I've been writing. This year's project is a Neverland story which you can read more about here. And I might stick a little bit on the end here just for fun.
So this 41st Year post is about falling off the wagon.
I'm a professional wagon-faller. Oh, sure, I euphemize it with words like "redirect" and "pivot" but the truth is, when the wagon doesn't seem to be making any progress, I topple right off.
Some of my most famous wagon-fallings include the six-week no-alcohol "tradition" I had for about five years. It stretched from New Year's Day until the Daytona 500. It was meant to give my liver a break after football season because September through December is rough. After 2008, though, I gave that giving-up up. Be sober for nine-ish months and you'll stop inflicting that shit on yourself, too.
Another great wagon-jumping happened when I decided to scrap book Hollie's baby book. I did two mini-books and have been collecting stuff for the rest ever since. She's nine. I'm never, ever going to catch up. Which is fine, I realized, when I learned no other moms are doing a week-by-week log of their kid's growing up except via Facebook (collective groan and eye roll).
I've started and stopped dozens of fitness programs from half marathon trainings to swim team to Beast Mode and even a personal trainer. I've started and stopped dozens of diets meant to offset the booze, lose the baby weight, make recovery easier, make my metabolism faster, and make me hotter for my 20th reunion.
In spite of my wagon-falling, I've also been faithful and steadfast in a number of pursuits. I've attended my South Carolina Writers Workshop (SCWA) group sessions two Mondays a month for about three years. I've been at the Tuesday Twitter chat #wschat for more than 5 years. And I've done NaNoWriMo for five years.
Writing, it seems, is a wagon I'm glad to be on.
For the last 18 months I've been faithful to 1 Million Cups which meets weekly and I've volunteered to read in Hollie's classroom every November since kindergarten. I'm not afraid of commitment -- I'm framing an assembled 1000 piece puzzle this week -- I'm just easily persuaded to drop relationships that aren't working.
The 41st Year blog is about the things I wanted to do that I felt would give me evidence of a life well-lived. Live events, visits with my Papa, and meaningful time with friends. What I didn't account for in that planning was the downhill slope my work life would take from January until now.
The 41st Year is turning out to be less about charting new territory and more about resilience, persistence, and steadfastness.
Lest you mistake these as synonyms, let me explain.
Resilience is about recovery, a return to the original form. I've been working over Clemson Road Consulting for months. The original mission of the company was remote, asynchronous work in storytelling -- a writing studio. We're there. Again.
Persistence is about continuing, a constant effort in a single direction. I've been pushing into fiction writing for half a decade and broke through this year with some highly-regarded work, opportunities, and recognition.
Steadfastness is about being firm in purpose, resolved to a specific direction. I have not abandoned my dream of being either a writer or an entrepreneur. It's tough but if it wasn't, everyone would do it.
I have a vision for my life and I plan to achieve that vision. It's just taking a few setbacks to earn the breaks I need to leap forward.
My faith remains.
Faith in the vision, faith in my partnerships, and faith in myself. It's funny how spending the entire month with a kid who discovers The Neverland is a lie has made me more resolved than ever to make the most of the real world in which we're living.
Now, as promised, a little hint of the #NaNoWriMo project:
The ship anchored off the coast of Neverland, its black sails visible like an ink blot on the horizon. A flag with a skull and crossed bones waved on the highest tip of the highest mast, above a crow’s nest where stood a man peering at the shore through a long, retractable telescope.
I peered back through my own lens and tried to make out the whiskers on his face, the set of his jaw, the evil in his eye.
“How many?” Peter asked.
On deck I’d counted twenty-one. Six pulling at ropes and raising sails, five turning cranks and wheels, four tying knots, three securing ballast, one in the crow’s nest, one studying a map, and one at the helm. The last one wore a wide-brimmed cap with a feather that fluttered in the wind, a long duster trimmed in gold, and tall black books that caught the morning sun and shone as though just polished.
“Looks as though they’re getting underway,” I said, watching the anchor emerge from the water and climb toward the rail.
“And go where?” Peter’s voice had mocking in it. He hovered just above me, legs akimbo, arms crossed. Did he see what I saw? How keen was his vision for such things?
“Let ‘em go,” Hickory said. “They may return with treasure.”
“Or chocolate,” one of the twins piped.
“Or down blankets and feather pillows,” Peter sneered and spat at the ground beneath him. We’d raided the ship before, stolen the materials they’d captured from wherever it was they’d gone. The luxury of those items hadn’t left our memories and the five of us, Hickory, twins, Rocky and me, could share the same fantasy of fresh peaches, warm silks, sparkling jewels, and crisp wafers.
“How long will they be gone?” Rocky asked.
Peter’s sneer turned to a glare that he threw carelessly at the bear-costumed boy beside me.
“No time,” I whispered. “There is no time.”
Rocky blinked, nodded, “Sorry, Peter,” he said quickly so that all the syllables merged into one sound of contrition.
Peter turned his gaze back to the horizon.