Open Windows

Last night I had a dream that my mom was now a 50ish overweight white male. To say life feels strange lately is an understatement.  Annie asks me why Chris is my husband and my dad, and days of conversation ensue, as I explain the complexities of life. It’s February but the cherry trees are blossoming and the tulips have pushed up through the brown dirt. I’m living in a resort that is actually our remodeled home.

Strangest of all is this: Windows keep opening and I didn’t feel the slam of a door shutting. New opportunities are popping up, and I haven’t uncovered bad news lately. Or maybe the hard stuff feels suddenly small because the sun is shining.

But, if I am completely honest with myself, I’d say the whole book writing experience changed me. I”ve become less adept at beating myself up when I’m having a bad day as a human. Last week involved some less-than-stellar parenting moments. I couldn’t even begin to blog about it, although I often read snappy reports of less-than-happy moments on other mom blogs all the time.

It wasn’t funny, arguing with my daughter in the middle of the night. Immediately afterward, I told myself I was a horrible parent. But I wasn’t getting anywhere with this strategy.   This is where the book stuff comes in. Last year, when I started the famous two book contract, I spent so much time telling myself I couldn’t write a book, much less two books. I was convinced that my editor would call me and say, “You are right. We’re canceling the project. We hired the wrong person.”

Then I realized the work wasn’t going away. Short of my own death, I had two books to write. I’m a pretty diligent person, so I was working hard on the project between bouts of self-doubt. When I actually started the writing process I remembered that I knew how to write, and books are merely filled with words. What does it take to write a book? Hard work and lots of words.

It took ten months to change my pattern of disbelief, the whole circle of telling myself I couldn’t accomplish something, beating myself up, then actually doing the work, and realizing I was worthy of the book contracts. When I received my edited copy in July and I had a month to rewrite and rework 20 chapters of text, I didn’t take my angst out on myself and those around me. The editor told me, “You just need to take this in, decide how you are going to rework the copy, and get to work.” I wasn’t perfect; I was scared shitless about the task ahead. But I went on a short vacation, moaned to my friend, and got to work. The work was hard, but glorious. That is really how the whole book year was: hard, but glorious. My husband was shocked that I didn’t melt down or take my fear out on the family. But, I spent the better part of a year doing just that, and it didn’t help write the book.

Without realizing it, I took a similar tack after my bad parenting event. I spent a bit of time filling my mind with negative thoughts. This is not even a helpful train of thought or tool, people, seriously. You just feel worse and powerless. Apologizing to my daughter and talking, this is a helpful remedy. But it took more than that. It took 30 minutes of yoga, a walk, talking to a good friend, and a bit of sun. Having a sweet afternoon with my daughter was key, as well.

I’ve gotten away from the lead, here, the windows of opportunity bit. Still, this change in my nature is the best breath of fresh air in my life. The other windows, well, there’s a new book contract with my awesome co-author. There’s hiking, and sun, and my co-author getting lots of good press just as our books are about to be published. I had a great first meeting about the book project with my co-author and I feel like I woke up in a new world. Maybe it’s because lots of the doors in our house are new, so when they slam shut, well, they close pretty quietly.

2 thoughts on “Open Windows

  1. Nancy,

    This is a beautiful, honest post! And so very interesting; how what you went through with writing informed your moment with your daughter…it’s how it works, isn’t it?

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