Sometimes I sit and think about where I was five years ago and I am thrown by how much my life has changed in the last few years. Aside from the fixed points (mom, dad, and kids), my entire life has shifted dramatically. My list of future plans went from one item (“I just need to get through today…”) to a veritable grocery list of things I want to do, places I want to go, and people I want to meet, the biggest change being that I now know I can actually make all those things happen. Two books completely altered my path, one of mine and one of someone else’s. I spent months feeling like I lost a limb only to come out on the other side realizing the limb was dead anyway and I am much better off……
Five years ago, my first book was approximately 20,000 words of absolute shit on a floppy disc which hadn’t been touched in YEARS. Now, three of my four titles have been Amazon bestsellers and I am working on five more books simultaneously. I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember, but I never imagined any of it would ever be published, much less that people would like my world as much as I do. To my readers: THANK YOU! I can never say it enough and I hope you understand how much your support means to authors like me.
Five years ago, I worshiped Anne Rice and the thought of ever speaking to her brought my brain to a screeching halt. Now, I have conversed with her via email several times and interviewed her on my book blog. I’ve met and now become friends with Amber Benson, and to understand the gravity of that statement, you must understand I can out-quote any mofo who wants to step to me when it comes to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seriously, my geeker joy when it comes to Buffy knows no bounds). The long line of authors I have gotten to know, both indie and internationally known bestsellers, is unreal and mind-blowing. Stephen King – I’m coming for you next!
Five years ago, I had never stepped foot on an airplane and hadn’t traveled any further than New York City and Buffalo NY from my lifelong home, New Hampshire. Now, I have been to Las Vegas six times, the Grand Canyon four times, Phoenix Arizona twice, and I fell madly, hopelessly, desperately in love with a little desert town called Meadview AZ. Morbid as it may sound, I want to die in that little desert town. I have also made the decision to move out to Arizona or New Mexico when my daughter graduates in June 2019. Not Meadview as my son will only be ten years old and he’d KILL me if I moved him to a town in the desert surrounded by nothing except Joshua trees and the Grand Wash Cliffs. Instead, I am planning to either move to one of the ‘burbs on the western side of Phoenix or to Albuquerque New Mexico. I am planning a trip to the latter next year to check it out.
Five years ago, I was married for the second time. I swore all through my teen years that I would never get married and I probably should have stuck with that line of thought because I am now divorced for the second time as well. Don’t get me wrong, two failed marriages later, I have two beautiful children, but if given a Mulligan, I would never have gotten married in the first place. I learned that I am not the marriage type, but I also learned I don’t have to be. The fact that I suck at playing the part of the dutiful wife doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me, and it took me a long time to learn that. Now, I am very much looking forward to the rest of my life spent doing whatever the fuck I want to without someone in my way to judge me or hinder me. I’m not saying I want to spend the rest of my life alone, but if a guy ever wants to get a ring on my finger again, his name better be featured on the upcoming post Jena’s Top 50 Most Beautiful Men. Just sayin’…..
Five years ago, I was in a relationship where my husband would get angry and jealous if I took time for myself to read. Now, I run not one but two successful book blogs. I never in a million years would have pictured all the places my first book blog would end up taking me or the relationships it would help me forge. It started as just a place for me to gab about the books I read and has turned into two entire teams of reviewers and a faithful following.
Five years ago, I allowed “friends” to walk all over me and put up with a great deal more shit than I ever should have. Now, my circle of close friends is very small and very protected. I learned the hard way who my friends were and the ones who are left are beautiful souls, all of whom I will cherish until I am old and wrinkly and have abandoned the use of a hair brush all together as I embrace senility. Yes, people, I will be calling you about the gremlins stealing my Jell-O in the old folks home. You are my tribe.
Five years ago, I had a very difficult time seeing the beauty in anything as I lived most days in a cloud of depression. I was miserable in my personal life and woke up inexplicably angry every single day. Every day. Now, I am in a place in my life where I am genuinely happy, and I don’t need to put any effort into seeing the silver lining in any situation. It just comes naturally now. My friends and family surrounded me with love and support, and when I finally picked up the pieces of my life, I saw what my future had to offer and have been determined to make it happen ever since. I know now what I do and do not want out of life, and greet each item with a zero tolerance policy. I will never again allow myself to get so wrapped up in making someone else’s happiness happen that I put mine on a dusty shelf and forget what it looks like altogether…..
