It was my first time facing a group of millennials and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was serving as a panelist at the Indiana University Media School Career Day. As an alumna with a journalism degree from IU, I was there to talk about writing careers.
How would I relate to a generation steeped in technology and global influences when my college memories included snail mail, interviews conducted on landlines, an electric typewriter, and learning to “burn” and “dodge” photos in a darkroom?
I was lying face down in a dimly lit room, listening to the sounds of a harpsichord or sitar or something equally soothing, willing myself to be soothed. I’d been looking forward to this massage all week. I’d finally convinced myself that I deserved it and that I would not, under any circumstances, regret the expense. It wasn’t regret that followed me into the room, but a sticky cloud of anxiety.
Why did I drink coffee before my appointment? And why, why, why did I get on Facebook? I should have known better than to start my day wading through negative stories.
I’ve mentioned before that I work with a coach. Recently he had me take a “needs assessment.” I thought it might be like one of those quizzes in Cosmopolitan magazine, revealing that I need to buy more silky blouses, or light a scented candle. Or maybe it would be similar to a “love languages” test and tell me what I already know, that I need a lot of hugs.
I was surprised to learn that my number one need is for PEACE.
When my daughter was in fourth grade, she sang a solo in her school’s production of Schoolhouse Rock. I was sitting in the auditorium behind two men. A few bars into her rendition of “Elbow Room,” one turned to the other and said,”I’m guessing this ain’t her first rodeo.”
Of course, I was thrilled to hear this compliment and it was all I could do to keep myself from tapping the guy on the shoulder and gushing about how she takes voice lessons and dreams of being a stage performer.
A couple of months ago I skipped writing a blog because I was writing a script for a client about how important blogging is. It was one of life’s many ironies.
Then, more recently, I paused my weekly blog for a month to allow space to finish my manuscript, sign my publishing contract, and just breathe.
During this time, I watched one of my favorite movies, Something’s Gotta Give. There are so many things I love about this movie: Diane Keaton’s portrayal of a writer, the way her writing desk overlooks the ocean, the way she cries and laughs out loud as she writes.
Last night I was attempting to explain to my 10-year-old daughter that anxiety can come from believing something that’s not true.
“Our brains don’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s not real,” I said. I was about to launch into a sure-to-be-cumbersome definition of perception and reality, when she said:
“Right, because the mind and the brain are two separate things. The brain is physical and the mind is spiritual. If your mind thinks that something is real, then your brain and your body will act according to what you think.”
Whoa. I just got schooled.
It all begins with some stinky, stained carpet.
After years of living with an elderly dog and then a puppy, the carpet in my small sunroom is trashed. This is the room where I write, and the smell is distracting. (For the record, nearly anything has the power to distract me from writing, but still…) Something has to be done.
So I go to Home Depot to price carpet, then come home and start dragging furniture out of my daughter’s room. That makes sense, right?
So my new hobby is social dancing. I had been to several open dance nights when I decided it was time to step it up, so to speak, and take some lessons. I couldn’t decide between West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Country Two-Step, or Hustle, and the registration deadline was fast approaching. Then, as I was talking to a friend, he began telling a story about life lessons he had learned in his 20s.
“I had to learn to hustle,” he said.
I can honestly say that I’ve never been a helicopter mom. I’ve never stayed up later than my kid to put a few “finishing touches” on her science project. I don’t schedule meetings with teachers or principals or send carefully worded “concerned” texts to mothers of my kids’ friends. I don’t have tracking devices on their phones.
For years I’ve been cool. I’ve been laid back. Except when one of my kids puts a piece of writing in front of me. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m reaching for a red pen. The itch to edit or tease something sublime from each sentence is simply too great to resist. I MUST put my mark on it.
The title of my first book, ‘Hello Loved Ones,’ comes from an “endearment “ used casually by the father of the narrator when he comes home drunk after long unexplained absences. He tosses these words at his children, who are starved for his attention, before leaving them. The novel looks at the importance of love in action and questions whether love is determined by blood or by choice.