I’ve Lost Enough Time

I’ve had a heck of a day. 

Anxiety has been out of this world – stealing time on this last day of the Veterans Day weekend. I’ve worked enough hours lately that after a quick work task this morning, I was planning on spending my last day at home – writing, cooking, & decorating.

That’s not at all what happened. It took me hours & hours to write, battling intense self-doubt. I needed to stand firm & write. But I was flooded with distracting thoughts of my expanding to-do list, my dad’s living situation, missing the ones that are missing, and worrying about the future. None of which are helpful for focusing on a novel that *must* be finished. 

Eventually, I did what I intended – writing 2,036 new words, of a novel that has had my heart, since the summer of 2020. As I was looking out at my patio & the woods, I was reminded of the precious nature of our time. If you’d told me I’d never see the man I love again, I’d go back and change some things. Nearly six months ago, or further back – if you’d told me my baby brother would get to heaven before I do, I’d tell you were crazy. But then I’d change some things. If I knew the number of my days, would I live differently?

The thing is, I don’t know the number of my days. None of us do. But one thing loss has taught me is that we don’t need to know the number of our days to make the most of each moment. Anxiety, worry, living in anger or unforgiveness, or the past – they all take from these precious minutes we have now. When I look back, I want to know I’ve used them wisely and that I’ve pushed through the hard things, to keep living the life I’m meant to.

I refuse to lose more time. It may have taken longer than I would have preferred today – but I found my groove, while looking out at the woods – with the golden autumn light warming this chilly day. I’ve lost enough time. So have you. 

“Write clear and hard about what hurts.” – Hemingway

The One

i want to be the one, mark anthony, mark anthony poet, dreams by mark anthony

I want to wake up with you,
and hear you ask,
“What are we going to do today?”

I want to be the one
you want to make plans with.

I want to be the one.
Mark Anthony (Buy his new book at the link)

October has been a terribly long month. The past 30 days felt like 100 days. I couldn’t wait for this month to end. Now that it has, I think I’m getting sick. Which is often the result of ridiculous amounts of stress piling up (for me). It has finally come to an end (well, Monday anyway). The final two months of the year are my favorite of the year. In addition to the two months of the year I love the most, November 1st kicks of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m also counting down to decorating for Christmas!

But it also means, now that I’ve gotten through the events of October, I can move full steam ahead, toward the goals and plans that have been set aside numerous times over the last couple of years. I’m excited. I’m also cautiously optimistic about what lies ahead. Why? Because I know my boundaries and challenges, to reach these dreams and goals, will be pushed and challenged.

But I know what I want. I know what I’m about, where I’m going, and yeah – I also know the type of man I’d like to be on this journey with. The one – has a few qualities that set him apart (that’s a different topic). But I think the most important thing is friendship – our friendship. That’s what sustains a relationship, in my opinion, when you reach the inevitable hard times and the waxing and waning of the romantic feelings emotions that go along with being and feeling in love.

So while I want the excitement, romance, passion, and fun that goes along with being in love (who doesn’t) – I also want the every day moments that come with choosing life with another – waking up to a normal day and living life alongside my best friend. So what does that have to do with the months ahead and accomplishing other dreams and plans? Nothing. Haha. Just the hope that as I live life – one that allows me to be the person I was called to be – he’ll join me.

Bigger Than the Whole Sky

Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album last week. I’m still working my way through the lyrics. While it has a very different feel than my favorite (folklore), I like the album. There are some songs that are a real sucker punch to the gut. In the years since Swift released 1989, I have only grown to enjoy her songwriting more. While it’s true that folklore meant more to me than I can explain, and heavily impacted the direction my novel took (so melancholy), there are some powerful moments on Midnights, that surpass the emotion of that album.

One of those is the song “Bigger Than the Whole Sky.” While I’m sure it may be disputed, many fans believe it is a song about miscarriage. I happen to agree. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and as I’ve seen a variety of posts about women’s stories, I’ve thought about my own loss.

