A year ago, I paced around my driveway, perhaps half-mad with the question of what exactly I should or could be doing with my life. Where was I going, I wondered, and if I wasn’t going anywhere at all, then why was that? I needed to try something new – something I always thought that I might but convinced myself that I couldn’t. At a glacial pace – both slow and equally terrifying in its actuality, I vowed to take an honest look inside and struggle though I might, write it all down. Sometimes that was one thousand word dispatches, other times I wept out two sentences before I published it.
I made mistakes, mostly in the form of punctuation and misspellings, but also by way of speaking my truth and inadvertently shining a light on things that others felt most comfortable stowing away in their own mental closets. I vowed to write every day for one year and the not-so-secret secret is this; I never thought I actually could do it. Truths and realities are hard won it seems, and like sobriety or any other wanted endeavor, it was easier to wake up and commit only to the “now” of achieving it.
I sat at a desk looking at a blank screen and mentally unpacked my baggage, toggling between the sweet escape of my most blissful memories and the unsettling discomfort of the weightier times that have stalked me in my sleep. The truth may set you free and all but somewhere in the dredging, before the dust settles and you sweep it up and pitch the garbage, it lingers for a moment in the air – all floating particles and cloudlike over everything around you. It would make sense to run through this part as quickly as possible, patch up the holes and repaint it – get back to the humor because the rest is a bummer. I found though, that in my haste, I would simply collect what irked me and soon I saw it settling in around me, sometimes in the form of gaining weight or a nagging sense of separateness or other damage.
I spent a lot of time – far too much, focused on how far off the mark I managed to get, accidently building an altar for my shortcomings, then anointing it and lighting candles around it and keeping it in tact on my quest for being less me. I got exactly what I asked for and then wandered around somewhat puzzled while ensconced in my pettiness or my dissatisfaction with my number one ally – myself. I had started out thinking I would keep a metal list of my shortcomings so that I could identify what I needed to change to be happy, but the list grew longer shifting my focus away from solutions and toward excavating everything that made me flawed. And they stacked up mercilessly, unyielding to my mental cries that this was not what I wanted… The universe is a seeker too, of course, and answered me by echoing back with more of what I didn’t want.
Somewhere in all that dark, I started doing what came naturally; seeking out the light. My mission changed to finding the funny, cataloging the sweet and miraculous minutiae that made a day which folded into a week, which happened in a month that was part of a year. I received both praise and admonishment and though I am a life-long collector (boarding on hoarder) of both, this time around my head was in the clouds of possibility and hope and neither had the same effect on me as it had it years past.
Professionally, I thought it might take a year to write the blog and amass a following and find at least one freelance project. Personally, I thought it would take a year to figure out if as a family we would need to move in order to feel at home and settled. One happened and the other didn’t. It would appear, for the time being, that we don’t need to be in a different house to be our best. But for the first time ever, in changing and dismantling and building on to ours, I worried less about when that time would come and recognized that every day we spent here was the opportunity to make it beautiful and memorable.
As for writing, I am still at it, running down my dream and looking for the opportunity to continue to working. I can assure you that I still take stock of what I am doing, where I am going and how I will get there – sometimes hourly and on the most confident of times every few weeks. I highly doubt that there will ever be a time that I am not doing that outside at night, under a billion (probably more) stars where anything is possible.
My name is Marilyn though I have at least one magazine subscription that believes it’s Manlyn. I have loads of people who believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself and have yet to give up on me thought I am abhorrent at returning their phone calls. I was lucky enough to have had parents that read to me and let me read whatever I wanted though it was hardly age appropriate and I have siblings who think I am amazing but keep it under wraps lest I get too full of myself. There are people who wander in and out of my life and I am thrilled to have them stop by for whatever time they can but one person, in particular changed my life eighteen years ago. I met a boy who showed up every single day and hasn’t stopped since and though he is my husband and father to my children he is something far more extraordinary – he is my friend who changed everything not because he mended my brokenness but because he saw me as whole to begin with. I say it begins and ends with him not because I cling to him or our life is perfect but because I have learned to be my own advocate by listening to him and being totally myself with another person. I have struggled with chasing down perfection and much like trying to catch your shadow it has disappointed me approximately EVERY SINGLE TIME. I am the kind of person who cried as I wrote this because the equator between ending and beginnings is where I am at and I have so much love in my heart it feels too big for my chest. I have come to the conclusion that sometimes it all takes longer than a year and I am at peace with that. Thank you. Happy. More please.