When I saw that the calendar read December 1st this morning, I took inventory of what that meant:
…Don’t forget to bring the two Adopt-a-Family gifts to Bootcamp class…Make sure to throw in a few loads of laundry in preparation for our busy weekend ahead…Help set up for tomorrow’s PTO event…Which reminds me, pack after-school snacks to bring to the kids since they will be hungry while we’re setting up…Let the kids start the Advent calendar…Oh, crap. The damn elf was supposed to come today. Well that’s off to a great start…
Aside from the Elf on the Shelf, I felt on top of what needed my attention today. Then about 20 minutes ago, I opened Facebook, looked at my memories, and realized there was something that had completely escaped my attention. Today is the 3 year anniversary of the release of my book, Absolute Mayhem.
As I scrolled through, there was post after post of family and friends tagging me and sharing my good news with links to the book. And there was my own post, talking about a little girl sitting at a white wicker desk making plans to someday be an author. It all should have made me feel proud of what I had accomplished, grateful for the overwhelming support, and energized to keep at it. And somewhere as part of the whole equation, I do feel those things. But today, on December 1st, 2017, the only thing they made me feel was disappointed. Mostly in myself.
Publishing Absolute Mayhem should have been a beginning…of more books…of making writing a more stable career…of any number of things. But looking back on these past three years, it mostly seems like the beginning of, well, maybe not the end, but most certainly of a pause. A big pause. Somewhere in those three years, I stopped strategizing creative marketing plans. I stopped reaching out to schools for author visits. I stopped keeping up a regular presence on social media. I stopped hopping out mid-shower to jot down new ideas for posts while dripping all over the floor. I pretty much stopped writing altogether, save for two eulogies last year for my grandfather and my grandmother.
Instead of feeling empowered to continue on a path I had always wanted, I found myself not wanting it at all. I was exhausted and frustrated from trying to gain attention for my work, and uncomfortable whenever I was successful at doing so. I felt ashamed being a blogger when the current blogging culture has become more and more unpalatable for my personal taste. I wasn’t always confident in my talents and fell victim to imposter syndrome over and over again. I was afraid of the unknown, afraid to fail, and afraid to thrive. So I took the path of least resistance. I retreated.
And here’s the thing: I AM HAPPY NOW. I have reconnected with things that matter to me. I’ve been a better mom and a better wife. I started exercising. Like, really exercising. Regularly and everything. I’m in the best shape and health I’ve ever been in. I mean, I drink kombucha. Me…the girl whose first request after giving birth to her child was for someone to bring her a Diet Coke. I spend more time with friends. I don’t look tired all the time, despite turning 40. I don’t let things get to me like I used to. And I have actually started wondering if chasing that thing I had always wanted wasn’t actually good for me.
But then I remembered that today was the anniversary of my book. Or rather, I had to be reminded. I have become so far removed from what I had been working towards for so long that it wasn’t even on my radar. Those feelings of disappointment came on quite unexpectedly. When I woke up this morning, I was fine with having let my budding writing career take a dive. But looking at those Facebook memories made me realize just how much work and heart and passion I had let go to waste. Yes, I had become burned out. But what started as simply the need for a break, for some time to reevaluate, has really gotten away from me. And now it feels like the pause has been too long. All that momentum, all those connections and followers, I have just been ignoring it all for well over a year. Maybe closer to two. It almost feels like I’m starting over. And that can be pretty defeating.
Yet, here I am. Writing a post about it. The Kelly from three years ago would never have posted this, at least not as is. She would have optimized the SEO and made the perfect graphic and tried to make it funnier or more touching or had some big lesson at the end so it served her greater purpose of moving closer to some goal. Then she would have gotten totally stressed about when it should go live and what time she should post it on various social media outlets to garner maximum exposure. Then it probably wouldn’t live up to her expectation, yet she’d do it all over again the next week. And the Kelly from three days ago wouldn’t have written it at all, because she would have had better things to do. Like drink kombucha.
Is this a return to the path? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s something. And for now, I’m cool with that.