I have resolved only one thing….

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I am not a fan of making resolutions for the new year.  I have never followed the time-honored tradition of making a list of things that, once they are scripted, seem somewhat ridiculous and marginally unattainable.  I have known enough disappointment in my life to know that setting myself up for a possible failure, in a manuscript penned only by me, is not an option.

But this year something changed.  A small cog in the wheel of my thought process became stuck for a short period of time and had me reflecting on the past year and the role that social media played in perpetuating a plethora of misguided and angry posts.  No topic was sacred and no member of any social media outlet came out unscathed.

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Friendships have been lost or irrevocably changed.  Lines have been drawn in the sand and sides have been taken.  The majority of posts I ignored and would not engage in a battle, political or otherwise, without the benefit of being able to see my opponent.  It is easy to send a cascade of beliefs out into the cyber world without having to actually face your adversary.  There is a level of comfort enjoyed when you are typing your emotional mitigation without the burden of having to face a rebuttal.  You can simply turn off your device and ignore the reply.

So my resolution this year is simple and it came as no surprise.  I have resolved to not post any negative statements this year.  This does not mean I will not have strong opinions on many topics.  It simply means I will hold my pessimistic views about any issues until a fair and just way of sharing those sentiments presents itself in a personal and neutral setting.

Social media makes voicing thoughts far too easy without taking that extra moment to calm down before we type.  Just thinking about how many eyes may read what I write has made me want to be much more culpable for the content of my posts.  Fingers crossed I can hold my tongue if the need arises!

 

Becoming a student of the law

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No, I have not decided to go back to school.  Instead, I have vowed to become a student of life and pursue the merits of the Laws of Attraction.

I recently overheard friends discussing their desire to create a vision board.  Although I knew vaguely what a vision board was, I had never been entertained by the idea of creating one for myself.  I love to lose time dreaming about my perfect kitchen.  I have seen my future home in my brain so many times, and the idyllic life that goes along with it, but I have never felt the need to purchase a white board and post pictures of my idealized Arcadian existence until now.

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I have envisioned myself cooking in this kitchen.  I have seen the faces of the guests in those chairs enjoying wine and appetizers while I artfully prepare the next course, amusing their bouche with each morsel.  My fully stocked pantry is organized so well, with labels facing forward, that it is only protected by a Muskoka-style screen door.  The wine cellar is filled with robust red and crisp white wines and the food is freshly cooked every day.  This is my bliss.

To add to my paradise there is a writing nook off in the corner, away from everything else, where my dreams are free to escape the confines of my brain and spontaneously arrange themselves on a blank page.  All facets of my creativity thrive in this space and my happiness is shared with those around me.

Vision boards appeal to both the conscious and subconscious levels of our instinct.  As I wrote this post, my vision board was staring back at me, daring me to make it a reality.  Those spaces invite me to live within them.  Those dreams want me to follow them into my new future.  And those images will pursue me in my sleep and be there in the morning to remind me that my desires are real and I should never lose hope.

I just wanna be me

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“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” ~ Judy Garland

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I spent much of my youth trying to be the person everyone would like.  I was never ANY version of myself because I wasted too much time being concerned with who others thought I should be instead of becoming the person I was meant to be.   Eventually I was able to break the cycle of trying to please everyone.  I stopped feigning interest in things I had no real passion for and focused more on me.  I slowly distanced myself from the users and spent far less time crossing the Great Lakes for people who wouldn’t jump over a puddle for me.

In my wisdom and older age I have learned a few things that I really like about myself.   I speak three languages – English, sarcasm and profanity – and I am fluent in all three.  I love to write.  I don’t just do it because I enjoy it.  I write because words bleed from my brain and my head feels like it will explode if I don’t expel the stories trapped inside.  And I have learned to write without needing anyone else’s opinion or approval.  What flows from my brain to my fingertips is what I publish on this blog and I’m very proud of the words I have shared.

I enjoy my solitude and am happy with the company I keep, whether I am home alone or spending time with friends and family.  I love to cook and it doesn’t matter if it is a table for one, I will take the time to create a dining experience and not just ‘have some food’.

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(my dinner last night)

Music is a big part of my life and my playlist spans the recording alphabet from Abba to Zeppelin.  I could live without television but I could never have a life without movies.  I will still cross oceans for people but I am much more selective when it comes to deeming who is worthy of my epic journey before I captain the ship.

I am the person I am now because I fought to become this version of myself.  I stopped letting outside voices influence my decisions and started hearing the only voice that should matter – mine.  It took a while to get here but I have enjoyed the journey and am really liking the view.  Thanks Judy, I like your advice very much.

Waiting for the right train

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If you are a blogger, or an aspiring novelist, you may have seen the acronym NaNoWriMo, which is an abbreviated version of National Novel Writing Month.  The eleventh calendar month has been designated as the month when writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words, or more, in a time span of 30 days.

I thought this year I would board that speeding locomotive of creativity but, as the train neared the station, I stepped back and watched the silver bullet speed past my stop and continue on its journey without me.

As the caboose rattled down the tracks and the last of the smoke had cleared from the air, I realized I don’t want to put so much pressure on myself that I scare my characters away.  I want them to tell their story at their pace.  I have developed a relationship with these unique personalities over the last couple of years and I don’t want to be the bully in the school yard making these other kids make decisions based on any peer pressure I put on them.   I will push their swings as high as they want to go but let them slow down when they want to stop pumping their legs.  This is their journey and I am only here to tell it as they tell it to me.

