It has been 9 months since I last posted on my blog and I find it fascinating that this thing that I love to do so much – writing – continually creates such challenges for me. I started this blog because I have been an unrequited writer my whole life, believing that I had the stories in me but constantly challenged to make them clever or compelling enough for anyone else to enjoy. I have kept diaries throughout my life, chronicling my various ordeals and regularly would re-read them, chastising myself for being trite or uninteresting rather than simply enjoying the process. I continually struggle with those feelings and try to find the roots of them in order to properly deal with them.
I laid in bed this morning – a deliciously cold late fall morning – enjoying the solitude that Saturday morning brings. My husband and kids were already up and downstairs positioned in their weekend spots – parked on the couch in front of the television. I opened my eyes and stared out, immediately thinking that today was the day that I needed to revive this labor of love of mine. I had started quite a few posts during the year and they sit unfinished and unpublished. I was determined that today would be the day that I would get back to this and come up with something worth reading. And, as I laid there thinking about this and the frustrating journey I have had with my writing, I had a small epiphany. This will not knock anyone else’s socks off but, for me, it was groundbreaking. Everyone in my life has always told me that I would or should write a book some day. People expected that I should share the story of my troubled family and all the crazy antics – perhaps as true salvation for myself or perhaps for the entertainment value. So many have asked me over the years when I was going to get down to writing this book and I have simply laughed and shrugged it off as a “Maybe someday…” I realized this morning that I am simply afraid.
I want to write that book almost more than anything else I have ever wanted in my life. I want to tell stories and share them with many. I see how people are now self publishing books and releasing the inner writer in them and yet I am still terrified at the prospect of doing so. I coach people on tapping into their inner writers and encourage them to blog and tweet and share all of their wonderful thoughts and yet I, like many others, cannot take my own advice.
Like many of us, I had always hoped that I would have some special talent that would make me stand apart from the crowd. In fact, I desperately searched for something that would prove that I was special because I grew up feeling so extraordinarily unspecial. Because of my family challenges and significant self-esteem issues that resulted from my upbringing, I was incapable of believing there was anything particularly special about myself. I clung to the fact that I was smart and always did well in school which put me ahead of the pack. However, I had no artistic abilities, no athletic abilities and never stood out from the crowd for any reason. Why would anyone ever remember me? What impact would I have on people if I did not have gifts that couldbe shared with others? Let’s face it, who do we remember from high school? The prettiest, the smartest, the most talented. Not the one who was a good listener but never actually excelled at anything significant. Of course, as a fully-formed adult I recognize the foolishness in this approach to life in my adolescence but, nonetheless, it was the soundtrack that played in my mind for many, many years. Even after I graduated from college and embarked upon my professional career, I never did anything that would be considered remarkable and simply chugged along in my career trying to find my spotlight. I married, became a mother, continued with my career and my Oprah moment simply never came. What would I be remembered for? What is my legacy? I continued to believe that the book would someday come out of me and it would all be ok.
Last week, my best friend and her mother came up from Florida to spend Thanksgiving with us and to celebrate a big milestone birthday for my friend. At the end of our long weekend together, we decided to take a walk down memory lane and drove out to our childhood neighborhood in Queens, NY. We drove down the main boulevard and looked at how much things had changed. We drove past our respective houses and marveled at how small they looked through adult eyes. Was that really my backyard that I thought would fit a pool?? (I never did believe my mother when she said our yard was too small year after year when I begged). We then decided to check out our old elementary school. As a parent of two children in elementary school, this was particularly significant for me because I wanted to put myself in their shoes to try to remember what that time of life is like. We drove up to the school, parked the car and walked up to the front steps. It was late in the afternoon and sun was low and the temperature had dropped significantly. I bundled up in my sweater and just stood there in awe, being right back in the 1970s. Despite the fact that they had put up a traffic light at the corner that I crossed every day for 7 years and that the school now had an after-school program with kids coming out of the doors at 5pm hand-in-hand with their working parents, nothing had changed. I envisioned myself running through the halls, going to visit my favorite principal, Mr. Schwartz, and could remember being the milk monitor in Mrs. Bly’s kindergarten class. It all came rushing back and I knew I had to document it because it was so meaningful to me. I remembered my special little self who was taunted and teased as a kid because I was chubby, nerdy and so very insecure. I thought about how hard I worked to please my teachers to get those perfect report cards, “Tammy is a joy to have in my class. She is just a little chatty.” (I laugh when I get the same reports on my own children).
I felt so peaceful as I stood in front of that school which shocked me more than anything because that time of my life was filled with traumas that would haunt me throughout my adulthood. But, something about the sanctuary of the school made me feel safe and secure and reminded me that I was, in fact, special. It was in that school that I won many spelling bees, sang a solo in the talent show, won a prize for a short story that I wrote about a ski trip and learned that I had talents that would not reveal themselves to me until much later in life. It was the beginnings of my love of learning, writing, reading and being an over-achiever. Of course, it did not hurt that I was there with my best friend and her mother who are very special to me and provide me with lots of love and comfort but I know that what really gave me comfort that day was discovering myself again and remembering all the things that made me special back when life was far less complicated.
So, as I had my little epiphany this morning, laying under the skylights in my bedroom staring at the ice that had formed on the windows, I realized that my fear was blocking me but that the little girl inside me was screaming much louder and telling me to tap into all my talents and not worry about what anyone else thinks. Of course, this is pretty simple advice but, given the amount of time and effort we put into protecting ourselves from what the world can throw at us, it is not so easily followed.
So, I commit myself to writing every day. And, I hope that those of you who read this hold me accountable. I am not very keen on New Year’s resolutions but, as we are about to say goodbye to yet another year, I want to resolve to follow this passion of mine and share my words with anyone who cares to read.
For today, I hope you will think about doing the same….