Living Like Dying

Let’s talk about death for a moment.

Don’t worry, I’ll try not to get too dark or depressing or down.

But there’s nothing like a bad car wreck to put everything into perspective. I didn’t almost die. I am—miraculously—completely fine. My car is not. Just, if one single thing had gone differently, I might not be typing this post right now.

It’s a cliché to say: “live like you’re dying.” “Live like there’s no tomorrow.” “Live every day like its your last.” The clichés wear on you after a while and the sayings lose their meaning. After this week, I wish they didn’t.

I can’t say I’ve had a better week than this one, after the wreck. I was grateful for every second I had this week. The little things in life found more value. I had a second chance to be grateful for what I had. I got a chance to figure out what I most regret and resolve it. I want to leave a positive legacy and not have any regrets. To do that, though, I’d have to set aside my inhibitions. I’d have to stop being afraid of stepping on toes and simply be the best I can be! I’d have to resolve potential regrets as they come and reconcile with everyone who might find issue with me. I might die tomorrow. Everything in life is unexpected, why should death be any different?

It’s not about not about living in fear of what’s to come, it’s about relishing what you have while you have it. Because you never know when the things you value will be gone. And you never want to have regrets.

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Chocolate, Roses, and Ice Sculptures

I am so incredibly happy.

And not just happy, like my smile is stretching my face and I want to dance and skip everywhere. I want to sing every time someone reminds me of a lyric. I want to make those around me happy too! It hasn’t been this way for a while.

There is something beautiful about being single. Sure, relationships rock too, but I needn’t be down because I’m not with some guy right now. I am taking this time and growing as an individual. Working on my identity. Becoming a better person. Writing and creating like crazy. Developing my faith. And I couldn’t do that while having obligations to someone else or linking myself to some random relationship. Single’s Awareness Day, though? Nah.

It’s called Valentine’s Day. I don’t have a boyfriend, but really, what does that matter? It isn’t the time for that. A new relationship may even be detrimental to me and those around me. Relationships have to be created for the right reasons, else they will not work. So, no, I don’t have a significant other. Still, I used yesterday to celebrate love! It gave me so much joy. I tried to spread my smile where I could. I stayed confident. I enjoyed every second of the day.

Not long ago, I was in love. Then I was heartbroken. I lost something valuable to me. But I didn’t lose love. I still have my family. I still have my friends. I still have social media followers! (Thanks you guys.) They still love me.

So, smile! Because you have love too. I promise. Even if you don’t see it right now. That love will get you through pain and heart ache and loneliness. February 14th is a beautiful day for what it represents: not couples and lovebirds and relationship statuses, but true and honest love. Enjoy that, even if you are single. I had no idea a single person could have as much fun as I did yesterday!

And happy belated Valentine’s day from me to you!

Good Reads, Bad Reads, and the In Between

Reading isn’t for everyone, just as much as math isn’t for everyone. Cards on the table: I’m not a math person at all. I’m a writer and, therefore, a reading person. I have to be. Literature is crucial to writers.

It’s important to know what’s out there. So much about style and prose can be learned from classics. So much about the latest fad can be gleaned from contemporary pieces. So much about “what-not-to-do” can be taken from poorly written fan fiction. (Nothing against fan fiction, but since there are no restraints to what can be written, some stories get… crappy…)

With the rise of self-publishing and e-books, authors have greater opportunity to publish their works. They don’t necessarily have to achieve the approval of agent, editor, and publisher. They can make their books available for whatever price they please. However, since they don’t go through the whole process, some of them turn out like the poorly written fan fiction. Some of them are undiscovered gems with great plot, few grammar issues, and relatable characters, but certainly those are harder to find.

Since receiving my Kindle as a gift, I use it all the time. I have bought several cheap, self-published books, along with the more expensive published books (when I have the money). I’ve found I’m inspired by both the superb books I find, as well as the terrible ones.

When I read an incredible book, I’m inspired to write one just as good. I want to write words and worlds, and wonders. I want the plots to be complex, the characters to be real. Reading a good book gets stories flying through my head.

When I read a terrible book, I’m inspired to write a better one. From these books I learn what doesn’t work. I learn what to look for, what to focus on, what the reader will be looking for, and it improves my own writing. Sure, sometimes I have to torture myself to make it through reading just a few pages, but it always makes me want to pull out my latest story and to improve it.

Reading can, of course, be good for those who aren’t writers as well. Authors always have a motive for writing that often includes morals, lessons, of social statements. Books weave words together to incredible effect. That is what I want to do. I want to write a story, good or bad, but hopefully good. I even think I can, if I keep reading, learning, working, practicing, and seeking inspiration from the works of others.

Seatbelt Checks

Once upon a time, I knew this guy. We were friends for no more than a year. He and I were never on the same page. In fact, we may as well have been in different books in different libraries. Still, he was a constant in a down time for me and—though a lot of it was unintentional—I took a lot away from our friendship.

When we heard his words—”Seatbelt check!”—we would immediately prepare ourselves. I would curl up and wait for the sudden jerk. My legs stayed pressed against the seat as I would brace myself for the van to stop. He would slow down and then speed up again until we all relaxed. Then all of a sudden he would brake, sending us flying forward. (I mean, honestly, who wears seatbelts in a church van?)

It’s such a pain to experience something so unexpected. Especially when you should have seen it coming. But I guess, every now and then it happens: life throws us a seatbelt check. Everything halts and you’re taken completely off guard. You thought you were safe. You let your shield down. Then when everything stopped working smoothly, you were unprepared. You were thrown forward, jerked around, and maybe even feel like you went through the windshield.

This last year for me had a seatbelt check waiting for me around every corner. I was slammed by so many surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. “Hurricanes,” health problems, drama, and important people leaving my life. It was hard, not going to lie.

But after a seatbelt check, my friend would just keep driving. Everyone in the van would straighten themselves up and some would even buckle up in preparation for the next sudden stop. Just because life hit the brakes, doesn’t mean it’s all over. The road still lies ahead and there are plenty more opportunities on it. Just because I’ve past a few or left a few behind does not mean I’ve lost hope.

I don’t really know where I’m going yet. Hell, I may not know until it’s right in front of me. I guess that’s just the fun of the adventure: the unexpected, the unanticipated, and the uncertain. All I know is that, even after seatbelt checks, I’m still heading on down the road.