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I envy those who can focus so intently for thirty days, and perhaps if I were starting a new project I would be more eager to dive in and lose myself in the process.  But, for now, I have chosen to create my own acronym – NaNoWriWin……  National Novel Writing Winter.

My writing train will still stay on track, but a track that doesn’t have such a condensed schedule.  It will meander along its path, at a rate of speed that is conducive to its creativity and not just its deadline.  And I can only hope that by slowing down the velocity of my train, that my silver bullet with travel through beautiful, and sometimes scary, landscapes over the next few months.  I’m anticipating some bumps along the way, and perhaps a few derailments, but it is the journey that I am looking forward to and not just the moment I finally reach my destination.

 

Are you there, blog? It’s me, Susan.

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Frenetic pace aside, the last few weeks have been draining.  It’s a good problem to have when your resort is so busy that you cannot find the right moment to take a day off.  But it is a bad problem, personally, when you cannot find the right moment to take a day off.

For anyone in the seasonal hospitality business, the start of the school year is a dreaded reality.  The summer staff are solely focused on Frosh Week and moving into residence while I am busily focused on the treads of my new running shoes, hoping that they will carry me through until Thanksgiving.  And while I am intent on putting forth 100% to make everything at work a glowing success, my personal accomplishments become non-existent.

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But the past two and a half days have been, thankfully, concentrated entirely on my needs.   I slowly morphed back into all of the roles I had been ignoring and gained some of my life back.  My lawnmower is fixed and the ridiculously long grass has been cut.  Order has been restored to my life and all of the menial jobs I had been unable to accomplish have been triumphantly completed.  I am currently sitting back with a glass of red wine, happy with the amount of tasks I have been able to complete over the last two days.

Now it is time to get some balance back in my life.  It’s time to allow the words to become more of a focus than the numbers – the number of people at the lodge, the number of meals I serve and the number of steps I complete in a day.  It’s time to get back to the things that feed my soul and not my punch card.

Are you there, blog?  I’m back….and I’ve missed you.

 

Remembering the things I forgot

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Earlier today, a friend inadvertently reminded me of one of the greatest things about writing.  It’s not just for the melodic overture that silently plays as words form sentences and transport themselves from my brain to my fingertips and onto the screen.  It’s not the myriad number of ways I am able to express myself.  It is simply the fact that I am allowed to engage with people in a way that brings me joy.

When I post a blog, I certainly look at my stats to see how many people have stopped by to read what I have written.  But somewhere along the way, I have disconnected from the truth behind those statistics.  Those numbers represent people who have taken the time to ingest my words, who have possibly connected to what I had to say and who may share the same thoughts that I have shared.

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I was reminded today that my words have an impact on people.  It’s not just looking at statistics on a blog.  It’s realizing that I am able, through my writing, to make a connection with people on a level far greater than I imagined.   I can reach people who I cannot see.  I can engage with people I know or even people I may never meet.  I can speak to people without uttering a word out loud.

Writing this blog has not only allowed me to connect with the hidden parts of myself, it has enabled me to become a part of so many other lives.  This morning, this friend told me she spent an entire day thinking about a post of mine that she had read in the winter.  Her words gave so much worth to my words and this blog post is my way of thanking her for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to get back to writing more frequently.   Thanks Erin!

 

The red pen

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My writing has become the focal point in my life.   So much so that I have been consciously willing to share a few of the chapters of the novel I have so carefully crafted with a select few who will unabashedly share their opinion of my writing.  It is a big leap of faith and one I needed to make to get over my fear of rejection.  Turns out, it was (thankfully) much less painful than I anticipated.

A very endearing couple recently checked into the lodge for their third visit.  We were making small talk about how they would spend their week and she gushed about the trilogy she had brought with her to read.  We talked books and authors and I blurted out that I was writing a book.  After giving her a brief outline of the plot, she seemed intrigued.  I took the first step off my cliff of fears when I asked her if she wanted to read some of it.  My second foot followed off the cliff when I actually printed a few pages and timidly handed them to her.

Her excitement completely contrasted my feeling of nausea.  She left with my soul on a few pieces of paper as I sat in my office, slowing curling into the fetal position, wondering what I had just done.

Hours later she came back to the office with a smile on her face that I have yet to define with words.  But what really grabbed and held my attention was the red pen in her hand.  For those who embarked on their scholastic careers before technology took over, the red pen was a symbol of doom and I began a staring contest with the inanimate object.

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Her voice circled around my head as I tried to pull my gaze from that red pen.  A few of her words burrowed into my brain, slowly connecting with the tissue, and my heart almost stopped when I heard “Mel is a retired English teacher”.  It was over.

But then it wasn’t.

After going over a few corrections which made complete sense to me, the red pen no longer felt like a threat and became something else entirely.  They were entertained by the plot.  They enjoyed the phrasing of my sentences and they were captivated enough to want to keep reading.  That red pen was the prophet that delivered the word “love” beside two of the lines that they enjoyed the most.

Somewhere during our conversation, that red pen became the pump that reinflated my confidence.  It didn’t say ‘you failed’.   It screamed ‘keep going’.  Thank you Jean and Mel for the kick in the pants I needed to climb back up the cliff and get ready to take that leap over and over again.

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