2017 should not let the door hit it in the ass on the way out. I think most people feel this way. The world feels depleted right now.
A friend of mine posted this fun cover on her Facebook page recently, and I admit to watching it with something close to obsession. It’s a little hit of joy each time.
The last week of each year, I hunker down and reflect on the past year. Here are some random thoughts:
- I didn’t knit enough.
- I baked more than enough cookies.
- The nice thing about being the age I am is how much more I respect myself and my boundaries. “No” is a complete sentence and one I owe it to myself to say as needed. I gave love as freely as I could to the wonderful family and friends in my life who took that and held it dear.
- I have writing ideas now, which for the longest time I yearned for. Now I just yearn for time, and, when I have that, skill.
- Professionally it’s been a wonderful year, although I still crave quiet and regularity in the process. Soon enough. Soon enough.
- This year I co-wrote and produced a short film (you can see the trailer below). Never has such a steep learning curve been so much fun. I know for sure that when you work with quality people, work doesn’t feel like a burden.
- I read 53 books this year – I’m probably going to add one or two more by year’s end. Many were significant and important. My favorites were a slim volume called Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly and Circadian by Chelsey Clammer. Both are literary rides that challenged and delighted me.
- I read a lot of nonfiction. I am cycling back to fiction now, for no reason other than I want to.
- I have a deep affection for John Oliver. I have an equally deep and entirely different affection for Gumball.
- Have you seen this Ted Talk with Joshua Prager?
- Indecent, one PBS’s Great Performances, should be required viewing. I am haunted by its truth and its form and its beauty weeks later. Unfortunately it does not seem to be available on the PBS website any longer, but if you can catch it on demand or indeed live, please do so!
- My husband and I are in the middle of The Zookeeper’s Wife (I fall asleep during almost every movie we watch at home, no matter how great the film.) It, too, should be a reminder to any fool who forgets that Nazis are the bad guys.
- My writing had an acceptance rate of about 20%, which is pretty great. I am proud of all the publications which honored me by including my work, especially the second Multiples Illuminated anthology and The Sun magazine’s Readers Write section.
- One of the highlights of my year (and a true bucket list item) was being part of the Chicago Listen to Your Mother show. When I was submitting and auditioning, I was told that being cast would be life-altering. And indeed it was.
2018 holds promise. I am attending the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop this spring, another bucket list item. My film will be screened publicly. There are some announcements I cannot yet make, but you know that I will return and spill the beans here.
I’m going to start working on a book. Terrifying, that. But it’s time.
And I will continue to enjoy my friends and family, all of whom have wrapped their arms around me this year as needed and have honored me by trusting me with their hearts and experiences as well.
I wish you all a happy remaining 2017 and a joyful, peaceful 2018. I’ll see you here soon!
In the immortal words of Colonel Potter —
For such a tender, fresh young time of year, May does a lot of heavy lifting. This month seemed both interminable and swift. We’ve been running hard, and every moment has felt as though it’s not full enough to get things done. I’m a big believer in slowing down, taking time, not having every moment scheduled. However, this has also been the month where I am at the mercy of my responsibilities. I’m limping into summer.
That is not to say that there have not been remarkable, wonderful, life-changing experiences this May. I’m trying to craft the life I want now that my focus has changed, my responsibilities are shifting, and my children will soon all be in school for a full day. My small family and dear friends have been a beautiful, central, and necessary part of this month, and I’ve snuck in, quite purposefully, moments of art and beauty. It has been a month of shaking off the old, and insisting on the new.
Here are some highlights from May:
- A short film that a fabulous and gifted friend and I wrote finally got filmed. For three days this month, I saw our words put into motion and got to work with some of the most talented, creative, hard-working, brilliant professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time with. The cast and crew were far more experienced than I, which is the best situation for me to be. I listened. I watched. I learned. I loved every minute of it. In addition to being cowriter, I functioned as executive producer. I started a production company called Melted Butter Productions. Onset, my job was largely to make sure people were fed and to stay out of their way, two things I’m fairly good at. It was a steep learning curve, and I loved every second of it, even the long hours, hard work, forms, and red tape. Right now the film is being edited and turned into something greater than the sum of its parts. I am thankful to have a team of people who I not only trust but who I so enjoyed working with. More on that project as it blooms.
