Sayonara, 2016!

Although 2016 brought some really great things into my life – the completion of my master’s degree, a move into a house that we love, in a neighborhood that we love, a few great concerts, a fantastic vacation on the Outer Banks – I feel like it’s really kicked the crap out of me as well. The celebrity deaths have been brutal, the election was soul-sucking, and my job was particularly harrowing for a while.

So here we are on the cusp of a new year, and I am particularly thrilled!

To be honest, I think I get excited at the prospect of starting every new year, but I think 2017 will be one of big change. Aside from watching how things go with the presidential inauguration, I will have a new job, and new goals to focus on!

I hope everyone has a tremendous baptism at 11:59pm tonight, to wash the stank of 2016 from them, and I wish you all a wonderful, amazing, glorious, fun and happy 2017!

Week 8 – Exercise #2

Yes

“Exercise?” I repeated. “Fuck yeah!”

It had been a month since I decided to say “yes” to things that I didn’t really want to do. It was a lovely experiment in terror.

Since it was a new year, I wanted to make myself a better human, which included challenging myself.

If you know me, you know that I hate change and especially hate doing things on the fly. But all of that was about to sneak up on me and punch me in the nards.

The first time I said yes was when I was hungover on New Year’s day. My buddy asked if I wanted a beer. My head screamed no, my belly screamed no, but I said yes.

After a couple, I realized that this “saying yes” thing was a superb idea, and I was going to rock the socks off the new year.

But each day tormented me as I forced myself to say yes to tractor pulls, sushi, chick flicks, cleaning the house, missing football, and chopping wood. What the hell? Even at work, I was already doing the job of three people, and within a week of saying yes, I was doing systematic algorithms – and I don’t even know what that is!

And there I was – a month into this project – trying to understand whether it was worth continuing or not… I had yet to see a benefit to saying yes.

I got home from work and plopped down on the couch. Grabbing the remote, I stuffed my claws into the bag of Cheetos – dinner of champions! And I was gonna get rip-roaring drunk!

Three manhattans in, my buddy called me – he was going to the gym – did I want to go? All I needed, he said, was a little exercise…

 

Week 8 – Exercise #1

Laptop Open

I sat quietly in my study, praying mantras to the gods of art.

Laptop open, fingers poised, I waited for an excuse to keep me from the inevitable.

Nothing.

Still I waited.

I wondered what was going on in the book of faces.

So I looked.

Even though I didn’t care.

Moments later, I sat –

Laptop open, fingers poised, I waited for another excuse to keep me from the inevitable.

Nothing.

So I pictured a scene in my head,

Where I sat quietly in my study, praying mantras to the gods of art.

Laptop open, fingers poised, I waited for an excuse to keep me from the inevitable.

And I wrote about it…

So goes the twice a week exercise

And my dedication to the ritual.

 

Week 7 – Fire #2

Creative Fire

It’s cold.

I’m cold.

It’s early.

I stand in place and shiver for a moment.

Then I sit down, lean in, and begin rubbing two ideas together.

The ideas begin to warm.

I begin to warm.

And as I rub furiously,

The paper catches aflame with the pinpoint focus of a magnifying lens.

I don’t have time to bask in the glow of my creative fire.

I have to constantly stoke it,

Nurture it,

Baby it.

I have to feed it more ideas, for like a human baby, it is always hungry.

And it can always run cold.

At every moment, I have a decision to make:

Keep stoking?

Or let it cool?

Anything can cause the flame to die.

Anything can cause the fire to temporarily burn out.

But anything can cause it to reignite –

As long as I can be open to it.

Week 7 – Fire #1

Thanksgiving Fire

The little fingers

Shimmy in the air.

BRIGHT. ORANGE.

blue.

The dancing flames of the post-Thanksgiving dinner fire move to the cracklin’ music it makes.

Our eyes follow this flame, then that. Then this. Then that.

The coziness of the warmth, dulling our senses like a coffee tinged with whiskey. Or a hot cocoa tinged with peppermint schnaaps. Or a cup of egg nog tinged with cool, Jamaican rum.

