Thursday, April 17, 2014

Every Day Is a Gift.

A beautiful tribute to Meg.

A friend passed away last week. It was sudden. She was too young. And she had two lovely children and a husband who loved her very much. She was hilarious. She was quirky. She was zany. She was exuberant in her love of parties and giving gifts. She had Halloween parties where she and her husband built a trebuchet to launch pumpkins across the backyard. She bought my daughter Grace a designer jacket for no reason. She played pranks on her co-workers and left little gifts on our desks at holidays. She hosted parties for artists, jewelers and craftsmen to come to her house and sell their goods. She entered art and logo contests and won them. Just for fun. She adored her children and they adored her. I'm sure she had every intention of watching them grow up and now she doesn't get to. 

I haven't been able to write about any of this because I am still so sad and mad about it. It's all so brutally unfair. I didn't think I could put any coherent sentences together that anyone would want to read. But then I think of the balloons we launched at her funeral. We watched them sail up into the air and it was beautiful. The sun was shining. Children were smiling up at the sky. The sound of their little voices having only just sung, "You Are My Sunshine" was still ringing in my ears. 

And so I went home and I spent time with my husband and children. Normally my husband and I take turns walking the kids to the park. Normally one of us does something with the kids while the other one gets work done at home. But this weekend I got up off the couch, I closed my laptop and I went outside with my children and husband. We watched them play and basked in the presence of all of us being together. The heavy feeling in my blood and body began to lift just a little. 

And maybe that's yet another gift from my friend? Maybe I honor her by appreciating these moments. I'm sure she would tell me to do something fun and creative. Jump on a skateboard. Do a handstand. Draw pictures on the driveway with chalk. Have a water balloon fight. All of it. 

That's what I'll do. That and leave little gifts on my co-workers' desks. May the pleasant surprises remind us all of Meg. May she live on in these moments of joy.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Are You Sure?

Before the Forsythia Blooms.
Perception is everything. There are often times when we're convinced that we are right and someone else is wrong. That perception drives our behavior. It drives our mindset. And it can often lead us to feel upset, judged, imposed upon and abused. It can even lead us to judge, impose upon and abuse. And then sometimes we get some new information. Sometimes we talk things out. And then every once in a while, we realize … our perception was completely wrong.

To read more about perception and how it can negatively affect our lives, check out my latest post on Buddha Mama Sans Drama.

Thanks!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life Without Drama?

The first signs of spring after a long winter.
I'm posting over on Buddha Mama Sans Drama today about the possibility of living a life that is free from drama. Stop laughing. I know it's not exactly reasonable to expect that one could live a peaceful and harmonious life, free from emotional upheaval. But still. It would be nice, wouldn't it?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dear Writer: Keep Writing.

I received my 4th rejection letter. Though kinder than those that came before, it was still a rejection.

Hi Mandy, 

Thanks again for submitting to [Name of Journal]. Sorry it took us a little while to get back to you. For our current issue, we received nearly 1,100 submissions. Of these, we were able to publish about 5%. Regrettably, then, we are unable to publish "Middle School: Dante's Forgotten Circle of Hell" at this point in time. 

This being said, thank you so much for sharing your work with us--let alone even writing something in the first place--and helping us build a stronger literary community. We are currently accepting submissions for the next issue, and we look forward to seeing more work from you soon. 

Sincerely, 

[Name of Journal]

See? A very nice rejection letter. That took the sting out a bit and it also hurt a little less the 4th time around. But still. My heart began to falter. I began to wonder if I might not be "literary" material. Perhaps I'm a "popular" writer? If so, I can adjust to that. I began to rethink my vision of my future. Sure I was banged up, but still in the fight.

Then I got round-housed at work. Advertising is not a kind and gentle world. My writing was described as "underwhelming."

*Sigh*

So it was a bad day.

Had me feeling pretty low. Felt like the collective in my ad agency had taken to me with bats like an angry gang in an alleyway.

And then, in the midst of all of this, an email.

*Cue the angels choir*

Another email from the literary journal that rejected me just the day before. Only this time it read:

Hi Mandy, 

Just a quick follow-up on your submission, "Middle School: Dante's Forgotten Circle of Hell." Though we shall not publish this story, we are impressed with your writing ability, as it is extremely articulate and reflective. Your story is realistic, accurate, has a strong voice, and makes us remember the travails of adolescence. 

