Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013! Guess what? You aren’t in Kansas anymore….

From my collection - loved these growing up!
I can’t think of a better way to start this new year than with gratitude for the last one. 2012 was amazing for me. Doors opened that I had thought were closed. Gifts of people, resources and opportunities fell into my hands. I have stood in moments of awed wonder. Who is the benefactor of so much largess? 

A few years ago, when the course and landscape of my life was suddenly and radically altered, I made a choice. I don’t think I was aware at the time of my determination, that it was bone deep, soul deep. Maybe I had even made the choice long before and the events that altered my course were a test to see how devoted I was to walking my talk, to being true to myself. In retrospect, the choice seems almost “other” in the sense that it was something I was aware of, but almost as if it were another self or life than mine. I didn’t picture the end, my destination, too clearly. The gist of my intention was to keep writing. There was no money in it, no security, no medical or retirement benefits were attached. I was essentially flying by the seat of my britches. I laughed maniacally at times. I cried: What was I doing? Why was I so stubborn? Couldn’t I see my future if I persisted in going down this path, a self-indulgent pursuit of nothing to nowhere. Who cared a fig what I wrote?  But nothing I said to myself mattered. Whatever was driving the whole venture had its own idea about where it was going. In the immortal words of John Candy in the movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I was “a twig in the shoulders of a mighty stream.” That’s just how it felt and I would have enjoyed the ride a lot more if I could have loosened up, but I’m afraid I didn’t. I was apprehensive the entire way.

I mean most people, sensible people in my circumstances, would do the conventional thing and get a regular job. They’d sock away for their retirement. They’d have weekends off and paid vacations, get a new car every two or five years. Not me. I kept writing, submitting, collecting rejections, day-after-day, weekends and holidays, stubbornly, persistently, hardheadedly, doggedly pursuing this nebulous, at times I could not have said what it was, goal—for lack of a better word.

And finally, last year in the very early spring, a door magically opened, first one and then another, and almost before I could even register what was happening, I was boosted up onto a path I had only ever dreamed of. I will never be able to put into words the effect this has had on me. It is like the headiest cocktail, an effervescent mix of emotions running a gamut between absolute elation and delight and total apprehension and panic. I am still in awe and so grateful to so many people, who believed in me, who encouraged me, who caught me up and steadied me when the path was dark and scary. I am thrilled and grateful for those who opened the doors to me, for their belief and continuing enthusiasm.

But here’s the thing, the couple or so things that I think I learned … first when they say persistence pays off, it’s true. If you quit, you’ll never know. Doubt is fine, fear is fine. In fact, I think both are part of the territory if you are determined to pursue a vision. How could it be otherwise? A true vision is individual. There’s no handbook, no set of rules and it’s about as far away from convention as you can get. That’s scary. No way around it. The other thing may be the most critical piece of advice ever given to the world, and it’s been around for centuries, vintage Shakespeare: To thine own self be true. Goethe said it another way: As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. 

It is out of the swirling, fertile darkness that creation comes and you will never know that place if you always adhere to ritual, the expected, what is familiar and routine.

As Robert Frost said in these lovely lines from The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood,
And I—
I took the one least traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Life is vast and so beautiful and mysterious. And sometimes, when you jump off a cliff, you can fly.

I can only imagine the treasures that lie up this new year’s sleeve, but I think I’ll just go ahead and say thank you now. Happy 2013 everyone!


  1. I can't wait to read your new book!! So glad I found you in 2012!

    1. Pauline, you made my day! Thank you. I can't wait to hear what you think!

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