Five years ago, I didn’t cry. Like, ever. I was cold and calculated. Everything was straight science. I was one of those people who could look at any sad situation and just dissect the shit out of it until it was nothing more than a pile of data unceremoniously strewn across the floor. Seriously. A dying kitten wouldn’t have made me cry (“It’s death, it’s natural. It’s nature’s way of ensuring the survival of the species, allowing only the strongest specimen to move forward.”) Then I got broken. A major life event happened and it broke something in me. I spent MONTHS crying every single day, and now I tear up at the drop of a hat. You know those super-sappy stories people share on Facebook? I can’t read them anymore. Just reading the damn headline makes me get all watery. A friend of mine passed away suddenly last year and for the two months following his passing, I couldn’t even say his name without my eyes welling up. Five years ago, a family member could have passed and I would have been fine. A little sad, but definitely not crying. These days, it doesn’t matter if it’s happy, sad, or mediocre. My face leaks.
The lessons I have learned in the last five years are many…
I’ve learned that no matter how hard you work, if you don’t love your job, it will always be work. I said earlier in this post that two books altered my path, mine being one. The other was Tough Shit by Kevin Smith (sick of hearing me talk about it yet????). Kev is a hero of mine for so, so, so many reasons. You want to know why? Read Tough Shit. He’ll be one of your heroes too by the time you’re done. I walked away from that book determined to make Pure Textuality PR, my writing, or some combination of the two my job. That’s what I want to be doing by the time I’m ready to make my west coast move. I want to go out there working for myself rather than slaving for a big corporation who doesn’t give two fucks about me or my goals.
Speaking of, I’ve learned to set goals every single day. Every morning, I start my day off with a to-do list. Some days it’s two notebook pages long, other days it’s three items long. I don’t care how small or insignificant your goal may seem, it’s a goal, and I don’t care who you are, achieving a goal feels amazing. The more goals you set and achieve, the more attainable the really big ones will feel. And it doesn’t matter if your goal is a college degree or that trip to Vegas you always said you’d take. Set the goal and start working toward making it happen. When you finally get there, you’ll feel like you can do anything.
I’ve learned that friends can and will come and go. Pay special attention to the ones that stick around without asking you for anything in return. They’re your tribe. And make sure you treat your tribe as precious as they treat you. If you don’t appreciate them, they’ll stop appreciating you and you will never forgive yourself when you lose them. And the ones who only come around when they need something? Fuck ‘em. They’re dead weight and they’re using you. Don’t be a door mat. There is nothing I hate more than seeing someone allow their “friends” to walk all over them. Those are NOT your friends. Real friends will never ask what is in it for them. They will just be there for you.
I’ve learned to say how I feel NOW. As mentioned, I lost a good friend last year and it wrecked me. We’d been trying to make plans for weeks to get together for drinks and I was too busy. Always too busy. Next thing I know, I am getting a tear-filled phone call from another close friend telling me that he had passed away from a drug overdose. Marc was part of my tribe and the loss was felt deep. It still is. I miss him every day. I only wish I had told him sooner. Maybe then, instead of what he was doing, that could have been the night we finally connected for drinks. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I try not to dwell on what may have been and focus on what is left. I go out of my way to show or tell my tribe how much I love each and every one of them, to the point that I am sure they’re sick of hearing my hippie, mushy-gushy zen bullshit. Lol I can only hope they know how much they mean to me.
I’ve learned that art is love. I put it in my signature here on the Bloggy Blog and I sign most of my tweets with it. It doesn’t matter what the medium is, an artist’s “product” is created out of the purest form of love, their love. An artist puts their art out into the world and I really believe that art makes the world a better place. A book, an album, a play, a painting….whatever it is, someone loved it so deeply, they felt the need to share it with the world. Never shame another for their art because whether or not you get it, that artist loves it with a ferocity you’ll never understand. The world needs that kind of good juju. The only caveat to this lesson is Justin Beiber. He’s a twat and his music blows.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is there is nothing wrong or selfish with wanting to be happy and don’t EVER let anyone try to tell you differently. If writing a book makes you happy, write your ass off. If crocheting TARDIS-shaped doilies makes you squee, you work the shit out of those needles. If listening to your kids laugh is what makes you happy, tickle them until they pee. Okay, don’t do that. It will spoil the whole thing for all parties involved. But you get the point! Whatever it is that you love, embrace it. For all we know, you have one life on this rock. Make the most of it and do what you love. Unless of course you love to murder people. That’s shitty and you’re an asshole.
Okay, enough of this being all reflect-y bullshit! I have to get back to writing. I have shifted my focus back over to Dance With the Devil for a few days and progress is moving right along.