysentery kind of way, more like a “I’m going to hide under my coat until everyone is gone,” kind of way.  My mother and I found a place to stand, in a canyon of travel books.  We had a pretty good view, although not comfortable in any way.

Jenny was wonderful.  She was honest that the drugs hadn’t kicked in yet, and yet confident.  She was funny, articulate, and rambling.  She read two chapters from Furiously Happy.  She answered questions.  She reminded me why I started blogging again, and why I started writing to begin with.  She reminded me that we are all broken and that’s ok.

The talk was over far too quickly.  I could have listened to her for hours.  Then we started lining up for the signing portion.  This is where it gets difficult for me; see, while I don’t like being surrounded by a lot of people, I really don’t like situations that require me to talk to people.  And even less than that, situations where I might embarrass myself.  Or do the wrong thing.  Or really anytime it seems I might be inconveniencing other people.  Like when I am forcing them to sign something.

My mom was there, trying to keep my mind off of it.  I was trying not to knock over tables filled with books.  I realized my fingertips were sweating, then I started worrying I was going to fling my book at Jenny.  I would be the one that hit Jenny in the face with her own book.  Then I was next in line.

I’m really not sure what I said.  I knelt down in front of her to be more eye level.  I looked at her and…I told her.  I told her thank you for making it ok IMG_2643to be broken.  Thank you for making it so I could be honest about who I am.  For making it so that I could talk to my parents and wife about it.  That I have a blog.  That I’m working on a book.  And I know I can do all of this because of her.  She listened to me, agreed with me.  She added in points, about how it makes it easier to talk about it.  That we are a little less alone.  About how wonderful Twitter is.  She signed my book while doing all of this.  The drugs had obviously kicked in for her by this point, because there was no way I would have been able to do all of that.

There are so many moments from that night that aren’t written here: from meeting Jenny’s sister and recommending where to go find wine, to introducing my mother to a vanilla latte from Verve, and the talk on the way there, and the slightly more real conversation on the way home.  I will remember the awakward people in line, and the insane racoon the bookshop gave her.  I will remember that she really listened to me.

Everyone says, “Don’t meet your heros, you’ll just get let down.”  Meeting your heros isn’t so bad.  Not when your heros are this badass.

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