Out With the Old Year & In With New Opportunities


Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash

“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.” ~Author Unknown

Life is a tough road sometimes. We’ve all had our fair share of ups and downs.

Sometimes it feels like a journey of ongoing contradictions. One minute we’re celebrating successes; the next we’re mourning a defeat or loss of some type.

English journalist Henry James Slack described human life as “the source of deep suffering and gorgeous hope.”

Now there’s a quote I can relate to.

And the ways in which we suffered or fell short in the past year become more apparent as it draws to a close. This is when we reflect on our wins and losses and try to determine how to improve, despite the silent fear that we’ll fail again.

However, a new year always offers hope. The hope that we’ll conquer our worries and accomplish our goals. We’ve gained fresh wisdom through trial and error, so we restore our settings back to the factory defaults and try again. 

Writing was one of my defeats in 2018; I’ve been away from my blog for a long time. With the exception of an occasional quote or photo challenge, I’ve been pretty much absent for over a year. 

I could feel it happening shortly after I took the job and as my Mom’s health started to decline. There was a lot happening around me, both good and bad, that provided plenty of material to write about. However, the creative part of my brain took the last train for the coast, to borrow a line from Don McLean’s American Pie. I got too busy with the mechanics of everyday life.

We writers periodically hit dry spells, better known as writer’s block. Opinions vary about why it happens, but in my case it was a combination of fear and fatigue. 

Adjusting to a new job means new people and building relationships. It brings us to different places and encounters and offers daily challenges that we didn’t have before. Despite requiring more time and energy, the overall experience has been positive.

However, watching your mother’s health deteriorate has the opposite effect. It also brought me to different places and encounters, and involved new challenges.  Unfortunately, these responsibilities and their accompanying emotions left me exhausted and empty.

I didn’t want to stop writing, but I couldn’t muster the will or the words. This blog is supposed to be about self-reflection, learning from the past, and living more mindfully. However, I was just too tired. The analysis required to look deeply within myself and the situations around me had to wait for another day.

And yet, I was angry with myself. I felt that writing about my experiences might actually alleviate some of the sadness and self-doubt. Looking back I wonder if I was afraid to face the feelings in the same way we’re afraid to look in the mirror after a bad haircut. You know it’s there and you know it’s ugly, so better to ignore it until it grows back. Or, in this situation, disappears altogether.

I didn’t want my mother to go into a nursing home, but I knew that my siblings and I couldn’t take care of her any longer.

Mom lost her mobility, requiring a wheelchair and round-the-clock care. Moving her to a nursing home was a tough decision, particularly after watching my dad’s time in a dementia unit. She didn’t want to go, although she never said so. But, we knew, just as she did, that her care was beyond our capabilities.

I formed a mental list in my head of the pros and cons. The cons were obvious, but I promised to make regular visits and get Mom involved in the activities. Just when I convinced myself that “all would be well” the guilt would wash over me again. 

And the underlying grief of this was knowing she was never coming home. I went through it with my dad and it’s a feeling you never forget. Like a death in slow-motion you watch your loved one fade away, grieving together, while trying to pretend it isn’t happening.

While all of this was occurring there was another tragedy unfolding. My ex-husband, who had a long history of alcohol abuse, was spiraling downward physically and mentally. Forty years of drinking had taken its toll. 

I didn’t want him to suffer, but it wasn’t my choice. During the marriage I tried to convince him to get help, but the addiction was stronger than his desire to save himself. Eventually, I mustered the courage to leave, but it took a long time to work through the pain and repair the damage. 

As humans we have a deep-seated need for a sense of control in our lives. Without it we are fearful, anxious and the chance for self-realization is unlikely.

Our own words and actions often impact the circumstances of our lives, while much is beyond our control. I could have made the effort to write something during this past year, but I couldn’t stop my mom from growing old.

Reaching our potential has much to do with choices and expectations. They must align with one another if we want to reach our goals. Being realistic about a reasonable timeframe is necessary. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Therefore, I’m going into 2019 with these thoughts in mind:

  • The Serenity Prayer – Learning to accept what I can’t control, working courageously to make positive changes where I can, and knowing the difference between the two.
  • Realizing there are important lessons to learn in all situations, even unfavorable ones.
  • Understanding that strong boundaries promote healthy relationships, which can withstand the ups and downs of life.


What Happens When You’ve Lost That Writing Feeling?

That “writing feeling” didn’t disappear overnight.

