If you haven’t been to the new blog yet, today would be a great day to pop over – T. Sue VerSteeg, best selling author of My Ex-Boyfriend’s Wedding has stopped by!
You may recall that I recently signed a contract with CaryPress for Denim and Diamonds. Just wanted to give you a heads up that I plan to reveal the cover tomorrow. Hope you can join me!
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know my daughter moved out unexpectedly a few days after graduating high school. Today is the one year anniversary of her leaving. This past year has been a learning experience, to say the least, so I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve learned:
Breathe. Sometimes that is the only thing you’re able to do, the only thing you can control. And that’s OK. Let the healing power of oxygen into your body, and expel the dark thoughts and fears swirling inside you. Turn all of your attention inward.
Release. Not everything is under your control. As a parent, your focus is your child. You care for your child, protect your child, guide your child . . . but once they fly the coop, you must release that totality of control and allow your child to make his or her own choices. These may not be the choices you would make. That’s OK. Letting go is one of the hardest things you will ever do as a parent. It may help you to have a symbolic release. Write your child’s name on a piece of paper and burn it on the night of a full moon as a symbolic release of control.
Believe. Allow yourself to believe, deep within, that your child will be OK. Just like all the millions of teenagers who have left home before, your child will survive. He or she will figure out that cars need oil changes, that the electric bill has to be paid on time or it’ll be shut off, and that eating chocolate cake for breakfast is fun, but only for a while. Your parents had the same worries about you. I read some advice shortly after our daughter told us she signed a lease for an apartment – that we should not maintain her room as a shrine, because that sends the message that we expect her to fail. It was difficult to allow ourselves to use that space, but it did help us make the mental leap of recognizing that she was an adult, living her own life.
Live. Life goes on. Now is the time for the spotlight of your life to change focus. Your child has been your focus for eighteen years. It’s your turn to shine. Remember the life you had before kids? Hobbies you used to enjoy? Dreams you used to have? Goals? Dust those off and indulge yourself.
Love. If your marriage was lucky enough to survive kids, get to know your spouse again. Go on dates. Watch TV together. Go out to eat. Get to know each other all over again. I have to say, this has been my favorite part of the empty nest. My husband is my partner and my best friend, and getting to spend time with him has been a treasure, particularly since we have never been a “couple” before (his daughter was 6 when we got married).
A momentous occasion, at least in my little corner of the Universe, occurred this week. I was offered a contract for a novel that I wrote in 2004 for my very first National Novel Writing Month. I was a winner in 2004. Those 30 days taught me that I really could complete a rough draft and write those magical words: THE END. I wrote the last 31 pages in a mad dash in a single day and when I finished, there were tears streaming down my cheeks. A decade later and I am very nearly that happy again.
Over the years, I shared that draft copy with folks to encourage them to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and I have sent it through my critique group more times than I (or they!) care to admit. I’ve polished and improved and, now, finally, it is going to pay off.
I queried. They asked to see the full manuscript. I sent it off and held my breath. Then, on Wednesday of this week, I received an email saying they’d be sending a contract. I held my breath again. Could it really be happening? I dared not even hope that this book could actually be published. Then I received the most wonderful, exciting thing by email yesterday – a contract. A real, live (sort of) publishing contract. It even says there in the first paragraph, “Lori L. Robinett, hereinafter called the “Author.”
Though I have been writing seriously since 2003, it feels as if things are suddenly happening very quickly. A few of my works were selected for publication in Well Versed 2014 (for which I am honored), which launches in two weeks. I’ve made it through the initial synopsis round for a new series called Lobster Cove by The Wild Rose Press, and my final manuscript is due within the next two weeks. And now, Denim and Diamonds will be released, well, sometime. Date to be announced!
I can’t even begin to express how excited and blessed I feel right now.
Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.
Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.
A friend responded.
Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>
Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.
And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.
The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.
So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.
But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.
Acknowledge the feelings.
And then practice a little self-compassion.
Over the winter I was told about a job in North Carolina. I have family there. The climate is pleasant. Beach. Mountains. It was, oh, so tempting.
Except for one small thing.
I love my job. Well, I don’t love my JOB. Much of what I do is monotonous and boring. But I love the people I work with. I love having a nice environment. I love having equipment that works. And occasionally I really do love the work I do. And so, I did not apply for the job in North Carolina. Because what it all boils down to is that finding a job that you love is a very rare and wonderful thing. And I would not know how to truly appreciate my position without having experienced one I hated.
Still, I am thankful for the Job I Hated, because it taught me these things:
And that is why I didn’t even explore the possibility of working in a wonderful climate, near family that I love and miss. Because I have a Job I Love, and thanks to the Job I Hated, I appreciate it.
This was our first Easter as empty nesters. It seems like I’ve gone through the entire year marking the holidays, marking the firsts, feeling melancholy about the change in our status. Instead of looking backwards, I prefer to look forward. It is a conscious thing. Being happy is a choice. I chose to:
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