The delightful smell of smoke contenting us, making us dreamy memories.

Combined with the tryptophan of the turkey, we are ready to nap and live happily in our dreams, if only for an hour or less…

Week 6 – Roast #2

Hanging with Celebs

We wandered the town, looking for something to do.

There was a small building with a small parking lot, and a large door.

We stepped inside, only to see faces and faces of people we knew.

Well, we didn’t really know them, but we did.

Somehow, they let us in.

We sat at the bar and ordered drinks.

I had an Old Fashioned.

Tasty!

Everyone was laughing. Laughing. Laughing.

My side hurt.

I looked up on stage. There was

Freddie Prinze (Sr.)

Redd Foxx

Barry Williams

Sean Connery

Shaun Cassidy

Sonny Bono

Steve Martin

Charo

And the guy from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

No, not him, the other one.

So there we were, in 1976, in the middle of town, at the celebrity roast of Eddie Albert.

Crazy.

Week 6 – Roast #1

Summer Cool

The mid-summer day was predictable so far…

The fresh breeze lazied in from the West,

The trees provided shelter from the heat,

While the flowers roasted in the toasty sun.

I laid in the middle of the knee-high grass,

Staring straight up at the puffy, fluffy white clouds.

The painfully blue sky provided an azurian background for the atmospheric cotton balls.

There was a moment or two – or three – when I felt that I was moving with the clouds.

I quieted my thoughts, and relished the serenity.

Off in the distance, I could hear kids playing outside.

I focused on my non-focus,

Considering no considerations at all.

I chose to be right here, right now, and it felt, well, right.

Week 5 – Wellness #2

Decaffeine

“Wellness,” she said, “is the be all, end all.”

I excused myself. Feeling sick and disoriented, I found the nearest toilet and barfed.

“Sickness,” I heard her say, “is all in your head.”

My head pounded, the result of no caffeine for 48 hours.

“Callousness,” she droned on, “is disconnection of the heart and mind.”

When THE FUCK would this end?

“Calmness,” her annoying voice creaked, “is desired.”

I had hoped the speakers in the bathroom would be playing music instead of this crap!

“Dryness,” she whispered, “is from a lack of moisture.”

Wow! She nailed that one – what other inane thing could she come up with?

“Death,” she wheezed, “is inevitable.”

I whimpered, lying on the bathroom floor.

Week 5 – Wellness #1

Meditation

I laid down to meditate, throwing a blanket over me to ensure I was comfortable.

Slowly, the breaths got deeper, and I began to count to five, feeling a calmness flow over me.

It was through meditation that I learned to face the day,

I learned to deal with stress,

I learned wellness.

Within moments, I was in that place –

The place between my eyes, that some call the third eye.

I hovered in that space, barely above my body.

Here, I realized that I could talk to the spirits, the angels, the ones who watch over me.

Somewhere in my body, I was still counting.

1…2…3…4…5

And somewhere my soul was stirring.

The best part of my day comes from meditation, and as soon as the alarm went off –

A sweet peal of a Tibetan bowl –

I found myself looking forward to the next time.

Week 10 – Storm #2

Brainstorm

The conference room was tense –

The coffee pot was empty, there was paper on the floor, and 7 of the 12 people had their heads in their hands.

Not a single sticky idea had yet been presented, and they knew the fervor beyond the conference room was ready to yield a shitstorm.

Surely, there was something they could do…

“I have an idea,” said the idea man.

Heads, shoulders, and spines stood straight with anticipation.

As a team, they fleshed out the idea, while someone took notes.

The talked about risk, they talked about budget, they talked about timelines.

Someone brought in another pot of coffee, which was devoured in moments as team members paired off to plan their parts.

As they all came together, it was 7pm.

It had been a long day, but they all felt accomplished, excited, eager.

They felt as if they had been re-energized.

Leaving the conference room with to-do lists, the team went back to their cubicles and offices.

They ordered pizza and kept working.

It was time to turn this place around.