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Midlife Crisis

17 Oct

sunset-at-carneros

I’ve recently decided that I’m going through my first real midlife crisis. At least I hope that’s what it is—perhaps I have another 54 years ahead of me. Whatever it is though, I’m struggling to find the joy lately.

I could blame my depression on several things:

1) No takers on my novel so far. I do have one agent still looking at it, but no word back yet. I’m savvy enough to know that for new writers trying to get published, this is not uncommon. It’s still hard on the ego, though.

2) The ELECTION. Like a looky-loo at a car accident, I’m sickened but at the same time, strangely captivated. I can’t seem to pull my eyes away from the tragedy playing out on television while eagerly waiting for another car (or scandal) to plow into that already huge pile of carnage.

3) My children are growing up and leaving me. I know this is as it should be, but shedding my role as caretaker of four is harder than I thought it would be. Thank goodness I still have six years left with Isa.

4) Getting older sucks. Menopause, wrinkles, aches and pains all remind me that while inside I’m still that sixteen-year-old girl, my body proves that she is long gone. I should have loved her more when she was around.

“White-privileged, first-world problems,” my husband admonishes me. “Get over yourself.” As a person of color, he’s allowed to say this to me. Growing up poor in Mexico, he knows about real poverty, discrimination and suffering. Sure, I’ve had my moments of pain, but fully understand I’ve lead a privileged life. After recently calculating our wealth on Globalrichlist.com. I’m actually embarrassed to admit how far up on the scale we are. I have NO reason whatsoever to complain.

Still, I can’t seem to shake this feeling of “What if?” What if I’d starting writing earlier? What if I’d made exercise a priority throughout my life? What if I’d traveled the world when I was young and had the energy? What if I’d learned to love myself a long time ago?

Hey Jess—do you want some cheese with your whine?

Okay, rant over. No one can fix me but me. I need to look for the good, so I’m off to practice some intentional gratitude.

I’ll start with a heartfelt THANK YOU for following my blog. I truly appreciate your readership.

There. I feel better already.

Just to remind myself of how lucky I am, I’m posting some photos of things I’m grateful for:

yellow-flowers

Black-eyed Susans in the garden

leah-and-isa

Time spent with my beautiful daughters

goleta-mountains

My daily view of the Santa Ynez mountains

isa-leo-and-cody

Isa and our babies, Cody and Leo

pink-hollyhock

The vibrant color of this late autumn hollyhock.

family photo

There are really no words to express my gratitude for my family.

What Now?

4 Apr

I’ve loved books forever. As a young girl, I was never without something to read. Whether it was a library book (best smell in the world, in my opinion) my brother’s tattered MAD Magazines or the back of a cereal box, I devoured words. Books allowed me to escape into a world of my own choosing; they took me on adventures, they let me be somebody else for a little while when it was too painful to be me.

As a kid, my dream was either to become a concert pianist or a writer. I ended up pursuing music because I was pretty good at it, although I don’t think I was ever competitive enough to make it as a concert artist. Instead, I became a piano teacher. Truthfully, I’m glad I chose that path as it allowed me the chance to raise my four children while I worked from home.

My other dream–the writing dream–never did die out, though. For years I fantasized about writing a novel but never did anything about it–either I was too busy or the fear of failure stopped me before I even wrote that first sentence. That changed when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve beaten that story into the ground so I won’t rehash it, but I will say that experience was the turning point for me. The lesson was obvious: time is short so follow your passion.

I got to it. I began blogging. I published an essay in a small magazine and one in an online publication. Nothing big, but it was a start. I blogged some more. Then I sat down and began writing a novel. I blogged some more and got better at my writing.  I joined a writer’s group and shared my stuff. They liked it. Now, ninety thousand words later, I have actually finished a novel.

Now what?

Here comes the hard part. Being new at this trying to get your noel published game, it’s like I’m starting back at square one. Everyone has opinions on what to do: send out queries; find and agent; no, no–don’t do that–self publish instead! I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who can help you.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what happens. I wrote a novel and I loved the process of writing it. I didn’t do it for the money or the glory (well maybe a little.) I did it because there was something inside of me pushing to get the story out. I did it because I couldn’t not do it any longer.

Dear readers, I thank you for hanging in there with me over the past several years, always encouraging me to keep going. I value your support more than I can ever express. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Now if I can only come up with a decent title for the damn thing.novel on desk

 

 

The Narrative Bug

16 Oct

BKS_l_BooksByTheFootLast night my ten-year old daughter caught the narrative bug. This was quite a surprise as my husband—the elementary school teacher—was always having to push her write anything. Isa is lucky (or unlucky and she will undoubtedly assert) to have a built in teacher at home who knows how to teach all the tricks for writing the essays needed to get you through school—or life, for that matter. The tricky part is that when it’s your dad telling you what to do, one tends to resist the help. And one also tends to whine a lot—or outright cry at times.

That was our story until last night when Isa decided to try her hand at narrative writing. Her dad gave her an old laptop and she went into her room for an hour and wrote. Now this kid has always been exposed to literature—in fact, she’s quite the book junkie. Case in point—just yesterday at school, she got to eat In-N-Out with the principal because she earned so many Accelerated Reader points (not sure if rewarding reading excellence with junk food is the right way to go, though.) Isa reads all kinds of stuff—Percy Jackson, Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief. She even pretends to read the New Yorker, but I know she’s really only looking at the cartoons. Her idea of a fun afternoon is to head to the library.

A book so good you can't put it down.

Her favorite thing to do.

Before bed last night, she brought the computer upstairs and asked if she could read her first couple of chapters—yes—chapters! Mind you, there were short chapters, but still. Not only that, her first paragraph hooked me right from the start. The voice of the protagonist—an eleven year old girl named Fiona Garcia (is that a great name, or what?) is so likable and funny that I can’t wait to find out what happens to her.

You’re probably thinking—get a grip, Jess—it’s just a story. It doesn’t mean Isa is going to be the next Pulitzer Prize winner in Literature (hey, you never know) or even become a published author. I guess the reason I’m so elated about Isa catching the writing bug is because I wish I had embraced writing more when I was young. To see such light come into her eyes when she talks about her story reminds me of my own childhood passion for creative writing. I remember often being told I was a good writer but as I lacked my own internal self-motivation, I allowed my writing bug to fly away. Now, over forty years later, I’ve managed to recapture that bug and although it’s often difficult, I think I’m managing to tame my it enough so that it won’t fly too far from home.

I’m more than happy to support Isa in all of her writing efforts. I will lovingly make suggestions and eagerly help with any editing requests. What I won’t do is tell her about the crushing self-doubt, fear of rejection or hitting that hard wall of writer’s block. I’ll let her discover these things on her own.

Where the magic happens.

Where the magic happens.

I’ll keep you posted on Fiona Garcia’s exploits. Or maybe Isa will. She just told me this morning that she wants to start a blog.

Oh Lord. Here we go.

Insignificant Things

28 Dec

IMG_4675For the first time in weeks, I find myself completely alone in the house. No kids, no husband, just me and the dog. As a functional introvert who constantly pines for alone time, I should consider this to be a minor post-Christmas miracle. Oddly though, I find this unexpected quiet to be strangely unnerving. I even feel a bit lonely.

I attribute my current unease to the fact that it’s been so crazy around the Mireles household over the holidays with a steady stream of people coming and going (we had sixteen people for Christmas dinner) that I’ve done nothing but shop, cook, clean, wrap presents, entertain small children and do about six loads of laundry each day. I guess I’ve become so accustomed to the constant noise and commotion that now the silence feels thunderous.

A recent sunset in Santa Barbara.

A recent sunset in Santa Barbara.

But that’s just me—always longing for something I don’t have or not appreciating what I do. Being dissatisfied is a tough habit to break and for much of my adult life I’ve had to work really hard at being grateful. This is really the most ridiculous thing ever because the real truth is that compared to most of the world, I live a privileged and abundant life.

What’s most remarkable is that I’ve discovered when I post something on my blog, my gratitude meter begins to rise. I believe this is because in the process of writing and posting photographs, I’m compelled to think about all the good I have in my life and I become more cognizant of the wondrous beauty that presents itself to me every day. And you, dear readers, are largely responsible for allowing me this chance to become more aware and mindful of my good fortune. For this gift I humbly offer you my thanks.

My best junior high school girlfriends during our annual beach house get together.

My best junior high school girlfriends during our annual beach house get together.

Paper origami cranes in a local church created to honor the many lives lost in mass shootings.

Paper origami cranes in a local church created to honor the many lives lost in mass shootings.

I hope that for all of you the coming year is filled with hope, love and deep gratitude for all of the grand events and milestones that may come to pass, but even more importantly, gratitude for all of the insignificant things that make up the moments of our days—the ones we pay little attention to—but are ultimately responsible for making our lives that much more extraordinary.

I so appreciate your readership.

The amazing sunset at the Santa Barbara Harbor where Rene and I had dinner recently.

The amazing sunset at the Santa Barbara Harbor where Rene and I had dinner recently.

Yours,

Jessica

 

Christmas Eve dinner with my beautiful family.

Christmas Eve dinner with my beautiful family.

Three Years of Literary Bliss

5 Sep

photo (35)Three years ago today, I published my first blog post. To be honest, it was a momentous experience for me as it was my first real step in believing that I could actually refer to myself a writer. Since that decision to expose myself literally to the world (yes, pun intended) I’ve grown and changed quite a bit as a writer.

When I first began blogging, I would spend three to four days working on a post, revising, amending, altering, and rearranging the words until there was no possible editing left to do (or so I thought.) My posts were usually WAY too long and often focused on the many deep thoughts I felt I needed to share with the world about my angst-ridden childhood or my skewed sense of self-worth. Whew—it was heavy stuff, and in retrospect I believe I owe you all a very big thank you for slogging through it and then being kind enough to leave me a comment.

These days, I don’t post nearly as often as I did three years ago. My latest posts are much shorter in length (you’re welcome) or maybe they’re just photographs. As I spend the bulk of my free time working on my novel, I usually don’t have the energy or time to write weekly posts and it’s almost a miracle if I publish once a month.

I get advice from other writers that it’s important to keep at the blogging. You’ve got to get your name out there! Build up that fan base! Get that mailing list organized! That way, if my novel is ever published—wait—I take that back—WHEN my novel is published, I’ll be able to market it more efficiently.

GAH! That’s the hard part—I hate that idea of posting just to get “out there.” I’m told that with all the changes taking place in publishing these days, authors have to really work hard to get their novels recognized, but the idea of self-marketing somehow rubs me the wrong way.  And I don’t want to post just for the sake of posting—I want to share only when I have something really interesting to write about.trailing vines

Today, what I think is interesting and what I choose to write about is that it’s my three year blogging anniversary and I’ve come a long way since I started. I’ve met some very interesting people along this journey and I hope to meet many more. Thank you all for reading, for commenting, for supporting and for following me.

And just so you know, each and every one of your names will be listed on the acknowledgement page WHEN my novel is published.

Cody will also have his name listed as he keeps my feet warm while I write.

Cody will also have his name listed as he keeps my feet warm while I write.

Done Dabbling

26 Jul

writing studyA few years back, someone asked me if I thought I’d ever write a novel some day. My first reaction was to laugh. At that time, I had just recently delved back into writing after a twenty-five year hiatus of not writing a single word (actually, hiatus sounds like I was once a prolific writer—I wasn’t—the best word to describe my attempts at writing in college would be that I “dabbled.”)  Sure, writing short essays and a blog post now and then was feasible—but a novel? I couldn’t even fathom writing something that extensive.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my childhood dream was always to become a writer—I thought about it incessantly for years. I loved books so much—the smell of them; the texture of the paper between my fingertips; the way the words jumped out at me from the page; how I could easily lose myself in a story and experience someone’s life other than my own even if it was just for a short time. The library was my home away from home.

Being somewhat of an introvert, the solitary life of a writer has always appealed to me. As a young girl I created this elaborate fantasy in which I envisioned myself writing my literary masterpiece while tucked away in a cozy study with soft lighting and wall to wall bookshelves. While sitting quiet and alone at an antique desk, I would sip hot tea with honey while a blazing fire crackled in the fireplace. When I needed inspiration, I would glance up and look out through the French Doors onto my picturesque English garden where my flowers somehow managed to bloom year round. Oh—I almost forgot—in my fantasy there was always a gentle rain falling outside.english garden

That perfect fantasy never really got off the ground—with a husband, four kids, four dogs and my mother, I’m never alone. I don’t have French Doors, I live in Southern California where it rarely rains and it’s usually too hot outside to light a fire in the fireplace. I prefer Starbucks coffee to hot tea and rarely go to the library anymore because I always forget to return the books and before I know it I’ve racked up over fifty dollars worth of late fees. I read most of my books on my Kindle and I don’t have an antique desk.  I do my best writing while sitting on the couch.

But get this: I’m thirty-three chapters and almost 70,000 words into my first novel. BAM!  That’s right—I am fifty two years old and for the first time in my life I’m doing what I always dreamed of doing—I am writing a novel.

Now, who knows? My novel may very well turn out to be trite, sentimental and cliché, but then again, it might turn out to be a really great read with a real plot and interesting and lovable characters. We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m carving out a little time every day in my busy schedule to sit down on my couch and get a paragraph or two written down, which more often than not gets deleted the following day (I mean, who in their right mind would write such crap?) No matter—one good sentence at a time and somehow the job gets done. And I’m having the time of my life.

Who needs fire, tea and rain to write a book? Not me.

This girl is done dabbling.

 

If  you’re interested, here’s the synopsis of my novel (still untitled)

After a devastating accident permanently injured the fingers of her right hand and ended her promising career as a concert pianist, thirty-six year old Camille Childs has lived a sheltered and lonely existence teaching piano lessons out of the guest house behind her mother’s lavish Santa Barbara estate. After ten years of teaching piano to Graciela, the very talented daughter of the Mexican housekeeper, Camille finally has the opportunity to validate her teaching expertise after Graciela wins a prestigious piano competition and is about to be presented in her own solo debut recital. Not only will this recital help launch Graciela’s own career as a concert pianist, but it will also help Camille build her reputation as a master teacher and bring her the recognition and acclaim she feels she deserves.

Three weeks before the grand debut recital, Graciela suddenly disappears and Camille learns that she has left the country for her mother’s isolated village in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. Against the wishes of her own controlling and alcoholic mother, Camille travels alone to Oaxaca to search for Graciela and bring her back home in time for the concert. There, during a monsoonal thunderstorm, Camille almost loses her life in a terrible bus accident, but at the last minute is saved by Alejandro, a handsome indigenous Zapotec originally from the same village as Graciela.

Despite a contentious first meeting with the spoiled and self-centered Camille, Alejandro befriends her and helps her navigate the mountainous terrain and unfamiliar culture of the Zapotec town of Yalálag, Oaxaca. With Alejandro’s help, Camille embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will change how she views the world as well as herself.

Villa Hidalgo Yalalag, Oaxaca. This is where much of the novel takes place.

Villa Hidalgo Yalalag, Oaxaca. This is where much of the novel takes place.

Letting it Out

9 Apr

photo (28)You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting on my blog as much as I have in the past, which I sincerely hope you don’t think is a good thing because that would be a definite blow to my already fragile ego.

I remember when I first starting blogging, I was so in the writing zone—I would post something every few days—my brain was constantly popping with ideas. After a while the posts went down to once a week, twice a month, and then finally whittling down to once a month if at all. You get the picture.

There are several reasons I’m not posting as often. Primarily, it’s because I’m spending what little time I can carve out of my busy day to work on my novel—which, I’ve just begun to realize, is going to take way longer than I thought. I’m up to twenty eight chapters with no end in sight. I never would have thought that writing a novel would consume me so deeply. It’s a very strange process where I feel like my characters are these horrible, rebellious little people stuck in my brain, fighting with all of their might to come out while gleefully taking me down in the process. I hate them at times but mostly I love them.

I’ve also stopped blogging as much because the truth is that I’ve begun to bore myself by writing about the same topics over and over. God knows that if I’m boring myself, I can only imagine how you feel. I can even hear your voices in my head: Please stop making me cry with sad stories of kids with cancer, or For god’s sake, stop going on and on about how happy you are now that you’ve hit fifty and I swear if you post one more picture of your flower garden I will come over and personally drive my car right over your flower beds. I know, right? Sorry. Even as I write this, I’m realizing that these words sound strangely familiar which means I’ve  probably already written this exact post somewhere in the not too distant past. I’d go back and read through the archives to find it, but I’m way too tired to check.

The writing process is often agonizing. Lately I find myself trapped in these moods where nothing is ever right and all I do is moan and groan and complain and try to blame it on my husband or my kids or on the hormone situation (another topic beaten to death) and then I realize that I’m most likely grumpy because I need to let something out and the way I do that is by writing and sharing it with others. Through the act of writing I feel alive and connected with the outside world and even if it’s just a photo on Instagram, a line or two on Facebook (or Twitter, which I’m only now getting the hang of) or an essay on my blog, I feel more alive after hitting  the “publish” or “share” button. If just writing a post on my blog makes me feel so satisfied, I can only imagine the high of publishing an actual novel, so I’m going to keep at it no matter how long it takes.

Talk about good timing. Yesterday, writer Elizabeth Gilbert posted this on her Facebook page and it totally resonated with me. Here is an excerpt:

I am a writer. If I have a story in me that I’m not able to tell, things will start going wrong all over my life. If I have a story in my head and I tell it, “I’ll get to you in 2015,” that story will start to rebel, start to act out, start to claw at the walls. That’s when the shit gets dark in my world. 

Because having a creative mind is something like owning a Border terrier; it needs a job.  And if you don’t give it a job, it will INVENT a job (which will involve tearing something up.) Which why I have learned over the years that if I am not actively creating something, chances are I am about to start actively destroying something. 

And that ain’t good.

I believe that readers don’t need good writers, although that’s always a plus. The truth is it’s the writers who need good readers. Someone  probably already wrote that somewhere and I should find out who it is and give them their due credit, but I’m way too tired to check.

Life can be crazy at times and I’m often too tired to do a lot of things, but I’m not too tired to tell you something important: I appreciate you for being my good reader. Because without you, I can’t share who I am, and then all kinds of chaos breaks out inside my head.

And that ain’t good.

Another shot of my flower garden. It's just too pretty not to share.

Another shot of my flower garden. It’s just too pretty not to share.

Change is Good

1 Jan

malibu sunsetChange is always difficult for me. I’m just happier staying stuck in my snug little  rut which is warm and safe and oh, so comfortable. I’ve finally given up making any annual resolutions as it’s impossible for me to live up to all of the unrealistic goals and expectations I set for myself every year.  I rarely go out to celebrate on New Years Eve, preferring to stay home and off the road. And anyway–why should I celebrate something I don’t even want to acknowledge? 

This past New Year’s eve I spent alone with my nine year-old daughter and it was actually quite enjoyable. My husband,  in his usual spontaneous style, decided at the last minute to jump on a plane to Oaxaca and go visit his family. The three older kids all left to go out and celebrate with friends, so after Isa and I played a wild game of gin rummy (I beat her by only five points) we were left alone with our various forms of entertainment; she had her iPad downstairs and I had the complete second season of “Girls” on DVD upstairs.  

“Isa, Honey,” I told her, “please make sure you let me know if you’re coming upstairs while I’m watching my program, okay?”

“Why, mom?” she asked, “Is your show too inappropriate for nine year olds?”

“Way too inappropriate,” I said.

“Worse than ‘Adult Swim’ on Cartoon Network?” she asked.

Way worse,” I said, wondering how in the heck she knew what “Adult Swim” was in the first place.

“Girls” turned out to be so inappropriate that I watched all night long with my thumb on the pause button in case Isa came bounding  up the stairs into our room. But after the first episode I was so hooked that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen.

I’m such a rotten mother. Instead of interacting with my daughter during the last few hours of 2013, I stayed up until almost two a.m. watching the entire ten episodes  of a very raunchy, yet very well-written television series. I guess I was craving more “girl” time than I realized.

I don’t have to tell you that I was quite tired the morning after, so even though I didn’t make any tangible resolutions this year, I decided that I would not waste the day. I dug in the garden for the first time in months, worked on my novel for a couple of hours, and spent time chatting with the kids (for some reason they called it nagging. What?)

Then I decided to make another change: I decided to create a new look for my blog. Now, in reality, this process is not that difficult. The website I use makes the task quite easy, even for techophobes like me. But because there is so much variety and so many choices,  I spent more than three hours pouring over fonts, colors and designs trying to come up with a theme I liked. It was overwhelming to say the least.

I finally gave up and just went with something that looked pretty. If you don’t like it, please don’t say anything because it will probably  just hurt my feelings. Now if it’s causing you so much distress that you no longer care to read my blog, then by all means, leave me a detailed comment on my blog with any suggestions you may have and I’ll take them under advisement.

Please do keep in mind how much I dislike change, though.

Happy New Year!malibu sunset 3

One of the last sunsets of 2013

One of the last sunsets of 2013

My List

21 Dec
Isa's first Christmas after being diagnosed with cancer

Isa’s first Christmas after being diagnosed with cancer

Christmas is right around the corner, and as I wrote about in my last blog post, my tradition is to send out a family photo and annual newsletter detailing our family’s experiences and accomplishments over the past year.

This year, in honor of my eight year-old daughter, Isa who celebrated her fifth year of being cancer-free (and is now considered completely cured) I decided to write a different kind of letter—one that focused on what our family has learned over the past five years since Isa was diagnosed with leukemia.

I’ve decided to post part of my letter for my blog readers because sometimes it helps to have an actual list right in front of you.

 

The Most Important Things the Mireles Family has Learned over the Past Five Years Since Isa was Diagnosed with Cancer

  1. It shouldn’t take almost losing someone close to you to make you realize how important they are.
  2. People in general are inherently good and will always step up and try to help in times of crisis.
  3. As much as we try, we cannot control everything. Sometimes it’s best not to fight too much and instead just let it happen.
  4. Allowing others to help and love you does not make you a weak person, it makes you human.
  5. The more love you give, the more love you get in return.
  6. There’s no reason to hold onto the past or worry too much about the future—it’s really the right now that matters. Live in the moment.
  7. Being critical and judgmental does not make you feel better in the long run. It actually makes you feel worse.
  8. People are who they are—it’s pointless to try to change them. It’s easier to just love them.
  9. Wanting what you have is way better than trying to have what you want.
  10. Although having money is great, feeling gratitude for all of the “insignificant” things in our lives makes us far richer than any amount of money ever could.
  11. Never take anyone for granted.
  12. Laughter and tears are equally important.
  13. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and then LOVE some more. Then TELL those people how much you love them.

I am so grateful for all of you who read and comment on my blog! I hope this Holiday Season overflows with love, joy and laughter, and…

May the coming year reveal the blessings that are already right there in front of you!

isa xmas tree

She's come a long way!

She’s come a long way!

 

My Big Anniversary

31 Aug

I love anniversaries. I especially enjoy marking a particular date in time because it allows me to think about and feel grateful for what has come around again. I don’t usually place too much emphasis on the actual celebration of anniversaries as I’m kind of an introvert and don’t care for the idea of being the center of attention at a huge party. That being said, I would never turn down a piece of cake (or two) when celebrating any anniversary, and I sincerely believe that the person responsible for choosing cake as the symbol for celebrations is a complete genius and all I have to say to that person is thank you very much.

The reason I got to thinking about anniversaries recently is because I’m coming up on a big one—no, it’s not my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary (did that in June), and no—it’s not my fiftieth birthday (did that in July) and no, it’s not even my seven year-old daughter, Isa’s five year anniversary of being cancer-free (did that in August, and by the way, hands down, it was the greatest anniversary I’ve ever celebrated in my life.)

The BIG anniversary that is coming up next week is that I’ve been blogging for an entire year.

Now, I know—you’re thinking: Whoop-de-do—BIG DEAL—everyone’s a blogger these days! Who cares?

And it’s true—throughout the past year I’ve read hundreds of blogs out there in cyber land and I’m sorely disappointed to report (pure jealously on my part) that there are many, many good—even great—writers out there, blogging regularly and making me laugh, making me cry, and even making me curse aloud and bang my fist on the desk (this is something I do frequently and is often very gratifying—I recommend it highly.)

What’s important about marking my one year blogging anniversary is that what I’ve experienced through blogging has changed me deeply. Through  the act of working through my ideas, writing them down, editing them, and then throwing them out there for you to read if you so have the inclination, I’ve learned a little bit more of who I am. As frightening as that’s been at times, it’s finally allowed me to learn to accept myself. In turn, it’s made it that much easier for me to let go of the hurts from my past. It’s just been damn good therapy! So thank you all for allowing me to be narcissistic and self-absorbed over the past year. I take full responsibility for my utter selfishness, and for this I apologize in earnest.

I’ve learned that blogging is all about connection with others. Through blogging, I’ve strengthened the relationships I have with my friends and family. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and even made new ones. I would’ve never imagined that I could form such a strong bond with a group of women writers from a Facebook group—and that after nurturing our cyber relationships through daily encouragement and support for each other for almost a year, six of us would manage to come together (one woman came all the way from New York!) and meet in person for the first time. It was thrilling and magical—you would have thought by the way we behaved in the restaurant with all the laughing and screaming that we were long-lost sisters who had been separated at birth!

So I want you to know how appreciative I am that you’ve read my blog posts and have left me such lovely and thoughtful comments. Only my fellow bloggers know how very exciting it is to hear my smart phone ding notifying me of an email that says:

 comment-reply@wordpress.com

telling  me that someone has left me a comment on my blog. It’s like receiving a special present each time it happens.

This connection I share with all of you has made me realize just how very lucky I am to have had this blogging experience over the past year. And now that I’m finally in that place where I’ve longed to be all of my life—the place where I can say that I’m actually happy—really blissfully happy, I’ll probably never write another blog post again.

Well, all right, I will.

If you insist.