I’ve shared about the grief of losing my son through circumstances I will never be able to share, at around the time our adoption should’ve been final. But I also lost a baby. I don’t talk about it much – if ever. If I’d given birth to her, she would’ve been 15 years old this past spring.

In Swift’s song she writes things like . . .

“Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye / You were bigger than the whole sky /You were more than just a short time / And I’ve got a lot to pine about / I’ve got a lot to live without / I’m never gonna meet / What could’ve been, would’ve been / What should’ve been you / What could’ve been, would’ve been you.”

“Did some bird flap its wings ovеr in Asia? / Did some force take you bеcause I didn’t pray?”

She also sings, “Cause it’s all over, it’s not meant to be.” The emotion that elicits, feels a little different today – than it might have five years ago or more. Today, the grief that bubbles up is co-mingled with knowing that I won’t have a chance to give birth. Our emotions are a weird, weird thing. And we can sometimes feel like our pain doesn’t measure up to that of others as we try to process the weirdness of our emotions.

I am learning how to grieve the loss of a child. I’m still trying to learn how to grieve what will never be. To make things stranger, the man I would have shared a child with, also passed away. That added a layer that I now know I didn’t properly grieve or deal with. But the body keeps the score. And recent losses are compounded by what I never worked through back then.

That does some things to a person. But my story, like so many others like me, isn’t always seen as a valid grief experience. The average person probably wouldn’t say that to a person’s face. Yet it becomes apparent in a myriad of other ways. Do we need validation from others about our experiences or pain? Certainly not. But I will tell you that a lack of validation does, in my opinion, slow (or stop) the healing process.

I think what songs like “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” do for people, is that they absolutely validate the pain that others don’t see. They validate that our own loss was real and that others understand. This is the power of story. I have believed this and known this for as long as I can remember. It’s what compels me to write. Our stories, whether they’re true, or the ones we may create – have tremendous power to impact, inspire, lead to healing, or encourage. Plus there’s that whole entertainment thing.

As I gear up for another year of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), I was really struck by this “Pep Talk” by Kwame Mbalia, during this NaNoWriMo prep period. He says, in part, “Dice through the unnecessary. Trim away the fluff. Find the core, the kernel, the spark before the flame, that single instant of raw imagination, the chaos before the Big Bang, the heart just before it pumps. There is, for everyone, a singular moment in time when you recognized a concept within the millions of stimuli processed in your brain, and something formed. A character. An idea.”

I love this in particular, “…that single instant of raw imagination, the chaos before the Big Bang, the heart just before it pumps…” sometimes the heart of the story, which takes shape from images, memories, music, loss or whatever else under the sun, gets lost. It gets lost in word counts, fear, trying to accomplish a goal and turning writing into a task to check off a to-do list, etc. The story, the kind that makes you pen a song that helps others to connect with, and remember the life of a baby that was “more than just a short time,” deserves more than second best.

When that story has the power to help others to feel less alone, validates their pain, or opens the door to the hope of healing, it absolutely deserves my full attention. The story I hear in Bigger Than the Whole Sky, is another reminder of why I love to write. It also connects me to deeper levels of my own losses – which ultimately means that I’m drawing closer to healing. For those of us who grieve, there’s no way out – but through. Connecting to songs or other art/writing, other’s experiences, and allowing ourselves to feel the pain in the process, leads to healing.

Whatever Taylor Swift was writing about in this song – we know one thing to be true, if it causes us to face our own losses and pain, and helps us to feel less alone, that’s all that matters. As a writer, that’s the dream – that someday, the words I write will mean as much to others, as my favorite writer’s words mean to me.

Stop at Nothing

elaina avalos, stop at nothing by elaina avalos, wild things

The door was opened when I met you.
It hasn’t been closed. I can’t imagine
Closing it to you. If you stood on my
front porch tomorrow, I would pull you close
Before you uttered a word. And yet,
I deserve so much more. I deserve
A love that will stop at nothing.
Because that is the love I have
Waiting for nothing.
~ Elaina M. Avalos