Thanks again for submitting to [Name of Literary Journal]. We hope you will consider us again in the future with new work. 

Sincerely, 

[Name of Journal]

And there it was. A moment of grace in an otherwise crappy day. I don't know why they wrote it. Yet there it was.

A glimmer of hope.

And I clung to it. God damn. I cling to it still.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dear Sucky Writer: I Hate You and Your Sucky Sucky Words.

No love for you bad writer!



I've heard that some writers hang their rejection letters on the wall.



After I received my first rejection letter, I opened up a file in my email inbox and titled it, "Rejection Letters." I decided I would put all of my rejection emails there and keep them as a matter of pride. You know, a testament to how many times I put myself out there and how plucky I was to keep on trying to get published.

I'm not gonna lie. The first rejection letter stung quite a bit. It still stings. I'm not happy about it at all. I don't really have anything optimistic or philosophic to say about it other than it sucks and it still makes me mad. And no, I have no intention of ever submitting anything to those people again.

*Sticks out tongue*

As you can see, I've decided to opt for the mature route to handling rejection.

And then today, I received my second rejection letter. It read:


"Thank you for sending us  your story. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. We wish you the best on placing this elsewhere."



Ouch.

If that isn't curt, I don't know what is. But there it is: Rejection #2. Let us behold it in all its glory. I do have to say, however, that rejection is a little bit easier the second time around. Maybe as I fill up my Rejection Folder, I'll get more and more immune to it all. Maybe it will sting less? Perhaps I'll just immediately re-submit the rejected piece to another journal. Some day I will be bad ass like that, I just know it.

But not today.

Today it sucks. I'm not going to lie or sugarcoat this. It feels just like I feared it would. I've avoided putting myself out there in the literary world because I feared just this thing. I feared discovering that I do not have the talent. I am not good. And I feel embarrassed that I even submitted anything at all.


It's just like Middle School all over again. Only I have a car and better clothes.



I'll be fine. I've got other pieces out there. I click on my email inbox every day, hoping to see a response from one of the other literary journals. I'll keep doing it. But maybe I'll get a thicker skin as I fill up the rejection folder. Maybe Rejection Letter #3 will bum me out even less than #2?

The trick is to keep trying, I suspect. To not give up. Though the voice of doubt still whispers in my head, "Oh who do you think you're kidding? You're not good enough. You don't belong. You're just a loser."

Loser. Loser. Loser.

The taunts from my childhood still echo in my head.

But I'll shake them off. That's what grownups do. Especially grownups in therapy.


What's the point if you don't pick yourself up and start all over again?



And I will pick myself up again and be little Miss Optimistic again.

I swear I will. But maybe not just yet.

I hope I don't lose faith in myself. Maybe someone will like my writing some day? Maybe someone will connect with my stories and want to share it with other people? I know too many good writers who gave up after being rejected and I can't be that person. It's not the person I've worked so hard to be.

I don't want to end my life with feelings of, "If only …"

But trying and failing does kinda suck. I'm here to put that reality out there. And all the motivational/inspirational mumbo jumbo doesn't always own up to the fact that sometimes rejection hurts and is going to go on hurting for a while.

So I'm here to say: REJECTION SUCKS, ASSHOLES.

God damn, I wish I had an Etsy shop. I'd slap that motto on a coffee cup.

*Flips off everyone in a 360-degree radius*


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ache & Desire & the Pain of Adolescence.

This is me smoldering, people.
I'm currently working on a couple of chapters in my book that have to do with the first time I ever fell in love with anyone (or fell in lust). Oh my god those feelings. Sometimes when I'm writing I have to close my eyes and try to will myself back to the ages of 16 or 17…to see in my mind's eye how the object of my affection looked. How he moved. How he made me feel. The way my mouth went dry and my heart beat faster whenever I was near him.

Do you remember that? Do you remember when you wanted someone so badly but had no idea how to get them? Do you remember that ache? My god such sweet pain. When you remember that, how can you not have anything but empathy for those poor teenagers.

Oh that hunger of adolescence. It was physically painful. And then when your heart was broken. How on earth did we survive it?

Tell me about your first love/lust. I want to hear it.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Paying Attention.

From my Buddha mantle collection.

It's funny how once you start paying attention in one area of your life, you find you're paying attention to all sorts of things. It picks up momentum like a rock going downhill or a bird taking flight. Click the link below to learn more: