Monday, January 23, 2017

Let It Go - Musings and Goals for 2017

December 19, 2016
I came to a decision in the autumn of 2016, as I looked around at our ever crowded small house that I needed to let go of a number of things – possessions that were no longer fulfilling any true purpose.  I questioned why I still held on to them. 
Then I fell very ill in December and required hospitalization.  While the IV dripped antibiotics as I lay in the hospital bed, I had much time to think and reconsider my life.  The questions that I had been ruminating over before I fell ill now were magnified and screaming.  If I died what have I left behind?  I have had varied obsessions and false focuses.  Often I have focused on material goods.  I did not want to leave this mass of tangled obsessions and material things for my loved ones to sort after I was gone.

As I said earlier, I had already begun to untangle myself.  I had sorted a few things here and there.  A small beginning but a start none the less.  When decorating for Christmas we decided to let go of some ornaments and decorations.  This led to sorting through unused Christmas cards I’d kept from past years, pieces of pack we’d mailed out.  I put them all in a box to go to charity.  Why had I kept them? [In case I needed them? – after 8 or 10 years if they haven’t been used, they probably wouldn’t be used. Let it go.]  I moved on to my collected cards and stationary.  After sorting through it, I decided to let go of quite a few various occasion cards – birthday, anniversary, get well soon, sympathy.  Some of these I’d had for YEARS.  Again, if I hadn’t used them by now, would I ever?
And there is the question I should be putting to ALL of my belongings which I have steadily gathered.  If I have not used them by now, will I ever?  Why do I keep them then?  If there is no reason to keep it, no sentimental attachment, no true purpose, then it is time for it to leave my life and depart my house.

I applied this question to a mass of notepads that had piled up from charity mailings.  I had not asked for them, yet I had kept them.  Why?  [In case I needed them – If I hadn’t used them up in a year or two, then I probably never would.]  It was past time for them to go. So I added them to the box to go to charity.  I also sorted through a few of my files and notebooks.  Information on topics that had caught my fancy.  Information that now holds no sway for me.  I put paper goods into recycling or in the shredder. Notebooks and files were either tossed out, reused, or put into the charity box.
The progress is slow.  My body is still fighting an infection.  I will move through all my possessions.  I know my books will be the hardest to sort.  But I have bought more than I will ever be able to read in my lifetime.  If I do not love a book after reading it, if I will not return to re-read it time and again, then I need to release it.  I had already started donating some books which didn’t sell on eBay to the ARC (a local program that helps special needs people in the community) for their library.  Their library was just so small when I toured their facilities all I could think was that my own collection was ten times the size.  I made a vow then to give them what I would not keep.

I do not wish to just disentangle myself.  If I can help others then I will do it.  Let all that I so foolishly gathered and hoarded go to help so many others.  My goals for 2017 are simple.  I must do all I can to mend and heal myself.  Not just for the sake of others but for myself.  But those details are for another post.  I will continue to untangle myself from material possessions.  Unburying myself. I will continue to ask myself why I have kept something, does it still fit into my life, is there someone else who could use it more. 

January 19, 2017
Since writing down the aforementioned thoughts I have moved forward in my goals in small ways here and there.  I’ve sorted some of my clothes (short and long sleeved shirts to be exact), purses, and scarfs.  I’ve also cleared a lot of paperwork from my desk either by filing them or tossing/shredding them. I still have much to do.

Aside and perhaps along with the idea of letting things go, there is the question of why I have hung on to other things in life. I plan to apply this to non-material things as well.  All the sewing, crafting, and art projects I’ve held onto yet haven’t completed or, in some cases, haven’t even started, am I really REALLY going to get around to doing them?  If not, then is it time to let it go? 
The biggest question I’m facing is, what about my writing?  In therapy I figured out that my writing had a place when I was younger.  The stories/fantasies that I created in my childhood were an escape from the things that were going on around me.  [My childhood was not as pleasant as one would hope for.]  But I’m not in those same circumstances now.  Also, it is becoming harder for me to sit down and complete the story/book ideas that come to me.  I have thought I wanted to be a writer since I was 12 years old. Now, I’m not so sure that is the right fit for me.  I’ve read what different writers have said online about what it takes to be a writer and the actual creation seems like it’s only 20% of what is needed.  Writers have to be strong and able to take criticism. They have to have thick skin.  They have to be organized and have a bit of business sense.  I feel that I’m lacking in many of these regards.  So after 35 years of assuming that my career will eventually be that of a writer, I question whether this is just a childhood fantasy that became more like an obsession.  I fantasized about writing great novels and having throngs of readers. Perhaps this was just a manifestation of my need to find a way to fit in, a way to feel wanted/included.