I’ve always felt it and began this blog in 2015. Up until a few months ago, I’ve written pretty regularly. Then, there came moments of “I’ve got nothing today.” Those moments grew into hours, then days, then weeks. Not only didn’t I write anything, but I stopped reading the people I follow.

Instead of knuckling down and stringing actual words together, I’d opt for a Quote of the Day or an entry in one of the photo challenges. My initial goal wasn’t to write a blog post every single day, so these fillers (as I call them) are a way to share other things I enjoy and stay in regular touch with my readers. But, instead of filling in between posts they became the main content.

It’s not really writer’s block, which is the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

Good Lord, anyone who reads the daily news, interacts on social media, or wakes up in the morning has a plethora of subjects to write about. Between our own personal lives and those of the rest of humanity, there’s a never-ending supply of writing prompts. All you need is an opinion.

How to proceed with writing is simple: pick a topic and start typing. Sure, it takes work to get your ideas down in a clear, cohesive fashion, but there’s no mystery about the process.

Indifference ElementREV

So, if not writer’s block, then what?

It feels more like writer’s apathy; an indifference to the writing process itself. And yes, this is a thing. When I Googled it several links came up. This one from Ginny Carter at BookBaby Blog offers 7 Remedies For Writer’s Apathy. 

It’s very similar to exercise and diet apathy, which I’m currently suffering from as well. The less you do it, the less you want to do it. 

Therefore, the resolution is to just do it. (Thanks, Nike and speaking of resolutions, the New Year is just around the corner.)

Accomplishing a goal is always easier said than done; however, it doesn’t answer the question as to why it happened in the first place. So, I did some reflection regarding these past few months and noted the following changes:

  • I started a new job
  • My mom went into a nursing home
  • I’ve become disillusioned with politics 
  • I’ve become disillusioned with people 

Looking at this list helps me understand why I feel so paralyzed in my indifference. I feel less hopeful about life in general. And when we lose hope, we lose our passion and energy. 

I decided to break it down into pros, cons & what, if anything, I can do about it. This is what I came up with:

PRO:  A new job brings time constraints, but offers opportunities for fresh writing ideas. Working with youth gives me a different perspective on life and I’m enjoying the change. It’s also offered better wages and a more positive work environment than what I did in the past and that’s a welcome improvement!

CON & RESOLUTION:  I’ve been through the nursing home experience with my Dad and it’s no fun, but I have insights that I didn’t before. I’ll be a better advocate for my mom. Fortunately, her situation is different and she feels more secure in her new living arrangements.

CON & RESOLUTION: While I don’t approve of the current administration, I can control how much of their messages I hear. Therefore, I’ve decided to limit my exposure to social media and disreputable news sites. I believe there’s a happy medium to staying informed without being sucked into the vitriol that thrives on those platforms. I can do things to advance my own ideas of fair government without giving in to cynicism and overdosing on hate and negativity.

Meme: I'm not an astronomer, but I'm sure the earth revolves around the sun and not you.

CON & RESOLUTION:  And people never fail to disappoint (not that I’m perfect.) However, I’ve always made an effort to understand the other guy’s POV. But, the total lack of respect and empathy that I see on display is mind-boggling. There are individuals who can’t step outside their own heads. Their mantra seems to be: “It’s my way or the highway.”

They honestly believe that their perceptions are everyone else’s reality.

There’s no self-reflection or accountability because most of these folks think they’re pretty darn perfect! No regard for the fact that there’s another side to every equation; that someone else may experience things differently. 

And this very thinking causes most of their misery and that of others.

Again, the best way to limit the ill effects of these individuals is to stay away from them. Whether they’re family members or online trolls, it’s best to keep a safe distance. 

I'm not afraid of storms for I'm learning to sail my ship with photo of dingy cresting a wave.So, I guess the answer is to always maintain a healthy balance when it comes to needs and expectations.

Recognizing negativity will prevent us from becoming invested in the wrong things. Instead, we can focus on the people and things that bring joy to our lives.

Just like a pilot or sailor adjusts their navigation in response to the wind and sea we must make adjustments for the changes that occur in life.

 And this should happen before the paralyzing apathy takes over.

Well, it appears that I’ve answered my question, started a New Year’s resolutions list, and written a blog post…talk about making up for lost time! 

I’m not the first person to experience a loss of artistic passion. If you have any helpful tips to prevent or resolve creative apathy please share in the comments.

Now that I’ve rediscovered the writing feeling, I better tackle that diet/exercise apathy next! 😉