- I’ve written here about the life-altering, wonderful, affirming, much-needed experience that was Listen To Your Mother. It’s hard to believe that that was only a few weeks ago. The LTYM show was one of the greatest days of my life and the experience introduced me to some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. There is something about sharing this experience with other storytellers and writers that created bonds at the heart-level.
- My daughter finished up preschool and will be starting kindergarten fall. May meant several transition activities, grounding us in this new part of our lives. I have one foot in the Slow Down! camp and another in the Spread Your Wings And Fly, Little Girl! camp.
- For the twins, there were concerts, portfolio nights, and school events almost every day. My boys will be going to a new building in the same district this next year. It’s not so much a graduation as it is a transition, so my feet are in two camps with them as well. Exciting times to come.
- One son started playing baseball this spring and his team has made it to the semifinals. The child has learned so much in a few short months, all things one would hope baseball or any group activity would teach: determination, focus, teamwork, shaking off bad moments, celebrating good. That’s a W.
- My father turned 75 this month. There was much cake. That is also a W.
- My sweet dog who is around 11 years old struggles with his health. We are spoiling him rotten and keeping an eye on him. His quality of life is our guide.
- I’ve been knitting again. My daughter wants a new blanket and I stupidly agreed to do it. Now it’s a thing. A huge, boring, have-to-pay-just-enough-attention, why-did-I-knit-this-in-worsted-weight thing.
- I have been writing more these last few days with a new routine and a new focus that I will expound on in a different blog entry. So far so good. But of course, all bets are off for summer. I assume the first day of vacation will trounce all over my happy writing plan and I will have a few more months of squeezing it in between special moments of asking the kids for the millionth time to close the door.
- I have been catching up on the stack of magazines I have. Are you familiar with The Sun magazine? It’s absolutely brilliant. I just finished the September 2016 issue and have not been able to stop thinking about more than a few pieces in there, notably “#WeAreHarryChang” by Thomas Lee (oooh! You can read it here! Do it!)
- A little late, but listening to season two of Big Magic podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her voice is sunshine, and her message is positive without being treacly or saccharine.
- Finally watched Moonlight. Mahershala Ali earned that Oscar and probably another two or three. What a performance in quite a haunting film.
- Also saw The Words, which was not as haunting, but an interesting play on that old chestnut of what happens when first we practice to deceive.
- The best discovery this month is the National Geographic series, Genius. It’s a fascinating, unblinking biography of Albert Einstein. Warts and all. Please tell me you are watching – I’m dying to talk about this show, especially the role of his wife Mileva. A biography of her wouldn’t have been uncalled for. Can you imagine an entire series of shows about underappreciated, unsung wives throughout history?
Deep breaths now as we waltz into June, a month of sweet berries and cannonballs, fireflies and picnics.
How was your May?
Listen to Your Mother Chicago was over two weeks ago, and the national program ended this past weekend.
I find myself struggling to put into words all that this experience meant, from auditioning a year ago (read all about that here), to not making it, to seeing the show last year, to redoubling my efforts this year, to auditioning again, making the cast, rehearsing, and finally putting on this show on May 7.
The only words I feel are close to adequate are “life-changing.” Anything beyond that is like trying to paint the wind.
I wish I were a composer or a painter or a sculptor because it all seems too big for the words I have right now. Or maybe I just need to grow my words, using time and distance to nurture and tend to them.
Someday, the words will come.
For now, I have tremendous gratitude and awe. My thanks to Ann Imig, founder of LTYM, to Tracey Becker and Melisa Wells for cradling the Chicago baby and for providing a home for our stories, to my castmates and new friends who walked this journey with me, to all the storytellers in the last few years for blazing a safe, beautiful trail, and to everyone who listened to these stories.
I also have a sweet new LTYM coffee mug.
Until my words catch up with my heart, I leave you with a few pictures, which were taken by the amazing Brandi Lee of Balee Images.