I have a lot of work to do in 2017.  Not just with cleaning out my closets and downsizing and letting go, but with reorganizing my life.  I’m probably (hopefully) at the midpoint in my life.  I may live to be in my 80’s or even 90’s.  So what do I do with the rest of my life? Do I give up on things I’ve played at for 25 or 35 years? Or do I redouble my efforts?  Where do I go from here?  This isn’t a fantasy, a musical, or a best seller. I can’t rely on a happily ever after ending.  This is life in real time. How is that time best spent – for me, for my family?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Books and Stories Read in 2016

2016 was a long year full of personal struggle.  I was distracted by multiple calamities both within and without. I found it harder to just sit down and read (or write for that matter).  I re-read a number of books at the beginning of the year. I read more short stories and kept track them. I began listening to audio books and found them delightful for listening to while cleaning,working out, and riding in a car.  I have hope that 2017 will be a better year for my family and for me. I have hope and all I can do is cling to it!

2016 Books Read

 Into the Forest - Jean Hegland

  Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (Illustrated Edition) - JK Rowling (re-read)

Product DetailsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling (re-read)

 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling (re-read)

  The Sandman Overture (Graphic Novel) - Neil Gaiman

  Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (Graphic Novel) - Mike Carey/Glen Fabry

  Beatrix Potter: A Journal - Frederick Warne & Company

  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling (re-read)

  Night Shift - Charlaine Harris

Product Details  It's So Easy And Other Lies - Duff MaKagen

  Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheomix - JK Rowling (re-read)

Ruined: A Novel by [Morris, Paula]  Ruined - Paula Morris

  American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Product Details  Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

Product Details  The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

  Trigger Warning - Neil Gaiman

  The Haunting of Sunshine Girl - Paige McKenzie

  I am Not a Serial Killer - Dan Wells

  Servants of the Storm - Delilah S. Dawson

  Wicked Fix - Sarah Graves

  The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab

  My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman

  Mr. Monster - Dan Wells

  Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes - Eleanor Coerr and Ronald Himler

  All the Little Liars - Charlaine Harris

  I Don't Want to Kill You - Dan Wells

   A Pale Horse - Charles Todd

  Fahrenheit 451 Graphic Novel - Ray Bradbury and Tim Hamilton

Stephen King's N. by [Guggenheim, Marc, King, Stephen]  Stephen King's N. (Graphic Novel) - Marc Guggenenheim and Alex Maleer

  A Natural History of Dragons :A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan

  Dead Things (Eric Carter) - Stephen Blackmoore

  Broken Souls (Eric Carter) - Stephen Blackmoore

2016 Stories Read

The Return of the Thin White Duke - Neil Gaiman
Love, Fishie - Maddie Gaiman
The Sound of Salt and Sea - Kat Howard - Uncanny Magazine
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers - Alysse Wong - Nightmare Magazine (Nebula Award)
Thumb Print - Joe Hill
Midway Relics and Dying Breeds - Seanan McGuire -
Items for Sale in Enkato's Market - Roshani Chokshi
The Child Support of Cromdor the Condemned - Spencer Ellsworth - Light Speed Magazine
Stone Heart - Omar Sakr -
The Key to St. Medusa's - Kate Howard - Light Speed Magazine

2016 Audio Books/Stories

  Playing Possum - Charlain Harris

  How the Marquis Got His Coat Back - Neil Gaiman - BBC Radio 4

  The Dispatcher - John Scalzi

  The Devil and His Boy - Anthony Horowitz

  Exeunt Demon King  (Johannes Cabal short story) - Jonathan Howard

As I read these books, I made a conscious decision rather I really liked them enough to keep them (although some of these are on my Kindle).  There are some books I love dearly and re-read periodically - they will stay.  Then there are books I bought because they seemed interesting (sometimes years ago) that I haven't gotten around to reading. I'll be working on reading through the piles and sorting accordingly.   A number of the above books I have donated to an organization called ARC here in town that helps those with mental/emotional disabilities.  When I toured their facilities to set up some services for my son, I found that their library was scarcely two shelves (though they had space for much more). It feels good to help ARC and it feels good to unclutter my house a bit (the bookshelves are groaning).  

I start the new year off reading the three books I received for Christmas.  I adore the authors of those books so I know I'll have to find space on my shelves!